Talking with Missing Persons’ Dale Bozzio
By: Mike Ragogna
Mike Ragogna: Are you all excited about your new album Missing In Action?
Dale Bozzio: I am. I think I did a great job.
MR: What motivated recording a new album?
DB: Actually, to tell you the god’s honest truth, my mother passed away last March, and I was power-packed to go back into the music business and do what I do one more time, so I connected with Cleopatra Records and we got together and it was magic immediately.
MR: What do you think about this material compared to your past classics like “Walking In LA,” etc.?
DB: I think that it is a great interpretation of my idea of what a modern Missing Persons musically would be at this point in time. The variables are so many at this level of mechanics, so I wanted to give my listeners a little more of what I’ve already given them. I believe that it’s in the same tonality of me and my voice because that is always what I have shined to become, to hit those notes and deliver my melodies. That’s really what I’m chasing at this point in my life.
MR: You worked with Billy Sherwood.
DB: I did. This was my first time ever meeting him.
MR: You guys obviously kicked it off pretty well together. Did he come into the mix as a fan of Missing Persons already, or was it sort of a clean slate?
DB: Actually, this was a business situation. Brian Perera connected the two of us and said we would be magic together, and we were. I met him at nine o’clock in the morning at his studio, he turned on the mic, I went to work, I listened to these songs one time, interpreted them the way I heard them through my heart and soul and wrote two of them on the spot with him and just made it happen. That’s really how it happened. It was so easy. In life I think that is a key factor. If the key fits, then the door opens and you must go through it.
MR: So as you were recording, were there moments where it felt like, “Yeah, this is absolutely Missing Persons, but this is Missing Persons 2.0. There’s something going on here that’s different than all of my other recordings.”
DB: I knew it the moment I sang every bit of it. I did them all mostly five times. There’s no make-believe or mechanical shifting anywhere in the process, because that’s how I do it, old school. I can repeat the same thing off the top of my head verbatim because the way I nail the notes is what stays in my head. The process of the way I sing things and filter them through my head aren’t really the words, they’re the notes, and the notes have to be defined and the timing has to be perfect. That’s what I crave in anything that I do. Mostly all the time you can tell by my performance, my timing is a little bit in a slight way awkward, but I nail it no matter what. I can come around a corner with my vocals, I can be staccato all day long or I can make you think this is a choir. I have a tenacity to do this. That is what has kept me alive in the music business all this time. Frank Zappa told it to me when I was just a young person thinking never to be in the music business; I wanted to be a movie star and so when he made me venture into all of these musical notes using my head and throat I saw a whole new vision. I attack it differently than just singing the song. That’s why I was in a band with some of the most incredible musicians in the world: Terry Bozzio on drums is never to be duplicated. Warren Cuccurullo, same thing, never to be duplicated. They are maestros and I was granted that incredible brace from knowing Frank Zappa and those kind of musicians and being in that kind of a position with those people. You have to have really some kind of tenacity.
MR: And your band also had Patrick O’Hearn.
DB: Exactly, he did incredible things with Ancient Dreams, he’s a phenomenal, phenomenal musician. He and I wrote a song called, “If Only For The Moment,” actually, on the Rhyme And Reason album. Once we wrote that first song we were so hoping to be together again making more music. He’s brilliant.
MR: Let’s talk about the album for a bit. “The More We Love” seems to be a centerpiece of the album. How did you approach that differently than past recordings? Might this be a more mature Dale?
DB: I believe that’s an incredible performance on my behalf, I felt that to my soul. There’s some very low notes and a very intriguing little melody going on there as well as what the words are and they are in the syllables that are so easily sung they roll off the tongue. When you have all of these magical aspects in one song like that, I was in sheer tears at the end of the performance, to tell you the God’s honest truth. That’s an amazing, incredible, passionate song that I was just flabbergasted to sing and I tried to interpret it from within and make it really meaningful, as I did with the rest of the songs on the album, but that one in particular really did me in.
MR: And all listeners. What about your single, “Hello, Hello?” How would you put this in the scheme of all Missing Persons singles, like “Destination Unknown” or “Walking In LA?”
DB: I think it’s super pop. I think it’s pop, I think it’s modern, I think it’s current and it fits right in today with all of these danceable tunes. It does all of those things, it’s drivable in the car. That’s always the test. If you can drive to it then it’s okay, we can play this. I love it. I think it’s a smash.
MR: What are you listening to lately?
DB: I like the electronic music, I like Deadmau5 and that level of music. I’m not so current with all of these poppy-ish tunes because I’m always focusing on my own music pretty much. I don’t only listen to current music, though, I love the music of the sixties and the seventies, I’m still really into a lot of Marvin Gaye and that type, I’m kind of old school with the black and white movies. If I can get my hands on Marlene Dietrich then I’m really happy. I don’t really follow anything much.
MR: Do you notice the impact you’ve had on fashion and sexual expression in pop music? I’m thinking you and Madonna have paved the way for that
DB: I believe so. I think I was striving for that for my own self in the eighties, so if that did slip into thirty years later then more power to them. I’ve noticed there are a lot of fancy female musicians at this point, everyone has colorful hair. I used to think I was the only one with blue hair, but the times have changed for sure. I would like to hope so. I know everybody has their own opinion and of course that’s all a form of flattery to me, and if that’s the case then I’m sincerely happy about what all these people are doing. I don’t think that it’s all my fault, but you could say a little bit, maybe.
MR: Well you’ve had associations with so many great musicians, including Prince. You were on “Paisley Park” and you had a hit with “Simon Simon.”
DB: I did. Prince is an incredible human being, another genius to add to the list. He actually gave me the opportunity to go into the studio one weekend and said, “Okay, let me hear what you’ve got to do,” so I invented this song “Simon Simon” with a friend of mine, Robert Brookins, an incredible producer that I work with, we went into the studio at nine o’clock in the morning, I’d stayed up the night before to write “Simon Simon” and I was actually watching “Romper Room” and the woman said, “Simon, Simon, it’s your birthday today and how do you do?” so I ran with it, I jumped in the studio and recorded a couple of songs, played them for Prince and he jumped up and down and loved it and gavbe me a record deal all in a couple of days and we became great friends, he’s an incredible person, I can’t say enough. He’s really a dear, dear friend of mine and I look forward to seeing him again soon. I noticed he was on TV the other day, but I really look forward to seeing him. He made a lot of things possible for me.
MR: In 2007 you had the New Wave Sessions, and you had all sorts of fun with the covers stuff on that.
DB: Right, right. I had gotten back with Warren Cuccurullo and played a few shows with him and then went on to other things, but you know there’s still a lot more music that I’m working on now as well. My son, Shane, is an up-and-coming musician, he has a band, and there’s my other son Troy, so there’s lots of things going on, I’m writing books, I’m painting paintings and just branching out into other aspects, it’s what we all have to do now. Music is so changed, there’s lots of versions of situations where we can play music that are more accepted now than ever. We were in a tunnel in the eighties, so it’s really incredible that there are all of these opportunities for so many people.
MR: And quite a bit of electronic music is built on sounds of the eighties, only with personal computers, it’s become a lot easier to utilize them.
DB: Yeah, and they’re accepted now more so than back in the day when you had to be a five-piece band to play everything. As Frank Zappa said to me, “Never record anything that you can’t go on stage and play again. You’ll be made a fool of.” To keep that in mind was really incredible because even to this day, for thirty years, I can step on stage and play that Spring Session M album. It is a pretty fascinating thought if you’re looking at longevity, but again, if the lights go out, where’s all that music going to go?
MR: We’ve referenced Frank Zappa a couple of times. He was your mentor wasn’t he?
DB: Oh yes, absolutely. Now until the day I die. He made me who I am today. He said to me, “With that tone in your voice, you’ll become a household name” and I looked at him and laughed. I actually laughed hysterically and that was the day he hired me to be Mary on Joe’s Garage. Until this day that’s what I talk about and that’s who I am, I’m Mary on Joe’s Garage and I will be forever and ever. The opportunity that he gave me and said to me, “Okay, sing this, okay, now laugh, okay, stop, now sing this way,” and everything he taught me when we made that is what I do continually and what I have done with all of the music I’ve made up until now, it’s the same as when I perform these songs. It doesn’t matter who writes them or what they say or what the words are, it’s all in the performance and your delivery and your timing. Timing is everything. He taught me all of these things that are gold in my pocket. I’m just one of the luckiest people in the world to have been in his presence let alone made him laugh, and he made me laugh and he made me cry and the last day I saw him was just a few days before he passed away and his wife allowed me to come and see him and he held me by the shoulders, each of his hands, and he kissed me on the forehead and he almost gave me the kiss of life. He left me with a blessing and I have to remember him in everything I do, and every show I play I thank him, and every day I think of him. It brings me to tears, truly, what he has given me. That’s why I sang that record the way I did and do what I do every day of my life, because it’s so precious for us to have all of these chances and we need to take them and we need to make choices in life and sometimes even break our own rules to make our life a better place that really makes everyone else’s life better. That’s what he did to me.
MR: So beautiful and so sweet. Thank you for sharing that with me, Dale. Moving on to another Frank, you were also with Frank Sinatra.
DB: I know, how crazy is that? So incredible, right?
MR: “LA Is My Lady.” What was it like when you heard the playback?
DB: It was just so crazy that the day we were called to do that the last thing I thought we would be doing is being carried on a surf board. [laughs] I had like five inch stiletto heels, running on the sand. It was pretty crazy. That’s the last video that Frank Sinatra made, really.
MR: That is awesome. Dale, what advice do you have for new artists?
DB: Oh lord, for new artists? I guess if you really believe in what you do twenty four hours a day you can sink your teeth in it then stay with it, if not you’ve got to think about another aspect of life, because not everything comes true. You can be the greatest musician in the whole world, but you need to have the opportunity to do what you do the best and I suppose the most important thing, I would say, is to believe in yourself.
MR: Okay, now that Missing Persons is no longer missing in action, if somebody had to go to one song on the new album, which one would you take them to and why?
DB: I would say it would be “If I Gave You My Mind,” it’s sort of a melodic little episode that I wrote as everybody wants to be somebody else but really what would you do with my mind if I gave it to you different than what I have to do and how you wouldn’t believe in the things you were taught and you would do something different and what would that really be and would you really, really, really want to do that?
MR: And Dale has always been a consistent person, hasn’t she?
DB: Yeah! [laughs] Without a doubt, one person that’s definitely living my life as me, to the fullest and the best that I can possibly be. It may be introverted and lonely at times, and very quiet, but it’s mine and I own it one hundred percent.
Transcribed By Galen Hawthorne