The Rascals have a brand new look and sound these days.
The knickers costumes are out, and fresh musical ideas are
very much in. Here in an exclusive interview The Rascals
talk about why they've changed and where they're heading.
Eddie, Dino, Gene, Felix - four pleasant and friendly young men known as The Young Rascals - one of the few groups that can give a concert in almost any country in the world and be sure of capacity crowds ...
The story of their discovery by Sid Bernstein at The Barge on Long Island and of their fantastic rise to fame with the release of "Good Lovin"' has already been told many times. There is another story to tell, however. The story of The Rascals as they are today is almost the story of four very different young men from the group that called themselves The Young Rascals and wore knickers.
"Yes, we'd rather be called just The Rascals now," Felix admitted as he sat smoking his pipe in the New York apartment that he and Eddie share. "We like that name better and it fits us better as we are now."
Eddie nodded in agreement. Of all the Rascals Eddie has changed the least since their early days together. He is still full of fun and always ready to fool around. For instance, the boys had just returned from a practice session where Eddie had made Dino crack up in the middle of a song by tearing Dino's drums apart while Dino was trying to play them. Everyone ended up in hysterics as Eddie and Dino finished by kicking the drums clear across the practice room.
"Yes, we've changed just like music has changed," Eddie said, "Music used to be like a little box with four closed up sides and it was called rock 'n roll. Now the walls have been torn down and you can't be limited anymore in music. There are all sorts of influences coming into pop like Eastern and Classical music."
Dino, who had been sitting listening quietly to Eddie, said, "I'd agree that rock is changing. It is changing very fast and constantly. Young people are taking over more and more in the world of music. Eventually, I'd say that all music will be pop. The way I see it everything will be getting better and better."
Dino turned to Gene, who is the mod dresser of the group and was wearing a beautiful pin-striped suit for the interview, and said "Wouldn't you agree Gene?"
Gene smiled, "I think that's why we've changed. We didn't want to be labeled so we dropped the knickers. We didn't want to be stereotyped. We're always trying to do something new and different. Like the time we wore suits on the Ed Sullivan show."
Dino continued, "I think that we've not only changed as a group, but also individually. For instance, I've changed my drumming style. I changed it because we were writing our own material and I could get into it more and be creative." "That's the word we should stress, creative," Gene added. "I think that we really started to be creative when we recorded our second album, Collections. It was the beginning of a few departures for us and it helped us get out of our original bag. "When we first started making records we wanted to use only the instruments we used live," Gene continued. "Basically a record is a vehicle for a group, a showcase. A good act can reproduce what they do on records and that's what we wanted to be able to do at first.
"We had so many fans even before we had a hit record that we were very concerned with how we did things live. "Anyone who has ever seen The Rascals live will know that the group is one of the most exciting acts around. Onstage there is complete frenzy and good music at the same time. Dino is busy tossing his drum sticks in the air and twirling them on his fingers, while Eddie spins a tambourine on his hand, Gene does acrobatics with his guitar, and Felix sits quietly behind his organ completely lost in the music. The group's live performance is just as good now as it always was, but things have changed. As Gene explains it, "After we had had a few hits and an album, we figured that we could start doing what we wanted to. We figured that we could loosen up a little and try some different things, like the violins on some of the bands of the Collections album."
All has not been easy for the Rascals, however. There was a time after "Good Lovin" when they could not seem to get a hit no matter how hard they've tried. Then along came "Groovin"' and people who were beginning to forget about them became their loyal fans once again.
Dino tells the story of "Groovin"' by explaining first that the group wasn't sure the record would even get near the charts. "When we recorded 'Groovin' we felt that it would either be the biggest thing we'd ever cut or a complete flop. We knew only one thing, that it wouldn't be just another record." Felix, who helped write the song and sings lead on it, continued, "First, I'd like to say that "Groovin" has a real meaning for me. You see, "Groovin" was a 'spring song.' It was another dimension besides just music. There were sound effects and everything. We were trying to create a 'sound atmosphere' so that a person could feel he was in the environment of a groovy Sunday afternoon listening to the song."
Now "Groovin", - like "Good Lovin", is Rascals history, but the ever changing Rascals have even more exciting things in store for their fans in the future.
"I guess we sort of fit our name." Gene smiled. "We still have a lot more things we haven't even completely developed yet. As a matter of fact, we even have a Harpo Marx in the group! You can be sure that we haven't shown all of our cards by any means. But I would like to say that music and only music is first on our minds at all times. If we figure to stay around a long while, the only thing we have to concentrate on is our music and you can be sure we will do that."
Dino nodded in agreement. "I'd like to add another way we've changed before we go. We started out thinking of ourselves as a complete orchestra rather than just three instruments. We got a long way thinking that, and we really haven't stopped. But we have realized that our sound is one complete sound. It is not just a bunch of instruments. I really want to emphasize that voices are a big part of our sound." Eddie came over and clowningly patted Dino on the back.
"I'd like to add one more thing myself. We all want to thank everyone very much for helping us get and stay where we are. We really appreciate it."
With their usual good mannered friendliness the boys all said goodbye and left for the Atlantic recording studios to finish the final mixing on their fourth album. From what they say and the way they feel, we can count on it being quite an album. Article courtesy Laura Satele
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