Gary James' Interview With Michael Nesmith Of
The Monkees

Michael Nesmith is a musician, record producer and businessman. He used to be lead guitarist for The Monkees.

We talked with Michael Nesmith about his past, present, and the future.

Q - Tell us about the TV show you're producing which features a new concept in music and visuals.

A - It's called Pop Clips. In the past, artists have made film clips of themselves performing to be shown in European, international markets. This show is a development of video disc and video cassettes looked at more critically. The show will feature a plethora of well-produced clips. It's become an art form and is the next step in media.

Q - How'd you happen to produce the Motown group Fresh?

A - I had some friends at Motown who knew I was a producer. When I heard Fresh "live" I thought they were good enough to crack the market.

Q - Will your "live" album, recorded in Australia, be released in this country?

A - The album "Live At Palais" is on my label, Pacific Arts Records and is available in the US. The album is a one night shot that includes mistakes and all. It was recorded in Melbourne. "Rio" became a hit in Australia after the video clip was shown.

Q - Pacific Arts has established a foundation that would enable the artist to take a hand in not only production but the business side of his work. Shouldn't an artist just concentrate on creating?

A - A lot of artists are keenly interested in their work when it leaves their hands. We at Pacific Arts try to encourage our artists to be completely involved in their project. We're not forcing them to. We're fully involved in the national and international markets.

Q - Why'd you form Pacific Arts Corp.?

A - I wanted to see if the ideas I had always been preaching to other record companies were the right ideas. They proved right. I'm dealing with good people, making a profit.

Q - Is Countryside Records still in operation?

A - No, that was a label deal I had with Elektra Records. When the former president of Elektra left, I left. You might say Pacific Arts is the phoenix of Countryside.

Q - Why has there been so little news of you since you left The Monkees?

A - I've been laying low, making the records I want to make, that are in keeping with my standards of artistic integrity.

Q - When you wee growing up, what did you think you were going to do with your life?

A - I had always gone towards the arts. I had no ideas of my own. I went where the wind blew.

Q - Where in Texas are you from?

A - Dallas.

Q - Jimi Hendrix once opened for The Monkees. Did you get a chance to talk with him? What kind of a guy was he?

A - I spent a great deal of time with him. He was a complex man ... a gentle man. He was an extraordinary fellow...or I should say is an extraordinary fellow. I had strong suspicions he was from another planet.

Q - Why do you say that?

A - You'd have to have known Jimi to understand that.

Q - You wrote "Different Drum" for Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys. What do you think of the music Linda Ronstadt is doing today?

A - I love it. I love Linda. Always have. I wrote "Different Drum", but not for Linda Ronstadt.

Q - Will you be touring soon?

A - No. I'm making a movie with R.S.O. (Robert Stigwood Organization). It'll be a musical. I'll produce it...maybe play a small role in it, which isn't terribly significant. There should be some scheduling after January 1.

Q - What groups do you like today?

A - The Cars. They're creative, inventive, and play simply and well. Their roots are in Rock 'n' Roll. I like "New Wave"...Elvis Costello's stuff, "Jules and the Polar Bears". Pacific Arts is actively developing new acts. We're really interested in Heavy Metal and New Wave groups, professional acts who know where they're going and what they want to do. Anyone who wants to can send a cassette tape to me, my wife Kathryn, or David Bean, Box 5547, Carmel, CA 93921.

Q - Are you happy at this point in your life?

A - I would say so. I have no regrets. To me that's important.

© Gary James. All rights reserved.