Interview

Tonio K talks about the Crickets, Gram Parsons, Jackson Browne, T Bone Burnett, and More

Fantastic interview Hal of one of the more underappreciated songwriters now working. His connections within the industry are fascinating and his solo albums are some of my favorites in my entire collection. I always wondered why he stopped making albums and figured he just got fed-up with the music industry and his poor sales. When it turned out to be extreme stage fright it provided a new understanding but I sure wish he had kept at it. He mentioned he should have done so like his friend Peter Case who has a big enough following to have a career and I thought back to the Peter Case gig I saw where only a handful of people showed up which I found unbelievable for such an accomplished artist. I had to laugh at the irony of Tonio getting a certificate for contributing lyrics to an album that got a Grammy for Instrumental Album. It was also nice to hear that Jackson Browne has no hard feelings about Tonio's "Hatred" song.  The bit about recording the machine gun for that song was quite funny too. Thanks again for a great job on one of the best articles/interviews I've read on this site.

Thanks for the kind words Dennis. I saw Peter Case Monday night with a "crowd" of about 40 people.  An excellent solo show but based on those numbers it is unclear Tonio K made a poor choice.

 

I agree Hal. After my Peter Case gig I mentioned to him how sad it was so few people showed up. He said that as a young man he'd go to small clubs to see blues legends who drew a tiny crowd but he still thought they were so cool he just wished he could do that. Then he said, "Be careful for what you wish for." I also asked him about his sometime writing partner, Tonio K. ,since I hadn't heard anything about him in years and he's the one that told me he was writing with Bacharach which blew my mind. "So," I thought, "he's pulling an Elvis Costello," since I thought that a very unlikely collaboration too.

Great report / interview with a highly underrated artist ... ; love his albums ...

 

Recent update from Tonio K......   BTW, Foodchain went on to be named Sterio Review's (rock) album of the year in 1979 (And Amerika the next year).  I've got the plaques to prove it ...and they, and $1.75, will get me a tall at Starbucks!

A terrific interview with a criminally underappreciated artist...didn't know he had stage fright...if he didn't, he might be playing for 40 peoplelike Peter Case, or he might be Ryan Adams, who also has had to overcome that pre performance dread...he has the songs for sure...

Glad to see the Jackson Browne controversy put to bed...couldn't imagine one such talented songwriter not appreciating another...I do recall there was immense backlash at the SoCal stable of artists at some point, directed more at the Eagles than anyone else, but JB was the epitome of the sensitive singer songwriter guy, and he was the focal point of all the benefits and causes too...at the time I thought that was where that was coming from, sort of a backlash at that scene...

One of my favorite interviews ever Hal...great job!  Thanks so much!

While you are at it, why don't you see if you can lure New Radicals frontman Gregg Alexander out of hiding?...his story is a akin to Tonio K...love to hear you interview that guy after reading this...he did the "Jackson Browne" thing with Beck, Courtney Love, Marilyn Manson, and Hanson in "You Get What You Give"...just quit performing with his star on the rise...a bunch of great demos and some commentary on the Illuminati on YouTube is about the only sighting other than a few  production gigs...

 

Hey Jim...I'm glad somebody finally acknowledged what a great job Hal did in interviewing this obscure but excellent artist. I knew Tonio K. was obscure but from the lack of comments you'd think he didn't exist.

If we are nominating other artists for Hal to interview I have one too. Of course Hal would have to appreciate the artist and know enough about his work to ask pertinent questions and I wonder if he even wants to put in all that work for such a meager response. The singer-songwriter I'm thinking of is Loudon Wainwright III. He's vastly underrated but not nearly as obscure as Tonio K. Many of his songs are so humorous I would think his interviews would be very entertaining. He's also been in the business so long (I've been a fan since the early 70's) he must have some wonderful stories. On the other had he is famous enough that getting an interview may be rather difficult but one can always wish.

Thanks guys.  Six degrees of Kevin Bacon?  Big deal. I'm guessing two degrees of separation connects Tonio K to a majority of the recording industry (Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, Keith Richards,Gram Parsons are just a few of the "two degrees" that come to mind)!

And to put a cherry on top, after  the interview Tonio sent me a copy of Raik's Progress and the Brief History of the Blues disc he compiled and curated!

 

Loudon Wainwright III...good suggestion...Older Than My Old Man now is wonderful and laugh out loud funny...

 

His kids are real talented too...I saw Rufus once...he's something else...Martha is too...

 

Hal...again, great job...I guess Dennis and I are starting your fan club.

Yes, Jim, that's a good LWIII album but his new one, "I Haven't Got the Blues (Yet)" is even better. It's produced by David Mansfield who plays all kinds of instruments and the arrangements are eclectic and very tasteful. It's actullay one of his better albums. Speaking of his funny songs, have you ever heard his "Acid Song" about he and friends dropping acid after years staying away from it? It's on one of his live albums and pretty amazing. Check it out.

Hal...I'm glad that Tonio has awarded you with some free recordings. At least you got something for all your hard work although just being able to talk to the guy must have been pretty cool in itself. But if he's gone to this site to see what kind of reaction it got he must be pretty disappointed. 

If I was in it for the money I'd go back to writing those phony Penthouse Forum letters! 

I thought your work with Penthouse was outstanding. But it can barely stand up (a pun of sorts) to this great interview. Now that you're off that crazy 'lets fix the site' thread, you can really fix it with more of your writing. Knew you were an outsanding comment poster, but who knew of these other skill sets? Well done. 

No wonder Guccione went out of business...I never knew Hal!  All the time I was wondering who the other guy was writing in there...my Forum letters were all true by the way...

Dennis, thanks for the tip on the new LWIII

Re; My comment on his kids...their mother was quite a talent too...

 

You're right about LWII's kids Jim and the Mcgarrigle Sister mother. I believe he has another musician daughter from one of the Roche sisters. I guess all those songs of his about relationships are true,,,

Yes, they must all be true...being married to another artist apparently isn't easy...

Dennis, if we're nominating artists for Hal to interview, and we should be, the Holy Grail would be...well, Hal knows...

Let me see if I have this straight, Hal - your day job is as a molecular biologist, and you still have time to crank out fantastic interviews like this one? Dude, you've got it going on....

 

And yeah, I agree with the other comments that Loudon is an amazing talent, worthy of a cover story of his own.