An In-Depth Interview With Supergroup WORLD GOES ROUND’s Member, Frank Musker On The Band’s Latest Music, His Vast Career, The Iconic BLM Movement and Lots More!
WORLD GOES ROUND is a supergroup of four songwriters, singers, and musicians which formed in the late 80s featuring Frank Musker, Elizabeth Lamers, Jeff Hull and Marty Walsh.
“Round The World” is the follow up single to the recently released debut recording “Big House.” Check out the music video for “Round The World” – HERE.
WORLD GOES ROUND, whose recordings were never released until now, have written and recorded with everyone from Queen to Linda Ronstadt, Chaka Kahn, Sheena Easton, Quincy Jones, Kenny Rogers, John Denver, Supertramp, John Fogerty, Donna Summer, Neil Diamond, Jeffrey Osborne, Air Supply, and many more. The four members of WORLD GOES ROUND collaborated 1989 to record the album produced by Tommy Vicari (Prince, Billy Idol), which ended up never seeing the light of day. For one reason or another, both personal and contractual, the recorded WORLD GOES ROUND tracks have languished unheard for more than 30 years. Now these tracks are being released.
Says Musker, who co-wrote “Round The World” with Jay Cawley and Kim Tyler, “’Round the World’ deals with an escape from a negative relationship that is going nowhere, but it’s written from a more optimistic perspective – that a new love has brought new hope for a better future. Making that final break with the past and setting off to find the big beautiful world that’s out there waiting to be discovered and experienced is the theme of the sunny light filled chorus. It swells the heart with positivity, warmth and the hope that people all over the world want the same things – love, freedom, joy, adventure and fulfilment.”
He adds, “After all the unprecedented trauma and fear of Covid 19 and the worldwide restrictions of lockdown this song looks forward to a time when it’s okay to dream of travelling again – taking to the road and embracing this precious life in all its beauty.”
WORLD GOES ROUND’s 10 track album was recorded at Musker’s Laurel Canyon studio in Los Angeles, where the group created powerful pop tunes, matching their creative and musical aspirations – to make a record that was musically inspired by their heroes; while being quirky, forthright and relevant.
Says Walsh, “About a year ago, the producer of World Goes Round, Tommy Vicari, asked me if I had a copy of the project. I dug out a cassette tape of the mixes, put it into my audio player, and recorded it into my studio workstation. As soon as I heard the first song, it was apparent that this project really was something special, even though it never saw the light of day. I sent the project to Tommy and followed shortly by sending it to the rest of the members of WGR, who I had been out of touch with for many years. Everybody was quite floored by the music we had not heard in decades, and a conversation ensued about the possibility of somehow releasing this music.”
Connect With World Goes Round Online Here: https://www.worldgoesround.info/
Learn more about World Goes Round in the following All Access interview:
Thank you for your time. So given these unusual Covid-19 times, what does a typical day look like for you all now? How have you adjusted to these times? Have you been able to get together to play much music?
Well for me personally, lockdown has been an absolute blessing – but again, I’m one of the lucky ones. I live out in the English countryside and this year the weather has been sensational – more like Southern California. We have plenty of space and fresh air, so I can go for my walks every day and stay healthy. The real positive for me has been the re emergence of WGR and my reconnection with my old friends and band-mates Marty, Jeff, Elizabeth and Tommy V. The fact that we are all having the same experience means we are available for each other because we’re all stuck at home. Tommy has built a state of the art studio next to his house so we now have a creative base from which to operate.
We are currently working on four or five new/old tracks from the period which we are bringing up to master level for the album to be released in the autumn, so that’s really exciting. The chemistry between us is still there, and it’s almost telepathic. I guess things just have their time and this is the time for the WGR project – only 30 years later! Playing together is out of the question for now because we live in four different time zones, and we’re locked down, but with Zoom, Whatsapp and all the other digital innovations, we can record and mix stuff virtually each from our living room. Live performances? Definitely when the timing is right. Nothing would please me more than to be on a stage with these killer musicians.
What has been the hardest/most challenging part about being quarantined? Is your city starting to open up more now? Have you been able to get together much and play music?
It’s hard for everybody all over the world, especially for those who have lost loved ones or have been ill themselves. As I said, I consider myself to be amongst the lucky ones. It forces you to think more creatively and to find practical solutions to your current limitations. Our problem as a group was that we were always so busy individually that we had to find time to be our own band. Tommy was scheduled to do three movies — one in London, one in NY and one in LA — just before lockdown. So for WGR, it was a blessing in disguise because now he’s available. I made a joke the other day that the whole world had to shut down for us all to get back together again – but it’s true. So we’re making the most of our time creatively for sure. Things are starting to open up slowly here in the UK, but a part of me will secretly miss this time of reflection when it’s all over. I hope it’s a re-set for humanity and that we emerge stronger and more conscious of what’s really important – family, friends, community, the health of the planet. It’s not all bad.
How have you been able to use social media during these unprecedented times? Are you finding that you use it even more to stay connected to fans and other musicians?
I’m embarrassed to admit that I have never done social media until now so it’s a whole new education for me but I’m enjoying it. I now realize how important and useful it can be for artists to be able to connect with their audience and to get our music out there. There seems to be a real momentum growing out there online for WGR, so it’s only fitting that I get with the program finally.
What has it been like having to reschedule so many of your spring, summer and most likely fall shows? What shows in 2021 are you are already excited for?
Well of course in our case it didn’t apply because we hadn’t heard the tracks or heard from each other in such a long time. The whole story is such an out of the blue event for all of us. We had no idea what might come of all this. The most exciting thing is that we realize now that we are a real band even though these tracks were recorded three decades ago. The great bonus is that we are all still great friends, and working on the new stuff for the album showed us that the group sound and identity is still there and better than ever.
Since we are all desperately missing live music, can you recall a favorite show of yours from the past? What do you think ultimately makes for a great show for you?
In 1964 I had just become a teenager living in Melbourne, Australia, where my family lived at the time. I was completely caught up in Beatlemania and the whole British invasion thing, and being English, I was extra proud. I saw the Beatles with some friends of mine on the same bill as the Kinks and some other UK artists. I remember walking all the way home because the last bus had gone and we were absolutely walking on air. I had never experienced anything like it in my young life – it turned out to be life changing. The communal sense of excitement was so intense and powerful, and the feeling was tribal. Unforgettable.
I think in our world these days everyone experiences music alone on headphones and lives in their personal cyber bubble – so the shared experience of a great concert is a mind blower for young people – a common experience of real joy with our fellow human beings. When you suddenly realize 2,000 or 10,000 other people are all having the same experience simultaneously, it’s profound.
A couple of years ago I went to a special screening of Ron Howard’s brilliant Beatles film ‘Eight Days a Week.’ It was full of amazing never seen before footage of the Beatles’ live shows, and suddenly there was the Melbourne concert of 1964, and I nearly jumped out of my seat and shouted ‘I was there!’ Luckily my lovely wife was there to restrain me.
Even though I have always been a fan of 80’s music, why do you think there is a resurgence right now for it all? Are other artists and TV and movies impacting it at all?
It was a golden age for music and quality lasts. We were also at a pivotal moment where revolutionary digital technology was becoming available. So you had an incredibly creative studio scene in LA where so many amazing musicians and producers were working live sessions. I was lucky enough to work on a daily basis with brilliant A list studio guys like Jeff Porcaro, John Robinson, Steve Lukather, Paulinho da Costa, Robbie Buchanan, and more. It was inspiring to work with these Olympians. You aspire to be up at their level. Producers like Arif Mardin and Quincy Jones, songwriters like Rod Temperton – these guys are truly legends who created some of the best music ever.
I think there is a general nostalgia for the music of the 80s because with time people are becoming aware of just how good that music was. New stars like Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran, Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson are all deeply rooted in the 80s and it shows. I think thats a good thing. We’re all standing on the shoulders of giants, and we’re all trying to reach a little higher because they set the bar so high.
Let’s talk about your soon-to-be released song, “Round The World.” What was the inspiration for it?
Bruce Springsteen said all the best rock songs all flow from ‘We Gotta Get Out of this Place’ by Eric Burden and the Animals. It’s the classic rock and roll fantasy of jumping on your motor bike with your girl, tearing off into the sunset and never looking back – I’m sure that’s where ‘Born to Run’ came from.
In the case of Round the World, it’s sort of the same idea except it’s about escaping from a negative relationship which is going nowhere, and the prospect of getting out and embracing this beautiful world with all its exciting possiblities with a new love. After this world wide lockdown, I think it’s OK for us to dream about a time when we can do that once more. Travel, see the world, have new experiences, find new love – I think we all dream about it, especially now.
How does it compare with the rest of your 10-track album? Do you recall what it was like recording this collection back then in Laurel Canyon? Why do you think it took so long to finally get this music out there into the world?
The album has a very distinctive sound because it’s the five of us (including Tommy of course) making that sound. But there are many different flavours to this record: some serious, some playful, some dirty and funky, some melodic and soulful. It’s a unique combination of people who each bring their influences to bear on the collective in the writing and the musicianship. There’s a bit of country rock like the Eagles, a bit of electro funk and world music like Peter Gabriel – lots of influences. We just made an album to please ourselves and express ourselves artistically without the input of A&R men, record companies, etc. It was a complete joy. No pressure. Just a perfect creative setting at the studio in legendary Laurel Canyon. It was idyllic…and the presence of a 150 ft. California redwood growing out of the centre of the studio meant there was plenty of spirit flying around. That’s why it’s so gratifying that this music is finally seeing the light of day instead of gathering dust in a drawer somewhere. They say everything has its time and timing is everything – maybe this is WGR’s time?
What does it feel like getting this music that you worked on so long ago finally out? Is there relief at all or mostly just excitement about this release?
Well firstly amazement – that the stuff sounds so good and so relevant lyrically and musically after 30 years (particularly since none of us had listened to the tracks in all that time). We had no idea how it would be received by the media and the public so we are doubly amazed at the phenomenal reaction we’ve had so far. We’re all very excited about being able to finish up the remaining four or five tracks which make up the album so there is a great feeling of then and now, as if time has stood still because they all fit together so seemlessly.
Of course the songs were all written at that period so they have a unity about them – it’s just that some never got beyond the demo stage. Now that we’re able to bring them all up to master level it feels like a perfect time capsule, but also there’s an element of who we are now which is very gratifying. We’re older and more experienced, so I think there’s also a real sense of joy and gratitude about being given the chance to finish what we started. So definitely relief – but also real excitement about what the future might hold for WGR. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s all a bonus – being able to make your living doing what you love is a rare privilege to be savored and respected. Not everybody gets to live their dream.
Each of you has collaborated with so many amazing artists so I am curious what experiences really stand out the most to you? Who really impacted you and your careers?
I can only speak for myself, but we all have had seminal experiences. I think for me, making an album in 1982 as the Dukes with Dominic Bugatti, my life long songwriting partner, with Arif Mardin producing is right up there. Arif was a great musician, a brilliant mentor and a wonderful man – a sort of father figure to so many artists whom he produced. Dominic and I had already had about 10 years of success as songwriters behind us when we began working with Arif. It was like going back to university. He was so inspiring. All the greatest musicians on the planet gave their all when they worked for him. He commanded such respect, and being signed to Atlantic Records was also a great feeling. So many of our favorites were on that label: Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Picket, the Rolling Stones… I was very proud at the time. When your musical heroes become your peers that’s a great feeling.
How would you say that you all have grown as a musician since you first started writing songs and performing? Does what motivate to continue doing so changed over the years? What advice would you tell your younger selves about life today and the music industry in general? Would you have changed anything about your various careers?
The thing about getting older is that you begin to realize how lucky you are to be making music as a profession. You have to be passionate about it, otherwise forget it. It’s not for the faint hearted – and you have to be able to take criticism and rejection. That’s not easy. But it teaches you to be patient and philosophical and resilient. My motivation has always been to make the best music I possibly could at the highest level. I never cared about fame – I feel lucky in many ways to have had a career in the background, but still at the center of the music business. I have seen the pressures of fame destroy many a brilliant artist before their time – Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Amy Winehouse….so many unbelievable artists who succumbed tragically to the pressure. Imagine what their legacy would have been had they survived?
I am saddened when I see kids on shows like ‘X Factor,’ which is basically just a karaoke show, crying if they don’t reach the next stage in the competition, devastated. They just don’t get it. All they want is to be famous. They love fame more than they love music. Fame at any cost. It’s humiliating I think. All the greatest musicians – Eric Clapton, Keith Richard, Mark Knopfler, Steve Winwood – they are first and foremost fans of music. They are authorities on their musical heroes of the blues, jazz, country. They are like walking encyclopedias of music – that is their passion. Without it you are nowhere.
My advice to the young is that it’s harder now than it ever was to make your mark in music because the competition is so intense. You have to be totally committed to it and to expect a lot of disappointment and rejection on your journey. Dave Grohl said recently in an interview that you have to be ‘badass’ to make it in music. I totally agree. In that sense nothing has changed. You have to keep working on yourself and consciously try to improve and learn from the best at every stage. If you’re good enough and brave enough and stubborn enough you have a shot.
How do you think future music is going to be influenced by this incredible and absolutely necessary Black Lives Matter movement that the US and even the world is going through now? Is it inspiring you and your music today at all?
I think real musicians by nature are truly color blind. All they care about is the music. Most of my musical heroes were black or heavily influenced by black music. Has there ever been a better singer than Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin? Then you go back to Miles Davis, Coltrane, Monk…the list is endless. When I first did a horn overdub session in NY back in 1976, there was a section which included guys of all ethnicities – Italian, Armenian, Jewish, Black, White – nobody cared. The only question was were you good enough? Could you cut it when the recording light went on in the studio? As an English guy, that was my America – every kind of people from everywhere making this glorious composite which is American music. It was a total eye opener.
I still believe now more than ever that music has enormous transformative power. I go back to the Beatles here – when they toured America for the first time they were scheduled to do a show in Birmingham Alabama to a segregated audience. These 22 year old kids flatly refused to play unless the audience was mixed. They came under enormous political pressure to play but they stood their ground and in the end the racist authorities of the time had to relent. So in that small way they began to change the world. We all need to be more like them. Refuse to accept injustice at every turn and we will make progress.
My generation thought by the time we were older race wouldn’t be an issue anymore. Sadly it is – and painful though it is for everybody – it’s a necessary process if we want to heal this terrible situation of hurt and division. I don’t like the political jumping on the bandwagon that I see happening. It’s insulting to all races. We are evolving slowly as a species and part of that evolution is to understand better the sins of our ancestors and acknowledge them. Just like another of my heroes Nelson Mandela avoided a bloodbath in South Africa after apartheid collapsed by instigating the truth and reconciliation hearings, these issues must be sincerely and honestly confronted if forgiveness is to be achieved. And all need forgiveness – it’s the only way forward.
If you could get into the studio with any artist today and collaborate on a new song, who would it be and why?
I’d like to work with some of the younger artists around. I have great regard for Ed Sheeran, Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars – these guys know where they came from and have studied their craft. Quality is timeless and ageless. Ray Charles could play with any of the younger musicians of today and there would be the same understanding and feeling for the music. No age gap – just a seemless evolution of a glorious tradition.