Greg Simmons Discusses the Music Behind ‘Staunch Moderates’
- Please tell us about your history as an organization. How did you get started?
I’m Greg Simmons, the principal and CEO of the Movement. It was in the early months of 2019, and some friends and I were joking around—talking politics, and making fun of extremists. One of us said, “I know, why don’t we start a new political party, “Staunch Moderates?” It got a laugh but then fell into an interesting conversation.
Many more of these conversations ensued throughout the year, and on December 3, 2019, I filed for the Staunch Moderates trademark, and we got to work building our StaunchModerates.org website, our “Staunch Moderates News” YouTube channel, and many other social media platforms for the Movement. We finally started campaigning the primaries in February 2020.
2. Who were some of your biggest musical inspirations starting out?
First off, Steely Dan, because when I took guitar lessons in high school, my guitar teacher asked, “what kind of guitar do you want to learn? What kind of music inspires you?” I said jazz/fusion. He pointed me to the Steely Dan song book, and he taught from there. I would have never expected to collaborate with Skunk [Baxter] in later years, but lo and behold, that’s what ended up happening and I’m grateful for it!
Next, I’d have to say CJ Vanston, keys (Tears for Fears, Joe Cocker and Ringo Star) and the rappers I worked with off the streets in LA—including Casanova Ace by the way—producing theme songs and promos for my former TV producer career.
The third I would have to say is Ramsey Lewis, because we accessed our beats from his Chicago Recording Company (CRC) and recorded The First Realm Album there. I’d say our sound is a unique, very chill, jazzy, R&B hip hop vibe borrowing from many other genres I’d like to point out: classical, rock, gospel, show tunes and the Olympics. If you can’t tell, I just love how The First Realm turned out and how it is doing for us out there. It seems to me that Ramsey Lewis is coming through in some way shape or form. Thank you CRC!
3. You collaborated with a wide array of artists on your debut album, The First Realm. Does the songwriting process differ depending on who you’re working with?
Well, when we bring in rock star studio musicians, the tracks are already composed and written, but they, of course, then come in and add their magic.
4. How did you come to work with Casanova Ace?
Cas and I met at a 2003 “Night of a 100 Stars” Oscars Party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, He asked me, “What do you do?“ I said, “I’m a producer of a scripted comedy TV show.” He said, ”Pitch it to me.” I was half way through my 45-second pitch, he put his hand down and said that’s enough. I’m like what? He says, “Come here, come here,” and then raps with me on my TV Show. I said, “You’re hired.” We’ve worked together ever since.
Cas has helped me with promos and other productions via his freestyle rapping, talk shows and such. He even got me to go to Obama’s original inauguration with him saying we’d be hooked up. Was it cold! We connected and started really working on the Staunch Moderates together in June, 2020 at the New York Primary, Casanova Ace from Time Square!
In fact, we’ve just now posted documentary webisode #14 – New York Primary for our documentary series on our Staunch Moderates News, YouTube Channel. You should check it out! Casanova is something else, I’ll tell you that!
Anyway, as the election year was coming to a close, we decided that we were going to make a hip-hop album together to help tell our story. That became our jazzy cool, fourteen-track rap album, The First Realm.
5. The single “Baseball (Bigfoots Baseball”) has garnered lots of attention. How do you feel about the overwhelmingly positive reception to the song?
I love it, and it happens to be the first track we recorded of The First Realm.
6. What other sports besides football and baseball can we expect to see you cover down the line?
Well, we covered football and baseball because they are the most beloved sports by American culture. Being an intellectual movement, we wanted to connect with the public in this meaningful way. And, we harbor “Bigfoots Baseball ™ and Bigfoots Football™ expansion team or team rebranding aspirations.
7. Humor is a major aspect of the Staunch Moderates brand. How important is humor to getting your message across?
We hope that our levity and music is a way into people’s minds and bringing us together to talk about the philosophy of us all just getting along:, love, and peace.
8. Sports is a thematic consistency throughout The First Realm. What is it about sports that ties into your overarching mission statement?
Honestly, sports never quite showed up in our formal “Mission Statement,” but we did always like helping tell our story with the “football analogy” starting with, “Football is a brutal game. Well, so is politics!, etc…”
9. What is your personal favorite song on the album and why?
I’d have to say Socrates Café, the song we got shortlisted for Best Rap Song at the 64th Grammy® Awards. Socrates is also in a sense a table of contents for the album and the intellectual Movement. Like the rest of the album, it’s uplifting.
10. What distinguishes Staunch Moderates from other centrist organizations?
We not only address membership, donations, politics and philosophy like the others, but we also set our messaging to music and entertain people. We do not push policy like many others. We push process: “Set our differences aside, find common middle ground, reach across the aisle, evaluate, negotiate, compromise and de-ice into the most equitable solutions humanly possible,” like the good old days and what our country was founded upon.
11. Are there any celebrities or artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
I’m 100% happy with who we are working with now.
12. Tell us about your mascot, DJ Staunch. How did the design for him come about?
In February of 2020 I bought a mask off of a restaurant wall while I was driving up in a snowstorm from Denver to Aspen. On Super Tuesday the mask made it on to and became part of the set of our podcast named, from which we’ve documented our Movement. Soon the mask took on the name “Staunch.”
Late in 2020, I decided that we would create a fully-costumed Bigfoot mascot named Staunch. From my showbiz background, I reached out and was introduced to costume designer Kiley Fox, who then introduced me to Hollywood’s Quantum Creative Studios.
They worked with everyone from The Kennedy Space Center to Mall of America, and movies from GHOSTBUSTERS and TRANSFORMERS to TRON. She and Quantum built our fully costumed Bigfoot, which made his first public appearance in Vail on Presidents’ Day Weekend, 2021. For a detailed retelling of that story, we invite readers to please watch documentary webisodes 9 and 10 on our Staunch Moderates News YouTube Channel, and a net 10 minutes of programming.
13. Why do you feel it’s so important to give a voice to the moderate stance in 2022?
We feel it’s so important, because our society is so divided. We are just a reminder asking everybody to “chill out” and to remember where we come from and who we are.
14. You’ve likened the Staunch Moderates to Hamilton in terms of message and music. Are there any specific aspects of the Hamilton production that you’ve applied to the Staunch Moderates?
No there are not. We likened Staunch Moderates to Hamilton because we document American culture through sports and American political icons of both sides of the isle of our era. We’ve responded most importantly to the unprecedented 2020 Pandemic and a very divided presidential election year with our even more tasteful 14-track, jazzy cool, eight-genre, story-telling hip hop album. Our message? “Chill out everybody. We have to focus on getting along. Otherwise we’re all doomed!”
15. What can we expect next from the Staunch Moderates?
We are very excited that we are dropping the single “Staunch Moderates News” which is a Dick Clark, New Year’s Eve-like retelling the story of our lives lived over the last year. It should be quite enjoyable and relatable for all, especially with that Jefferey Skunk Baxter guitar lead in there. Check out its mind blowing music video here.
Additionally, we’ve just laid down three new tracks at Chicago Recording Company, most importantly a track entitled, “Love.” We decided to develop this track, “Love,” because eleven months ago we thought it made sense to add “love” to our Staunch moderates brand of “addressing the divide and striving for peace,” so now we say, “addressing the divide and striving for “love and peace.”
Sounds a bit like the 1960s, right? It’s funny how history repeats itself! So obviously, we worked on this track on and off for eleven months. It’s intended to be entertaining, meaningful, and to give our listeners a ride! We’ve already heard quotes it’s most entertaining and like a movie.
16. What advice do you have for other like-minded organizations?
First off, we are glad that you’re out there! We Staunch Moderates are the silent majority big time! The biggest challenge is how to flip the silence of our moderate majority into non-silence. I guess we Staunch Moderates and other moderate organizations are striving to do just that, give the hundreds of millions of moderates a voice!
It’s pretty much necessary to have ample assets to spend after such a mission. Surround yourself with extremely talented people that believe in what you believe in, and get after it! Don’t expect recognition for what you are doing. Do it because you believe in it and love it! The end.