Thursday, September 30, 2010
Terri Nunn of Berlin: Proving She Can Still Take Your Breath Away
The 80s was such a great decade for music. There were no rules and fresh, new bands were popping up everywhere. New Wave was introduced in the early 80s and riding that wave of creativity was the band Berlin. Fronted by the charismatic bombshell Terri Nunn, the band’s breakout EP in 1982, “Pleasure Victim”, brought them to the forefront of the synth driven MTV era. The band is probably known best for the love song “Take My Breath Away” from the movie Top Gun in 1986.
The band disbanded in 1987 and went their separate ways. Terri stayed busy throughout the years and in 1996 reformed Berlin with all new members. The creative juices immediately started flowing and the band hit the road touring and began recording. She reunited with original band mates in 2004 for the VH1 show “Bands Reunited”.
Terri recently slowed down from her very busy schedule long enough to answer a few questions that I had for her. It was an eye-opening interview:
Johnny: “Hi Terri thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions to let everyone know just what you have been up to. A lot of people do not realize that you were actually interested in acting early on in your career. The biggest piece of trivia to come out of that is the fact that you auditioned for the part of Princess Leia in Star Wars. So, what made you decide to focus primarily on music?”
Terri: “I wanted to be a musician/songwriter more than anything from the time I was 3 years old, but it scared the crap out of me. Some opportunities presented themselves pretty early in my life (15 years old) for doing television. At 18, I decided to try going after the music dream and got really lucky meeting John (Crawford, of Berlin) within a year. It was a lot of work, but our results together got attention pretty fast, so I made the choice of working on music full-time.”
Johnny: “Looking back, there weren’t many women rocking out or fronting bands. You were kind of a pioneer. I mean, you were pushing the envelope way before Madonna ever came onto the scene. “Sex, I’m A…” was a shocker back then, but pretty tame by today’s standards. Do you ever step back and think, ‘Yea, I was one of the first!”?
Terri: “There were a few women who really inspired me to rock out, Grace Slick being one of them. Along with the guest spot on her song, we (I, Martha Davis- the Motels and Gaye Ann Bruno) got to interview her on our weekly talk show “Between the Sheets. One of the questions I got to ask her what it was like for her to be truly one of the first female rockers on the planet. She said her role model was Mick Jagger and male role models are true for me too. Bowie, McCartney, Jim Morrison, these were the people I wanted to immulate onstage.”
Johnny: “A lot of people don’t realize what all has gone on since you reformed the band back in 1998. Your latest release was 2009’s “All The Way In”. Are you currently working on new Berlin music?”
Terri: “Yes, an all new studio album will be released in 2011! We’ve had quite a few releases since 1998: “Sacred and Profane” came out in 2000, the DVD “Intimate” in 2001, the studio album “Voyeur” released in 2003, “4Play” in 2005 and the DVD/CD package “All The Way In” in 2009.”
Johnny: “A lot of people mainly know you from “Take My Breath Away” from Top Gun. It was the number one song of 1986. Has there ever been a point since then when you thought ‘Oh my god, if I have to perform that song one more time?’ I had read that Pat Benatar once had that problem with ‘Hit Me with Your Best Shot.”
Terri: “I imagine every artist goes through that exasperation when you have to play songs whether you want to or not, but I have been to concerts where the artist did NOT play the hits I loved and it bummed me out. It felt like they didn’t care about their audience, so why am I paying to be there? Bottom line is, I’m lucky to have so many songs people love and it is my duty and HONOR to play them for people. I love my songs.”
Johnny: “Speaking of which, what motivates you these days to continue creating music and to perform?”
Terri: “Music always has. Collaborating with people, writing new music, seeing the audiences have such a great time that it transports me into freakin’ bliss. These things are really motivating!”
Johnny: “As far as collaborating goes, what would be your dream duet?”
Terri: “Wow, so many. Singing with Grace Slick on the song she just released, ‘Edge of Madness’, was a huge orgasm for me. She wrote it to benefit the needy people in Louisiana right now. Hooking up with people is so fantastic in this business. Chris Cornell comes to mind now; I’d love to sing with him.”
Johnny: “Earlier you mentioned your weekly talk show ‘Between the Sheets’, with your co-hosts Martha Davis of The Motels and your manager Gaye Ann Bruno. Can you tell us more about it?”
Terri: “I’ve wanted to do a talk show for a long time. I co-hosted a show on 97.1 Free FM here in Los Angeles last year, but it wasn’t the right fit. Then Sam Phillips, who also had a show there called The Single Life, started HotTalkLA.com and invited me to host a talk show on her site as well. Gaye Ann and Martha had guested on the Single Life and she thought they were great too, so the three of us started ‘Between the Sheets’ last March. We interview guests and talk about music and pop culture and sex and current events and even sing on occasion! IT’S A BLAST! We’ve interviewed some amazing people already: Grace Slick, Howard Bloom (author of The Lucifer Principle, Genius of the Beast) and Devorah Iyall (Romeo Void). We also enjoy bringing people in with interesting stories: a man who’s physically turning himself into a woman, a man imprisoned for 24 years and just exonerated for a crime he did not commit, a woman who was married to another woman for 5 years without realizing it…fascinating stuff. You can check out all the podcast on HotTalkLA.com.”
Johnny: “A couple of quick questions for your fans. What’s in your I-pod?”
Terri: “Oh god, a lot of stuff. The latest people that I’m listening to are The Birthday Massacre (a really good band!), Lady Gaga, Goldfrapp, Nine Inch Nails and the new Devo.”
Johnny: “Do you have guilty pleasures that may surprise your fans?”
Terri: “I don’t know if it’s surprising, but I love vanilla frozen yogurt with caramel sauce. It’s guilty because most of the time I don’t eat dairy at all, but oh god, it’s hard to turn down.”
Johnny: “So, when all is said and done, what do you want to be known for? When someone says, ‘Hey, do you remember Terri Nunn?’…what do you want to come to people’s minds?”
Terri: “My music and, hopefully, that I empowered people and contributed to their enjoyment of life. Also, with this new talk show, I hope I expose my audience to more talented people and mind-expanding ideas in this world.”
Johnny: “Terri, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for me and thanks to your manager Gaye Ann for setting this up. It has been an honor.”
Terri: “Thank you Johnny! Good questions! Best of love to you.”
To keep up with all of Terri’s ventures, keep up with her at www.myspace.com/berlinmusic or www.berlinpage.com or on Facebook.