Flock Of Seagulls' Mike Score Talks New Wave Hair and Aliens
Mike Score is the mastermind behind A Flock Of Seagulls.
Inspired by Bowie and Alice Cooper, he combined science fiction, hairspray, girl pants, makeup, guitars, and synths to start his band in 1979.
Then he led his Flock around the world. Crossfade asked the man himself about the journey in advance of the Seagulls' Friday-night '80s Rewind show at Grand Central.
Here's what Score had to say about New Wave hair and aliens.
How do you like Miami?
We always have good fun wherever we go. So we always have a good time there too.
When was the first time you performed here?
Like 1982, something like that. I remember it was in the beginning. In the early '80s, we were there a lot. I know we played somewhere huge there with The Police on the Synchronicity tour. But you tend to forget the specifics of each gig as it becomes a routine.
How did you go from hairdresser to music?
They're kind of interconnected ... Fashion, music, hanging out in clubs with other people that are into it, designing styles. I happened to be lucky and get it right for myself and become an '80s icon. I loved it. When you're young and you put something together and people like it, you're like, "Yeah, I'm going all the way with this.'
What role do you think you and the band played in predicting styles of music and looks that are popular now?
Well, what we were doing was trying to develop two personalities. That came to us from people like David Bowie and Alice Cooper. If you wanna be really big, you gotta have a stage presence that people wanna see. When the '90s came and it was all drab raincoats and greasy hair, that was like the anti-reaction. But now, 'cause it goes in waves, kids wanna have fun with fashion and do stuff with their hair and have a good time, and that comes from the recession. When things go bad, people like to have fun. When there's lots of money, people buy Gucci suits and comb their hair smooth. When it's bad, they make it yellow and add polka dots.
Where did you film the video for "Ran So Far Away"?
It was done really quickly in one afternoon. I think it was just the record company offices. MTV was just starting up, so our label told us we needed a video for this new TV station that was just showing music videos. We had a meeting with the record company Monday, we met with the director on Tuesday. We filmed it on Wednesday. And it was on TV that Friday.
And that changed everything, right?
That was like our introduction to America. Most bands do New York, Chicago, L.A., and then go home. Once we were on MTV, we were in every major city in America at once. Everybody knew what we looked and sounded like, so we were immediately accepted 'cause we were on TV so much.
Who directed it?
It all happened so quickly. You work with someone for a day, and now it's 30 years later.
Whose idea was it to use the mirror octagon?
We just did it in the studio that we were recording in. It was really low budget. I remember the record company giving us 100 pounds each to buy clothes for the video. While they built the mirror thing, we bought clothes from girl shops because we thought they looked better.
And once the video hit, you came to the U.S. on tour?
We came to America for three weeks and stayed for nine months, and gigged nearly every day as far as I can remember. We weaved ourselves into the fabric of American New Wave.
What kind of reactions did you get?
In New York, we had number-one dance hits. I don't think people really thought it was a band. At the time, it was very electronic and technical and people thought you could only do that in the studio.
Where did the alien invasion concept for the first album come from?
Even at six years old, I was into [the TV shows] Outer Limits and Doctor Who. They're still etched in my brain today. I would sit right there, scared out of my mind, thinking I was alone when everyone else was watching the same shows. When the band went sci-fi, people got it cause they liked it too.
Do you still believe in aliens?
When I was a kid, sci-fi was a new thing and people didn't believe in life on other planets. And now it seems totally accepted. It's like it's just part of life. There can't be ten-bazillion stars out there with nothing on them.
What happened the night you won the Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1983 for "D.N.A."?
We were in Germany recording and we got a phone call saying we were nominated and that we should attend because there was a good chance we might actually win. We didn't know what it was, so we decided to stay and finish our new album. Then we won and found out we were the only British band ever to do so, and it would have been huge for us. We didn't know anything.
What do you think about being referenced in Pulp Fiction?
I think all that stuff is good. It shows that people like Quentin Tarantino and Ben Stiller grew up with us. And to have some kind of influence like that, even in Austin Powers, it means they remember it, and other people do too.
Would you ever go on stage with a hologram version of yourself?
I would. I think it would be funny. I'd go as myself now, and with a hologram as I was 30 years ago.
What are you working on now?
I just finished making a solo album, pop and love songs. I'll either call it Pollen or Zebrata, and I haven't quite decided which one. Zebrata is a name my old manager came up with. When he couldn't think of a word, he would just call it Zebrata. And Pollen is just everywhere. And that's how I would like this album to be.
A Flock of Seagulls with Erotic Exotic. Friday, May 11. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $20 plus fees via fla.vor.us. Ages 18 and up. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.
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