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Road to stardom isn't easy

by Bill King - Staff Writer

AJC 
article 12/25/82 photo
The Producers: (left to right) Kyle Henderson, Van Temple, Wayne Famous, Bryan Holmes.

Appearing at the Moonshadow Saloon at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Dec 28. 1880 Johnson Road at Briarcliff Road. Doors open at 8 p.m.; the Glenn Phillips Band plays at 8:30. $6.96. Beer, wine, mixed drinks and food served 881-6666.
Ah, the glamor of life in a bigtime rock 'n' roll band. Kyle Henderson and Van Temple of the Atlanta-based group, The Producers, know all about it. Over the last few months they have traveled as far afield as New York City and the West Coast for performances to promote "You Make the Heat," their most recent album for CBS' Portrait Records label.

But before you conjure up images of Lear jets, private limousines and luxury accommodations, take note of Henderson's description of what it's like to make a national tour with no financial support from your record label because you don't have any hits yet.

"We can do it because we own our own vehicle's he said during a rare Atlanta stopover for the band, which has played over 350 dates in a little over a year's time. "We stay in two hotel rooms - that's eight people counting our road crew. We do it real cheap and that way we stay in the black and support ourselves."

The group has opened for bigger acts like Squeeze and A Flock of Seagulls. But mostly they end up playing club dates, some small theaters and a lot of colleges. They've had two albums out on Portrait, yet the Moonshadow Saloon, where the band will be playing Tuesday, isn't that far removed from the suburban Atlanta tavern where bassist Henderson, guitarist Temple, keyboardist Wayne Famous and drummer Bryan Holmes played their first show on New Year's Eve just three years ago. "You do get fed up with the road." Henderson said. "It gets to be too much, but we have to go on. When you have to do something, you find you are capable of more than you thought."

A continually changing definition of success helps keep The Producers plugging away."When we were playing covers (other people's hits)," he said, "we'd think 'If only we could be playing original material.' Then when we started doing that, it was 'If only we could get a record deal.' Then, 'If only we could be stars.' We're never satisfied."

But they are occasionally bored. Fans of the band's bright, energetic pop-rock sound might be surprised to find that The Producers get tired of playing their own songs over and over and sometimes yearn for the days when they were known for doing the best Beatles sound-alike set in town. "We threw in 'A Hard Day's Night' as an encore the other night just for the fun of it," Henderson said.

As depressing is it all might sound, The Producers have made progress. While their first album, "The Producers," got a lot of local airplay with tunes such as "What's He Got" and "What She Does To Me," it sold fewer than 50,000 copies nationally. The second album didn't exactly set the rock world afire either, but it did sell more copies than the first.

"It's done reasonably well," Henderson said. "It's put us a couple of rungs higher up the ladder. We got played in 80 AOR (album-oriented rock) radio stations this time where the first time we got played on 20. You definitely have to show some sort of improvement to stay on the label, and we've already been picked up by Portrait for another album. We've shown consistent improvement and got exposed a tremendous amount (through promotional videos) on MTV.

That's meant a lot to our career. "The Producers start work on their third album in January, and while they recognize that it is crucial for the LP to do well, Henderson said he doesn't think the band will go into it "with the attitude that we have to write songs that will sell albums."

The second album, Temple said was made under a lot of pressure because the group's touring put them behind schedule. But Henderson thinks the next album will be a more relaxed affair. "It feels really good to be through that. I feel much more at ease about this album coming out than the second one, and I'm sure it will sound that way."

Writing and recording for The Producers is an argumentative process with each of the four band members having strong opinions, Henderson said. "But while the conflict makes it more difficult, it enhances the results."

He admitted he'd like The Producers to have a hit single, "But what we're doing is trying to survive."

Besides, Temple said. "There's no way to second guess the public. There's a lot of luck involved. You have to be at the right place at the right time."

The group is willing to wait, Henderson said, even if that means not making any money in the foreseeable future. "REO Speedwagon was in debt until 'Hi-Infidelity','' he said, referring to one of 1981's biggest albums. "I'm not too worried about that."

The Producers recognize, he said. that with the record industry in a slump, "we're in it at a hard time. But I don't think any of us have any other choice. We're in this too far to change now. And, regardless of how hard it is, every day new groups pop up and do very well. Look at Men At Work and A Flock of Seagulls."

For now, The Producers have to settle for dreams. And they continue to dream of making it to superstardom.

"We want to carry our careers as far as we can," Temple said "Yeah," Henderson added, showing his sense of humor intact. "We all want to be masters of time, space and dimension. And then we want to do Europe!"



Copyright 1982, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution.


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Created: 11/3/2005 / Changed: 11/3/2005 2:51:27 PM

I'm Paul Schulz in Columbus, Ohio and I'd like to hear your stories about The Producers. Maybe I'll put your experiences on the Fans page! schulzp@rrohio.com.