You may know the name, you may not. But you certainly know the voice. The Cascades had some of the greatest pop harmony records and of course one of the biggest selling singles in the early 60s. Please enjoy reading this interview with the one and only JOHN GUMMOE.
Kyler:To start off - is it really true that you guys got the name for your group from a box of laundry detergent?
JOHN:Yes, it's true. Actually it was dishwashing soap; still around today.
Kyler:How did you get the attention of Valiant Records?
JOHN:Our manager, Andy Di Martino took a demo tape to them and they played it, liked my songs and my voice. There were about 40 songs on it, some by me and some by others in the group.
Kyler:Were The Cascades pressured into recording Barry DeVorzon material because he was the head of the label, or did the group make the decision to record those songs?
JOHN:We were not pressured to record their songs. We liked them, but still wanted to record more of ours, but when you are young and inexperienced you go with the "suits" for fear of being let go or dropped for not cooperating?
Kyler:“There’s A Reason” was the first single and of course “Rhythm of the Rain” was the second. They are both classic hits. How did The Cascades deal with the sudden fame?
JOHN:We were excited as would be expected and our managers made many mistakes after our success. Mainly not booking us correctly. We should have been at all the major venues and cites across the world. Instead, we were doing one nighters in the midwest. The group, most of them thought we'd arrived and didn't realize that once you have a hit, you still have to fight to stay on top. I'd have to say we slipped out of the limelight due to mismanagement though.
Kyler:What were the circumstances behind the creation of “Rhythm Of The Rain” (the song)?
JOHN:Rhythm of the Rain unfolded over a couple of years starting with the title which I thought had a nice ring, then I began writing the lyrics which came a little at a time although even then I had a melody in my head. The idea came while sailing on the U.S.S Jason and it was raining and storming like crazy and that's when I began creating the song. I thought the idea of the rain talking to you was novel and later on the group and I recorded a demo of it.
Kyler:“Punch And Judy” is a standout track from the Valiant album that was never given single status. Any information behind that one?
JOHN:Punch and Judy was just one of the songs submitted by Barry De Vorzon's stable of writers. I don't think there's a bad song on that album. Barry and his guys had songs that were great for us and our sound, but again, we had some pretty good songs as well which finally came to light in 1997 when Taragon Records issued "The Very Best of the Cascades".
Kyler:Why did The Cascades leave Valiant for RCA?
JOHN:Valiant forgot to pick up our option on our contract and we were longing even more to do our own thing. Record our own songs and play on our own recordings. As many know, that first album was backed by studio musicians which included Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Glen Campbell and many other great musicians of the day. It's a great album, but as a group we wanted to grow and progress. We were a really good band as well as being a vocal group.
Kyler:You had many great releases for RCA. Just a few of them are “For Your Sweet Love”, “A Little Like Lovin’”, and “Cinderella”. I am baffled as to why The Cascades never had a huge hit during this time period. Was it due to lack of promotion or changing music styles?
JOHN: I wish I had the answer to that question. "Cinderella" did well for us in some of the Asian markets. "For your Sweet Love" a Jerry Fuller song, bubbled under the top 100, same with "A Little like Lovin". I never understood why our RCA releases were not put out as an album.
Kyler:I noticed that there were many unreleased (at the time) tracks from the RCA days. Did you and the group have a say in what went released and what stayed in the can, or was that the producer’s decision?
JOHN: We had no say in what was released on RCA. Our producer was Joe Reisman, great producer and a nice guy, but he was all wrong for us. Joe did people like Henry Mancini, he just didn't have the "chops" for a pop group like us.
Kyler:I have to ask about some records that don’t get much mention but are really fabulous. When you were at CRC-Charter records, you recorded a tune called “She Was Never Really Mine To Lose”, which was reminiscent of the early 60s Cascades sound. Were you going for a similar sound to try to rack up another monster hit?
JOHN: "She was never really mine to lose" is still one of my favorite Cascade songs and yes we were trying for another monster hit. CRC Charter had no clout in the business. It was our managers label and had poor promotion and poor distribution. Should have been a monster.
Kyler:Another obscure one that I really like is called “All’s Fair in Love and War”. It has such a great pop sound. Please tell our readers anything you remember about that one.
JOHN: All's Fair in love and War was written by Bob Stone who wrote "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" and we thought it was a good release, but again if you don't have the promotion and the right distribution, it just isn't going to happen.
Kyler:“Cheryl’s Goin’ Home” was written by Bob Lind – was The Cascades version the original?
JOHN:"Cheryl's Goin Home" and the flip side, "Truly Julies Blues" were songs we were very high on. The songs were submitted to us as demo's and "Truly Julies Blues" was headed for the charts when all of a sudden, Bob Lind released his version of the song and it really killed BOTH versions. It bubbled under but that was it.
Kyler:Do you have a favorite song (Cascades or otherwise) that you recorded throughout the years?
JOHN:I have several favorites. I love "The Last Leaf" and I've always loved, "Angel on my Shoulder". Shelby Flint, the composer of that one told me she was surprised at it's success as she wrote it as a children's song. I also love "She Was never Mine to lose"
Kyler:Finally, I bet our readers would love to know what you are up to these days.
JOHN: For all the fans of Cascade music and me let me just say that we just returned from a very successful tour of The Philippines. Just got over the jet lag. My next gig is at the Orleans in Las Vegas along with good buddy, Ron Dante and Filipino Diva, Imelda Papin. I will be at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in April 2011. Would love to invite the fans to download Cascade music from itunes and Rhapsody and check out my romantic version of "Rhythm of the Rain" on youtube. Do a search for "Rhythm of the Rain 2005" Our lastest CD is "All the Way to Yesterday" available on itunes.
I wish to thank John Gummoe not only for allowing me to conduct this interview, but for all of the great music he has given the world. UNtil next time, keep on rockin'!