“There was a time back in the ’80s and ’90s when an artiste just wasn’t allowed to suck too badly... The fans would leave them. Now, I don’t think the fans really know the difference. Or they just don’t care.”
Much like his songs, the angst firmly echoes in singer Richard Marx’s words. Only this time, it is directed at the present music scenario and not the subject of one of his songs.
The rock balladeer, popular a decade ago, performed in the city on Friday night. This was Marx’s second time in India but his first major concert tour.
On his last trip to Mumbai in 2008, he didn’t get to see much but was amused, or rather thrilled, to shoot his video log. “From Bombay in India, can you believe it? We call it Bombay but here in India they call it Mumbai,” he says in the log.
But what he did get during his first trip to India was a sense of his following in the country. “I found out that many people in India knew my music. So I’m very anxious to come and perform there,” he told HT just before he started for India.
Allergic to smoke, he has ensured that his crew, as well as the entire Saket Sheraton floor on which he is staying, are strictly smoke-free. In stark contrast to the erstwhile boys and now men from Backstreet Boys, Marx’s down-to-earth demeanour charmed everyone from the hotel staff to mediapersons, who he even sang for on Friday.
Apart from the adults who were at the concert with a heavy shot of nostalgia, Marx had an eager bunch of teenagers in his audience.
The singer feels that the audience today just “doesn’t really care”. That, he says, makes music from then and now beyond compare.
“Everything is different. What music sounds like, what it music looks like and even where you can get it. I think the biggest difference now is that thanks to shows like American Idol, the public has a much lower expectation of talent. For those of us who pride ourselves on singing in tune and our music, this is pretty lame. There are popular artistes out there who can barely sing at all. But the public doesn’t really care.”
Marx started his career when he was a teenager and Lionel Richie, the popular ’80s singer, heard one of his demo tapes.
“When I was 18, I recorded a few songs and a friend of a friend knew Lionel and gave him the cassette. He liked what he heard, and my number was on the cassette, so he just called me. It blew my mind. ”
In keeping with the current trend of self-publishing, the 47-year-old digitally released his latest album Emotional Remains. “There was no major label interested in signing me, and I didn’t need anyone to fund my record, so I just did it myself.”