Frey, the wunderkind of the defunct sun 'n' surf aggregation, welcomed the chance to venture out on his own. Growing up in Detroit, Frey developed a fondness for full-tilt blowing sessions, high times, and "party" records. This fascination was heightened during his apprenticeship as a musician on the Motown bar scene, and later, when he worked as a sideman for Linda Ronstadt's band in 1971. Now, all of these early influences have gelled and are preeminent on Frey's debut album, No Fun Aloud (Asylum Records). OUI magazine talked with Frey during his recent promotional tour for the album.
OUI: I heard that you were producing a band now.
Frey: Yeah, they're called Jack Mack and the Heart Attack. They're a ten-piece white soul band from all over the country, a totally American cross-section. They're really good.
OUI: What other productions have you done?
Frey: I produced half of Karla Bonoffís record, and along with Jerry Wexler, I produced Lou Ann Barton's album. But this is the first time I've produced a band.
OUI: On your new album, you wrote liner notes to accompany each song, which is highly unusual but very effective. You wrote that "I Found Somebody" is a happy song. Isn't that out of the ordinary for you?
Frey: Oh, I don't know. I suppose, as opposed to the tone of some previous Eagles songs and stuff, which had a little dour, dark kind of side to them. Yes, I would say it was definitely a happy song.
OUI: Why did you write the liner notes anyway?
Frey: I wanted to make people laugh a little bit, and the reason I called the record No Fun Aloud was because I had a lot of fun doing it, and I wanted people to have a lot of fun listening to it.
OUI: You recorded this record in about four different studios around the country. How come?
Frey: Well, I wanted some variety. I wanted to go to Muscle Shoals
for a couple of songs after I'd recorded there with Lou Ann. I got
hot to write a couple of songs that I felt would be right in the musical
vein of those players down there. I kind of like the idea of going
around to different studios and using
different people, which is something you usually don't get to do as a member of a group.
OUI: Do you like being a solo artist better than being a member of a group?
Frey: I have a great deal more freedom, and I don't have to have as many meetings. You know what I mean? "Could you check the tambourine on the third beat of the fourth bar on that song? Can we get everybody in here, please, and make sure it's okay?"
OUI: I suppose being alone has it advantages.
Frey: Well, I'm just getting into record production a lot, and my whole feeling is that I just couldn't see myself working on three Eagles records over the next nine years and having that be the culmination of my 30s. As a record producer, I get involved with 12 songs with Lou Ann and 12 songs with Jack Mack and ten songs with Karla and ten songs with myself, and all of a sudden, I look back over the last 13 months, and I've been involved with 45 pieces of music instead of the six or seven songs that [Don] Henley [of the Eagles] and I would have been struggling with. Do you know what I'm saying? And now, I feel like it's time for me to do that.
OUI: Isn't there room for the Eagles, too -- for fans like me? (Laughs.)
Frey: No, I'm afraid not. The Eagles were a 70s band, and I think it would be nice to just leave them there as a young, summer band. Let me put it another way, I don't want to be 39 years old with a beer belly singing "'Take It Easy" because I need the money., I just think there's a time and a place for everything, and nine years was fun, but it's enough.
OUI: Maybe in your 40s you'll have a reunion.
Frey: Never. They say, "Never say never. " Well, you can print it. It will never happen.
OUI: My God, you sound adamant about that.
Frey: Well, I am. You have to know when to quit. It has to do with being Jim Brown instead of Muhammad Ali. You quit the game before you're a step slow.
OUI: I like the analogy. "The One You Love" -- I like how you said it just came out of the cosmos. Do most songs you write come to you like that?
Frey: No, just some of them do. I don't know how to explain it. Jack Tempchin and I were just sitting there, working on another song, and all of a sudden, I said, "Jack, you know I've always wanted to write a song that kind of goes something like this." And I just started playing stuff and singing the saxophone line, and the next thing we knew, we had written half the song in about 20 minutes. We were just sitting there going, "Whoa! Where did that come from?" (Laughs.)
OUI: Other than from outer space, where do you usually get your song writing inspirations from?
Frey: Songs are like people-they're all individuals. They all seem to have their own way of germinating and growing up. Some of them finish themselves, and some dare you to finish them. It just varies. You know, I haven't been writing for about three months, so now I'm not quite in touch with the muse as I was while I was doing this record. Actually, I write about things that happen to people I know and meet. I get things from reading the newspaper sometimes. Most experience, I think, is universal. I think everybody falls in love; everybody has friends that are in love. We all have the same problems.
OUI: So you write about it.
Frey: Yeah, it's my job!
OUI: Has anybody in particular inspired you to become the wonderful and talented musician and songwriter you are today! (Laughs.)
Frey: No, not really. I inspire myself. I'm very ambitious. It's so unfair to name one or two people and leave so many out. Obviously, I have a great amount of respect for Bob Seger. I would put him at the top of my list. He's one of my oldest friends, so he's one of my greatest inspirations.
OUI: What exactly is your relationship with him? Were you ever in a band together?
Frey: No, we're just friends. We never really played together, but we sure spent a lot of our free time together in our teens and early 20s in Detroit.
OUI: How did you come to write "That Girl" together? It's such a beautiful song.
Frey: Well, I had that song about half started, and I was in Muscle Shoals and Bob was in Miami. I went to visit him and show him the song, and then we finished it when I went to Detroit to visit my parents.
OUI: Who is Janie-the woman you dedicated the song to?
Frey: The woman I love. She's the most soulful woman I know.
OUI: What about "All Those Lies"?
Frey: What about them?
OUI: No, I mean the song. I like it. It's a song I think everyone can relate to.
Frey: I like it, too. I have some small, firsthand experience in that area. I don't consider myself a cheat, by any means, but living in L.A. and being in a rock 'n' roll band, I've sure seen a lot of crap, a lot of sneaky intrigue and double-dealing bullshit, and I've yet to see anybody benefit from it. Itís the truth-just like it says on the album: Anytime you lie, you have three stories that you gotta remember. I just think it's a waste of time. Personally, I think honesty is a very important thing, a real important quality. I don't like liars-I never have. I don't even like small lies.
OUI: You've done a few oldies on this album-"Sea Cruise" is one of them. Why did you pick that song?
Frey: Oh, I've always loved that song. As a matter of fact, we used to do it in the Eagles live show, but I could never get the guys to do it on a record. I wanted to do it just to let everybody know I have a sense of history. I didn't do any oldie just for an oldie's sake. I did it because I love that song.
OUI: "Party Town" sounds like you had some fun recording it. You've got lots of partiers on the record, including John McEnroe. Where's the party? (Laughs.) Frey: Let's go! It's kind of like the climate of the Jerome Bar in Aspen, Colorado, which is a large convention of young monsters. Everybody getting high on whatever's there, everything, all the time as the other song goes. I've always wanted to write a song that had something to do with Aspen.
OUI: Do you spend a lot of time in Aspen?
Frey: Not really. Well, yeah, Aspen's a wild town, so we needed as many people as possible to get that wild party atmosphere going. So it just happened on one night when we were done cutting the track. Irving [Azoff] was with John McEnroe in L.A. because Irving was promoting John's exhibition. So I said, "Listen, bring these guys down. We gotta get about 20 people out here to be The Monstertones." So we brought John and Peter Flemming and Peter Rennert down to the studio, and before they knew it, they had headphones on with a beer in their hands, and we were giving them directions, telling them what to do! (Laughs.)
OUI: Speaking of John McEnroe, you're a sports freak in general. I've seen you play baseball, and you take it all very seriously, don't you?
Frey: Yes, I'm quite a fanatic.
OUI: I remember your saying once that you would have loved to have been a sports star but you were too short.
Frey: I think I should have been bigger. I need to be about six-foot-one and 190.
OUI: You also said that you were glad that God had endowed you with the gift of music because it was easy to get girls. (Laughs.)
Frey: I'm also fiercely competitive. Well, that helps in this business, too.
OUI: Do you think you chose the right profession? (Laughs.)
Frey: Well, I'll tell you, some mornings I've wondered. (Laughs.) At night, it always seems right.
OUI: Do you live in L.A.?
Frey: No, I live in Colorado and I live in Hawaii. I keep a house in L.A. now, but only for work purposes.
OUI: Are you going to be touring with this album?
Frey: I think I'm going to have to wait to see how well received it is. Right now, we don't have any plans except for me to go out and do a little radio. But I'll tell you, the guys who played on the album are ready to go.
OUI: A lot of musicians are getting into politics. Linda Ronstadt,
Jackson Browne, and others were in New York last summer
for the big anti-nuke rally. Do you get involved in things like that?
Frey: Well, it was very hard for us to get the five guys in the Eagles to sit down and all come up with the same kind of consciousness about nuclear power or presidential candidates. Now that I'm by myself, I think that I could take a longer look. At this point, my solo career is not organized enough for me to be active, except as a private citizen. But I am very active as a private citizen and have been for about the past six years. Talk about politics-it's kind of weird that the record business was so huge during the Nixon-Ford years, and then Carter got in and it started slipping. I wonder what that was all about.
OUI: Why did you move from Detroit to California?
Frey: I came to California in about 1968 to get out of Michigan. (Laughs.)
OUI: Would you ever live in New York?
Frey: Are you nuts? No, I've never had any desire to go East, young man. I wanted to go West. That was where the sun was setting; it seemed to be where the party was. But I love coming to New York. I have a ball every time. Are you kidding? I got restaurants I love. Last year I went and saw Linda [Ronstadt] in Pirates of Penzance. I saw Tim Curry in Amadeus. I don't just walk around in blue jeans and T-shirts and drink beer all the time.
OUI: Besides sports and getting culture, how do you like to ease the tension of this crazy music business?
Frey: This business just gets to be a 24 hour-a-day job. The music business is not something you can just leave at the studio or leave at the office. Every time you turn on the radio, you're assaulted. Any time you're even awake, you can have songs playing in your head.
OUI: Will you be writing songs for anybody else?
Frey: I doubt it. Songs are too difficult and too precious to give away. If I finish a song, I pretty much know how it's supposed to go and how it should be recorded, and I just kind of like to save them for myself. Perhaps if I wrote more songs I wouldn't feel that way.
OUI: One of my favorite songs is "Desperado." In fact, I really loved that whole album.
Frey: Yeah, overlooked in the beginning, but now, in retrospect, it's treated with quite a bit of respect, isn't it?
OUI: You played all the instruments on "She Can't Let Go." Thatís very impressive.
Frey: That's fun to do sometimes. You don't get to do that when you're in a band.
OUI: Well, you have a fine album here, and I think everybody will enjoy hearing Glenn Frey as a solo artist. I'm glad you had the chance to do it.
Frey: Well, I think I've waited long enough to do it. I
think I was a good soldier for nine years, and I deserve the chance.