Rick Springfield Says Old Songs Are Like Family That Won't "Steal Your Car"

Rick Springfield's life has been an interesting ride from the peaks through the valleys of major stardom. The man is a Grammy-winning songwriter, a former soap star, and the face plastered on the inside of your mom's locker. 

He's been through the ringer of Behind the Music cliches -- including a major initial musical success marred by alleged scandal, a decade battling depression, and a miraculous ride to the top in both the acting and musical arenas in 1981. But the Rick Springfield of 2012 is still as inspired as ever. We caught up with the singer/songwriter to discuss his early inspiration, his cultic fan base, and his recent work with Dave Grohl. 

New Times: You recently released a documentary about your fans, and from what I can tell, your fan base is rather cultic. Have you had any really scary situations with any of them?

Rick Springfield: Well, if you're talking about the hardcore fans, they're pretty awesome. They almost become like family because you see them so much. There's different levels of fandom, obviously, and I have had a few kinda scary things with a couple of them, like putting private detectives on me to follow me and see where I go and report back. I had one woman who claimed she belonged to the Marriott chain of hotels and traveled with us and ended up getting us free Marriott hotel rooms on one tour, and then the FBI came looking for her for all the bad shit she had written to cover the rooms because she wasn't who she said she was.

You have a very interesting backstory with a lot of ups and downs and a few dark periods. And people tend to overlook Rick the musician. Who do you cite as major musical influences?

I really started with Rogers and Hammerstein, who were one of the greatest songwriting partnerships in the universe, I think -- but that's all the music my parents played around the house when I was a little kid growing up, but that was my first sort of realization of writers and music. And then the Beatles came, and I realized that that could be translated to rock 'n' roll. I loved the Who and all of the early English bands. But I listen to all of the new stuff as well! 

What newer bands are you into? 

I like Porcupine Tree, Mute Math, Muse, I love the third Queens of the Stone Age, that was a great one. 

Did you hear that QUOTSA is back with Dave Grohl on the skins?

Yeah! I actually just wrote a song with the Foo Fighters, and he was talking about Josh Homme (who I'm a really big fan of too), and you know, I figured they'd do something together again. 

Can you tell me more about the song you did with Dave?

It's called "The Man That Never Was," and Dave did this documentary on this recording studio, Sound City, where I did "Jessie's Girl" and Tom Petty did Damn the Torpedoes and Fleetwood Mac did Rumours -- a lot of great music was recorded through this board -- and Nirvana did Nevermind there too. Dave ended up buying the board and did this whole documentary on it, and put a lot of people together who had recorded there originally and came up with this whole idea of writing a song with another person who had recorded there. So I got to work with the Foo Fighters, and the song came out great, so we're going to the Sundance Film Festival to promote the documentary and probably play the song. 

As a successful musician and actor, do you feel one side helped to inform the success of the other, or do they both come naturally for you?

I was a musician first, but got into acting and they kind of both took off together, so people have never been really sure what I was, but I love music, and I'm very serious about it, and love to perform, but I also love to act. 

I think they're very similar in a lot of ways; They feed a lot of the same desires in an artist -- that's why you see a lot of people get into the two. I know quite a few actors and pretty much all of them are musicians or fans of music enough to sing well. Gary Sinise was a neighbor for a while, and he had a drum kit set up in his basement, and he was a drummer first! I think the two mediums can cohabit very easily. 

Everyone knows "Jessie's Girl," but if you had to choose another song for people to identify you with, which one would it be?

I really like "Our Ship's Sinking" off the new record, actually. I think it's a really worthy song, and it's very much in the vein of my early stuff, but with a modern ring to it. The old songs -- you play 'em so much they become like your children, less of a song and more of a family member, only they won't steal your car at 6 in the morning. But the new stuff is really what excites me, that's why I keep writing and playing music. 

Rick Springfield, 8 p.m., January 11, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, 5555 NW 40 Street, Coconut Creek. Tickets cost $35 to $45 plus fees. Visit ticketmaster.com

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