1. Saturday Nite
2. One Nite Alone
3. Trial By Fire
4. Cryin'
5. Wired Up
6. Charmed Life
7. I Can't Let Go
8. Heart To The Flame
9. A Matter of Time
10. Illusions

1987 Polygram/Mercury

Check out some songs here:



"Just For The Record" is a brand new section at the RockUnited site where 'DJ Urban' has a look at some old(er) records/albums in the great history of hard rock and metal. It could be some "obscure" minor record label release that simply didn't get the attention it so rightly deserved the first time around. It could also be a what you would call a "classic" album or sort of a best-seller. They all have one thing in common though. They all ROCK and and they all have at least one classy enough band member to answer our q's.

JEFF PARIS: "Wired Up"

JEFF PARIS and his second album "Wired Up" from the year of 1987 (Polygram/Mercury). Believe it or not, Paris started out in the late 70's as the leader of the Jazz Rock ensemble 'Pieces' (akin Chicago Transit Authority) and played in a number of jazz rock bands, prior to hooking up with this sweet little thing called rock'n'roll. Working as a session musician/songwriter to Lita Ford, Y&T, Cinderella, etc. this is Jeff Paris' second solo album featuring three songs later recorded by all-girl band, Vixen. Blessed with killer material and a line-up consisting of Gary Moon (bass), Michael Thompson (guitar), and drummer Matt Sorum (the latter would join Guns N'Roses shortly afterwards), nothing could go wrong. Well, nothing besides an abusive manager, the lack of label support of course, and tons of other stuff. "Wired Up" is finally up for a reissue later this year and the same goes with his first solo album. All wired up and here to tell us everything about the excellent 1987 release, the one and only... JEFF PARIS

How long did this album take to make from start to finish, recording-wise?

Christ, it felt like a million years. Should I include the time spent writing the songs? Probably not. Just the preproduction and recording then: Maybe 6 to 8 months.

What kind of initial budget are we talking about here?

PolyGram/Mercury had picked up my 1st option after "Race to Paradise." This was my 2nd record, so (and I'm just 'spit ballin' here) $150K? $200K? $250K? Somewhere in there.

How much of the budget did you actually spend on useless equipment and other nonsense?

None. I shoulda hooked myself up gear wise, but didn't. My producer, Tony Platt, was extremely careful of waste. It's a good thing.

What kind of 'sound', production wise, did you have in the back of your mind, prior to entering the studio?

I was a Def Leppard superfreak at the time, but "Wired Up" shares none of that aesthetic. Maybe that's good.

What kind of input did the producer have during the process?

Tony Platt was an engineer/producer and had engineered "Burnin'," the great Bob Marley & the Wailers record. I left the sonics to him. Musically, I controlled everything. Keep in mind I'd just written "Gotta Let Go" and "Hit & Run" for Lita Ford's "Dancing on the Edge" and worked on her record with Lance Quinn. Plus written and performed on all the songs on Y&T's "In Rock We Trust" working with Tom Allom as an uncredited co-producer, and had released "Race to Paradise". So by then there was nothing ambiguous about what a Jeff Paris record was supposed to sound like. That being said, in those days I could drive my rhythm section crazy with nitpicking since I played everything on the demos. Tony did an outstanding job of getting us to loosen up during the basic tracks, and on bassist Gary Moon's performance.

Bob Rock played an indispensable role as remixer. In a way he provided the musical counterbalance to me. I'd tracked so many parts thinking, "When in doubt, lay it down!" which I don't do anymore. He and his partner, engineer, Mike Frazier, really pulled it all together. Even listening to it now I still sometimes yell at the speakers "Hey Jeff, stop singing licks and let the guitar player do his fill... it’s you anyhow!" or vice versa. Working with Keb Mo these last years I've come to recognize the importance of not walking all over the vocal or guitar and loading down everything with "doubles". Breaking the track way down and having the keys enter later to create build - leaving space - all that growth came later. Y'know, they say baby rattlesnakes can kill ya because they don't hold back... they inject all their venom at once. Old rattlesnakes shoot only what's needed to make the point. On Wired Up I was a baby rattlesnake! We all were.

And were you pleased with the final outcome? (sound - production wise)

Listening to it now the answer is absolutely yes. Jeez, how did I sing that high!! The best part of the whole record thing for me in those days was writing the songs and mocking them up as demos. I'd been a staff songwriter for years and I was a pro at song structure. In demoing I used a layering method similar to Mutt Lange. First drums, then guitar rhythm 1, right. Then guitar 2 double on left, and on. Each part locked in and the feel and groove as good as I could make it. All recorded in my house. Then lay in the bass... etc. Then I'd nail down my own vocals, and I was extremely hard on myself. There's a lot to be said for that method but it can sound sterile. There’s no give and take... you're literally playing with yourself!

The actual Wired Up record was done in the traditional way – Basic tracks played as a band (Gary, Matt and me), clam fixits, guitar and keyboard overdubs, vocals etc. You defer to your producer. The change in methodology, and a lot of other factors, produced a different record than the idealized one I had in my head. That being said, Tony Platt is a real hero to me - in and out of the studio. He fought for me and had my best interests at heart. He had a guy (me) who was extremely opinionated and ultra intense. I wrote in keys I had no business singing in and suffered for it. But we ended up with THE record. Not his record or my record, but the record. It worked. Again, not enough great things can be said about Bob Rock and Mike Frazier.

Did the producer use any (weird) experimental miking and/or recording techniques?


How much time did you spend on overdubs?

Basic tracks were done in a couple weeks. The rest of the time was overdubs.

Which band member spent most of his days in the studio and why?

Uhhhh, I think you can guess!

Which band member hardly spent any time at all in the studio and why?

Matt Sorum. Cause he's a pro. He's a rock guy with soul. Awesome drummer. I don't think I ever gave him parts or much input – healways just knew what to do. We lived together for a year. He's like a character outa Doonesbury. The quintessential rock star.

Michael Thompson was an imaginary band member, in that he had his own band called Slang, which started with me and him early on. Anytime we get together, we’ll write a great song, period. Every time. We wrote songs for both Race to Paradise and Wired Up. He did only few overdubs on Wired Up, but he’s been a tremendous influence on my playing. When people ask me who my rock guitar references are, it’s always Clapton, Hendrix, Thompson, & Beck. In that order…

I can’t complement Gary Moon enough. He was more than just my bass player. He was the very definition of "supportive". Musically he really understood me. There was nothing he wasn't willing to try. The bass part on the track Wired Up was created by my friend and co writer Jerry Knight, a "slap" master like Larry Graham. Gary shedded and perfected that part and KILLED it. On stage, he was like fucking Mikhail Baryshnikov - a dancin' fool. We were high energy guys and were thrilled by the romance of rock 'n' roll. We were always like "how can we kick it up a notch?"

Let's talk ab out the lyrics. Are you just as fond of them today or are they typical of its time?

I'm a concrete lyricist. Meaning I don't hide behind ambiguities. I want the listener to hear the lyrics and see a movie, to see pictures. I don't include words just cuz they sound good. I like lyrics that have a conversational flow. Like in "Cryin'", the guy is confronting the girl for the last time. She's tortured him the whole time they’ve been together. Maybe they're in a bar. She says "if I'm so bad why do you keep coming back?" And he says, "Look,... "…one look in your eyes and I saw what I wanted to see – you know that you wrapped my heart round your finger so easily, with your centerfold body goin' throught the 'moves'…why'd I keep wasting the truth on you? Tonight, I won’t be cryin’, cuz I’ve opened my eyes...

"Saturday Nite" – One of the first songs I played on guitar as a kid was 'Everybody Loves Saturday Night'. Each era needs a celebration of Saturday! This one's mine.. I like it! Plus I have the distinction of having the only AOR song with a New Jack Swing. I did it again for Chrissy Steele on "Armed & Dangerous" "One Night Alone" – Still stands up. Kinda Springsteen-ish. "Trial By Fire" – Still stands up. It sounds dated but Al Green would sing the shit out of it with a Memphis Soul style track. Wrote it with Michael Thompson.

"Cryin'" - I love this song. What a songwriting session with Gregg Tripp! Vince Gill or Taylor Swift should cut this song. "Wired Up" - Ehhh, it's cheap, but again Al Green could cut it slowed down to 'Take Me to the River' speed. I love the 2n verse breakdown "All week I've been wearing a disguise… I'm breakin' out 'cause I’m hungry for the night." I wrote this song with Jerry Knight who played bass with Ray Parker in "Raydio". We'd both been in Bill Withers' backup band 6 or 7 years before. We hooked up "Wired Up" in, like, 10 minutes.

"Charmed Life" – The lyrics to this song are funny! It'd stand up today if Montgomery Gentry or the Dixie Chicks cut it. Wrote it with Gregg Tripp. "I Can't Let Go" – Somebody posted this one on YouTube and one of the comments was "..a big radio hit from the era that never was". A hit in a parallel world —I like that. I think it's the best song on the record... again, wrote it with Michael Thompson. "Heart to the Flame" – I co wrote this with my childhood friend John Keller. It's about temptation, but the language is so cool.. "you hear the warning voice inside you telling you not to give in…" Slamming.  "A Matter of Time" - Yeah this one's legit. I still play this solo acoustic. "Illusions" – A great social comment song. Coulda been on Genesis' "Land of Confusion" CD. A little dated.

How did you go on about capturing your 'live sound', or perhaps you didn't?

This was a completely new post "Race to Paradise" band I put together. We went from rehearsal to the studio, so we really didn't have a live sound yet. But we always played together like it was our last day on earth - totally maxed out.

Did the record company interfere anything on your "sound" and "songs", considering what's 'hot and not' at the time?

No. But one PolyGram exec came to the preproduction studio early on and said some really shitty things. So after he left Tony Platt played us a song from a cassette he always carried around called "Fuck Everybody" and we all felt better.

Your favourite songs off the album and why?

"I Can’t Let Go" and "A Matter of Time" are personal faves 'cuz they're about something real I was going through. The lyrics spell out real emotions and avoid clichés. I get a pain of nostalgia in my heart listening to them. Hope I’m not the only one. Love and romance in the '80s was such a desperate and dramatic affair. But I love all the songs - I wasn't trying to fit into the L.A. Sunset Blvd. metal scene and market myself as some kind of sex god and it shows. I'm not a pin-up boy. It was all about the music, a mix of styles. I had a synthesis of influences in mind: Blues/R&B/Soul infused with Hendrix / Cream crunchiness with a John Lennon touch in the lyric. That last part is obscure, but it's there. In the words of Foreigner's Mick Jones, I was trying to send shivers down my own spine.

Any 'oh-I-wish-we-had-never-recorded' song on this album?

Nah. Wish I'd covered something. A Hendrix song. Or Beatles.

Were there any other tracks recorded during those studio sessions that didn't make the cut?


What's your honest opinion about the songs and the production today? Dated, fresh, a mess?

It's GREAT! There are little things - songs could've benefited by lowering keys. We could've relaxed a little and maybe played with more dynamics. But remember, we were baby snakes! Dated? I think everything from that era is dated, that's what makes it so killer! If you do your job right, people listen to your songs and remember where they were and what they were doing at the time and who they were doing it to. :-)

Are there any 'crazy' behind the scenes anecdotes from these sessions that you can share with us?

Ain't there always?? The "backstory" to the record - actually my whole PolyGram period, is this: I was traumatized by a really abusive manager. It's like that movie "Amadeus" where Mozart's having a nervous breakdown due to Salieri playing with his head but his love for music and his drive to express it pushes him to finish the work even if it kills him! Hey, I’m no Mozart but the mindfuck was the same. I did finally switch management in the middle of the record. But by the end I was an emotional wreck. The story behind that and the other head trips... it's complicated. The ex manager was a brilliant genius and a hopeless idiot at the same time. He created and then destroyed his creation. It's a common problem.

On a lighter note, we mixed with Bob Rock and Mike Frazier in Vancouver at Little Mountain, the studio where Bon Jovi cut "Slippery When Wet" and Aerosmith cut "Permanent Vacation", "Pump" and "Get a Grip", and AC/DC did "The Razor’s Edge." Bob could tell I was burnt and instructed studio gopher Laird Doyle to show me around. I didn’t know one city could have so many strip clubs!! We'd stagger back totally pissed to the studio to check in hours later, Bob would hit mute and say, "Laird, did you take him to Number 5?" or "Laird, did you take him to The Metro?" and out we'd go again. It was the one time I felt like a character in one of my party songs... inebriated, crawling from strip bar to dance club to strip bar. It was over the top. For the first 3 days I was hardly in the studio... finally someone figured out how to get me to leave some space.

Were you ever a "priority" case or merely just another release at your record label?

I don't really know. Y'know I probably was a priority for a certain amount of time. But a label will move off your record if they don’t see enough of a buzz building.

Did you ever feel like the record label supported you guys enough afterwards? (promotion-wise, tours, etc.).

The chaos caused by the 1st manager had more to do with what happened than any failure on the part of PolyGram. I met a lot of really genuinely cool people there. Derek Schulman, my A&R guy, treated me like family. A product specialist, Steve Kleinberg, put me up in his apartment for a couple of days. There were people at PolyGram who were really on my side. Others didn't get it. Cest la vie. 

I think the reason we love time travel movies so much is that we all have the desire to go back and fix shit that we think somehow went wrong. But the cool thing about Wired Up is that it's a real expression of me and everything that was swirling around me at the time. It's intense and emotional and desperate sounding – the drama got woven into the tracks! It has a unique vibe apart from the rest of the stuff out there in that era. It had to be what it was. And you can't point to any one thing to blame for it not being a hit

Any regrets whatsoever? (regarding the album of course)

Regrets are for the death bed. Despite the drama, Wired Up was completed and released. Finishing and putting your shit out there may be more important than anything else as an artist. But Wired Up was just one record, and new horizons are still presenting themselves to me. The years following 'Wired Up' saw my songs recorded on a slew of CDs, some of which were hits, like Alias and Mr. Big. Since then I've played with Ringo Starr, Dave Stewart, of the Eurythmics, Keb Mo, Bonnie Raitt, and Robert Cray. I didn't stick any needles in my arm or succumb to any "rock excess" bullshit.

If there's anything you'd like to add, say, or promote, please do:

I just found out Wired Up and Race to Paradise are to be released later this year on Rock Candy Records, so congratulations on the timing of your interview request, Urban. There’ll be a booklet with interviews, pictures, and other goodies. So I'm looking forward to that, and who knows... maybe I'll put out a straight up old school AOR record if enough people are interested. Thanks for putting me in your best of list, Urban. Yeah, I saw that... very cool. Later.
Jeff Paris

Interview by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
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