Hello Oslo Nerd Army followers today we have been so fortunate and honored to get an interview with the man behind the “boogie scorcher” Danger Zone by Midnight Express, or rather The Midnight Express Show Band, Mr. Robert Muskeyvalley from Illinois.
ONA: First of all, how are you these days?
RobbieM: I am feeling pretty amazed at how well Danger Zone is being accepted all around the world. I have some distributors now out of Japan and hopefully I will be able to attract more this year.
ONA: How do you feel about the rediscovery of your single a couple of years ago? And how did it come about?
RobbieM: I was contacted by Andrew Morgan CEO of Peoples Potential Unlimited out of Washington DC about Copies of the 45rpm. We discussed the purchasing of a few Original 1983 45’s of Danger Zone. Andrew purchased several and later a DJ out of California Named Dam Funk started playing the 45 during his shows. Danger Zone began to create the same interest that it did back in 1983 when it was released and aired on a local radio station “before you know it” which is also a cliché in the song itself, I found myself doing a remix of the song on 12” to make it easier to be purchased and for DJ performances of the record. By the way the Remix was arranged by Tom Noble and Andrew Morgan.
RobbieM: My musical roots go back to when I was about 8 or 9 years old. My father held weekly card games at our house and he would have me sing for his card buddies some old tracks by Sam Cooke. He loved the song ”Send me some lovin” and I sang this often for them. I would also sing a track by Gene Chandler titled ”Nothing can stop me”.
I also remember sitting on our front porch and singing songs with my mother. I always felt that she had a very pretty voice and I liked singing with her.
By the time I was 12 years old I was playing drums in my first band with my brother and cousins called, “The top Cats” We played a lot of James Brown and Beatles tracks.
A couple of years later I began drumming in a group called “The Fabulous Deltones”
I returned to singing and won my first talent show at Central Junior High School singing a song by the temptations called “ My Baby”. After High school I was in several bands. A rock group called Cathedral and then a Funky R&B group called “Treacherous Funk” and later another R&B group Called “ (ATAO) “All Together as One”.
The Midnight Express Band started coming together in the early 1980’s. I had been trying to rejuvenate the previous band that I was a member of called (ATAO) “All Together As One” but with little success. One day while jamming with several musician friends, one of them asked me if I wanted to meet a guy who played drums. His name was Melvin Martin. After our meeting he seemed interested in helping to start a new band. We both started trying to recruit members. We started with the rhythm section and later added several female vocalists. The Band called itself Midnight Express. The band began to Gig and gain popularity. They soon added a horn section, which made them a 10-piece band. As the band’s popularity continued to increase they began to perfect their showmanship and the name changed to “The Midnight Express Show Band.
ONA: From the rather mysterious label of the «Danger zone» single on Tri-Fire you are credited as the composer and a T. Patton did the arrangements, who else was in the band?
RobbieM: The Members and their roles were as follows:
Robbie Muskeyvalley – Lead Singer
Larnette Winston – Vocalist
Vivian Freeman (Gardner) – Vocalist
Melvin Martin – Drums and Percussions
Terry Patton – Bass and Rhythm Guitar
Richard Farrar – Lead and Rhythm Guitar
Austin Mc Neal – Piano-Organ (Fender Rhodes)
Tony Banks – Lead Trumpet
Reggie Woods – 2nd Trumpet
Mark Hart – Alto Sax
The Midnight Express Show band was the opening act for many well known accomplished performers such as: The Temptations, War, The Dazz Band, The Chi-lites, Roger Troutman and Zap, Keith sweat, Millie Jackson, Jesse Johnson, Morris Day, and a young group of performers called Ready for the World.
ONA: Was “Danger Zone” your first and only release and was Tri-Fire your label? And as a follow up, was there ever talk of making an album?
RobbieM: Danger Zone and Dial Love were the only public releases by the group. There was a lot of talk about recording several other original tracks, “Dance Can You Party” and “Loving You” but the group dispersed before the tracks could be recorded and released.
Danger Zone and Dial Love were both released under the Bands Tri-Fire Label in May of 1983. At the time the band felt that Dial Love was their strongest Track and it was aired on KALA 88.5 a college radio station.
Danger Zone was aired several months later on a popular local radio station KSTT 98.9 and entered into the stations music challenge program called the Star Flight Super Sweep. When Danger Zone hit the airwaves, the phones started ringing and it landed in the top 3 songs for several weeks finally taking over the number one spot in the 3rd week after it aired. The bands popularity began to grow to stardom and that was a great feeling.
ONA: How was the single distributed? How many records were made and how many were sold? Did you get any airplay on the radio and such?
RobbieM: We were only able to purchase about 400 records and we sold then on our own and a local record shop did consignment with me on a few. Of course they sold out and we would also sell them during our concerts.
As mentioned in the paragraph above we were aired on the local and regional radio stations as well as a performance on a local television show called “Like it Is”.
ONA: And now to some nerdy talk. What equipment did you use for the song? For the bass line you’ve used a Moog Prodigy, quite a distinct sound used on many boogie tunes. What else?
1. The Moog Prodigy sometimes referred to as a Mini Moog was used to
Create the bass line and the typewriter slide that you hear in the song.
2. Fender telecaster guitar was used for the rhythm guitar riffs
and guitar lead lines.
3. Electronic drums were used to make the snappy handclap sound.
4. Ludwig drums for the bass drum kick.
5. Fender Rhodes piano used for the piano parts.
6. Horn Section Featured- 2 Trumpets and 1 Alto Sax
ONA: The video, which is out on you tube, is something a lot of us wondered about. «Danger zone» was released by the band and independent releases rarely get a music video especially before the days of MTV. How did it come about and who directed it?
RobbieM: In August of 1983, Danger Zone was aired on a popular local radio station. The song caused quite a buzz in the Quad City area and the band was soon approached by a local television cameraman, who said that he would be interested in shooting a musical video with the group featuring, the song, Danger Zone.
The band discussed the plans for the video and in late October of 1983, a video shoot was taking place and with the help of the United Township high school Orchesis group, the Danger Zone video was completed.
ONA: Well what happened after the release of the single? Was there a tour with the band?
RobbieM: The group became very popular and started touring regionally performing at Concert halls as the opening acts for the Larger performers and on their own at Dance Halls and big events put on by regional promoters.
ONA: Did the band break up eventually? And you? Did you keep on making music?
RobbieM: In1985 the Band Dispersed. After the dispersement of the band I continued to write and started a solo career and called myself Robbie M. In 1989 I signed a record deal with Loadstone Records out of San Francisco California to release a single and two albums. The single a 12 inch vinyl record titled “What is it Girl? And I need Good Lovin was also aired on local radio stations.
I am pretty sure that it was my writing talents that the record company was seeking and Danger Zone was used as a reference.
Since that time my solo career has produced a 1998 debut CD Titled “Strictly Business” I have written to date a total of about 300 songs that I plan on sharing with the world. My future plans are to re-release on 12” What is it Girl and I need good Lovin. I also plan on releasing a song off of the strictly Business CD on Vinyl called “Faithful”
My hopes and plans are to share my music with the world! May God bless you all and thank you for your interest and excitement in Danger Zone, The Midnight Express show Band and Robbie M.
Well I’d like to thank you for taking time for this short interview. It’s allways interesting to get to know a little bit more about the people behind independent releases like Midnight Express “Danger Zone”. I know that Robert has re-released this single on a 12″ and it’s available from his own site: http://midnightexpress.bigcartel.com