Published on August 31st, 2018 | by Guest Editor0
Lane McCray: La Bouche: “Announces Brand New Single: ‘Night After Night'”
Just unveiled, the first new music from the charismatic duo, and super-sonic dance masters of euro-pop, La Bouche in 16 years, entitled, “Night After Night”. The release is already creating a huge buzz globally, while the high powered video is breaking YouTube records.
One might recognize the orgasmic rhythms of the duo’s massive string of iconic hits including: “Tonight is the Night”, “Be My Lover”, “Sweet Dreams”, “You Won’t Forget Me”, just to mention a few. The duo originated in 1994 through the efforts of the German record producer Frank Farian and DJ Ulli. Brenner and Amir Saraf, when Lane McCray and Melanie Thornton teamed up to front La Bouche, (French for The Mouth).
The faction enjoyed great success and popularity until in 2001, Melanie Thornton’s life ended tragically in the Crossair plane crass disaster on November 24th. The aircraft was filled with artists and though a small few survived, Melanie perished.
Platinum record, singer, rapper Lane McCray after a shattered term of disbelief went on to continue to perform as La Bouche in hopes of keeping the spirit of Melanie alive. He along with Hungarian-born vocal powerhouse Sofie Cairo, have just unleashed the new single and video on August 14th, where it can be found on all digital platforms. They continue to tour in arenas throughout the planet.
I had an intimate conversation with Lane McCray, now based in Germany regarding his new music and future endeavors. He happily agreed to share the story of La Bouche with the world, a long with a heart-warming tribute to Melanie.
Lane, what are you doing in Germany?
I’m actually living here. I’ve been living here for the last five years. I left the US in 1999, to keep an eye on my daughter while she went to school, and I moved back here about five years ago to reclaim my position as “The King of Dance”. Work has been more prevalent here than it is in the US for 90s artists.
You were and are still so popular musically with the enormous amount of dance hits you had.
I think I’m working more now than I did when the records were out, believe it or not. The opportunities for touring through the promo companies, doing radio shows, and promos here and there and of course where we make most of our money, which is on the road, touring.
Aside from touring, what are you doing now?
Well, I have a bottle of wine right next to me….Currently right now La Bouche released its first new single in 16 years. It’s called “Night After Night”. So we’ve been pushing and promoting that all week on social media, all the digital music sights, Amazon, Spotify,….and just after a few days we had 18 and a half thousand views on YouTube. So I’m really excited about that, and the promo companies are already pushing it on the radio. Beyond that we’ve been in the studio working on new material, we have several tracks that are in the can and we should have that completed by the end of the summer. So we will be releasing this long play CD. Actually it’s been a little bit of a mixed blessing because my original partner Melanie Thornton was such a force to be reckoned with. Every young lady that I worked with since subsequent to that has been chasing a ghost. The 90s fans have been so vigilant to standby Melanie and her spirit. No one more than me loved her and everything about her, but you know she’s gone since 2001. We just have to move on. I’m working with my current partner Sofie. It’s been a little bit of a mixed bag. Some people haven’t excepted her although the majority of the people have excepted her. There are a couple of die hard people out there that just want Melanie back. If there was anyway to do that…there’s just one person that can do that…..and that’s not me.
Right, of course.
So we’ve been doing that and touring. Personally in between the gigs, I paint. I’ve taken up that hobby and it’s really been addictive. So in my free time I just paint, I do some landscaping in my backyard…. i’m just a homebody and staying busy. My dream is to have a record release and have a gallery show at the same time.
That’s a cool idea.
Oh I’m not Picasso or Van Gogh or anywhere like that, they’re just my little renditions of art that I’ve seen….
When I think back of La Bouche as a duo, you always sounded musically as so much more….
When Melanie and I first came on I was actually in the United States Air Force. I first came to Europe in 1991. A friend of mine asked if I would come and sing in his cover band that Melanie was singing with called “Groovin’ Affairs”. So I went in for some rehearsals with the band and I did a couple of gigs with them. Melanie was subsequently working with Ulli Brenner and Amir Saraf on some tracks and she asked me if I wanted to get involved. She wanted me to do some supporting vocals and rap, and I had never been in a studio before. Once we got in there of course you know our producer was the infamous or famous Frank Farian of Milli Vanilli. He took us under his wing and it was odd that when we first released our first record, we had to do live singing and some a-cappella with it….it had to be the real thing. But when I first got here the dance music was so freaking fast. I had just come from the US where we were a bit slower on the dance thing. Then I started hearing people like Martha Wash, Jonathan Brown and Crystal Waters and Robin S, and these people were all covering these dance tracks. I thought that was really cool. So when Melanie and I got in the game, most of the euro dance that was going on was kind of centered around the rap. Girls were singing hooks, and we were kind of the reverse of that. Of course most of the rappers didn’t really sing, so the vocals were done by the girls. So that blended us a bit different than the others.
I thought that the 90’s was a weird time for music. It was infiltrated with all those boy bands and that kind of stuff….except for your music… A lot of these 80s and 90s arena shows are taking place now and I was wondering if you have any plans to tour like that?
I have someone working on that. A couple of years ago I was in Las Vegas at the SLS Hotel and I thought that would be a great venue to set up something for the 90s, so I think it’s coming. In October we are doing an arena in Dublin with Ace of Base.
How do you feel that music has changed from the 90’s to now, and what is your take on the current music scene?*
Music is always evolving right? It’s evolved from decades, and decades, and decades. People ask me about the 90s, and I think the 90s has become a genre onto itself. We had rock ‘n’ roll in the 60s, disco in the 70s, glam rock in the 80s… so I think we kind of progressed into our own genre. The way I grew up I listened to people like The Temptations, Diana Ross, the way they phrased their lyrics. It wasn’t about vocal acrobatics, how many high notes you could hit or tricks and all that sort of stuff. Now it’s almost conversational, the melodies, the music. Some of it I find very interesting. Currently right now I like some of the stuff that Drake is doing, melody wise. I like Charlie Puth. My taste kind of varies. But even back in the 70’s in the 80s there was music that I really didn’t care too much for, and there was music that I loved. So I think that’s the same for the music that is going on today. It’s just the quality of what one wants to put out there. And I think the 90s artists that I trying to stay in the game, it’s difficult because our fans want to stay in the 90s. Was the music better? In some regards yes…. but as far as the business aspect of it, we’ve gone from record deals to A&R promotion teams to downloads and streams, and I am still trying to wrap my mind around it. It was so much easier when you had a label, when the label did everything for you. They told you where to be, now I find myself all day, on social media, booking shows, pushing products, just to stay invisible. It’s a lot of work. I don’t have anyone doing that for me so I’m very hands on with regards to that. So it’s been interesting to say the least.
Many artists feel that way today.
It’s a catch 22 because it’s a trade-off…you want your stuff to get out there by hook or crook. But you also want to get paid for it as well. If you’ve got your music video playing up on YouTube all you have to do is right-click and save it and then you have it. I’ve seen a little bump in my publishing checks each month because of our big song, “Be My Lover”, having been in this “American Crime Story”. This song is very prevalent in the second episode and we’re currently in the German version. They wanted to use this song and I told him go right ahead, I co-wrote it…so that’s paid off from its inception. It paid for my daughters college education to moms house, it’s the gift that keeps giving.
Those songs that you did are iconic. Everyone knows the songs, sometimes people tend not to realize that the songs belong to a duo called La Bouche…
That’s one of the problems I had early on in the career. When you have more than one person in a group there is always some compromise, some head-butting. Melanie and I were certainly good friends. We differed on some things and one was management. She wanted her sister to represent us. I had no problem with that, but she had never done it before. She could learn but at who’s expense? So I remember I had a meeting with some Harvard educated people to represent us only they couldn’t represent one half of a group. They had said if we sign with the label right now that they could get us at least a $5 million advance on a record. It seems like a missed opportunity for success. I said all that because a lot of people knew the song, but they missed knowing who we were. I wanted that recognition from the beginning. For example I would walk into a hotel and the staff would run over and say welcome to the hotel Mr. Haddaway. I thought, Haddaway is here? I’m Lane McCray, not Haddaway. We don’t all look alike you know….
But you do have a great musical history.
You know I really do enjoy talking to people about our story because I think there are a lot of fans out there that still don’t realize that Melanie is no longer with us. I want to get our story out there so people do know, because I just want to honor her. One of the reasons why I continue to work is to keep her memory alive. We had some great times together. It’s still shocking to me all these years later that she’s not here.
So then tell me a little bit about Melanie.
Melanie Thornton is from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. When I met her, like I said it was was with this situation with this cover band. She lived in her own modest apartment, but she had one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever known. She was caring and giving. At the beginning of our career we didn’t have a pot to piss in. We would go to each other’s house for dinner. I was still in the military the first 8/9 months of La Bouche, and I would have barbecues at my house. She would come over and get the sides together, and we would entertain all those military people at my house. She was just a bright light in my life. It’s just so hard to fathom, because I’ve never lost anyone in my family through death. So that was my first death experience. When I found out about it I was in Las Vegas in my father’s house after Thanksgiving. Crystal Waters called me and said “Lane did you hear something about a plane crash?” I told her that I hadn’t heard anything. By the time I got off the telephone I saw this ticket-tape run across CNN, saying that Melanie Thornton has died in the Crosair plane crash. I just dropped the phone and I just couldn’t believe it. Melanie was so tenacious. Some people survived the crash, I thought she would be one of them. I thought she would walk away from it because she was so tenacious. But that was not the case. So for a couple of years I just didn’t do anything. I just contemplated, “why am I here?” “What do I do now?” We were a duo. So after a couple of years of not working I went back to an agent and he told me La Bouche was dead and that I should probably consider getting a real job. So I went back to my original agent and we formulated a strategy to get back out there. So I started working and have not stopped since. But Melanie, there is not one bad thing I could say about her. She was caring, giving, talented, charismatic, I think she was on the threshold I’d becoming another Donna Summer. She had that kind of voice.
Yes she did!
You know everything happens for a reason. I’m still trying to figure out what that is. I do know that death is a transitional thing, we are all going to go through it at some point. Some sooner than others. But I will say that I did feel abandoned a little bit, there was a period of time that I was angry, and times were I was just overwhelmed with gratitude for the short period that I knew her. So now I think she’s looking down, and she’s happy. I’m still in contact with her sister and her brother-in-law. A part of my healing process was to go there and to hang out with her mom and her sister, and just talk about the good times. I was able to get some closure. Everyone here still holds her in the highest regard. She has a Christmas song and every year it’s on the top five on the charts over here. It’s just a beautiful memory.
It’s very sad but ….
You have to keep going. There’s a lesson I try to impart to everyone: you’ve got to tell people in your life that you love them, because tomorrow is not promised to anyone. We could be gone. You never sweat the small stuff. We never got excited about small things. We were just extremely glad to be a couple of black kids, one from South Carolina, and one from Kentucky, to land on the international stage of music and to have people share in that journey with us. There is no bigger rush than walking into a 40,000 seat stadium and have everybody singing “La da da da da da”.
I can only imagine what that feeling is like. Must be really crazy. So if you could have your ultimate stage fantasy, what would you need to happen?
Probably a million dollars….I look back on all those special effects but at the end of it as a singer, a spot light and a 40 peace orchestra to redo all of these dance songs in orchestral form. That would be my fantasy performance.
If you could say anything to your fans what would you want to say?
What I would say to them all the time is thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and this might sound cliché but without you there would be no us. They have been with me from the beginning, through the highs and the lows, and so just thank you. Thank you for allowing us the privilege to be in front of you.
Awwwww….So if you could get me to ask you any question in the world, what would it be… keep in mind you’ve got to answer it too.
Wow…. that’s good! I’m pretty much an open book, so I’m not sure…. this is what you can ask me. “Who would you like to do a duet with?”
Ok, Who would you like to do a duet with, and why?
Well it’s funny you should ask that… I have always loved Tina Marie. If she was still here I would love to redo, “Fire and Desire” with her. Why, is because in 1980 when I was in the Air Force I was based in New Jersey. My roommate in the dormitory was playing this album and I heard, “I’m just a sucker for your love”… I asked who that was. He said, “guess who…it’s a white girl.” I said, “Shut up, no it isn’t.” So from that point on she has been my ghost in the story book of my life. I went from being married, having a kid, being divorced, whatever. There was a Tina Marie song that was there with me. She was such an underrated talent I thought.
Do you believe that music has the power to change the world?*
Absolutely! I’ll say this: Music transcends cultures, ethnic background, religions, social and economic situations. I’ve been all over the world to some impoverished places and wealthy places. You have all kinds of people that come to the shows. I know that it brings people together. You may not understand the words that we sing, but you feel the intent and the meaning behind it. I know that it has always been my belief that music has always been around for all occasions, for birth, and death and parties and celebrations. If you look back through the turbulent times of the 60s, the Beatles wrote “Come Together”, and Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On”, and “We Are the World”, all of these songs have had impacts on the world. If we could get some of these politicians globally to get into that we might be able to live in a better world. Buses being blown up in Syria, kids being gassed, maybe it would stop. MUSIC does have the power to heal, if people would just listen. It’s what I believe.
Interview by Rock Star Journalist Eileen ShapiroTweet