#WaybackWednesday with 90s pop idol Tommy Page

We talk to the ‘90s pop idol turned music executive who sidelines as a singer on his off days

We talk to the ‘90s pop idol turned music executive who sidelines as a singer on his off days

Photos: Getty Images

By day he works at Pandora, an internet music radio site, and is known as Tommy Page, Head of Industry Relations; by night he moonlights as an entertainer and is seen as Tommy Page, bona fide pop singer from the 90s (a.k.a. the man and voice behind hit songs like ‘I’ll Be Your Everything’ and ‘Shoulder To Cry On’.)

And it doesn’t stop at that. Tommy is a man of many hats – apart from working full time and doing music gigs around the world, the entertainer, who is set to perform on Feb 7 at Retrolicious 2015 together with All-4-One and Color Me Badd, is also a family man with three growing kids (ages 10, 8 and 6 years old) to raise at home.

How does he do it? When we asked Tommy to let us in on his secret technique for juggling between his multiple roles, over a long-distance phone interview, he chimed in amazement, “I don’t know how the hell too…”

But it appears the real reason, according to Tommy, is this: “I’m using up all my vacation days at Pandora to come perform for you guys!”

No, seriously – the 40-year-old said, in all honesty: “I would tell my colleagues ‘I’m going to be away for a week’ and they’d ask me ‘Where are you going?’ and I’d say: ‘I’m going to Singapore to do a concert!’ (Chuckles)”

Pandora VP Tommy Page speaks onstage at Pandora Presents on the Santa Monica Pier on August 9, 2014

After his Retrolicious concert on Saturday, Feb 7, Tommy shared that there’d be the Grammy’s in America on Sunday, Feb 8. “So after my show I’m going back to my hotel, head straight to the airport and fly all the way back to Los Angeles (L.A.), where I’d land on Sunday morning and go to the Grammy’s immediately. I’m going to be really, really tired,” he chuckled.

Colour us impressed.

For someone who wanted to “put the performer side” of him aside after retiring from the pop scene in 1995, choosing to focus on the business side of the music industry instead, Tommy’s return to the stage was quite an unexpected turnaround.

But, he explained, “I got an offer a year and a half ago (to perform in Indonesia) which I actually said no to, but I was encouraged by the musicians such as David Foster to do it. They said they’d put the band together for me and I was stressed out for the next couple of months, worried nobody would show up [at the gig in Indonesia]. But when I got to the airport, and saw the fans and the media, it was like being in a time machine and going back to 20 years of my life.”

Read on for more as we talk to the erstwhile idol about all things retro, from the old Tommy Page poster hanging in his basement at home to his take on digitising his older content today, and his decision to keep his kids out of the limelight.

What does retro mean to you?
Retro means connecting with the past, reliving it in a new way. Retrolicious is going to be a night where the fans get to go back to the past and moments in the past they fell in love with, songs that connected with their life and were part of the OST of their lives. When I did my last show in Indonesia, I told stories about why the songs were written and I plan to do it in Singapore too. I plan to tell the fans things they never knew behind these songs and make a stronger connection.

How does it feel to be labelled a retro act?
It’s funny. When I first came out as a singer, I was an artiste that appealed mostly to teenage girls and teenagers. I was sort of – if I may say so – a teen idol and had a young image. As I get older, some people still see me that way – but I’m sure I don’t look like that now. I still have a baby face (I shouldn’t say that about myself) and my hair has started to get a little grey, but I’m happy with being my age, happy that I stayed in music this whole time.

Tommy Page in his early years as a pop idol, circa 1990 to 1992

Just wondering, have you converted your CDs to digital?
The answer is no (laughs). I’m worried, I don’t know what to do. I have boxes and boxes of memorabilia in my house and VHS tapes that my dad recorded me on all these shows… I have a fan who offered to digitise them all for me and I gotta take them up on the offer, but I have been too lazy to sort through it. When Casey Kasem died last Spring, I wanted to put something up ‘cos he did so many intros to my songs and there was a long-distance dedication he did– but I just didn’t know how to do everything, so I just sat there listening to all these Top 40 countdown shows, which is a thing I’d do as an old man. I’d sort everything out.

Sure sounds like the perfect thing to do when you’re old.
Yeah. I don’t have much time to go through all these stuff now.  Another interesting thing that I’ve never told anyone before is I don’t have anything on my career on my walls at home – gold records, plaques, posters or magazines? None. If you come to our home and looked around, you’d find not one thing of Tommy Page. It’s all pictures of my children and family. Oh, I do have one Tommy Page poster and it hangs in my basement above my laundry machine and it’s there ‘cos I found it somewhere and taped it up there as a joke.

You know why [I don’t put up such things about myself]? I don’t have to prove anything to myself… And if I have a contractor come down to repair my home or something, I don’t want him to walk up and see all my stuff and then mark up the fees “‘cos this guy’s in the music business” (laughs).

How often do you watch your old clips on YouTube?
I don’t do that often but if I do, I don’t read the comments. Seriously. I go on YouTube and I like it when fans make their own videos – sometimes it’s good or bad – but I’m always flattered that they’re doing it. But I don’t like to read the comments. There are some nice and there are some mean comments, I don’t like to let that get to me. People can hide behind the computer and write nasty things but I don’t want to be part of it.

On the note of retro, what do you have to say about your stage outfits today as compared to the past?
When I was a young kid, I’m glad I got one thing right in my brain. At that time I was a teenager and dying to get a record deal, and when I finally got one in the late ‘80s I went out there with a black suit, slicked back hair and thin ties. I wanted to be classic… What’s cool is that now, 25 years later, I look at some of those photos and I think it’s classic. A classic black suit never goes out of style.

As a dad, do your kids go on the road with you too?
They’re too little to come on the road now, maybe in a year or so. I go on Skype with my kids and they get to see my shows on YouTube.

How much of a music influence do you have over your kids?
My oldest Owen (10 years old), I forced it on him, really (chuckles). But my other two love music. My little son, Alden (8 years old), tells me I’m his favourite singer. I don’t know if he’s being sweet. I have a song on my first album called ‘I Think I’m in Love’ and I sing that to my daughter (6 years old) all the time. It’s her lullaby song and it was a song that I wrote when I was 15 years old. It’s a really simple song.

Would you ever allow your kids to follow in your footsteps?
I won’t let any of them be singers. I’m not a stage parent. When they’re 18, it’s their decision if they wanna go join show business. In fact, if a Hollywood director knocked on my door today and asked if he can cast my kids in a movie, I won’t let them. I want them to have a regular life if I can. And I admire MJ (Michael Jackson) for one thing: people thought it was crazy when he covered his kids faces, but I never knew how his kids looked like until he died and had all that media exposure. It’s no problem if you wanna get in the public eye or pursue a career in showbiz, but that should be a decision they make as an adult.

Catch Tommy Page, All-4-One and Color Me Badd at Retrolicious™ 2015 on Feb 7 (Sat), 8pm at the Fort Canning Park (rain or shine event). Tickets priced at $125 are available for sale at all SISTIC counters.

Retrolicious™ 2015 is co-organised by Class 95FM and FLY Entertainment. xinmsn is proud to be the official online media for the event.

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