Chris Carter hosts the longest-running Beatles radio show on earth, “Breakfast with the Beatles,” and is a world-renowned expert on the Fab Four. Before that he was the founder and bass player of the 1980s rock band Dramarama, the group behind the irrepressible hit “Anything Anything.” If that weren’t enough, Mr. Carter recently launched a new show on Sirius XM satellite radio.
On the eve of the 35th anniversary of John Lennon’s death, Mr. Carter recently discussed the new show “Chris Carter’s British Invasion,” the breakup of Dramarama (damn you, Duran Duran) and all things John, Paul, George and Ringo.
Question: What was it like playing bass player for Dramarama?
Answer: I was a founding member of Dramarama, which started in the basement of a record store I owned called Looney Tunez Records in Wayne, New Jersey, in 1982.
Q: What was the recording session of “Anything Anything” like?
A: My only real recollections of recording the song was that it was so new, at the time we learned the music before we knew the words or even the melody. I remember we were all kind of shocked when [singer] John [Easdale] belted out those lyrics. It was the last song we recorded of the album, an afterthought.
Q: Why do you think that is the Dramarama song everyone remembers most?
A: They remember it because it’s on the radio three times a day, every day, on various radio stations. It’s the “Louie Louie” of alternative rock.
Q: Is it true Duran Duran broke Dramarama up?
A: Inadvertently they did. Dramarama was supposed to end our tour at the Hollywood Bowl playing between the Cranberries and Duran Duran. As I recall, this was going to be a big payday for us and the first time we were going to play the Hollywood Bowl.
About a week before the show, we got word Simon Le Bon had laryngitis and the show was canceled. No money and no Bowl depressed us so much, we broke up. Obviously, there was a bit more to it than that.
Q: John Easdale continues with his version of the band. Are you cool with that?
A: He has? Really? Just kidding. I knew that. Hey sure, why not? What else is there to do?
Q: How did you go from rocker to radio star?
A: I always loved radio. I even went to the Connecticut School of Broadcasting back in the day to get a third-class license to be on the air. I always enjoyed going to the radio stations when our band was being interviewed. I would do the morning shows on tour. The band filled in for Rodney Bingenheimer on KROQ a few times, then Rodney and I hosted a Beatles special, which led me to L.A.’s Y107, where I did my first new-music show, “The Chris Carter Mess.”
Q: When and how did you take over the “Breakfast with The Beatles” radio show?
A: In 2001 the originator and long-running host Deirdre O’Donahue passed away suddenly. As a fan I inquired about the show’s future and was informed they would be gathering names to be voted on to be the new host. It was like running for president. I ran against five other candidates, and I won.
Q: Were you a big Beatles fan before doing the show?
A: Absolutely, ever since I was 7 and bought “Rubber Soul” at our local ShopRite.
Q: How long have you been doing it?
A: I just started my 15th year.
Q: I know it is on in Los Angeles. Where else does it air?
A: These days there are a lot of ways to listen, including iHeartRadio at iHeart.com.
Q: How many Beatles have you met?
A: Well four, including Pete Best. John is the only one I never interviewed.
Q: Who is your favorite Beatle?
A: George Harrison.
Q: Favorite Beatles album and song?
A: While not a fan of the American releases, song for song, the U.S. “Rubber Soul” would be my favorite. As far as a favorite Beatles song, it’s a near-impossible question to answer. If you asked my fave slow song or psychedelic song or mop top-era song, it would be a much easier to answer. “I Am the Walrus” is always up there. “I’m Only Sleeping.” I like most all Lennon’s Beatles songs.
Q: You have one hell of a collection of Beatles stuff. What is the coolest thing in it?
A: I received a platinum disc from my work on the reissue of George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” album. This is probably my favorite thing of things.
Q: Away from “Breakfast,” you also now have a show on Sirius XM radio called “Chris Carter’s British Invasion.” How did that come about?
A: “Breakfast with The Beatles” was on Sirius/ XM radio on “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” for about five years. But due to a pending royalties lawsuit, the show could no longer run as it was. Little Steven, great guy that he is, created a new show for me called “Chris Carter’s British Invasion.”
Q: What do you play?
A: It’s 60 percent core British Invasion artists such as Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Yardbirds, Who, Small Faces and deeper. Twenty percent is ‘70s, punk, ‘90s Brit pop, 10 percent 1950s and 10 percent brand-new British music.
Q: How is it different from “Breakfast with The Beatles?”
A: I get to play all the stuff they influenced and what influenced them — not just [The Beatles]. I can play Beatles, just not 50 in a row. They have rules on satellite radio. But I’m cool with it.
Sirius/XM is a great outfit, especially if you’re a music fan. They have something for virtually every taste there is. And if your taste is “cool,” like from Elvis to The Strypes, then our “Underground Garage” is just the channel for you. Every weekend [is for] kids on Saturdays from noon to 4pm. Then again on Sundays 4pm to 8pm on Sirius/XM Ch. 21
For all things Beatles and Chris Carter visit BreakfastWithTheBeatles.com.