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Thread started 08/03/06 8:33pm


Rare interview with the NPG circa 1992!

Here is the article:
p.s.-Try not to laugh when you read about Tony M. as a serious musician

The New Power Generation
Learns That Playing With Prince
Is A Privilege Both Sublime And Gruesome
Musician, December 1992
By Bill Flanagan
Photographs By Jeff Katz
Like every one of the million bands in Minneapolis, Doctor Mambo's Combo had known this could eventually happen and were trying to get through it without losing their heads. There he was again. Watching them, listening to them, judging them. Prince had started appearing at the band's gigs with creepy regularity. Clearly he had something in mind. Or somebody. The band tried to keep focused on their playing, but each of them wondered if he was the one Prince was considering. Billy Franze, the guitar player, was in his 40s, a lifelong rocker with a red mohawk and better chops than 90 percent of the musicians with record deals. Maybe after two decades devoted to dues paying and music making he was finally going to win the lottery. With Prince there was no way of knowing. He came down from his castle on the hill, studied the peasants at his leisure and then, once in awhile, pointed a finger at one of them and said, 'You." It was like Prince Charming with his glass slipper. It was like Dracula.

Michael Bland, the drummer with Doctor Mambo, was just a kid, barely out of his teens, playing in the band for fun while he finished college. Michael was majoring in theology, reading Nietzsche in his spare time, and was not about to peg his life to music and end up playing in bars in 20 years. One Sunday afternoon his phone rang. It was Prince. Would Michael like to join Prince's band? The glass slipper.

"The way Prince honors people is, he chooses them," Michael explains. "I was chosen by Prince, I didn't have an audition. He just called me and asked me to do it and I said, 'Yeah!"' Three years after being chosen, Michael is dressed in flowing black robes and a big jeweled hat. He is here in London with Prince for a week of concerts at Earls Court. He is part of the New Power Generation. It is a wonderful and terrible honor. Michael still thinks of Billy and the other musicians he left behind.

"Billy's a real musician," the drummer says. "I just wonder why he didn't get his chance. If I ever get enough leverage in the industry he'll be one of the first people I make sure gets to be heard. I owe him that much. I don't know what it's like for them to be still there. I don't know what goes through their heads when I'm out here doing this and they're back at home doing.. .that."

Michael heads down the backstage corridor at Earls Court. It's a couple of hours before showtime and the dressing rooms are buzzing. Diamond and Pearl, the pretty dancing girls, hurry by looking a little less otherworldly than they will when the spotlights and makeup kick in. Organist/singer Rosie Gaines sits quietly chatting with a friend. Prince himself glides by rapper Tony Mosley in some sort of white superhero suit and extremely high heels. Michael heads into one of the band rooms, where he joins bassist Sonny Thompson, guitarist Levi Seacer and keyboard player Tommy Barbarella.

Sonny and Tommy used to play in a part-time band with Michael called the Flash, but their main gig was with the Steeles. They were pulled into Prince's orbit when the Steeles contributed to the soundtrack for Prince's movie Graffiti Bridge. Since losing Sonny and Tommy, the Steeles have not been the same.

"Basically, Prince goes after whatever he wants," Michael says. "He makes the call and if you want the gig, it's yours.

So if a Minneapolis band starts to happen, there's a chance Prince will appear and pull the best people out?

"Don't say pulled," Levi cautions. "It's like, 'Hey, I like the way you play and if you want to do this thing, it's open.' It's an opportunity. I used to play with Rosie but when I joined Sheila E.'s band it was an opportunity."

"I always wanted to play with Prince," Sonny adds.

"You can help your friends more from this," Levi says, "than from just staying there, sticking it out."

Did anybody ever tell Prince no?

The four musicians confer. "Didn't Ricky Peterson say no?" Tommy asks.

"Yeah, Ricky Peterson said no," Sonny answers, "but he said no to Miles."

Everyone laughs and says, "Ricky Peterson's just one of them No dudes, he wants to do his thing."

Ricky Peterson must be a man of either remarkable integrity or lunatic ego. Any musician who spends years working in bars a thousand miles from the nearest major record label knows that a shot at playing with a superstar comes, if you are very, very lucky, once in a lifetime. While populating the New Power Generation with musicians from the same scene that spawned him must offer Prince an extra level of comfort and ease of communication, it also (intentionally or not) gives Prince a lot of control over his band. After all, if Prince hired some top gun like Doug Wimbish or Nils Lofgren or Nathan East and one day the top gun didn't feel like wearing his black robes and big hat, he might tell Prince no. But no one who's been yanked from bar-band obscurity and dropped into the world of intercontinental travel, limousines and screaming fans is going to do anything to risk screwing it up. As one of Prince's employees says when no one else is around, "People disappear around here. One day you come to the gig and you say, 'Where's Joe?' 'Joe's gone.' 'What happened?' 'He must have done something Prince didn't like.' 'What did he do?' 'He doesn't know. Nobody knows. He's just gone.

That's the sort of fear that keeps things extremely professional.

Tonight, Prince declares, is $150 funk night. That means that whichever member of the New Power Generation- rapper, dancer or musician- comes up with what Prince judges to be the wildest surprise during the show wins $150. The musicians feel at a disadvantage, because they have to be onstage playing the whole time. The dancers get to hang in the wings and plan. Sure enough, the dancers return from one break wearing some sort of bizarre Egyptian robes. Prince likes it. $150 to the dancers!

The show is spectacular on every level. Prince does songs from his new album (the official title is a combination of the symbols for "Man" and 'Woman"; for the sake of convenience we will refer to it here as Hermaphrodite) as well as crowd-pleasers dating back to "1999." After the house lights go up Prince lurks unseen under the stage, sending roadies to warn the band that they are going to go back on as soon as the house is half-empty. Prince crouches, he waits and then he springs, pounding out a roof-burning funk jam while kids trample each other rushing back into the hail. After that finale finishes the band buses squeeze through a street-strangling knot of British fans and back to their hotel. Time to relax, hit the bar and- news flash- Prince has decided to do a recording session! All hands on deck!

Obviously being in the New Power Generation is a seven-day-a week, 24-hour-a-day commitment. "Oh yeah," Michael smiles, "if you're in there, you're in there. Like the fire department." Levi finds that hilarious. "Fire department!"

You get time off," Michael shrugs. "You just don't know when you're gonna get it. You have to just.. risk it."

Levi adds, 'And then either get cussed out for not being around or say, Whew, I made it."'

How long can you maintain a commitment to something so demanding?

"Maybe another couple of weeks," Levi says, then he laughs. "No. The tour's got a couple of weeks to go. It's not like torture. We're in a very unique situation and I think everyone in the band feels lucky to be here. We get a chance to play every style of music. Nobody even puts a name on us. I think everybody feels, 'Hey man, as long as there's some wood to burn to keep this train going, let's go."'

One reason the New Power Generation comes up with music that doesn't sound exactly like anything anyone's heard before is that each member of the band hears music slightly differently. When they throw their ideas together they are sometimes blessed with a healthy miscommunication.

Take "Willing and Able," a tune on Diamonds and Pearls that might strike the listener as Prince's tribute to Superfly-era Curtis Mayfield. Michael describes that song originating with a spontaneous studio jam in Japan, when he began playing a drum pattern he remembered from an old Rockpile record. Levi had the bass in his hands and joined in, but he wasn't thinking Rockpile- he was thinking ska. Tony M. got the idea of rapping over the track- which he, focusing on the chord changes, thought of as Mississippi delta music. Talk to Michael, Levi and Tony separately and you'll discover that each of them still hears "Willing and Able" through the ears he brought to it at the beginning. The listener, though, hears something else, the sound of all those ideas working together to make something new.

"With Prince," Levi says in the hotel restaurant on a very sleepy Sunday afternoon, "you try everything. That's the biggest thing I've learned from him. If it doesn't work you can always take it out, but if it does work... There's no limit."

"It's constant surprise," Michael says, landing in a chair across from Levi. "He's always thinking of something I've never thought of before, so of course it sounds wrong to me at its conception. For a lot of people, every record that he comes out with they go, 'I hate this thing! I don't know where he's coming from now!' Then half a year passes and they say, 'I really dig that.' I was that way for a long time. I didn't dig Prince till '87, man. 'fill 19871 never liked anything he did. Then Parade came out and I was like, 'Wow, he can do that?' It was totally different. Purple Rain was a mainstream success, then Parade came out and I was floored." He adds diplomatically, "Then I went back and bought everything."

Prince's shows operate at so many levels- from circus to symbolism- that the viewer can remain detached and enjoy the spectacle, or start pondering the big themes and enjoy the speculation. Although Levi warns that Prince is a sharp enough showman to make people think there is more subtext to his work than there may really be, Michael agrees that Prince's recent music and concerts are to some degree addressing the possible reconciliation of apparent opposites- rich and poor, black and white, east and west, love and violence, and- most of all- man and woman.

"We don't really talk that much about concept," Michael says. "The vision is really left up to him. We're the musicians. We're here to help him focus on that vision, to get it a little clearer. We're just doing our part. To use a terrible analogy, it's like the Manhattan Project. We're just working on one piece at a time. You don't know what you're working on, really."

"Until it's done," Levi adds.

"Until it's done," Michael agrees. "And then we see, 'Oh right- there are some dualisms there.' But we never know until later on."

The E Street Band used to say that they would record a song like "Fire" or "Because the Night" and figure, boy, that one's a hit- and then the album would come out and those songs would be replaced by something like "Factory" that was far less compelling musically, but which fit Springsteen's theme. The New Power Generation say they identify with that.

"We see a lot of material going past," Levi says. "It either goes down to the vault or to somebody else. I'm sure it's important to have a hit all the time, but I think with artists of the stature of Bruce or Prince you come to a point where you know what it's like to be at the top. Now you want to do something for your own soul. You can say, 'I don't know what everybody else will say, but I think this is great.'

"I think that's something the public doesn't understand. They always want a number one, they always want hits. Now Prince can do that. Prince can do a number one any time he wants to. But it's a journey, man, it's a journey. And if you want to go on the trip then you gotta go wherever the train is going."

Tonight the train is going to a private party at a small London club. Too small, as it turns out. The band had hoped to have a jam session for their friends and guests, but the club, Tramps, is so tiny that there's no room to set up gear. It's just an entry hall with a couple of couches and two posh rooms not much bigger than any rich guy's study. After recording all night and sleeping all day, getting tarted up and marched to an enforced festivity is not the NPG's idea of fun. But this is their job, so at 9:30 p.m. the group- in full flash gear- begin assembling in the hotel lobby. Mike Pagnotta, Prince's principal publicist, is getting an ulcer. He told them they had to leave at 9:30! Pagnotta starts calling the rooms, telling procrastinating NPGs to get the hell down here. Once he's roped everybody in, he splits them into two groups- New Power Generation in the first limo, dates and friends in the second. There will be photographers outside the club, Pagnotta explains, so the NPG has to get out of the same car and enter in one group. Their friends can catch up later.

One thing you pick up on after spending a few days in Prince's world is that everything is work. Since Prince is not good at giving interviews- but does want publicity- his publicists have to hustle all the time to create events to get Prince's name in the papers. So a phony story about one of Prince's new proteges being pregnant with his child shows up in the gossip columns; then Prince puts out a single called "Sexy Motherfucker" which stirs up enough controversy to get him in the news pages; then the loony claim that Warners has just given Prince a $100 million contract gets his name in the financial section. It's all nonsense, but if the media have gotten so greedy (or so gullible) that they are willing to repeat hype, whose fault is that? Not Prince's and not the publicists'. The only suckers who believe that baloney are suckers who want to believe it. The New Power Generation treat such PR duties with the let's get it over with resignation of kids being dressed up for a school portrait.

En route to the club William Graves, the NPG DJ, lets out a howl. "Guess what I forgot!" he yells. He forgot "My Name Is Prince," the surprise new track he is supposed to debut at tonight's party. The band tells the driver to turn the car around and go back to the hotel. They know that Mike Pagnotta's ulcer just got worse. When the NPG-mobile finally pulls up at Tramps, the sidewalk is filled with snapping paparazzi and squealing fans. The band jumps out of the car, smiles, waves and rushes through the velvet ropes into the basement club. The wood-paneled walls and Victorian furniture aspire to old-world elegance but, as Sonny points out, "This place looks like a haunted house! I expect to see ghosts comin' through the walls!"

Hey, Sonny, that's not a ghost, that's Boy George. And- call the exorcist- there's Tom Jones! This is one exclusive party. Rod Stewart wafts in with Rachel Hunter on his arm, Malcolm McLaren appears and starts cadging free drinks, and Mick Jagger floats in with Jerry Hall. Michael Bland lights up: "Hey, I met Mick once before!" he says, "I gotta go say hello." The drummer walks up to greet Jagger, who brushes right past him. Michael comes back to the NPG table ripping. 'He blew me off, man! Mick Jagger blew me off!"

Well, Michael is reminded, you know how cold Prince sometimes has to be just to get through a room- you've seen him cross a whole hotel lobby ignoring a small child tugging on his coattail and calling his name. "Yeah, I know," Michael fumes, "but Mick's coming to my party!"

Sonny takes a seat at the foot of the stairs with Diamond and Pearl. As time drags along they begin to wonder if Prince is perhaps not coming. Sonny asks Pagnotta for permission to leave. NO! Sonny sits down. Two big security men with genuine Secret Service earphones come down the stairs, blazing a trail. Then, like Scarlett O'Hara descending her staircase, comes Prince.

And it's funny. He doesn't seem any more comfortable or in charge here than anybody else. He makes small talk with Sonny and the dancers, he wanders around the small rooms. He nods politely when Tom Jones comes up and glad hands him (just two randy blokes in tight trousers who had hits with "Kiss"). Prince really is just a guy. His reputation, however, is so huge that the other stars at his party swirl around him in a Rolex vortex. Prince can say anything and people throw their heads back and howl with laughter and go, "HA HA! 'Nice place!' Great one, Prince! 'Nice place!' Did you hear what Prince said? HO HO HO!" At one point Prince is standing in a small group saying nothing remotely interesting when Mick Jagger comes up and starts talking and the first thing you think is, "Gee, I wish Mick would quit interrupting Prince." Then you realize how nuts that is. He's got YOU doing it. But that's star power, and Prince works to maintain it like some throwback to Hollywood's golden age.

Prince goes and sits in the corner with Kate Bush. He's a big fan of her album Hounds of Love and she sent him one of her songs, which Prince rewrote and re-recorded and returned to her for use on her next album. The musical team-up thus succeeded far better than Prince's similar attempts to collaborate with Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt, both of whom ended up saying something along the lines of, "Hey, Junior, I've been in this business a long time- I'm not Trilby and you ain't Svengali." Prince makes small talk with Kate, Rod and Rachel on one side of them, Mick and Jerry on the other, and the DJ cues up "My Name Is Prince." Whoops, go the New Power Generation when the song comes on, time to get to work. They all put down their drinks and go onto the tiny dance floor, where for the duration of the track they move with the stylish interracial high-fashion grace of an MTV video come to life. Prince acts like he doesn't notice, but the effect is striking. As soon as the song is over the NPG all go back and sit down and return to what they were doing.

It's important that you understand how this stuff works in case you get home tomorrow night and the phone rings and it's Prince asking you to join the New Power Generation. Prince is a great bandleader, a brilliant singer and songwriter, a fine musician, innovative record producer and one of the world's greatest performers. Let's face it, he's probably the most talented rock musician of this generation; of course you're going to accept. But as you pack your bag you might ask yourself, "What do I need to bring with me?" You won't need your instrument- Prince will supply you with great new gear. You won't need your clothes- Prince will have you tailored and dressed like a Mardi Gras queen. You certainly won't need money- Prince will take care of all your material desires. No, if Prince calls and asks you to join the New Power Generation you will need only tow things- a mack truck filled with Wonder Bread and a U-Haul of mayonnaise. Because working for Prince items going through a ton of baloney.

It wasn't always like this. Sonny Thompson met Prince when Sonny was 15 and Prince was 13. Sonny waited 20 years for his call-hack. Growing up in Minneapolis, he and Prince both led groups. "He had a band called Grand Central," Sonny says. "I had a band killed the Family. We'd play the same places. We used to hang out and jam and play all night. I had all the equipment in my basement. He'd come over and play the drums, play the keyboards. He was talented for years, people just didn't know it. I mean everybody on the north side of Minneapolis knew it...

"We would play the standard grooves: some Clinton, some Sly, James Brown, Earth, Wind & Fire. We'd work some original stuff and just try it, see what happens. We were playing places like the Cozy Bar, Peacock Alley, the schools, the WMCA, the Black Community Center. We'd throw dances and everybody could come in and party. It was cool back then. It's a lot different now. Minneapolis has changed so much, cause so many people base clime in from different places. You've got gangs now. There were no gangs back it that time. It's a weird place now." Sonny catches himself and amends, "I love it, but it's a weird place.

"At one time Prince played in my band. Maybe for about a month. He was trying to go to New York at the time. We hired him, we paid him straight out. We were saving our money so we could buy equipment. He played guitar and keyboards"

Sonny played on Prince's demos, and then while Sonny's band and all the other local groups worked on upgrading their equipment and getting better bar gigs, Prince took his tape to New York and got a record deal.

A lot of people were shocked," Sonny says. "But I always believed he was going to do it, 'cause we always talked about what we were going to do; 'I'm gonna have real strings on my album!' Prince always had the vision of really wanting to be big in the industry.

Most of the guys were shocked, though. They were like, 'Man! Prince has got an album out!' I said, 'I told you he was gonna do it!"' Sonny pauses and asks, "What else could he do? He just worked around the clock, always writing tunes and playing. It was just inevitable.

"There was some feeling like," Sonny adopts a nasty, jealous voice, "'Ahh! Prince! So what? He got a deal, huh? I can do that!' There were people like that. And there were people who were glad. I was really happy for him because I knew what he went through. It wasn't a piece of cake. It was long hours. He put a lot of work into it."

Asked if he saw Prince in the long years between those demos and Sonny's invitation to join the New Power Generation, the bassist looks away and says vaguely, "Oh yeah, I seen him from time to time out in clubs. Or I'd see him on the street.

Did you feel bad he didn't invite you to join any of his projects?

"Not really. I was trying to explore my instrument at the time. I really didn't feel I was ready. I was still learning all my scales and technique and playing with jazz groups and just discovering other music." Sonny's face brightens. "But I was damn happy when he called me! Like, I'm ready! I'm ready!"

Pretty amazing to play with someone when you're kids, go separate ways for years, and hook up with him again when he's an international success.

"Oh yeah, it's amazing," Sonny says. "I think about that a lot. He's just grown into this mega-musical monster. He was great then, but some of the stuff I hear him play now I'm like, 'Where did you get that from, man?' It's like he's got a pipeline, stuff just being piped in." Sonny shakes his head and says, "It's great."

Another day, another New Power Generation Promotional Event. This time the band's making an in-store appearance at a London record shop. In the cab on the way, Michael Bland talks about Prince's pipeline to the muse: "He's most fluid improvisation-ally on piano, I'd say. But, man, he's one of the greasiest bass players on the planet. He really is an intense bass player. His feel's recognizable instantly. But he seems to have his own voice on every instrument, really. What's funny is he reminds me a lot of Thelonious Monk on all of them. It's just that combination of a sense of humor and a sense of adventure in his playing. On every instrument he thinks, 'Okay, what's missing?' He plays like a composer all the time.

Rosie said that what the members of the New Power Generation have in common is that they are "all goof balls." Anything deeper?

"Oh gee," Michael says, looking a little embarrassed. "We have our sense of community, but it's more upholding something. We really feel- whether or not this is true, and in no way do I mean to sound condescending- like we're the only ones doing what we're doing. In black music things have gotten to a point where a kid won't go out and buy a guitar or a set of drums. He's gonna buy a Macintosh. Almost every track on Diamonds and Pearls has real drums. Prince has, we all have in the back of our minds that if kids knew how much fun it is to play, they'd probably play. But they don't know so it's going to take somebody like Prince to bring playing back. We feel we're doing our share of bringing back the live thing- no DAT, no sequencers, no nothing. We have our share of electronics but everything is done live, for real. That's the thing that's missing in black music now.

Lately Prince has allowed two other voices to share his songs with him- singer Rosie Gaines and rapper Tony Mosley. Backstage before that night's concert, Rosie talks about the remarkable amount of freedom Prince has granted her: "At rehearsal or soundcheck we'll just create certain things or jam on a song. All of a sudden I can sing something or Tony will rap something and Prince will say, 'Hey, that's funky! Let's use that.' He told me, 'The stage is yours. Do what you want to do. If you feel like singing, then sing.' That's what keeps it so interesting up there. He gave me that kind of freedom and I think he gave the same to Tony. I can go way out in left field if I want to, as long as I get back to the base."

Ever get out there and then wonder how you're going to get back?

Rosie laughs. "Oh yeah! I have those nights! I think Prince also has those nights. Sometimes we don't know exactly what he's going to do. He does 'Purple Rain different each night. We don't know if he's going to say, 'I want the solo to go for another 16 bars,' (It if he's going to cut it and go back into the song. So it's being aware of each other and being in tune with each other. This band is like fitting into a glove."

And the "goofball criteria

"Having that sense of comedy is what makes everybody get along together. Each individual in this band is extremely talented and locked together. It's a spiritual thing To me. We have nights where everybody is positive and everything just works. We have had nights when nothing works at all, because people are in a different frame of mind."

Occasionally Prince's sense of humor-and NPG camaraderie- comes at the expense of musicians Prince sees as rivals. When Guns N' Roses come to one concert Prince plays his ass off on guitar and then announces, "This is NOT rock 'n' roll." When George Michael shows up another night Prince leads the band through the thickest funk they can cook up and then yells, "George Michael has LEFT the building!" Prince seems to have a particular burr up his butt about U2; in the studio he comes up with a difficult, technically impressive part and then asks, "What do you think U2 will do when they hear that?" His greatest antagonist, though, is the other enigmatic singing/dancing/crotch-grabbing superstar- Prince takes shots at Michael Jackson all the time. His main dig at the King (If Pop is the couplet "Come to your senses! There are no Kings- only Princes," which hangs at the backstage entrance on a sign, leaps from Prince's lips during the concerts and is faxed to the press by his publicists. Public feuds, too, are good PR.

But if Prince takes no prisoners among his peers, he has back flipped regarding the most popular genre in black music. These days, as the presence of Tony M. makes clear, Prince is making room for rap. The hip-hop community took umbrage at what were considered Princely put-downs of the form on the unreleased but much bootlegged Black Album. According to Tony M., that was all misunderstanding.

"It's a misconception a lot of people had," Roisy says while getting ready for the next show. "A lot of people thought 'Get On It' was very derogatory. That wasn't it at all. In the mid-'80s rap wasn't saying anything but, 'Yo, baby! Party all the time! I got this, I got that.' In the late '70s and early '80s Grandmaster Flash and Grandmaster Melle Mel were saying something, but then it went back to strictly party stuff. Then, after that, we got KRS-One, Chuck D, Heavy D., saying things that maybe people didn't want to hear, but a lot of things they predicted are going on today- such as the riots in L.A. Prince doesn't stick me into boundaries of 'Talk politically all the time,' or 'Talk socially all the time.' We can have fun with the rap, I can be angry- he lets me run the gamut.

"When I came into this I realized that Prince has a lot of hard-core fans who don't give a damn about rap. Coming from the hip-hop/swing community, the people that I'm trying to reach don't give a damn about Prince. If I can mix the two Tony's voice trails off and then he says, "It's been rough, but I knew it would be like that."

Subscribing to the NPG's It's Fun to Play philosophy, Tony strums rhythm guitar on some numbers and sings harmonies. In the same spirit, dancer Kirk Johnson plays percussion. In the song "New Power Generation" Prince sang of his followers rejecting "your old-fashioned music, your old ideas" - which is pretty ironic considering...

"He keeps the fundamentals," Tony nods. "A lot of kids today- I don't know if you even want to call them musicians- just use Macs and sampling and looping. Our thing is to use electronics to enhance the sound rather than to he the sound. I definitely think there's a line we're crossing nobody's touched on before- while keeping the fundamentals. From Sly to James Brown, pay homage to that also."

It's watching Prince negotiate that line that ultimately makes following him so fascinating. It makes it worth chomping through the baloney. The New Power Generation understand that better than anyone. But hearing this remarkable band bend the laws of music and gravity one more time, you can't help but wonder if the young kids watching their show will really say, "I want to do that," or if they will be so dazzled that they'll say, "I could never do that- bring on the Macs!" That suggestion causes Tony M. to stop and consider.

"You think so?" he asks with a trace of worry. "If you get past the production, strip all that away and look at what's really going on?" Tony thinks about it and then he says, "When I was five- and- half or six, my mother took me to a James Brown Concert at the Minneapolis Auditorium. The production for that time was big. I was just in awe. But I never thought I couldn't do that." He looks for the right words and then hits on what could be a summation of the New Power Generation message: "It was us inspiration for me. I knew I would like to be that creative."
Blue Lights
LEVI SEACER plays a Gibson Epiphone ("Because my stuff is clean stuff") straight into the board. He has a rack-mounted Zoom unit 9010, a Cry Baby chorus pedal, a Roland GPS and a Boss digital delay pedal. On "Thunder" and "Live for Love" Levi pulls out an Ibanez guitar with double humbucking pickups. Levi uses D'Addario strings.

When TONY U. reaches for a guitar, it's either a Charvel or a hollowbody Epiphone. Tony's strings are either GHS lights or Dean Markleys. He has a Zoom effects processor.

SONNY THOMPSON plays an Oswald bass (though be admits his favorite is an Alembic, "a great bass") with a GB8 effects processor, an Akai Octaver and a Boss Octaver. Sonny uses a Heavy Metal distortion pedal and plugs into a Trace Elliot amp. He prefers GHS heavy strings because "they seem brightest- they keep the boing longest."

ROSIE GAINES plays a Hammond organ onstage, and has a Korg and Roland D-50 MIDI'd to the Hammond. Rosie sings through Shure microphones. Rosie is also leaving the NPG to go out on her own.

TOMMY BARBRELLA plays a Roland A80 and an A50 controller, a Korg T3, an old Prophet which he uses on "Kiss" and a few others "for that old analog sound." Tommy also carries a new Roland JD800, a couple of E-mu E-max 2s, a Proteus 1 and Proteus 2, and a Roland D550.

MICHAEL BLAND's drums are a combination of Sonor, Yamaha and Gretach, with Zililian cymbals and Vater sticks. Trying to get mere details out of Michael is useless. "I abhor shop talk," he says. "I don't know when we change heads, I don't know when we get new cymbals. I don't have any emotional attachments to gear at all."
3121 #1 THIS YEAR
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Reply #1 posted 08/04/06 12:47am


Wow...good work (hell, lot of work!!)

and ...erm....first lol
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Reply #2 posted 08/04/06 2:20am



Thanks for that, never seen it before, where did the article come from?
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Reply #3 posted 08/04/06 4:46am


Amazing article.
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Reply #4 posted 08/04/06 4:59am



tight bastard.
Fuck the funk - it's time to ditch the worn-out Vegas horns fills, pick up the geee-tar and finally ROCK THE MUTHA-FUCKER!! He hinted at this on Chaos, now it's time to step up and fully DELIVER!!
KrystleEyes 22/03/05
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Reply #5 posted 08/04/06 5:35am


Tony U? confuse
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Reply #6 posted 08/04/06 6:03am



Funny you should post that....I was cleaning up a week ago, found that magazine and sat down and read through the article....Ok, maybe its not that funny but, what can ya do. Someone should ask Michael B what it was like to be "blown off" by Mick Jagger...only he and David Bowie know.
"Don't hate me cos I'm beautiful"
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Reply #7 posted 08/04/06 9:43am



MartyMcFly said:

Tony U? confuse

" middle name is U, short for U BETTA GET STOOPID"
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Reply #8 posted 08/04/06 10:18am



and this folx, sums it up wink :

I think that's something the public doesn't understand. They always want a number one, they always want hits. Now Prince can do that. Prince can do a number one any time he wants to. But it's a journey, man, it's a journey. And if you want to go on the trip then you gotta go wherever the train is going."

ain't nothing wrong with that either!
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Reply #9 posted 08/04/06 11:05am



metalorange said:

Thanks for that, never seen it before, where did the article come from?

It's a long read, but the credit is waaay back up at the top.
Musician, December 1992
Check out The Mountains and the Sea, a Prince podcast by yours truly and my wife. More info at
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Forums > Prince: Music and More > Rare interview with the NPG circa 1992!