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Andy Cahan of The Turtles

An Andy Cahan Interview

Excerpts from The Path Of Cahan
by Lindsey Eck


"The Sound of the Turtles: Andy Cahan"
Speaking on Nilsson, Flo & Eddie, L.A. then & now

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Andy Cahan bills himself as "the most famous musician you never heard of." As keyboard player for the Turtles (not to mention associate of Ringo Starr, Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and many other luminaries), he's seen the up and down sides of the rock-music world since the 1960s. Mostly up for Andy, who's putting together a book of his memoirs that you will be able to read right here... stay tuned.

He also has a great CD of his own material, Snarfel. The CD includes polished and ruff gems stretching from the'90s (at the beginning of the disk) to the'60s (at the end). As one man's collection of songwriting in the thick of the rock n' roll business, the disk is a unique piece of musical history. Click here to hear several selections or click here to order a copy.

ASG: Who are the finest songwriters you've worked with?

Cahan: The finest songwriters, of course, are Harry Nilsson and Jimmy Seals of Seals and Croft. Extremely talented... extremely. And then of course, I wrote with Dr. John... those are the top three.

ASG: So, in your opinion, Harry Nilsson was a great song writer?

Cahan: Oh, incredible. He was a genius. He is a total genius. He was extremely intelligent. Like, we'd be sitting there watching Jeopardy on t.v., and he would know the answers before anybody. And, he's an incredible, incredible story teller. He could talk your ear off for hours and hours.

ASG: Great vocalist?

Cahan: Oh, incredible vocalist. He was the Beatles favorite vocalist. That's why when I was befriended by him for four years (the last four years of his life), we went over to Ringo's house a bunch of times. We'd also go to Timothy Leary's, Joe Walsh, and a whole bunch of different people.

ASG: So, you knew Timothy Leary during some of his last days as well?

Cahan: Yes. I was over to Timothy Leary's house several times.

ASG: There was a lot of publicity over his illness. Could you comment on that? He was planning to commit suicide over the internet, and....

Cahan: Right, right. Which I think is fantastic, because he himself is an icon in history. He is Mr. LSD, Mr. Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out.

ASG: Did you know him back in the San Francisco days?

Cahan: I only met him in the '90s. When I walked into his house the first thing he did was walk up to me and gave me a nice, big, wet kiss on the lips. I mean, he's just a beautiful guy. He had these nice young girls hangin' around with him and a gigantic Gumby. You know? And, his kitchen table was rainbow colored. It was like going back into the '60s.

ASG: Lets talk about Flo and Eddie (Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman of the Turtles and the Mothers.) It seems that joining Zappa was a coup for Flo and Eddie at the time. Then in retrospect, when Zappa got injured and they had to quit touring with him, their career never seemed to recover to the Turtles level. Is that accurate and could you give us some insight on that?

Cahan: Sure. Basically what happened is, when the Turtles broke up, their management owned the name "The Turtles." So, they couldn't use it. That's why they used "Fluorescent Leach" and "Eddie."

ASG: I never knew it was "Fluorescent Leach."

Cahan: "Fluorescent Leach" and "Eddie" were the actual names Frank Zappa named his road managers. So, Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan used those names instead of "The Turtles." Eventually, after two albums on Warner Brothers and two albums on Columbia, they finally purchased the name. I think for like $35,000 or something. Since about 1983 they've been touring, under the name "The Turtles" featuring Flo & Eddie.

ASG: Can you compare the direction of rock n' roll today versus the '60s?

Cahan: I have some very interesting things to say about rock n' roll today. Rap music does require talent, because you have to have allot of rhythm. Rap music is based on rhythm because when a vocalist is doing his rap, his vocals are like a drum solo. know like DIT-da-DIT-da-da- da, etc. So, it's all rhythmic. Unfortunately, there's no melodies... and, no understandable lyrics. See, in the '60s with the Animals and Rolling Stones and the Kinks, you can hear every lyric in the song, and there is always a memorable melody-hook-that you can sing. You know... {sings} so happy together or I wanna hold your hand. You can always recognize the hook. Now today, there's no recognizable hooks. Maybe except for Alanis Morrisette, or Pearl Jam, or Soundgarden maybe. You know there's some groups today that definitely have some hooks but they're few and far between. Ninety percent of the music according to Andy Cahan is garbage.

I'm sure when I was in the '60s, my parents liked Glen Miller. But just generally speaking, the songs are lacking melodic hooks.

ASG: Do you think they would sell more if, uh....

Cahan:I don't know because the buying audience is different for each market. So my kids, they're gonna buy R.E.M. and Snoop Doggie Dog. And, people my age are into Bruce Springsteen.

ASG: Do you think the L.A. music industry is meaner today than in the '60s and' 70s?

Cahan: Oh man, it's ridiculous today. Because in the '60s and '70s a songwriter could go into a publishing office or into a record company A&R room and sit down with his acoustic guitar or sit down at the good old upright piano (which was probably out of tune) and play a song for a person. And, that person could understand, "Oh, I know what he's tryin' to do. I see. I see. We could arrange it like this." That's when you could go in with just the bare bones, and somebody you were playing the song for would have the musical knowledge to picture what it's like arranged in a studio. Okay?

But unfortunately now in the '90s, all the A&R people and the people who are supposedly intelligent musically, are stupid. They have to hear a full arranged master demo. They couldn't picture it with just a guitar and a voice. The personal in these Record companies changes every two or three months, and it's always the cousin of the uncle of the sister of the brother of the owner of the company. It's just ridiculous. It's absolutely insane. That's why I suggest to all my clients, as the Demo Doctor to go ahead and independently produce your own CD. Because, when you're sending off cassettes to people to try and get record deals, it's like going to Las Vegas. The odds are against you. That's why I started my "Demo Doctor" business. I have over 6,000 sounds ready to go. If you have an interest in making or promoting a demo, please email me - snarfel@rombox.com


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