Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Interview: Michael Laine Hildebrandt (Bubble Gum Orchestra)

 #264: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! A very warm welcome to Michael Laine Hildebrandt (MLH) who is - to all intensive purposes - Bubble Gum Orchestra [BGO] - for this long-distance interview with ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF). We are all impressed with your debut release "Out Of This World". Whilst it cannot be said to be a parody of the ELO classic "Out Of The Blue", there are so many references to that album, ELO's trademark signature themes and their  immense back catalogue of songs!

KJS: So - for me - the first question has to be: Why is your project named 'Bubble Gum Orchestra'?
MLH: I thought the name Bubble Gum Orchestra was very unique and different. It captured everything I was wanting to write about. It really opened the flood gates of my imagination and creativity allowing me to compose songs based on the catchy semi-orchestrated pop rock that I truly love. I definitely believe the songs reflect and capture the name Bubble Gum Orchestra.
KJS: Hot on the heels of that question must be: Just who is ‘Agnes’?
MLH: I thought you might be asking me that one…seems to be a very popular question. OK, Here we go ... The names mentioned in "Agnes Is Back" are my high school friends. We always loved all the ELO albums and were really mesmerized by the beginning of "Fire On High” with all the backwards messaging. We knew it was saying something in reverse but did not know what?! So we thought the first words you hear in "Fire On High” were saying "Agnes, Agnes, Agnes ... In the odds of it all the servers in ... is in ebith”! Agnes became this (almost) "Livin' Thing” that meant great times with our friends while listening to ELO. Agnes will always live strong in every one of us!
!ereH saW namrehtaeL
KJS: Reading the liner notes on the album; it appears you play 95% of the instruments and that you have written all 17 tracks. That’s a huge undertaking! What was your personal inspiration for this project Michael?
MLH: I hear all the different parts of a song in my head when I am writing it. They are usually fighting to get from my brain to my fingers as fast as they can and then to whatever instrument I am recording. It comes natural for me to just go ahead, get in the studio and record the songs myself. Mr. Lynne has always been a big inspiration in my song writing. I am very much amazed on how he composed "Out Of The Blue" in three weeks or so! Very mind blowing! This is why I composed 17 songs on this BGO album. I always wanted to see what it would be like to attempt such a big feat. You are right, it was a huge undertaking ... almost two years from start to finish. I always knew I would do it, and now just seemed like the right time to bring it all to life. "McCartney I" was written and recorded all by Paul ... that was also very inspiring to me as well as the likes of Dave Grohl writing and recording his first CD by himself.
KJS: Where are you based? Can you tell us about any other members of contributors to BGO?
MLH: When the BGO Blue Violin Spaceship returns from a "Mission", it docks in Dallas, Texas, USA. There are no other BGO members at this time although a full blown band could happen at any moment if the stars all line up with the satellites. As of this interview, Michael Laine Hildebrandt is Bubble Gum Orchestra!
KJS: We can all see your musical influences on this fantastic album. But are ELO at their peak and the song writing of Jeff Lynne your only inspirations musically and lyrically?
MLH: Mr. Lynne is obviously a huge inspiration. But there are many, many more artists and bands that I have been inspired by. The Beatles, The Carpenters, The Moody Blues, Queen, The Cars, Chicago, Toto, Charlie, Naked Eyes, The Bee Gees and Blanket Of Secrecy - just to name some. There are many more but this gives you a small window of what musically turns me on. When asked, I always say my favourite English band is ELO and my favorite American band is Boston.
KJS: And how did those musical influences shape Bubble Gum Orchestra?
MLH: Simply said, the common denominator of all my favourite bands and Bubble Gum Orchestra is the love of catchy melodies and lyrics that people can relate to.
KJS: A common interview question next! Which came first – the music or the lyrics?
MLH: Just depends ... I am an avid long distant runner/marathoner so I take a digital recorder out on long runs and usually come up with some lyrics and a melody. I get a pure, focused clarity when I run and the songs just start writing themselves. A lot of the tempos of the seventeen BGO songs are at the speed in which I was running at the time. I composed about 70% of the songs on OOTW while out on the "Long and Winding Roads" of Texas. Sometimes I’ll sit down with an instrument, and write the music first ... violins, cellos and violas really get the ideas flowing!
KJS: "Out Of This World" is an ELO-esque treasure. Complete with synthesized strings and loads of backward (and forward!) "Secret Messages" ... this must have been a fun album to record Michael?
MLH: Absolutely ... I love to book the time and get into Blue Violin Studios, fire up all the machinery, start pressing knobs, sliding levers and begin creating. I guess I am like the man behind the curtain controlling the "Almighty" 'Wizard Of Oz'. Oh yes, the backward and forward "Secret Messages" are heard throughout OOTW ... I have always admired the way Mr. Lynne incorporated all the little bits of backwards messages here and there along with Prologues and Epilogues and orchestrated intros into all of those great classic ELO songs ... It's those little details that that I loved with ELO and what I believe is sorely missing in today’s somewhat sterile current music scene. My goal was to bring back a little bit of yesteryear's glory and re-introduce listeners [new and old] to the long lost style of songs we all remembered and loved. I basically wanted to start Bubble Gum Orchestra's OOTW where ELO’s OOTB left off at. Who knows, someone, somewhere, someday might refer to BGO as ... "son of ELO"?!
KJS: So what are your aspirations for OOTW? What has been the feedback to your promotional tour, the new web site and first single “Night In Shangri-La”?
MLH: I want to get Bubble Gum Orchestra introduced to the masses! From all of the positive feedback we have received from our new friends and fans all over the world, I truly believe we can find our niche and a home with listeners if we can just be heard. Our new BGO website at bubblegumorchestra.com has been very well received also. Everyone has been so kind, and I really appreciate all the ELOve we have received!
KJS: Are you getting regular air play out there in FM land?
MLH: "Night In Shangi-La" ... the first single, is currently being featured and played on a daily basis on 25 FM Radio stations play lists from all around the world just after two weeks of being released. More stations are adding our song on a daily and weekly basis. We feel fortunate and humbled by all the attention this song is getting on the radio and throughout the satellites.
KJS: Are there plans to take BGO out on the road? To the US and beyond ... even England?
MLH: No current plans for a tour but you never, ever know what tomorrow might bring. I love playing live and the thought of performing these songs with a symphony orchestra is a great dream to possibly achieve in the future. Wow ... Bubble Gum Orchestra "Live in Concert" with a symphony orchestra ... sounds good doesn’t it! If we hit the road, England will be one of the stops!
KJS: The seventeen (17) songs that make up OOTW are: “Agnes Is Back”, “Night In Shangri-La”, “Lights Over London”, “Lonely Girl”, “Reversible Relationships”, “Yesterday Tomorrow Tonight”, “Goodbye My Old Friend”, “Where Are You Now”, “Sky Has Turned Blue”, Concerto For A Sad Day: “Feeling Down”, “The Wheels Keep On Turnin'”, “Summer Day”, “Happy Song”, “Girl I'm Gonna Miss You”, “Sunrise In Spain”, “All I Wanna Do” and “Love Never Goes As Planned” ... can you give us a brief summary of these songs and what they are about?
MLH: I won’t get into dissecting all the songs meanings but my stock answer I give when people ask what they are about, I tell them ... Only one song on this album is about someone I have known. A secret message might give the listener a clue to what song this is but I doubt if anyone will figure it out [except for her]. I composed all rest of the songs on OOTW as if I were up in the mighty BGO Blue Violin Mother Ship travelling throughout our great world looking down randomly into peoples lives and then writing about what I had observed. Usually love, life and everything that goes with it ... the happy, the sad and all the emotions in between. I write songs that people can relate to. I want the listener to perceive my music and lyrics as they want to, hopefully relating them to their own lives and connecting to the lyrics, melodies and the overall "feel" of the song.
KJS: And if you had to pick a favourite track on OOTW – what would it be?
MLH: All 17 songs are so embedded in my mind and soul that I cannot answer this question with a one song answer. They all have a special place in my heart and my spirit. I hope the listener connects and feels like I did when I wrote them.
KJS: What will be the next BGO project Michael? Can you give us a clue or three?
MLH: Yes I can ... First of all, I am going to promote OOTW until the rocket thrusters fall off the mighty BGO ship and we reach the masses. After that ... well, I have been feeling creative lately and have five songs composed and recorded (except for vocals) that will be on the next release. There will be 10 or 11 total songs on the second BGO album. I am naming the next album ... drum roll please ... 'Bubble Gum Orchestra II'! Surprise, surprise ... It just seemed like the obvious choice.
KJS: Now – here is a question that I always ask next when ‘interviewing’ for ELOBF: What are your personal favourite ELO (and Beatles) tracks?
MLH: There is not enough space on this page to give a complete answer so I will just give one song for each band ... The Beatles: "And I Love Her" and for ELO: "Need Her Love".
KJS: ELOBF have introduced BGO and reviewed OOTW already here and here again. Michael, could you please remind ELOBF readers (and listeners) just how to get a hold of “Out Of This World” by Bubble Gum Orchestra?
MLH: You can obviously visit those articles or our BGO web site at bubblegumorchestra.com A very big 'Thank You' to ELOBF for all of your support! We appreciate you! Michael Laine Hildebrandt

Yours Truly KJS would like to extend my appreciation and thanx to Michael Laine Hildebrandt for participating in this interview. ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommends "Out Of This World" by Bubble Gum Orchestra to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneRoy WoodThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 18-Oct-2011


  1. I've just ordered this CD. It sounds amazing from the samples. I'm really looking forward to listening. Great interview by the way =0)

  2. I've bought this CD a few weeks ago- quite good. Please, don't missunderstand. I'm so, so, so happy that there is someone that keeps this amazing sound alive. The only point is, why are there not more real instruments (guitars, violins, cellos, drums)? The sythesizer-sound is a little bit too strong, too much technic. It's really good, but you can come even more to the origins with real instruments. I'm sure you can do it, this album shows soo much potential! Go ahead on this road and "hold on tight to your dreams".
    Hope to hear news from BGO soon, a tour would be great, a video to the single and of course a second album. If I can give an idea, maybe something like "Clockwork" in the style of ELO's TIME.

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    Thanks for your thoughts, we appreciate your opinion. Here is some BGO news for you...We are currently working on the second BGO album... (release date: late 2012). The new songs are really turning out nicely! We are currently negotiating with a top annimator to bring our first single" Night In Shangri-La to life for a very unique video. Btw...all the guitars, bass and 95% of the drums are the "real" instruments. We currently do not have the luxury of a real "live" 40 piece orchestra (those costs would be enormous and impractical) so...we went with the next best, latest orchestral technology (actual "live" sampled violins/ cellos etc.)in which totally satisfied our need of the blend of orchestration and synthesizer . For us,it's all about getting the songs spirit across to the listener. Our music is just in the "spirit" of ELO...not a copy of them. Only Mr. Lynne can give us a "true" ELO album (and I sure wish he would)! BGO will continue to keep our semi-orchestrated pop music alive for at least one more album...but hopefully more!

    Thanks for listening and "Enjoy the Ride"!

    Michael/ BGO