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Reliving decades gone by, or an elitist music snob?

Posted: March 15, 2023
I won’t retire until I can’t sing or people don’t want to hear me. Performing is a very addictive privilege. I love life on the road and living in hotels. The last time I was in the USA was just before the pandemic in 2019 for Lost 80’s Live heritage type tour. I had a ball and got to hang out with some great people from the Tubes, The Motels, The Vapors, Wang Chung and lot’s more.

Photo provided by: David Sterry

Those were simple but impactful lyrics to a dynamic song called 5,4,3,2,1 by Real Life. If I polled many you of today, then wouldn’t be able to provide an accurate answer. Should I expect them too? No. Because real music no longer exists. The definition of real music is a figment of their imagination. Youth of today, will never understand the beauty of the 80s. You had to be living the life during the 80s to really comprehend it. The 80s ushered in sounds, visuals and dress that would change life forever. No longer was it just a sound. You had to dress the part as well. There was a feeling in the 80s that all was well. No bad the experience you encountered, it all could be repaired by music. Call it “fantasy” or even a level of “immaturity”. No matter the definition you put on it, Life was real!! I had no regrets. Because everything that I experienced was filled with bliss. If the millennials could relive decades gone by, even vicariously, life would be enjoyable. There wouldn’t be reason to take drugs, when 80s music is all that is needed.

The comments above were from a self-proclaimed elitist. Yes, I am an older man demonstrating a snobbish attitude about a superior blend of instrument, lyric and dress. Otherwise called the 80s decade. You can’t relate to an elitist if you haven’t lived the part. While an elitist is often considered someone up in years, I don’t necessarily agree with it. I think the music snob in me occurred when I was in my teenage years. I always wondered why people only enjoyed what was on the radio, versus the entire portfolio of an artist. There is music that is “made for T.V. and radio” and then there is the real music produced on the album. Often times, people forget to dive in, and check out the meat of an album. You can’t give opinions or reviews until you check out the entire picture. The creative works by the band “Real Life” will amaze you. It will literally change you into an elitist. At the very least, it will change how you listen to music.

Have you heard of the song “Send me an Angel”? Yes, who hasn’t, right! Have your heard 5,4,3,21, God Tonight, Catch me I’m Falling (not by the girl band), Kiss the Ground, Hammer of Love? Most likely if you are not part of the Elitist, you haven’t. I will give you a benefit of the doubt. You might have heard, it in passing. However, you didn’t have time to listen to them. You were too busy watching your favorite pop band on music television. While

those who were in touch with real alternative music, were spinning their vinyl and pushing replay on their cassette players. Getting in touch with the music snob in you, requires effort. It takes listening and acceptance. It requires, that you are willing to shoot down your favorite band, when they have taken short cuts to produce an album. That is keeping it real, and embracing your inner elitist.

Interview with lead singer David Sterry of Real Life and Guitar Thrills Magazine

Guitar Thrills: Thank you David for joining us for some Q&A regarding your experiences as the lead singer of Real Life.

Guitar Thrills: I know you must have told the story a million times. Where were you, and what was your first reaction when “Send me an Angel” was played on the radio?

David: I had a beaten up old car and I pulled up at the traffic lights next to a hot sports car driven by a beautiful young woman. We both had the same radio station on in our cars and Send Me an Angel came on. The woman in the cars was happily singing along while I was trying to get her attention in the hope of her recognizing me. When she finally noticed me a look of disgust came across her face and she sped off leaving me in her dust. Oh well, at least I heard myself on the radio….

Guitar Thrills: Real Life, had so many excellent hits. “Some of the songs” them didn’t make it to the radio in the U.S. Those songs mentioned above were played many times, by those that matter. Do you consider yourself a genius for coming up with the lyrics to so many successful songs?

David: It was the opposite actually, we got far more airplay in the USA than in Australia, thanks to the great KROQ type stations. And no, I could never feel like a genius. I have imposter syndrome which prevents that. I wish I was a much better lyricist, but I am so very grateful that so many people have taken the songs to heart. People always tell me an amazing story about incidents in their lives when they talk to me about my songs. I’m a lucky guy…

Guitar Thrills: Over the years, I have enjoyed listening to many songs, in all genres. Especially among those that are considered independent artists. There are many talented and creative artists out there trying to succeed in the music industry. Do you recall what made Real Life so successful, where they were accepted by millions of people around the globe?

David: Initially it was the sheer hard work as a live band for our first 3 years here in Australia.Way before we had a record contract we were the opening act for Midnight Oil, The Church, INXS and Divinyls, so we were a pretty good live act. By the time we got a record out, we could grab the attention of the rather tough Australian crowds. so we knew we could succeed anywhere.

Guitar Thrills: Who or what inspired you to become an artist? Did you have family members that were in the talented as well?

David: I was no good at anything else. School was the worst time of my life. I failed everything, but I desperately wanted a life that involved travel and writing music, so it had to be via a band or theatre. I never wanted to be an actor. In fact I only became the singer because I wrote all the words and sang at rehearsals while we looked for a singer. No one else in my family was musical or artistic.

Guitar Thrills: I understand, that you play guitar. I didn’t see you play the guitar in your videos. Do you still pick up the guitar for your live performances?

David: Ah yes, the video directors usually wanted to shoot something else during my guitar solos. I do play guitar all night and only sing about 2 songs without. Catch Me has a strange synth guitar in the video that I never really used, but I love how cool my black strat looks in the Kiss The Ground and Babies videos. I wish I was a really good guitarist.

Guitar Thrills: As you know, I had an opportunity to interview Brian Canham from Pseudo Echo. I was watching a video of a live performance recently. He was performing the song “Send me an Angel”. At first, I wasn’t sure how it was going to sound. Though if anyone could sing successfully it would be Brian Canham. How do you feel about other artists singing your songs?

David: Ah yes that young Canham fellow insists on playing Angel at every show. Luckily we are mates. In 2018 Culture Club were touring Australia and Pseudo Echo were part of the support. To add a bit more for the crowd, I was booked to sing (without guitar) a couple of my tunes with the Pseudo’s backing me. Brian is a much better guitarist than me, but just as the all important guitar solo in Angel came up and I gave him my best “this better be good” stare, his entire guitar system broke down. It was like a car crash in slow motion. We looked each other in the eye. Me, as a fellow guitarist thinking thank god it’s not me and he who was in charge of my solo, with a heartbroken look on his face. All of a sudden out of nowhere the perfect solo cut through the air played by one of his synth guitar players who could see we were in trouble. Brian and I couldn’t believe our ears and laugh about to this day.

Guitar Thrills: With the different genres of music, and variations, are you able to enjoy any of the new music? If so, which genre? Who do you listen too?

David: I think there is always good music around and importantly, each generation needs their own voice to represent them. New music is always a mish mash of what the artist grew up listening to and the influential sounds of the eighties stand out everywhere on the radio. I love anything with lots of synths and some wild guitars whether by new artist or new recordings by some of us old codgers. It’s always about the song.

Guitar Thrills: If I could sing, I don’t think I would ever retire. I know the road life can be frustrating for some. At least for some of the independent bands I scheduled tours for inthe past. However, it must be exciting performing before huge crowds of fans. Do you ever feel like retiring from music?

David: I won’t retire until I can’t sing or people don’t want to hear me. Performing is a very addictive privilege. I love life on the road and living in hotels. The last time I was in the USA was just before the pandemic in 2019 for Lost 80’s Live heritage type tour. I had a ball and got to hang out with some great people from the Tubes, The Motels, The Vapors, Wang Chung and lot’s more. We played beautiful stadiums across America including Coney Island Stadium, Aretha Franklin Stadium in Detroit and the totally magic Greek Theatre in Hollywood. People even treated me like a rock star….

Guitar Thrills: Do you have any new albums that will be releasing soon? If so, please tell us about them.

David: Yep, in the middle of the pandemic we released a new concept album called Sirens. There were only 300 vinyl and Cd’s made. It’s practically sold out but for a few copies that are only available at gigs. However, it is on all the digital platforms such as I-Tunes and SnottySpotty-Fi. The A-Side is a retelling of the legend of the Sirens and has five parts including a bit where you hear the Sirens sing, but don’t die. Side B is five songs designed to be bangers when played live. It’s very much an old fashioned album. It’s very electronic, new wave and a tiny bit prog. It’s also my personal favorite piece of my work.

Guitar Thrills: I know you don’t perform locally. Do you have any plans for a tour of any kind? If so, where can fans come to see you perform? We would love to tour the US again . The big problem is always the visa which costs thousands of dollars and takes months to process. We are doing shows here in Australia and have a German tour booked for October.

Guitar Thrills: It has been excellent having you answer some questions for us. We look forward to publishing your interview on our website. We also intend to put you on the front cover of Guitar Thrills Magazine. Does that interest you?

David: Thanks for taking the time. I’ve enjoyed the process. And yeah I’d love to be on the front cover and hope that I can pull up at the lights next to that same beautiful woman in the hot car and show her my picture while Send Me An Angel is on the radio!

Guitar Thrills: LOL. Hey, I hope she is reading this. She probably is kicking herself for not recognizing talent. Even if they are driving cars stuck together by bumble gum. Now, its a different story, you will have a great car, and an excellent cover to show her this time.

Guitar Thrills: We also want to have you back for another interview soon. Again, thank you for all the years of creativity. We would be lost without artists that truly know how to connect with their fans. Thank you.

David: It was a pleasure. Thank You.

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