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Secret Secret Interviews

Lexicon #8 Interview - Summer '98

The Band so fresh they had to name it twice. New and full of great ideas, Secret Secret hail from San Francisco and is poised to take over the world. They are one of those bands that draw heavily from the sound of the '80s, but from a '90s approach. I had a chance to ask the band's leader, Rob, a few question by the way of introduction. World, meet Secret Secret; Secret Secret - meet the world.

Lexicon: Where did the name come from?

I've always rather liked the way Duran Duran sounds. As I'm sure you know they got their name from the antagonist in the movie Barbarella. I wasn't so fortunate as to be able to get a name from a movie character! I did like the double hitting moniker though and I went on a hunt to find something.

Everyone seems to have a fascination with Secrets, and there's a great Gary Numan song that I was listening to at the time with a reference to Secrets. I ran it by my good friend Dave, who ended up in the band for a while. He liked it and that's what we went with.

Lexicon: Who is in the band and how did the band get started.

Current membership of the band is in flux. With things going so well for the band my band mates were unable to keep up with it. Evil four letter words like "Work", "Skül" (put an umlaut over that u!), and such have been making it impossible for them to have the full time commitment level that's needed to be in a band. We are all still friends and they are very supportive. So where does that leave us? Looking for people!

How did we get started? I moved to SF in 1990 and started working for a music software company. I stared putting some stuff together and came up with some new songs. I gathered up the first line up of the band by asking friends and what not. Eventually we had four people and we did our first show. That went fairly well, but that's the only show that group of people ever did. "Skül" and "work" again...

The next line up did one show in Sandy Eggo for the "Below San Onofre" release that we were on. This went very well, but it was the only time that line up ever played.

For a short time I went to work at Atari, and during that time I met Taiko. She sang on the song Nichiyobi, and stayed with the band for about 5 years, but she's currently attending skül!

I then got a job at another music software company and the band went into a deep freeze, for about four years, until I was fired in May of 97. Since then it's been pretty much full steam ahead with the band, and things are going great, with the exception of getting a more stable line up for the band.

Lexicon: Tell us about the album

We are working very hard on our premiere CD. It's going to have all sorts of neat little additions to it. For instance we are even going to put an adventure game on it. I use to work on video games and I'm rather fond of them, so we are going to put one on our CD. It will be super basic since there is no way we can compete with the million dollar budget games. Even still it should be fun to play.

But musically our first CD will follow closely our synthpop/gothic feel that we've been working on over the years. We'll have 8 of our own songs and a cover of a Siouxie song as well.

We are gathering up the stuff that we need to make the album a Dolby Surround sound mix. There are lots of folks with surround systems these days so it's a valid format to develop for. The cool thing about the Dolby stuff is that it doesn't interfere with non-surround systems. Just something neat to add really.

Lexicon: How has playing live been? Your emails sometimes seem to be saying that there are "frustrations" to playing live.

Playing live is great. It's getting a stable line up of the band and getting them ready to perform that's frustrating! We just did a show last night opening up for Switchblade Symphony. It was great, lots of fun.

Lexicon: "Nichiyobi" is about Nintendo, but come on, isn't it really about something a little darker? :)

Well you are right about it being about something's really about Atari's Pong! When I was working at Atari I sampled an old pong machine and wrote a song about it. All the the male words are about the game and the girl that plays it. The female vocals are in Japanese and are about how wonderful it is to play pong on Sunday night. What did you think the song was about? *grin*

Lexicon: So have the major labels come a courting, or are you going the indy route?

We are really just getting started. We are going to release our first CD ourselves and see how it goes. That's pretty much how one has to do it these days.

Lexicon: Do you think that Synthpop is making a "comeback" or has there always been a healthy underground scene?

I never really saw it go away. Other styles have come, but synthpop has still been around. Maybe we've not seen many new synthpop acts gain huge popularity recently, but much of electronica has heavy roots in synthpop, don't you think?

Lexicon: Has San Fran been friendly to synthpop you think?

I can't really judge for everyone. SF has been great for us. I'm constantly amazed by the support and friendliness of the scene in SF. The goth crowd in particular has been very helpful and supportive. Great people.

Lexicon: What's your favorite Spandua Ballet song?

"True." Why did they do that video in a swimming pool?

Lexicon: What are some of your influences?

There are lots of them. Musically you can blame Gary Numan for getting me into synths. I find the Human League is most inspirational. There's also SPK and they were rather defining in having a female Japanese singer in our band. As you've heard on "Nichiyobi," it works quite well, don't you think?

The Eurythmics taught me how to write pop songs. I should also mention the Mode, Berlin and Blondie somewhere in here too.

Authors are also very inspiring. William Gibson is probably first on this list. Gil Bruvil's art work inspires me quite a bit. Movies - how could you not be moved by "Blade Runner" and "The Hunger," but again this list is huge. Have you seen the video on our website yet? We did this on the Macintosh. We'll have more like that on our 2nd CD. Look for that one maybe in January.

Lexicon: Name someone you'd love to work with whose name is not Gary.

No Mr. Webb, eh? OK, Gareth Jones is high up there for production. I also quite like the stuff that Gerame Revell has done. Have you seen China Box yet? He did the sound track to it.

I'd like to do a song with Debra Harry. Sinan from SPK would put me into dream land. There are also a few girls from Japan - Maki Nomia, and Akina Nakamode. I almost got to work with Susan Chani. That would have been really cool. She makes great spaghetti.

Lexicon: How did you end up on "USA Vol 1"?

My friend M did some tech support for Synthphony and told me about them. I sent an email, with hints, to David and before long he asked me if I'd like to contribute a song. I suggested that he listen to two songs on our website and he choose Nichiyobi. I was quite pleased by this. I then sent him the song on a DAT and that's pretty much all there was to it. Having an acceptable song ready to go didn't hurt either! We've missed out on a few other comps because we didn't have a song ready.

Lexicon: If you got signed to some major tomorrow what would be the first think you'd do with the bonus?

I'd probably invest the money for a rainy day. I'm pretty happy with the gear that we have. I might get some new stage cloths though. Since I'm down here visiting in LA I went out shopping with my sister. We found some gothic cloths that I'd really like, but talk about expensive. Way out of the current budget.

Secret Secret
San Francisco November 2001