by Helen M. Ryan
The quintessential “80’s hot chick” and one of VH1’s 100 Greatest Women in Rock, Terri Nunn, lead singer of Berlin, is better than ever; touring, writing, and on the radio.
As a young girl, Terri Nunn loved music, lived for music.She spent long hours listening to David Bowie, Robert Plant and the Beatles. Eventually she fell into acting, performing in commercials and TV series, but in the back of her mind she still thought mostly of one thing: music.
As the years passed, Nunn discovered a whole new array of female artists – Grace Slick, Ann Wilson and Stevie Nicks – whose passion continued to inspire her. She finally took a chance and put her acting career on hold and joined a musician named John Crawford. Together they launched a fresh, sexy, new wave synthpop band named Berlin. The world must have been ready for a new sound because just a few years after the band’s inception, Berlin’s hit “Take My Breath Away” reached the #1 spot on the Billboard Top 100 and won both the Academy Award® and the Golden Globe®. The young woman herself eventually went on to earn the #11 spot on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women in Rock list. Terri Nunn had realized her dreams. Read our exclusive interview with Terri Nunn here…
Twenty years later, Nunn is still dreaming big. She is currently on tour with Berlin supporting their album 4Play (with upcoming performances at the Hollywood Park, November 14, 2008, and The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano November 28, 2008); has re-recorded Sex (I’m a…) for Michael’s Grecco’s documentary on the pornography business, Naked Ambition; shot a tribute video with an acoustic version of Olivia Newton-John’s Magic with Dave Navarro; contributed a chapter in the book Cherry Bomb; and co-hosted a radio show on Los Angeles’ 97.1 FreeFM.
As if that were not enough, the vegetarian and environmentally-conscious Nunn has also adopted a child from Russia, recorded a solo CD due out in 2009, and is organizing a concert series called Girls Night Out, slated to tour next summer.
Despite Nunn’s hectic schedule she took a few minutes to talk to LA’s the Place about life, passion, music, animal welfare and what’s next.
Helen Ryan for LATP: You have many irons in the fire right now (solo CD, Girls Night Out, touring, mommyhood). How do you keep everything straight?
Terri Nunn: With a LOT of help! Thank God I have a great team of people around me. My husband is a dream come true as a father, lover, friend, business advisor (he’s amazing), EVERYTHING! A new manager came into my life this year too who has made it possible for me to have all these irons in the fire at once. Plus my booking agent for over 10 years and my band who empower and inspire me all the time.
LATP: The Girls Night Out project. Great idea. Sometimes music can be so isolationist. You said you were inspired by Camp Freddy (a self-proclaimed “occasional happening” that invites a variety of artists to play together). The Girls Night Out format will allow you to actually play together, somewhat simultaneously, on one stage. Other than Camp Freddy, how did this idea come about?
TN: The idea has been my heart’s desire since I first got into music. I even thought back then that once I got established and made a name for myself, collaborations would just happen all the time, I’d get to sing and play with all kinds of people without even trying! Well, forget it. I don’t know why, but artists don’t reach out to each other that much. And it’s not just me. When I contacted Billy Corgan to co-write with me on my 2002 album, “Voyeur”, one of the first things he said was “Why did you call me?” I told him I loved his music and wanted to do something with him. He said, “Wow. No one ever calls me.” Can you believe it? Billy Corgan!
The response from the women artists has been phenomenal, overwhelming! We will have the greatest women in music on that stage. And every show will be different. I’m looking forward to it!
LATP: Your solo CD is coming out later in 2009…what style of music is it?
TN: I will always love electronic music, so it will definitely be electronic. But I have different tastes too that I want to incorporate into it, gothic and rock influences. People will get a little taste of the upcoming album this Friday at the Hollywood Park show!
LATP: You’ve been a vegetarian since you were 19. Many of the “bad girls” of music are vegetarians (Chrissie Hynde, Joan Jett, Sinead O’Connor). Why do you think that is?
TN: For me it was a logical choice for health reasons. I ate crap food – meaning processed, denatured and junk food – my whole life and by 19, it caught up with me. I was sick and tired a lot, my skin looked grey, my hair was lifeless. Doctors didn’t help; all they had to offer was drugs or surgery. Didn’t want surgery and drugs didn’t work, they just created a whole NEW set of problems. So I turned to nutrition. I read books and tried out different natural things and WOW! They worked! I decided I might as well get something for all my studying so I went back to college and got a Master’s Degree in Applied Human Nutrition. Vegetarianism was part of my transformation, as was vitamin therapy.
The main reason I don’t eat meat is because you find out in your studies that the factory farming of animals creates very sick animals. It’s so bad nowadays that the USDA no longer grades IF the animals are sick, it grades how sick they are. Isn’t THAT sick? Antibiotics are routinely given to all factory-farmed animals now, not to keep them well, but to keep them ALIVE so their meat can still be sold. That’s how bad it is. For this same reason, I do eat fish if it’s wild. Farm-raised fish are having the same horrible issues as factory farmed animals, as you can see in the follow-up reports coming out the last few years. I’m thrilled about Proposition 2 passing here in California last week! That’s a healthy step forward, not just for the animals but for the people who eat them.
LATP: You co-hosted a radio talk show this year and said you’d like to do more of that. How was that experience compared to being on-stage? Did the possibility of “dead air” scare you or were you naturally able to keep the talk going?
TN: I LOVE talk radio! I love the conversation, the give-and-take on important issues to people. I’ve always been good at interviewing others and creating a space for people to feel safe to be honest. And I have opinions myself that seem to be valuable to people, and experience. I think communication among us saves the world.
LATP: Going back to your early days…people might not know this but you were an actress. You said you always wanted to sing, to make music, but kind of fell into acting. Knowing, since you were a little girl, that you really wanted to be in music, do you think you put music on the back burner for awhile because it was scary to follow your “real” dream? Maybe being a musician is what you “were” intrinsically, while acting was what you “did?”
TN: You’re very good, Helen! That’s exactly why I didn’t try music first, it scared the shit out of me! I thought only gods and goddesses made music; that’s what they were to me. But when “Dallas” came along and offered me a part and a 7-year contract at 18 years old, I knew it was either acting for the rest of my life or taking a SHOT at music, and I had to decide right then. I picked the long-shot. Luckily, it worked out!
LATP: You recently contributed to a book called Cherry Bomb, The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Better Flirt, a Tougher Chick, and a Hotter Girlfriend-and to Living Life Like a Rock Star. Tell us more about your contribution.
TN: I was honored to be included in the contributors to the book. I’ve always been a writer, but of lyrics. I’m a huge fan of the written word thanks to my mother, who taught me to read before kindergarten and took me to the library every two weeks after that, where I picked up 5 or 6 books at a time and read them all. To this day, it’s my favorite pastime.
LATP: Your have tremendous on-stage presence and passion. Where do you get your energy from? How do you stay motivated while touring?
TN: I get my energy mostly from the love of music. I’m still inspired and energized all the time by it. There are so many mountains yet to climb, it’s really fun and challenging. Secondly, keeping balanced helps me keep energized. I crashed and burned in my late 20s, and it’s really because I had no life, only work. Now I carve out time for both, AND time for fun. You have to. No one else will for you. it keeps you healthy. Lastly, vegetarian food, as much raw as possible because raw means ALIVE – still with energy – and that GIVES you energy. Oh, and steady hot sex with my man!
LATP: One last question, which seems to be the important one on our coast…. You look amazing. How do you keep yourself in shape with your busy schedule?
TN: Thank you for the compliment! I eat a lot of soy and legumes – beans. There are so many great soy products out there now, from hot dogs to meat substitutes. Even my kids like them! I have to work out, so I do about 5 days a week. My general schedule is 2 days of cardio (30-45 minutes of running with my husband, treadmill, dancing to a video – I mix it up), and a day each of upper body and lower body weight training 30-45 minutes each. Add 10 minutes of tummy exercises 3 days a week in there. I just have to make the time, and yes I don’t always do it either. But I pick myself back up the next week and recommit. It’s really not that long.
Written by Helen Ryan
Berlin Snap Shots:
November 14, 2008 – Hollywood Park
November 28, 2008 – The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano
Sex (I’m A…)
No More Words
Take My Breath Away
Pleasure Victim (1982)
Love Life (1984)
Count Three And Pray (1986)
Dancing In Berlin (1987)
Best Of Berlin 1979-1988 (1988)
Moment of Truth (1991)
Master Series (1997)
Fall Into Heaven (1999)
Fall Into Heaven 2 (1999)
Greatest Hits Remixed (2000)
LIVE: Sacred & Profane (2000)
Metro Greatest Hits (2004)