Gary James' Interview With Marc Droubay Of
Survivor








In 1982, Survivor burst onto the scene with a mega hit called "Eye Of The Tiger", which just happened to be featured in Sylvester Stallone's Rocky III film. When I interviewed Survivor drummer Marc Droubay, the group had just released their fifth album, "Vital Signs" and were touring with REO Speedwagon.

Q - Is it true that Frank Stallone discovered Survivor and recommended the group to his brother Sly?

A - Where'd you hear that?

Q - Entertainment Tonight I think.

A - The way we heard it came down was Sylvester Stallone and Tony Scotti, our record company president, knew each other. Sylvester was saying he was looking for something different to use as a theme song. He didn't want to use the "Gonna Fly Now" and Tony suggested to him that he check us out. So, that's the story I've always heard.

Q - How did you guys happen to write a song that fit the story line of Rocky III so perfectly?

A - At first, Sylvester Stallone talked to Frank and Jim, who were the writers, and told them basically what he wanted and sent them the first ten minuets of the movie where "Eye Of The Tiger" is. He actually had "Another One Bites The Dust" by Queen synched into the movie and said "I want this kind of a beat. Other than that, do whatever you want, but write me a song. It's got to be this long and this is where it's gonna go." So, Frank and Jim wrote the music for it in an hour. But the lyrics, coming up with the title, an idea, a story board, was giving them a little bit of a problem. So they asked Stallone if we could see the whole movie. So he sent a video tape of the entire movie. The scene where Stallone is confronted by Apollo Creed and he says "You lost the eye of the tiger. You got to get it back," just seemed to be the onus of the whole movie. That just seemed to be what the whole movie was about. And we said "That's a perfect title!" Then Frank and Jim went on to write the lyrics around that.

Q - Why did your original singer leave the group?

A - That happened after the "Caught In The Game" album. He just didn't want to tour as much and he wanted to go in a different direction and do different things and it was kind of a mutual thing. We wanted a guy who was gonna be a little bit stronger on stage. We just needed a much more dynamic front man. The guy had a great voice, but he didn't have that presence that we needed onstage.

Q - What's he doing now?

A - I think he's still hangin' out in Chicago, workin' on some things, putting material together. I think in the meanwhile he's doing sessions, a lot of jingle session work. He's been writing material for himself and just looking to put something together.

Q - Your new singer Jimi Jamison was part of the CBS recording group Cobra. They had a pretty big build-up. What happened there?

A - From what I understand, the album just didn't do what was expected and I think CBS didn't pick up the option on the second album. And that came about, fortunately for us, right at the time we were starting to solicit tapes and things from other singers. One of the executives from CBS called and said "Listen, there's this band we had and they're splittin' up and they've got a darn good singer. You oughta give him a listen," and that's how we found out about Jimi.

Q - After the success of "Eye Of The Tiger", was there ever a feeling that you could never top that song and if you did, it would be a long time?

A - We cautiously didn't even worry about it because, first of all, we never expected what happened with "Eye Of The Tiger" to happen. It happened so fast that I don't think it hit us 'til we were done with the tour of '82 and already halfway into recording the follow-up album. We just said "Hey, let's not worry about it." We just handled it. We just never consciously thought that we were gonna have to worry about topping it.

Q - Other than the one personnel change, you guys have been together for six years now. What's been key to holding this group together?

A - I think as corny as it sounds, it's just 'cause we really dig what we're doing. We just love playing music. All of us have been musicians since all of us can remember. I've been playing drums twenty years. Everyone enjoys playing and we enjoy playing in the group. I think as simple as it sounds, that's the key to it.

Q - Would you ever like to get out from behind the drums and sing lead?

A - I often wonder what it would be like not to have the drums in front of me and to be out there with nothing between you and the crowd. But then again, maybe I'm better off sitting behind them. I'm pretty extroverted in a way. I try to come out from behind the drums in the way I play. I get pretty theatrical back there. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to sit there all night, but somebody's got to do it. (laughs) I like it though. I really like playing drums. In fact, it's funny, everybody in the band is a frustrated drummer.


© Gary James. All rights reserved.


Survivor
Photo from Gary James' Press Kit Collection


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