In the late ’70s, Kenny Loggins eagerly left popular duo Loggins and Messina for an even more successful solo career with hits like «This Is It,» «I’m Alright,» «Footloose,» and «Danger Zone.» He never predicted he’d someday be in another group — this time a trio, Blue Sky Riders. I chatted with the onetime king of movie soundtracks about Blue Sky Riders, his thoughts on the «Footloose» and «Top Gun» remakes, and his favorite apps.
How would you describe a Blue Sky Riders show?
BSR shows are different than Kenny Loggins shows because Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman bring a different energy to the stage. I think I was most surprised by how much humor we have in our shows. I joked with Gary when we first started, «I didn’t know I was joining the Smothers Brothers .» I also do not perform my solo hits, like «Footloose» or «Danger Zone,» although we do have a writers-in-the-round portion of the show where Georgia, Gary, and I perform a couple songs from each of our solo careers together. Gary and Georgia are award-winning songwriters and performers in their own right. We like to put on a show that gets people excited. I think our harmonizing is what’s unique and what the fans will appreciate.
Blue Sky Riders perform «Dreams»:
You’ve been a solo artist far longer than a band member. How do you maintain your individuality as part of this trio, or is that not important?
When I was in Loggins and Messina, we were known for our harmonies. The reason I wanted to start Blue Sky Riders with Gary Burr was because it reminded me of those Loggins and Messina harmonies, where we sounded like brothers singing together. When Georgia Middleman accepted our invitation to embark on this new journey with us, she brought the final element to round out the sound, and the band was born. I don’t have to struggle for my individuality. When I sing solos, you can tell it’s clearly me. As part of a group, the key is to have a natural blend, and I’m blown away by how easy and fun our vocal blend is. For those who haven’t seen Kenny Loggins’ Blue Sky Riders yet, I hope you’ll check us out. Some people have told me that this band has marked my third career in music, and if that’s the case, I’m totally excited!
It seems like a lot of pop or rock stars eventually end up in Nashville. I know you’ve worked with shades of this as part of Loggins and Messina, but what drew you to a more country sound?
I originally went to Nashville in 2010 to cowrite with a few of the top writers out there for a project I did for Target. That’s when I met Gary Burr. We wrote a few songs together for a record I made entitled «How About Now.» When we started writing and singing together, that’s when I made up my mind that we should be a band. Honestly, Georgia, Gary, and I didn’t start this band to write country music. Our music crosses over musical genres — we see it as pop/country/Americana, but we’ve been in the business long enough to understand it’s a business and that radio can force musicians to fit into a certain category/genre in order to get airplay. Good music is good music no matter what genre the critics label it as.
Was there anything that you learned from your previous band experience that you’re making sure not to repeat with Blue Sky Riders?
When I was young, I felt very insecure and competitive with Jimmy [Messina]. I think it’s important for each member of the band to try to encourage the other members to be as great as they can possibly be. Kenny Loggins’ Blue Sky Riders is an equal partnership between me, Gary, and Georgia. We might have times where one of us is leading the direction that we’re headed in, but we all discuss and respect each others’ opinions. I learned a long time ago just how important it is to feel like your professional opinion matters.
In «Danny’s Song,» you sing, «Pisces, Virgo rising is a very good sign/Strong and kind.» As a Capricorn with a Gemini rising, what does that say about you, personality-wise?
I’m not an astrology expert. That’s a line from my brother’s letter to me 40 years ago.
Loggins helped wrap TV series «Raising Hope» earlier this year with a performance of ’70s classic «Danny’s Song»:
As someone who’s dueted with Steve Perry, what are your thoughts on the potentiality of a Steve Perry comeback?
I just saw Steve recently, and I told him I’d love to see him out on stage again. He’s a talented guy!
In the ’80s you were known as the soundtrack king. Was there a movie that you were initially hesitant to contribute to or later had remorse about contributing to after seeing it?
I have never had remorse or doubted the projects I chose to work on, but nobody could have predicted that «Footloose» would take off as it did and define me as a solo artist to a huge fan base. I’m forever grateful for that experience, as well as the others that I’ve contributed to.
Grammy-winning single «Footloose» spent three weeks at No. 1 in 1984:
There has been a remake of «Footloose,» and a «Top Gun» remake is expected. Why are these films still so meaningful, and are these remakes helping or hurting their legacies?
Both of those were great movies — and it’s not a new concept for great movies to be reinterpreted by a younger generation. I love seeing when remakes are done right, and I believe it helps the legacy of the movie when the younger generations have an appreciation for them.
You were the DJ and provided a song for Grand Theft Auto V. Do you play video games?
My kids play video games, so when I told them about the project, they wanted me to jump on it. I think I’m a bit cooler to them since Grand Theft Auto V added me into their storyline. That’s really flattering, not to mention an awesome stamp of approval and introduction to a younger fan base. If you first knew me as that ’80s movie soundtrack dude, now the younger fans might know me as the Grand Theft Auto V dude.
What are your top five mobile apps?
1. Dropbox for sending files.
2. DropVox, because I once lost a half a year’s worth of song ideas because Memos does not automatically back up into the computer. Ever since then I use DropVox for song ideas. It sends them immediately to my laptop.
3. True HDR. This is my favorite additional camera within my iPhone. I use it for landscape photographs. It takes three depths of field at one time.
4. Flixster is my go-to app for checking out movies in my area.
5. PhotoForge is the best post-photo app I’ve discovered. The iPhone flash sucks. I shoot without flash as much as possible and lighten my pictures via PhotoForge in post.