Countdown Memories

Real Life's superb new album Imperfection and the
classic Heartland album now available on C.D

An interview with GEORGE from REAL LIFE by Jason
16 September 2003

Click here to buy Real Life music

Many thanks to George for doing this interview with me via email while he wasn't in the best of health. Of course, Real Life's most memorable song is Send Me An Angel which was a huge hit in the U.S and all around Europe from their hugely successful album "Heartland". Other hits from "Heartland" included Catch Me I'm Falling, Openhearted and Always. Real Life went from strength to strength and continued to release fantastic singles from Face to Face, Babies, God Tonight and in 1989 a remixed version of Send Me An Angel conquered the charts again! They currently have a new album out titled "Imperfection" which is truly fantastic and fresh, and well recommended! I talked to George about Countdown, Real Life and the new material. ENJOY!

Jason: Did you watch Countdown in your youth?

George: Countdown was staple Sunday night viewing for me, and I go way back to the show's inception. For a young budding musician it was definitely an exciting TV program, it was spontaneous and live, at least taped live. I still clearly remember the early years, Monday mornings analyzing last night's acts with like-minded school friends!

Jason: Do you think Countdown was an important program for promoting new bands and artists at the time?

George: I think Countdown was THE program for breaking in new acts. A slot on Sunday night practically guaranteed record sales. I don't think there were any music programs on television around that period that were as important for bands and fans alike and yes it broke so many acts, Australian and international. Skyhooks for instance owe a substantial amount of their success to repeated exposure on the show in 1974, and then there's ABBA!

Jason: Did you see Real Life perform on Countdown for the first time with "Send Me An Angel" in 1983?

George: As a staunch fan of the band already I definitely would not have missed it though I can't remember the Countdown episode for sure. I only recall the first time the record was played on radio, it would have been on Melbourne's 3XY.

Jason: Did you think Real Life were a great band when they were launched in the Early 80's?

George: Of course! I first saw Real Life when they supported Icehouse late 1982. It was the precise period in which I was discovering electronic music, synthesizers, drum machines etc. I was becoming obsessed with the new sound but I'd never experienced it live and here was this band which sounded and looked so fresh and uncompromising using all the latest gear that I was becoming interested in and had so many great tunes! And they were local to boot! The debut Heartland album was only a small slice of their repertoire at the time and an unending list of great songs never made it beyond the stage. I left the concert that night with a new favorite band! Icehouse who?

Jason: When and how did joining Real Life come about?

George: I joined Real Life in 1996. I had already met Danny (drummer) through a mutual friend in the early nineties. We kept in touch and in late '96 when they were keyboardless and needed to do some shows I was asked to help. I did the shows, we seemed to work well together and it somehow continued from there without any formal joining as such. I was then asked to contribute to a new album which was loosely in the works early '97. I co wrote five songs with David. The album eventually became "Happy" and released October that year.

Jason: To those who don't realise Real Life have made music continuously since "Send Me An Angel" in 1983 and your first venture with Real Life was with "Happy" in the mid 90's and you guys have a new album titled "Imperfection" which may I add, is fantastic. Are you guys doing any shows to promote the album and are you pleased with the end result?

George: Firstly, thank you as we're quite proud of the album. We made it under adverse conditions, my personal health struggle, no label support which frankly meant no budget to speak of and two members going their own ways. So it was down to David and myself to finance, begin and complete the whole project. At present we have no plans to tour, I'm still not physically up to doing a tour and we honestly don't believe there is sufficient demand for us to perform here. In the period that I've been with Real Life we've played far more overseas shows in the US and Germany than local ones. We have no support from radio any more so we have very little access to the listening public.

Jason: How long did you work on the album "Imperfection"?

George: David and I worked on the album in bits and pieces over a period of about a year and modern technology being as it is we were able to do this from our respective homes and computers. Many of the songs went through various incarnations before we settled on the final versions and each track was worked on organically from conception to final mix before the next one was completed.

Jason: Do you have any favorite tracks from Real Life's 80's material and what are your favorite tracks from the new album?

George: From the eighties "Send Me An Angel" is an obvious one but that's because it's a hell of a song and has one of THE killer synth riffs you’ll hear anywhere. In the US especially a day would not pass where the song isn't repeated ad nauseum on radio! "God Tonight" I think is a classic Real Life song, other songs ... Openhearted, Exploding Bullets, Under the Hammer, 54321, there's lots of them.

From Imperfection" it's hard to be objective because it's still too fresh to my ears and I still associate positives and negatives with the period spent on each song but if I have to give an answer, for various reasons I'd say We Shall Overcome, Imperfection, I Love Love, Painless.

A substantial amount of time needs to pass before I can sit and listen from the perspective of someone not involved in the production. With time you tend to forget all the flaws and the "we could have done this better if etc." You can just listen and simply accept the songs for what they are if you forget what went into making them.

Jason: Were there any influences in mind with the material from the new album?

George: No we didn't set out with any strict preconceived plan as to what it should sound like, it evolved over the period. For me some influences that did leave their mark were the current sounds of bands like Ladytron, Goldfrapp ... oh and Giorgio Moroder who refused our request for the use of his famous riff "I Feel Love", so we had to re-record our song with a new riff in place!

Jason: "Happy" had a lot more guitar on it than other Real Life material and the new album has gone back to a very synth sound Was that intentional?

George: Yes and no. This is the first album that we produced entirely on computer hard drives and not in a studio so that fact definitely had a bearing on the outcome. The availability and ease of use of soft synths, soft samplers, drum machines etc. PC programs that are identical to the hardware versions, plus other unique PC sound modules was also very important, so the songs developed accordingly from these conditions. Overall, we did have a preference towards a synth sound and this became more so as we progressed through the writing of the album. In the end we're pleased with the result and the feedback from people has been very positive.


Interview conducted by Jason Grech, Copyright 2003