INTERVIEW: Supergroup, World Goes Round, Comprised of Hit 80’s Songwriters Discover A Cassette Of Old Tracks and Release Nearly 30 Years Later. They Talk The Discovery of The Cassette, Songwriting Over The Years and MORE.
What happens when a group of prolific songwriters from the 80’s rediscover a cassette that features their old recordings nearly three decades later? No this isn’t a synopsis for the latest Netflix movie (but should it be?) – it’s the reality for supergroup World Goes Round comprised of Jeff Hull, Marty Walsh, Frank Musker and Elizabeth Lamers. Established songwriters in their own regard, the members of World Goes Round had already found their individual success in writing/recording/performing credits for some of the biggest artists like Queen, John Denver, Donna Summer and Neil Diamond (to name a few) before coming together to form the four-piece group. They eventually recorded an album’s worth of music that ended up on a cassette that never saw the light of day until Marty received a chance Facebook message from their producer Tommy Vicari. Now, almost 30 years later, the album has been recorded – with some new ones too – and is ready for the world to experience (now on vinyl too!) Jeff Hull and Marty Walsh of the group took some time to answer some questions from All Access to talk about the discovery of the cassette, how songwriting has changed over the years, what drew them to music in the first place and more. Check out the full interview below and get ready to go back in time:
ALL ACCESS [Austin]: For both of you, let’s start from the beginning, what was it about music that made you want to pursue a career in it?
JEFF HULL: Haha…that’s a loaded question. At first, it seemed like a great way to meet girls and I always envisioned myself riding around in limos and that kind of lifestyle. Hey, I was young and full of hormones. But seriously, my mom was a jazz singer who looked like Betty Grable (I’m dating myself now), and my sister and I were always around music and entertainment. My mom would always be doing something in the entertainment field like producing musical fashion shows and weird things like that. She got me into drums when I was five years old, but it didn’t take then. Being that I came from a very eclectic background, after I stopped playing drums, I became a protégé tap dancer, much to my chagrin, and was in an all-kid tap dancing group that went around and opened up for the likes of people like Bob Hope and Donald O’Connor. That lasted for about four or five years, when I had finally had enough, and that’s when I went back to drums and knew I was going to pursue a drumming career that eventually branched out to other things like composing, arranging, producing and other things.
MARTY WALSH: I, like so many others, saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan as a young kid. Also, the fact that my father was a working musician and my older brothers were all involved in the music industry in Los Angeles sure played a role in the fact that it looked like a viable option. I was lucky in that respect. Pursuing a career as a guitarist seemed like a no-brainer to me.
AA: Marty, you were the initiator of re-discovering this album that was finally released in 2020 after you found the old cassette with the original recordings on it. What was the initial thought when you uncovered them? Why did you and the group feel now was the right time to remaster and officially release this project three decades later?
MW: Honestly the discovery came about because Tommy, the producer, asked me if I had a copy of that music from decades ago. He reached out to me on Facebook and was looking to find some of that material to possibly put on his website, I believe. I found a cassette, and as soon as I played the first song, I was pretty blown away. I really didn’t think much else would happen until Frank took it upon himself to find ourselves a record label, Viper Records LTD, out of New York. That’s when things started to take off.
AA: How did World Goes Round end up coming together back in the 80’s? Who was the toughest to convince to join the group?
JH: Actually, we met by doing sessions at the famous Laurel Canyon studio where Frank lived — the one with the magical giant oak tree growing out of the middle of the house. I believe the first time I met Frank, I was doing a session for this artist Amy Sky, and Frank overheard what I was doing, and came down and immediately introduced himself. Frank is quite a charming guy, so we immediately hit it off. I can’t speak for Marty and Elizabeth, but I’m pretty sure they met in sort of the same way.
There really wasn’t any pushback from anyone that I can remember as far as putting this band together. We all had pretty impressive credentials as far as what we were doing in our careers at the time, and it seemed like a no brainer. The only rub was how do we balance the time that it was going to take to put into the band with time it takes to make a living in the business, because at first, there’s usually no money to speak of when you put a band together.
AA: Do you remember any funny/interesting/magical moments/stories of recording the original songs back in the 80’s in Musker’s Laurel Canyon studio in Los Angeles? What was the recording/creative process for putting these songs together like for you guys back then?
JH: Well, I’m lucky if I can remember what I did last week, let alone 30 plus years ago, so I’ll have to get back to you on that one, haha. As far as process, usually Frank and I got into a room and just started hashing out ideas before we went into the studio. Sometimes Marty was there, as the three of us wrote several of the tunes together. We actually wrote a hell of a lot more songs than what ended up on the record, except we could never find the masters of those tracks. Maybe one day we will. I would love to hear them.
MW: There certainly was a vibe at Frank‘s place. The daytime there was beautiful with Frank making tea and all like a proper Brit, it was just different. The songs “Put It On The Line” and “Can’t Let Go,” both of which wound up on the album, were not actually part of the initial World Goes Round material. Those are songs that Frank and I wrote together prior to him meeting Jeff. Once he started working with Jeff, and he told me that was happening, he asked me if I wanted to join the project doing the guitar tracks, and of course I said yes. But my initial work on the WGR material was much more as a guitarist than a writer. Once Viper Records got involved and we started to discuss putting an album together, we went back to that additional material and finished those two off.
AA: As the songs were originally written in the 80’s, how much did the songs change in production, lyrics, sonically from the cassette recordings to the digitally released ones, or did they remain sonically the same?
JH: Basically, there were five or six tracks on the record that went straight from cassette to album, with just a little bit of mastering before the finished product. That’s the amazing thing about this project – that after all this time – these tracks sounded amazing, and from cassette, no less. That’s all we could do with those tracks because we couldn’t find those masters either, so we had no choice. I always joked and said we should get a sponsorship deal from whatever cassette company that was, because their cassette held up after all these years.
The remaining tracks that we could find the masters for, we added just a few overdubs and remixed them, and then we did three tracks from scratch from songs that were written but never recorded back then. I was amazed at how the newer stuff fit in fairly well with the older stuff we did back in the 80’s.
MW: I think that there is a thread of a personality that is the combination of the five of us. Every one of those songs has components that were recorded back in the 80s, and when we finished them off, we were involved and adding our personalities that we essentially had back then to the new parts that we were doing. So overall, I think it really maintained that thread. The bulk of the new work was done by Jeff and Tommy, I did some additional guitar parts, and Elizabeth did some additional vocal parts, but there was a lot to work with from the tapes that we had from back then.
AA: If you four wouldn’t have ended up recording them yourselves, which artist (either back then or current) do you think would’ve made sense/or you would’ve liked/or been cool to see record them instead?
JH: Well speaking for myself, I really didn’t write the material I was involved in with anyone in mind, other than the band for the reason that I wanted it to be as different and unique as possible in the pop format. There are some tracks on there that would lend themselves to other artists, but your guess is as good as mine.
MW: That’s a perfect question. In terms of songs I wrote, “Put It On The Line” was actually written for Michael McDonald specifically. I knew Michael, and that’s the first song that I wrote with Frank when I met him. I said to Frank we should write something for Michael because he’s working on a new album at the moment, so we wrote “Put It On The Line.” I called up Michael and told him about the song, and we met him at his manager’s office. We played the song for him, which we felt was an absolute perfect fit, and he said ‘I love the song, but I’ve got seven mid tempo songs for the album of my own at the moment, and my record label wants me to eliminate one. Do you have anything up-tempo?’ We proceeded to write another song together, the three of us, but it never saw the light of day.
AA: How have you seen songwriting change or evolve in the past 30+ years?
JH: Haha…that’s a loaded question. One I’m sure will get me in trouble so let me just say this. I think for the most part, actual songwriting has kind of gone to shit. Relying a lot on samples of old songs and the like unless you’re talking about what is considered country music these days, which is just pop songwriting disguised as country. All the old songwriters went into the country field because everything else was being dominated by rap and the like and most of the writers, especially the ones coming up, couldn’t make a living in pop anymore. As far as I can remember, all that started changing when we decided to form this band and make this record in the late 80’s and early 90’s. A lot of things changed then. It got very extreme in my opinion.
MW: Styles change, so you can say the musical backdrop changes from generation to generation so to speak, but great songs will always translate. There’s a wealth of material out there now because of the Internet, but finding great songs is difficult. Anyone can put out music digitally, so to comb through the 60,000+ singles released every day on Spotify – how you find great stuff? I teach ensembles at the Berklee College of Music, and rely on the students to recommend material to do in our classes. I hear great new stuff all the time, but it tends to be more obscure and not what’s currently on the Spotify Top 50. This is one of the great things about releasing your material on vinyl, it puts you in a different game because you’re not just one of the 60,000+ that gets lost in the shuffle.
AA: For each of you, if you could only listen to (5) artists for the rest of your life, who would they be?
JH: In a word, no I couldn’t. My background is much too eclectic and I get bored very easily. There is way too much incredible music to limit it to five artists.
MW: That’s a tough one – Peter Gabriel, Steely Dan, Joe Cocker, specifically Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Aretha Franklin and Miles Davis.
AA: Finally, either individually and/or as World Goes Round what can fans expect from you both for the rest of 2021 and into 2022?
JH: Well this is all new territory for all of us, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in the near future. I’m hoping for good things to come.
MW: As far as the band goes, we certainly discussed continuing on. I suppose it relies on how this album does. As far as myself individually, I am releasing new music on my small record label, MartoniousTunes. It’s just a labor of love. I have a number of releases so far with people that I just have a lot of respect for musically that I would love to be heard. I also have a number of projects in the works, including a second instrumental guitar album that I am planning on releasing soon.
Congrats to Jeff Hull, Marty Walsh, Frank Musker and Elizabeth Lamers on the discovery and release of the self-titled album and now vinyl 30 years later! Be sure to check out the full album and experience the magic from that cassette all these years later: