Steve: Welcome to Steve Ludwig’s Classic Pop Culture
. . .
Steve: I think it’s time now for Susan Cowsill and Russ Broussard. Before we listen to Susan and Russ, I’m going to play three, three of their superb solo songs. And the first one I must say if my favorite Susan Cowsill solo song. There’s so many great ones to choose from, but I just love this song. Every time I listen to it, every time I listen to it I get chills up my spine and I think you will too. It’s called “Nanny’s Song.” Written by Susan Cowsill and what a delivery of this song by Susan. Going to follow up “Nanny’s Song” by two more songs, and both of those songs – those two songs after “Nanny’s Song” were co-written by Susan and Russ. “Palm of My Hand” and “Dragonflies” So we’re going to listen to three songs by Susan and Russ and then our guests will join us. Susan Cowsill and Russ Broussard and get ready for goose bumps everybody. Here we go.
Songs: Nanny’s Song - Palm of My Hands - Dragonflies
Steve: And we have just heard three of my favorite solo song by our next two guests. We heard, as I told you in the intro, “Nanny’s Song” which always gives me goosebumps to this day, and we heard “Palm of My Hand” “Dragonflies” and those last two songs were co-written by our next guests, and I’m telling you I couldn’t wait to talk to both of them. It’s my pleasure to welcome Susan Cowsill and Russ Broussard. Welcome to the show Susan and Russ.
Susan: Thank you very much Steve, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Steve: Hey Russ. I have so much to talk to you about but I’m so excited about your Covered In Vinyl Series. Can you talk about that first? Cuz I just watched the Velvet Underground feed about a week or so ago. Can you tell all our listeners first about Susan Cowsill dance(???) Covered In Vinyl Series. It’s so cool.
Susan: For sure. Let’s see, I’ll tell you what I know and Russ can fill in the blanks. He’s good at that. We started Covered In Vinyl many years ago over at the Carrollton Station which is one of our local clubs here in New Orleans and what we do is we cover a classic vinyl record from top to bottom – all the way through, just like it is on the record. And we’ve done – good Lord I don’t even know – Russ, he’s good with numbers, I’m going to turn over to him the numbers that we have.
Russ: We’re at fifty nine right now. Our 60th will be the Jazzfest one – The Traveling Wilburys ‘Volume One’
Susan: Wow. Sixty albums. We used to do it once a month which means as soon as we hung up our guns on one, we were kicking up again, learning another album every two weeks. It was crazy and I think we did that for about eight years. I know it’s crazy. And now …
Steve: Crazy good though. So you’ve been doing it for how many years, Susan and Russ, I’m sorry?
Susan: Russ, how many years have we been doing it?
Russ: Our first one was July 2005 and then second was August 2005 and then we skipped until November because of Hurricane Katrina. And the first electric, the first show outside New Orleans, outside the French Quarter. The first show that occurred post Katrina outside the French Quarter was our Covered In Vinyl and we did Wings “Band On The Run” (laughs)
Steve: Wow, my gosh.
Russ: Because we were homeless
Susan: Because we were a band on the run
Steve: Oh my goodness. I can imagine. Now, stageit.com is how our listeners can watch these Covered In Vinyl show, right?
Russ: Yeah, if you’re out of town and you can’t make it in to the show, you can just tune in at stageit.com, which is a website that we just discovered back in November or December where we can do show online and people can tip us or buy tickets or what ever and interact with our on like a message board.
Steve: Yeah, what I was so impressed with, Susan and Russ, was the sound of the past show was so – just super.
Susan: That’s great to know. Our buddy Jeff Peters he comes and hooks it all up for us because we don’t know how to do that. And it’s been a labor of love. And the first few that we did – when we do the long show in the club, I think those are easier for Jeff to engineer and then we do ones from our house as well. We do all variations of them. And it’s really cool for people who are fans that .. we might not get to Massachusetts. I might not get to New York. I might not get to LA, you know. They can all just join in and like Russ said, we get to interact with them on a keyboard, so everyone is talking to each other and talking to us. It’s very distracting. When we’re at home, then it’s ridiculous.
Russ:: Yeah, you have to keep the keyboard away from me. (laughs)
Steve: You know what’s actually cool about that though as a fan, I mean when you go to shows and some people are talking at their tables while you’re trying to listen to the music. It’s non-invasive you know what I mean. You can tell your thoughts to the people who are with you, but if you want to, you can just watch the show. And like I said, the sound was great. I can’t wait for the Traveling Wilbuy’s show.
Susan: Yeah, that’s going to be a really fun show. We’re looking forward to it too. There’s a lot of material to cover because we are going to do, we’re going to do the Volume One and then we’re going to do some cuts from the second album as well, so … we’re looking forward to it.
Russ: Basically we’ll have the same all-star band that we had last show, which was the Velvet Underground.
Steve: Yeah, Could you mention that band? Can you mention the band members names individually?
Russ: Sure. Susan and I. And then Paul Sanchez, Alex McMurry who has – oh God he has 20 band from the Tin Man to the Royal Finger Bowl. He has 20 bands active at any given month. John Fohl who is Dr. John’s guitarist for the last 10 years, 12 years or something like that. And two of the best guitarists in the city and we’re loaded with them in this town. We’re fortunate like that. And then for the Traveling Wilbuys, John Fohl was playing bass on the last one, he’s a guitarist. People come all over just to see him play guitar. But we’re putting him on guitar for the Wilburys and Jimmy Messive (??) from the Subdudes joining us on bass.
Steve: I’ve sorry when is the date for the Traveling Wilbury’s now?
Russ: Ohhhhhhhhh the first Sunday in May
Steve: I guess susancowsill.com should give all that information, right?
Steve: Your website
Steve: susancowsill.com I know Russ you have your Facebook page and your fans Russ know how to spell your last name but I’m just going to spell it for our casual fans. Of course it’s R U S S and Russ’s last name is B R O U S S A R D on Facebook and also you have the Covered In Vinyl Facebook page as well, right?
Steve: I’m pretty sure it’s Susan Cowsill’s Band Covered In Vinyl Check that out. I guess every thing is on susancowsill.com
Susan: For sure and then I do have my Facebook page so we’re all over the place Steve. You can’t – we’re crowd you with information.
Steve: We don’t want to get rid of your guys. Really I .. Susan I want to go back a bit and then I want to bring Russ into the musical conversation too. But Susan have you especially – and I guess your brothers – have you ever gotten able to accept the fact that so many people look at you as a friend to them that they’ve never met? Do you get that a lot at shows? Both of you because Russ you play with The Cowsills as well.
Russ: Yes I do.
Susan: Yeah, you know, back when we were kids I think it stems from that. You know coming up in The Cowsills, we were young people and our audience were people our age. And so I think, kind of just starting there, and by vent of that face, we were more than just a band that people liked. People felt like they knew us. They knew our family. We were the kids down the street. You know what I mean? And that has definitely overlaid into my adult, our adult careers. I am friends with these people. We grew up together. You know I think there’s a difference possibly in other bands that have just come on the scene or whatever where we actually, literally did grow up together. We are friends.
Steve: Everyone, of course, we are talking with Susan Cowsill and Russ Broussard. Being husband and wife, how does that work with the song writing. I mean , if one’s washing and one’s drying, do you come up with songs sometimes. Sitting down and saying “OK now it’s time to write some songs.” What kind of dynamic is that with song writing with you.
Susan: Well it comes in lots of different kinds of packages. Sometimes he’s washing and I’m drying, sometimes …. You know often is the case where Russ will be sitting around, he tends to play very different kind of guitar then I do. When he’s sitting around strumming the guitar, would you say this is right Russ, that he will – he does different chords He does different chord progressions and sometimes he’ll be sitting around doing that and all of a sudden I’ll be like, “What are you doing?” You know I won’t know if it’s a song her heard or if it’s just something he’s strumming. The next thing you know I’m humming the melody to it and voilà we got a song. And then other times I come to him and go, “Look I have this idea but I need some help. I think I have too many choruses or I have too many bridges Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakkk Help me out here.” He’s a good editor, aren’t you babe?
Russ: When called upon. That’s why, one for myself though, like if I sit down to write the lyrics to a song, it’s going to come out contrived and I’m not going to like it. I’m going to end up throwing it away. But, if I just sort of free write and not think about how is it going to fit, is it going to rhyme or anything like that. I just got a subject that I’m moved by, inspired by at the moment, I’ll just almost journal about it, just sort of free write, and go to town on it. And looking over it and I see some things that are kind of “Oh that’s kind of a cool line” and maybe worth noting but I usually just hand it over to Susan because I don’t like reading my own words. I don’t know. So I just had it over to her and she’ll sit there and circle, scratch out and all a sudden put it all into one cohesive song form for me and then we …. So that’s another way that we write.
Steve: So there’s really no set thing, I guess. No set thing.
Susan: No, lots of different way. That's what keeps it fun. It keeps it interesting, you know.
Steve: May I ask you guys how you met?
Susan: Sure, we were in a band together for eight years called The Continental Drifters.
Steve: Yes, OK I didn’t know that’s where you met. I’m familiar with The Continental Drifters. I didn’t know that’s where you guys had met.
Russ: We met a few years, about 5-6 years before I joined The Drifters where they came into town – The Continental Drifters – they were still living in LA. I had just moved to New Orleans and their band – that band’s management was also the management of another band I was in called The Blue Runners. And they were throwing a party – a welcome to New Orleans party for The Continental Drifters and I went there and that’s where I met Susan. She was 7-8 months pregnant.
Susan: Yeah that’s true. That’s right. That’s where we actually met. My bad. Yeah, came rifling across the room with his hands extended, heading for my very pregnant stomach. He didn’t even bother to say hello to me, he just went in for the jugular vein. I was “Hey, what’s your name?”
Steve: Hello there.
Susan: Hello there. Then a few years later he became the drummer for The Drifters and we were dear friends for many years and live came and went. Marriages came and went and we found that we were not only best friends but a little something more.
Steve: Yeah, my wife and I have a similar story of being friends first. We hung out didn’t date until after high school. I guess you guys feel the same way. I mean you really got to know each other, the person as friends. Like you didn’t just dive into it, if you know what I mean. I think that makes all the difference in the world to a marriage.
Russ: Oh big time.
Susan: Yes, definitely.
Russ: We both tried it the other way too. This is our second marriage, each of us. And there’s not that whole sort of putting on airs or trying to portray your best self to someone because you know that person. There’s already …..
Steve: Yeah you already gotten that crap out of the way, right?
Susan: Yea, absolutely.
Steve: Susan, I want to share a personal story with you. We have a mutual friend, Ira Wolf.
Steve: And back when I was in high school, I played football and Ira was our trainer on the football team, so every day we would go into the training room. The was ’70 , ’71, ’72. We’d go into the training room and our ankles would be taped up before practice and we’d have the record player and the records going. And now you’d have huge linemen and all these muscular guys and they’d be talking loudly over the albums but as soon as The Cowsills Live In Concert went on, Ira said, “Whoa, you can’t talk louder than The Cowsills.” And that was the rule. If he couldn’t hear The Cowsills, you were thrown out of the training room. I mean he had such love for your family and that was the thing. As soon as the Cowsills came on after a while, all these big tough guys would lower their voices and they couldn’t talk any louder than The Cowsills.
Susan: Oh that is really cute. That is so cute. Yeah, Ira was a dear friend of the family and I guess he was in New Orleans and I missed him, recently.
Steve: He only had a couple of nights anyway, he said.
Susan: he was a buddy of a dear friend of ours named Biggie Korn. And I think they went to school together and what do I want to say.
Steve: I should know this too ….
Susan: I have it …. Yes you should. Anyway, that’s how we met Ira. I know or God …. North Bergen.
Steve: Oh yeah, I thought you meant that they went to college together. North Bergen. That’s how I know Ira. We went there together.
Susan: That’s where we knew him from and Ira was just an awesome. He was in college at the time. And he was just one of these great characters. He used to come up to the house. I remember he came over one time and he took a … it was about 9 o’clock at night and my brother Paul was babysitting for myself and my two younger brothers, Barry and John, and Ira came over and he said “Who wants to go swimming?” At nine at night. And we all got into his car/station wagon and he took us down to First Beach in Newport. And we went swimming and I going “This guy is the best.”
Steve: I just thought I’d share that story about the training room with you.
Susan:: That’s awesome. I’m not surprised.
Steve: Really, he’s such a great guy. Hey Russ, are drums your instrument of choice or do you prefer guitar or is it more out of a necessity that kind of drum in John’s place when The Cowsills tour?
Russ: Oh, no, no, no. I started drumming when I was two and maybe before that. My Grandmother gave me my first drum kit the day before I turned two, on my second Christmas. And guitar, I really do not consider myself a guitarist in any fashion. Really it’s a tool for me to write. I was classically trained for a couple of years at North Carolina School of the Arts, so the keyboard is my training ____phone and all that. And basic piano. For some reason, the theory knowledge hangs me up on writing on the keyboard, whereas a guitar I really have such limited understanding of the neck that it frees me up and I can also de-tune things like Joni Mitchell – the different tunings for each song and I just find it pretty liberating in that regard. And so that’s my relationship to the guitar. Drums …
Susan: He’s a drummer.
Steve: And Russ I was going to say if we could go back as a little Russ, what kind of records did your parents play around the house?
Russ: Well, when I was VERY YOUNG, we had 8-tracks and the one of the things that I gravitated toward was Sly and the Family Stone, Simon and Garfunkle, Chicago, and Grand Funk Railroad. (Susan laughs)
Steve: Can’t argue with any of those. Boy oh Boy
Russ: Oh the Fifth Dimension. Those are the five, the main two being Sly and Grand Funk. Now for a while there I thought that anything – this is how young I was – I used to look at the speakers and wonder how they fit inside the speaker or look inside the stereo console and there was a light in there and I thought maybe that’s the stage. (laughs) My good old Sears Galaxy Drum set with my head phones on playing along with these sounds but ….
Susan: Naw you were cute.
Russ: Then we got a … my Dad got a bought another stereo system with a turn table and it came with like hundreds of 45’s. And most of those were New Orleans and South Louisiana Swamp Pop stuff with a few Beatles. So my only introduction to The Beatles really through my formative years were whatever 45’s we had which are like “Twist and Shout” and all that. The other stuff was Fats Domino …..
Steve: New Orleans Jazz kind of
Russ: And even Zydeco stuff, so so the stuff that the Petoes (???) was listening to I guess. More Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Ray Charles ..
Steve: I just got a great idea, and forgive me if you’ve already covered this album in your Covered In Vinyl series, how about Bookends by Simon and Garfunkle sometime?
Susan: Did it. You know who did it with me? My brother Paul. No wait we did parts of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.
Russ: We did Bookends too.
Steve: Gosh this is a great album.
Russ: But Parsley, Sage …. We’ve done two Simon and Garfunkle’s.
Steve: Si and Gar have been covered, OK.
Susan: Try another Steve. Let’s see what…
Steve: You know before we say goodbye I have this going on in the back of my mind. Don’t worry, you will hear from me about that.
Russ: Something to note: We have in our friend Jeff Peters here, also been our sound man for years, he has recorded every single one of the Covered In Vinyl’s and early ones were just one room mic and then it continued to evolve to where we were going live mics in the board feed and doing the whole mix with it. And we’ve done two albums, compilation albums of from those shows. But what I want to do as soon as I’m technological knowlegable to do such a thing is just to post them all on our website so people can have them in their entirety.
Steve: Are we talking about the Carrollton Station live CD’s?
Steve: You can’t give us enough of those guys, really.
Russ: Then we’ll take each show in its entirety, Linda Rondstadt, Jimi Hendrix, whatever have it be there, for streaming or download, from start to finish.
Susan: Yeah, that’s a future dream of ours.
Russ: It’s a goal I’ve been wanting to achieve for the last couple years.
Steve: Well believe me it’s the dream of your fans as well. Oh my gosh that must be some library. Oh Please make it happen.
Russ: It’s something really special. We don’t replicate. The songs are very different than the recording. We do our own version. Our interpretation of it.
Steve: Susan – and Russ too because you have played a predominate role in the family band documentary, are you happy you did that Susan? I felt for your whole family. It seemed so cathartic, but it must have been killed you, if you know what I mean.
Susan: Ahh yeah, it …. No, no it’s quite alright, Steve, I know exactly what you mean. And it was many, many things, you know. It was incredible painful. It was weirdly fun. It was an experience that I definitely do not regret. We spent a lot of really memorable times together doing interviews, getting footing shot that wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t done that. There was so much stuff of Barry and you know and Billy too that we got from the people who were working on his documentary. Yeah it was incredibly cathartic and painful and beautiful all at the same time. I don’t, I don’t … life is hard and I don’t regret living it so … You know what I mean, it’s reality.
Steve: Bless you and your family for sharing your whole being with us really through this documentary. And we’re talking about Cowsills Family Band dvd if you want a documentary. By all means please get this dvd because you’ll learn so much and you know Susan and Russ I really didn’t know much about your brother, Richard, until this documentary and I really – you posted on Facebook, he’s having some health issues. I’ll have good thoughts for your brother Richard as well.
Susan: Well yeah, that’s good. Everybody send up a prayer for Rich. He’s dealing with some cancer but he’s one tough cookie in case you hadn’t noticed by our movie show.
Steve: Well he served our country proud, proudly in Viet Nam so he’s a touch son of a gun is right.
Susan: Yes he is.
Steve: Everyone we’ve been speaking with Susan Cowsill and Russ Broussard. Susancowsill.com. You can find Russ on Facebook Susan Cowsill on Facebook Go to stageit.com Definitely get into the series, the Covered In Vinyl series Traveling Wilbury’s is next Imagine if those guys went out on tour when they were still going. Two CD’s I’d love for you guys to pick up Susan’s latest Lighthouse and Just Believe It which was …. These are …. They’re Cowsill – I mean you know it’s Susan Cowsill but you and Russ have your own persona in these CD’s and it’s really appreciated as a music fan.
Susan: I appreciate you sharing that with us, Steve, and we enjoy our musical and personal life together. And we are working on a new record so hold tight on that. We’re not in the studio yet but we’re hoping to go into the studio at least over the summer.
Steve: I trust susancowsill.com will keep us updated on that.
Susan: Oh yeah. It will be all full of information.
Steve: I thought we’d say goodbye with a song, “River Of Love” and the reason for that is that your brothers sang with you and you used a very special guitar, Susan. Could you just share that with our listeners.
Susan: Sure We had our dear friend Waddy Watchel who was my oldest brother Bill’s best friend for many years and Waddy went on to be one of the ace, number one guitar players in Los Angeles. Played with EVERYONE from the Stones, to Linda Ronstadt, to Stevie Nicks but he also plays for me when I ask him because I’ve known him since I was five years old. And I guarantee you one thing, Steve, Stevie and Linda don’t get the rate that I get with Waddy Watchel. I can tell you that for a fact.
Steve: Well good for you. And you also played your brother Barry’s guitar on that track, didn’t you?
Susan: Yes, yes, yup, yup
Steve: Russ, I was just going to ask you on this track“River Of Love” did you have to wrestle the drum sticks away from your brother John or did he happily ….
Russ: No, he …. Well that’s a Barry song from, that he recorded multiple times and I played with Barry and Peter Holsapple and I backed up Barry a few times and Peter produced his album. But, so I was already familiar with the song when we played it
Susan: And John is not my drummer anyway. Russ is my drummer. But he sang
Russ: The track we had already recorded it and we brought the track out to Los Angeles for Bob, Paul and John to sing on. And Vicki too. Vicki sang on it as well. Vicki Peterson.
Steve: Could you tell our listeners who Vicki Peterson is? I know but …
Susan: Vicki Peterson is my best friend for the last twenty something years. And she’s also my brother John’s wife. Vicki’s also a guitar player and the brainchild of The Bangles
Russ: And I need to interject. Susan may not hear, a plug for – they have a band they had before The Continental Drifters and the Continental Drifters sort of swallowed them whole – and that was … and then eventually been regurgitated out into the world and finally recorded their first album with John and I sharing drumming duties. And that was extremely fun and we kind of split 50/50 on the songs and some of the song like I’m playing the verse and he’s playing the chorus. Vice versa
Susan: The name of the band, Steve, that Vicki and I have together is called The Psycho Sisters. And we finally recorded our long overdue for 25 years record.and that’s what Russ is talking about.
Steve: Psycho Sisters – that’s the coolest thing in the world first of all. When is that coming out or is it out?
Susan: It’s coming out in June. Sometime in June it will be out.
Steve: Something else for us to look forward to.
Russ: And Susan do you know the name of the label?
Susan: Nope not off and at this second, thank you Russ very much. (laughs)
Russ: I’m sorry
Steve: That’s kill light world for you. Don’t worry about it.
Susan: It’s a subsidiary of Shout, but I don’t know the name. ____________
Steve: Joe White should have known that anyway but we’re going to let him slide on this one. My engineer.
Russ: ____ the Joe White label.
Steve: Thank you Joe (laughs) Well Susan Cowsill, Russ Broussard I mean you guys, through our emails, I could tell you were great people. And speaking to you, you’re even greater than I could have imagined. Thank you both so much for coming on and we really, really appreciate your time.
Susan: Well you are super sweet Steve and we really appreciate you giving us the opportunity to talk to everybody and let people know what we’re up to. And I hope to see you sometime … you’re in Massachusetts are you?
Steve: No, I’m in Jersey. I think you guys are going to be in New York in July at Queens College. Yeah, so I’ll be there for sure. I’ll be there for sure.
Susan: Alright. Sweet.
Steve: I’ll catch you guys then and we’ll be listening to Covered In Vinyl and susancowsill.com Russ Broussard Facebook Susan Cowsill Facebook We’re going to keep up on all things Susan and Russ
Russ: Yea !
Songs: River Of Love The Rain, The Park and Other Things,