thing I should mention here . . . there are two DJs who did
the interviewing, and not being from Cali, I don't know who
is who. So I just put their questions with a blank "-".
Also, thanks go out to Mark Tomaino and all at Midnight Insanity for having the audio in MP3 format so I could bring
this transcript to you.
without further ado . . .
-Richard, probably best known to people as the creator and one
of the stars of the long running classic, The Rocky Horror Picture
Show. Welcome to the show
. . .
-Nice to have you
to be here.
-Now, um . .
this sunny morning in California.
-It is a nice day,
-Yes, sir. Now uh,
you come to us through the gentleman that we released our cd
through. We released a cd last year
. . .
-with Oglio Records,
and that is currently your record company. This CD that you
have come out with, we'll get into, but what is it?
R- Apartment Jazz. Is what I call it.
couldn't find any way to describe the music and people, you
know, their eyes glazed over as I was trying to describe it,
and then I came up with something snappy . . .
R- Like when people said 'house music'. Do we really know what
'house music' means? I don't think so. Acid funk, they say?
What does it actually mean, nothing. Truthfully, it's just kind
of an idea. So I thought I'd call it Apartment Jazz. And a friend
of mine said "Oh, I know what you mean. You mean elevator
music with soul, don't you." I said, "That's right,
but we're not going to call it THAT, thank you very much!"
I had that feeling
that it sort of conjured up an image of a loft in New York with
the windows open and a great muslin curtain blowing and a saxaphone
wailing in the street. (imitates a sax, which sounds suspiciously
like a muted trumpet) That kind of feel, you know. Actually,
no, that's a trumpet, isn't it.
You know what I MEAN
. . . you know where I'm COMING from.
-we're going to play
some cuts, and them maybe later you could perform some for us.
-First, if you wouldn't
mind, a couple of Rocky questions.
-Ok the one you've
been asked the most, and of course I would be remiss if I didn't
ask it- but when you were writing this thing, did you have any
idea- I mean, how can you have a formula for writing a cult
classic, but did you have any idea of what this would become.
R- No, I know that Los Angeles isn't theatre-oriented, and therefore
I have to explain that there is theatre-mainstream theatre,
and then there is fringe theatre. And fringe theatre is when
actors do something for five weeks, and it may be at lunchtime,
it may be late-night- it's generally in a small venue- you play
to probably 60 or 100 people tops, and it was a fringe theatre
event. And it played to 62 people per night for five weeks.
And that was, I thought- that was it. At the end of that five
weeks. We would have exploited our target audience.
-What were the critics
on the last question) Whoever they were . . . (laughs)
-What were the original
R- I couldn't have written better reviews if they said "Go
ahead and do 'em yourself."
But there was something about it, even when we were rehearsing,
and we were up on top of the building, Royal Court Theatre,
in Sloane Square-which is a very famous theatre in England.
And uh, eat during the day and again, nice sunny summer weather
when we were rehearsing-and I'd come down the stairs and you'd
hear somebody at the piano like Tim Curry running through one
of the songs with the musical director, just the piano. And
you'd see smiles on people's faces in the building. There was
a good feeling. They knew something happy was happening up there,
you know. And that was, I think it kind of knocked on. You know
you say the smile you send returns to you, that kind of feeling
was right through the building. It was excellent, actually.
-So after the five
-Yes. So After the
five weeks, then uh you played it somewhere else, or went to
R- We transfered to a cinema, which we converted into a theatre
that was further down the King's Road, and that was a lovely
old cinema. It was really like an old Bio-Scope cinema, bout
1900, 1905, 1910, something like that. And uh, very early days
of cinematography, anyway. And uh, that seated about 300 . .
-so you're getting
up there now.
to move up there. And then we moved to yet another even FURTHER
down the King's Road where we finally settled down for our seven
year run, playing to about 600 people a night.
-was it during the
seven year run that it was the idea for the movie?
was very early on, strangely. We weren't even out of our first
year when they said 'we've done a deal with Fox and we're gonna
make a movie' and not only that, but we're allowed to keep all
the original actors that were in the fringe theatre event and
you go 'Hello! Thank you very much!' (laughter)
-We all get to go!
R- Oh good. You don't get lost in the shuffle.
-Now, at what point
were you beginning to be floored by the fact that this thing
continued to grow. And even to this day, continues to move and
interesting. I was very dispassionate about it. I didn't jump
up and down and say "oooh, I've got a hit". I kind
of watched it from the sidelines.
I don't know WHY I did that. I think maybe it's part of my nature.
And part of my background as a kid. I think I always used to
underplay excitement, in case . . . in case the toys got taken
away, I think. I think it was a bit like that. If I got too
excited, then I might upset with it, it may not go through.
So I just stood, I kinda stayed to one side of it.
-Were you happy with
the beginning I thought uh, you've got to remember that the
show used to run without an interval, for 90 minutes. Hour and
a half, right on the money. Hour 25, if you were REALLY rocking
along. But generally speaking, about an hour thirty. And when
we made the movie, we wanted to make a 90 minute movie. We wanted
it to be running at an hour and a half. And we did. But it's
so slow. And we've even got an extra scene in it. And I thought,
if it's so slow and it's got an extra scene in it, how come
it takes up the same space of time as the show, which rocks
along? And I don't understand that. To this day I don't kind
of understand that. And why have we left these gaps between
the lines? I say a line (pauses for effect) and there's a gap,
and then the other person says the line back. And I went, 'why
didn't we pick up the cues? Why didn't we rock on with this?'
and I thought- it's too slow.
And now of course,
the fans say 'Did you, Mr. O'Brien, uh, uh, did you uh, leave
the gaps between the lines so that we, us, the audience could
say lines?' "Oh yes, of course." (laughter) "It
was part of the plan"
-Being that it began
in that simple setting, and that it began with you- what is
it to you?
R- It's a good pension fund, that's what it is to me.(laughter)
No no, it's more than that. It's more than that. It keeps- when
you're um, all you are is basically a minor celebrity and personality,
you need to keep your name up there, somehow or other, to keep
vibrant, alive, employable- all those kind of things. And it's
very good as that. It's also ESPECIALLY good for getting five
minutes of somebody's time. Cause if you've got that behind
you, you want to phone somebody or knock on somebody's door-
what a great calling card. "I'm the guy that wrote the
Rocky Horror Show" "Oh, really? Let's talk. I'll give
you five minutes" And at the end of that five minutes I
might get shown the door again, from the other side- but at
least I get the five minutes.
-Tim, was he happy
with the movie?
I woulda thought so. He's stunningly good. I mean, we were very
lucky to find Tim. And he was lucky to find the show. It was
a very lucky happenstance, or whatever you wanna call it. It
-(Rose Tint my World)
And of course, the Rocky Horror Picture Show. You know, Richard.
I'm writing my own sequel kind of thing, hope you don't mind.
R- Are you? Could you help me out? I'm trying to write one as well,
perhaps we should get together.
-Well mine's the
uh, Rocky Balboa Picture show. You know, Rocky goes "Uh,yo"
and the audience goes "Adrian". It's really kinda
fun. (It's gonna be wild . . . and wacky) Starring . . . (you
get the idea here that Richard is giving them some sort of odd
look, because the subject just sort of . . . dies) Let's
just sample some of this CD, Absolute O'Brien. Give
us a cut that we can sample about 30 seconds of.
R- Uh . . . oh my God. Uh, just do the opening, you'll just hear
the sax on the opening, I love that sax. Track one.
-(Incubus of Love)
Alright, this . . . Apartment Jazz. (talking through the music)
Oooh, that's nice.
R- It is nice, isn't it. Nick Payne. (Saxophonist on the album)
R- Cool, isn't it. Cool and groovy.
-You just said groovy.
And Apartment Jazz. And now every time I hear this I'm going
to think of you in an apartment with a couple of buddies and
a radio or a tape recorder playing, and you recorded it there.
You did it in a studio, I'm sure but . . .
-It's really gorgeous.
[We always love it too when guests work the word "groovy"
into their answers, and you've done that already. Twice, as
a matter of fact.]
R- That's very nice. Why do you like it? Why do you like it so
much? Why does it appeal to you? It's your age, isn't it. You're
showing your age.
-It was one of my
favorite words in the 70's, it went away, and all of a sudden
it's come back.
R- Fab is another word I like very much. Absolutely FAB.
-I like "oyster".
R- Well, have you thought about therapy?
-I don't know what
the hell I meant by that. Uh, Renee you're on the air with Richard
O'Brien, go ahead.
Renee- Hello Richard!
Renee- Richard, we
know each other!
R- Oh my God. In the biblical sense?
Renee- Well, I don't
know if you remember doing "Lower Depths" in the Hockston
Theater in Boston?
R- Indeed I do . . .
Renee- You do?
R- Yeah . . .
Renee- Uh, I was
working as an understudy in stage management and I asked to
borrow the pair of tails that you wore as the actor in Lower
. . .
Renee- And you lent
it to me. And then when I went to return it, you said "Oh
no, keep it." And ever since, most every Halloween, I wear
extraordinary. They're a collector's item.
Renee- It is, actually.
I have meant to dry clean it, it's become a bit tattered.
R- Well, it's not original anymore, it's had some restoration,
-Renee, thanks for
calling. Let's go to Kevin. Kevin, you're on the air. (pause)
Kevin, you there?
Kevin- Oh yeah. Hey
Richard what's going on?
not a lot. How bout you?
Kevin- A friend of
mine has seen the stage show live in Europe, and I've heard
rumors of it being in the States live, and I was wondering if
you knew if it would ever go live again in the States.
R- Well we've let the stock rights go in the States, that's true.
We have trouble in the United States with the stage show because
the movie has been so popular. And as a consequence, we take
the show into a town and a taxi driver for instance will say
"Why you in town?" And you say "Well we're bringing
the Rocky Horror Show" and they say "Oh I've seen
that." And you say "Really?, but this is the live
show." "Yeah, I've seen the live show, it's on every
Friday night down at the theater." You call cinemas theaters,
that's another problem you see. And we go "No no no, that's
the movie. This is the live show. You know, live actors."
"Yeah, yeah, every Friday night in front of the . . "
and you go "No! (gritting teeth) That's the FILM, this
is live." And then they turn round and say "Why should
we pay 30 bucks for a seat when we can go down to the theater-
the CINEMA- and pay five bucks." And you say "Oohhhhh,
ok. Let's leave town, what the hell."
-Do you think you'd
have a problem filling a theatre? I don't think you would, would
R- No, I don't think so. But it's always educational, isn't it.
It's educating the audience.
-And I love a guy
coming in with an eloquent British accent doing a hick taxi
driver. That was really cool.
R- (doing it again) Oh yeah?
- Well plus, I think
that if it were to be back on stage, say for example on Broadway.
would be so passionate and inspired because people have become
so enamored with the film.
The production values would have to be high. We have toyed with
the idea of dropping it in Vegas for a while and putting it
back into, into the consciousness.
-It'd be a blast.
Get Tom Cruise.
R- Tom. I tell you who'd really like to do it- David Hasselhoff.
He's been trying for years, he'd love to do it. Yeah, I'd like
to see him in the heels. Strut your stuff, David! Do your Thang!
-I don't think I'd
want to see that. I don't know. I can think of a lot of people
I'd LIKE to see in that role, but not David.
R- Would you like to share that with us?
- I'll make you a
-Let's go to Susan,
she's on line 5. Susan?
-You're on the air.
Susan- How're you
Susan- Uh, I just
fell in love with that bit of a song you had. What is the name
of the CD so I can go out and buy it?
R- It's called Absolute O'Brien. Yeah.
record stores, popular record stores that push up the prices
Susan- That's the
way it always is. But I just fell in love with that small cut.
that's nice. I was very lucky. I got a very good producer. Now
I was supposed to go and do this album and get out in three
weeks. Because it was a stage show, most of it is from a stage
show that I had already done with the band . . . and we went
in and uh, about 18 months later, we wound up with this album.
But I was so lucky
with this producer who was expecting to only do three weeks
and went . . . beyond his remit. And the generosity I have found
in this industry is remarkable. People who will go the extra
40 yards for you. And it breaks my heart, the generosity is
so good I sometimes weep with the way these people work. And
Pip Williams of course is well known, he worked with the Moody
Blues and played guitar with the Moody Blues, this is the producer,
and Shirley Bassie he's produced, among others.
-Sounds like you
had a great deal of fun.
learnt an awful lot.
-We're sitting here
with Richard O'Brien, who wrote the Rocky Horror Picture Show
and has a new CD out, Absolute O'Brien.
-You brought your
-What was your plan
don't know. Somebody pushed it into my hands as I came through
the door really, and said "Here, you like these things."
The trouble is, I don't actually know how to play it. I was
taught by Maoris in New Zealand. And Maoris play strangely play
three chord stuff like (here he does a Maori song) Now here's
the interesting part- see that? That's a jazz chord. That's
a ninth. And it suddenly becomes Polynesian, doesn't it. Isn't
But if you put in-
I've written a song using this same chord- Rhythm of the Heartbeat.
(which he of course proceeds to sing)
-Of course I don't
play guitar . . .
I treat it like a drum. That's all I can do with it.
-Very very nice.
-Uh, Richard is there
anything else that we need to know that we haven't discussed
yet. Like future projects.
R- Future projects? I'll tell you, my avoidance skills are improving.
I'm honing them, I'm working on them. In fact, I should have
a PhD with Honors, I should have a PhD in avoidance. I'm very
good at that. And I'm supposed to be writing something for January.
And I think what I'm gonna have to do is when I get somebody
else to come in and motivate me. So they say "10 O'Clock
tomorrow morning, we work from 10 to 4."
-Now when you say
writing something, are you talking about musically?
R- I'm talking about writing something for stage, a musical. And
what I'm really supposed to be doing is Rocky's sequel. The
monsters rising from the grave. And going back, truthfully.
We did a film called Shock Treatment which was supposed to be
a sequel, and the director said "No I don't want to do
more of the same" So five drafts later, we'd lost the plot
completely. We kept the- the songs are good, great soundtrack,
but the storyline was completely confused and muddy. So what
I'm going to do is go back, to the original story. Nine months
later, Janet's having a baby, whose is it. Is it Frank's? Is
it Brad's? Is it Rocky's?
I think we know damned
well whose it's going to be, don't we. It's like- "Congratulations,
it's a Transvestite."
-Sounds like a great
idea. Why are you having trouble getting to it?
I'm slothful. Slothful as you say over here (he pronounces it
slothe) I like Sloth better, though. And Sloth of course is
supposed to be one of the seven deadly sins, but I can't see
it, can you? Works for me . . .
-Do you work better
under a deadline?
I think everybody does. You get pushed into a corner with a
pointy stick you know . . . you gotta fight your way out.
-Now when you're
hanging out. When you're doing whatever Richard wants to do,
what is that?
um . . . is this a family show?
-Say whatever you
want. What do you like?
R- Again, I do so little. I enjoy doing nothing. I enjoy painting
and drawing. I'm not so good with the paint, but I'm alright
with the draftsmanship, with a pencil . . . uh, and writing
songs gives me a great deal of pleasure. I spend a lot of time
just scribbling lyrics onto the backs of envelopes and things
like that . . . that gives me pleasure. I enjoy doing the crossword
very much, the cryptic crossword especially. Um, Daily Telegraph,
if you're interested. You know, that kind of stuff.
-Well look. The album
sounds great. Gonna grab a copy seeing as how we don't have
to wait until the 7th, it's a perk of having your own radio
I know what it's like.
-You'll sign it,
R- Yeah, thank you for letting me into your uh- on your show .
. . I was going to say into your homes, but you don't live here,