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Glen Burtnik PDF Print E-mail
Contributed by Larry Schörling   
Saturday, 19 October 1996

Glen Burtnik. A respected name and also related to some really great music. His solo debut, "Talking In Code" (A&M 1986), is by some considered a classic within the AOR-genre. His David Prater produced "Heroes & Zeros" (A&M 1987) is also a bonafide melodic rock-album, with some real classy songs.

In 1990, he joined Styx, and recorded their "Edge Of The Century"-album, with an accompanioning tour. After that, things got quiet from the Burtnik-camp, artistically speaking. Now after some years of absence, Glen returns to the scene with his "comeback" album titled "Palookaville". And as if that wasn't enough, he also delivers a compilation of older material, that other artists, like Stan Meissner, Open Skyz etc. have recorded, some material that were meant to be on his unreleased 3rd album that he recorded 1988, plus some new recordings. It will be released in Europe on the MTM label and is titled "Retrospectacle". Glen began to make a short retrospective on what he did before his "Talking In Code" album.

"After the "Helmet Boy" album (1980), I moved back to the New Jersey shore from L A. There I joined a band named Cats On A Smooth Surface. We played weekly at the Stone Pony bar in Asbury Park, where Bruce Springsteen got up to play with us almost every Sunday night. It was during this period I met John Bongiovi, who asked if I wanted to join his band, now that he had a recording contract. I declined because I was beginning a new project of my own. And although I liked him, I thought, at the time, that he seemed to be trying to imitate Bruce Springsteen too much!"

-Joining Bon Jovi may seem like a once in a lifetime opportunity for many, but not for Glen, who doesn't regret that he didn't join the soon to be mega multibillionaires. But in, 1990 he turned up in Styx. How come?
"After the "Heroes & Zeros" album, my manager had a falling out with A&M Records and I was caught in the middle of a legal dispute. A&M wouldn't release my third album, and I wasn't allowed to go anywhere else! I tried to get out of my contracts, but I couldn't, and I was running out of choices. When Styx called to ask me to take Tommy Shaw's place, it was an opportunity to get myself out of the legal nightmare I was in."

-How did that chance come about?
"I knew Tommy Shaw, we shared the same manager and I met James Young (Styx guitarist) at a music convention. Later, Dennis DeYoung (keyboard player and vocalist in Styx) left a message on my answering machine. I knew that Tommy was busy with Damn Yankees, so I knew right away why he was calling me."

-You have worked with some really great musicians/producers through the years, could you tell us something about some of them, like:

Neal Schon
"I knew Jan Hammer, I was his lead singer on an album called "Hammer" (1978). I had met Neal working on the 2nd Schon/Hammer album "Here To Stay" (1982). I sang, played and wrote a little on it. After that he called me to play bass on an album he was going to make with Sammy Hagar (which was to become HSAS) but it didn't pan out. Later I co-wrote some songs for Neal's solo album "Late Nite" (1989). He's a funny guy, and obviously a gifted guitarist."

Reed Nielsen
"Reed is a great guy, and a talented songwriter. I met him while working on "Talking In Code". He wrote a lot of that record with me."

Dann Huff
"A sweet man from Nashville, who played some sessions on the "Talking In Code" album."

David Prater
"A good friend to this day. David is an unbelievable drummer, and even better record producer. He's also the wildest man I know. I'm proud that I gave him his first opportunity to produce a major label release (Burtnik's "Heroes & Zeros" album). From there he's gone on to produce acts like Firehouse, Dream Theatre and Arcade."

Anton Fig
"When I was trying to decide who we should ask to play on "Heroes", I turned on the TV and saw Anton on the David Letterman show. Right then I knew he was the guy we needed. We recorded three songs with Anton."

Stan Meissner
"Canadian singer/songwriter. He got on a plane and flew to New Jersey so we could write together for two days. We came up with a song named "River Of Fire", which app-eared on an album of his, and my new version will soon be heard on "Retrospectacle"."

Open Skyz
"A fun group of guys from Long Island, who came over to my house and we wrote their theme song. They also cut a song of mine, "Everyday Of My Life", which I had originally written with David Prater for my unreleased 3rd album. My version will appear, for the first time, on "Retrospectacle"."

"I keep in touch occasionally with most of these people."

-You have written some really great songs over the years, but which song do you personally consider being the best you have ever written?
"I usually like the last song I've written best. On the latest Marshall Crenshaw album there's a new song of mine "There And Back Again". But, one of my all time favorites is a song called "Spirit Of A Boy, Wisdom Of A Man", which appears on the "Palookaville" album. I also like "The Day Your Ship Gets Thru" from "Heroes & Zeros", and "Downtown" (recorded by John Waite). The most popular song I've written though, is "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough" (sung by Patty Smyth and Don Henley)."

-Which of your previous albums do you prefer and why?
"I like "Heroes & Zeros" best because it has power, yet it expresses some of my more musical emotions, as in "The Day Your Ship Gets Thru"."

-Let's return to Styx. Were you satisfied with the way the album turned out?
"The tracks for "Love Is The Ritual", were recorded before I met the band, it was for my 3rd solo album. We just replaced the drums and background vocals so Styx would appear on it (the original mix appears on Retrospectable). I liked that best, perhaps because I had recorded it without Dennis, I always felt more credit was due to Plinky (long time collaborator of Glen's) & myself for that one. The rest of the album is okay. Dennis likes things less rocking than I do. John (drums, now sadly diseased, R.I.P.) and Chuck Panozzo (bass player) were pleasant, James Young is a great guy. Dennis thinks a lot of himself. Touring with Styx was a lot of fun. They're rich rock stars, so we stayed at nice hotels, but when the tour was over, and Tommy finally rejoined, I was relieved."

-You're releasing two different albums simultaneously, can you explain why?
"The difference between "Palookaville" and "Retrospectacle" is mostly where they're being released. "Palookaville" is all new music and "Retrospectacle" is a collection of old songs, original versions, rare demos as well as brand new recordings. "Retrospectacle" is more of a compilation."

-What do you think about the state of music nowadays, is it good or?
"I think today, like most times, there's a lot of good music, and a lot of bad. Mostly, I'm enjoying the new stuff. There's SO MUCH of it!"

-If it weren't for the music, what would you do?
"I've always felt an emotional connection with musical sound. If it weren't for the music, I really can't imagine what I would've become!"

-So, how does the nearest future look like, any chance that you'll come to Europe?
"Right now, I've been extremely busy, playing live shows with my band, and writing new songs with other artists. I'm trying to do both, it's difficult, but all is going well. There are no definite plans for Europe yet, but I would love to!"

Eventually Glen shares the information on his forthcoming "Palookaville" album. He says that it's produced by himself and recorded by Alan Douches, Plinky Giglio and himself, and features 18 tracks of which 7 are introductions and interludes to the other songs. It is also said to show a different side of Glen's, according to those who have heard it, but is nothing but an album of sheer brilliance! A bit of trivia: Ernie White (ex Aviator) and Danny Malone (ex Diving For Pearls) are contributing on the album.

-And as a concluding question, are you raised on radio?
"I've listened to a lot of radio thru' my life, but I would also have to say I was raised mostly on Headphones!"

Larry Schörling

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