Examiner.com has issued a new interview with SplitScreen Entertainment founder A.J. Confessore, executive producer of the recent tribute album “WHOLE LOTTA LOVE: An All-Star Salute To Fat Chicks.” Conducted by arts and entertainment journalist Justin Tedaldi, the interview reveals the origins of this unlikely musical effort, which features members of such bands as Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Cinderella, Danger Danger and L.A. Guns performing well-known songs praising the fuller female form. The article also tackles the subject of the controversial album title and the challenges it has created for the project. A few excerpts from the interview follow.
NOTE: “WHOLE LOTTA LOVE” now has an official Facebook presence and recently premiered its first video montage on YouTube.
Examiner.com: Where does your appreciation for big women come from?
A.J. Confessore: Big gals are the sexiest women on the planet. Everything thin women have, they have in abundance. Everything round and soft is enhanced, amplified and made that much more appealing. They’re women and then some. To put it in rock and roll terms, these girls go to 11. Put me in front of a gal with extra girlie curves and I lose my ability to think clearly. They really do have a lot to love.
Examiner.com: What were your main duties as the producer of “WHOLE LOTTA LOVE?”
A.J. Confessore: I did almost everything except for recording the songs, and I had my hands in that process, too! I don’t even remember half the stuff I did. The past 30 months of my life are just a blur. When you have a dream project like this, you do whatever it takes to make it happen because you believe in it so much. These girls deserve a tribute like this and I wanted to give it to them. Thankfully, I had enough connections with rockers I admired to flesh out the roster with a bunch of impressive name talent. I actually came up with the “All-Star Salute to Fat Chicks” title first, because I thought it was funny. Then I realized I’d need to actually find people to fit the bill! Lots of them!
Examiner.com: Was it as much fun recording this album as it sounds?
A.J. Confessore: Absolutely not! It was by far, the most work I have ever done in my entire life. Seriously, you have no idea. Literally thousands of hours, most of it under serious deadline constraints and scheduling issues! It was one of those experiences where you had to keep your eyes on the prize to keep yourself inspired, because the work itself was simply overwhelming.
That said, I was not involved in the recording of every song. I had my associate producer Paul LaPlaca recording five tracks, but beyond working with him, many of the artists recorded on their own and got me the tracks once they were finished. That’s how Eddie Ojeda, Steve Brown, Jeff LaBar, Evick and many of the others did it.
Paul would take individual tracks sent in from the various performers and mix them into his delicious soup. A guitar track from Alex Grossi, a drum track from Frankie Banali, a vocal from Celisa Stratton and bass and percussion from Paul himself. Five months later… magic!
We had to pick the right balance of songs, too. None could be insulting or demeaning. Though the title would be tongue-in-cheek, the tribute needed to be sincere and complimentary.
Examiner.com: More than a hundred songs were originally considered for the album. Which ones came close to making the final cut, and which ones were totally unfit from the start?
A.J. Confessore: There are literally hundreds of songs about fat women, ranging from novelty songs to big band to rap to country. For this album, I needed a group of songs that worked well together and that people already knew and loved. That made many of the choices easy and obvious. “Fat Bottomed Girls” had to be in there, since it’s the most beloved and most well-known big girl song. “Whole Lotta Rosie” had to be in there, since it has such a classic riff and a legendary metal status.
Even “Unskinny Bop” needed to be in there, since so many people think it’s about fat girls (even though it’s not). There are other songs that are also not quite on message, but either they sound like they’re about fat girls (“All Lips N’ Hips”) or they were altered just enough to fit the topic, while still being faithful to the originals (“Whole Lotta Love”). Also, a lot of people kept telling me to include “Fat Girl” by Steel Panther, and while it’s a funny song, it’s ultimately insulting so it wasn’t even an option. Anything that came across as less than flattering to the subject matter was not even considered. Even songs like “Whole Lotta Rosie” and “Thunder Thighs,” while not glowing praise, fit the bill since they were in fact complimentary of big women, even if the sentiments were delivered in traditional rock and roll sarcasm and sleaze.
As for what almost made the cut… I don’t think there were any. I really think I got everything I wanted. I almost lost out on “Big, Fat, Sexy Mama” since the original artist had reservations about his recording appearing on the album, so I finally had to resort to having the song covered. It’s a great song by an up-and-coming New York City band called The Compulsions, and I really wanted to give them a chance to appear on this album with the other name players, but they respectfully declined. That said, the version handed in by newcomer Triangle Exception exceeded my expectations and I’m so glad I got to include the song on the album. Unlike many of the others, this track was just such an unabashed rave of loving a bigger woman, it would have been a crime not to include it.
Examiner.com: What other surprises have you had since the album’s release?
A.J. Confessore: I’ve learned that even within the size-acceptance community, there is not a lot of agreement as to whether the word “fat” is politically correct. Some factions embrace it; others won’t even let you attend their events if they think you might utter it aloud. Despite the fact that at certain big girl events you’ll hear the term “fat chick” thrown around more than the N-word at a rap concert, certain influential elements within the plus community wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. Those folks always like to use polite euphemisms like “curvy women” or “real women.” They’re so afraid of the word “fat,” it’s ridiculous.
Despite the fact that I stand by my choice of album title for many reasons, I know that it’s cost me more than a few opportunities. I’m comfortable with it, but I know not everyone else is. “Fat” has so often been used as a negative in our culture that it’s very hard for many people to ever get past that and embrace it as a positive, or even regard it as a neutral adjective like “red” or “fuzzy.”
Anyway, I was just surprised by the amount of resistance I encountered to the title by some factions, despite the positive sentiment of the project and the gorgeous cover art.
Examiner.com: Thanks for your time! Any final comments?
A.J. Confessore: There’s a whole lotta love in the world and it comes in all different shapes and sizes. It’s all beautiful and it’s all good.
The complete interview is available here: