- - Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Very few songs can trigger an instant emotional reaction like “Obsession” by the band Animotion. The keyboard- and horn-driven anthem became a huge hit for the Los Angeles-based group led by dueling lead singers Astrid Plane and Bill Wadhams. The video was in hourly rotation on MTV at time when the network’s name stood for Music Television. But having such a hit can be both a blessing and a curse. While it catapulted the band into the spotlight, it overshadowed everything else Animotion did, which is a shame considering their debut album and second CD, “Strange Behavior,” featured some truly inspired moments of pop genius. An odd third album saw Mr. Wadhams and Miss Plane replaced by a male model and actress Cynthia Rhodes. After that the band called it a day.

Thanks in part to the need to mend old wounds, Mr. Wadhams and Miss Plane reunited as Animotion in the early 2000s. Since then they have been playing concerts to enthusiastic fans and released their first new album in decades. The duo discussed their massive hit, what they think of the “one-hit wonder” moniker and their new album.

Question: How did Animotion initially come together?

Bill Wadhams: There was a band in Los Angeles called Red Zone, and Astrid was the lead singer. I had The Billy Bond Band. And we both played at Madame Wongs. A manager got the idea to put Astrid and myself together because Red Zone was breaking up. He loved Astrid and heard me recording demos and thought we would do well together. I came in, sat down with Astrid and the rest of the band. They liked some of my songs.

Astrid Plane: Red Zone was really popular in all the clubs, and some of us didn’t want to stop. We just re-evolved ourselves. We had this idea of of putting a male and female singer upfront. Which was different.

Q: Bill, you wrote all but two songs on Animotion’s debut album, one of which being “Obsession.” Was it frustrating to you that that song became the hit?

BW: To me life is full of —

AP: Unexpected twists and turns.

BW: Unexpected twists and turns. So wonderful. When they first chose that as a single, I didn’t hear it as a hit. Astrid did.

AP: I was psychic. [laughs]

BW: I just didn’t know. When it was first on the charts, I thought, “Oh, my gosh, we’ve got a song on the radio and I didn’t write it.” But by the time it got to 17 with a bullet, I didn’t care who wrote it because I knew we were about to go on the ride of our lives. It went from 17 to 11 to six. We were swept up.

Q: How did “Obsession” come to the band?

BW: Our producer received it from a publisher. He called me up and said, “Bill, I wanna play you a song over the phone. I think it could be a hit for you.” He played it for me. I’m listening to it, and I said to someone in my office, “They say it could be a hit for us, and I’m not even singing. I’m speaking.”

Q: Because of “Obsession,” did people assume you were a couple?

AP: There was kind of this tension between us. You could see that playing out on stage. It’s difficult to have two front people and not have some back and forth about that. I was surprised people thought we were a couple, although I could see why they would think that because we played off each other onstage. That took away from my male attention. [laughs]

BW: Each of us had our own idea of how we thought the band should be perceived. Each of us had an idea of how we wanted ourselves to be perceived. It took me a long time to realize that our difference of opinions and different styles made it interesting.

Q: Why did the band breakup?

AP: Let’s just say there were a lot of stormy times. Lot of tears. Highs and lows. But we were never on the same page musically or visionwise.

BW: It was a divide-and-conquer situation. People were whispering in Astrid’s ear and in my ear.

Q: How did the reunion and new album come about?

BW: Even before we got together to really work together, I called Astrid and said, “I’m in your area. Would you like to get together and have a cup of coffee? Enough time has passed.” We laughed, we cried, sort of forgave each other.

AP: Cleared the air at least. Laid the foundation.

BW: Within a matter of months, I got a call from Alex Hart at KNRK in Portland. He said, “We would love to have you come and appear as Bill from Animotion. We’ll put some money up.” I said, “If you can put up money, let me see if I can get Astrid as well.” It turned into a reunion gig.

AP: There was magic on the stage. We felt like we had kissed and made up. It was just the joy of playing the music and sharing it with the audience.

BW: We weren’t looking for a record deal. A few years ago a label in the U.K., Cherry Red, was reissuing Animotion records. They said, “If you ever make new material, we know some people that would be interested.” I sent some songs. They sent it to Invisible Hands Music in London. The record is coming out Oct. 7.

Q: How does the term “one-hit wonder” sit with you?

BW: The song itself does overshadow everything. It’s big [and] we embrace it. It’s like owning a classic muscle car you have in the garage. You’re not going to drive it every day. But when you pull it out of the garage and around the block, everybody goes crazy.

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