Interview with Andrew Sandoval (8-10-05)
Author of "The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation"
When I did my recent interview with former Monkee Micky Dolenz, one of my sources for great Monkees-related questions was Donnie Thompson (Melody Hill writer, pop/bubblegum music aficionado, and Circle Sky Records employee). So, when I got the opportunity to interview Andrew Sandoval about his excellent Monkees book, "The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation", I immediately thought about Donnie for the interview. What follows is Donnie's phone conversation with Andrew Sandoval
E.C.: Congratulations on your book. I think for detail and historical correctness you have written the definitive Monkees book.
Andrew Sandoval: Thank you very much. That’s nice of you to say.
E.C.: You mention Mark Lewisohn as an inspiration for your book. Did you use his Beatles books as a template for this one?
Andrew Sandoval: I met him around 1987. That’s when I saw his Beatles book. Obviously being a big Beatles fan and a big fan of Sixties music in general, his books really blew me away. It’s not so much that I used his books for a template, but the success of his books made a book like mine possible. Prior to that, it would have been very hard to get anybody interested in doing a day by day type of book. He proved that you can do it with The Beatles and do a great job and since that time there has been that type of book on The Who, The Beach Boys, The Kinks and a lot of other artists. I always knew in the back of my mind that a Monkees would really be fantastic because I had all this material at my disposal. I knew that they had a very interesting career in 1965 through 1970. There was a lot out there that nobody knew about because nobody had really bothered to take them seriously and research them.
E.C.: How has the book been selling so far?
Andrew Sandoval: The book has been selling really, really well, so that’s a little bit of validation of the fact that I knew that there was an audience there for the book. It wasn’t that hard to get a publisher interested in it actually, it was just a matter of showing them how well the Monkees records sold. I knew what The Monkees hardcore audience was and so far it’s reached that audience and hopefully it will reach some people outside of that audience too.
E.C.: Have you had any comments from The Monkees on the finished product?
Andrew Sandoval: Michael Nesmith sent me a very nice email, and he really liked how the book came out. Peter Tork was recently in Los Angeles and did a book signing with me and he liked how it looked. I don’t think he read the book, but he was very happy with the amount of detail that is in there. I haven’t heard from Micky or Davy. I really did this because I love them. It’s not just because I wanted to make some money. I didn’t really make any money doing this book. I didn’t want to exploit them or do anything else. I just wanted to show my love for what they did and show that I really think they did something totally unique.
E.C.: In Monkees fan circles, word about this book has been going around for years. When was the book actually conceived?
Andrew Sandoval: I knew I was going to do a book in 1990. I started interviewing people then and compiling the information and started to get the Musicians Union’s records and things like that. A lot of that early information went into the box set “Listen to The Band” which came out in 1991. It’s also been kid of a burden because I did tell some people that I was working on the book. It almost became like a mythical project until a few months ago, it didn’t exist for anybody to buy. I think that a lot of people had written it off as something that was just never going to happen, but I had been working all these last fifteen years putting it together anytime I had a break because I really wasn’t heavily funded to do this book. I really did it over Christmas holidays or whenever I had time to go to the library or stay in the studio and listen to tapes. It took along time to do. It took a lot longer than I even thought but I’m glad it’s done.
E.C.: How did you first discover The Monkees?
Andrew Sandoval: I first saw their TV show around 1977 out here in Los Angeles where I live, on a local station, channel 11, KTTV, and really liked it. I was also a big Beatles fan at the time. I got all The Monkees’ records that I could. The original albums were out of print at that time. I just had the first five albums. I didn’t have the other ones. Then when Rhino started re-issuing the records in the1980’s, I was able to get the other records. Obviously the MTV exposure and the whole revival re-started my interest in The Monkees, and really got me thinking about what other recordings they might have made in that era, but it really began for me in the Seventies.
E.C.: How did you get involved with Rhino originally?
Andrew Sandoval: I was like you, writing about music. I was in high school and started my own music fanzine and I interviewed Davy Jones among other artists. I was very interested in The Monkees of course and what was going on over at Rhino, so a friend of mine introduced me to Bill Inglot who had been responsible for a lot of re-issues that I liked over there. He and I got to talking and he invited me to the studio to watch him working on some Monkees stuff. I eventually got a job writing the liner notes for the “Missing Links Volume 2” record that they were working on in 1989. That’s really when I started working for Rhino and that’s how it happened, a very lucky coincidence that I met Bill and we got along very well and I knew enough when we met, that I impressed him, and he got me going.
E.C.: At the time of Rhino’s mid-80’s re-issues, it seems The Monkees’ masters were very disorganized and scattered between record companies on different coasts or even just completely missing. Is this true?
Andrew Sandoval: Oh yeah. That’s true, and still to a certain degree that’s the case. In my book it will say; “Tapes from this session are no longer in existence”. There are a lot of tapes that are missing and we are still in the process of trying to get back some tapes here and there. Every few years something turns up, so it’s hit and miss. A lot of the albums, we have good masters for now. We’re always trying to get better tapes but no one really cared about where these tapes went and they were very disorganized.
E.C.: Do you feel The Monkees’ masters were treated with less respect that other artists possibly because of the group’s “disposable” image?
Andrew Sandoval: No, I don’t think it was specifically a vendetta against The Monkees. I think what it had to do with was that there were so many corporate interests in the group. By that I mean Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems Music, which was the publishing company and Colgems Records, which was distributed by RCA.The tapes were spread out amongst these companies. Arista had inherited the Bell Records catalog which was a division of Columbia pictures so they had some Monkees tapes and then Columbia Pictures actually for a time owned all of the unreleased Monkees material and they had some tapes. EMI owned Screen Gems Music Publishing Company and they had bunches of tapes too, so all these different places had tapes. When interest in the group had waned in the early Seventies, no one really knew where to put the tapes, so they all went to various different companies, no one really thought, “let’s keep all these tapes together.” In 1994 Rhino bought the catalog and we started the process of trying to get all the tapes together in one place because we owned them all. But we still haven’t got everything.
E.C.: The tape used for Rhino’s 1985 vinyl re-issue of “HEAD” had a bad spot during “Porpoise Song.” A couple of years later Arista releases the song on the “Then & Now” CD and it sounded pristine. Did Arista have access to better tapes than Rhino?
Andrew Sandoval: Bill did the mastering for both of those records. He located a better tape of it by the time of the Arista CD. A lot of these also have to do with the fact that no one really had the time or money to go through all of The Monkees’ tapes to see what was the best tape. There are literally thousands of tapes in the vaults. Nobody ever said “Here is ten or twenty thousand dollars, why don’t you go into the studio and listen to every single Monkees tape we have.” Nobody would do that. They would say we want to put out “More Of The Monkees. What do you think we have for that?” so we would go to the tape vault and pull what we thought was relevant to record and try our best to make it sound good and that’s how the re-issues were done. Now I’ve actually gone through every single tape because I’ve financed it myself to do this book, so I’ve got a better idea of what’s out there. We’ve stumbled on tapes over the years. I don’t doubt that if we re-issue some music in the future, it might sound a little better than it has in the past. It’s all a matter of trying to get organized with all these thousands of tapes.
E.C.: What source was used for the first CD release of “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones” on Arista? It sounds really good.
Andrew Sandoval: Some of it is remixed from the original four and eight tracks. “Hard To Believe” is remixed from the eight track. “Salesman” is remixed from the four track. Some things are from a stereo two track mix and second generation copies that had come from Germany. It’s from a variety of sources. Bill was able to assemble it from all those different pieces.
E.C.: The Rhino CD has a different sound to it.
Andrew Sandoval: Yeah. In actuality we now have the original master for that album. When we did those Rhino re-issues on CD, we decided to use all the original mixes rather than having the remixes, to be truer to the original releases. With the Arista ones, the sources were so disorganized, Bill decided to remix some things because it would sound a little better.
E.C.: When you started documenting the sessions, had there been any previous research done before that gave you a lead to work with?
Andrew Sandoval: No. Actually there was nothing. There had been some lists published in a couple of different books, the Riley and MacManus book (“A Manufactured Image” by Ed Riley, Maggie MacManus and Bill Chadwick) and there was one in “The Monkees Scrapbook” (by Ed Finn and T.Bone) but I actually didn’t use those lists because they weren’t really accurate. I went to the Musicians Union in Los Angeles and started researching there, all of the recording sessions for The Monkees project. They had a variety of sheets that they would use to pay the various session musicians for each of these recordings. I managed to take notes on all of the sheets. That was the first big bunch of recording information I got. Then I cross referenced that with the information that was on the tape boxes and then listened to the tapes. In between songs they would give instructions to the musicians or discuss how they were doing things. Then I cross referenced that with a bunch of sheets from RCA who ran the recording studios that The Monkees predominantly recorded out of. Those sheets occasionally had information that wasn’t on the AFM sheets or the tape boxes. I found an additional log at the Musicians Union and put that in as well. I basically assembled all of the session information from four different places.
E.C.: In the credits for your book you thank Brian Kehew for helping you listen to session tapes. What was his role in assisting you?
Andrew Sandoval: He has a little studio that I work at occasionally. One of the formats that a lot of these Monkees tapes are on is one inch eight track. That’s mostly the sessions from 1967 to 1969. I could never afford to go to a studio that had a one inch eight track machine and just do time there because it would be too costly. So essentially he found a one inch eight track machine for sale and I bought it and put it in his studio. I worked out a deal with him that when his studio wasn’t booked he would say “No one’s using the studio. If you want to go in and listen to tapes, and you can organize it then you can go.” That’s how I did a lot of the listening for the book, by using the off time. It’s a huge machine that I couldn’t just have in my house. It was too big to have here. He also gets to use the machine because he does work with it and stuff. That’s what he did for me. He’s one of my friends. I really couldn’t have done it without him.
E.C.: While listening to the session tapes did you hear anything that you were simply amazed with?
Andrew Sandoval: Yeah, all the time. That’s really why I did the book so I could hear all this stuff (laughs). It’s hard for me to single out one moment where I said “Oh My God, I can’t believe this.” A lot of things I heard were boring. There was a lot of blank tape that I had to go through. I mean I went through every inch of tape in case there was a little bit of something here or there. Occasionally I would find things at the end of reels. Long after they’d stopped recording, they’d come back on for a second or two and put something on the end of the tape, so I did find some interesting things. I was always blown away when I heard something that I hadn’t heard over all these years. I heard a different version of “Nine Times Blue” with Davy singing that I’d never heard and I heard some Peter Tork things from late ’67 and early ’68 that I’d never heard. I really am a big Monkees fan so getting to listen to all this stuff is a big thrill.
Right: Andrew and Peter Tork at Tower Records, Sherman Oaks July 9, 2005 (photo courtesy of www.andrewsandoval.com)
E.C.: Some of the events in the book dispute what has been taken in the past, as historical fact in Monkees history. For instance a lot of people believed that the final Monkees concert of the Sixties was in Oakland. According to your book, there was a show after that in Salt Lake City.
Andrew Sandoval: Yeah, That’s right.
E.C.: Did you realize when you were doing this that you were setting the record straight on a lot of old beliefs?
Andrew Sandoval: Yeah. That’s really why I wanted to do it because I find, especially with the internet, that people just look at one piece of information, they copy it off the internet and they take that as the right thing. All the information about touring and stuff was all stuff that I got from libraries. One day I sat down and wrote to every library in every town that The Monkees played in 1969, because that tour was, you know, it was rumored… “Oh they cancelled a lot of dates, they did this and that” and I wanted to see if the show had been reviewed or if there was an ad in the newspaper. I wrote to every library to ask if they could look for the specific date to see if there was any mention of The Monkees playing in town. That way I was able to verify a lot of dates and I found hints about other dates and I was able to follow up on those. With the Salt Lake City gig, I had been in touch with The Salt Lake City Public Library and they’d helped me find some information about the filming of the “Circle Sky” segment in “HEAD”. I had read a little blurb in a teen magazine from 1970 saying that after the gig in Salt Lake City, Micky and Davy enjoyed some skiing, so I assumed that they played there in November or something like that. I wrote to the library who had helped me and I said “I really beg of you to help me with this. I don’t have a specific date. I hate doing this to you but is there any way you can look for any mention of a Monkees show?” So she came up with the one from December of 1969 and that was incredible. The whole 1969 tour was the most interesting and fun part of the book because there was so much new ground for me to break because nobody had really gone and done it. The information that had been out there had been from an old itinerary of a guy who had toured with The Monkees and no one had bothered to go and check in those towns whether they really played. A lot of people said for years that the Sacramento concert in ’69 had been cancelled. I wrote the library there and had to write a few more people and finally found out that it hadn’t been cancelled. They had full information in the newspaper about what they played. There’s just tons of information out there if you go searching. It’s just a matter of doing the work. It was very gratifying but it also made me a little cynical about the way I’ve seen other people do their jobs, never really going out and looked for all this stuff because it was all out there.
E.C.: Micky said in his EAR CANDY interview last month that no Monkees live tape was made in 1969.
Andrew Sandoval: Right.
E.C.: Despite the legend of a 1969 tape, he claims the only tape made was one that he made of a Goodtimers show that he was going to use to promote that band. Does Brendan Cahill say otherwise?
Andrew Sandoval: Well…he did say otherwise, but I don’t want to say he wasn’t telling the truth because I found a lot he said to be quite illuminating, but I think that Micky’s probably pretty accurate with what he said and that makes a lot of sense. Certainly there’s no tape of a 1969 show in The Monkees vault. Whether Micky, Davy or Michael might have some personally is a whole other story. What Micky says makes a lot of sense that he taped them (The Goodtimers) at that Souled Out Club in L.A. I tried to do research about that club. I found out where it was but there were never any advertisements or listings of who played there in that time period so it was hard to say when the Goodtimers played there or when The Monkees might have come to see them. It seems more and more that if there had been a recording it would have shown up by now. It’s been a long time, you know?
E.C.: The legend was always that it was recorded at the Red Velvet Club, and that members of The Goodtimers and The Monkees were given dubs of the tape. If that many copies of the tape were made, like you said it probably would have surfaced.
Andrew Sandoval: The problem is that people’s memories kind of fade. I found that in talking to The Monkees, a lot of questions were very specific and they couldn’t answer them all. I found the best resource I had was really those session tapes where they’re talking and also original press clippings which are kind of irrefutable because they’re in the moment. They’re not thirty years or twenty years later after the fact.
E.C.: Do you speculate that there is still film footage somewhere of the 1968 Osaka concerts?
Andrew Sandoval: No. There’s a possibility because the audio that exists of that show is so good that you would think it would have come off of something in the modern day. There were inquiries made to the PBS network in Japan who were the people who broadcast it at the time and they claim not to have the footage, so for now that situation’s sort of dead.
E.C.: Do you think that any of the “HEAD” film outtakes still exist?
Andrew Sandoval: There’s always the possibility that Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider have some in their personal archives. I asked both of them about it in 1994 and neither said they had anything, so as of right now there is nothing that really exists as far as outtakes from that film, excluding the trailer that’s on the Rhino DVD that has a bunch of outtakes.
E.C.: Why were Peter’s songs removed from the “Birds The Bees And The Monkees” master before its release?
Andrew Sandoval: I have no idea. I asked various people involved and nobody had a logical answer or had even really considered it. None of them had ever really thought about it. There was no story specifically. No one had really cared.
E.C.: Do you believe Don Kirshner was fired because he released the third single without authorization? Or was it really because the amount of money he was making?
Andrew Sandoval: I think it was both. He released “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” without the consent of the people at Columbia Pictures or Bert Schneider and against their urging to do otherwise, to prove a point. Because he was making so much money, he was somebody who they didn’t mind getting rid of. He was getting rich off this whole project. I think the irony of it was The Monkees wanted to get rid of him so badly but in reality he was the person who made them the most money during the Sixties because they got substantial royalties from him. Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider only paid The Monkees a weekly rate as actors for their work in the television series, for concert tours and for merchandising. So funnily enough, the guy they wanted to get rid of the most was actually the one who was looking after them and being the most honest with them as far as giving them money. He just didn’t want to let them be involved at all with any creative decisions, whereas the guys who let them be involved with every creative decision, Bob and Bert, weren’t paying them all that much money. So there was the rub on that one.
E.C.: Do you know when the original Colgems albums were deleted? Would that have been at the point where Colgems was absorbed by Bell Records?
Andrew Sandoval: Yeah. I would assume around 1971 most of those records were deleted. To be truthful I’ve never researched their deletion. I’ve never been through all the Schwann guides to see when they left print.
E.C.: In your book credits, you mention Alec Palao of The Sneetches. What was his contribution?
Andrew Sandoval: Alec is a friend of mine and I’ve known him probably for about as long as I’ve been working on the book. He and I have played some music together and done other stuff. Anytime he finds a tidbit on The Monkees he passes it on to me, so therein lies his credit. He also looked over the book looking for errors and other things. He and I recently produced a box set on The Beau Brummels together.
E.C.: Magic Hollow?
Andrew Sandoval: Yeah.
E.C.: Did Peter play at the Tower book signing?
Andrew Sandoval: Peter played for about an hour, mainly his blues material that he does with the Shoe Suede Blues band and a few Monkees songs too. He did “Cripple Creek on the banjo, things like that.
E.C.: Some of The Monkees’ CD’s have disappeared from the Rhino catalog, causing some speculation. What does Rhino have up their sleeve for The Monkees in 2006?
Andrew Sandoval: The plan is that there will be a lot of stuff going on next year. What all that stuff is right now is completely unscheduled. There’s the hope that we’ll put out a bunch of audio releases and some DVD things and just all kinds of things next year. There’s going to be a renewed effort at Rhino to revive The Monkees catalog for the 40th anniversary, but I’m being completely honest when I say that those plans are still totally up in the air. There’s talk about a lot of tantalizing things but none of it has actually been revealed as far as what the schedule will be or when anybody can expect to see any of it.
E.C.: There is some speculation that the albums will be re-issued as deluxe editions with the stereo and mono versions on CD, and possibly the “Missing Links” material being absorbed into the regular albums as bonus tracks.
Andrew Sandoval: I’d say that’s the plan I have. I would say that’s likely. They haven’t told me “no” yet (laughs). I’m hoping that happens and then to add a few things that people haven’t heard. At this point if you look through my book, you’ll know that there’s not tons and tons of material still out there.
E.C.: There’s always talk among fans about what might end up on a “Missing Links Volume 4” but now that “Missing Links” 1, 2 and 3 have been deleted there probably will never be a volume 4.
Andrew Sandoval: I don’t think I would be a big supporter of a volume 4 as an album on its own. I think “Missing Links” 1, 2 and 3 have their own life where you can play them not just as rarities records. A volume 4 would really be scraping the bottom of the barrel, whereas you put the elements that people would want to see on a volume 4 out as bonus tracks, I don’t think that anybody would complain. I think people would be happy. It would be nice to get those things a little more organized so that you could hear all the “Missing Links” tracks with the albums that they were recorded for. That’s what I’d like to do. I come to all these projects as a professional, but also a fan, and I have what I hope, is the fan’s best interest at heart.