Anytime Is The Perfect Time For A 'Pink Martini'!
When I was asked to attend a show by Pink Martini, I had no idea what I was in for. Truthfully, I had never heard of the band before. Today, I will never forget them.
Pink Martini gave me a night to remember, filled with so much fun, frivolity, and amusement that I sat in my seat listening like a, wide-eyed, child. Of course, my amazement only increased when I, suddenly, saw the audience, literally, hop to their feet and, one-by-one, join a Conga line in the middle of the performance.
Never before had I experienced the eruption of a such a fantastic party while a band was still in-concert. And yet, somehow, it seemed rather status quo for Pink Martini and their audience -- a collaboration of shared excitement and passions. It compelled me to reach out to founder Thomas Lauderdale to learn more about the man (who has been called “Lawrence Welk on Acid”) and his band. I share his delightfully eclectic personality and enormously interesting interview below.
Share your personal mantra.
Deep inside of us, we know what is right and if we fail to do this, we always pay for it. Maybe, ...years later.
You went from a career in politics to launching one of the most successful and eclectic orchestras around the world. That’s a monumental leap of faith. Why did you do it and what has pleased you most about taking that risk?
I think that all paths are right and that I would have been happy with anyone of them. Throughout my life, I’ve followed my gut instinct. After graduating college, I was earnestly working in politics. But due to an unusual twist of events, we launched a unique and somewhat campy band which became a house band for all kinds of political causes. I wouldn’t rule out my going back into politics at one point. I feel we are building bridges. Our audiences are very, very diverse. The line between politics and entertainment is so blurry. The band requires diplomacy.
What drove you to tap China Forbes to become part of this and how did that happen?
She and I went to college together. She was queen of the dining hall who could tell great stories, imitate accents, and be very funny. We had so much fun at Harvard. So I lured her out to chat, tricked her, offered her cash, and she, finally, agreed to join the band.
Using one word, describe Pink Martini.
What characteristics does a song need to have to become a Pink Martini best?
It has to have a beautiful and memorable melody. You must be able to hum it on the way home. We do the songs in four languages. It’s all about the sound and melody that sticks in people’s hearts and minds.
Who is your audience?
Highly diverse. They come from everywhere and represent all sorts of people.
Your largest followings exist in which three countries?
France, Turkey, United States. The first song we ever wrote, we wrote in French. I’d be happy not writing any songs but China and I wrote a whole song on “not wanting to work and just wanting to smoke”. It ended up becoming an award-winning hit in France and we went from a small band in Portland to a world touring band via the French route. It was a fluke. You can’t plan for something like that.
Given all the choices in the world, who would you most like to have guest perform today.
Define the phrase, “making it.” And have you?
If I was hit by a Buick, I’d be content with how things are.
What’s the biggest lesson you have learned from creating Pink Martini and how can that lesson help bring peace to the United States?
In times of crisis, rather than jumping to make an impulsive decision, it is better to find stillness - sit still for some time - and not make any drastic decisions. And surround yourself with people who are smarter and arrive with different perspectives.
Share a social cause close to your heart.
Confluence project. I sit on that board.
When all is said and done, how would you like to be remembered?
My best quality is empathy. I’d like to be remembered as incredibly empathetic and kind.
Having worked with extraordinary talents, such as Rita Moreno, Ari Shapiro, the Von Trapp grandchildren, Ikram Goldman and Kim Hastreiter being, being a band that has chosen to go the opposite way of ‘current culture’ has certainly worked out well for Pink Martini. Everything about this band and their music is worthwhile.
Suffice-it-to-say, if you have a chance to see Pink Martini, I can’t recommend doing so to you more! They are intoxicating...and the hangover that follows is a welcomed one, I assure you.
Many thanks to Bill Tennant and Thomas Lauderdale for making this interview possible