- - Sunday, January 8, 2017

In the 1980s while other bands brought synths and keyboards, New Jersey’s own Dramarama brought guitars. Led by towering lead singer John Easdale, the band released a handful of strong rock records and even scored a hit with the ultimate ear worm “Anything Anything.”

Decades later the band rolls on with a new album in the works and a nonstop touring schedule. Mr. Easdale spoke about the power of “Anything Anything,” the band’s song about Earth Day and why the term “one-hit wonder” doesn’t phase him at all.

Question: Do you play a lot few ‘80s festivals?

Answer: Since the band got back together in 2004, we have been invited to play some of these shows because, for better or worse, we put our first records out in the ‘80s. And our song “Anything Anything” has become very much a “rock of the ‘80s” staple. Although we were never as known as all these [other] bands.

Some people say, “Who are theses guys? I know every band from the ‘80s, and I don’t know these guys.” I don’t blame them. We were only on certain modern rock stations before that format got big. Before Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

Q: Is there a sense of competition between bands on such ‘80s tours?

A: Different bands have different objectives. And different bands have different philosophies, if you will. When we go out there, [it’s] two guitars, bass and drums. I sing. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll band. We could do it anywhere. Not a lot of technical gibberish.

Q: It’s weird to call you an “‘80s band” because your music doesn’t sound ‘80s.

A: When we came out there weren’t a lot of guitar bands. It was way more keyboard-driven music, which is all more bizarre. Just one of the aspects of a bizarre career. But hey, we’re still here 30 years on. It’s good.

Q: Why did the band stop when it did? 

A: It was a time where any bands from before Pearl Jam and Nirvana were considered “old,” which is fine. Although we all thought it was the worst injustice in the history of show business at the time, I have sort of come to learn that it was more common than you think. My wife said I should write a book about the band called “How Not to Succeed in the Music Business.”

Throughout the years we’ve just made the wrong decisions so many times. We were idiots.

Q: If you could do back in time and take back one bad decision, what would it be?

A: Well, personally I would take back all my years of wasting money on substance abuse. And how that influenced everything and every decision that I made. It ruins your life, depending on your level of addiction. I don’t preach sobriety but very much appreciate the lessons I learned from it.

Q: Why do you think people responded to your song “Anything Anything” more than any other song?

A: I’ve asked myself that question so many times. I wish I could tap into that same vein to find and mine that again. It was an intensely personal song. I think that the emotions in that song were so close to the bone for me [that it] translates to other people. They hear it and say, “That’s my song. I know what that feels like.” I tapped into that somehow.

I can’t explain it, [nor] if I did know why it happened and how to do that again. But the entertainment business is filled with people who wished they could capture lightning in a bottle more than just that one time.

It has a life of its own. My friend calls it the “Louie Louie” on modern rock.

Q:How do you feel about the term “one-hit wonder”?

A: Better than none. (Laughs) No really. It’s a miracle. Of all the bands and all the songs. And that fact that we made that record ourselves. We didn’t do it with the aid of a record company. A record company didn’t pay for it. We still own the master. (Laughs) So if it’s on TV or in a movie or selling on iTunes, the money comes direct.

There are regrets in my past, but having that song become a hit is not one of them.

Q: You also had an almost-hit with “What Are We Gonna Do?” Is that the only song ever written about Earth Day?

A: The song was written because I was a new parent frightened for the future for my children. Beyond that we played a 20th anniversary concert in San Francisco in front of a half-million people — more people than I ever saw in one place at one time. And the amount of trash they left on the ground afterward just appalled me. The ridiculous of there being a big giant gathering for Earth Day and then everybody left their garbage behind.

Q: Is Dramarama working on a new album?

A: We’ve been working on new recordings since we finished our last record in 2005. That was on the label owned by Tower Records, which collapsed along with the record business. The recordings are 99 percent finished. I mastered some of it.

It’s way more of a question of finding people who want to help us. I hesitate to do crowdfunding because it feels like begging. At the same time every discussion I’ve had with a record company not only features poor terms, but they all ask, “What are you doing with that ‘Anything Anything’?” They all want to get their hands on that. They want us to do duets with some country lady or a Christmas version.

Everyone has a way to sell new wine in old bottles. I’m cynical. I’m jaded. But I still love rock ‘n’ roll!

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