In a spring session, recording parts for Joe’s Garage, Frank Zappa’s 1979 rock opera, guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, drummer Terry Bozzio, and female singer Dale Consalvi met. By the end of the year Dale Consalvi became Dale Bozzio, marrying Terry. The Bozzios and Warren formed the group Missing Persons early the following year. After not getting any record company’s attention with their recordings from Frank Zappa’s California studio, they released a four song EP independently, and sold an impressive 7000 copies driven by the song “Mental Hopscotch,” which reached No. 1 on the local Los Angeles radio station KROQ. This success caught the attention of Capitol, who signed the group to the label, released their 1982 debut album Spring Session M, an anagram of the band’s name, and re-issued the four song EP.
From the summer of 1982 through the spring of 1983, four songs from Spring Session M were in the Top 100. Additionally, “I Like Boys” from the EP also received airplay. In the first single, “Words,” Dale asked, “What are words for, when no one listens anymore?” MTV played the video for the song and it caught on. “Destination Unknown,” with the key line, “Life is so strange,” and “Windows” followed as the next Top 100 entries. In the spring of 1983, their fourth Top 100 single, “Waking in L.A.” was released, where Dale declared, “Nobody walks in L.A.” “Mental Hopscotch” from the EP was used as its flip side. Written by Terry and Warren, the recording featured their drums and guitar respectively. Dale asked, “Why do you always treat me this way?” and shared, “My mind is roller skating, skipping, jumping rope then fading, mental hopscotch.” Relationship questions continued, “Why can’t you be like this? Why can’t you be like that?” During the final minute, the tempo kicked up a notch with the Bozzios’ drumming and vocals bringing the song to a powerful conclusion.
Flip side: Mental Hopscotch
A side: Walking in L.A.
Top 100 debut: March 12, 1983
Peak position: No. 70
GOLDMINE: Let’s begin by looking back on “Mental Hopscotch,” which is so intense.
DALE BOZZIO: Terry wrote that about me and how I would drive him crazy. He just wrote down everything, because that was about me always changing my mind, saying one thing and doing something else. It started pretty much as a parody. It is a pretty intense song and difficult to play, unless you are a genius musician, and I have a band of genius musicians now with Prescott Niles, formerly of The Knack, on bass, Andy Senesi on drums, Paul Vargas on keyboards and Karl DiAmico on guitar, but, let’s face it, I don’t see us playing anytime soon with what is going on in the world until it can straighten itself out. Concerts are on hold right now. Everybody needs to help each other without greed. Hour by hour we are crumbling and people are hoarding their toilet paper and that doesn’t make any sense. I am appalled. I really hope that the world authorities can get together and put their minds together, thinking about their children, grandparents, sisters and brother and collectively make some serious decisions. This is an attack on the world. Rich need to help the poor. Drug companies need to provide medicine. People who need people are the luckiest people in the world, as Barbra Streisand sang, and there is a historic need for empathy and sympathy. People can move mountains and with this disaster, people need to be giving, as a call to duty. Music is my bread and butter, but every concert is impossible to happen until this is resolved. Music can make people feel better.
GM: At home, fortunately I have your new electronic music here and was exercising this morning to your new cover of "Incense and Peppermints" that we premiered at Goldmine.
DB: Oh, I love you. I think it is the best record I have made thus far. I am very happy about it. There is the song “In the Rain” where I sing, “I want to go outside in the rain, because I don’t want you to see me cry.” That is my whole theme of life. I want you to think that I have the strength to make things happen, that you can believe in me and I will make it alright. I want everybody to hope, be grateful, and think that, and then there will be more positive steps to go forward. Don’t feel doom and gloom. Think it through and tell yourself that everything will be alright and that we can do this together. Even if I don’t hug you now, you know I love you and I can tell you with my words and we can make it happen. I am hoping in my heart that people will listen because it is so hard. It is a clam up time where some may forget it all, but please don’t. Remember there is always hope. We can all be faithful and none of us can tell the future and that is why this happens. We all need to be on guard and tell the truth and that will prevail.
GM: With your music, you give us a wonderful escape. I was thrilled that you ended the album with “In the Rain.” It reminds me of growing up and camping. In my uncle’s station wagon the only station we could get was out of Detroit and I fell in love with the sound of the Detroit soul groups. I remember hearing The Dramatics’ first Top 10 hit “What You See is What You Get” in the summer of 1971 and then the following spring they were back in the Top 10 with “In the Rain” which you cover so dramatically. Now let’s talk about the new originals that you and Adam Hamilton wrote. The title song “Dreaming” has a wonderfully melodic chorus and is my favorite of the new songs on the album.
DB: Thank you. I appreciate that. It is my favorite song, too.
GM: Then there is “Lipstick” which reminds me of The Doors with the reference to “Hollywood bungalow” like in “L.A. Woman” and then there is your spoken poetry section like we would hear from Jim Morrison or Patti Smith on Ray Manzarek’s “I Wake Up Screaming.”
DB: Oh, cool. I have to say, I am a ghost of Jim Morrison, ha ha. That song is my little Hollywood movie. The Doors are my favorite group.
GM: Well, mine too, and I am always drawn to songs that remind me of them. “This Time” is a bit haunting, like a lot of the album.
DB: It is kind of like an anthem for what is happening right now.
.GM: On the other hand, there is encouragement on your version of “This is the Day," a song that I was not familiar with, by the group The The, who I also was not familiar with. Thank you for introducing me to this song.
DB: That song is incredible. That fellow is a most impeccable songwriter. I dedicate that song to my son Shane who is an incredible visual artist. He was lying down on his bed, looking out the window up into the sky and said, “You should play this song” and introduced me to “This is the Day.” I listened to it and I took it right to my producer in the studio, Adam, who also plays keyboards throughout the record, and is the coolest dude ever. He said, “Then try it.” It just hit me like lightning and we recorded it immediately.
GM: I thank you and Shane for the song. Another one I didn’t know was Peter Godwin’s “Images of Heaven,” which is so catchy.
DB: Oh, wow, yeah that’s a real good one, ha ha. Thank you.
GM: Now on to one that I did know, The Rolling Stones’ flip side “Play With Fire” (re-titled here as “Playing With Fire”). When I was in Argentina I learned of a two CD series called Bossa N’ Stones with a variety of female vocalists gently singing Rolling Stones songs with a bossa nova beat backdrop, which I think works surprisingly well, and “Play With Fire” is not included on either of those CDs, so thank you for this new version. I love your interpretation.
DB: Oh cool, great. The Rolling Stones songs may seem simple but they are complicated in their own way. That is why they are so unique. They make everything look so easy. Terry used to say to me that the greatest musicians in the world make it look easy.
GM: Your and Adam’s electronic interpretation reminds me of Soft Cell and what they did with “Tainted Love.”
DB: Oh nice. I loved them.
GM: From your song “Destination Unknown,” you took the line, “Life is so strange” as the title for your upcoming autobiography. How is it coming along?
DB: Just a few weeks ago everything was fine. We had plenty of time. My editor was coming and going and I would give him a hug. I’m not hugging any more, for a while, with what is going on. We had to speed up the process, not knowing when things would shut down. Lord have mercy! I am happy to have the opportunity to write the book. I am sorry that the society and the economy is taking such a hit right now. It is absolutely bizarre.
GM: Speaking about bizarre, that reminds me of Frank Zappa’s Bizarre label and I assume he will be in your book.
DB: In my heart, Frank is a great, dear friend of mine. He made me what I am today. He gave me the opportunity for me to open my mouth and sing things I never thought I would sing in my life. It is pretty amazing. I reached a great feat of my own that I never thought would be possible. I wrote about Frank through my whole book. I think he was the finest musical genius on the planet that ever was. I am so grateful that I was one of his friends. I am indebted to him and it is sad that he is gone. I still tell him how much I love him. I frequent his resting place in Westwood, here in California, in the same cemetery that has Marilyn Monroe in the vault and next to her is Hugh Hefner. He never met her but someone laid photos of her on his desk and that inspired him to start his magazine. She died young and although he never met her, he said he would be next to her in the afterlife and bought the next vault at Westwood, but I go to visit with Frank. He is my mentor.
GM: You have been a mentor to Laura Espinoza of Lunden Reign and joined her and Mindy Milburn last year on Laura’s song “Somewhere There Forever.”
DS: It’s fantastic and I sing her songs too.
GM: She and Mindy have a new song coming out in April called “Thank the Academy” under a new group name of Make Believe Friends, as an offshoot of Lunden Reign.
GM: Thank you for all of your music, new and old.
DB: Thank you. I wish you the best. I appreciate all your gracious compliments on the new record. I am super proud of Dreaming and I am hoping that the interest will spill over to my book Life is So Strange, which I wrote with Keith Valcourt and I am extremely excited about it. I look forward to finding out what the world thinks of my tiny story from this little girl from Medford, Massachusetts. I may be tiny but I have a big voice and I want to tell everyone that everything will be alright. Every day is a gift.