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Jen chats to Terri Nunn from Berlin who is part of the Totally 80’s tour

Led by Terri Nunn, synth-pop/ new wavers BERLIN (USA) will take you back in time to that steamy scene from Top Gun when they perform their Australian #1 Take My Breath Away (writer Giorgio Moroder said that he is most proud of this song, of all the other hits he has had) plus their other fantastic Top 40 Hits, including No More Words, Dancing in Berlin as well as the seminal, Metro(which has been covered by everyone from System of a Down to Alkaline Trio). This will be BERLIN’s first tour of Australia since 1984!

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I had the pleasure of having a chat with Terri from Berlin who is heading to Australia this month as part of The Totally’s 80’s tour. When asked if she was looking forward to returning to Australia she had this to say.

“Thank you! I am excited to come back to Australia, The first tour that we do outside of the US was Australia.  You opened your doors to us, to hear us and to like us and it meant a lot. We have never forgotten that so it is going to be great to come back.”

I asked her what her favorite memory of Australia was from the past and we had a laugh. Usually artists tell a story of our wildlife or landscapes but Terri had something completely different to say.

‘One of the greatest memories are have of Australia as the guys are really good looking there!  (both laughing) I like the Jock types and I never got a Jock until my husband now. I got with him when I was 38 years old and he has that hot muscular jock body, those guys were never interested in me when I was younger, in high school I was scrawny and did not have much of a body. Anyway that is Australia to me! The women are very strong there, they are the closest to American women that I’ve ever met in the world. I found it unusual that the guys were a little bit chauvinistic and the women were not subservient, like the Japanese women when we first went there the women walked behind the men. I just wasn’t used to women being subservient and then when I got to Australia the women were not having it and there was a feeling that the women were saying you know what? F&*k you! It was really interesting as I was wondering how do you guys get together?’

That was a hard question for me to answer as the more I thought about it the more I realized that she did actually have a point! I changed the topic to what Berlin planned to include in their set list and I was pleased when Terri answered that it would be all their hits but also a couple of their new album ‘Animals’.

I explained to Terri that I was a teenager through the 80’s so I lived through her music and have some pretty special memories associated with Berlin’s songs, ( I loved Tom Cruise and associated him and Take my Breath Away, I mean what Aussie girl did not back then!) Terri explained how much stories like that meant to her and I asked her to elaborate on some.

“Well, my dream for my life was to make music that would have that kind of connection, when I went to went to a concert when I was young by the Rolling Stones and they had over 2 hours of music,  and I knew every single song. That is a lot of work, that is decades of writing and recording and playing and learning and to have that much music that has an impact on people to that extent and I thought if I could have anything like that, that would be the dream of my life. ‘Take my Breath Away’ was one of those songs. It has a connection with people. They tell me stories at every show that when they listen to that song it was their first kiss or it was their wedding song when their child was born they had that song playing. There are these memories that mean a lot to me because that connection happened. I am very fortunate.”

I then wanted to discuss Berlin’s labelling of Electro Pop but how sonically they seemed a little different from other Electro pop bands of the 80’s. I asked her if it was their inclusion of the guitar and she agreed and found it interesting that I had picked up on that.

“That was a goal of ours in the beginning when we started we were listening to bands overseas and when John and I met back in 1979 there were bands with a keyboard and vocals but we thought that because America was very rock-based, we should meld the two and did guitar with the synthesized sound with a female vocal.”

I then asked Terri if their single and video for Sex (I’m A…) was an expression of themselves or was there intention to make an impact. I remember my parents not allowing me to watch the video or even listen to the song. The song was released a year before Madonna was big. Her answer surprised me.

“It is funny that you mentioned Madonna because she was a member of our Fan club. Our first fan club was called The Masquerades and she was one of the members of it she was known as Louise Ciccone. I knew that when I wrote that song that some people would be shocked as it had never been talked about in the song before. My idea was to talk about what girls talk about, like fun ways to liven up our sex life and what we’ve been doing with our guys. Girls are different when they talk about sex with each other we talk about specifics. Guys don’t, they just say ‘Yeah I did her’ and that is it. The goal was to open up the conversation, I was in a relationship at the time and that was kinda stale. I was trying to bring in somethings that would make it more fun, but he was not into that. That lead to the chorus. I just wanted to have some fun. “

It is always great to have a really good belly aching laugh and this question allowed both Terri and I to do so. I told Terri that I was  talking to Kim Wilde and she said that she cringes sometimes when she sees some pics of her and her hairstyles of the 80’s. I enquired if she felt the same way. (both laughing)

“For me it was more the clothes, my problem is I will look different but I like to shop, so I’d just throw things together that I thought looked okay together and that they would work but they didn’t. So when I see photo shoots of me wearing clothes that I thought went together, they didn’t. Those photos are terrifying!”

Terri and I discussed how the record companies in the 80’s made the bands lifestyle and touring seem really glamorous but in reality is was not. Terri explains “ Record companies, want their artists to look glamorous as they are selling that product. In reality it is not. We got on buses and planes and going into backstages that were made by men, mostly they were locker rooms without even trash cans. The men did not care. It smelt like sweat, it was cold and dark. Once in a while we would have a nice dressing room but most of the time, they are designed by guys so you and I would not find it comfortable or glamorous or even clean! So no, it is not the kind of glamorous that it is made out to be”.

We then we had a good chat about how backstage is not as awesome as it made out to be and that bands today experience that same thing, that fans think they are wealthy people but in reality in order to follow their dreams they sacrifice a lot. We also discussed how Berlin practically imploded after their third album as they were “tired and if we had taken a break and had more balance in our lives we probably would of been able to maintain perspective and not turn on each other.” However now Berlin is touring and last year released their album ‘Animals’

Both of us being mothers we also had a chat about how when we were young we never listened to the same music as our parents and the thought of going to a gig together??? No way! However now it is completely different. We both go to concerts with our kids and they introduce us to new music that we like and we do the same. Terri told me ‘The 80’s shows that we do many parents bring their kids and the kids are really into the 80’s music. It is not like they are getting dragged there, they really like it!”

It was a pleasure to interview Terri, she has a great sense of humor and I really could of talked a lot longer than we did. Lucky I was last on the list so got to spend a lot more time with her.

She thanked me for my time and said she hoped that she got to meet me as it would be nice to have a female to chat to. I shall hold her to that!

Totally 80’s Australian Tour Dates:

 Tuesday 12th July – BRISBANE Eatons Hill

Thursday 14th July – GOLD COAST Jupiters

Friday 15th July – MELBOURNE Palais Theatre

Saturday 16th July – SYDNEY Enmore Theatre

Sunday 17th July – CANBERRA Royal Theatre

Wednesday 20th July – PERTH Astor Theatre

Thursday 21st July – ADELAIDE The Gov

Friday 22nd July – HOBART Wrest Point

Saturday 23rd July – MELBOURNE The Palms @ Crown

Sunday 24th July – MELBOURNE The Palms @ Crown

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