I didn’t know how much I missed singing until I was making this record. I missed being in a band playing and singing on stage.
Playback St. Louis recently caught up with Richard Marx as he was taking some family members to Wisconsin on a fishing trip. Marx is taking a much-needed vacation before his life goes haywire as he starts to promote his latest album, My Own Best Enemy.
Let’s get right to the new album. This album is a breakaway from your more traditional pop releases. It’s a little grittier and rock oriented, wouldn’t you say?
Oh, definitely. It’s one of the things that I have never claimed to be innovative; I have always been a product of my influences…it had always crept into the records I made. This record was influenced by what I have been listening to the last few years; it’s everything from The Beatles to U2 to Travis to Coldplay.
One track that stands out on the CD is “Colder.” It is a step away from the safer, smoother sound that I grew to know and love and completely rocked out. It just kind of breaks the mold of your earlier songs.
Thanks, man. “Colder” is a great example of me listening to some of The Ataris’ records and I thought, “Aw man, I wish I could do a track that would fit on their records and still be me.” That’s where it came from. I appreciate you noticing that. It’s not like it was some master plan like I set out to make an edgy record; it’s definitely a product of what I’ve been listening to.
What made you decide to come back into the music industry now?
It’s not like I pulled some Garth Brooks retirement thing. I was really OK with the idea of not making another record. It was one of those things where I felt like I had my turn. I had a ten-year turn. I couldn’t complain; I was really blessed. At the beginning of my career, I knew my success on the charts would be finite. So when my career hit a wall in the ’90s, I was able to go and reinvent myself as a producer and writer for other people, and I have really been enjoying life that way. But then the guy that originally signed me named Bruce Lundvall called me up a year ago and said, “Dude! I wanna make a record with you.” I didn’t know how much I missed singing until I was making this record. I missed being in a band playing and singing on stage.
What kind and size of tour are you going to do for this record?
We will do a limited number of dates, even if the record doesn’t do well. What we are doing now is a bunch of concert dates for radio stations that are supporting the record. Those range from 200-seat venues with me acoustic to a full band in front of 12,000 people. It’s all different kinds of configurations, all different kinds of venues, which is fun because the songs get reinvented every night.
Who would be your dream opening act?
Oh man, I would have to think about that. But I have told my agents and my manager that if there is an act that wants me to open for them that I think is a great act, I would do it. I would love to open for Maroon 5, where you wouldn’t expect it to work, but it would. But as far as the dream opening act, I don’t know. Most of the people that I really love are doing so well, they wouldn’t be opening acts—they are doing fine.
Well then, what was the last CD you bought?
Velvet Revolver. I was not a huge Guns N’ Roses fan; I was more of a Stone Temple Pilots fan. Then when I saw the video on MTV…it’s just so awesome. That track is so incredible and I had to buy the album.
I know that you hail from Chicago, so I have to ask: are you a Cubs fan or a White Sox fan?
I’m a Northsider; I’m a Cubs fan. I am a big fan of Moises Alou; he’s probably my favorite player on the team and it’s great to have Dusty Baker with our team. I actually sang at game seven last year at Wrigley Field, which was the game that was going to send us to the World Series. I have never in all my years seen Wrigley Field so alive; I was the luckiest guy being able to sing the National Anthem before the game that sent us on, and the unluckiest guy was Billy Corgan who had to sing “Take Me out to the Ballgame” in the seventh inning when we were down four runs and we all knew we were not going to the World Series. Poor Billy; people were calling him names. I then knew I was lucky to sing before the game.
Several acts from the ’80s are releasing new albums which are being hailed as comebacks. Do you consider this your comeback attempt?
I don’t consider this a comeback, but I totally understand if the public does. I understand if the woman at the grocery store tells me she misses me and asks me if I am still in the music business—for her, it has been seven or eight years since I put out a record. So I understand that concept. But in the last seven years, I have produced—I don’t know, 30, 40, 50 songs for different people. It’s just kind of funny for me, but I totally understand why people would think that.
Well, comeback or not, the time is right for Marx to bring back his brand of refreshing, fun pop music which will hopefully be appreciated as much as his earlier work.