INTERVIEW by BRADLEY MASON HAMLIN for MYSTERY ISLAND MUSIC
BRAD: Hi Ron! First we have to say it’s a huge honor to talk with the man who gave Archive Andrews a great singing voice.
RON: It's my pleasure to do this interview with Mystery Island.
BRAD: Let’s start with the big news that everybody on Mystery Island is so excited about. Tell us about the return of The Archies as a recording group.
RON: I met with the President of Archie Comics at Comic Con New York earlier this year and proposed a brand new Archies album for Christmas. He loved the idea and I returned to Los Angeles to produce it. I enlisted 2 of my favorite teens Kelly Lynn and Danielle van Zyl to be the voices of Betty & Verronica.
BRAD: How does it feel getting back into Archie’s voice, any problems or was it like riding a bicycle?
RON: I've always been lucky that my voice has not changed much over the years and getting back to my Archies sound was very easy for me.
BRAD: Was The Detergents your first band? Great name for a band! Tell us a little bit about that.
RON: The Detergents were my first band that hit the national charts. I was in the group with my writing friends Danny Jordan and Tommy Wynn. Danny's uncle wrote the songs and produced it.
BRAD: And how did you originally become Archie?
RON: I had heard that Don Kirshner (the man behind The Monkees) was looking for the lead singer of The Archies TV show to be aired on CBS saturday mornings. I had worked for Mr. Kirshner years earlier as a songwriter at his publishing firm. He and the line producer Jeff Barry gave me the job the day I auditioned.
BRAD: “Sugar, Sugar” is truly an awesome piece of pop history, arguably one of the most perfect “bubblegum” songs of all time, and believe me when we say bubblegum on Mystery Island—we say it with ultimate respect. In addition to The Archies we love 1910 Fruitgum Company, Ohio Express, The Ramones, and of course The Monkees … Is it true that Don Kirshner originally intended for The Monkees to record “Sugar, Sugar”?
RON: I heard the story from Mickey Dolenz at a dinner once where he said he turned down "Sugar, Sugar." I thanked him since we had the number one record of the year with that song.
"Jingle Jangle" was also an Archies hit from 1969. Check out the nice retrospective on the above youtube.
BRAD: I’m sure you’re aware of The Archies influence on the pop world, “animated” band or not, and when Mystery Island Music starts its own Rock & Roll Hall of Fame—we’ll be calling.
RON: Thank you for that.
BRAD: How do you feel about The Monkees, another band with fictional/reality blend, getting blocked from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame [in Cleveland]? We’re pretty upset about it in this part of the universe.
RON: It's a shame that The Monkees are not in the Hall of Fame yet. They were the greatest of their era and at one point outsold The Beatles. They must get in soon.
BRAD: Speaking of Archies influence in the world, have you ever heard the punk rock band The Germs do “Sugar, Sugar”? What do you think? It’s so bad it’s actually brilliant.
RON: Never heard that version. I've heard Tina Turner's, Tommy Roe's, Andy Kim's and even Wilson Pickett's. All of them pretty good.
BRAD: Yeah, I enjoyed Ike & Tina's take on it.
In 1969, around the same time The Archies went to No. 1 with “Sugar, Sugar” you had another hit, but with a different band. “Tracy” is one of those songs that takes me back to the absolute best feeling of childhood. Tell us a little about making that record with The Cuff Links.
RON: I recorded as The Cuff Links with the writer/producers of The Detergents, Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss. They called me one day to listen to a new song called "Tracy." I loved it and worked out a vocal arrangement for the session. I did about 20 voices overdubed and made it sound like a group. I was so happy that at the same time "Sugar, Sugar" was number one "Tracy" was number 9 on the Billboard chart.
BRAD: Back to the new Archies lineup. Tell us about the band members. How was it working with the beautiful duo of Danielle van Zyl (Betty Cooper) and Kelly-Lynn (Veronica)?
RON: These girls are super talented and really great to work with. I've been working with both of them for a number of years and thought they would be perfect for the voices of Betty & Veronica.
BRAD: Will there be any live performances from this new lineup of The Archies?
RON: Maybe next year we will do a little tour. It depends on what happens with the Christmas Album.
BRAD: [Hear that people? Makes a great stocking stuffer! Go buy it!]
Has there been any word of future Archies projects? How about a new cartoon show? I miss Hot Dog …
RON: I'm working on a new idea for The Group startiing in January.
BRAD: Did you read Archie comics growing up? Do you still read Archie comics?
RON: I read Archie comics as a kid and loved the whole gang. I was thrilled to become the singing voice of Archie.
BRAD: Your favorite song from the Christmas album?
RON: I personally love "Archies Christmas Party" since it mentions all the characters by name.
BRAD: What else does the world need to know about The Archies epic Christmas come back?
RON: I think America needs the Archies and what they stand for in the comics and on records. Good clean fun and Rock & Roll.