Few viewers of Ishtar know that some of the bands also appearing in the film's club scene at 'The Song Mart' were, in fact, real bands. For a take on what being in one of those bands was like, we present an exclusive interview with 'The Swing's Paul Standig, the country trio performing 'You Took My Love'.
ISHTAR THE MOVIE.COM: When and where was the band formed?
PAUL STANDIG: The band was formed in 1981 in Forest Hills Queens, New York. The Swing started out as a five piece and by the time we did the film we were a three piece band.
ITM.COM: Who was in the band and what were their band roles?
PS: Joe Gmerek played bass and sang background vocals, John Trumpbour played the drums and I (Paul Standig) played guitar and sang lead vocals.
ITM.COM: Did it release any original recordings, and what were some of the band's experience highlights prior to appearing in Ishtar?
PS: We had quite a few original recordings which made it onto local radio and got us into many clubs like The Ritz, Studio 54 and The China Club in New York City.We auditioned for the film with a song called Living it up, which we wrote but they wanted us to do a country type of song so we wrote You Took my love with Elaine May.
ITM.COM: How did the band get the role in Ishtar?
PS: I got a tip from my sister's boyfriend who was an actor that there was an ad in Backstage magazine looking for a band for a feature film. We went into a cattle call of bands that were all trying out on the same day. We went up against Bands like White Lion and other popular bands from New York and we left thinking we didn't have much of a chance. Two weeks later Todd Thaler calls me and says we got it, but there's a catch. We have to be a country band. So we got some scratch words from Elaine May outlining the idea of a country song and we finished the rest.
ITM.COM: What are your memories of shooting the the film?
PS: The band actually had some other scenes in the film doing some background talking in the club but it was edited out. I remember we had a really nice trailer which we hung out in for several days and we just relaxed as costume and make up people came by to check on us from time to time. We got to hang out with Warren Beatty and Paul Williams a bit and they were very nice. Dustin Hoffman once asked us who we studied acting with and we just cracked up laughing because, hey we're just the band! We don't study with anyone. Elaine May was also very nice to us and couldn't decide how to dress me. She said I didn't belong in a cowboy hat so she gave me a bandana instead. Our scene was originally going to be around a minute and change but in the end it was maybe a quick 20 seconds, if that. But a lot of the other bands didn't make it in the film so we got lucky and a got my SAG card!
ITM.COM: How did appearing in the movie affect the band's reputation?
PS: Our reputation got even better because we really played up the movie and that got us on the Joe Franklin show and better club dates. We even got to the finals of the MTV best unsigned band contest. So yeah it was a boost for the Swing in many ways. I think we did ok by being associated with the film because how many people can even say they were in a film or got to hang out with Warren Beatty and be a part of the wrap up party. I remember at the wrap up party at Kaufman Astoria studios I was sitting right next to Warren Beatty and just talking to him like any other human being. Just very relaxed and easy going. When I got home from the party I didn't think anyone would believe that I just hung out with these stars but when they see my name on the ending credits, they believe me.