Patty Smyth finds inspiration everywhere
Known for power hits like “The Warrior” and “Goodbye to You,” Patty Smyth & Scandal will rock the Ridgefield Playhouse on Aug. 4. Smyth has always been a rocker at heart and with a regrouped lineup of her original band (two original members and a new rhythm section), the band is not only sounding great these days but the musicians are having fun together, which was not always the case in the early days. Andrea Valluzzo spoke to her about the upcoming concert.
Andrea Valluzzo: What’s been the toughest or most important lesson you’ve learned in your musical journey?
Patty Smyth: I think probably the most important lesson and I learned is when it was almost too late, was that this is a business, it’s your job and you have to focus on the business aspect of it. It’s not just getting together and having fun and making music. That’s the best part of it but there’s a whole other thing going on. You have to really be able to steer your career and make it what you want it to be. I was one of those [who trusted the managers and record producers, who were all men]. I realized later when it came to my career I knew way more than they did. Back then, there were very few women. If you stood up and said ‘No,’ you were a b&$#@.
AV: What’s your process when writing music?
PS: I always write lyrics down on paper, but when I write, I collaborate, it’s more fun to do with people. I will go into a room with an idea of what I want to write about. In the old days we had a tape recorder and you just start fooling around, come up with chords and melodies. “There’s a danger in loving somebody so much” — that was a line that kept rolling around in my head so I tried to build a song around that line [which became Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough recorded with Don Henley].
AV: After the Scandal reunion on VH1’s Bands Reunited show, how did you start touring again?
PS: I just decided I really wanted to do it again. I’m writing a lot and I want to start singing a lot. Bands Reunited made it happen, I love playing out and singing live, there aren’t any smoke and mirrors, and it feels great and I’m lucky that I can still sing, so I’ll do it while I can.
AV: Tell us about the show at the Playhouse.
PS: We are doing some songs I never did before live, some cover songs, some new old songs, a couple new songs and we will play the hits.
AV: How has the business changed?
PS: When my first record came out, I went out to promote it [on radio]. First off the radio programmer decided what was on the radio. They do algorithms now. Back then all the programmers were dudes and would say Pat Benatar has a record out this week so I can’t add you this week. They added one woman a week. Now the radio is flooded with women, they don’t care. That’s been a huge change and a good change especially in pop music.
AV: What inspires your songs?
PS: I always write about is what going on in my life or in the life of people close to me; as a kind of writer, you have to really observe what’s going on around you. My children have been my muse always, my marriage, my friends, I just take from everyone and whip it into a song.
AV: Growing up, who were your biggest musical inspirations?
PS: I would say as a little kid I listened to so much Top 40. The first records I got my hands on were my mom’s: Barbra Streisand, Neil Simon, Frank Sinatra, those were the first singers I memorized. I was never into super poppy — The Archies kind of things but The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, there was such great music on the radio back then. As I got older, I got more into Led Zeppelin, Sly and the Family Stone, Jethro Tull for a moment and Neil Young. I was all over the map, if it was good, I liked it. I really liked the stories.