It doesn't happen very often, but occasionally even in this era, you click on to a track you've never heard before that rocks in a legendary way. I recently experienced this when checking out the new tracks that had been uploaded on Motorbaby's IMP page. Now I was somewhat familiar with the band, they had a Kayak #1 song back in like 2007 or 2008. But in this case there were 2 rock tracks as good as anything I've heard in a least a couple years, plus a softer track that was good as well. I had no idea Motorbaby was this great but talk about anthemic, You Can't Download Me is just a powerhouse of a song which is already making waves on Kayak. How is this song not on every rock playlist out there? Lose Your Mind is just as great. I know several rock fans who have jumped on the Motorbaby bandwagon since these new songs appeared on IMP. There's so little new rock out there I've liked for years now, and suddenly I hear my oasis in the desert. This is orgasmic music. Greatness on all cylinders. I looked into the band a little further and found that they are defunct. I still wanted to interview band founder/ front lady Sharon Middendorf. Indie stories interest me a lot, especially when I feel the band should be a household name. The system is clearly not working properly when a band like this doesn't get its place on the rock and roll pantheon. But these songs exist right now and you can hear them on IMP. John Mellancamp recently stated that rock is dead. Not bloody likely, Johnny. Do a little song mining in indie country, might wake you up some.
Scott: I hear that Motorbaby is defunct as a band. What happened? How can a band that makes music this good not stay together and thrive? I assume you were the leader, did you find that role difficult?
Sharon: Thanks for the kind words and support! Means a lot to me that you like the music. After all, that’s what it’s all about. People grow, change and move on in life. A band can only last as long as the people in it want it to. Being the Founder/CEO and leader of the band I had to make some very hard life decisions. I love music and always will. It’s a big part of who I am. Being a leader is always difficult but I wouldn’t have it any other way! After all I’m a left-handed Capricorn.
Scott: ok let's get right into the good stuff. My friend Fly calls me up on the phone after hearing you and says this woman has the sexiest voice in the universe. Are you aware of the power you have with that? You must have to chase guys away a lot, right? Any stories in that vein? :)
Sharon: Thanks Fly! You totally made my day! Am I aware of the power? That’s a good question. When you’re in the moment and the music is flowing you’re not really aware of it. It’s only after the fact, when people react, that you come to realize that power. I’m a very lucky women and grateful for every living moment I have on this planet. As for chasing guys away? These days I am a married but back in the day, yes it was pretty fun. Oh the stories I could tell!! You’ll have to wait for my book to come out! ;-)
Scott: You were a model and became a singer? Or has music been a part of your life for much longer?
Sharon: I started singing as a small child and it was very natural. My mother gave me my first guitar at age 7 and I took to it immediately! I remember everything, how it felt in my hands and body, the warmth of the tone. It became a part of me instantly. It became an obsession, singing, writing and playing guitar. I taught myself on Mel Bay guitar books and took piano and guitar lessons. My first band was in a church choir group with 2 other acoustic guitars in it. Music was always first!
I began modeling part time during high school in Cleveland, Ohio for a small agency called, John Roberts Powers. When I was about 17yrs old I was discovered by John Casablancas https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Casablancas founder of Elite Models. Modeling was an amazing and lucrative journey. It helped me move to New York City, to Paris, make money and travel the world. I am so very grateful for that experience and all it taught me. I wouldn’t have changed one thing.
Scott: Your resume on your website looks pretty impressive. Tell us about your experience in the bigger music biz and with major labels. What was your high point thus far and what was your low point?
Sharon: Thank you! I would say the high point was working with producer Tony Visconti, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Visconti David Bowie/T-Rex, writing and recording with Tony was a major turning point. It was at that moment that I realized that I had finally made it! I was completely satisfied with my career as a singer/songwriter, musician. Also, being on Mercury Records was quite a high as well as running my own independent label, Ten Wings Music. Appearing in Rolling Stone Magazine and on the covers of others was also a major high. Being recognized by other fellow musicians is also very satisfying. As for low points. Getting dropped by Mercury Records and when my band moved to Las Vegas. Both serious emotional drains. My band members, Ron and Les were like brothers to me. We were a fierce trio. When they moved it took a major toll. How can you replace 2 brothers? For me playing music is emotional. There is a chemistry that you can’t find in just anyone you meet. Yes, you can hire guys, etc. but it’s not the same. I think bands are a family unit. When it works it’s pure magic! U2, The Rolling Stones, Blondie, The Doors, Beatles, etc. Sometimes they can be dysfunctional but still work and if just 1 person leaves it’s a disaster.
Scott: ok, you founded a music publishing company that lined up music with popular TV shows and such. What advice would you give to our indies about how to make things like that happen for their music?
Sharon: Great question! I have always been a business women and began publishing music as soon as I had tracks that were produced well enough. This was in the late 80’s early 90’s. The world was very different then. No internet, no social media, Facebook, etc.. I had a number of Director/Producer friends and began by giving them CD’s! I also hired a lawyer and got all the paper work together. It’s very important that your music is represented by good libraries, like Getty http://www.gettyimages.com/music And you must join an organization like Ascap, https://www.ascap.com/ BMI https://www.bmi.com/ and Harry Fox. https://www.harryfox.com/ You have to be conscious about protecting your rights by using the legal system and organizations that were created to help you do that.
Scott: Motorbaby has made some powerful songs, do you remember the exact point when it occurred to you in your brain that you might be great at this? Compare your original music dream to the level of success you've had.
Sharon: It hit me when I started, Motorbaby. I had a few bands prior to this band but it finally started to get real when I met Ron Mancuso (Beggars and Thieves) and Les Warner (The Cult). I remember being in a rehearsal for a gig we did at Don Hill’s for Rolling Stone Magazines Halloween party. We sounded so amazing and the song’s really started to kick! I got goose bumps all over and the gig itself was incredible! It’s such a great feeling! There were many moments that I can remember where that feeling existed. I felt then that I had totally surpassed my original dream.
see your band
as a rock act. Yet
I read you were
involved with the Beastie Boys. Do
prefer rock over rap or do you take the middle ground on that?
Scott: I totally love your song
much of the joy in one's life
involves losing your mind?
Do you have
a geeky side that you use rock and roll to escape from?
When you lose your mind, is it hard coming
back to it sometimes?
Scott: You can't download a revolution. You can't download a revelation and you can't download me. Care to tell us what inspired this? Anything at all you want to tell us about this song.
Sharon: This song was inspired by an article I read in Rolling Stone magazine about Chuck D. I literally took the words I read and started putting music to it. The internet had begun, people were freaking out about it. Everything was starting to change. My site, www.motorbaby.com was one of the first band sites out there. I was an Internet pioneer. People always asked me why I had a website? I couldn’t believe it! Chuck D is a pioneer and I loved his band too. They stood for something and cared about the world and still do. I shared the words and music with Tony Visconti and we recorded it in his studio in a day. It was quick and effortless! I love Tony’s rif’s and bass line. He is a genius!
Scott: ok now for a more
question. Does it
bother you much that
Motorbaby was one of the greatest bands in the history of the universe
you aren't a household name right now?
Scott: Did frustration about the gap between how good you were and how much acceptance you got play a big role in the end of the band?
Sharon: Yes it did. We came out at the same time as No Doubt. They had a major label, Interscope, Jimmy Iovine, a lot of hype, a killer single and from LA! We were on a small label in NY called, Rawkus, had an ok single, “Keep On.” We got caught in the dot.com wars of 1999 and got dropped from Mercury Records when they were bought by Universal. Our first record had just come out and my manager at the time, Kenny Laguna (Joan Jett) had set up a radio tour. That tour never happened and should have. It was really a crazy time in music. I believe that in order to make it in this business everything has to be perfectly aligned. Everything! The song, talent, band, image, label, producers, managers and you have to tour. A bit of luck and magic has to be on your side too.
Scott: I see you're an entepreneur. Any ideas how indiemusicpeople.com can compete with corporate sites like the big orange one who has far more resources than us? We got the goods but we struggle getting our name out there.
Sharon: Zig when they zag. Differentiate yourself. Be creative and be different. Use social media as much as you can. Invest time and energy and money into your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts! Use Google Adwords and Social Media. It’s a long, steady climb over long periods of time that gets you to the top.
Scott: I ask this question to all Spotlight Interviewees. Have you had any experiences of high strangeness like UFOs or the supernatural (ghosts, etc)?
Sharon: I believe in UFO’s and the supernatural. There are many planes of existence and being alive on this earth is just one of them. I can say that I’ve had a few experiences. My instincts are on high! I use my 6th sense a lot and have cultivated it over the years. Always trust your gut, it’s always right.
Scott: Few women rock like you, why do you think that is, that in the annals of rock there are so few that have made a big impact?
Sharon: I have really enjoyed your questions and answering them. It’s been a long time. I’m not sure why women don’t rock more. I’ve always been a “tomboy”. It’s just in my nature. Chrissie Hynde https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrissie_Hynde is a major influence in my life. She’s also from Ohio and has lived rock’n’roll her whole life. To me she is the epitome of what a rock star is and should be. I think you have to have a male mind-set to live the life of a rock star. Most women I know don’t have that personality. It’s not for everyone and it can be a very lonely and hard life. There’s all this admiration, recognition and applause to only go home to a cold, empty hotel room somewhere on tour. Most women I know are married, with a home and children and choose family first. All I can say is that it’s a personality trait and a mind-set that one has to be born with.
Scott: What is the current status of your musical dream? What future music is in the works for Sharon Middendorf?
Sharon: My musical door is always open. So I will end with “to be determined.”