Take 5: Richard Marx

Richard Marx holds the honour of being one of a handful of artists who have had a number one hit in each of the past four decades. He is a Grammy winner, song-writer extraordinaire and has sold literally millions of records.  We had the honour of talking to him when he played the BST Festival in Hyde Park.

Welcome back to London, great to have you here.  So the deal is five questions in five minutes. Here goes:

You are here to play BST Hyde Park, so tell us how your day has been so far

 It’s actually been pretty chilled for me. My band and crew have been setting up. I’ve been at the hotel visiting with a dear friend of my mine from London and lives here called Jamie. I haven’t seen him for maybe ten years. So we had tea and it’s been a nice, chilled day.

I haven’t played for my UK fans for a long time, so even though it’s a brief set, I’m excited to play for them. I’m coming back in April, the 2nd and 3rd, I am playing at the Union Chapel as part of a European tour. 

Please tell us about the story behind the new track ‘Another One Down’

So excited about that song. I wrote that song with my son Lucas. All of my sons are brilliant singers, songwriters, musicians.  Lucas and I are particularly like minded and have very similar tastes in music. He’s been writing and producing all kinds of stuff and I thought it would fun to see if we could write something together.

We wrote this song in a matter of an hour. I loved the song immediately and then next thing I know he was at the computer. He was putting the track together. I pride myself on my production skills, but it’s very difficult as a producer to stay current. I’ve really focused more on touring recently. Lucas is such a great producer. He created this incredible musical landscape for my voice. He produced it and I could not be more proud.

5 things we should do if we visit your hometown, Chicago would include …..

Originally I’m from Chicago, but now I live in LA, so let’s split it between the two.

  • If you go to Chicago, you gotta have pizza, that’s what we’re famous for
  • Preferably come between June 1st and August 31st, otherwise you might freeze
  • Maybe a nice walk by the lake, Lake Michigan is beautiful
  • If you came to LA you can come all year round. You gotta go to Malibu and go to the beach
  • Do a hike in the Hollywood Hills

I was born in Chicago but I feel like I’m a Californian boy now.

What was the most fun part of re-imagining the tracks for ‘Repeat Offender’ to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its release.

I usually don’t like looking back. I usually don’t like re-creating things, but it had been thirty years. It was fun for me to re-approach the songs from a little different point of view in regards to arrangement and to see if I could still sing them in the same keys. I loved doing that project. It wasn’t tedious or boring. It was almost like a science project. I really wanted to try to go back into that time and do it again, maybe even better.  It was really, really good fun.

Lionel Richie, who also played BST, really helped you in the early days of your career. What some of the best advice you’ve had over the years?

Actually the two best pieces of advice I got were from Lionel and my father.

My father’s advice was that there is no such thing as writers block, it’s all in your head. You must write. Even if you say to yourself , oh, I’ve got writers block, I can’t come up with anything, you can, it’s just your mind playing games with you’.

Lionel strongly urged me to write as much alone and by myself, less co-writing and collaborating. He ended up collaborating more as his career went on, as did I. On those first four albums almost all of the songs were written by me, by myself. I focused on my own song writing, mainly because of the advice from Lionel.

Quick fire Questions

Faith or homeHope    

Studio or stadiumStadium

Dinner or dancingDinner 

Deep-dish or thin-crustThincrust

Richard Gere or Richard MaddenRichard Madden, big fan of ‘Bodyguard’