Tom Gould is a 30 year veteran of the music scene and has run in the same circles as some of the biggest names in the music business. He has been the front man for the Bossa Nova Beatniks since 1992 and performed all over the world, sharing his musical vision as he continues to release new material. He made the announcement for the release of his latest album, “For the Fun” on our podcast this past week. You can order your copy or download it today on CD Baby. https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bossanovabeatniks12
Tom has been a longtime friend and it was a pleasure to swap old stories with him on the show. We also found out that his music was recently featured in a documentary film entitled Demon Wheels. You can catch it on Netflix or order your copy here: http://www.demononwheels.com/ .
On the show we got an extra special treat when Tom performed three of his songs. Joe got a chance to show off his guitar skills and joined Tom for his final number. “It was an honor to be able to sit in with him and I’m so glad this interview happened” – Joe Kane
You can keep up with the Bossa Nova Beatniks on their website www.bnbeatniks.com.
Tom Gould Interview on the Imperfect Podcast:
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Imperfect Podcast Preview – Tom Gould
Tom Gould Interview Transcript:
I’m Joe Kane, I’m Dan Kane and I’m Wayne Heckler and this is the Imperfect Podcast. Be sure to check us out at hecklerkane.com and everywhere on social media. To the bumper!
Alright so we’re back with Tom Gould. He was originally born in Louisville Kentucky and now resides on Long Island New York. He is the head man, the front man, the showrunner for the Bossa Nova Beatniks. Tom thanks for coming.
Tom Gould: I appreciate it. Thank you for having me.
HKC: You said you wanted to go right up front and perform a song for us. Let’s get started with some music and then we can talk.
Excellent! Tom, that was awesome for me. I really enjoyed it. I gotta tell you guys, I saw Tom for the first time twenty-some-odd years ago out on the beach in Oyster Bay. I came down with a friend of mine, Brian, who said you got to check out this band. They were out on the pier playing in Oyster Bay and what a cool backdrop of the bay behind you. The sound that was coming out, I was immediately hooked.
Tom Gould: Well thanks. And I have to say before we go too far, is that in 20 years I’ve met thousands of people and I gotta say that Joe and Dan’s parents are two of the nicest people you could ever want to meet. I wanted to say that.
HKC: Thank you. You said nothing about us but our parents are great. Yeah we suck, but our parents are great. Where did they go wrong?
Well I wanted to talk to you a little about your website. It says that you are 17 albums in and releasing a new album soon.
Tom Gould: That’s correct. Actually, Tuesday September 20th is the release date and it’s called “For the Fun”. This album hasn’t even been released yet and I’m already starting three other projects. Largely because as this CD title says, “For the Fun”, that’s really all there is any more in music It’s either you’re having fun doing it and making it or that’s it. The music business is gone. It’s not the same as it’s been. I have a friend who’s a Vice President of Atlantic Records and they say they spend their whole days tracking down the Pirates and there’s no tracking them down.
With the internet, everybody gets everything for free. You sell one CD and the rest of the world has it. Yeah so you know it’s a whole different world and you know in a way it’s kind of good because there’s no mercenaries anymore. You’re not going into the business for money anymore, you’re making it for the fun and that’s what I do. And I love it.
One of the reasons why I’m back in the studio rather than pounding the pavement is that I love making them, I hate promoting them. So I figured, why bother. It’s out there. It’s on iTunes, Amazon all that sort of thing, but for me personally all I care about is making the next one.
HKC: When did you get started as a musician?
It started very early. I was young enough or maybe too young when Elvis hit. I was young enough to sort of know who Elvis was. When I was a kid my grandparents used to come to visit us. They’d spend a month with us every year. They’d come into the city on the train, into Grand Central Station.
This one time that we were dropping them off in February, We were driving through Manhattan and there was a commotion going on. My older brother said, “Stop the car I want to get out and see this” and of course I wanted to see it too. So I hop out with my brother we go around the corner and the block is packed with girls, young girls. We look up and sticking out of a hotel window are these couple of guys waving, you know with the mop tops and it was The Beatles.
As soon as they stuck their heads out the window, the whole block of girls just screamed. The energy was nothing short of a phenomenon. It was amazing and you know, once you get that energy in you. I followed The Beatles quite literally and started playing the guitar. I picked up a bass.
HKC: Now I thought what got you started was those screaming women. Speaking of energy, just being in the center of that, you thought maybe I should play an instrument.
Tom Gould: I can’t deny that. I was just 14 years old so I was beginning to understand that it would be a good thing as well. Yeah it was a lot of fun. It’s interesting because up until about a year ago there was I’d say 30 years that I went without not being booked. I had a gig for 30 straight years.
HKC: That’s very impressive as it just
Tom Gould: It’s just what I love to do I mean I love to get out and play. My first album was in 94, something like that.
HKC: That was the album “Eleven Eleven”. I love “Eleven Eleven”. It has the song “Jack Jack,” which is the storymabout Jack Nicholson I suppose.
Tom Gould: Which is interesting because you know the title “Eleven Eleven” came because when I was doing mixed downs and things I had a tape recorder. It was reel to reel back then but some of them had real-time counters that would count seconds and minutes and some of them just had a counter that had the numbers going. I noticed every time that I was working on this song, “Jack Jack,” the counter would say 11:11. It would either be 11 minutes 11 seconds or we just say Eleven Eleven and I just started seeing it everywhere.
When I was getting down to finishing the album I was at a studio in Centerport and we came out of the studio after a mix down and the wind was coming through the trees and it actually made a howling sound. You know you always heard that was a romantic thing. The wind began to howl and all that. I was standing out there actually hearing the howling so I got all excited and when I came home I tell my wife I got the name for the album, “Night of the Howling Wind,” and she looked at me and she said, “That is so pretentious.”
I said well we’re going to press in two weeks. What the heck! I don’t even have a name for the album. She goes why don’t you just call it Eleven Eleven? That’s all you’ve been talking about for the last year. And so I did and afterwards you know I found out that there were a lot of stories around Eleven Eleven and I didn’t realize somebody pointed it out just only a few years ago that “Jack Jack” which was the song that got this whole Eleven Eleven started is the 11th card in the disc. It’s deeper than you could have even imagined.
HKC: “Hard to Beat,” was your next album. That’s when I became a true fan to be honest with you. I heard “Hard to Beat,” and all the songs on there, “Red Johnny” and “Fingers in the Cake.” I said, okay well this guy’s got it. You also ended up releasing a French version of “Hard to Beat,” later on.
Tom Gould: That’s right it, when the Eleven Eleven album came out, I went into Bleecker Bob’s record store on in Greenwich Village and I walked in with the album and asked if they could you carry this in their store. He says, let me have it. He grabs it, opens it and he’s gonna to put it on and I’m all of a sudden thinking wait a minute. Because you look around the store back then it was all punk, razor blades and safety pins and I say you’re going to put on this cute little album and then you’re gonna throw me right the heck out of the store.
Anyway, he puts on the first song which was a very acoustic number and he looks right up and he goes, “You know who would love this? Skydog would love this!” He says I’ll give you his name Skydog who is Mark Zamartie from Paris. I sent it over to him. Since that album was already out he said, “When you work on the next album” which was “Hard to Beat” “send me the tapes.” So I sent him the pre-release of that and he licensed it and packaged it up and sold it in Europe.
I found out just a couple weeks ago, I had never seen the guy, never laid eyes on the guy, but I was reading Chrissy Hines book, “Reckless: My Life As A Pretender,” and in the book she talks about how he put her up before she became a Pretender. She was just sort of wandering about. She stayed with Mark Zamartie. There’s a picture of her with her arm around him and turns out that he’s the one that broke Lou Reed and Iggy Pop and a lot of the bands of that era came through him in Paris.
HKC: You had a couple of stories that you wanted to share specifically about Louisiana or something like that you’d mentioned to me before.
Well, we were talking about this train that came in that my grandparents used to come in on and it was called the 20th Century Limited. You would go down into Grand Central station; the steam and there would be the train with the sleeper cars and all of that sort of thing. They’d roll out this carpet and right next to it, it said 20th Century Limited. That train is actually cinematic.
Alfred Hitchcock used it in “North by Northwest.” I just saw a Fred Astaire movie the other night, he gets off the train in New York and it’s the 20th Century Limited. Back in the 90s when the 20th century really was limited I read a news article that they decided they weren’t going to name trains anymore. I thought, why would somebody just decide that?
HKC: It’s like a rule that somebody sat down and said, “We’re not naming names anymore. I guess It’s too painful when something happens to them.
Tom Gould: I said as long as they’re still naming songs I was going to call this one ,”The 20th Century Limited,” so I wrote a song somewhat of a train song about my experience with my grandparents and what led me to see the Beatlemania firsthand.
HKC: Great experiences lead to great artistic pieces. No matter what your medium is whether it’s painting or whether it’s television or music or whatever, it’s all about the experiences that you have and that’s the only way to stay true to yourself. It’s to be able to relive and put a piece of your experiences out there for others to appreciate.
Tom Gould: Would you want to hear the song “The 20th Century Limited”?
HKC: I would love to hear it. It’s a little greedy for me because this is one of my favorites that you do.
(Music and Singing)
HKC: You know it’s a lot of fun to have you down here and actually performing. We usually don’t get too many musicians in studio playing for us, so this is a treat for all of us. We’re enjoying this.
Tom Gould: I’m glad you’re enjoying it, I’m enjoying it as well. It’s fun having a band obviously and you get out and play but what I realize is, in the five years we were playing, we haven’t played a new song because getting a gig and then everybody’s busy so you don’t get to practice as much as you should and so when you do get together you just run through the material you know and you have the same 20 songs that you go out of the house with and play.
As a songwriter I’ve got notebooks filled with songs I’m just realizing I’ve got more songs then I’ve got time left. A lot of people say that, like going on tour and getting to perform your songs is great because you get to see the immediate reaction from it but unfortunately what you’re doing is you’re creatively stifling yourself because you don’t have the chance to be creative while you’re on the road. In fact Chrissie Hines said that in the book. She figured when I go out on the road that’s when I can write the next album but you get out on the road and it’s just not conducive to writing.
Writing is a whole, personal, lonely kind of off by yourself kind of thing and the party atmosphere of touring is not conducive to writing songs. Actually the original band, we were playing in Manhattan at a place called the Nightingale bar around the same time other bands like Blues Traveler, Spin Doctors, Joan Osborne and that group God Street Wine. We were calling ourselves Flyboys at that time largely because I had a band called the Rhythm Bandits. That was a first band and I felt that people were having trouble spelling rhythm, it’s a tough word, so I wanted to make it a little easier.
I found out that I share the same birthdate, day not date, as Charles Lindbergh and I thought that’s interesting you know he slapped together this wooden airplane and expected it to fly across the ocean I slap together a little band expected it to you know rule the world or whatever and so I figured why not call ourselves the Flyboys. So we were Flyboys for a while. While we were playing the Nightingale I heard somebody said, “There’s a band in San Diego that called themselves the Flyboys.”
They were doing pretty well so I figured okay we’ll change our name. We’ll call ourselves The San Diego Flyboys but that didn’t pan out. It was about this time that hip-hop started coming in and fly became an urban term so people thought that we were going to be a hip hop band.
The original lineup at this point, I was actually fronting the band. I wasn’t playing anything. This guy Eddie O’Rourke was on guitar and his brother Bob was on bass and George Fromundy was on drums. George has been with me to this day. This was early 90s around 92 I think. We were practicing one day, and Eddie and Bob O’Rourke, these guys were amazing. Still are, I’m sure. Bob’s in Italy and Eddie’ is in California to let you know how people spread out.
They used to just come out with these non sequiturs coming out of their head. Bob stepped up. We were about to do one of my songs in practice and Bob went up to the microphone he said, “And now for the Bossa Nova Beatnicks sound of Tom Gould,” and I looked at him and said, “Where the heck did that come from?”
I like Beatnick and Bossa Nova is the dance of love, you can’t go wrong. The name just stuck and we couldn’t get rid of it. We weren’t a Bossa Nova band. That’s another thing, we went from Flyboys where people are expecting us to be hip hop band and now being the Bossa Nova Beatnicks and people would come in with Salsa outfits on figuring that they’re going to salsa tonight. I’m sorry, my apologies to Joe Beam, but we’re more of a hybrid. If you look at the history of Bossa Nova, Bossa Nova became a hybrid between the Samba and The Blues.
I figured well, where we’re taking that hybrid idea a step further and we can bring in the beatnik, which focused on the lyrics and poetry of beatniks. It was always in the back of my mind that we can’t be calling ourselves Bossa Nova Beatnicks if we’re not doing Bossa Nova. At the time we were playing CBGB’s and the woman who did the bookings, a woman named Louise. I told her for now well call ourselves Bossa Nova Beatnicks, but we’re gonna come up with a new name.
She said, “No, you can change that name, it’s a great name. I figured well this lady has seen everything booking CBGB’s. She’s seen thousands of bands and I figured well you know she thinks it’s a great name who am I to argue. So, I’ve been living with it and you know in deference to the people of Brazil and Joe Beam and the Boss Nova movement. We do try to do something Bossa or Samba on at least one cut on each album.
Then again I don’t want to be labeled like i said I was a child of the Beatles and if you look at The Beatles albums, they’re doing country, they’re doing rock, Helter Skelter. They do everything and I thought, well that’s what you do. If you’re a songwriter you don’t say oh well I’m a reggae band so I have to make a reggae song. No I’m a musician, I’m a songwriter, I’m gonna write the song and if the song happens to be a reggae song it will be reggae. If it happens to be a country song it’ll be country.
Of course in today’s market the radio stations if you don’t…
HKC: If you don’t fit the niche, you’re not going to get it.
Like CD Baby covers my albums and when you submit an album they always say okay pick a genre that you’re in click on the box and I look at the hundred and fifty boxes, I don’t fit in any of them. That’s another reason why I have removed myself from the whole promotion and all that. I just want to make the music and let somebody else figure it out later on what it is.
HKC: Well, that’s the beauty of it and then you get discovered for certain things. We have over here (can you hold that up Wayne just towards that camera over there.) It’s called “Demon On Wheels” and 3 of Ton’s songs were featured.
Tom Gould: There’s a song called “Zantee Misfits” “Worlds Will Collide” and a song called “Bad Little Baby.”
HKC: So those three songs are on Demon Wheels which is an indie film and kind of fits into our normal format of things.
Tom Gould: That’s why I wanted to bring that in because I had watched the podcast and noticed that you’re primarily about films and I love films. This came out a year ago. I’m so proud of it. It’s about a guy who used to be a rum runner in the Catskill Mountains in the 70s or earlier. He had this Shelby Mustang. The cops couldn’t catch him. I’m sure they knew where he lived and stuff but they had to actually catch him and they never could and so it was something for all of them to do on a Saturday night.
It wasn’t safe or anything like that, but it tells the story when he stopped being a rum runner. He put the car in the garage and then he became a mechanic. He’s making his living but he got the urge to get the car back out again and so the movies about him rebuilding this car. Caroll Shelby who designed the Shelby Mustang is actually interviewed in the film and he died during the making of the film so this is the last interview with Carroll Shelby.
The documentary gets into the relationship with the guy’s wife who’s looking at the books and saying this car could bury us financially. It’s called “Demon on Wheels” and it’s a really cool documentary.
HKC: I’ll have to get a look. I honestly haven’t. I didn’t even know you were bringing that tonight.
Tom Gould: It’s my only copy so I’m not leaving it with you. No, no. I will find it I will dig it out, trust me.
HKC: A couple other things. You have this other album here which is Tommy Numbers and the Wildcats which is also you. It’s a series of covers that he did, “That’s Alright Mama” “Bossa Nova Baby” “Honey Don’t” “Ruby Baby” “Little sister.” Is that Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Little Sister?
Tom Gould: No, that’s Elvis’ Little Sister.
HKC: But these are just some of the songs that are on the CD. It’s not under the Bossa Nova Beatniks umbrella. Although it is you. Tom I gotta tell you, it’s been a pleasure having you here. This has been mind-blowing for me because I’ve been a fan for 20-something years.
Tom has a new album coming out. It’s called, “For the Fun.” Okay, Bossa Nova Beatniks, Tom Gould. Are you going to play us out with another song.
Tom Gould: Yeah, If you’ll join me.
HKC: I would love to.
Tom Gould: This is another cinematic song in a way. It was inspired by Groucho Marx. This one’s called, “I Gotta Run.” This is another one from the sequel to the Tommy Numbers album.
(Music and singing)