Animotion: An Interview From The Like Totally 80’s Festival
Best known for their 80’s hit songs Obsession and Let Him Go, Animotion recently ventured into the recording studio, issuing Raise Your Expectations – their fourth album – as well as their first recording in 26 years! Featuring the massive talents of long time co-conspirators Bill Wadhams and Astrid Plane, Raise Your Expectations has unveiled the next great chapter to the Animotion saga – one filled with superbly infectiously timeless entreaties such as Last Time, Everything, and Bad Review. Animotion recently made an appearance at the Like Totally 80′ Festival in Huntington Beach, absolutely captivating the crowd with the classics as well as new songs from Raise Your Expectations. Immediately after their vastly entertaining performance, we caught up with Bill and Astrid backstage to discuss the all things Animotion. Read on…
Is there any story or concept behind the album title, “Raise Your Expectations”?
Bill Wadhams: In the last few years when I’m writing, what I do is I approach it from a number of ways. One is sitting down thinking, writing about things that I’m thinking of literally. Another is to just put up the music and adlib. The words ‘Raise Your Expectations‘ came out of it. It just kind of came out of my subconscious and it might have to do with the idea that we have been trying to do an album for a long time. You know it just takes a long time until everything comes together. So I think when I wrote ‘Raise Your Expectations‘ it was really the first song that went on the album and it’s just a song of hope. It’s just hopeful.
What inspired the lyrics to “Bad Review” and has Animotion ever received one?
Bill Wadhams: Oh yeah. Absolutely. Back in the day, in the 80s, we were playing in the Los Angeles scene but when we had a hit record I think a lot of the local critics in the area thought we had sort of short-cutted the system because there’s a lot of good bands in LA that weren’t getting any attention. And all of a sudden we explode on the scene and Robert Hilburn didn’t like us, of the LA Times. He wrote a really nasty review after we played the Hollywood Bowl. So, one day I just thought about that -“thank you for the bad review.” As I was thinking about, okay we have an album coming out, you know everybody gets some good reviews and some bad reviews. In this case, we thought we’d just invite them to bring it on. We’re ready.
Select any other song on the album, what inspired the lyrics?
Astrid Plane: Well, let’s talk about ‘Surrender’ because that’s one I got to really stretch out on. I actually use lyrics from about five sets of lyrics to pull together into this one song. But it has to do with going through rough times and sometimes you just can’t fight things anymore and you kinda have to accept what’s happening. And in that, you find strength and you can morph into what’s really supposed to be happening.
How frustrating was it to wait 26 years to record the fourth Animation album?
Bill Wadhams: Well, I think there were some frustrating moments where Astrid and I and a couple of the band members had recorded some songs but then we had some starts and stops. It’s frustrating when you think you’re getting somewhere and then, at one point I was pretty excited about a song and then our original guitarist Don walked in and said ‘I’m not into that song anymore‘, so you know that’s typical band stuff. But on this album when this label ‘Invisible Hands Music‘ asked us to record an album, that really helped to have everything fall into place.
What do you think has kept the song “Obsession” so popular and beloved after all this time?
Bill Wadhams: There’s no way of telling. It’s everything about it. It’s the beat, it’s the way it was recorded, it’s the lyrics, it’s the voices, you know it’s just one of those things where it all just came together. Wouldn’t you say, Astrid?
Astrid Plane: Yeah. It kind of captured the sound of the 80s so perfectly and the video was so quirky and colorful and offbeat. I think it kind of just captured the culture of the time and people that were around in the 80s. That’s a song that is very dear to their hearts because they remember exactly what they were doing at that time.
“I Engineer” was co written by Bernie Taupin. Did you get to meet him and work with him on the song at all?
Bill Wadhams: I actually did get to meet him one time and talk about it. I didn’t work on the song with him but I did talk to him about it. He’s written so many great songs. We were pretty excited to have a song by Bernie Taupin on our record.
When you look back on the third Self-Titled album with “Room To Move” on it, what do you think of it now?
Bill Wadhams: A lot of people like that album and our original members Greg and Don were on that album. When we were preparing to do that album, Astrid and I got very frustrated with what the record company wanted us to do so we both left. They decided to carry on with the plan that they had and continue to make the album. It just forged ahead. It was at a time in the record business, and I don’t know if it’s changed or not, when record company executives thought they could figure out what a hit song was. They decided they wanted to have outside hit writers writing the songs for that album. Everything we were submitting was being rejected, so Astrid and I bowed out, and Don and Greg carried on with Cynthia Rhodes and Paul Engemann and made a good record. But I don’t think anything was written by anyone in the original band.
Did you know Paul from his other band Device?
Bill Wadhams: I did not know Paul and we were introduced to Cynthia. I sang with Cynthia. I like Cynthia. But I wish them all the best, but it just wasn’t happening for us.
There was a 26 year gap between albums. Will we have to wait another 26 years for the next one?
Bill Wadhams: Nope, the next one is already being written right now. We are definitely doing another one right on the heels. It should be out within a year.
What’s up next for you Animotion?
Bill Wadhams: We are recording. We’re gonna take a break this summer. We’re gonna come back and play at Mandalay Bay in September. We’re going to play in the Dominican Republic in November. There’s some other things in the works. We’re trying to get over the UK. Mostly this summer, writing.
Do you have any messages for your fans who are reading this now?
Astrid Plane: We really appreciate people coming out to every show that we play because sometimes they’re hard to get to. It’s just meaning so much when people come up to us after and want to tell us their memories of where they were when our songs were big hits. They’re always so loving and friendly and just – pleased to meet us and we’re pleased to meet them. So come and say hi to us, say hello to us on Facebook. Look out for when we’re going to be next and please buy the new album so we can keep going.
Bill Wadhams: I would also add that some people ask well, do you ever get tired of playing “Obsession” in shows? The thing is that every show is a new experience. Every audience is different and when we start that song up, everybody goes on a journey with us. It’s just a fun blast from the past – it’s a shared experience that’s really wonderful.
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)
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