Bill O'Leary interview with Dee Long

November 1995

I've answered all the Kuestions myself, it's kind of hard to get the guys together on something like this. Terry helped me fill in a few gaps.

- Dee Long - November 1995.

Q1) What if any, is the significance of the "mouse" on the 5 album covers?

A1) The Mouse was originally added to the "3:47 EST" album cover by Ted Jones. When the final mix of "Little Neutrino" was done we let the tape run a little farther than usual and noticed a distinct squeak at the end. We had never noticed it before, and decided it must be the mouse from the cover artwork. From then on he became a sort of mascot. When the string overdubs for the "Hope" album were done in London England, one of the string players reported a mouse running across the studio floor. We assume that he made the trip to England to be with us.

Q2) On the "Sir Army Suit" cover, who are the other people portrayed in the artwork? Recognizable are, John W.,Terry D.,Dee L.,Terry Brown?, Ted Jones?, Who is wearing the trench coat and shoulder bag on front cover?

A2) That's Hugh Symes, the artist who did that cover. He used to play with the "Ian Thomas Band", I believe.

Also on the cover are Frank Davies, The Queen of England, Linda Brown (Terry Brown's wife), and an old man.

Q3) Where does the Sun face on the album covers concept come from?

A3) The Sun face was Terry and John's idea. They felt that this was the best advertising we could possibly have, after all, the Sun comes up every day, in every part of the world. Hard to miss!

Q4) How did the association with Ted Jones come to be, and what is he doing these days?

A4) Terry Draper was working in "Sam the Record Man" in Toronto around 1974 when he was approached by a kid named Gary, who requested the single of "Auld Lang Syne", and "The Little Drummer Boy" by Jimi Hendrix. This single was not available in general release, and Terry tracked it down through a friend, Jon Bojicic. It was an in house release for the staff of WEA Records I believe.

Terry visited this fellow at his home to find out that he had a collection of 10,000 records! There he met Ted Jones. When he discovered that Ted is a graphics artist, he went to see Ted's work, and the rest is obvious.

Ted now owns a graphics company in Toronto, and he and Terry are about to release a children's music CD, combined with games, and graphics by Ted Jones, called "Terry Tunes".

Q5) Are there any hidden clues or sayings on any of the album covers, and how about the symbols,etc. on the "Hope" cover?

A5) As far as I know, there are no hidden clues of any kind on any of the albums. This may be disappointing to fans, but what is there is simply some very nice artwork by a very imaginative artist!

Q6) Who are the different sound-bites of in the middle of "Mister Manson"?

A6) Hitler, and an anonymous preacher taken from the TV at random. I felt the two had something in common with Charles Manson.

Q7) Please explain how the "Anus of Uranus" backwards to "Silly Boys" forward concept was achieved, how did the vocal lines fit so well into "Silly Boys"?

A7) This song "Silly Boys" is my personal favourite when it comes to atmosphere. Terry Draper and myself had access to a 24 track mobile recording studio for a few days, and I took out the original 2 inch tape from the first single we ever recorded, "Hanus of Uranus". I placed it on the tape machine backwards, and erased the drum tracks. Then Terry overdubbed a drum track so that now we had a rhythm track that was frontward drums, and backwards everything else. I then played guitars and keyboards to make a new song that just happened to fit with the original backward tracks.

After we finished the track, John Woloschuk, (his idea), wrote out what the backwards lyrics sounded like to him! It was amazing to me that he not only managed to come up with lyrics that sounded right, but some of them even make sense!

From there, we played with the vocals through one of the first vocoders to arrive in Canada. From that song, (and John's imagination) came the album title, "Sir Army Suit".

Q8) What does "Suna Sunaru" mean, the original title of "Silly Boys"?

A8) Pretty easy to see if you spell it backwards!

Q9) What does the morse-code in "Sub Rosa Subway" mean?

A9) I don't remember all of it, but it was based on an idea of Terry Brown's. It describes a spaceship landing in London England, and we fantasized about faking a spaceship landing to promote our records. One of us would emerge from the craft as a (rather corny) stunt.

I do recall hooking an old morse code key up to the recording console and running a test tone through it. We had to write out the whole thing in dots and dashes, using a boy scout manual, before putting it to tape. I'm no morse code expert and we had to slow the tape down because I could not do it fast enough to sound realistic.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the Beatles or Apple Records.

Q10) On the "Endangered Species" album, does the song "Sell Out,Sell Out" really contain a "sample" of Capitol Records President, Rupert Perry, saying "Peddle Yourselves"?

A10) Yes it does. We hooked a small telephone pickup to the recording console in L.A. and had Rupert do his part from his office in the Capitol Records building.

Q11) There were, according to Frank Davies, clues on the cover and in songs on the "3:47 EST" album as to the identity of the band members, what are the clues?

A11) Danged if I know! I think that was just some quick thinking on Frank Davies part to debunk the Beatles rumors, without giving away the names of the band members.

Q12) Who does the voice in "Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby", "Little Neutrino" and "Long Live Politzania"?

A12) "Bodsworth" was sung by John Woloschuk. After a few attempts to sing the song, John said "don't laugh, but let me try it with the tape sped up a bit". He went through the song in one take, with the tape running a fair bit faster than normal. He also clearly used a great deal of over acting in his approach. When the tape was slowed down, it sounded like what you hear on the record. We managed not to start laughing till he was finished.

By the way, the mix you hear on the album was done with no-one in the room! Terry Brown set the faders quickly and left the room while a copy was run off. A few days later, we were about to do some overdubs, when it was discovered that a tech had erased the master tape by accident. Terry Brown pulled out the rough mix he had done a few days earlier, and that became the final version. Not much choice really! Personally I think it's one of our better mixes!

As to "Little Neutrino", that's me, (Dee). In some sections I am singing through a Leslie rotating speaker. The grainy, electric razor like voice, is an artificial larynx. It's designed for people who have had their vocal chords removed, and is held against the neck to create the vibrations required for speech. We hooked it up to a moog synthesizer, and I played the melody on the synth, while mouthing the words.

I recall, we had to tape a large piece of Styrofoam between a mike stand and my shoulders, to isolate the buzzing of the larynx from the microphone! It was a bit uncomfortable, but it worked.

I think that all the voices in "Politzania" are John Woloschuk. I haven't heard it in a long time, so I could be wrong! I do recall that we set up an outdoor, horn type PA speaker, at quite a distance from a mike, to get the megaphone effect.

Q13) Who came up with the concept of the "Hope" album, and does it carry on from the previous album "3:47 EST"?

A13) The concept of the "Hope" album was mostly John Woloschuk's creation. He and Terry Draper put together the Lighthouse Keeper concept, I believe. I contributed my two songs near the end of recording.

I don't think there was any direct intention to carry the concept on from the first album.

The "Hope" album was mixed and in the can, but the record company decided to hold off on a release because the first album was selling well.

None of us were really happy with the results. The only test pressing we had was actually sawed into four parts with a hacksaw, and each of us plus Terry Brown kept a piece. Then we set to work adding synth overdubs, and re-mixing the entire album!

A few months later, the final version was delivered to the record company. The original only exists on two cassettes, which were found gathering dust in a friends dresser drawer. I've personally not heard the original since that day!

Q14) Who or what is "Madman" about?

A14) Me. (Dee). I've always considered myself to be quite mad.

Q15) Did only band members do backing vocals or did others contribute on any of the albums?

A15) Laurie (I can't remember her last name!) and Raymond Gassi did background vocals on "California Jam".

Many others contributed over the years but mostly in the instrumental department. David Darch and David Kennedy, (school chums of mine) played guitar on "California Jam". Ken Wanamaker played bass, with Frank Watt on drums on some tracks of "Magentalane". Jack Lenz arranged strings for "Magentalane" and they were performed by the "Armin String Quartet" using a variety of electric and acoustic stringed instruments.

Guido Basso and the "Boss Brass" played most of the wind instruments on the first three albums. Doug Riley did much of the arranging.

Doug Riley played some keys on "Hope", and arranged and conducted the strings which were played by "The London Symphony".

We found it was cheaper to fly to London England and record with the 98 piece orchestra there, than to pay the union prices demanded in Toronto at the time! When we did the final version of "Hope", we doubled many of the string parts with a "PolyMoog", which at the time was considered state of the art. It rapidly became obsolete, but served us well.

Many more people were involved as soloists, and as "crowd" overdubs, and much more, but my memory isn't what it used to be! They were all wonderful and I apologize to those I've forgotten to mention! We really did have a lot of fun!

George Graves at the "Laquer Channel" in Toronto mastered most of our recordings, including the excellent job done on the "Peaks" and "Magentalane" CDs. We've always considered him the best there is!

Q16) Who played bass on the albums, and how about when the band played live in 81-82?

A16) John Woloschuk played bass on most of the album tracks. Many other musicians and friends have contributed over the years.

The live line up was:

John Woloschuk vocals, guitar and keyboards.
Terry Draper vocals percussion and keyboards.
Dee Long vocals, guitar and keyboards.

Gary McCracken, (Max Webster, Wrabbit) Drums.
Gerald O'brien (Wrabbit) keyboards and backup vocals.
Mike Gingrich Bass.

Q17) Did the band ever play live before "3:47 EST" was released or before the 81-82 tour?

A17) No. But the three of us did play briefly in a band started by John Woloschuk and Terry Draper called "Mudcow". Jamie Bridgeman played keyboards and we did make a demo recording at "Sound Canada". It never really clicked, and we only played a few gigs before packing it in. We had a half a dozen original songs written by John. My most vivid memory is of us doing an extended version of "Psychotic Reaction" with Jamie screaming "Buy a Coke" at the small audience. He was referring to the fact that we were selling out to commercial influences, and failing.

We also attempted a Beatles clone band at one point, including friends of mine, Dave Kennedy, and Dave Darch on guitar. I don't think we ever actually played a gig though. Probably just as well. If at first you don't succeed, try something else!

Q18) Are there any pre-Klaatu recordings from any of the original three members?

A18) Probably quite a few. Terry Draper played in a high school band, "The Innocence of Virgil Scott". I, (Dee) played with a band called "The Polychromatic Experience", and with "Bloodstone" during high school. Bloodstone actually released a single called "Toronto", flip side was "I'm Your Man" released on "Bent Records". I do have a copy of it somewhere. This would have been late 60's or early 70's. I think we sold a few hundred copies.

Q19) Are there any un-released studio songs that were left off any of the albums? Or other Klaatu projects that never were completed and released?

A19) Other than "Happy New Year Planet Earth", which never saw the light of day, not really.

"For You Girl" never made it to an album, but was released as a single. There are some alternate mixes of various tunes which might get included in a future release, and there was an early version of the entire "Hope" album which may never be heard again. We all have demos of newer songs that have never been recorded for release, but it remains to be seen if they ever will be.

Q20) What other projects(recording,television,movies,etc.) have any of you been involved in that would be known commercially(or not) How about in the future?

A20) Personally, (Dee) I've worked on many music projects over the years. Occasionally as a producer, but mostly as engineer, musician and midi programmer. My studio in Buttonville recorded albums and demos by Alice Cooper (with Bob Ezrin), Tom Cochrane, Lisa Dal Bello, Dan Hill, Glass Tiger and many more, including the "Magentalane" album.

I spent 7 years in Britain and worked for 3 years at Air Studios on Oxford Circus in London. During that time I worked on several projects with George Martin (the Beatles producer), and worked with Paul McCartney, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Yes, Elton John, and more. I was musician and engineer on more than 40 MacDonalds Commercials!

I actually spent an hour or so chatting with Paul McCartney about Klaatu. He was asked by the host of a TV talk show about Klaatu and responded that he had never heard of the band. When he mentioned this to George Martin, George said "one of the chaps from the band works at Air Studios". I received a message from him the next day saying he was going to "do me", British for "beat the crap out of me". He showed up in studio 5 later and we had a great conversation about the whole story. Very nice!

I still do commercial and movie sound work in Toronto with my friends Ken and Michele Worth, and we have an electro-dance band we call "Psychic Mambo".

Terry Draper does some movie and commercial sound work and has a home midi studio. We worked together for a few years at "2nd Sun Studios" in Toronto. He's currently about to release an album of children's tunes.

Q21) The song that was recorded for German TV, "Tatort" show, the name was "Woman", was it ever released commercially?

A21) As far as I know it was only released in Germany. I think we would all prefer to forget that one.

Q22) Besides The Carpenters and Babes in Toyland, were any other Klaatu songs recorded by other bands?

A22) "True Life Hero" was recorded a few years ago by a band called "The Pooh Sticks". Personally I kind of liked their version! It didn't sell.

Recently a Swedish band and an Australian band have recorded "Calling Occupants" but I don't know the names of the bands.

Q23) Did all the members of Klaatu play on the Rational Youth album "Heredity", if not who did?

A23) That album was produced by myself, (Dee) and Tracey Howe. I engineered it at ESP, a studio in Buttonville owned by John Jones and myself. Most of that record was my "Fairlight" programming of Tracey's music and ideas. I may have played a bit of guitar on it, but as far as I can recall, the other two guys were not involved. That album was picked by two of the major critics in Canada as best album of the year, but did not sell well. The song "Bang On" was written by John Jones, and got major radio play, but was impossible to find in the stores. Thanks Capitol!

Q24) Why was "Happy New Year Planet Earth", the animated special, never released?

A24) Good question. Seems the TV networks were not interested.

Q25) There seems to be a "Klaatu-Terry Brown-Rush" connection because of Toronto Sound, John Woloschuk even worked on the Rush album "Fly By Night", Are you friends and it seems that both bands wrote "concept" type songs on early albums by both bands?

A25) We were friends during that time, after all we were hanging out at the same studio, working with the same engineer, producer (Terry Brown), and I've always felt that our music had some influence on Rush's use of concept. John Woloschuk worked for a time as a "Tape Op" at Toronto Sound.

They are great people and we speak occasionally. Rush actually opened up a concert that Bloodstone headlined, a long time ago!

Q26) As with many of the bands out of the late 60's and early 70's(Beatles,Pink Floyd,The Doors,Etc.). Much of the songwriting and recording techniques arose from "drug" experimentation, was this the case with Klaatu, on any given level? Songs like "Dr. Marvello, Little Neutrino, Around the Universe, Anus of Uranus,Etc." seem to reflect a similar "experience"?

A26) Nothing too extreme. The occasional toke in those days, at least on my part.

Q27) Was record company pressure the reason for the transition from "sci-fi concept" writings to a more "pop" style toward the end?

A27) Yes. Plus a desire to be able to afford to keep making music. For me it did not work well at all. John Woloschuk has always been good with a pop melody. I've always liked "outside" music.

Q28) Is there any idea of how many albums(units) Klaatu has sold worldwide to date? Was "3:47 EST" the biggest seller?

A28) Yes. The first album sold the most, and each album sold a bit less then the one before. Total sales were between 1 and 2 million.

Q29) Is "Dino Tome" a pseudonym for Dee Long ?

A29) No. Dino Tome is a pseudonym for Dino Tome, a good friend of John's.

Q30) Would there ever be a chance of a recording or live reunion of Klaatu?

A30) At this stage I would say unlikely. We have discussed it, but we feel it might fall on deaf ears. The music industry has changed very much for the worse, and the kind of music we all like is generally unsuccessful in today's market. It's not impossible though.