The Sounds of State-Andrew DeLeon

On Thursday I showed up to the Farmer’s Market Turn Up to meet Andrew DeLeon. With him were some familiar faces, Joey Bautista who I did my first interview (he also is in charge of the KCR Secret Sessions), and former programming director Brendan Price. Andrew was eager to be interviewed, he had reached out to me on more than one occasion to volunteer. Reciprocating his enthusiasm, we went into the Communications building and sat down to have our chat. Andrew is so far the only interviewee I’ve had who I’ve know beforehand. Last year my 5-6 National Sports talk show on Wednesday was preceded by Andrew’s show The Grand Illusion. He was a great DJ to interview, giving all of my questions thoughtful responses and his full attention. In fact, this is the longest interview I’ve done so far, at almost 13 minutes. With that said, I don’t want to use any more of your time that takes away from the interview, so let’s jump right in!

Cameron Satterlee: Okay I am sitting here with Andrew, welcome.

Andrew DeLeon: Thank you.

CS: So, what is your radio slot for KCR?

AD: This semester I’m doing Tuesdays from one to two. I just figure it works with the class schedule I had, and work schedule, trolley schedule. I pretty much just take what I can get as long as there’s time for classes in there.

CS: Uh huh. You’re pretty flexible with what time you get?

AD: Yeah you know as long as it’s not too late cause [the] trolley. And then early because I did a show at 8 am one semester and that didn’t turn out too well. We were still in transition and there was a bunch of tech problems so I would try to call them and no one would answer. We didn’t quite have Alex yet.

CS: Oh man yeah I don’t think I’d do an 8 am slot to be honest. I mean that’s good for you, you stepped up and took the bullet pretty much.

AD: I had to, that was all they could give me. I was willing to try, I adjusted though, it worked.

CS: Yeah. So how long have you been with KCR?

AD: This is my sixth semester. Interesting story on how I joined–

CS: Wow I’d like to hear it.

AD: Yeah I’m sure they would too. I was in psychedelic rock class. This was my freshman year, I was just taking this for credits. I didn’t care about the whole upper division, you have to take it at a certain time thing. I’m like “you know what? I’m gonna take psychedelic rock class, this will be fun.” And the guy I sat next to, really tall guy, kinda looked like Kurt Cobain, he asked “what do you want to do?” And I mentioned you know sports broadcasting or radio or tv, something like that. Even if it’s just some behind the scenes work, I’m good with that. And he said “oh why don’t you join the radio station, KCR?” I said “oh I didn’t know that there was one on campus.” And he told me I think the semester before they were still trying to transition–get it going–but the semester I joined what when it really started taking off. John was there, Lincoln was there and it was really the rebuilding years when I joined and now I’m happy to be here when it’s a big part of the campus now.

CS: Yeah I mean that’s sort of the eternal struggle for KCR is getting people actually on our own campus to know about us.

AD: Well look at it now. We have a what hundred members or something?

CS: Yeah we’re doing very well for ourselves. I mean guys like you who show up and become dedicated to your show is what really sets us off I think.

AD: Right, and I know I don’t volunteer as much as I should but I’ve tried to do my best here and at least wear my shirt whenever I do the show so that way people will know “KCR listen in.”

CS: Yeah yeah totally. So but you wanted to go into the radio, the field, before you joined.

AD: Right because in high school I really started getting into baseball. I had already been a fan but I was thinking “you know what someone’s got to take Ted Leitner’s job eventually.” Make sure that no one calls anyone else a moron again (laughs). That was hilarious, I give Ted credit for that. That was funny. Gotta love him.

CS: Gosh I feel you with the baseball thing. Well so, I guess I’m gonna take this in a different direction but so you currently have a music show and you’ve had one for a while.

AD: Right.

CS: It’s actually funny, so I guess I’ll say this for the benefit of the listeners, but Andrew, last semester, preceded my show. My sports hour. So we knew each other before then. So I kind of know the answer this question, but for the audience, what is the music you like to play?

AD: Good stuff. Good stuff.

CS: Good stuff?

AD:And by that I mean classic rock. A lot of the shows on campus now they do Indie and folk and rap and hip hop, there’s a little much of that. Some stuff is okay, others…I mean play what you want to play I got nothing against that. But I thought “you know what? I’ll play my music” cause in high school–here’s the sad thing I graduated from Ridgemont High people didn’t know who The Beatles were at that school anymore. I would literally walk through Clairemont High School and people would say “who are The Beatles?” so I thought “you know what with this show I gotta do something about this.” So I took the classics, mix in with a little new things, and pretty much revive the genre and it’s surprising how many people like you and Jackson always come in and say “oh yeah these songs are awesome” and so many people I’ve met through this station they’re like “oh wow that’s awesome that you do that. That you play all these things.” Hell Alex and Brendan always sit in on my show, I always catch them dancing or singing. Everytime I play Huey Lewis, Brendan always shouts “HUEY” or I’ll dedicate a song to him and be like “this is for him, this is Phil Collins” and he’ll be like “ah you’re playing Phil Collins again,” yup that’s correct. And Alex just dances in the background, so awesome.

CS: You seem very passionate about your work. Rock music, I mean it’s its own genre and I guess at this point in rock music’s history you could say classic rock is its own separate sphere than what’s going on now.

AD: Yeah.

CS: Is there anything a bit more specific than classic rock you play? Like any real genre music?

AD: I suppose it’s not genres it’s more themes. What I do is try and set a theme each week and then I’ll take, sometimes I’ll take disco, sometimes I’ll take some country and do that just to mix it up, but then I take the rock songs and I’ll say you know “okay there’s soft rock so I’ll do soft rock this week”. Or there’s a bunch of metal songs so I’ll do some full metal jacket this week. Or sometimes I’ll incorporate sports, I’ll play songs that would be played at baseball games. You were there when the dancing friars came in.

CS: Yeah that was interesting. Yeah I remember those themes now that you bring it up.

AD: Yeah, so it’s not so much as a genre thing as it’s more of a thematic [show], but it’s more based on the rock genre I guess.

CS: Yeah and so each show is different. You’re not just sorta playing off the same playlist every week, you’re mixing it up.

AD: Right. Yeah I even make a point to do that. I say “okay I already played that song this semester, I’m not going to play that again” or at least make an attempt not to. So that way I don’t have repeats. Sometimes I listen to the stations and it’s the same set of songs every couple of days. Or I’ll drive to work, I’ll have on Easy and I’ll hear–for some reason they play In The Air Tonight on the Easy station–so I’ll hear that and then I’ll drive to work like two days later. I just heard this at the same time. So I try to mix it up a little bit. Make it interesting.

CS: Yeah yeah. So yeah I think that’s a great way to do things, it keeps things very interesting and different so that’s a cool thing you do. So I’m curious why classic rock? Why is it important to you? I mean you like it but why do you like it? Why is it important to you?

AD: Because the stuff that people produce now has no instruments and there’s almost no thought to a lot of it. There is thought, I do give people like Taylor Swift and you know some of the country people credit but a lot of the pop stuff now–I mean like that song Turn Down For What by Lil John, what is that? I mean he just says what so much he’s like “I’ll write a song with the word what in it.” It doesn’t make sense anymore.

CS: Well that’s interesting. I mean that’s kind of a negative perspective to look at it. You listen to classic rock because music now isn’t that interesting to you.

AD: Right. I mean I’m not saying all of it is, I’m just saying there’s certain parts of where it just seems that the creativity isn’t what it used to be anymore.

CS: Well I mean that could be a whole different discussion that leaves us here for twenty minutes.

AD: Exactly.

CS: Well but I’m curious if there’s sort of a more–cause you probably looked at in the sense that “oh I like this classic rock music, so this music doesn’t look so good to me.” Which I understand, I’m a classic rock guy, I’m trying to you know contemporize myself but it can be difficult, I’ll admit. But what made you like the rock music in the first place? That’s what I’m trying to get to.

AD: Right. I guess it’s because when I was little my mom played a lot of the stuff. She played some newer stuff too so I kind of evolved around that. But then, a lot of the stuff–like when I was in elementary school or middle school I would just hear this–some of this stuff and I thought “eh, new stuff doesn’t really appeal to me.” And I’d listen to the older stuff and like “okay this is good. I like this.” So I just rolled with it.

CS: Yeah I feel that’s how a lot of people in our generation got to like classic rock. I mean you brought it up earlier that there may not be so many of us in proportion to the actual population. How it used to be where rock was the big thing, the big genre. But there still are a good number of people who know what it is. But I think that you’re right that it comes from our parents you know, and just absorbing the music through other media.

AD: Yeah and you go to rock concerts now and there’s still a good turn up of teenagers. I went to The Monkees concert over at Humphrey’s, I think it was last year, yeah it was last year, and there was a kid probably about sixteen-seventeen dressed up looking exactly like Mike Nesmith.

CS: (laughs) That’s awesome.

AD: Yeah so you know that there’s people that are really influenced by this. I mean The Scorpions concert I went to, there was a lot of little kids there.

CS: Yeah. Alright so this is gonna be interesting because a lot of the people I interview, since they listen to contemporary music, the new music that gets released is what they’re obsessing over. But classic rock, unless they are artists who are still releasing music that sounds similar. I mean like Pink Floyd just dropped a new album.

AD: And it’s already up to number one.

CS: And that’s a whole different thing. But I’m curious since the classic rock music has already been released, by definition, but is there anything that you’re still just discovering? Any new bands where you’re just like “oh hey I should have listened to these guys before, this is great.” Like a recent obsession. It could be a band or a song or an album.

AD: I’ve been listening to some country, I think it’s cause I went to the Vince Gill concert. So I’ve been listening to some of that. Oh I listened to The Eagles a lot earlier in this semester cause they were coming here and cause I was watching History of The Eagles. It really depends who’s coming in concert. The only one I think I really didn’t listen to a lot before or after the concert was Chris Isaak cause I’m not a huge fan of his. He’s alright you know I respect him. I like what he’s doing, just haven’t been given a chance to listen to a lot of his music. And the one song I heard, Dancin, I was thinking “yeah it’s okay,” not totally my cup of tea.

CS: Alright yeah great, I’ll be sure to put up links to those songs for the blog. So here’s a fun last question. So what would be your ideal show? How would it go?

AD: It would probably either be the dancing friars show that I had last semester or the one I just had on Tuesday where I played the whole Sgt. Pepper album.

CS: Oh wow that’s awesome. That’s really interesting cause I mean I’m a sports DJ but I’ve kinda wanted to do a music show, it’s just hard to you know get two slots. But I was thinking I’d want to play whole albums. That’s great that you’re doing it.

AD: I had this theme all set. I was thinking “well I’ll do 50’s music.” I was gonna do that and then I thought, “well, there’s one more I gotta do before the Christmas themes. Why don’t I move that back and and I thought, ooh Sgt. Pepper, I haven’t done a whole Beatles show.” So in honor of George Harrison and John Lennon’s deaths since those are coming up, the anniversaries, I figured might as well play some Beatles songs. In addition to the Sgt. Peppers so I just had a whole Beatles show. I even mentioned the Manson story, about him getting married. That was kinda weird. But it made for a good story.

CS: Yeah, if nothing else (laughs). Yeah wow, so this has been a great interview by the way, I mean few people totally go all out on the easy questions I ask but you’ve been you know very open about your whole idea with your shows. I think it’s great. You’re a flag bearer the classic rock movement here at KCR, and so thanks for sitting down with me, it’s been great.

AD: Yeah no problem, and Ted Leitner you’re doing good but I want your job so be on the lookout. I’m coming. I want to work with Bob Scanlan.

CS: (Laughs) Alright thanks.

AD: You’re welcome.

So there you have it, we got some KCR history to go along with our music discussion. Andrew and I hung out a while longer before we had to split up. I had to enjoy the Farmer’s Market after all and score some Pad Thai. Remember to listen to Andrew from 1-2 on Tuesdays and KCR anytime online. Thanks for reading!

The Goldmine-Abbey Road by The Beatles

Alright, this is a big one. It’s the legendary Abbey Road by The Beatles. I have not talked about an album of nearly the same stature before so I’ll try my best to do this record justice. On this blog I’ve attempted to look at albums that are sometimes overlooked nowadays either because the artist has more famous works that overshadow a certain album or because the artist just isn’t as popular anymore. This album is different, at least I hope. If you haven’t listened to ABBEY ROAD by THE BEATLES you should really do that and I’ll tell you why. It’s one of the most iconic albums in history written by the most influential band of all time. If you somehow still aren’t convinced, keep reading and I can go into a bit more detail for you.

For those of you who are unaware, Abbey Road was written at the very end of The Beatles’ career. The disastrous Get Back sessions (that produced no album) nearly broke up the band right then and there at the beginning of 1969. When another album was planned The Beatles made sure to do it right and not repeat the same experience. What came out of this was some of the best music that The Beatles ever wrote in their long and storied career. Not that it was all sunshine and happiness, the band was irreversibly fractured and according to interviews there was a feeling that this would be their last record. The album is one of the best sounding from the whole 1960’s decade, and at this point music began to sound modern in the sense that if recorded right it could hold up with music released today. Abbey Road could have been made yesterday and nobody would know otherwise. I can maybe think of one or two albums recorded before Abbey Road that has a better sounding mix. The band that pioneered modern recording techniques, taking pop music out of the stone ages, had gone full circle and guided guided the industry to its current state. Abbey Road is the real last record of The Beatles and a fitting end to their careers.

Side A

The album starts off with John Lennon’s well known composition Come Together. The song features somewhat cryptic lyrics of a character that many fans have assumed refers to each of the members of the band. Paul McCartney’s bass line is one of his best, a smooth and groovy riff that is one of the defining features of the song. Come Together half of the single released to promote the album.

Up next is George Harrison’s Something. It was the other half of the double-sided single released for the album alongside Come Together. Something is one of Harrison’s most famous compositions and was a sign that he had matured into a songwriter on par with his band mates John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Frank Sinatra once called it the best love song he ever head, it’s hard to garner higher praise.

The third song is Paul’s first piece for the album. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer pales in comparison to the dual team of Come Together and Something but it’s charmingly quirky in its own regard. The song is about a serial killer named Maxwell Addison who murders innocent people with his hammer. Interestingly, the song is one of the few on the album that includes a Moog synthesizer, one of its first uses in recorded music. Anybody who says The Beatles weren’t original don’t know what they are talking about.

If Maxwell’s Silver Hammer was Paul’s pop song on the first side then Oh! Darling is his big rocker. It’s in the style of songs that The Beatles would write or cover early in their careers. It is one of McCartney’s most scorching vocal performances and it required him to come to the studio early in the morning to stretch his voice beforehand so he could sing it right.

The fifth track on the album is Octopus’ Garden, Ringo Starr’s second and last composition for The Beatles. One of the happiest and most relaxing songs on the album, it was written to identify with Ringo’s image as singing songs for children, like he did with Yellow Submarine and Good Night. Even with the tense circumstances that the album was recorded under, everybody pitched in to help Ringo with his little masterpiece.

The last song on the first side of the album is Lennon’s I Want You (She’s So Heavy). The song is simple in composition and lyrics. The song alternates between two progressions, the ‘I Want You’ part is a bluesy call from John to Yoko Ono, who he wrote the song for. The ‘She’s So Heavy’ sections revolve around an interlocking guitar groove from both George and John. Ringo’s jazzy drumming complements the song nicely while Paul’s bass playing is some of his most technically proficient in his career. Billy Preston plays organ on the song, reprising his role from the Get Back sessions. After the third go around of the ‘I Want You section, the ‘She’s So Heavy’ guitar groove hits like a torrent. A slowly plodding groove that builds and builds with windy and white noise sound effects swirling on and on in goose bump raising fashion until the song abruptly cuts to end the first side.

Side B

The second side of Abbey Road starts off with George Harrison’s beautiful Here Comes The Sun. One of the other tracks that also features the Moog synthesizer, the song can’t help but make you feel happy. It is one Harrison’s songs that doesn’t feature John Lennon, an unfortunate trait that carried back several albums. It is one of the ultimate feel good songs and it makes you wish it would go on for the rest of your day.

From the cheer and sunshine that is Here Comes The Sun we go to the gloomy and mysterious Because. John Lennon was inspired to write it when Yoko Ono was playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Because uses the same chords but in reverse. The song is a three part harmony between Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison. The Beatles were put on the map because of their songwriting acumen and uncanny ability to harmonize their vocals and Because could very well be their best harmony.

The rest of the album comprises the so called Abbey Road medley. Comprised of short songs strung together from the White Album and Get Back sessions, the medley was a product of Paul’s and producer George Martin, Lennon was characteristically unamused, but a few of his contributions made their way into the medley.

The medley begins with You Never Give Me Your Money, a Paul song consisting of a few segmented musical ideas. The song features Harrison and Lennon trading guitar arpeggios and solos as the song fades out and is terrifically catchy.

Sun King slowly fades in and is one of John’s songs in the medley. Like Because, it also showcases harmonies between himself, Paul, and George. There is a word salad section where the Beatles all sing foreign language words and slang terms in a somewhat rhyming manner.

Segueing from Sun King is Lennon’s Mean Mr. Mustard, a short piece written while on The Beatles trip to India. The song cuts to Lennon’s third song on the medley Polythene Pam, which is a bit more of a rocking song than the previous two. Polythene Pam moves into the last song in this section of the medley She Came In Through The Bathroom Window was a Paul contribution, written with the inspiration of a particular Beatle fan desperate to see him via the exact method described in the title.

The last three songs are also Paul tunes, the first being Golden Slumbers which moves directly into Carry That Weight. Both songs share a similar composition, Carry That Weight even echoes portions of You Never Give Me Your Money, tying together the medley idea even more. To close out the album is appropriately titled The End. A seminal Beatles track, it is the only song to feature a solo by all members of the band, including Ringo’s only drum solo ever. Paul had all three of the other Beatles play short guitar solos, alternating between each other every few bars. The song ends with a final couplet that states, “And in the end, the love you take/ is equal to the love you make.” A perfect summation of the positivity that the band created in their short eight years of recording music.

It wasn’t quite The End, hidden about 20 seconds after the song is over is a short 23 second track entitled Her Majesty. A little Paul bit accompanied by an acoustic guitar. It was supposed to be placed in between Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam but was cut out of the reel, a sound engineer told not to throw anything out and not knowing what to do with it stuck it on the end. The Beatles liked the little surprise track and left it on.

Just as The End wasn’t the real end for Abbey Road, the album wasn’t actually the last released while The Beatles still existed as an entity. Months after John Lennon had already left, the Get Back session material was mixed under the supervision of Phil Spector and released in 1970 as Let It Be, which is considered the last Beatles album even though it was recorded before Abbey Road.

It’s hard to state the significance of this album. Just the fact that the cover art has been imitated so many times is a testament to how important it is to the history of recorded music. This is the crossroads between art and how it influences people. What is the meaning behind a 47 minute long collection of pop songs? How does music as an art form matter? I’m not sure I can answer those questions. I will say that albums like Abbey Road have moved millions of people into thinking and feeling in a different way. Maybe that’s the significance of art, connecting humanity to experience thoughts and emotions outside of their previous experience.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2SByNLjAJA