Marc Godfrey is a singer, songwriter and DJ. He fronted various post punk bands in Vancouver in the 90’s before signing to major label, DreamWorks Records and relocating to Los Angeles in the early 2000’s. Under the moniker SOUL KID #1 his album “Americanized” has done over 250 000 in sales and downloads since it’s release in 2004 on his independent label, Secret Agent Records. SOUL KID #1’s “More Bounce In California” has been featured in numerous TV shows and Films including “Laguna Beach”, “Legally Blonde 2”, “The O.C.”, “Win A Date With Tad Hamilton” and “Saturday Night Live”. The song became a sports anthem played regularly at Dodger Stadium and Nascar, as well as a long standing Teen party anthem. “SOUL KID #1” ended up as part of the definition of “Bounce” in the urban dictionary. “Americanized” is set to be re-released in an expanded edition with bonus tracks in December after a recent change in distribution.
In 2010 Marc founded The VAMPIRE BATS. The band has featured a revolving line up culled from the best players in the Vancouver underground post punk scene. Some VAMPIRE BATS so far have been, Chris Tait (The Idols, Chinatown), Joseph Blood (Bend Sinister), Pete Bourne (Copyright), Dragan Panic (Spidercracker) and Thorsten Abel (Hip Young Things). In 2013 they released their critically acclaimed debut, “The Cemetery” EP. Now on Spotify. The track “Baby Libertine” features a guest appearance by Jordy Birch former frontman for 90’s Alt-rock band PURE. The next VAMPIRE BATS release will be a duet featuring Gorelesque super vixen, Bloody Betty. The project is now based back in Hollywood. Marc Godfrey also hosted a radio show, Bad Vibes on CFRO 100.5 with classic interview episodes on YouTube. The Bad Vibes Show will now be podcasting out from Los Angeles starting October with co-host, Joel Turissi former drummer for JOAN JETT and the BLACKHEARTS. That’s Joel playing on “I Love Rock N’ Roll”… and “Bad Reputation”.
CG: Let’s start from the beginning, a Marc Godfrey history lesson. What was your start in music like?
MG: First I wanted to play drums but it was too loud so I ended up on guitar instead. I learned by just jamming with my friends, mostly in punk rock bands.
CG: You really showed that you don’t need a record label anymore especially in music placement with More Bounce in California in Legally Blonde 2 and Laguna Beach and this was in the 2000s where things were starting to really change in the industry.
MG: There is a huge back story…
CG: Ok, let’s hear it.
MG: In the early 2000’s, it was still the old style of music business where there were these big record labels that would invest in you. A lot of people dissed the record industry saying “Oh those suits and blah blah…”
CG: Those fat cats..
MG: Yeah, but you have got to remember that the music industry was a place where someone like Courtney Love or Sid Vicious could walk into an office and walk out with half a million dollars! Banks are hesitant to give musicians accounts much less loan them money to make music. Record labels thought it was a good idea to lend Courtney Love money…hahaha. Money to make a record and that it wouldn’t end up getting spent on drugs! It was actually a great period.
When I moved down to LA in the early 2000s, getting a major label record deal ended up being one of easiest things I have ever done in my life! There was so much business going on. When Jimmy Iovine invited me to his office and offered me a deal, it was because Eminem and Gwen Stefani were making him so much money. It wasn’t a big thing for him to take a risk on this new artist, it was a very easy back then, business was booming.
CG: He could afford it.
MG: They all could afford it, there was so much money in the music business up until 2006 and that’s when everything really dive bombed.
CG: OK, so before you got all those licensing deals you needed to make the album. Let’s talk about when you actually got signed.
MG: Basically, I was living down in LA and I was doing my little recordings at home. I casually put an act together and started playing out. By the time my band had played 7 shows, I had Warner, Interscope and Dreamworks pretty much offering me deals. It happened very fast. This was really crazy coming from Vancouver playing in punk bands for years with no real expectations and then suddenly “the business” is telling me what I do is worth something, that writing songs was a valuable commodity and it was all happening very easily. The buzz started with “Bounce in California” which I felt was the dumbest song I’ve ever written.
MG: Where I was living we had a pool which I never went into but I would see all these people partying around the pool and I bashed the song out in 5 minutes.
CG: Isn’t that the case with a lot of songs it’s the one that you didn’t spend that much time on that is the most successful?
MG: It’s the Louie Louie syndrome. If you dumb it down…
CG: People are like, YA! This is great! The best song ever!
MG: Plus I think I was on a lot of drugs…
MG: So I was pretty dumb.
CG: You were the one dumbed down…hahaha. There are so many great songs that were written when people were on drugs.
MG: And a lot of bad ones… so anyway, it really was between Interscope and Dreamworks, I was going up to Jimmy Iovine’s house a lot and he is very cool. I turned down Jimmy which was a mistake.
CG: Why did you turn him down?
MG: It was an odd time because I took so many meetings. One of our early supporters was Epitaph, so I very quickly became entrenched in this Hollywood music business kind of thing. At the time I thought Interscope had so many big artists that I’d have to measure up against. There would be a lot of pressure to put out hits. I ended up going with Dreamworks because they didn’t have as many huge acts. I thought Dreamworks was a little more artistic.
CG: I’m sure you didn’t want to get lost in among a big roster, maybe their priority would be on the bigger acts?
MG: My interest was making and recording music, I’m primarily a songwriter that’s what I care about. When labels start bidding on you a lot of people go for the highest number and foolishly I wouldn’t let Jimmy put in another bid telling him that I’m just going with Dreamworks for half a million dollars. I stopped the bidding, instead of letting it go up to a million. You have to pay that back and the less money I go for, I felt, the more chance recouping. I was more interested in just making music rather than making money which is stupid now… hahaha.
MG: It was nuts though… my account went from five bucks to half a million overnight.
CG: How did that feel? What was that experience like?
MG: The record contract itself was huge, like a stack of paper which I didn’t read… but my lawyer read it.
CG: Good thing you had a lawyer.
MG: I had 3 lawyers by this point!!! I was collecting lawyers! You have to remember I was this punk rock idiot with bright red hair who was drunk all the time. I actually just read that contract recently, they were going to give me a million for the second album. Fuck!
What happened with Dreamworks is after I signed the contract I end up arguing with them all the time, my nickname around the office became “Babs” after Barbara Streisand because I was so demanding for a baby artist. My big thing was that I wanted to keep together my Canadian production team, which were my friends. The label wanted to get big names on the album. I ended up getting into a 6 month argument before we even started recording because they had promised me that I could keep my production team together. Oh course, after I signed they attempted to fire everybody I was working with! They wanted me to go with Linda Perry and other big name producers. Linda threw me out of her house…
CG: What happened with Linda?
MG: I went over there and she wanted to write and I already had my songs written and I said let’s record these, they are already done. She was like, “I can’t work with you.” But in the end it all didn’t matter because Interscope ended up buying Dreamworks so before my record was about to come out, suddenly everybody at Dreamworks started jumping ship. Michael Goldstone who was the guy who signed me, he also signed Rage Against the Machine and all these other great bands. His nickname is “Goldie” because he had the golden touch…he split! I lost my A&R…which is not what you want to happen, because then you have nobody defending your interests.
Basically everyone was leaving, like rats off a ship because Interscope was going to take over. The Dreamworks building ended up becoming an office at Interscope. Interscope was the label I turned down and not just one of the A&R staff, I turned down the head guy! There was this whole breach of contract issue and my lawyer was able to get back the album. I was offered either $200,000 or the album. I took the album and a lot of people thought I was insane but at least they dropped the $500,000 of debt I had run up and I walked with the album. After that out of pure luck Legally Blonde called up and wanted to license a song off it and that was the first license. I eventually did recoup, it took me seven years but I recouped all the money and I ended up making more than $200,000.
CG: At least you made some money in the end. Growing up what were some of your “Go to” artists?
MG: I’m a product of 80s music. I listened to Hard Core and Post Punk. The influence thing is tough, I used to have a huge record collection and was a record nerd. I was collecting early punk, 60’s garage rock, proto punk like the Stooges. Brit Pop was a fun period! Vanishing Point by Primal Scream is one of my favourite albums of 97’, Soul Kid was influenced by that record for sure… Beatles, Nick Cave, The Hoodoo Gurus, Iggy Pop, The Kinks and Geto Boys…it goes on and on…
CG: What’s your songwriting process?
MG: Usually I start on on guitar. I work alone like a serial killer… And it’s a late night thing when everyone else gone to sleep. Less people sucking psychic energy! I play around with riffs, melodies and then I sit on that for a while until a song title comes or subject matter. Lyrics always happen fast.
CG: So music’s first…do you find that you can write more when you are sad?
MG: Well Arthur Rimbaud said that all true art comes from the disordering of ones senses. Sadness can disorder your senses or extreme happiness can too. There is a certain contentment say in “Bounce In California” which is a happy party song on the surface but really it’s about consumption and there are drug references in every verse… but I was happy!
CG: My last question and I know it’s going to be a difficult one to answer but here it goes… if there was a song that you wished you had written what would it be?
MG: Wished that I had written?
CG: There are probably so many…I told you it was a tough one.
MG: “Rock n’ Roll” by The Velvet Underground. I miss Rock n’ Roll and I don’t like living in this post rock n’ roll period. I think we have lost a lot. When music was still an economic force, it had such a great influence and now it doesn’t. Now nobody looks to musicians for political opinions or fashion tips anymore!
CG: Maybe they do but all the artists that are new these days are people we just aren’t interested in?
MG: I don’t know but say someone like Justin Bieber, he isn’t a style icon, He’s a styled icon. Whereas someone like Nina Hagen… that was all her… 24/7! Katy Perry just puts on a costume, it’s very different.
CG: Siouxsie Sioux, you know she’s authentic and not manufactured.
MG: Yes, if you look at the 70’s and 80’s, Rod Stewart, Sex Pistols, David Bowie, Adam and the Ants …its all great fashion because musicians have no qualms about wearing the most outrageous stuff. They would influence fashion and up the ante for street style. Sub Cultures came from all that. Now everybody just goes to H&M, and that’s kinda boring.
Vampire Bats “Cemetery” has just gone up on Spotify!
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE'S Woodridge High SketchFeaturing SOUL KID #1's "More Bounce In California"Season 37 Episode 19The most Pop song in the Secret Agent Records Catalog… but it's firmly now part of American Pop Culture!Mr. Russell…..Bill HaderKatie…..Vanessa BayerStacey…..Nasim PedradBrett…..Taran KillamGoth Student…..Kenan ThompsonMajorette…..Abby ElliottDonovan…..Bobby MoynihanEric Adler…..Andy SambergDr. Failer…..Josh BrolinWitch…..Kristen Wiig
Posted by Secret Agent Records on Monday, July 14, 2014
Main photo: At the Waldorf. Vancouver. Photo By Flash Action