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Q&A with Rick Springfield

I spent all day last Tuesday on pins and needles—and in a low-cut dress—waiting for Rick Springfield to show up at our offices for a little sit-down. But he was a no-show, delayed by rain and bad traffic. I’d been RickRolled!

He showed up the next day on a few minutes notice. Hey, give a girl a chance to put on some more lipstick, wouldja? But it was impossible not to forgive him—after all, I’d been waiting for him my whole life. He first dazzled me (and every woman, everywhere) in the ‘80s as a pop star, with songs like “Jessie’s Girl” and “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” and in his role as hunky Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital. More recently, he played a bad(der)-boy version of himself on Californication and penned a best-selling autobiography, Late Late at Night. Now he’s just dropped a brand-new album, Songs for the End of the World, showcasing his rocker chops again. We sat down to get the skinny on his music, and his perspective on fame and fatherhood.

What makes you think it’s the end of the world?
That album title’s tongue-in-cheek...well, kind of. It started with my referring to the Mayan calendar. But I also feel like we’re getting close to a no-turning-back point in terms of how we treat the environment. I live by the ocean and feel pangs of guilt that we dump garbage in it.

There seems to be a searching quality to many of the songs on your new album. They’re about looking for the meaning of life, or overcoming self-loathing, or about finding someone who helps you make sense of everything. Is that some of what you’re feeling personally right now?
Yes, many of the songs are about my relationships with people. They’re about searching for peace within myself. I’m really lucky; I have a great family. My wife and I have been together over thirty years. 

You play 100 live shows a year. What’s the secret to a good marriage when you’re away so much of the time?
That’s how it works. If I’m there too much, my wife says, “Aren’t you going on tour sometime soon?”

You have two grown sons. Are there certain things you wish you’d done differently when they were small?
I wish I’d raised them better. They felt loved, but I wasn’t a good disciplinarian. My generation was really indulgent and tried to give our kids everything they’d never had, and I was no different.

And how about stuff you’re glad you did while your kids were small?
I always hugged and kissed them and was very involved.

Did fatherhood change you?
Yes! I remember when it first really hit me that I was going to be a father. I came home one day when my wife was 8 months into her pregnancy. She’d left out a onesie and booties, and they were so friggin’ tiny. I got it that a little human was going to fill them. Then when Liam was born, I felt this incredible pressure. I was an arrested adolescent in a rock band, and now I had to start living for real. Before, I was always doing dangerous things, like motorcycling. But when he was born, I wanted to stick around and watch him grow. There’s a saying that children make cowards of men, and it’s totally true.

My kids always complain that I embarrass them. Did yours, or did you get a free pass for being a rock star?
[Laughs] No, I have to say, my wife and I were lucky that way. Kids would come over and because of my music, we were kind of the cooler parents. I was kind of a kid myself, playing games and eating pizza.

Are there things you did during your craziest rock-star days that you now cringe about, because they’re public knowledge and your kids learned about them?
My kids know I was a bit of a bad boy on the road. It’s a source of a lot of pain. Plus, I’ve gone public [by writing an autobiography]. My wife isn’t happy about that; she’s a private person. But I’m a writer, and I write about my life.

Many of your fans are now moms. Do they still throw their panties on stage?
We still get underwear. Just not as many training bras.

Do moms and dads ever bring their little kids to your concerts? Do they ever ask you to autograph their kid’s clothes?
I had a baby handed up to me while I was on stage. His parents wanted me to sign his diaper.

Complete this sentence based on a fan encounter: I never knew a mom could be so ____.

This sounds so tacky, but I have one last question. Can I have a kiss? I swear, it’s for a friend. She asked me to pass it along.

Come back anytime, Rick. My lipstick is ready and waiting.