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Neil Giraldo

The Onion recently spoke to Neil Giraldo—Pat Benatar's producer, guitarist, songwriting partner and husband—about touring with Styx, rebuilding a career, and why music sucked in 1985.

The Onion: What are you up to?

Neil Giraldo: Well, we're out trying to promote our new record; we finished Innamorata in April, released it in the middle of June, and did some gigs in the summertime—just trying to freshen up. We're going to Europe soon, then we'll do some theater shows in the States.

O: You won't be opening for Styx anymore?

NG: Oh, please.

O: What was with that?

NG: Oh my God. You know, I swear to God, and nothing personal, because... Actually, I didn't speak to them that much, but it ripped my gut out almost every day. I just couldn't... I don't know what. At least we got out there and warmed our band up. We've had a 20-year career with a lot of songs and a lot of different material, and 60 minutes doesn't go very far. It was a pretty torturous situation, but, like I said, it was good to warm up the band. The band got really rippin', and it's really in a great place right now. We got to try some other stuff out, but hopefully, those tours will be a thing of the past. It wasn't good, but you have to turn situations into a positive thing. That's what you have to do. We've been underdogs before, and it's kind of good to be the underdog, because people treat you a little bit differently. Now, it's sort of reversed: We're the underdogs. We're the Rocky. [Laughs.] It's kind of fun, because your ass isn't hung out so naked, you know?

O: And now you're battling the same radio stations and forces that were once building you up. How do you feel about their fickle nature?

NG: Well, you've got to have a sense of humor about everything, that's the first thing you've gotta do. And certainly, I do understand that new people have got to come up. In 1987, when I started feeling like things were changing, I was so happy to see it change. Honest to God, even if they would have made it so nobody could have ever had a career again, it had to change. It was so upsetting to me, from 1985 on... It was just upsetting as hell to me. It was a very hard time to create, just a miserable time. If you tried doing something that was stretching out and doing something a little brave, they were ready to put their teeth into you then, too. So it's the same thing now for people—it's all cycles. So you've just gotta take it as it is, and just be yourself, and have a good time. Write the kind of songs that you want to write, and hopefully, you'll make a connection with people. Whatever you do, whether it's a movie or a record or whatever, it's just one painting in your life, and if it's not a commercial success, so what? If you make a connection with five people instead of a thousand, that's great, and if you make a connection with a thousand people instead of five, even better. But what are you gonna do? You've got to get them out there.

O: And in the meantime, you're on "'80s Flashback."

NG: Yeah, Neil Young has a great saying, and that's that after three years, it's all nostalgic anyway. If you listen to The Offspring, it sounds a little old now, doesn't it? The hard part about everything is that it does change so quickly, and when you're making records, you can't focus on what's on the radio, because you're going to come out too late anyway. When "We Belong" came out, there weren't a lot of songs out that sounded like that.