Gary James' Interview With Joe Puerta Of

One of the more beautiful songs to be recorded in late 1978 was "How Much I Feel" by Ambrosia. The record buying public felt strong enough about it to make it a Top 5 hit and take Ambrosia's album "Life Beyond L.A" to the Top 20. Ambrosia took to the road, touring extensively with the Doobie Brothers and a list that reads like the Who's Who of Rock 'n' Roll - Fleetwood Mac, Styx, Rod Stewart, Boston, Foreigner, Hall and Oates, Little River Band, Foghat, Stephen Stills, Peter Frampton and The Beach Boys.

Back on the scene, Ambrosia released their "One Eighty" album, which soared 80 notches on the record charts in just one week! "One Eighty" also produced the hit single, "Biggest Part of Me".

We spoke with Ambrosia bassist and vocalist, Joe Puerta.

Q - Where does the inspiration come from to write a song like "How Much I Feel"?

A - You write alot from experience and if not personal experience, then people you come in contact with.

Q - What did you mean by "Life Beyond L.A."?

A - There was a period of frustration before making the album when we weren't able to tour or record. We were trying to leave our former record company and were in a period of contractual diplomacy. We were wondering if we were ever gonna get out of L.A.

Q - The group has such distinct harmonies. How influenced were you by the Beatles?

A - It's pretty hard for any group not to be influenced by them.

Q - Where did Ambrosia get their first break?

A - We were doing a sound check at Hollywood Bowl, not for a concert, but for a friend who wanted to test out some equipment. He just started a new company and we were the 'test' band. Gordon Perry, who was a classical music engineer, was there, and he started listening to our music. He eventually featured us on his "All American Dream Concert" album.

Q - What was the group like back then?

A - We were a Progressive Rock group incorporating musical arrangements beyond Rock 'n' Roll into our format.

Q - Why did Ambrosia succeed where other groups failed?

A - We had the ability to write. We're versatile and can play complex musical arrangements in Pop songs. We also have good vocals and harmonies. Ultimately, it's the music.

Q - When the group is in the studio and not on tour, where does the money come from to live on? Royalties? Record company advances?

A - Primarily, it's a combination of sources. You get union scale on a daily basis when you're in the studio. You also can be receiving royalties and advances from the record company. If you're a singer and a member of AFTRA you also get scale.

Q - Manager Freddie Piro is credited as a co-producer on your latest album. What exactly is his role in the studio?

A - He helped in preparation for the studio, the choice of material, things like that. We're responsible for the studio.

Q - Does your life ever get routine?

A - It's not as glamorous as people think. Physically it's difficult. You're eating, sleeping whenever you can. You start out trying to keep a normal schedule, going in the studio at 10 AM, leaving at 6 PM, but by the end, you're going in at 6 PM and leaving at 10 AM. When you're on tour it's a different city everynight for months. You're traveling by car, bus, or plane and Ambrosia has done it all.

Q - Which do you like the best?

A - Car. I don't mind driving three hours to save money. We used to drive 500 to 600 miles a night to save money. Our road manager got speeding tickets for going 120 mph in Oklahoma!

Q - Who named the group?

A - I guess I could be blamed for that. I got it from a World Book Encyclopedia. Ambrosia was the Nectar of the Gods from Greek mythology.

Q - What do you think of your booking agent Frank Barsalona / Premier Talent?

A - I've never met him. Freddie (Ambrosia manager) knows him really well. We're very happy with him.

Q - What's the future hold?

A - Hopefully, in a month we'll be starting rehearsals for a national / international tour. The record will point the way.

© Gary James. All rights reserved.

Photo from Gary James' Press Kit Collection