Au Naturel Song Rivers interview with Musician Michael Des Barres

Like all great art, it is relevant and ageless. As we change, it changes. Observe the Mona Lisa at 20,40, 60...nothing is constant, we will see it differently. No yesterday, no tomorrow. This is the place, this time, this album- The Key to the Universe- guitar, bass, drum... it is naked, and stripped.”
Michael Des Barres

And so goes the Au Naturel soul of Michael Des Barres. He is singing and speaking it raw, in your face, honest baby this is me, The Key to the Universe.

Song Rivers interview with Musician Michael Des Barres 03/03/2015

Creatives are multifaceted people, whether they are striking a note, performing a script, stroking a canvas, or sharing a beat over the airwaves. It's what keeps everything sane, or at least in motion so you don’t go insane from the lack of sleep, the over indulgences, and sadistic body, soul and mind abuse. Many rockers live on the edge, and burn and fade, but some live through those intense years of abuse to write, press, and perform on the other side of their realization that life holds more than a fast lane. With a 'gold spoon in the mouth' and an upside down household of strippers... Michael Des Barres knows what excess is and screams that in his heart he is who he is... and relates to life. As Michael puts it with a smile, “I am a vagabond gypsy, rejecting the hypocrisy to get out and disappear.'  

As the gypsy soul called, Michael found himself not only acting, but in music. Los Angeles eventually came, and the creative fusion of his tastes for performing were recognized in numerous movies (playing opposite of Clint Eastwood in Pink Cadillac), Midnight Cabaret, Under Siege to name just a few, plus the TV show MacGyver, and many more. His musical hunger linked him with meeting, and becoming friends with Jimmy Page. Through his friendship with Page, Michael met and married Page's former girlfriend, Pamela Des Barres (Author of- I'm With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie). Then came the band, Detective (signed under Swan Song), and later the successful co-written song with Holly Knight, Obsession, which became a hit for the group Animotion. In simpatico creativity, simultaneously Michael was creating another band known as, Chequered Past. A line up that EMI took hold of and had open for Billy Idols tour (Michael Des Barres, Steve Jones, Nigel Harrison, Clem Burke and Tony Sales. (If you can't see why EMI grabbed this line up you need your brain cells cleared). From Idol's tour to Duran Duran's tour in 1984, which lead Michael to Live Aid.

At this point I had to ask why Robert Palmer withdrew from Duran Duran's side project known as, The Power Station. Michael thinks perhaps it was Robert's personal decision, defining where his lines of comfort may have influenced his decision to step out when the Power Station was asked to play Live Aid. “I loved Robert,” Michael explains warmly, “I was really there only by proxy. I felt I had to be the luckiest man in the world I was going to be performing in front of 2 million people. I had no time to decided to do it or not, very little time to prepare, but I did it and it was incredible. Of course it is only conjecture, but Robert was a sophisticated man and the idea of 20,000 topless teenage girls, well maybe it wasn't comfortable, it wasn't him.”

And the story goes on... With Michaels radio show on, The Underground Garage Siriusxm Radio (channel 21/ 9pm-Midnight), I don't think there isn't anything he isn't afraid of trying. Confidence in self at times can be seen as arrogance, but in all candor if we see it as arrogance it just means our own reflection is stating we have very fragile egos. Michael is the embodiment of rock- unabashed, provocative, fun, full spectrum and “telling the truth,” because that is his voice. Three chords, that is all it takes to be real, naked, and stripped.

Read on as Michael dispels the assumption of arrogance.

I asked Michael if there was some 'hidden' meaning behind the title that we are supposed to look for, in truth he said we are the key. It is us. “Looking for your soul, is The Key to the Universe- YOU- without US there is no universal connectivity. Some assume that I am arrogant, because I see this, but I am not, I am confident in what I am doing. Community base living, Big and Bold, controversial...watch yourself, and be observant.”

The passion Michael has for living, his music, and for those around him, is self-evident in The Key to the Universe. Produced by the honorable Bob Rose (FOD Records) and recorded at the Forum Music Village in Rome, the album reunites friends and rockers Des Barres and Nigel Harrison (former bassist of Silverhead and Blondie), along with notable vitrine drummer, Clive Deamer (Portishead and Robert Plant) and the final key... Dani Robinson on guitar. This is the explosion of universal rock in motion!

Opening up the album is a song penned by Linda Perry, Can't Get You Off My Mind, and as Michael put it, “Passion and honesty mean everything to me, (Linda Perry) she is authentic—she is the real thing.” With an opening track written by the remarkably noted Perry who's long passionate history as a singer /song writer for 4 Non Blondes, and creating hits for Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, Adam Lambert and working closely with James Blunt, Coutney Love, Alicia Keys, P!nk and many others. Michaels performance states unequivocally passionate ownership of this lustful song about obsession making the writer and the performer kick this one in the neural structure.

With the measure of no longer living to the excess, Michael continues this truth through out each track, Room Full of Angels, and the brutal honesty of I Want Love To Punch Me in the Face- a right jab to the heart can certainly do that. Maybe Means Nothing, yes a song saying give me a definitive... in truth, you reach a certain place and you haven't time for the maybe's anymore. Spinning through a few more tracks and landing on Yesterday's Casanova, needing no explanation, to Black Sheep, maybe another layer of revelation peeled back? The album concludes in unabashed, no apologies rock with Liberty Train, and Supernatural Lovers. Ten tracks of raw, open, honest lyrics, rhythm, beats and melody.  


The essence of The Key to the Universe has a roughness, and a scent of unadulterated bluesy rock, with the mature vocals of Des Barres given to a 'rough me up foreplay' and an unmitigated indulging vocals reminiscent of Jimmy Barnes and Rod Stewart. Michael Des Barres knows what rock n roll is supposed to make you feel.

Lastly, I asked Michael if he were to choose a few musicians he had come to admire over the years, he said, “The list would be long, but I will give you just a few. Hendrix, Bonham, Russell, Winehouse, Elvis, Stewart, Richards...” and the list goes on. To sum up Michael Des Barres and who he is I would select these words; No, wait. Better yet I will let him, “To express myself in whatever forms it comes. Rock N Roll lives.” Michael Des Barres 2015.


This latest album, The Key to the Universe, is open for you to decide; grab the knob and shift...or ease back the seat and see where the music takes you. 

(Photos used by permission) Article appearing in Vents Magazine

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Song River is the owner of CowGirlZen Photography. She is also a freelance photojournalist. Currently working with L3 Magazine, Vents Mag, Silverplatter. You can follow her interviews, reviews of great musicians, writers, artists on her blog, http://cowgirlzenphoto.cowgirlzenphotojournalist.com/.  She is also quite active in social media working as a copywriter for several companies, and individuals. Never wrong, always right... and filled with a twisted satirical outlooks onlife sometimes... you have to be thinking out of the box most of the time to catch her.  A mess of delight and quandary at times, but known for her love and compassion to help others succeed. A die hard Nikon proficient!