5 QUESTIONS WITH ... Sheila E.
By Robert Philpot
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
For the past 20-plus years, Sheila E. (aka Sheila Escovedo) has built up quite the musical résumé -- stints in bands with Prince and Ringo Starr, performing with Jennifer Lopez, solo success with her '80s hits The Glamorous Life and A Love Bizarre, and that's just hitting the highlights. She's also a minister, which you can find out more about on her Web site, Sheila E. - Official Website
. And now she's a judge -- she, Goo Goo Dolls frontman John Rzeznik and Australian TV personality Ian "Dicko" Dickson sat in 118-degree heat in Las Vegas this summer during the auditions for The Next Great American Band, the American Idol spinoff launching at 7 p.m. Friday on KDFW/Channel 4. We popped Ms. E. five questions.
1 I'm so tempted to start by asking if you still live the glamorous life, but I'll bet you get that all the time.
I am living the glamorous life, and, uh, it's very difficult [laughs]. It's challenging, but it's fun. Without love, it's nothing. I need to change the lyrics.
2 You're a minister. How does your faith influence your work as a judge?
I try not to judge anybody. I'm critiquing their ability, their musicianship, their presentation, and what we expect from them and how they play together as a band. [Criticism] is difficult for anyone to hear ... and sometimes they get thrown some things where it's not really criticism, it's like, OK, that Simon [Cowell] role of 'Let's just be mean.' But that it is not going to be me, totally. I'm hoping to have constructive criticism. [But] there were a couple of times when it was tough for me to be honest, because I felt so bad.
3 What were the weirdest bands you saw?
There were a couple of bands that came in with tons of makeup on. Different characters. I don't know what they were thinking. It was the KISS, the Slipknot, but some of it was even more extreme than that.
4 What kind of friction are you seeing within the bands?
If I'd had it my way, a couple of times I would have liked where I could tell that that bass player or that guitar player or that drummer shouldn't have been in a band. That's part of the presentation. They have to perform as a band, and not come in here with one guy acting like he's the leader of the band where he's not blending in with the band. ... It all has to come together. Some of them don't care. They're just playing loud, and I'm going, 'Are you listening? Could you have turned the bass down? Couldn't you tell you were louder than the lead vocalist?'
5 What's worse -- hearing a bad singer or hearing a bad band?
[ Laughs] I don't know what's worse. I think they're both pretty bad. I don't know. You don't want to hear too many bad bands, but you don't want to hear too many bad singers. I would say that it would be harder to hear a bad singer. The great thing about it, for us, is that we're listening to music amplified. Even if they were playing acoustically, we were hearing it through amps. There's some kind of melodic something musically happening, and for the singer when they audition [for Idol], there is no music. So it's a little more difficult for them.