1981: Six song “mini album” released on Rhino Records.
One single released
Produced by Ray Manzarek
Out of print. Not available.
1.I’m In Love
3.Some Pay The Price (Some Never Will)
4.Falling Off The Edge
6.Lock On My Heart
Single: He’s a Rebel / You’re So Strange
Manzarek/Sugerman To Promote LA Bands
by Jeff Silberman, Music Connection, Feb, 1980
As the local music scene continues to prosper, more and more people are getting their hands into the business, creating more opportunities for local bands to get the needed counselling and advice. In doing so, these local bands better their chances at landing a recording contract. One new venture, New Way Productions, has opened in L.A., spearheaded by Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek and PR/business veteran Danny Sugerman. Sugerman met Manzarek while he was with The Doors, and continued to work with him on several projects after Morrison’s death, which included Iggy Pop right before his Bowie period, and a brief stint with The Knack before their signing with Capitol.
New Way has lately gotten involved in the local scene; their first two clients are hardcore punk-rockers X, who have an album coming out on Slash Records in April, and the Zippers, a more popish new wave group who have been close to label deals before, but now are apparently closer than ever. Manzarek and Sugerman detailed their interest in the local scene at Manzarek’s comfortable Hollywoodland home.
MUSIC CONNECTION: What made you decide to start this venture?
RAY MANZAREK: All I can think of is that it seemed like a good idea at the time…
DANNY SUGERMAN: After seeing The Knack take off…
MANZAREK: The time was right. The two of us have been together for eight years as a team, and we just said, “let’s get this thing organized”.
SUGERMAN: The company was started just to give what we were doing some form, because we were doing it anyway. Ray had seen X and was really turned on by them, and I’d seen the Zippers. As it turned out, X wanted Ray to produce the Zippers…
MANZAREK: And the Zippers wanted Danny to manage them. So we just decided to make it legal and form a company.
SUGERMAN: We’re also doing some consulting outside the company. There are groups who shouldn’t have signed so soon with someone who’s not right for them. We want to help people out on a consulting basis without signing contracts.
MUSIC CONNECTION: Are you still scouting the scene for other acts to work with?
MANZAREK: Yes, but originally we didn’t set out to find bands. All of a sudden the scene started happening, so we decided to check out the clubs.. We heard some of the bands, and we said, “Hey, some of these bands are really good! Let’s get involved with them.” There was something going on that was just starting to come to life again. It was just like it was during the psychedelic era when The Doors first got started, when everything was going on. It’s the same kind of thing, except there’s even more places to play now as then.
SUGERMAN: The enthusiasm is there again. We were together during the 70’s, and the 70’s were really boring. There wasn’t anything to do. There were some solo albums, and we got in a lot of experience. When the scene started happening a couple of years ago, there wasn’t too much experience within that scene, because most of the people who had the experience were too intimidated to be associated with it.
MUSIC CONNECTION: Stylistically, X and the Zippers are opposites, yet you’re working with both bands. What attracted you to such different groups?
MANZAREK: It’s a matter of spirit and commitment to the music. They play different kinds of music, but all kinds of musical styles are valid as long as that spirit, that drive and that intensity is there. I found the same kind of spirit in both bands, even though they’re singing about different things, their playing is different, but their hearts are there. That’s what I haven’t seen in music for a long time – a heart, a soul, a spirit. Music matters again to all the new wave and punk rock bands. Music was a way to make money through the 70’s. Music for these bands is first and foremost. They’d like to make money – who wouldn’t – but it’s all about the commitment, the spirit and the soul.
MUSIC CONNECTION: Are there still other bands that you would like to work with?
MANZAREK: Yea, but they will remain nameless at the moment.
MUSIC CONNECTION: How big do you see the company getting, and how many acts can you handle?
MANZAREK: Not too many, four or five.
SUGERMAN: We’ve been approached by a couple of other bands, we can’t keep up already. We don’t want to get too big too soon. Right now, we want to try to break X’s record, and get the Zippers signed. We want to give them every opportunity they both deserve.
MUSIC CONNECTION: X, being on Slash Records, might have problems in distribution and radio play without major label support.
MANZAREK: That might happen, but look at Heart on Mushroom Records. They sold two million records. If the demand is there, Slash can get together with a distributor. That won’t be a problem.
SUGERMAN: I think that X and the Zippers are two of the best bands in town. Right now, we’re going to take care of them first before we start taking anyone else on. But we’ll still do some consulting work with others.
MUSIC CONNECTION: The goal of every band, of course, is to be successful, to get as wide an audience as possible. Do you think that type of success is contrary to the beliefs of a band like X?
SUGERMAN: When you’re on the road and making a lot of money, and you’re concerned with paying the roadies, and keeping the corporation together, and getting an album in under budget, you’re not going to write the same type of music you wrote while rehearing in a garage.
MANZAREK: But that’s the obligation of the artist – when you decide whether you’re a musician/artist or a musician/businessman. It’s up to you to make that choice. As you start to become successful, you can become seduced by it, or you can stay an artist and think, “well, if people come, fine, and if they don’t, that’s their loss.” You can get seduced by the greed of it.
SUGERMAN: We can take care of our artists so they don’t get their heads fucked up like that.
MANZAREK: I can talk to bands on a personal basis, saying that happened to me, so watch out. You have to put the music, the poetry and the art first.
MUSIC CONNECTION: Do you make any suggestions regarding changing arrangements and so on?
SUGERMAN: We work on the arrangements with both bands. I’ve gone down the set with the Zippers, concentrating on which songs to break in live and which other arrangements would sound better on the record.
MUSIC CONNECTION: Are these refinements commercially oriented?
MANZAREK: No. I just alter a chord change or rearrange a part of the song. If the artist doesn’t want to take our input, then fine, maybe we shouldn’t work together. If you’re so headstrong that you don’t want our opinions, then we shouldn’t be together. It’s got to be a musical commitment plus a human contact.
SUGERMAN: It’s got to be fun for both of us, because Ray doesn’t need the money and I don’t need the headache. After working with Jim Morrison and Iggy Pop, you learn about just how much genius justifies how much thick-headedness. But we’re not going to work with anybody that doesn’t have a very strong ego. We’re not trying to create anything; we’re just trying to plug our expertise to someone who’s already got something strong going.
MUSIC CONNECTION: When dealing with a small independent label like Slash, is there any point where you feel it would be right to step in?
SUGERMAN: We’ve already stepped in before they’ve done anything. We’ve discussed everything: marketing, distribution, network, advertising, radio and the press. Slash isn’t big and they don’t have a lot of muscle, but they’re really sincere, really hard working, and they believe in the band. Who could ask for more? I’ll ask for belief before I ask for dollars.
MANZAREK: Without commitment, none of it means anything. Then it becomes a business, a matter of selling product. I hate that. “Product” is pipe fittings and toilet bowls. We’re dealing in art, in music, something that moves people.
MUSIC CONNECTION:Representing the Zippers and working with the major labels, is your style of representation any different than with X?
SUGERMAN: It is, and it isn’t. Each group is very different. I don’t think major companies are ready for X, but they’re ready for the Zippers. I wouldn’t even approach a label like Columbia with X. I expect a major label to sign the Zippers.
MUSIC CONNECTION: If you see a band that has the tunes and are “signable” but their stage presence is awful, would you bring that up to them?
MANZAREK: We’d tell them that what they’ve got is great, but also talk about their weaknesses.
SUGERMAN: First they have to agree with you that something’s wrong, and what is wrong. Then we’d work with them.
MUSIC CONNECTION: What kind of changes do you suggest?
SUGERMAN: I’ve really encouraged Bob Willingham to step out front as the Zipper’s lead singer. He was really hesitant to do that before, because it didn’t fit his concept of the band. This was a strength I felt they weren’t developing. We talked, so Bob’s coming out more and more.
MANZAREK: That’s a perfect example of a band that was fine, but they needed that extra input, someone to tell them that they got a great lead singer, and to take advantage of that.
MUSIC CONNECTION: Is it the same with Exene as the lead singer of X?
MANZAREK: In that band, they have a whole nucleus going.
SUGERMAN: You’re talking about a punk rock band with more musical experience than most studio musicians. X may sound minimalistic, but the talent is maximum.
MANZAREK: Billy Zoom was Gene Vincent’s lead guitarist for a long time. They’ve played everything, cocktail jazz.. drummer Don Bonebreak has studied percussion.
SUGERMAN: They are so professional that it only cost $10,000 to complete the whole album, called “Los Angeles”.
MUSIC CONNECTION: How important is image in selling of a brand.
MANZAREK: Paramount to their success.
SUGERMAN: It’s one of the first things we discuss; how we see them. If I’m going to sell something, I’ve got to love it. If I love something, the first thing I’m going to do is tell people about it. If I tell people are this band, and it’s going to be on an album jacket, or an ad, they gotta be happy with how I see them.
MANZAREK: Image comes out of the inner confidence of the collective members of the band, and if that confidence is there, the image is almost invariably right. It’s a chemistry; it all comes together.
MUSIC CONNECTION: When you receive demos from bands that would like to use New Way’s services, how much emphasis do you put on production values?
SUGERMAN: I’ve read in Music Connection where some A&R people say that it doesn’t make a difference, but I have to disagree. I know someone at MCA who has thousands of demo tapes all over his office. And when you hear 500 or so tapes a day, about the only thing you can judge is production quality.
MANZAREK: If your demo doesn’t sound like it could come off an album, practically every time, they’re going to to tell you, “this isn’t it.” Sure, it can happen, but a quality demo will undoubtedly help.
MUSIC CONNECTION: Do you accept tapes from all across the country?
MANZAREK: No. L.A. is where it’s happening right now, more so than anywhere else. We’re in it just when the getting’s good; we don’t have time for anyone else. L.A’s going to be THE music scene, just wait.
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