Off the shelf.
"People either thought we were all gay or that none of us were," says Ted Ottaviano, one fourth of the '80s synth-pop band Book of Love, which has just released the greatest hits collection I Touch Roses--The Best of Book of Love.
After blurting out that he and band mate Susan Ottaviano (who is no relation) are gay, while members Jade Lee and Lauren Roselli are straight ("But we still love them!" he quips), he pauses for a moment. "It really wasn't an issue to us then," he says finally. "It was just understood."
Ottaviano admits the band didn't give much thought to connecting with their gay audience at the time. "You can't fool the children of the revolution, though," he says with a laugh, citing one of his favorite T. Rex songs. "Even with our first hit, `Boy,' the song was really about a bigger idea. It was about feeling different, wanting to be a part of something, and making your own way in spite of that. Gay people just got it--we didn't have to spell it out."
With their straight-out-of-art-school postpunk aesthetic, Book of Love formed in 1984 and quickly became part of the new wave explosion of keyboard-driven bands that took the United States by storm in the mid '80s. They released four successful albums and scored numerous club and radio hits but eventually disbanded in 1993.
After a five-year hiatus, Ted and Susan Ottaviano started writing together again a few years ago. "We realized there isn't really all that much about Book of Love out there, and we needed to put together some type of career retrospective," he says. "If we didn't do it, no one would. So we started working on it, and finally we're here."
The first release from the project is a set of remixes of "Boy," including that of Grammy award-winning DJ-producer Peter Rauhofer (Cher, Club 69), which has already earned a top 10 showing on the Billboard club play chart. "Peter was a huge fan of the song, and he wanted to do it," Ottaviano says. "It really has the essence of the original."
A 2001 remix of their 1991 hit "Sunny Day" and new compositions "Getting Faster" and "Try" also fit perfectly amid 13 other tracks, including "I Touch Roses," "Modigliani," and "Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls." The bonus track "It's in Your Eyes" was actually the very first song Book of Love ever wrote. "We used to do it live, but it was never recorded," Ottaviano says. "It's a real gift to our earliest fans."
With America's current fascination with all things '80s, the timing couldn't be more right for such a compendium of the classic synthband's work. "In a strange way, a lot of ideas that worked in Book of Love's music are working again today," Ottaviano explains. "I don't know why there is that synchronicity today, but it's cool to hear our music being played out again and seeing people responding to it."
Find more on Book of Love--including where to buy its new album--at www.advocate.com
Coble edits Dance Music Authority magazine.
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|Title Annotation:||interview with Ted Ottaviano, musician|
|Publication:||The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)|
|Date:||Mar 13, 2001|
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