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The Lisa Coppola Interview
By Cindy Beth Gordon
(more articles from this author)
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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing singer/songwriter Lisa Coppola. Lisa recently released her first solo record, "A Rose By Any Other Name."

Although this is her debut CD, Lisa Coppola is no stranger to the music world. Her voice is the one heard on numerous regional jingles. She has also provided backing vocals for Billy Joel, Marshall Crenshaw, John Eddie, Glen Burtnik, and Mitch Malloy. She was invited to perform as the opening act for the Smothers Brothers show, which boasted a capacity crowd that night, at PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey.

Lisa fronted the band Broad from 1994 through 1997. And Broad gained the reputation of hottest live acts in New York, appearing regularly at Brownies, a/k/a, Spiral, and at the Bitter End in Manhattan. Broad performed at the world cup tournament at Giant's Stadium. The band's album, Broad Human Conflict, was distributed by Hamburg, Germany's Artbeat Label through BMG/ARIS, and in Portugal by Fabrica/Movieplay records. Lisa is a familiar face on stages in the New York City area. However, she has been embraced with open arms by audiences in Europe, particularly Germany, during her days with Broad.

[Cindy] Hi Lisa. Its good to "chat" with you. I really like your debut record. Its great! So what inspired you to create this CD, "A Rose By Any Other Name" and to begin the journey of a "solo" career?

Lisa I felt I had something to say and I think others can relate to what I sing about. Having sung with other artists as a backing vocalist and having sung other people's music in my days as just a "singer", I decided to finally jump in and do it. I toyed with the idea for a long time, then chickened out, toyed with it, then chickened out.

[Cindy] I really like the songs, was wondering what the inspiration was behind some of the songs; i.e., simon's kiss, you say you will, why do you do, take my heart, and any other's that you'd like to talk about.

Lisa "Simon's Kiss" is my favorite because the song is actually a gift to a dear friend. It is the story of my friend Kyra's brief love affair with a gent from England. They were very close and passionate extremely briefly and then he had to move back home. "Simon's Kiss" is that story of her first real love.

"Why Do You Do What You Do" was inspired by a funny conversation with the guy I co-wrote it with - Bob Steele Miskiewicz.

Bob Steele - Miskiewicz co-wrote a number one hit for the artist Safire in the late 1980's. He also had some other hits that were major even though they did not go to number one.

We were having a good laugh about how no matter how we as people try to be so good and upstanding we occasionally wind up f-ing things up. It's quite humorous, though unfortunate, don't you think?

"Take My Heart" was written by Russ Bonagura, my producer for this record. I think it's a terrific song and it shows the sentiment of wanting to give material things to the one you love, but only being able to give your heart because that's all you have got. Luckily the heart is the most important thing and we shouldn't lose sight of that.

The other song that is really special to me is "You Say You Will." It is basically my journal - so to speak - of a break-up and my healing process.

Every time I hear it I am reminded that strength can be found in adversity.

[Cindy] Who was instrumental in your career?

Lisa John Zonars, who was my partner in the band Broad, because he believed in me/us so much. I really came out of that band experience so much more knowledgeable.

[Cindy] The vocals and songs, musicianship production and arrangements are all excellent on the record. How did you hook up with your producer, Russ Bonagura, the musicians and the co-writers?

Lisa Thank you. I was lucky to have such gifted people!

I had been recording with a couple of real unethical producers in Northern NJ who shall remain nameless. Let's just say i was paying them a lot of money to be yelled at while actually in session with them and most other times relegated to an 18 year old engineer while they recorded other projects in their midi room.

Anyhow, I have a lawyer named Ron Bienstock who got my tapes back for me and busted me out of that contract. Ron suggested I meet Russ Bonagura and it was a real good match from the beginning. Russ was responsible for pulling in all the session players on the album and I think they did a wonderful job.

As for my co-writers, I met Mike Walsh years ago and have been writing with him since 1990, I think. He is the mastermind behind the band "departure," who are very successful in Japan and the UK. Mike and I wrote "Simon's Kiss" and "You Were Mine"

Bob Steele-Miskiewicz answered an ad I had a long time ago. I think the second time we met, we wrote "You Say You Will". We clicked immediately.

Bob Steele - Miskiewicz co-wrote a number one hit for the artist Safire in the late 1980's. He also had some other hits that were major even though they did not go to number one.

John Zonars, who was my partner in Broad, and I met while I was singing backing vocals with Billy Joel on "Saturday Night live" at NBC. John is the music coordinator there. John and I wrote "Leave Me Here" on my record.

Rob Provitera is a good musician friend I have known for many years. He and I wrote "Don't Love Me And Leave Me"

[Cindy] Any favorite activities/hobbies outside of music?

Lisa Working out at the gym. Good thing, huh? A lot of people hate it.

[Cindy] Do you write the music, lyrics or both? Does one come first when you write?

Lisa Every session is completely different

[Cindy] How often do you write?

Lisa Sometimes when I feel like it, but mostly when I have a co-writing session deadline! Lol

[Cindy] Where did you grow up. When's your birthday?

Lisa I grew up in North Jersey. Garfield-Clifton area. My birthday is September 18th.

[Cindy] Who are you favorite artists/bands?

Lisa I love Alanis and Kate Bush. Also Edwin Mccain (a lot). I have always gravitated to great songwriters who sing just as well. I also absolutely love Barry Manilow. (yes I know I will probably hear you say huh? What? On that.)

[Cindy] How did you come up with the title for your CD?

Lisa My name used to be Lisa Rose, which was a variation of my former married name.

[Cindy] How long were you with the band Broad? How many members were in that band?

Lisa I was with Broad about four years. We had me on vocals plus John Zonars on guitars/vocals, Jason Bitonti on bass, at the time we split we had Frank Duca on drums. (not Pat Petrillo, who played on the album.) So we were a total of 4.

[Cindy] What did you learn from being in that band?

Lisa I learned that with enough focus you can do what you set out to do. And watching John work I began to understand how to really allow yourself to be inspired and to let that guide the work. He is very talented.

[Cindy] Do you still keep in touch with them?

Lisa I am still and probably will always be in touch with John who is probably still in touch with Jason & Frank.

[Cindy] Did you write songs for that band as well?

Lisa Only three. "Leave Me Here" was one of them and it appears on my solo record. The others were "I Believed" and "Killing Loving Kind." John Zonars and I co-wrote these songs together in Broad.

[Cindy] You worked with quite an impressive list of people in the music industry. What was it like working with Billy Joel?

Lisa It was awesome, surreal even. I remember looking down the backing vocalists platform when we were shooting Saturday Night Live and thinking "wow, this is one of the most amazing moments of my life." I did Saturday Night Live with him and a video for "All About Soul" that aired on VH1 for quite some time.

[Cindy] How did you hook up with him?

Lisa My ex-husband plays in Billy's band. You could say I was in the right place at the right time. It was the night of my birthday and the band was in Boston. The musicians and I were sitting in the lounge after their boston garden gig and the girl who does the vocal arranging for them, Crystal Taliefero, asked me if i'd be interested in doing Saturday Night Live with them. She asked me to get a tape to her, which I did immediately as you could probably guess!!

[Cindy] I noticed you also worked with other great artists and/or songwriters including Marshall Crenshaw, John Eddie, Glen Burtnik, Mitch Malloy. What was it like working with these people?

Lisa I met Glen Burtnik when I opened for him at Seton Hall University. That was when I first began doing originals. Another very cool moment - I must say - because my friends and I were great fans of his. We used to go see him play often when his "heroes and zeroes" album was out. I was very star struck at that age, to say the least.

Glen asked me to be part of his Christmas shows for a couple years running. One of the years the show became an album on deko records entitled "A Live Christmas Extravaganza." I sang backgrounds for the other artists you mentioned on that live show and disc. (Marshall Crenshaw, John Eddie, Mitch Malloy)

[Cindy] Any special stories that stand out?

Lisa Not really except for the fact that those shows had a great vibe onstage & off. They benefited the Middlesex County Food Bank so it was a great time for a good cause.

[Cindy] I saw in your liner notes that you got to meet one of your favorite artist/songwriters, Stevie Nicks. She's one of my favorites too. How and when did you meet her and what was that experience like?

Lisa My friend Nick Vance is a friend of hers, so he invited me to a show of hers in Philly. We got to spend some time talking to her after the show and she is really a lovely person. She gave me the advice to always have some female musicians in your band or backing vocals area for sanity's sake!

[Cindy] Is she a big influence on your music as well?

Lisa She is a very big influence. I listen to her music and it reminds me to come from an honest place. That allows for a lot of freedom and fluidity, I think.

[Cindy] So Lisa. Youve accomplished quite a lot already! What are you goals for the future?

Lisa I plan to start doing some live gigging and get this music out there! I want to inspire people.

I plan to follow the template for the successes in landing deals that I had with Broad and expand on that. I am looking to have a long, happy and prosperous career in the recording industry. I know others have done it - I am sure I can too.

[Cindy] I am sure this woman can too! Thanks for the interview Lisa. I wish you the best of luck with the new CD!

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