"Linus of Hollywood:
Say Hello To Another Goodbye"
by Darren Paltrowitz
Linus of Hollywood has been fine tuning his musical skills since the age of five, when he first picked up the guitar. He is now more than fluent on the piano, bass, and drums as well as guitar. As singer and songwriter he led a band of four Los Angeles nobodies into the stream of national radio airplay via the band Size 14. He has done rock remixes for The Smashing Pumpkins, Puff Daddy & Lil' Kim. In the time not spent writing and producing for other artists, he has recorded a solo album called "Your Favorite Record" that is among the most brilliant poprecordings in past years. Oh, and he has started a record label, Pop Squad, to release essential new sounds. Call him what you will, but having accomplished all of this before the age of twenty-six, Linus of Hollywood has all of the true makingsof a Renaissance Man.
TransACTION: Before we get this started, to settle any bets that I may or may not have going, is there any relation between the Size 14 song "Rollin In The 5-1-0" and Vanilla Ice's "Rollin In My 5.0"?
Linus: Kevin, the guitar player, and I used to be roommates, and I didn't have a car so we were on unemployment, sleeping 'til four, we'd go out all night, this was when Size 14 was first starting. It was so much fun because none of us had jobs and we'd rehearse three in the morning, it was just hilarious. And we'd be driving around in Kevin's car; it's the 5-1-0. It's just such a piece of crap, and it's just funny because girls would pull up next to us in BMW's and would be looking at us like "oh my god"... Especially in this town, you know, where materialism is everything. We heard some song on the radio, some rapper guy bragging about his wheels, which is what they all do, we just came up with "Rollin In The 5-1-0".
TransACTION: What are you up to as we speak?
Linus: Just doing the record, we're just gearing up. Since I'm the artist and part-label owner, I gotta do all the work... *laughs*
TransACTION: What are your reflections on your past work in Size 14?
Linus: Size 14, I'm definitely proud of what we did, and I think we weren't really given a fair shot. When I hear bands like Blink 182 and Lit, and those kinds of bands on the radio right now, I kind of think like "we were kind of doing that a couple of years ago", you know, so I'm a little disappointed that we weren't more successful. However, I'm also kind of excited for my new direction. And I think had Size 14 been successful, or more successful I should say, I might not be doing what I'm doing now. I'm damn happier doing this now and creating the music I'm creating now than I have been in a long time.
...we'd be driving around in Kevin's car; it's the 5-1-0. It's just such a piece of crap, and it's just funny because girls would pull up next to us in BMW's and would be looking at us like "oh my god"... Especially in this town, you know, where materialism is everything.we just came up with "Rollin In The 5-1-0.
TransACTION: Speaking of which, what are those guys up to?
Linus: Dave is doing film editing and also will be playing in Pint Size with me, Kevin is playing in 3 different L.A. bands, and I have no idea what Robt is up to.
TransACTION: Did you write any of the song on "Your Favorite Record" before you came to California or while you were in Size 14?
Linus: The first song I wrote for this release was the first song on the record, "Say Hello To Another Goodbye", which is still one of my favorite songs off that record. That was just written a couple of months ago and specifically for this record. None of this stuff is really left over from the Size 14 days, although I do have many Size 14 tracks left over.
TransACTION: Do you know if Claire Danes ever heard or found out about "Claire Danes Poster"?
Linus: I actually have a tape of Carson Daly on MTV live, interviewing Claire Danes, playing clips of the video, asking her what she thought of the song, she was very familiar with it.
TransACTION: Would you ever see yourself going back to a major label situation?
Linus: I've got friends that are in amazing pop bands that have had records recorded for a few years now that still haven't come out, and I have other friends that made a great record that never came out. You know, that kind of scares me, so I think if I were to sign something, I would want some kind of provision made where I could put out my records that they decided to sit on, or whatever. But at the same time I think a major label budget to record a record would be pretty amazing and I think if I can do what I did with this record for little or no money, I could do something pretty amazing if I had a major label budget.
TransACTION: Do you have a lot of local coverage set up for your latest release?
Linus: Yeah, for now we're kind of just concentrating on L.A., and then onto the Internet, there's a lot of promotion going on with the Internet already, stuff like that.
TransACTION: So it's first L.A., and then the world?
Linus: Pretty much, yeah. It's interesting that I've already gotten a letter from some person in Singapore, a letter from a guy in Switzerland. So it may be sooner than later as far as hitting the rest of the world, but yeah, that's definitely what we're aiming for.
TransACTION: What brought the transition from radio-friendly punk-pop to sophisticated Phil Spector-like pop?
Linus: I've always been into pop ever since I heard Jellyfish and Lenny Kravitz... I kind of grew up listening to heavy metal so when I heard those bands I went "whoa, what is this?" so I started listening to that stuff, so I've been listening to pop since the early 90's. Even while I was doing the Size 14 stuff I was listening to The Beach Boys, Del Amitri, stuff like that. So this is pretty much the purest form of what i want to be doing. Size 14 was more of me trying to be radio-friendly, and this is more me being me and not worrying about it.
I'm a total music junkie, so the more I'm getting into the late 60's pop, the more I'm realizing that that's the best music as far as I'm concerned. Just listening to The Zombies, The Beach Boys, and The Yellow Balloon, and all these great bands that came out in that time.
TransACTION: The Zombies were a group that was never as popular during their time. There was a resurgance when they broke up, and then they had their mid-90's box set, they did a couple of one-off gigs...
Linus: Exactly. That's starting to happen more and more now, people just discovering albums. I'm actually friends with this lady named Margo Guryan. My publisher, he heard the kind of stuff I was doing and played me a tape in his office and said "what do you think of this?" and I was freaking out, I thought it was amazing. I'm like "who is this?" and it turns out it's his step-mom.
But we've been hanging out a lot lately, which is kind of cool because in my opinion, I put her up there with any of the great late sixties songwriters. It's kind of cool because she's my own little private Brian Wilson. In the fifties, she actually went to the Lenox School of Jazz, she had a record on Atlantic... She was in that whole Milt Jackson, Ornette Coleman scene.
TransACTION: I was looking up in the All-Music Guide to see if you played on any obscure albums, being that you've been part of a bunch of compilations. But it's funny because Linus seems to be a common alias because Linus has played bass, produced, and engineered on various albums in the sixties, seventies, and eighties.
Linus: That's where the "Linus of Hollywood" came from, because I just wanted to call it "Linus", but there's "Linus", a dance band from Europe, there's a band in Vegas called "Linus", there's some guy wanted for murder in Santa Monica named "Linus"... I don't want to be mixed up, so I just threw in that "of Hollywood" because it's kind of funny like "Fredrique's of Hollywood".
I just wanted to call it "Linus", but there's "Linus", a dance band from Europe, there's a band in Vegas called "Linus", there's some guy wanted for murder in Santa Monica named "Linus"... I don't want to be mixed up, so I just threw in that "of Hollywood" because it's kind of funny like "Fredrique's of Hollywood".
TransACTION: How was the experience of making the Size 14 record different from that of making your solo album?
Linus: Well obviously the Mike Clink thing. That was a major label thing so it was a lot of fun because I was with a band... there was really no responsibility. It was kind of like "show up". The song were already written and arranged and everything, so Mike Clink was mostly a mediator, keeping the band in the same direction, playing babysitter for our drinking. So that was a cool situation, but we would just show up at ten o'clock and leave. We didn't have to worry about any of the financial aspects or timing, and it was a very rock star situation. With this record, I did most of it in my bedroom, we own the label it's coming out on, so it's much more of a "hands on" thing, and I find that very gratifying. And I haven't found a producer that I can think of, that can do what I'm trying to do better than I think I can do it.
The Mike Clink was a major label thing...we would just show up at ten o'clock and leave. We didn't have to worry about any of the financial aspects or timing, and it was a very rock star situation. With this record, I did most of it in my bedroom, we own the label it's coming out on, so it's much more of a "hands on" thing, and I find that very gratifying. And I haven't found a producer that I can think of, that can do what I'm trying to do better than I think I can do it.
TransACTION: How long did it take you to record the average song?
Linus: I've kind of been doing this album over the last few months as I had the time to do it, but most of the songs once they were written, they took a day, and then whatever time it took to record the drums, one or two takes. I don't know, between four and six hours a song. I pretty much know what I'm going to do and have a little system with what I do. I have a terrible attention disorder so if it takes more than a day I get bored.
TransACTION: What are up to currently on the songwriting and production end?
Linus: I definitely have an interesting story just from all the different things I've done and the stuff I'm doing now, I'm writing songs for this kind of Britney Spears-ish, Spice Girls kind of band. I'm actually writing songs for another Mike Clink project and there's a bunch of kids, they're called 'Beyond Control', and they're doing that whole metal thing, so that's cool. They're opening up for Night Ranger, and I think they're gonna do a show with Great White. I'm doing a bunch of writing and producing for stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with what I'm trying to do now.
TransACTION: How would you handle comparisons to "Pet Sounds" or "Revolver"?
Linus: I'd be honored, because I'm a huge Brian Wilson fan, and he's obviously my biggest influence life-wise and music-wise. But at the same time, I don't want to be just 'that guy who sounds like this or sounds like that', I definitely want to take all the things that were going on at that time and move on, kind of build from that. I'm kind of looking at this album as a blue-print of where I want to go. It's a good thing and a bad thing to be compared to anybody. It's a good thing if you like who you're being compared to, but it's bad because you become someone copying and forging new ground. As musical as I am, nobody in my family is musical or never really heard any good music growing up, so it's all new to me. When I heard 'Pet Sounds' it was probably 1992.
TransACTION: What are the goals and intentions that you have for Pop Squad Records?
Linus: The main thing is to put out our music. My partner is in a band called Supremium, that's really amazing, this Elvis Costello-y stuff. So me and him, our original idea was to get out our music, but seeing all the great pop bands out there, we're thinking about taking on some other acts as well. With my and his records we'll probably be distributed overseas and nationwide, so we might as well take that and help out some other acts along.
TransACTION: How would you describe your album to someone who's not all that familiar with 60s or even 60s-style pop?
Linus: I'm hearing songs on the radio that kind of dart back to that time, you know, the Fastball song, I consider inspired by that era, and the new Chris Cornell song, which I think is an amazingly written song. I compare it to some things on the radio today that I think are just good songwriting, something that I think the nineties have moved away from unfortunately. There's definitely an underground pop movement going on and they're gearing to get back to that.
TransACTION: Any plans to come out to the other coast anytime soon?
Linus: Right now I'm playing around LA, solo and acoustic, but I'm about to put a small band together. We're looking to do some sort of tour on the West Coast in early 2000, and a nationwide tour later next year. I might be going out with Supremium, which is another Pop Squad band whose debut CD will be out in late November. I might do some shows in Chicago and New York, and then depending on how successful the record is, beginning next year, I'm thinking about going on tour. I'm also concentrating on getting to Sweden and Japan, those are good pop markets. It's always been a dream of mine to go to Sweden... I'll go anywhere that they'll have me basically, but I'm definitely up for touring and ready to go whenever the time is right. I've never been out of the country before.
to December Issue
©TransAction Magazine 1999