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with David Uosikkinen,
Interview by Rod Underhill
How does a band go about landing a major label deal?
MP3.com's David Uosikkinen, a founding member of the platinum-selling
band the Hooters, relates how he managed to land that elusive record
contract with a major label, become an MTV star and tour the world in support
of a massively successful album.
There was a time when the Hooters seemed ever-present on MTV. Their track
"And We Danced," the 1985 single off of their debut album "Nervous Night,"
was a smash hit. The album itself would fall just short of making the Top 10 but would
ultimately go platinum. Additional hit songs by the Hooters included "All You Zombies,"
"Where do the Children Go" and "Day by Day." The band's sophomore album, "
One Way Home," released in 1987, also was destined to be a hit and ended up going
gold. Two additional albums failed to reach such lofty successes and the band members
went on to other endeavors in the music industry.
Singer/musicians Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian enjoyed successful
post-Hooters careers as composers and session men, and were quite influential
during the recording sessions of Cyndi Lauper's album "She's so Unusual."
Hyman co-wrote the smash Lauper hit "Time After Time" with Hooter producer
Rick Chertoff. Hyman and Bazilian, as composers, wrote what may well be
their masterpiece, "One of Us," which became a Grammy-nominated hit for
Founding member David Uosikkinen has spent much of his post-Hooters days as a
session player as well, and ultimately became an early member of MP3.com's staff,
where he currently serves asRock Content Manager.
Q. The Hooters were a Philadelphia band. No doubt you were playing in
the local clubs prior to your being discovered by Columbia Records. How did it come
about that you were discovered and ultimately signed?
A: Well, one thing: The band played all the time. Looking back, I think
something that really helped us was the initial interest a few DJs took in the
band. We did a live radio broadcast opening for XTC. The radio station took a
track we did from the live show and it ended up in regular rotation. The response
was unbelievable. We built on that buzz by doing an LP that sold over 150,000
copies. A pretty big deal for an indie band back in 1983. That buzz brought out
numerous labels, one of them being Columbia Records, and we signed with them.
Q. What advice would you give a young performer today who hopes
to be signed to a major-label deal?
A: Hire a great lawyer. I think it's more important than a manager. Oh
yeah, an accountant, too.
Q. After you get signed, what then? Any major pitfalls or
dangers that a young, newly signed artist should be concerned about?
A: Enjoy the ride but be aware that it is a business, when you sell records
the label loves you, when you don't -- in most cases you are gone.
Q. How important is it to be a writer as well as a musician in a
major group? Did you write or co-write any of the Hooters' songs?
A:I didn't write with the Hooters, although, I co-wrote a song on the second
album. I did some writing with other writers later on when I developed some confidence
in that area. In the Hooters, it was no secret that the writers in the band were Eric
and Rob and that was fine with me.
Q. The Hooters toured fairly extensively. What particular performances
stand out in your memory?
A: Live-Aid, Amnesty International, the Berlin Wall (performance of Pink Floyd's
"The Wall")with Roger Waters. Those three were pretty significant and a lot of fun.
Q. What are the pros and cons about being a session player? Who did you
do session work for during your post-Hooters career?
A: I had a great time doing work for other artists. I was playing sessions
and I was doing live gigs for hire. I worked with Rod Stewart, Patty Smyth,
Cyndi Lauper, Alice Cooper. Joe the Butcher from Ruffhouse used me for his
loops on some stuff recorded at Studio 4 on some early hip-hop recordings. The
names I listed are the high-profile artists. I also worked with a lot of really
great artists who never had killer success, but they were good and it was fun. I
did a record that Rick Chertoff produced that featured Taj Mahal, Joan Osborn,
, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, the Chieftains and Willie Nile called "Largo"
that was a really a cool record.
Q.: You've met many famous musicians over the years. One of them,
George Harrison, has been in the news lately, sadly, due to his current illness.
We all wish George a speedy recovery, of course. Can you tell us how you met him
as well as fellow former Beatle Paul McCartney?
A: We met George Harrison at the BBC in London. We were doing
England's version of "Saturday Night Live." The show was called
"Friday's." He was at the BBC taping another program. We met Paul McCartney
and Linda at "The Top of the Pops," another television show. The
Hooters were guests on the show along with Paul's band. Both Paul and George were
the most humble and nicest people you'd want to meet.
Q. Any chance the Hooters will be returning to the stage or the
studio in the future ?
A: Rob Hyman is building a studio and we talked about doing some
recording, but for now it's only talk. We talk about it but mostly in passing
conversation and never anything really concrete. I think all of us would like
to do it again sometime.
Q. Do the Hooters, collectively or individually, have any music
A: Eric Bazilian has tracks up on the site and the Hooters have a
track up -- An old one called "Where Do the Children Go" that features
Patty Smyth on vocals.