INTERVIEW: Terri Nunn (BERLIN)
Levi: You are coming to Australia next month for TOTALLY 80s tour, you'll be playing alongside Martika, Stacy Q, Katrina and the Waves. Are you excited about the tour?
Terri: Yes. I am. I'm excited to see Martika. Never seen her. I know of her, but I've never seen her. Stacy Q, we started in the same studio, back in ... God I'm afraid to say ... back in 1979. We were in the tiny little studio. Yeah, we were in this tiny little studio making demos. Berlin was in there, and she was in there doing a solo thing. She's just the cutest little thing. I still remember her. Then, she ended up having a hit with the Two of Hearts. That will be cool.Then, of course, Real Life. Real Life opened for us on a tour here in the States. That will be great to see them too.
Levi: Have you been to Australia before?
Terri: Yes. We did a tour in, God, 1984. You know what's great about it, Levi? Is you, the Australian people, I shouldn't say you because you were probably two years old, if you were even alive.
Terri: The Australian people and the Japanese were the first people to like us, and listen to our music, and play it, and give us a chance outside of America. It meant a lot to me to come see you guys. It means a lot to come back. I'm thrilled about it.
Levi: It's going to be great. Obviously, two big deaths have happened lately. Two people that were massively influential in what you call New Wave Music, or Synthpop, and that was David Bowie and Prince. I was just wondering were you big fans of their music? Did you ever get to meet them?
Terri: Bowie we played with here. We did a show called the US Festival here, with him. Prince, I did my solo album in his studio. He was working there at the same time. I saw him every day for three months. He gave us his big studio. I have never in my life seen anybody work as hard as that guy. He would show up at ten am. We would get there about noon. We would work until midnight. He'd work in a smaller studio from ten am to midnight. Then when we left, he would move into the bigger studio and work until four in the morning.
Levi: So he must have slept about four hours a day?
Terri: Even less. Get this, he showed up every day fully clothed, full of makeup, and stage clothes. He was just working in the studio. How does this guy ever sleep? It was an hour of work on him, just to make himself look like that. It was that good.
Levi: Maybe he was just really fast at it?
Terri: No way. No way. It was perfect. He didn't live at Paisley Park yet, at that point. He had to go home. That's a half-hour each way, probably. We're looking at an hour there. Then, the makeup and hair, that's another hour. When did the guy sleep?
He never spoke to me. He was a very lonely guy. He was estranged from his family. I don't know if that ever worked itself out. He didn't speak to them. He was alone, all the time in the studio, unless he had someone coming in and putting a part on something. He never spoke to me. He said, "Hello," the last day that I was there. That was it.
Levi: Oh well, at least he spoke to you.
Terri: The funny thing is I would think about ... I know, right? I would think, oh wow, this guy's got social problems, man. I was thinking that because he would by the guys in my band, he would walk by me in the hallways, never said a word. I thought, wow, what an asshole, man. He won't even talk to anybody. Then I realized, you didn't say anything to him either, Terri. How about a smile. something that would make his day better? Who's calling the kettle black, here? I had just as bad of social issues because I didn't say anything either.
Levi: I don't know what I'd say either. I'd probably just say, "I'm not worthy, I would not be worthy of his presence.
Terri: It feels likes that, Levi. Yeah, but no one likes that. I know I don't. I don't want anybody to put themselves below me, or above me. It's uncomfortable either way. You know? We're all here just enjoying this world for a while, and then we leave. For anyone to think they're less than me, or more than me, is uncomfortable.
Levi: You could have a number one single. "Take My Breath Away", massive, massive, song. Was that just a weird experience?
Terri: Yeah, it was a dream come true in so many different ways. Not only because it opened up the world to us. Where before we weren't known with our other music. That song made us known everywhere. It also was for me, a dream come true because I'd always wanted to have a song that was an instant connection with people. I saw The Rolling Stones play here. I listened to them play two hours of music. I knew every single song. That's a lot of work. That is decades of blood, sweat, and tears, to have that much music that is instantly connecting with the world. I dream, could I ever have music like that, that would be just instantly recognizable, instantly connecting with an audience? That would be so cool. That song is one of them, for us.
Levi: When you have a song that is that big, is it hard to top a song like that? Was it ever a problem? Was it like, "What do I do now?"
Terri: Yeah. If I think about topping, or that kind of thing, it's an ego game. There's no way to win that. Giorgio Moroder who wrote Take My Breath Away worked with Michael Jackson, later. He told me that was probably one of the reasons Michael couldn't sleep, died young. He said he had created Thriller, which was the biggest album of all time. All he could think about was how am I going to beat that, I have to beat that. It killed him. Because the way Giorgio put it was so well said. He said, "Those are anomalies, okay? To have the biggest record of all time, who ever gets that? It's a fluke. It's a miracle. It's not something anyone can make happen, it just does." To live in the shadow of that, and think you've got to match it? That's just stupid. There's no way that anyone can consciously make that happen, or not make it happen. There's no way. If you play that game you will lose. It will kill you. He said, "I think that really is what killed Michael, because he never reached that again. He always judged himself against it." The one thing that was one of the greatest things in his life turned out to be the one thing that was the killer of his life.
Levi: I just realized, you did a cover of the song "The Dope Show," by Marilyn Manson. I'm a huge Manson fan. I just thought that was so cool that you covered one of these songs. I was just wondering, are you a big fan of his music? I know he took a lot of inspiration from Synthpop.
Terri: I am. I am. I'm a huge fan of his, and Trent Reznor's. Their music is so brilliant, and special, and different, and dark, and manly, and sexy. It's fucking great. I just love them. I love both of them.
Levi: I know you also sung backup singer with the Sisters of Mercy, who I also really love. I was just wondering how that came about because I know they are a successful band, but I thought you would have been bigger than being their backup singer.
Terri: Thank you. I contacted Andrew when I was doing the solo album, my solo album, early '90s. He responded positively. I went to Hamburg to write with him. There was nothing from our sessions together that ended up being on my solo album. I brought a song that I liked for my solo album, but the record company didn't like at all. They didn't think it was very good. I played it for him. I said, "I don't know if this is going to go on my album because they don't seem to get it." He said, "Well, I get it. I want to do it. You want to do it with me?" Initially it was just the female part that was on the song. He ended up writing the rap part of it that came in at the end. He added on to it, and then recorded it. What I just found out, which is strange, that's the last song he ever released, new song. That was back in nineteen-ninety-whatever. What the hell, man? That's too long. That's way too long. That guy's so talented. Do you know what ever happened to him?
Levi: No, actually, I read something actually yesterday. It was an interview he did, I'm not sure who for. He said, he will release another Sisters of Mercy album if Donald Trump gets elected. I don't know why. That's what he said. [Reference: TeamRock]
Terri: Because he likes him, or because he hates him?
Levi:I don't know. I just really read the headline. I'm like, that's interesting. Maybe he doesn't like him. He'd be ... I don't know. I'm completely unsure. I'll have to read more into it. How about you? Not a trump fan?
Terri: No, I'm not. I think he's hilarious, to be honest with you. I still, to this ... I don't know what he stands for. I keep waiting to hear what it is he wants to do, other than to keep immigrants out of America. I've heard that. What else? There's a lot more to America than that. I don't get it. I just don't. I think it's a dog and pony show. I really don't understand it at all.
Listen to the full chat here!!
Catch Terri Nunn playing the TOTALLY 80's tour in July [Click the poster for a link to ticket sales]
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