Better Than The Rest - Robert Tepper's return to pure AOR after years spent in the singer/songwriter genre. Originally hailing from Bayonne, New Jersey, came up in the late 60s playing in garage bands down on the Jersey shore. His first top-40 hit was recorded by Paul Anka, "This Is Love". The song went on to earn an ASCAP award for its popularity. After moving to New York City, he teamed up with fellow singer Benny Mardones to help with his hit album "Never Run, Never Hide" and he also worked with Pat Benatar, etc. In 1985 Tepper landed his first solo record deal (Scotti Brothers Records) and the debut was produced by the Grammy awarded Joe Chiccarelli (U2, Beck, Elton John, etc). It was about this time that Sylvester Stallone was taken by his song "No Easy Way Out". Prominently featured in the film franchise "Rocky", the song climbed the charts into the American top 40. Stallone, now a Tepper fan, also used the song "Angel Of The City" in his classic movie "Cobra", giving Tepper the title of the soundtrack kid. In 1996 the album "No Rest For The Wounded Heart" was released by MTM Music and an acoustic record with an electric tinge in the early 00s, called "New Life Story".The new Robert Tepper album, "Better Than The Rest" is a true collaboration between Tepper and guitarist Pablo Padilla. Find out more about the album and the man. Here's Mr. ROBERT TEPPER...
Better Than The Rest - That's a rather bold and confident statement :-)
Yeah it is a confident statement but when you really look into it you realize I'm talking about a relationship and another person. But I always love how in rap music the guys are always saying how cool they are. It's like bragging but kinda funny...
All the reviews I've been reading for your new album have been pretty darn excellent. Are you pleased with the reception for the album?
I'm blown away by the response to the new record. I never realized how many people really wanted me to do an AOR album with big drums and guitars and the response has been amazing. I feel like I'm getting greedy now. I want the world to hear it. If i'm being honest. Yeah that’s right the whole world... lol!
It's nice to once again hear your positive music and messages. But how about 'Show Me Where The Light Is Going'. What was that song about?
That song is about trying to stay on some kind of path with a bit of spirtual intergrity which I fall short of everyday. Not like an organized religion but more of a path of humility. My favorite line is "Ain't no drug in the world that can give me lovin". Trying to get down to some kind of sincerity.
What inspired you to write "My Yesterday" and does it have anything to do with movies? :-)
"My Yesterday" is more of a tale about when we first get that first blast of love in our lives and we are willing to overcome any obstacle. Parents, friends teasing us. All of it. Anything is possible and some how as we get older we lose that. Or we have to fight to hold on to that. We take so much for granted. As far as a movie vibe. All the cool songs of the eighties had that movie vibe to them, they where larger than life.
Do tell us something about the writing process and what you're trying to capture on the album. That 80's feeling?
Well Pablo and I posed the question what if the big AOR records were never out of fashion? What would a modern day AOR record sound like. What would be the things about those records that we loved in such a huge way. The drum sounds the massive guitars. The reverbs and delays that went on forever. All the best elements of that time period. That then becomes a worthwhile challenge to come up with some worthy songs and approach them with all that in mind. The writing process was very organic. Pablo and I would meet once or twice a week and we would come up with stuff everytime. Inspired sounding things. Sometimes words and music all in a night. We got visited by the spirits a lot.
What kind of input did your record company have during the process?
So I went to a couple of companies. One of the first was Frontiers who passed pretty quickly and I was like no worries, we are self releasing this or whatever has to be done. Then my friend Indigo Balboa from Spain set up a meeting with AOR Heaven and they where like where do we sign up no questions. I kept them in the loop. But we made the album we wanted to make for sure.
Who or what is Pablo Padilla and what did he bring to the table?
Pablo is the a huge reason this album exists at all, he’s guitar playing which I heard first cause he was part of my spanish band when I played Madrid and later came to Los Angeles to go to school. His playing didn’t sound dated to me, it felt very modern and insprirational. He’s a great and honest musician and we wrote and recorded this record together. Could not have done it without him.
We (RockUnited.com) grew up watching 90s/80s Sly Stallone's Rocky and Cobra and listening to your songs ‘No Easy Way Out’ and ‘Angel Of The City’. What kind of film and music did you find intriguing as a kid in New Jeresy? (Paul Anka? he recorded one of your songs)
Growing up in the sixties we got the usually crap. The beach movies The Bad Elvis movies. You guys got the hay day of music put to cinema because of the influence of MTV. So many cool songs where attached to great movies. The Breakfast Club, St Elmos Fire etx, you get it. In your day you couldn’t even think of watching a certain movie without embracing the sound track. Not so much when I was coming up. My very first cut as a writer was Paul Anka doing "This Is Love", which charted top 50 and was pretty cool for me for my first effort that got released by a major artist.
Speaking of Jersey. There's been so many great artists and bands from your hometurf. Any idea why? It must be something in the air? The smell? :-)
Jersey breeds its music in a very relatable way. the South says don’t get above your raising and it’s kind of the same. You want to please the bar crowd cause you are the bar crowd. You want people to feel what you're doing and be one of them. Going thru all the universal struggles. and also I was close to NYC. that influenced me a lot. I got to see and feel some great music in those clubs.
Considering your Rocky/Cobra success and songs, did you ever feel like a priority at Scotti Brothers Records? They did support you much or at all?
I truly never felt that at that label. They where distributed by CBS and I always felt like we where a foot note to what ever was going on at the main label. But they got me in the Rocky franchise so forever grateful amen..
INTERVIEW by: Urban Wally Wallstrom
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