You may not know the name, Gerard McMahon or G Tom Mac, as he’s known publicly to the rest of the world, but you’ve heard his music whether you know it or not. You’ve probably sang along or sat frozen while it played in the background of one of the most recognizable American cult teen horror films of the mid/late 80s, The Lost Boys. The song, Cry Little Sister, truly defined G Tom Mac as not only a great singer/songwriter but put him in a league all his own. There might be many who write for film and TV but not many who have defined a time period frozen by images so vivid and recognizable. When the company you keep are the likes of Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey, Jerry Bruckheimer, Joel Schumacher, Richard Donner, Cameron Crowe and the elite of Hollywood’s directing/producing royalty in the last thirty years, you might tend to be a little cocky and over-confident or, just a plain ol’ a**hole. It could happen. But not G Tom Mac. Sitting with him inside his studio, along with photographer, Glen Willis, on a warm January afternoon, in Santa Monica, CA., reveals a humble English gent, very unattached to fame at this point, but always striving to live his passion, though he didn’t know he was the guy to seek out for your film or TV soundtracks; he didn’t realize how talented he was, but so many others did. His music was just that good.
“Right, well my background, hmm,” G Tom Mac ponders; then explains with a warm smile. “It basically started off about a guy who played the clubs and played cover songs and developed an ability to write songs and then I made an album in the 80s called Blue Rue for Columbia and it got all this critical acclaim and Robert Hilburn, [Pop music critic, author and music editor of the Los Angeles Times from 1970 to 2005] out here named me as one of the top five albums of the year; I think I was right next to the Clash’s Sandinista!, Bruce Springsteen and all that, but I went through my crap doing this thing, going out on the road with one record after the other getting really good reviews but it happened for me later rather than early on; success. Maybe it was the ‘cocained out’ manager I had [the room fills with laughter] who didn’t have his eye on the ball and I was just a kid so I really didn’t know what was going on, but what did happen are the likes of Jerry Bruckheimer; the film producer.”
“He came to one of my gigs and he had me write four or five songs for this movie called, Defiance; it was a 1980 American film with Jan-Michael Vincent and Art Carney,” continues G Tom Mac. “That wasn’t such a big film because it was one of the first things he did so he was getting established at that time and then it went into Cameron Crowe finding out about me. He wanted me to write a song for the movie, Fast Times at Ridgemont High; and that was a huge selling soundtrack. So I found myself going into the soundtrack world and I was still making records, going on the road and the likes of that, but it was painstaking because everyone would say, ‘Oh you’re so far ahead of your time’ and all that crap whatever that means I have no idea [laughing as he leaned forward] but I was doing a lot of soundtracks at that time; pretty cool movies and I have sort of this cult following due to the movie, The Lost Boys in 1986, when Joel Schumacher asked me to see if I could write the theme song. I read the script and thought it was a fantastic script and I was so inspired to write something. I sent it to him and he loved it, Richard Donner loved it and so did the studio. And I really had just kind of had it with being on the road. I was making a lot of money with KISS recording a song of mine that became a hit; the song, Is That You.”
KISS never covered other people, other people covered KISS yet G Tom Mac had yet written another song he really wasn’t that attached to yet KISS was. “Their producer felt they needed a hit single and they didn’t do other people’s songs as you know,” states G Tom Mac. “He wanted to produce me as well, this producer; Vini Poncia. I liked him and I thought he might be a good guy to produce my album. So we were working on my record and I didn’t think Is That You fit with the rest of the songs we were working on so he asked me if he could play it for KISS; ‘I need a hit single for them.’ I said I’d love it. A week later he called me back and said they loved it, they recorded it and they did a bang up job. That sort of got people covering my songs and that still happens to this day.”
“Eminem sampled me two years ago on the Recovery album; it sold 9 million albums. He sampled Cry Little Sister, from The Lost Boys. I also wrote a song for Ice Cube, for the movie, The Player’s Club; I wrote the main song to that–I’ve been all over the map really, though my origins are rock with a touch of alternative pop. But it’s interesting because when The Lost Boys came along, I really felt I wrote something that got me sort of a Goth following but it’s not just a Goth following I mean, I go out on the road and there are those 25 year-old people who love that song and come to hear just that song and then there are a percentage that are mums and dads you know, who bring their kids and the kids know every word to the song and their kids are like five, six, seven or whatever, which would make sense because they were at that age when The Lost Boys came out so they would now have kids. But yeah, it’s been a wild career; everyone from Carly Simon to Roger Daltrey to Robert Plant have recorded my songs. I produced Roger Daltrey; a whole album of my songs that he wanted to do about twenty years ago; an album called, Rocks In the Head. That happened because of Robert Plant being a fan of mine and I ended up working with him; I can’t remember but I think it was around Now and Zen; around that time.”
What must it have been like to work with Robert Plant? What must it have felt like to hear a voicemail on your home answering machine from Robert Plant? Maybe if you travel in those circles it all becomes relative, but for a kid trying to make it in the world of rock n’ roll a call from the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, might make you wonder if you stepped into the Twilight Zone. “When I got the phone call from Robert, it was on my answering machine in New York,” laughs G Tom Mac, reminiscing about how he felt. “I thought somebody was, you know, pulling my leg. In fact one of my friends does imitations of people; he’s a comedian, and I said, ‘That’s a good Sheffield Birmingham accent mate’ and he says, ‘I didn’t leave a message saying I was Robert Plant!’ Of course, I called him back –Robert!” We all start laughing as G Tom Mac rolls his eyes as if to say, are you kidding? Of course I called him back! “Robert had gotten my number through his management,” continues G Tom Mac. “But he took it upon himself not to have the manager call me and I love that about him because we come from a very working class world. By the way, this all happened because his daughter used to listen to Cry Little Sister over and over again in her room and he went into her room one day and said, ‘What is that?’ But yeah, Christina, his daughter, was the one that basically got me writing songs for one of my idols. I’ve had the most back-ass career of anyone I think. I never really got the fame and I don’t really care about the fame; I care more about connecting to people. But I have no regrets it worked out the way it should. Because I am a Chameleon of sorts; I can switch hats quick and write in different veins, it sort of helped me focus as an artist. To have Cry Little Sister from The Lost Boys; have one song that has defined…me as an artist–do you know what I mean? What’s funny, due to the profile of the song, because of the profile of the songs on the soundtrack, they wanted to get Phil Collins to sing that song. They had five or six different artists audition to sing that song including Chrissie Hynde, but Joel Schumacher had the final say and he didn’t want anybody else but me to do it. It’s the voice of the movie as he says.”
In 2012, the new release of a long-awaited Untame the Songs features 11 stellar tunes that fuel a unique style in G Tom Mac’s modern rock approach in production & writing. Not Ready To Die, the first single, holds nothing back, from the start of its power riff driven hook, to G Tom’s lead vocals firing with fierce conviction of a lyric that reminds us we’re all addicted to some vice, & some just may kill us. Playful as it is, with its authentic back up of gospel singers, gives the entire song a lot of soul over this up tempo semi church rockin’ groove. G Tom Mac & co- producer Tony Silver kept this track fresh, contemporary. G Tom Mac is not slowing down any time soon. He continues to write for film and TV and will be out touring as well.
When the likes of someone like film director, screenwriter, and producer Joel Schumacher has the final word and your name is part of that sentence, you better believe you’ve done something special. G Tom Mac has had many special moments though he might have seen it going differently in his head as a young man. Fame has found him at this stage rather than when he was a young punk and maybe it happened for a reason; but it’s not really the time to sit on his laurels and rest and he’s just not that kind of man anyway. He is a man of action. He can sleep when he’s dead but for now, G Tom Mac is making music yet again for another generation.
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