THE SUNDAY SHOW (1994)
With The Artist Formerly Known As Prince
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P = The Artist Formerly Known As Prince
Veronica Webb: I'm here with the New Power Generation and the artist formerly known as Prince is a member of the band. He's agreed to his first TV interview in over a decade, but he's refused to answer any questions. Now what's the reason to give an interview and not speak?
[P Holds up newspaper]
Veronica Webb: "Prince is dead - Long live rock's tiny sex symbol". So Prince has nothing to say, and the Artist FKA Prince is forever in silence which I suppose is golden. But don't you think you're blowing your chance for people to understand what your case is, why you won't speak?
[P whispers to Mayte]
Mayte: He never blows chances.
Veronica Webb: Well, there you go. That's incredible confidence, but how do you expect people to be sympathetic to what's going on with you if they can't understand your situation?
Mayte: Next question.
Veronica Webb: OK, by the way this is Mayte -- do you want to introduce yourself and tell people about your official role in the New Power Generation?
Mayte: My name is Mayte, and I'm the dancer of the NPG, wait...
[P Points to something]
Veronica Webb: I'm looking at Mayte's new video. How do the rest of you feel? You're serious musicians and now suddenly you're the major eccentric pop star situation where you're getting into like weird behavours and stuff that people question?
Unknown male: [Moans] Well, you know in the immortal words of a former friend of ours, It's Rock 'n Roll, baby, it's Rock 'n Roll.
Michael: It's Rock 'n Roll
Sonny: It's funk
Veronica Webb: And does it make you funkier to be eccentric?
Morris: Well, you know I think that the key is that we strive to be a bit different than the run of the mill or the norm, and so if that means eccentric, then so be it, but you know I just wanna groove.
Veronica Webb: What was that?
[P Points to video.]
Veronica Webb: What's this video called?
Mayte: "If I Love U 2night"
Veronica Webb: Now is this your singing debut? You were on the pulp.
Mayte: Yeah, I was on the pulp.
Veronica Webb: What else?
Mayte: What else...different songs, but this is my first solo debut song.
Veronica Webb: Is it a single or is it an album?
Mayte: It's a single, but soon to be an album. I'm working on this right now.
Veronica Webb: How long before we get your album?
Mayte: Very soon.
Veronica Webb: So, rumour has it you're going to tour until 1999.
Veronica Webb: What was that "woooo" about, Morris?
Morris: Well, you know, baby needs some new shoes.
Veronica Webb: Well, how do you feel about not returning to America until almost the next century?
Michael: Well, how do they feel about me not returning to the states?
Veronica Webb: Well, are you punishing America?
Sonny: Are you punishing yourself?
Veronica Webb: What do you think? Are you punishing America?
[P whispers to Mayte]
Mayte: What's America?
Veronica Webb: The United States of America, where Minneapolis is placed and where we grew up.
[P whispers to Mayte]
Mayte: I know Minneapolis.
Veronica Webb: I know you know Minneapolis, but are you staying away from America because of your record company?
[Break for music to be turned off. P whispers to Veronica.]
Veronica Webb: But wait, let's go back to this America boycott thing. I mean, 1999. You're not going to tour America till 1999?
Mayte: America's been good to us, we just can't release our music until 1999.
Veronica Webb: But yet you have The Gold Experience, you have Exodus, you have a lot of stuff coming out.
Sonny: Yet we got the, you know, we got the you know...
Morris: Show 'em the bomb the world you Sonny, show 'em the bomb that would be the bomb.
Veronica Webb: Now what is Exodus about? Is Exodus about...
Morris: Hey, don't drop the bomb...
Veronica Webb: Where are you getting out of though -- where's the Exodus from?
Mayte: Well, you know, the Exodus you can look at in a lot of different ways. It's an exit from a lot of things, an exit from a way of thinking and a way of doing things to do something new. To do something other so, you know, we've taken off on this Exodus stuff and we're gonna make a mark out here and do some different things.
Veronica Webb: Don't delude your own press, but isn't Exodus also about the future of the record industry?
Tommy: Excuse me, I'm deaf.
Veronica Webb: Oh, you are. This is actually Tommy, but Tommy, and Exodus is it also about the future of the recording industry?
Tommy: It could be.
Veronica Webb: It could be?
Tommy: It very well could be.
Veronica Webb: What do you say, Morris?
Morris: Times are a'changing and you know I think people have to start understanding that as things progress, things, situations have to change, that's the natural progression of life. As things change, then you either change or you're left behind.
PRINCE: Ain't that right!
Veronica Webb: Oh my God, I missed that! I didn't have the mic over there. I blew my chance, but what do you think? How do you want the music industry to change? I mean, does this have to do with music should be free, is that about the way it's played or the way it's paid for? Cause you say that on stage music should be free for all.
Morris: Is that y'all a quote?
Veronica Webb: Yes.
Mayte: Just one thing -- you know -- make sure.
Veronica Webb: What does that mean?
Mayte: [P is nodding] Well, I mean it just basically means the way we look at music, is what's from the heart, or reached the heart, you know, and it just seems to be a lot of things in between each heart there's a lot of bureaucracy, and we understand that this is the way it's been, but you know the Exodus is about, you know, a lot of that stuff's gotta change, because you know we have to be able to give the music to the people -- the people are basically the ones and technology being the way it is, it's a new day today.
Veronica Webb: But, how do you see giving music to the people? You know this is a little cryptic, you know, I'm having trouble understanding. I'm not trying to make anyone uncomfortable, but...
Morris: Well, you get to the people, so if you get to the people you bring the music.
Veronica Webb: Are you going door to door? I mean...
Morris: Yes, we gonna start that Monday.
Mayte: By forcing, we get what we want.
Veronica Webb: Well, what is that you want?
Mayte: The music, it's free, they get to listen to it.
Veronica Webb: I don't understand what that means. I mean, people still have to buy tickets, what do you mean it's free?
Sonny: In the infamous words of George Clinton, Free Your Mind and your ass will follow.
Veronica Webb: But this is still too cryptic. I really want to get to the heart of this. I mean you know people think that the NPG and the other members of the band here are into because they can't understand the costumes, they can't understand the antics, and now they can't understand why the music should be free. Somebody explain this to me.
Michael: They don't think we're nuts?
Mayte: Everything you need to know is right here.
Veronica Webb: So are these the lyrics or are these the liner notes?
Morris: That is great isn't it?
Mayte: They are the map to his house.
Veronica Webb: A map to his house! Alright, well who wants to help me navigate this a little bit?
Tommy: That's the Milky Way Galaxy.
Veronica Webb: Down here on the right. Now this is the cover for Exodus?
Morris: This would be a lunar eclipse over here.
Veronica Webb: Let me hold this so they can see the map a little better. So, Sonny's house is on the moon, there's a lunar eclipse... What other clues are there? I see a lot of mystery.
Unknown male: There's the moon.
Veronica Webb: Is that Aaron? Who's that, you?
[P points to himself]
Veronica Webb: Wait, no...No, that's Sonny.
Morris: This is Ant B3?
Mayte: That's Tommy.
Veronica Webb: Who's Ant B3?
Mayte: That's the B3, the Plexi-glass Wonder.
Veronica Webb: Oh, that's your instrument. Don't you think that this is a little bit distracting? All these cryptic notes, name changes? Is it that you're trying to tell people? I really want to get this out.
Morris: We want to come to the people with a concept basically that's about having fun. That music is about having fun. We're getting out there. We want everyone to get into music. real music - like you know we play. So that's the strength of what we do. We play, we know our instrument, and so we utilise that ability [P is drumming] and computers are cool. I use one to do my accounting with. So they're really cool. We pick up an instrument and then it's time to go, and so this album represents that, it represents, you know, people sitting down with an instrument and putting something together, you know, that's about what we do. I mean, it's about what we do. I mean it's just us, what we wanna bring.
Veronica Webb: What happens after Exodus? D'you wanna talk about that a little bit, 'cause it seems like Act 3. What d'you say?
Veronica Webb: Good to know.
[P whispers to Veronica]
Veronica Webb: I'm told that Exodus never ends. Now, you seem to be fighting for freedom. What is it exactly that you want to be free from when you're talking about your record company? Is there something that you want to own? Is there something that you want to edit? Is there something that you want to say? [silence] Maybe Mayte could tell me what. Maybe Michael could tell me what. Maybe Sonny could tell me what. Maybe Morris could tell me what. [silence] Do you wanna own your own masters, no?
[P waves his arms around]
Veronica Webb: Get rid of that!
[Ian Stewart in background asks question about record company. Is there a dispute there?]
Veronica Webb: Do you want to go into that or not? Maybe you just like to sit there and avoid that question?
[Someone speaks. Unintelligible.]
Veronica Webb: That's right. Well, we have to ask all these questions. So, the press keeps talking about the dispute with your record company. Is there a dispute there?
[P wiggles his hand]
Veronica Webb: I mean seems that's what's driven you out of America, that's what's made you change your name to an unpronounceable symbol?
Mayte: He changed his name because his spirit told him to.
Veronica Webb: A spirit?
Mike: His spirit.
Veronica Webb: And do you feel free now you can't be addressed?
[P symbols "a little bit."]
Veronica Webb: A little bit? I mean, Michael. Is he a normal guy? that's what people are saying at home right now. Saying, is he a normal guy?
[P stands up]
Michael: Veronica, normal is a relative term, sweetheart.
Veronica Webb: Or does he rule the band with an iron fist and you all live in fear of being fired.
Maurice: Yes, let me tell you.
Veronica Webb: He work for who?
Veronica Webb: What happens if you slip up and you call him by his old name. Is there a fine?
Michael: Well, I'm getting my windshield replaced, right now.
Veronica Webb: That you had a brick thrown through your windshield by the artist formally known as Prince for calling him that now.
Maurice: And it's getting fixed right now. The windshield is coming on.
Veronica Webb: Well, have you gone broke from name violations yet?
Maurice: But do you know if he's always around you? You don't never have to call him.
Veronica Webb: What you say, Mayte? You had something to say a second ago. Very interesting. We'll talk about The Gold Experience.
Veronica Webb: You definitely do, 'cause I mean it's very up to date with the glitter front and back.
Maurice: Look at it all that funk got it cracked up.
Veronica Webb: Now, The Gold Experience is all R&B. Am I correct?
[P shakes his head]
Veronica Webb: Aah, my stockings.
Maurice: Oh, my goodness.
Veronica Webb: I'm gonna knock you out.
[P opens CD]
Maurice: Down, girl. Give us all the pieces. Look at that funk can't even look at the funk.
Veronica Webb: Now this a map to wear.
[P opens CD book]
Veronica Webb: Now how much of this do you actually perform?
[P stretches his arms wide.]
Veronica Webb: Right, OK, so you're the whole universe, but aren't there, erm, well...
[P looks at Veronica Webb]
Veronica Webb: But are there a lot of other artists on there with you, beside the people who are seating around us today? Please speak up.
Maurice: This is it, what you see.
Sonny: What you see.
Michael: This is the whole thing from top to bottom.
Veronica Webb: This is the entire Gold Experience.
Maurice: We're sitting in it. You're soaking in it, The Gold Experience.
Veronica Webb: Is it different from other albums you've done?
Michael: Cause the difference you can't buy it.
Veronica Webb: You can't buy it.
Michael: Noooo. It's not for sale.
Veronica Webb: Will it ever come on the market?
Maurice: Only time will tell.
Veronica Webb: So, in order to have music, you have to come to the music. See now, I'm getting somewhere. I'm starting to understand.
Maurice: You see how that works. The moment it starts to absorb and starts to sit in and then the next thing you know you're starting to see things in a different light.
Michael: Yeah, you're using your whole mind, right?
Maurice: Ya see, what you American people got to do you got to use your whole mind, see that the thing right there. America people got to use their whole mind. So not only America people, but European people and everybody else got to use their whole mind then you can absorb all this music we're trying to give to you.
Veronica Webb: Are you trying to help young kids transform their whole musical experience as something new?
Michael: We actually want them to have a musical experience, we want them to stop relying on...
Veronica Webb: Sampling?
Sonny: They think fantastic voyage is a new tune.
Veronica Webb: They do Julio right.
Sonny: It's just to the point where you know it's so amazing when people come to see us play because we're playing, like in my knowledge if there's a nuclear war and there's electro-magnetic pulse and all electricity goes out and there's acoustic instruments who's going to be left to play it? Us.
Maurice: Right you are, Sonny, I couldn't have said it any better.
Michael: There lies The Gold Experience.
Maurice: But it's true. It's about kids gotta go and pick up the instruments. I know you like thinking I wanna play Nintendo, I wanna play Sega Genesis. Hey you know that's fine, play a b flat in major 7 and if you can do that speak up and do your thing.
Veronica Webb: Do you ever miss playing the old music? I Mean, cause there's 15 years of fan --
Veronica Webb: Excuse me, what was that?
Mayte: So in your job can you leave it if you want to?
Veronica Webb: Yes I can.
Mayte: You can't. Well, in the record industry you can't.
Veronica Webb: But can't you just stop performing?
Mayte: Yes, you can but...
Veronica Webb: That doesn't count as leaving it.
Mayte: Yes, it doesn't count.
Veronica Webb: What is this, The Firm?
[P puts his thumb up]
Maurice: Yes, well, I guess there you have it, then again you're starting to absorb the information that is put in front...
[All start doing a hand movement.]
Veronica Webb: I feel as though I'm being hypnotised I tell you I was here 2 nights ago and people were screaming for encores you had to come out 3 times for encores both nights and normally when fans are like stamping their feet and clapping their hands and screaming and whistling going crazy, they'll scream the artist name. No one called you by your former name. Now that's mind control for real. How's that happening?
[P whispers in Mayte's ear]
Mayte: They're part of the NPG.
Veronica Webb: What are the new powers of this generation exactly? Can you flame on, can you transform...
Michael: In this day and age...
Veronica Webb: Wait one second, Michael.
Mayte: We own the things we create.
Veronica Webb: So power is ownership?
[P puts his thumb up]
Michael: Power is also creativity, you have to be able to make something, first.
Veronica Webb: And what
Sonny: And for first and foremost.
Maurice: And not only that, without the project, you have nothing, so you know you got to come with something, something to put in the teel, you see.
[All start doing hand movement again]
Veronica Webb: Now how do you deal with the fact that Prince is a ghost?
Sonny: Whoop whoop whoop!
Maurice: Red alert!
Veronica Webb: What? I got a broken windshield now?
Maurice: No, again, things have to progress and you get left behind, you have to move forward or you get left behind.
[Hand movements again]
Veronica Webb: Is this a band ritual.
Maurice: No, I was a tax accountant at one time, and there was a bit of hand gestures.
Michael: And he took a lot of money.
Maurice: I worked in legal, so...
Michael: Yeah, and that belongs to me, yes and...
Maurice: That what we call the hand over fist technique exercise quite a bit.
Veronica Webb: Are there things you get to do in this band that you can't do in any other band, besides own the material?
Maurice: Yeah, play with all these guys, play period.
Michael: Play, we play.
Veronica Webb: You get to do what, Tommy?
Tommy: I get to fly.
Veronica Webb: On, on an aeroplane or on that harness?
Tommy: No, there's no harness. What harness?
Veronica Webb: Oh, you're flying for real?
Tommy: What you thought there was a harness?
Veronica Webb: Sorry, I guess it's that Peter Pan Syndrome. Nothing fake, right?
Maurice: Forgive them for what they not know, it's alright, Tommy used to work at NASA, he worked with the jet parts so you know he's bringing that experience back here, so you know he can put some use to it.
Veronica Webb: What's it like to be rehearsed by him, 'cause this man plays every instrument he's good at all of them. I know it's gotta tear you up right?
Sonny: We good too, though.
Veronica Webb: I didn't say you weren't, I asked you what it was like to be rehearsed by him.
Maurice: You get Sonny cranked up, get behind, Sonny it's OK Sonny, she didn't mean anything it's OK, alright, Sonny saying don't touch me it's alright.
Veronica Webb: No, come on, tell the truth, how grueling is it?
Maurice: Oh, course you know we all try to be perfectionists so it just so happens that he play everything so he knows everyone's part.
Michael: That's a shared concern, though we are all perfectionists, the guy on the truck who's asking me says usually when a drummer has a bunch of loops going you hear a bunch of flaming and said how do you get it like that and I said it just comes out that way 'cos that's how I hear it. I want it that way.
Veronica Webb: Sonny, how much do you all practice?
Sonny: A lot, and it's well worth it.
Veronica Webb: 2hrs, 5hrs, 10?
Sonny: Whatever is required to get to the end result of what we're trying to do.
[P whispers in Veronica Webb's ear. Veronica Webb whispers in Mike's ear]
Veronica Webb: Oh, sorry, we're having another conversation over here, no seriously, 2hrs, 5 hrs, 10 hrs, you gig all night, you play Wembley, you go into town.
Michael: Whatever it takes, Veronica, whatever it takes. We are men, we'll do it all evening if we have to, to get it right.
Maurice: And if we were women we'd do the same thing.
Veronica Webb: Yeah, that's another thing about women because I remember when the Revolution came out and Wendy and Lisa were in it and there were so prominent in the band I was like, damn!
Maurice: We'd do the same thing if we were women, it just so happened we're men so we do it now.
Veronica Webb: Excuse me Maurice, but we're in the land of Wendy and Lisa. Are you ever going to bring Wendy and Lisa back? Yeah, there from here.
[P does come back gestures]
Veronica Webb: Yes, Wendy and Lisa might come back.
Maurice: There from what.
Veronica Webb: There from what.
Maurice: I just saw them in what, I just saw them in Compton before I left LA.
Veronica Webb: Now at High School, you had a band called the Grand Central Corporation, now when you refer to the NPG you call it the Organisation. Are you trying to get back to the way you saw music when you were a kid?
Mike: Who does your hair?
Veronica Webb: Who does my hair, well I did it myself this morning.
Maurice: And it really smells good, too.
Veronica Webb: Oh, thank you.
Maurice: If you were the viewing public at home, could smell this woman's hair, you would know why she is what she is.
Veronica Webb: And what I am where I am today...
Maurice: But that's another story.
Veronica Webb: Who does your hair though, 'cause...
Maurice: I could tell you who that one is.
Veronica Webb: No, we really want to know.
[P stands up]
Veronica Webb: Yeah, I guess we should keep that a secret, 'cause really on a person hairdressers know for sure, right? [Pause] Erm, so what about singing all these sexy, sexy, sexy songs every night, since you in the band, the women like you more. Tell the truth, Michael.
Michael: To me, I got my initial thing, I gotta get that on television.
Veronica Webb: Wait, put that right up in the camera.
Michael: My one and only there it is, Valerie how ya doing, shut up.
Veronica Webb: Sonny, your sitting over here crying, what have you got to say?
Sonny: Hey, my instrument, is my women damn it.
Veronica Webb: Maurice, I know you trying to get shoes for the baby, but...
Maurice: I'm the baby. She was up on me, I'm sorry I'm touched by what's going on here. I'm seeing this. This is unrehearsed, totally unrehearsed, and I'm sorry, I'm just, this is an emotional thing for me, I'm sorry, I need a second to pull myself together and I'll be right back.
Veronica Webb: Does anyone have a tissue? Tito, do you have a tissue? So, what do you think? You gonna be doing more TV? Richard and Judy, Regis and Cathy Lee, Oprah, Barbara, you waiting for them?
[P puts his thumbs up.]
Veronica Webb: But I mean, how could you not return to America 'til 1999? Did you know that back in 1981 when you made the record?
[P shakes his head]
Veronica Webb: You had no idea?
Mayte: Everything was good back then, he was under hypnosis.
Veronica Webb: Hypnotised by...? This is getting complicated.
Mayte: Your Mum.
[P stands up]
Veronica Webb: I'm not even gonna say anything about yo' Momma, OK?, so let me tell you about yo' Momma cause it's over. You wanna know who does my hair, yo' Momma does my hair, honey and she can't work a processor comb anyway...
[A note is handed to Veronica Webb]
Maurice: Would the owner of a blue Buick please move your car, you're blocking in the kitchen. Would you please move your car, a blue Buick.
Veronica Webb: But still, keep your blue blockers on, anyway why are you giving interviews and refusing to speak, why? And don't tell me you lost your voice, 'cause I heard you say something 5 minutes ago.
Mayte: He has to sing tonight.
Veronica Webb: But couldn't you like sing your answers, I mean, I just don't understand why you won't speak.
[P mimes speaking]
Veronica Webb: Cause it's like that, and that's the way it is? Erm, and what about the mask?
Mayte: He's too ugly to look upon.
Veronica Webb: No, you gotta do better than that. You're too ugly to look upon, 'cause that is not true. You get out there, and shake your thing every night.
Mayte: That's to cover up for his ugliness.
Veronica Webb: What ugliness, though, I mean?
Maurice: You're not ugly.
Veronica Webb: You not, little baby. You give people so much love and fantasy and don't understand how you could think you're ugly, that's nuts in the nicest possible way. What did you say?
Maurice: He's just modest.
[Whispers in Veronica Webb's ear]
Veronica Webb: You do, I don't think we have quite yet, there's just one last thing I wanna ask you. I mean, don't you think, I mean, you've created a whole universe of music, it's as big as what Duke Wellington was doing in his time, and I'm sure that somewhere along the line you feel as though you're not really getting your props and do you ever think that maybe if there was a sort of more mature kind of styling or you got away from eccentric behaviours that people might take you more seriously?
Mayte: Who does your hair?
Veronica Webb: I told you.
Ian Stewart: Veronica, can I just jump in -- there's a thought that I'm trying to follow this process, this logic processes, through the music as well, if you have the experience and you have the live experience, you gonna have to ask this question your own way but you have the live experience and you decide to understand that and you do want more of it the only thing more you can have is the live experience, cause there are no albums, cause the albums aren't released and therefore you run straight into a brick wall, because unless you can follow round and see every concert every night, then that's the end of the music for you, and that's why we recorded Prince in the first place, so how do you get more of the experience?
Veronica Webb: OK, so now there's The Gold Experience and there's the live experience and you can't buy the album, I'm not sure whether you can hear it on the radio, so unless you can follow the tour, how can you get more of the music?
Mayte: In 1999 we'll be free and we can sell the music directly to the consumer, and we can give it away if we want.
Veronica Webb: So, you expect your fans to stick with you and be faithful for the next 4 years of not being able to buy music?
Mayte: The ones that care about us will.
Veronica Webb: Do you ever get nervous that this could ruin your career?
Mayte: He never takes chances.
Veronica Webb: Right, who does your hair?
Mayte: Mrs Webb.
Veronica Webb: What are you doing to Mayte?
[P walks off with Mayte]
Copyright of the British Broadcasting Corporation