We were certainly surprised and thrilled when musician and C.A.P.E.R. songwriter, Rob Hegel, posted a message on our Guest Book.  So, as you can imagine, we were ecstatic when Rob very graciously agreed to do a Question & Answer style interview with us to discuss his work on the show, as well as fill us in on the details of his own extensive career!

C.A.P.E.R. Project: First, let me say thank you for agreeing to answer our questions!  Letís begin with a little background information . . . when did you first start writing songs?
Rob Hegel: Have sort of been composing original tunes since I was a baby . . . but the first song I wrote that was performed was in sophomore year of high school.  Was in a band called The Chandells; met a girl (there always seems to be a girl, doesnít there?), and wrote I Wanna Love You.  (Editorís note: not the same I Wanna Love You
as on the C.A.P.E.R. album, which was written by Gene Allan & Gary Knight.)

C.P.: Could you give us some background into the creation of The Chandells (later Bittervetch), which became quite a notable garage band in Centreville, Ohio, in the 1960's?
Rob Hegel: I was a sophomore in high school.  Had some friends who had started a band called The Duprees.  I asked them one day if I could be their singer.  They said yes, and I joined the band and we changed our name to The Chandells.  After I Wanna Love You, I wrote more songs . . . the band recorded a demo of 10 of them.  Wrote a few more and the band changed its name to Bittervetch.  The band recorded and released a single, Bigger Fool and A Girl Like You, and then broke up when we all went to college.  All the Chandells and Bittervetch recordings from 1964-1966 have been released by Gear Fab Records and are available from Amazon.com, Gear Fab and from a number of internet CD sellers.

C.P.: What were some of your most memorable musical influences early on?
Rob Hegel: First and foremost: The Beatles appearance on Ed Sullivan.  Others include Presley, Holly, Who, Kinks, Mathis, Nilsson, Mancini, Mozart, Rundgren, and most every hit record from the 50ís and 60ís.

C.P.: Which instruments do you play?
Rob Hegel: Keyboards, Guitar, Percussion . . . main instrument is my voice.  Iím a crooner at heart.

C.P.: Tell us how you began writing with Carol George (aka Amanda George.)  And when did the two of you start working for Don Kirshner?
Rob Hegel: I met Carol in Manhattan in 1973 (she changed her professional name to Amanda in 1976 or 77.)  I had just signed with RCA and my first single, New York City Girl, was about to be released.  Carol was a struggling singer / songwriter who I thought had a good grasp of lyric writing and I asked her if she wanted to write some songs together to see if we had a "fit."  I would compose a melody and sometimes a title lyric idea and she would "fill in the blanks" with her wonderful words and imagery.  We wrote this way for about 8 years.  Over that time my lyric writing sort of took over and I mostly wrote on my own except for a brief stint with guitar great Dick Wagner.

Carol and I signed with Chappell Music Publishing in 1973 and composed some wonderful songs.  Two of the songs from that period (All Beginning written with Carol and my own composition, Here You Are Again) are on my most recent CD release, HEGEL 2 - displays.

After completing our contract with Chappell at the end of 1974, Carol took a job working as a writer on a TV game show called Musical Chairs that was being executive produced by Donnie Kirshner.  She took a cassette of some of our songs to the show's producer, Wally Gold (who was a songwriter himself with such hits as Itís My Party, Itís Now or Never, and Good Luck Charm) and he thought our songs were great.  He took the tape to Donnie and the next day my phone rang: "Rob, this is Donnie Kirshner.  I'd like you to come to my office."  The next week Carol and I signed an 8 year deal with Kirshner Entertainment Corporation.  We were given an office with a piano and everyday we went to the office and wrote . . . and most everyday we would go into Donnie's office and play him a new song and he would smile and nod and tell us how much he loved us.  It was really cool!

One day he called us into his office and asked us to write some songs for a new Saturday morning TV show he was developing with Alan Landsburg.  We wrote When It Hit Me that same afternoon and waltzed into his office and played it for him.  He was knocked out.  He soon booked us, Wally, and Jay Siegel (who also worked for Donnie and was the former lead singer for the Tokens of Wimoweh - The Lion Sleeps Tonight fame) on a flight with him to Los Angeles where we stayed in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, drove Mercedes, and ate in the best restaurants.  We met "the Kids" and all the staff for the show in that first week and we started writing more songs.  I think I flew back and forth from NY to LA about 6 times during the project.  John Lansing and I became good friends and discussed working together beyond the C.A.P.E.R. show, but that never came about.

C.P.: You and Amanda George wrote four songs for the C.A.P.E.R. series and album.  Were these songs written specifically for this project or were they songs you had already written?  Any specific memories about the inspirations for these particular songs?
Rob Hegel:
Songs were written specifically for C.A.P.E.R.  When It Hit Me went to John and was to be the first single.  We wrote Say It for Cosie but Donnie wanted Steve to sing It.  Fun in the Jungle was written for Biff (and we had to tame some of the lyrics because it got a bit "randy" at times and the censors were a bit skiddish . . . with good reason, though . . . we did sneak a few lines past them!)  Everybody Loves Her was written for Steve.  We had no story lines to follow and no direction as to what we were to write about . . . we just wrote what we wanted.  I wish I had some magical story about where a particular song came from but the magic is simply in the writing . . . a melody just comes to me out of nowhere.

C.P.: Ooh, now I've gotta ask . . . can you recall any of those "randy" lyrics left out of Fun in the Jungle?  After all, weíre all adults now, LOL!
Rob Hegel: Most of the ones that were "left out" were not ever really in . . . "a little head in the bed" . . . "youíll be fine from behind" . . . "on your knees if you please" . . . mostly the lines were made up on the spot (in the studio) to make everyone laugh.  There was a lot of "Stop the tape!" going on in that recording.

C.P.: Can you give us any insight as to how Don Kirshner went about picking songs for the show?
Rob Hegel: Donnie would pick songs that he both owned and liked.  That was his only criteria.  Carol and I had two other songs that were perfect for the show, Fantasy Lady and Make it Magical, that would have been great but they were written during our contract with Chappell and even though Donnie LOVED the songs and thought they would be hit records, he didnít include them because he didnít own the publishing.

C.P.: It seems clear that the songs were selected and recorded before the series was filmed.  Were you ever up against the clock getting things ready for the showís premiere?  In other words, was it a rushed project at all?
Rob Hegel:
The LP was recorded and then the shows were filmed . . . never really seemed rushed.  Shows were filmed one per week . . . "Kids" had press responsibilities and photo shoots . . . every week a new "cute" girl was cast for the episode.  I think we were still filming when the show started and then it suddenly stopped.

C.P.: Were you working primarily in the New York or the Los Angeles studio at this time, or both?
Rob Hegel:
All recording was done in L.A. . . . not sure what Joey V. (Joe Venneri) and the rest did in NYC.

C.P.: You mentioned that you and Jay Siegel worked on the arrangements and background vocals for the album.  The Kids did some harmonizing on vocals on the series itself in short songs, but did they work together in the studio on the songs, or were their vocals each recorded on an individual basis (with only one Kid on each song and you and Jay doing the background vocals)?
Rob Hegel:
Mostly it was Jay and I (with John every so often) . . . reason for this was only that Jay and I were used to singing in the studio and the Kids were new at it.  Singing background harmonies is not as easy as it may sound and teaching others the parts and tone and breath and balance takes time and time is money in the studio so it was just much simpler for Jay and I to do them.

Continue . . .

 


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