Johnny Gioeli - Hardline (2002)


I caught up with Johnny at this year's Gods 2002 Festival, but didn't get a chance for that interview. Instead, I talked to Johnny a few weeks ago via phone, catching Johnny hard at work in the office...

I may get interrupted once or twice so you'll have to bear with me. This week Andrew you just wouldn't believe what's happened with my business. I have over 100,000 orders this week.

Are you serious?
I am dead serious as a heart attack. I have a client who has a huge hit, a television hit. It's a tiny Portable sewing machine and we can't keep up with the orders. We can't produce them fast enough in China.
It's just unbelievable and that's just what's on backorder. For the weekend we sold 30,000 of the things.

Someone's getting rich quick?
Yup. We're all taking a piece of that action. You take it when you can because these television Infomercials have a life expectancy of about 8 months. If you get a year out of them that's great.

So the business that you and Joey set up is really happening for you?
Yeah it's out of control. Seasonally we average about 100 employees. We have 30,000 square feet of offices alone and we have distribution centers. But I kill myself. People say you have all these managers why don't you just take off and relax a little. It's not my personality. You have to watch like a hawk, you have to watch what's going on. Day to day this business changes. I could come in here and have a huge batch file of 40,000 orders or whatever and so it's completely wild what's happened.

The first time I talked to you, you had just expanded and things were going pretty well.
Yeah now it's out of control. I didn't get out of here till frigging 8.30pm last night. I was in at 7am, it's a long day.

So how amongst all of that did you find time to record?
I'll tell you exactly what I did man. I'd work a full day here, go home and share a little dinner with my family, throw some water on my face and do it. Pretty much just went for it. We'd work till 2am, 3am, 4am in the morning, go home and then get up and do it all over again. This record almost fucking killed me mate.
As we've talked about previously, I didn't want to do this record, my wife said you know what else are you going to take on this is too much. So whatever the wife says I do the opposite. In the long run if I think about it now that I'm finished and I'm happy with the result the pain goes away. I mean in the middle of it I was kicking myself saying that my wife was right that this record was going to kill me. You know you think you are full of all this energy and you can do it. Hey it kicked my arse. But I did have fun doing this record. This project was definitely the least amount of stress and it was painless. The songwriting and the actual recording process so painless and really easy.

Where did you know Bob Burch from?
Bob is actually a good friend of Joey Taffola and that's how I met Bob. Bob is very well known in the heavy Christian scene. Kind of like the Linkin Park of Christian music. Yeah he does some stuff that is just out of control. You know Track One on Hardline, ' Hold Me Down' times a thousand.
We got along really well and he was the twist that I really wanted to put in this record. I wanted Bob and his flavoring to the record.

The album does have a modern edge.
Yeah it sure does. What do you think of it though, really?

The album is great I love it.
You do, the album is different.

I'll be honest though, there's a couple of spots that I would have liked to hear something else of something a bit different. Some songs are freakishly good I'll tell you that. 'Why', 'Face The Night' and I love 'Only The Night'. 'The Way It Is' is great and 'Paralyzed'.
What do you think of 'Weight'? It sounds really great live. Now the more I listen to track Nine I wish we could have got it even heavier.

Johnny I've already written the review and you know what I said - I wish 'Weight' was heavier.
Yeah see me too.

I saw you guys live and my ears nearly bled because it was so heavy.

Don't worry there was only 2,000 to 3,000 people at the God's that heard it that heavy so many others that hear this are not going to have that comparison. I talked about the God's in the review but though that not enough people would have heard that so I took it out. I did leave in the comment that I thought that it could have been heavier.
Right, well just so you know we are on the exact same page. I actually sung everything on that record in the recording studio in my house and I'm telling you what's wild about that song is that when I sang this song I was in pure sweat. I went into the house and my wife said holy shit are you ok.
I said honey I just kicked shit out of this song. I said you know what I feel better. This was a song that stemmed from an argument I had with my wife and I compared the marriage and the situation to being physical weight on my shoulders.
It's what you are the weight. I wrote this song very quickly and when I sang it I was in a pool of sweat literally and it translated so frigging well. When we mixed it though it seemed to have smoothed out what was really aggressive. I listen to it and think fuck that's really not what I had on tape. What can you do, shit happens?

Isn't it strange how the process of recording does that sometimes?
Yeah kind of messed up the vibe a little bit. So just so you know it was more like the live thing it just didn't translate when we mixed it.

It has some radio potential I thought.
I think so.

So have a couple of other tracks on the album.
Yeah that song 'Weight' would be a good choice here in America. We're picky bastards over here. Hardline 2 would never be played over here, maybe at college level. Maybe some of the hard rock stations. Mostly because it's just stereotyped as an 80's style band. Even though a 'Weight' could easily compare to a Nickelback type of vibe.

Do you get frustrated is put into that category when your debut album wasn't even released in the 80's?
Yeah, I do. Even my friends say hey we love this 80's stuff and I'm like gosh damn it, it was 90's not 80's.
It's a bit frustrating for sure. My whole idea and the whole outcome I wanted for this record is that I can make music to make music. I don't have to rely on music to put bread on the table and I'm in a very fortunate place. The purpose of this record was to give true Hardline fans a chance to see where we left off and what we would have done.
I'm getting mixed comments on it, but that's cool we had mixed comments on the first record.

I've had a bit of feedback from the sound bytes on the site, which is a little bit mixed. I rate the first album as an absolute classic. Like you said though I've also heard mixed comments on that one.
I think the same people that thought the first one was classic will think the same of this and those not convinced last time won't be convinced this time.

Exactly right I've put this out there for Hardline fans and acceptance would be great but if they don't then that's fine too. I could give too shits about selling this record in America. It wouldn't work here.

You had your first taste of the European scene at the God's I take it, what did you take away from that?
Although my personal view on that show was that it was a fucking disaster. Oh God I couldn't hear myself, I had just gotten over a cold so my voice really wasn't in great shape for the show.
Would you like someone to tell you that you have to start in 30 seconds or you can't play? So there we are still plugging shit in and the cops are on their way. The audience didn't know all this but it was 30 seconds away from us not playing. They said the cops were on their way and it was something to do with the curfew. We were told you start in 30 seconds or we're pulling the plug.
So I can't hear myself and all my guys aren't settled and relaxed. It's very stressful and we don't have any water to drink and we have to try to pull off the show. That's why at first if you saw me running back and forth to the mixing guy I was yelling at him a little bit, nicely of course. I was trying to get it straight.

I was backstage for some of the show and I didn't know about any of it.
It was wild. My reaction to the vibe of the audience was great. It's a wonderful starting point to where I want to take it. Overall I had a blast.

You put together a new lineup; did you put a call to any of the original guys?
Well, I did. Neal and Dean. Dean was contacted first and although he was interested in doing it he was petrified that Neal would be pissed if he did it. Such baby bullshit and kind of hard to explain but for some reason Neal treats Hardline like a girlfriend he broke up with. Even though he broke up with her he's not real happy she's got a new boyfriend. Do you know what I mean. Kind of hard to put on paper. That's my analogy of how Neal reacts to Hardline. If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything.
I was disappointed because Dean really wanted to do it and from what Joey told me he was petrified of Neal's reaction. Then of course as you know I contacted Neal directly and he was all in favor of doing solos on the record based on him liking the songs. I said play on what you like and the fans will love it.
But I don't know if you want me to rehash how that went screwy.

I think we have covered that…
I had no way of knowing how to get in touch with Todd. I think he was back on the road with David Lee Roth. I just recently got word back from our keyboard player Michael that Todd would have been interested doing the record. It's a real kick in the ass but hey he couldn't have anyway being on the road.
I almost had the whole band back. I tried. I'll be honest with you Andrew, I tried for the Hardline fans.
It would have been nice for the fans to have the whole original group cut another record just like it should have been. I personally could care less I was only doing it for the fans. The Hardline 1 just so you know came about when Joey and I were putting a solo project together called 'Brothers' and it was going to be Hardline 1 and Neal was brought in to produce. Neal's brilliance with chord knowledge and his songwriting really gelled all three of us as writers.
We wrote a lot of material. Neal was actually having a great time and asked to join the band and we said no. I don't know if you ever recall hearing that. He wasn't too happy with that and at the time I think he was dating my sister, I don't think they were married, he said I can't believe you don't want me in the band. Well we had a different vision.
To cut a long story short I got with Joey and said look man it's not what we really wanted but he's a great musician and we're learning so much I don't think it could hurt anything let's give it a go. We're different but let's try it. The songs that are there 'Hot Cherie' and 'Can't Find My Way' these are all songs that came from Joey and I. This was our baby and this was going to be our solo record. Getting back to Hardline 2 I didn't really give a shit whether Neal was going to play or not. I think these songs are just as good as to whether Neal was playing or not in my opinion.

They're great songs. Neal has one co-writing credit on the album?
Yeah 'This Gift', which was actually recorded for the first record but we had so many good fucking songs on that record that we just didn't know what the hell to put on. Even 'Face The Night' was a song that I wrote that we recorded as Hardline 1 and didn't have space for that one either. 'Do Or Die' and 'Your Eyes' were also songs recorded for Hardline 1. So people are getting a real Hardline record.

The tracks on here are they actually the original recordings or the re-recordings?
No I re-recorded them. The only one that is original is 'The Gift'.
That is the actual demo of when Neal and I created that song. I thought that would be pretty unique. This is a piece of music that Neal handed to me just very unique and different and religious based. The premise of the song is that I was raised a very good catholic Italian boy and did all my Catholic schooling and to thank God for giving me a
Voice to sing and this was to sing back to him.

Is there a possibility of a Hardline 3?
With original members or this lineup?

Oh definitely. It's funny man you go through hell making a record and you're tired and this and that and the
Second it's done you want to start thinking about the next one. I am definitely thinking about the next one, it's in my brain. I have to make sure there's a level of acceptance that makes it worthwhile. I'm sure we're going to get that. If we don't sell any records I don't see a purpose in Hardline 3. I think our wonderful fan base will be the deciding factor on whether we do another record or not. I hope so cause I love making these records.

You've got one of the great rock n' roll voices I truly believe.
Thank you.

It's great to hear new stuff. I mean the Axel Rudi Pell stuff is great but he has such a distinct style.
Yeah it's different…that straightforward Metal kind of witches and dragons.

Are you going to be on Axel's live album? Is that recorded already or are you going to go over and do that?
You mean the DVD thing?

Yeah I'm on that.

It's already recorded?
Yeah we recorded it in Germany. So that's done. I think he went to Tenerife, that little island and they mixed it and all that kind of crap.

Are you guys going to release the live CD/DVD from The God's?
That's what I hear.

Still a plan then?
Yep still on plan. So I actually just signed off on some very important paperwork to make that happen.

Excellent. See people will get to hear 'Weight' that way.
Exactly, a good point.

'Face The Night' just went over so well.
You know I'll tell you what blew my mind is when we played 'Only A Night' and people were singing the lyrics and I thought what the fuck is going on. I forgot that it was released as a sampler. That blew my mind. I had a lot of fun when I figured it out and though oh you dummy.

You actually recorded a bunch of stuff for this record early didn't you, some heavier stuff? Bob mentioned it to me backstage.
Yes sir. That contributed to the long delay in getting this record out. It's because I had an entire record already to go in demo version. I'm just getting ready to record and Frontiers sent an e-mail and said I don't want any experimental shit I want Hardline. I sat back and thought well hey man this is ten years later this is who I am as a songwriter and I took a deep breath and then said you know what he's right. This record needs to be a Hardline record and I scrapped that whole thing. I then began to collect the old songs and new songs and worked from there.

So how many songs did you have in demo format, half a dozen?
Well I had a whole record; probably I actually had maybe 15,16,17 songs. I may turn those into a solo record someday. I've always wanted to do it. I could safely come out with it and call it Johnny, who the hell cares. Preview this music and people go holy hell I didn't know he had it in him kind of thing.

I'd love to hear that some time.
I'll see if I can get you some little snippets of that. You'll be blown away. It's pretty heavy stuff.

What happened to Joey Taffolla? Did he just do this original heavy material and then wasn't available for the next stage?
No basically he was involved in some of the writing for the heavy stuff. In a nutshell he also has a business that is also really busy and then we started to get some pressure to get the record finished. We wanted to get it into the Japanese record company hands as quickly as possible. They needed it to try and meet a deadline.
So I tried really hard to meet that deadline and we came really close but Joey wasn't able to let his schedule meet basically. He wanted a lot of time to do the solos and it was a lot of time I didn't have. So we kind of agreed to take a different path. So that's what we did.

In steps in Mr Ramos.
That's right. Yeah so I had to sit back and think who is talented and can emulate Neal Schon. Ding enter Josh Ramos.

He's good isn't he?
Even Neal said he is the perfect choice. He's like Austin Power's Mini Me. It's not that he copies Neal but stylistically the way he plays is very similar. We really were in the 11th hour and Josh recorded those
Solos in two evenings. He didn't hear anything just came out and said here play. If he'd really had the time to analyze and really get inside the song and work some stuff out it probably would have been beyond amazing.

He's a great guy too isn't he?
Yeah he's great, a really nice guy.

He was a bit sick at the God's too?
Yeah a little beat up. We were tired and having to wait around all day.

Michael Ross added a nice little dimension didn't he?
Yeah he sure did. The poor kids keyboards didn't work for the first three songs. So I felt so bad for him.
I always wanted to play with live keys but before Joey and Neal used to cover it on their guitars with guitar synth. I just think it adds a new dimension.

Yeah I think he does a really nice job on the 'Face The Night', the keys at the end of that.
Big time I agree.

You've got one of the best drummers in the business still.
Yep, I think so man. We go way back to the 80's and the Brunettes days. He actually played drums for several of the Brunettes shows. We had this little drummer guy and his name was Eric who was such a great kid but sonically he wasn't the greatest drummer but we didn't want to fire the kid we just wanted him to get better. We couldn't let him get better and risk failure for the group. It was a very weird situation that we created but Bobby actually played live shows with us. I'll never forget it because this kid Eric would go to the shows almost like he was studying and he put a fake cast on his arm. So he looked like he had a broken arm and that's why he couldn't do the show. Hilarious man. He was embarrassed but he knew he wanted to get better so Bobby filled in and he put a cast on his arm.
So we've know Bobby for a long time. We did this crazy Brunette movie called 'Smash, Crash and Burn'
With the Coppola family and Bobby cut all the drums on that record.

Oh you've never heard about this?

Back in around 1988 or 1989 Brunette the group I was in was hired to star in a film that Francis Ford Coppola's son Roman produced. It was the stupidest fucking movie. Kind of like 'Rockstar' but worse. Basically this group comes from the East Coast of the U.S and goes west and becomes famous and a girl tries to break up the group. It was one of those stories. We starred in it and we did an EP and Bobby cut the drums, Dana Strum From Slaughter produced it. It's funny we bring up Dana because it was Dana who brought the song 'Hot Cherie' to us. Yep. He was in a group called Danny Spanos and he said you guys should remake this song. This is a smash song. We listened to it and thought holy fuck this is a great song. The rest is history with that one.

I've got that LP; I'll have to go get it out now.
Did this movie ever get released?

No. We saw it and thought my God this piece of shit can't get out. They pretty much filed it away under garbage.

So you don't have a home video of it?
No. It's illegal. They wouldn't release anything in the fear that we may do something with it. So no absolutely not.

We could get some bootlegs going on the net or something!
Great, I'd laugh my ass off if I could see that.

I suppose we should do a track by track on the album.
'Hold Me Down'
I'll tell you a bit about personality, I'm an over achiever and there have been several people in my life that have tried to keep me from doing certain things. That's really the premise of this whole song. They keep trying but they can't succeed. That's what the song is about.
Simply a question that I ask myself about why things are the way they are so to speak. This song is about not really having an answer to the question. I hate doing these songs by song things because there are a lot of things that went through my mind when writing this stuff and I can't get it all out to you.
You know that was the only song written with an outside songwriter besides Neal.
Paralyzed was written with Mark Tanner who co wrote the song 'Everything' on Hardline 1. So I got back in touch with Mark and said I was doing another Hardline and I loved working with you on the first record and what do you have. So we worked together and came up with this. It's basically a chick song and totally engrossed in some one. I just thought it was a great rock song with a great hook to it. Mark Tanner's great, do you know who he is?

Yeah I'm a big fan of his work with 'Fiona'.
Yes of course.

I went out and brought 'The Calling' album purely because he produced it.
He's awesome.

Yeah very talented.
Again back in the 80's I used to write with him when we were going to do a deal with Capitol Records. He used to come over to my apartment and we used to sit and write lyrics together and he'd have to go and take a piss and he'd be so excited as he's pissing if he came up with a lyric that he'd piss himself. He would come back out to the lounge room and his pants would be all wet cause he'd pissed himself.
That's how into writing he is.

'Face The Night'
I wrote this song so long ago. I wrote it in 1987. Do you remember the original guitar player for Poison before CC Deville? I don't even remember his name that's how long ago it was. He quit the band to go back to his girlfriend in Pennsylvania. He literally gave up what might have been a wonderfully successful career with a lot of money and a lot of fame to go back there and start a family. That just took my balls off and I wrote the song. In the song lyrically when I say, " No matter what life could have bought me or brought me it bought me right back to you to face the night alone'. It was written because of that situation.
'Do or Die'
It was an inspired song when we had our LA riots. I could smell the burning from my house. It was when I was poor and nameless and had to live close to that area.
'Hey Girl'
I wrote this song about regret. One of my biggest fears in life because I am an over achiever is that I would not be fulfilled by not doing everything possible with my life. It was written in the context of somebody else not necessarily my life. They are looking at themselves saying do I like what I see. Am I really happy? Am I satisfied with life?
'Only A Night'
This was written a few years ago when I was preparing an easy listening album, a Christian based record. It's merely about having an opportunity to be with a person for just one night alone and life will change.
'Your Eyes'
It's a very simple tune. Also musically written year ago. It just means sometimes I get caught up in my own views and sometimes I need to step back and see things the way other people see them as well.
We all have our marital problems at times and I felt like I was carrying a tank on my shoulders.
'The Way It Is The Way It Goes'
It speaks for itself. A song about things I can't control. It's kind of funny how I turned this record into a concept record. Although some of these songs are happy there's a lot of negativity in here.
'The Gift'
That is the actual demo of when Neal and I created that song. I thought that would be pretty unique. This is a piece of music that Neal handed to me just very unique and different and religious based. The premise of the song is that I was raised a very good catholic Italian boy and did all my Catholic schooling and to thank God for giving me a
Voice to sing and this was to sing back to him.







Mecca - Joe Vana (2002)

AOR Heaven NEH Records Z-Roxx Loud 1 Groove Machine Destiny Hot Tracks Target Wishing Well Perris







JOE VANA / Mecca - Lead Vocals / Co-Writer

Well Joe, it's great to finally throw some questions at you and let the
public at large get to know you at last!

Thanks…let me start by saying I have been a HUGE fan of your site for over three years….I am thrilled to be part of it!
I am just a music fan who did an album to get out the songs I wrote and have Fergie sing with me.
Little did I know how it would end up!! I also wanted an album to showcase Mike Aquino. He is a really great guitarist and I hated seeing someone that good not getting a name for himself.

Very kind of you to say, thanks. Joe, you and I have known each other for a few years now.
You have been busy writing songs for a long time now and are breaking on to the scene as a new artist - is that in any way an overwhelming proposition for you?

No. How can it be? I do music for fun. No pressure that way. Pure and simple.
I love to sing…my poor neighbor Rick Milner probably wanted to move after hearing me in the shower…hahaha. But seriously, three years ago I had NEVER sung in front of anyone. Jim Peterik discovered me and next thing I knew I was singing on demos for the Beach Boys, playing in front of sold out shows with Jimmy and sharing the stage with my idols. Hell, I even got to sing with Dennis DeYoung….not a bad gig for a beginner.

Naturally, there are high words of praise for you from the likes of Jim Peterik, Fergie, Mike Aquino and others...is that a moral boost for you?
Sure…of course it is. But my praise and admiration for their help in making my dream come true with this album cannot be measured. They all did an incredible job on this album and they all brought their A-Game to the table. As far as a moral boost I get one every time I see my son sing to songs I wrote...he sings them better than me...hahahaha…

Mecca is not your average debut album, is it not?!!!
Thank You!! My goal was to do an album that sounded like Toto meets Survivor meets Mr. Mister…and one that if my idols heard it they would like it.
I truly like to do nothing halfway in life. That can be a real detriment to mental health….but I took this album as my one chance to “show what I can do”. I wanted everything to sound just so. I know JP and Larry wanted to choke me during the whole mix and on some of the arrangements. But, in the end I am happy with the product…and I am not happy with many products these days. I sent Lukather a copy of the album and he loved it. To have Luke love my vocals was beyond flattering, That made the album completely worthwhile. His music is a religion for me….

Absolutley Joe! Could you have wished for a better vehicle to get the songs and your voice out there?
Trick question right?? I hear a horn section in the background….daaa da da daaa da daaa…(Ides of March fans will get this one)

Let's go right back to the roots of where you have come from and how your baby got started!
You are Chicago born and bread right?

Yep…lived in Chicago all my life. The album started in my basement with Mike and my buddy Jason Deroche. We wrote songs and had fun playing. I loved that period of my life. A heightened sense of energy and creativity. I met Mike [Aquino] and Jason at a local music store called Modern Music in Lisle Illinois.
Mike was my guitar teacher there. I told him after a couple of lessons that I write music and Jimmy Peterik was a REAL close friend. He probably thought I was nuts…until I introduced them. Jimmy heard Mikes playing on my demos and asked him to do demos for him. Mike and I both play in World Stage together, had a side project called EPB with Jimmy and when I was assembling my album he was my only choice…who better. Next came Mecca….

And just how did you discover you lived close to the great Jim Peterik?
Can you let everyone know how you first met Jim and how your relationship has developed with him over the years?

I used to see him in a local music store. I sent him a fan letter to their fan club and he answered. He said to stop by sometime since I lived so close to him. Little did he know some 13 year old kid would have to hop on his bike to ride over. I headed over and and knocked on the door…there he was.
He invited me in and we talked for a bit. Over the next few years I would visit him every couple of months. I heard Vital Signs and all of the next albums before they came out, he would play them for me in his living room. Cool Huh!?! After college our friendship grew…became something more than just visits. I became part of his extended family and he mine. When my wife and I took a one month break from each other to hit the reset button on our relationship Jim and Karen (Jim's wife) were there.
I had dinner with them, played board games and they counseled me on what's important. I was lucky, I had my Mom and Dad and my family to help me…and I had Jim and Karen.

At what age did you start writing songs?
31…I am 34 now.

Several of your songs and ideas have made it to the final version of Mecca how far back or how recent are those songs?
Not far. I have only been at it for three years. I played you the tunes over the phone…your interest and support kept me going. Melodicrock.com was a big reason this album got done….congrats buddy…your site had a baby….Mecca.

LOL! Obviously Survivor was one of your key influences, but I know there are others! Tell us about all your favorite bands and artists…
Toto and Mr. Mister are the main two. I am a huge AOR fan. I buy everything they play on. Lukather and Steve Farris are my favorite guitarists. Richard Page and Warren Wiebe (RIP) are my favorite singers along with Thom Griffin. I also really dig David Pack.

Mecca originally was just yourself, under the name Project Voyager - how did it evolve to what it has become and how did everyone that became involved come to be included?
Yikes…this could go on for hours! Let's just say I asked Jimmy to produce my album…and the rest is history….hahaha. I actually met Fergie over the Internet about 4 years ago. I asked David Hungate via the Internet and he demanded Shannon for the project (Thank God!!!!) Jimmy Nichols was a session player on World Stage and he goes way back with JP.

Sitting there now reflecting - what do you think of the final product?!!
Hard to listen to….really. So many emotions and feelings and trapped thoughts. It was such a hard thing to internalize and produce. First albums should never be this big….meaning involved.
I never did a demo tape…never played out live before 2 years ago…I am way to new to this to process all the information. BUT, I am real happy with the final result. Everyone did their respective jobs well……very well.

Knowing you for few years or so now Joe, I think you have excelled yourself, Personally and professionally on this album.
Thanks man!! That means a lot….you hear a lot of music and I really respect your opinion. What sucks is this is my benchmark now. I have to actually beat this on the next one…hahahaha. I grew a lot on this album. It was a real learning experience.

I love your vocals on this record. There is something really appealing to them, they are raw, passionate vocals and ultimately really set the songs up.
Thanks again!! Emotion is everything to me. I listen to music about 5 hours a day. I am one of those audiophile nuts who listen into the music. Anyway, I can care less if a singer is sharp or flat…short or tall…thin or fat…chick or dude…if they can convey emotion, then they are a singer.
Until then they are just going through the motions. I believe anybody can sing…..If you can live the tune….you can sing the tune….I hope that doesn't sound bizarre….

Yes it does, but we'll let it pass…haha…Seriously now, let's go through each track you sing lead on for starters:
Without You
– Rocker – my seed – and Jimmy and I finished it……I always thought I should not have sang this one. This song taught me a smooth voice can pull off a rock tune…probably the best example of a true split between JP and me…we collaborated equally on this one….Survivor like tune…

Can't Stop Love (duel lead) – Rocker – JP and Fergie's tune – I was along for the ride on this one…..fun tune…..can you guess who is who on the pre-chorus and the chorus….hahaha…Fergie and I sound REALLY alike in those parts…Shannon becomes Jeff Porcaro on this tune….

Silence Of The Heart – Mid-Tempo – JP seed – and then he and I wrote it together….JP really had a cool melody and chorus worked out on this one…I added a lot of lyrics but this one is pretty Peterik.
It's one of his best songs…..I added in the arrangement ideas too…but this song and Velocitized if someone played it for me…I would knew he had a hand in right away. The Hungate bass from Hell on this one!!!….hahahaah…kind of a Steely Dan or early ToTo tune….

Mecca – Slow rocker – another Peterik seed that we finished together….JP is smart about having singers be real involved in Lyrics…helps them connect to the tune.
This one has no beginning or end….it's a circle…kind of cool….when we worked on it I bucked having a second chorus…to this day I wonder if I should have kept my mouth closed….hahahah…..Special song…deep….a real bitch to sing though….hahahaha…Mike's best solo on the album…oooozes vibe and soul…..This song ended up totally Mr. Mister meets Toto….head on!!

Close That Gap – Our one true ballad- my seed - Jason Deroche helped me musically and then I presented it to JP….we ran with it….Real hard tune to not be able to connect lyrically to…I lived it…so it was a real breeze to sing. Shannon's percussion and Jimmy Nichols keys kill on this one…

Falling Down – Mid Tempo Rocker - My seed - and JP again helped it see the light of day…Toto meets Hall and Oates. This tune is everything I envisioned it to be…a real fun tune for me…I can't wait to sing this one live!!! Shannon and David Shine on this tune….

Now I really love Falling Down, that's so smooth! Youa re right with the Hall & Oates comparison.
Cool….I am thrilled you got the vibe on it…

On Silence Of The Heart, there is a real Mr. Mister feel, also on Mecca...
Thanks…to even be said in the same breath as those dude…YIKES!!! I really listen to way to much of that stuff….hahahah

And on Close That Gap, you asked special permission to take Larry aside and re-mix the track - I have to say, after hearing the original, that the final version works even better!
Thanks!! I wouldn't say remix…more rearrange or re-produce.
I told Jim I wasn't digging the final product of the tune in so many words. By this time in the mix we had an understanding to say what we felt….no more sugar. Jimmy was cool to let me rearrange the pieces of the puzzle. “Gap” was a song that I had the final way I wanted it in my head from the minute I began writing it.
When I brought it to Jimmy to listen to, he loved it. We finished it together, but I still knew how I wanted it. Jason Deroche did a great job of working with me on the original music ( KILLER classical player and writer).
He has great ideas and is a rare talent. I am a huge Richard Marx fan. I wanted a ballad that was like he did it. I have only two musical dreams left, one is to work with Richard and the other is to work with Lukather.
Well anyway, I had Larry dump the basic template and we started building. He was real cool in the whole process of the album. I was a total pain in the ass about instrument placements, keeping space, making the guitar a musical event and so on… and vocal levels. I am thrilled they let me have my head on the mixes. It caused a lot of arguments, but in the end it turned out great. I am lucky that it was just me, Jimmy and Larry there to mix the album….if there were more cooks the kitchen would have exploded!…..hahahaha….

And Without You has a special quality to it....great song!
Thanks….it's a pretty angry tune.
But considering the timeframe for me it's par for the course. In retrospect I can't believe JP didn't flog me for all these negative lyrics. He is so damn upbeat lyrically…God, is he fun to write with…..

What was your first experience n the studio like for this album?
Frightening!!! To be in the room where Don Henley, Vince Gill, Elton John, Garth Brooks, Backstreet Boys and others have recorded….I was freaked. But it was about the 10,000th album of JP's so I was put at ease.

Anything you would change now, looking back over the whole process?
Nothing I can say publicly….haha. Actually I think anything different would have changed the album….so no…I'll gladly keep it.

Well Joe, you are known now, this record is soon to be released to the world and then we will all be looking at you going, great - now what's next?!!
Mecca 2
of course!! But before then, we shall promote and support this album any way we can. I also just sang for the Genius Rock Opera….kind of Dennis DeYoung meets Dream Theater...on my tune only.

Who and when will be Mecca 2?!!
Who is a secret….for now….suffice it to say I am TOTALLY Excited and ready to go to work. I can't let myself down….I have to make sure it is better than the first….

Anything else you would like to add mate?
Thanks to anyone crazy enough to read an interview about me!
Seriously, Thanks to you Andrew and all who have supported me over the past couple of years. I only wanted an album that no one would say…Damn, I wasted my hard earned money on this???? Hahhhah…..I hope people connect with the album….visit our Official Mecca web site….www.meccaband.com my webgirl Jamie has been killing herself on it, and see you all on the road!!





Mecca - Jim Peterik (2002)

AOR Heaven NEH Records Z-Roxx Loud 1 Groove Machine Destiny Hot Tracks Target Wishing Well Perris







JIM PETERIK / Mecca - Producer / Co-Writer

[After about 10 minutes of needless chit chat!] All right Jim, well….I better get going and ask a few questions.
Yes sir.

Tell me, I think I know the story, but for the record I guess… you and Joe, how did you guys hook up?
Well, I mean, that goes way back. <laughs>
You're talking about when Joe was 13, in 1983, and I was in Survivor, of course, and making records and there was this little kid that would come over on his bicycle and knock on my door - I don't know how he knew I lived there - and, I would say, “Yes?”.
The first time he says, “Well, I'm Joe and I'm a big rock fan, and I heard you're in Survivor.” Anyway, he seemed like a real nice kid, and I would let him come in and I think when he first came over I had just gotten test pressings of maybe Caught in the Game, perhaps. So here's this 13 year-old, and I'm getting my master disks and I'm sitting down to play them and he's there listening to them <laughs>. And I'm going, “What do you think?” He just kind of sat there with his mouth open, you know. But he impressed me because he always was polite and he always knew when to leave.

He wasn't one of these pesky kids, and through the years he would always come by and soon the bike had turned to an automobile, when he got his license, and we always kept in touch. Right about '89-'90, he said, “You know what? I write music,” and I go, “Yeah, yeah, sure, sure”, “and I sing,” “Yeah, yeah, well give me a tape sometime,” well, that never happened, at least not until many years later when he finally had the nerve to say, “You know, I think I'm ready to actually show you what I can do.” Well he started giving me tapes of a kind of a band called Project Voyager that he was cooking up.
He was working with Mike Aquino and a guy name Jason…let's just say Jason, I forgot Jason's last name. He's the co-writer of a couple of songs on the record.

Daroche! Yeah.

These tapes were really primitive, you know. They were just done at his little basement studio. But, I really heard a lot of good elements. He says, “What do you think, really?” And I go, “Really, I think it's OK, you know, it needs a lot of work, a lot of polish,” and just around then, Fergie came into town to write with me for his record, and Joe had showed me a riff that he had developed with Mike, and we wrote a song, the three of us, called “Sheila's Gone”.

That song, we wrote it, and demo'd it. It never made Fergie's album, but that was the first time I wrote with Joe and it worked out very nice. And right around that same time, I was doing demos for the World Stage record and there was this one song that I wrote called “To Miss Somebody”. I wrote that with Don Barnes, and I was around the piano, working it out, and Joe came over and I said, “Just for grins, take this high part.” This was the first time I really heard him sing live, you know. We're in the great room, and the echo is beautiful in this room, and he seemed a little nervous, but I taught him the part and lo-and-behold, I heard this tremendous voice come out of him.
The pitch was good, and the tone was good, and I looked at this guy and I go, “I can't believe this is you!” This is the 13 year old kid on the bicycle and he's blowing me away, you know. It was just a real amazing moment for me.
And about the next week we cut the song, “To Miss Somebody” and I knew that the song would probably be earmarked for Dennis DeYoung, but I had Joe sing the demo, which I still have a copy of, and he did a heck of a great job, and that was really the first time Joe had been professionally recorded, you know, not just in his basement studio. And I remember, I played that tape for people, and they go, “Who is this?” you know, and so I started to realize that this wasn't just me; this guy was good. And from there, I started using him on demos… there's a song that I wrote with Larry and Joe Thomas called “That's Why God Made the Radio”, which you'll hear some day, it's really pretty neat. It was meant to be for the Beach Boys.

But that never happened.

That sounds like a good hook.
It is a great hook, you'll really like the song. I'm going to do something with it; I don't know what yet. Joe sang on that and impressed everybody, so we just start… and then I put on my first World Stage show and I guess it was January of 2000, and Joe came up there with me, and of course Mike Aquino was on guitar, and of course all the other members of World Stage, and Dennis couldn't make it, so I had Joe do a solo on “To Miss Somebody” and he came out from the back line and stood out on front and just blew everybody's mind. So right around that time we started talking in the terms of a Joe Vana solo album or a Project Voyager solo album; he started talking to me about that. And I thought that was a pretty great idea, and we started scheming that and, you know, how we could get financing for it and everything else. Around that time he started talking to Fergie and he and Fergie started scheming up, “Why don't we do this record together.” The whole thing started blooming and we sat down and talked about it, and I said, you know, “I have a dream of someday recording the album of my dreams. And that means going to the best studio in the country.” And then he said… I don't remember who said it, but someone said, “You know, we could get David Hungate because he's in Nashville.”
I guess what I didn't say is, the best studio to me is this one place in Nashville called the Sound Kitchen. Especially this one room called The Big Boy Room. It's a huge room and it's got a statue of Big Boy hamburgers… Big Boy is a big hamburger chain in America.

Oh, I know Big Boy, yeah.
A big fat boy, that's their logo. Well they stole one of these statues or something, and it's in their lobby, so it's the Big Boy Room. Anyway, we just started brainstorming, “Hey, maybe we can get David Hungate,” you know, and so I said, “Well, I'll tell you what, let's just call him up,” because I had worked with David about three months earlier on “That's Why God Made the Radio”, which we cut at the Sound Kitchen. I mentioned that I was down there; I talked with David and he said, “Wow, that was a fun session,” and I said, “Would you be interested in cutting some tracks down there for this new project?” and I told him about Fergie, because he remembered Fergie.
He was never in Toto at the same time, but he remembered the album, and we started talking about drummers, and I said, “Who would you recommend for drums?” And he goes, “Wow, well the guy I'm working with down here, you're not going to believe him, his name is Shannon Forrest.”
He said, “That's my choice.” And I said, “What about this other guy,” and I mentioned another name, and he said, “Well, he's good, but Shannon's better, well not better, but Shannon's my guy, we work like a team.” And I said, “Well, could you possibly have him send me a tape of some of his work,” and Shannon did, and it was great. But I should've just taken David's word for it. If David says he's the guy, I guess I just should've believed him <laughs>.

So we just started planning and planning and had meetings with Mike Aquino and decided on a keyboard player… went through a lot of ideas on keyboard for the Mecca record, but ended up with a guy that worked with me on World Stage, Jimmy Nichols. We couldn't find anybody that was more appropriate and more in tune with what we were going for, which was kind of a blend of the '80s and now.

And he gets this wonderful… he's a great grand piano player, but he always MIDI's the piano sound with synths and bells and it's a very nice layered sound that he gets.

There's a very rich texture of that on the album.
It really is. A lot of that you heard is all in one pass. There's no overdubs.

There's some other overdubs, but very, very few. Most of that is just one pass with Jimmy with his MIDI, you know, he's got this MIDI thing that triggers all these other synthesizers at the same time. So, I called up Jimmy, booked him, and of course, the investment team was in place, and we all went down together to Nashville, and I have to mention Larry Millas, of course, who was an integral part of the production team, and we moved down to Nashville, booked the room, and we spent two very intensive days.
We cut all those basics, actually we cut 13 tracks, we're only releasing 11 [10 for Europe, Japan gets their pesky Bonus Track!].

Where are the other two Jim?
Oh, see, now you're curious <laughs>. Well, they're going to see the light of day, but we didn't have… we felt these 11 really hung together very well.

They do.
The other two, they are very good and they will be finished. But right now they're mainly in basic track form and will soon be finished… soon to be collector's items. Off the record, it may be someday where we'll finish one of those and offer it as a bonus to Japan, say, or something.

But they're both really good.

Yeah, you'll like them. They were a little bit outside the mainstream of what all these songs were, but anyway, (to make) a long story short, we cut 13 tracks in two days, which is a lot of tracks.

That's a lot of long days.
A long day… it's one thing getting through 13 tracks, but the quality of the tracks were stunning. We would get done with one magical take, and say, “OK, next,” and we'd start working up the next magical take and the spirit in the room, I mean, was amazing.
And we still found time to go have a beer at the end of the day. That's how good these sessions were. I'll never forget these sessions.
They're probably the best sessions I've ever been a part of because we were working on all 8 cylinders, you know. We had Hungate on bass, which was amazing, he brought his whole arsenal of basses; everything from the original bass he played on “Roseanna”… he brought all of his famous basses. When you talk to him, you say, “What tracks is the “Roseanna” bass on?”… He'll tell you. Of course Shannon was one of the finest drummers I've ever worked with.

Yeah. He's just like a computer with arrangements. He remembered everything. But a computer with a lot of soul and human feel. So he was like the best of both worlds; he had a computer mind, but a real soulful approach to the drums.
A lot of times a drummer can really slow down a session if he keeps forgetting what section is next, and we don't have charts; Rock and Roll bands usually don't use music charts, we've got it all in our heads.

He's just got an amazing head. All the musicians were playing together. We had Mike Aquino playing, we had David Hungate, we had Shannon Forrest, we had Joe doing scratch vocals on his, we had Fergie doing scratch vocals on his, I was directing the whole thing, Larry's back there manning the boards, Bob ??? and Frank ??? were there from Wasabi, just taking it all in. It was just this big team spirit; it's the only way we could've gotten 13 tracks in two days. I mean, some bands that I've been in, we've gotten a snare sound in two days…

Really. <laughs>
You know, a drum sound in two days. That's a bit of an exaggeration but in the old days, I remember getting a song a day. And we were happy, “Hey, we got a song today,” you know. We got 13! Which wouldn't make any difference at all, except that the quality was there.
The magic takes were there and we left Nashville feeling very good about what we had. We brought the master tapes to Chicago, well actually, this is technical stuff but, we cut it on 2” analog tape and had it transferred to Pro Tools files and… I have Pro Tools at my studio so… the rest of the project was done in Pro Tools where there's much more flexibility and you don't have all the problems of analog tape, the shedding of the iron oxide on the tape, there's just a million things better about being in Pro Tools.
Brought it back and started the overdub process, which was much more lengthy, and we had the luxury of taking our time. When Fergie felt like it was his time to come in and sing, he would do that. When Joe said, “OK, I'm having a great day, I'm going to come in and do a vocal,” we had the luxury of doing that because I do have my own studio.

So the overdub process was very leisurely. We got the basics done in two days but then the overdub process must've taken six months. That's the way we wanted it. We wanted to take our time and not make any mistakes. And then the mix process, we took our time with the mix process to make sure the mixes were holding up. We'd do a mix and we'd say, “Well, that's pretty good,” and then we'd do the next mix and it was even better, then we'd go back to the one before and tweak that and, you know, you can go overboard with that and be mixing for the rest of your life, and at a given point we just said, “No, you know what, this is great, we're done.” We mastered the record at Colossal, a really great mastering lab here and, I always say, the mastering lab puts the pixie dust on it, and pixelates it and just makes it sound like a record.

Right. You sent me the pre-master and then the post-master, and there was a difference.
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. It suddenly sounds more professional.

It brought out the textures evenly.
It brings out the inner textures. Fergie said the same thing. I sent Fergie a pre-master and then a post and now he's dancing. Fergie, he does it every time, he told me today; he said every time he gets an album back it's, “Oh man, I should've done this, we should've done that,” and then after a few listens he starts falling in love with it, you know. And, of course, his friends are saying, “Fergie, you're crazy, this sounds amazing.” That doesn't hurt either.

Yeah, yeah.
But now Fergie just, just loves it, you know. It's just been a really, really fun project… fun for me. I left out so much. The writing process was a lot of fun.
I wrote really with all members of the band, of the core band.
Joe Vana and I wrote a number of songs. Some that were kind of started by Joe, and I helped him. Some were started by me and he helped me, just like any really good collaboration.
A lot of times a co-writer will know what you're going for, and will go there with you, making it easier to finish the song. I always think my best songs are co-written, because there's another mind involved. If it's the right person, it's a positive. If it's someone that's not on your wavelength, it's a negative; you'd be better off finishing it yourself.
I showed Joe a song called “Mecca” and he immediately got it and said, “Wow, I love this song, let me work on this song with you.” And I had a lot of the music done but he was very helpful with the lyrical concept.
We talked about what Mecca was; he did research on the ancient city of Mecca. You know, he went to the library and found out about Mecca, and we used a lot of his research actually in the song… the part about kissing the black stone for luck, all of that stuff is Joe's research and it made it a more mysterious song. Same with “Silence of the Heart,” I showed him that song and he loved it and helped me finish it.
With Fergie, we ended up writing more of the rockers, actually, Mike Aquino is the fellow that brought us the basic music and riffs behind “Miss-Chevious”, and as he's playing this amazingly gnarly riff. I start skantin' over it and open my notebook and there was the word “Miss-Chevious”, I've had this little word tucked into my back pocket for probably 20 years.
The real pronunciation is mischievous, but everybody says mischievous, and I always thought, “I'm going to write a song called “Miss-Chevious”, and make it like this girl Miss Chevious, you know, and so I started singing Miss-Chevious over this guitar riff, and then Fergie starts chiming in with this “I hate to see her leave, but I love to see her walk away,” you know. And all these really funny lines, you know, and that song just kind of came together with the three of us.

For sure…
And the same thing with “Wishing Well”. It was the song that Fergie pretty much had the whole chorus pretty much intact, and said, “What do you think?” And I said, “It's great!” And we just sat down one day, me, Joe, and Fergie, and flushed out the story line of what this wishing well is about, and Joe helped us kind of form the story line of these two people at the wishing well.
Totally separate from each other, but each wishing for love, and finding it in each other. And that story came together and we started writing lyrics, and it's one of my favorite tracks on the record.

Yeah. It's a good track, for sure.
It's really a good solid track, and clearly a collaborative effort among the band. So a lot of collaborations between band members, which I like to see.

Yeah, me too. I think it's great. A particular favorite of mine, as you know, is “Silence of the Heart”

A wonderful ballad.
Yeah, that's a favorite of mine. Again, it almost has that kind of Sting pulsating staccato bass thing, that grabs you right off the bat. Joe's vocal, I would have to say is my favorite vocal of his on the record.

I think so too.
It's just wonderful. I don't think anybody could've sung it better. I just love to listen to that record. It does a unique thing in the chorus - this is just for the music people out there, people that play piano or study music - at the beginning of the chorus, it starts in the minor mode, and right in the middle of the chorus it goes to the major mode, you know, it changes one note of the melody. All of a sudden, halfway through the chorus, it turns from kind of bittersweet to happy, and what you're hearing is going from the minor key to the major key, and it's such a lift. It's the first time I've ever done that, and it worked so well.

Yeah, OK. That's interesting. It just has a great mood to it, that song, doesn't it. It's haunting, it grabs you...
Yeah, but listen midway through every chorus, it changes tonality; it changes from minor to major. A lot of people don't realize what they're hearing, but that's what it is.

Very clever, you see, you're the best producer on the block.
Well, it's actually in the writing, it's not in the producing.

Sorry <laughs>
<Laughs> The producing just enhances whatever you're doing. It's really an album, as a producer, or as a fan, you just put on and listen to.
I do it when I don't have to listen to it, you know. My wife, who, I mean... Karen Peterik is not one to pad anyone's ego, including my own. She's my biggest fan and my harshest critic. When I played her this record, she just could not believe it. It's in every car… we have a few cars… there's a copy in every car that she drives.
I'm blown away, because the last time she responded like this to any album, was Vital Signs.

Really? That was a big record.
That was a big record, so she's good luck when she likes something.

Yeah. That's a good omen. We've just got to get some radio to pick some of this stuff up.
Well that's going to happen, that's going to happen. I mean, it's not like the old days, certainly, but I think there's a few things on here that are very contemporary, and I think “Silence of the Heart” is one of them.

Yeah. Absolutely.
I think they could get airplay.

Absolutely. You've got that for Adult Contemporary radio and then you've got “Velocitized” for rock radio.
Exactly. I'm looking at the list of songs here. Just a couple of stories: “Close That Gap”, or course, is largely a Joe Vana song that I helped him complete, and he can tell you the story behind it, of course, better than I can, but it's definitely from personal experience what he was going through in his life at the time. It's the first song I heard him write… it wasn't totally done, but it was the first song that I heard him write that I said, “OK Joe, that's a great song. Now build from there.” That's when I knew that he could be a songwriter.
That song was a very hard song to capture. In fact, a lot of songs are made when they're cut, and other songs are made when they're mixed. This song went through a huge metamorphosis in the mix-down process.
We had a mix that I was happy with, and Joe said, “I like this, but it's not what I hear in my head. Give me just three hours in the studio with Larry, and yourself if you want to be there, and let me try a few things.” I have to say, I came in after about two hours and I loved what I heard. He did a lot of dynamic changes; he muted the drums at the top - the drums don't come in now until the first chorus. He built the song, and finally everybody's happy, and I have to give him credit for making that what it is.
That was his baby, and I wanted him to be happy with that. Just like with Fergie, his baby was “Blinded By Emotion”. He didn't write it, but he wanted to prove to himself that he could sing the song. He loved the song so much, and yet it's one of the hardest songs I've ever written to sing. I mean the range is amazing in that song if you really listen to it. The demo… this song, and I'm not afraid to say it, has been around a few years. So has “You Still Shock Me”, but a good song, it doesn't matter when you write it, it's still a good song.

Of course we updated the arrangement of it and re-cut it and all that stuff, but Fergie was determined to sing these songs. I'll tell ya, he worked his butt of on these songs and I have to say, he did an amazing job on both these, on all these songs he sang, but “Blinded By Emotion” especially, because it was such a hard, hard song to sing. The range of it is incredible.

Yeah. It does.
Everybody came to the line and gave 150% when they were in the studio. I'm really proud of everybody's performance. Everybody to the man delivered on this record.

Absolutely, and the vocals are some of Fergie's best.
I agree….”Falling Down”… there's not one track that I skip over.

No, me either. I've got to play the album from start to finish.
Yeah. It's really that kind of album. Of course a few words on “Velocitized” are something that… I love that song.

When was that written? What album was that written for?
I don't know the exact year. I want to say '93 though.
It was right around the time Survivor kind of got back together. I started doing gigs and Dave Bickler was the lead singer…oh, you know what, I take that back. It had to be late '92 because Jimi Jamison…we didn't know who our lead singer was going to be at the time, and Jimi came into town and Frankie and I had written a song called “Velocitized” and actually Jimi sang the demo of that song. Soon after that, Jimi went off and we got Dave Bickler back, and I toured with the band between '93 and '96. And Frankie and I wrote many more songs, but that song always seemed to get a reaction when I played it for people. I never forgot about that song, and when we were looking at songs for this record, I played everybody a lot of things, and that song just lit everybody up. I said, “Well, this song deserves another chance.”

Oh, I'm so glad you did.
Yeah, it's just a real… it didn't get its chance initially, you know. I know that… God, I'll tell ya, I thought so highly of that song, and nothing ever happened with it. Hopefully it'll get recognized now; I'm very proud of it. It was one of the songs that show what Frankie and I were all about. It's just the kind of songs we would write. It's a certain chemistry that he and I have… I can say “have” because those songs will live on. It's a very special thing.

Is it safe to say there's very little chance of you guys writing together again?
Well, you know, I can't say that. It's something that I really don't need to say because time will take care of it one way or another. If it's meant to happen, it will, if it's not, it won't. I never put up barriers.

That's a very… well, I think that's just a fantastic outlook. That's a great attitude isn't it?
You try to keep your mind open as you can.

Fantastic. You just thought this song fit into this project perfectly?
I did. I think it works. I think it's the harder edge of what Mecca is all about, but I think it flows well.

Yeah, it does. It's just got that great little, I don't know, it's got a great little buzz about it doesn't it?
Yeah. It really does, and Shannon really slammed that thing.

Yeah, absolutely. Fantastic.
Anything else?

That's a pretty good story, isn't it?
Well, it's pretty complete. Now, of course, we want to get it out in front of people. Let people experience it. I think people are hungry for this type of music, I really do. I'm not saying that all age groups are equally into this type of thing, but I know there's a very broad band of people, basically from the ages of 30-50, that are going to want to hear this record. And that is really where we're aiming this. I would love to see a couple of these songs in movies, and I will definitely be pitching that, because I think a few of these would be wonderful in a movie.

“Mecca” comes to mind, or “Silence of the Heart”, or “Close That Gap”, or really any of them. There's some really good potential there. We're not closing any doors to anything like that. I would like to see this thing released worldwide and really get an audience. I'd love to see a Mecca II.

Great! Great! That's what I was going to ask you.
But obviously one at a time. There was an awful lot of good energy put into this record. I think some day we'll look back on this record and go, “Wow! That was pretty cool.” I'm trying to tell everybody to appreciate this moment because these moments are hard to come by. There's so many albums out there. There's an enormous amount of product, but a lot of them are just that - they're product. They don't have the heart and soul that it takes to last.

This record really has heart and soul.
It really does, and it comes through. It's a combination of all those elements: the singing, the songs, the production, the commitment - you can sense it. You can have a budget of $500,000 and, trust me, and not have an album this good.

We did it!
…..I'm just telling you that it is possible to do an album economically.

[Time out….] I saw you and Kevin [Chalfant] at work after The Gods 2000.
Well you should be happy to know that the song we were writing in Liverpool at the dock there; we finished it and it's going to go on the record.

All right!
It's called "The Man I Want To Be".

It's exactly... in fact, we found the old tapes from us skatting right there in that little damp hallway waiting for the cab or whatever, and it was as good as we remembered it, and we just finished it. It's one of the real treats.

Fantastic. That was something else just to be there.
Well, we'll have some good stories when that album comes out.

Great. And next up a World Stage record?
Uh yeah, I think a World Stage record is definitely in the very near future, at least the planning of it. I have one track that's cut, it's called, "Night of the World Stage"

That's right.
I'm real proud of it. It's not finished but it's kind of laid down and I need to really get Mike Aquino in here and rock it up a little bit. I really don't know - there's only my voice on it right now - I don't know if this is going to be a superstar event or if this is going to be more of a... I don't know what this is going to be... what World Stage this is going to be. I do know though that I would like to be able to do more dates with the next incarnation of World Stage. So it may not be a superstar event this time around; I'm not sure exactly what shape it's going to be. I would like to be able to... it's so hard to get everybody together.
We only usually do a show or two a year, which is great. They're big events, and it's wonderful, but I would like to be able to do numerous shows.

Of course, I have a ball with the Ides of March, actually I'm going to be doing another Ides of March album too and you can definitely... I mean there's a... I don't know how much interest there is in that with your readers, but it's really going to be an exciting project because we have a concept involved, we're going to call it Show Stoppers.…you know, you can probably count memorable concerts on one or two hands - the ones that blew your mind. Take one of those concerts and pick the hottest number of the night, the one that got everybody crazy. Well I want to do an album of those songs.

You know, just great covers of songs that… we might put a few originals on, but mainly songs that have not been overdone.

You know, “Here's another oldies album” - No. Songs that are the Show Stoppers of various other bands and other performers, but putting the Ides of March flare on to it, and of course, the horns, and my vocals, and I just want to make it the best Ides of March album ever. To capture the spirit of what we do, but with some of these amazing tunes that just bring down the house. So that's the concept.

That sounds pretty cool to me.
Just go for broke. Really put out… you know, the Ides of March are… you haven't seen us live, we're just an amazingly vibrant, energetic, spirited band and I want that to come across once and for all on tape. I want to go down to the Big Boy Room in Nashville, I want to cut it all live with the exception of, we'll cut vocals but I'll probably re-do them, but I want that whole band vibe on tape, kind of what we had with Mecca, you know, where everyone is playing together and it's not like a series of overdubs where… you know what I'm saying.

Yeah, I do.
I want it to feel like the spirit that I get when I'm singing with the Ides. Aside from World Stage, I'm definitely going to be doing that also. I would like to have both projects ready by the spring of next year, so I've got a lot of work to do.

Yeah, it sounds like it.
But it's going to be fun, and just getting done with Leslie Hunt, at least the first three songs, and of course I'm working with Kelly - not Kelly Keagy, but Kelly who's my niece and we're getting very close to a record deal with her.

Well done. Thank you Jim…that's it for the Mecca portion of this conversation!!.
Great, Andrew…thanks.

Many personal thanks to Ron Higgins for transcribing this interview from tape for me. Appreciate it mate!





Mecca - Fergie Frederiksen (2002)

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FERGIE FREDERIKSEN / Mecca - Lead Vocals / Co-Writer

Hi Fergie,
Thanks for taking the time out to answer some questions!

It's always a pleasure speaking with you Andrew.

You have worked with Jim Peterik before and through that I know you knew Joe Vana and it was his idea to get you in, but how did you officially find yourself involved in the Mecca project?
Joe and I met while I was returning from holiday in Michigan. I had my 3 boy in the van and I met Joe at a studio some where in the suburbs. I think I got lost trying to find it. Any way, Joe played some songs that he had put together that would be on the CD.
I was very impressed with the tunes. They were demos but had a very good vibe and Joe sounded great on the few I heard. Then he played a couple that Jimmy co-wrote. Man, they were very cool. The idea of working w/ Jimmy producing my vocals and having such a great start made it a no-brainer.

Of course, as always, your vocals on Mecca are awesome, but also some of
the best I have heard from you ever.

I would like to say I'm just getting better, but to be truthful, a lot of it was Jimmy and Larry's approach to recording vocals. Larry has Pro-tools down so well that it was a breeze, no wasted time etc. Jimmy and Larry know each other so well that they have compiled a keeper vocal before you know it.
Oh ya, I practiced the songs a lot at home and w/ Jimmy at his piano which might of helped. "giggle"

How would you rate your performance on Mecca compared to other projects?
I rate it with one of my best vocal efforts. I think I was very prepared to do it and enjoyed the company.

And I guess, where do you consider does this rank amongst other work you
have done?

When I think of LeRoux, Toto, Frederiksen/Phillips, and Equilibrium I would say up in the top two. Which ever those are.

Velocitized is an old unreleased Survivor song and is really pumped up with you guys covering it - it sounds like you had a blast singing that one!
First song we tracked and just a blast to sing. Jimmy and Frankie had a good vibe goin the day that was written.

I love what you and Joe did on Can't Stop Love - the co-lead vocal approach. You guys harmonized brilliantly together. How was that track recorded?
Well, we both knew the song start to finish. Joe sang it pretty much all the way thru and when I came to Chicago I filled in what Jimmy was hearing. Jimmy and Joe had this song in mind from the start as a duet. It turned out pretty cool huh!

You Still Shock Me reminds me a little of your awesome Frederiksen/Phillips album....
This is one of the songs I heard the day I committed to the project. I really connected with the demo and wanted very badly to sing it. Thanks for thinking of F/P because that's what I kinda felt too.

It also sounds like you are having a lot of fun on the final cut [the Japan bonus track] Miss-Chevious?
Wow! When Mike came up w/ the riff, Jimmy was all over it and I wasn't far behind. Some songs are just meant to be fun and are written effortlessly. This one is one of those. Jimmy adding the horns really kicked ass.

What I thought was interesting was having you and Joe performing backing vocals on each other's lead tracks. How did you find that experience?
It was what we had in mind from the start. Joe and I are similar in some ways and quite different in others. Jimmy just got us in the spots he thought showed our styles off the best and did the best for the song.

How do you rate Joe's performance as his debut album?!!
Great!!! Joe hasn't been recording for near as long as Jimmy and myself but it's hard to tell. He has a great feel and a pleasure to hang with...

Before now, had you worked with Thom Griffin before at all?

What songs off this album really appealed to you / what were your favourite songs & why?
You Still Shock Me because it wasn't an easy song to sing yet it was a blast to get into. Once I learned the song I couldn't get it out of my head and when we recorded it, well, it felt great!
Mecca is still my fav on the CD. Even though I'm not singing it, Joe did such a great job writing it and singing it, it moved me a lot.

How about a Thom Griffin / Fergie album? I could help you guys get that off the ground for sure!!
Hey, Maybe I'll have to shake some trees???????
I think we need to ask Tom.

What possibilities exist for the next Fergie solo album?
There will be another. Either a solo or a F/P. Ricky and I talk about it often. It's hard to get the financing you need to get all those great players together. It's not like just sitting in the studio and playing everything yourself. We had some of the best of the best on that CD. I hope someone reads this and has an idea. Hint,Hint

You have worked with some fabulous bands, all seemingly now part of AOR / Melodic Rock's cult favourites list! How do you feel about that?!!
I'm flattered to death. It means alot to me now that I'm really able to enjoy life. I only hope I don't let them down, because I proud to be in such company.

Le Roux, Trillion, Toto, Frederiksen/Phillips, Mecca - what stands out as personal favourites to be involved in / why?
LeRoux, and F/P I guess. I mean if you consider I was in Toto when they were the hottest band in the world, that was fun. But to be honest, LeRoux probably.

I truly love the Frederiksen/Phillips album. Even though you and Ricky also worked on your solo album, the P/F album had such diverse power.
And what are you working on currently and what is coming up on the horizon for you?!!

I've been speaking w/ a few people about what I'm gonna do. I haven't decided yet. I feel it's getting close to that time.

Anything you would like to add Fergie?
Andrew, your the greatest and every body know it. I proud to be your friend. Take care. Oh ya, I still owe you a beer or two. All the best…

Thanks Fergie, pleasure is all mine!




Mecca - Thom Griffin (2002)

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THOM GRIFFIN / Mecca - Backing Vocals

Hi Thom,
Thanks for taking the time out to answer some questions! How did you find yourself involved in the Mecca project?

I became involved in the Mecca project when the producer, Jim Peterik called me for the session. Apparently, they had tried some other singers, and were unhappy with the results.

I gather you knew Jim and Joe from the Chicago area? Is that where you work from / where are you based these days?
I am from the western suburbs of Chicago. I do almost all of my work from here, 99% being jingles.

Have you worked with any of the Mecca guys previously?
I have sang a lot of songs over the years for Jim Peterik, who then sent them to various artists trying to get his songs placed. I have sang with John Melnick on many jingle, and some record dates.

I have to say, without being biased in any way, that the backing vocals on Mecca are some of the best I have heard - ever! Well done! How would you rate your performance on Mecca compared to other projects?
I try not to rank my work, although I am very proud of, and excited about Mecca. In particular, I feel Joe Vana is going to be a major artist. He is truly wonderful!

Many readers of my site of course know you for your work with CBS recording artists Trillion!
Are you aware that many still hold that release in high regard and consider it as one of melodic rock's cult releases?

I have been made aware over the years, of an appreciation for Trillion. It is fun to receive emails from fans of the band. I must say I am a little shocked and surprised. The Trillion CD's have been re-released by Epic. The only place I have found them is at CDNow.com.

Before now, had you and (original) Trillion vocalist) Fergie Frederiksen worked together at all?
Fergie was the first lead singer in Trillion. I replaced him for the second Trillion album. We had not spoken or worked together in 20 years. I thought it was a lot of fun and ironic to be singing backgrounds behind him for Mecca.

Could you see any other work or projects arising from your involvement in the Mecca album?
I will probably do some work with Joe Vana in the near future. I am not certain what my role will be, but I look forward to it.

What possibilities exist for a Thom Griffin solo project? I am sure many of my site regulars would love to see that happen?
If anyone out there wants to hear from or about me, I will try to accommodate. [UPDATE: Stay tuned…!]

Anything you would like to add?
Good luck working this release. It is a wonderful project! It is nice to hear music like this again.

Thanks Thom!
Peace & good health!





Mecca - Mike Aquino (2002)

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MIKE AQUINO / Mecca - Guitars

Well Mike, good to hook up with you. I thought I'd just ask you a few questions about the Mecca and things in general, if that's OK?
That's fine.

Fantastic. So I took down a couple of notes the other day. What I should start with is, when did you first hook up with Jim Peterik?
Oh boy. I actually hooked up with Jim through Joe Vana.

Oh, OK.
Joe Vana was… I was teaching lessons over at a store and Joe was one of my students, and he kept saying, “I've got to tell my buddy Jim about you and, you know, after a bunch of lessons and Joe and I doing basement demo tapes together in his basement, and sending them off to Jim, we finally met Jim and Jim had me play on a song on his World Stage disk and it turned into two songs, into three songs, into four, you know, and so on and so on. So, that's pretty much how I got to meet Jim, is just through Joe.

OK. So how did you hook up with Joe initially? He was just a student?
Well Joe actually lives right around the corner from one of the stores that I teach at and he walked in and he wanted to take, I think, originally it was bass lessons, and I had a spot open so he ended up taking lessons from me. It was just one of those chance things, you know.

Absolutely. As a lead singer, what kind of a bass player does he make?
Give him roots to play and he's fine, give him something intricate… I don't know, you know. But singing is definitely his main thing.
He's got a real good ear for it. He's got a real good ear for how a song should be put together. So basically that's how we got started together. He was just going, “Dude, here's these tunes, it kind of goes like this,” and he'd kind of plunk them out on guitar, you know, real like, real bad, and it was my job to take these things the way he was doing them and make them sound the way I think he wanted them to sound. So, that's kind of how we got started, you know, just doing little basement stuff of our own.

OK. And Jim ended up bringing you into Kelly Keagy as well?
Yeah, well, I met Kelly through doing the Jim Peterik and World Stage gig. Kelly was going to record some tunes… well, originally he was recording some demos over at Jim's studio for Kelly's new record, and Jim is going, “I've got just the guitarist here in Chicago to use on your demos,” and he goes, “it's one of the guys from the band,” you know, so I kind of knew Kelly from playing with Jim before I did the demos with Kelly.
And then after the demos were done, however many months later it was, we ended up laying down some final track stuff for Kelly's record, so that's how I got to know Kelly. Kelly was doing the gigs with Jim.

It's a great little family community you have there.
Yeah, it's an interesting little circle, the more people you know, the smaller it gets, that's what's really scary. Not the bigger it gets, it gets smaller, because everybody knows everybody.

The World Stage shows have become a bit of a legend though haven't they?
Yeah, they have, they've become real fun. It's not too often when a kid from Wheaton, Illinois gets to stand on stage with Don Barnes from .38 Special and Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon, you know, that doesn't happen every day. So it's really kind of cool, because I grew up on a lot of Jim's stuff that he wrote for .38 Special, those were some of the first songs that I ever like learned on the guitar in my whole life, and here I am playing the licks along with Don Barnes, and I'm like, “Wow, this is really cool!” I never thought I would ever do this. It's just funny how things work out.

That is very cool.
I wouldn't trade it for a million years. I wouldn't.

On the outset of the Mecca project, did Joe rope you into that or is that mutual…
Well that kind of started I'd say a couple of years… maybe a year and a half or so before we hooked up with Jim with all of this stuff. Joe and I were making these tapes in his basement, tunes that he wrote or things we wrote together, he'd ship them off to Jim and Jim would tell us if they were good, if they were really good, or if they were really not magic at all. And then if he's going, “I'd do this with the bridge, I'd do this with the chorus,” we'd let him do something with the chorus, so it just got to the point to where we all said, “Well, why don't we all just do a record,” <laughs> Because the whole thing started with Joe and I in the basement about a year and a half before Mecca was even thought up.
So, that's kind of how the whole thing got started. It was Joe, myself, and then we brought in another guy, Jason Deroche, who was the main writer for “Close That Gap”, and “Falling Down”. He's a friend of mine here in Chicago who's one of the best classical players around, and he grew up on a lot of Jim's stuff too. It's all kind of neat how it all fell into place.

I can remember Joe playing me demos for this stuff over the phone about 8 months ago, so that was the same time you guys were just sort of getting started.
Right. I'd say the two songs that did make it to the Mecca project that were original basement demos between Jason, Joe, and myself, were “Close That Gap” and “Falling Down”. Those were recorded in Joe's basement before we ever did a Mecca thing, before we ever thought of Mecca. So those are two songs that really kind of got the ball rolling.

So you've got the finished master disk now, what do you think?
I love it. I love it. I think it sounds really cool. Yeah, I'd be crazy to say it doesn't have... it doesn't sound like some of the '80s rock stuff - it does, I mean, look at the writers, look at the people who are playing on it. It's got all the elements of the '80s rock scene, but at the same time it sounds very new.

It does, doesn't it.
It sounds very fresh, it sounds very new, and that might just be because nobody's doing it anymore.
I mean, we try to, of course, do something along the '80s rock line, but at the same time go, "well let's not try to make this song sound like a Survivor song, or lets not make this song sound like a Toto song; how can we make these tunes sound like Mecca." So what we used to do is, we used to sit in Jim's studio, and have fun just sitting down, jamming and writing tunes. I mean that's how "Miss-Chevious" was written. We were at Jim's studio kind of writing some tunes and Jim's going, "we need a real rocker, rocker. Not like an '80s rocker, but a rocker tune," and I go, "I've had this tune for like a week or two now I just don't have any lyrics," and he's like, "well start playing it." So I start playing it, and within like 30 seconds he had a verse written. <laughs> He starts singing.

He's a machine isn't he?
He's a machine. He's like, "Give me some paper. Give me a pen. We've got to write this stuff down," you know. So Jim and Fergie finished the lyrics and that's just how a lot of this stuff was brought about, just by playing around with stuff and getting the right parts. Finding stuff that's cool that's going to make it sound a little newer. Not a complete flashback.

No. It's got a great sound. It's got a really nice modern sort of production sound, you know.
Yeah, I love it.

And it's smooth as hell too.
Uh huh, Uh huh!

What do you think about... I gather the first tune "Velocitized" is a song that never made Survivor.

How was it filling in for the intended guitar licks of Frankie Sullivan?
It was, actually, I never heard the tune. We were sitting at Jim's, and he put it on... well, he had given Joe a disk of some tunes that might work for the Mecca thing and we put it on over in Jim's kitchen, and I'm listening to it and I'm going, "this is a great tune." It's fun, it's happy, it's not in-depth about anything, it's just a fun tune.
And I sat there going, "yeah, this is cool," you know. Frankie's stuff was cool to learn how to play, you know, and about the only stuff that I didn't do that Frankie did on the record on the original demo, was I changed the solo and the solo at the end. But I tried to stay... because I love the demo so much, I tried to stay pretty close to the original feel, because it sounded so right, you know. And even if I didn't come up with the way to play the riff or something like that, if it sounds right, I'm not going to mess with it.

I just, you know, I have no business doing that <laughs>.

You did a great job; it's really a great tune.
Thank you.

What I really like about the album is, some of the slower tracks I really do like a lot, the nice sort of thought out slow guitar solo. I think you've done quite a sensational job of a few tracks there.
Great, thank you. That's always been a cool thing to be able to play on a ballad, to do the soulful guitar stuff, because I was always taught from day one from instructors or other guitar players that I listen to and read articles on, and it's completely true, you can play on a fast tune and play fast as much as you want and there's so much going on that it can hide the soul, it can hide the playing. But to be able to play on a slow tune, there's no lifejacket, there's no net to catch you; it's going by so slow or it's going by with such a power that, OK this one note has to stand out as much as like these 20 notes on this other song. It's just really cool, and Jim is really... Jim and Joe with the way that they write their ballads, they're both very passionate writers, you know, real big sound, and I grew up listening to a lot of Journey as well and Neal Schon is in my mind, as far as rock players go, the best rock guitar player to play on a ballad.

Yeah, I agree.
I mean, because he can play like four notes that just make you cry; he can play a barrage of like 20 notes that just mow you down, and it's just like, "ah man," it's just incredible.
You have to try to make that guitar sing, just like the voices are doing.

Absolutely. I think he does that exactly and I think you've done a pretty good job yourself.
Well thank you, I really appreciate that.

Yeah, I think the name Mike Aquino will soon be talked about quite in detail.
That would be very interesting <laughs>. That would be very interesting; I don't know how... good detail, or bad detail, but I guess any detail is good in any realm <laughs>.

Well when they hear these records they'll be good, I'm sure.
I sure hope so.

Have you got favorite tunes?
Favorite tunes? Wow, I wish I had a disk on me, I could tell you. Well, I think a first favorite tune that comes to my mind is "Can't Stop Love." I really like the way that starts with the acoustics and then builds into a big huge chorus and it just keeps rolling. I really like the way that song grooves. I think Shannon Forrest, the drummer, did a... I mean he didn't play any special crazy kind of beat on that tune, but he just put it so much in the pocket that it's just... it's one of my favorite tunes to drive to. I think that's why I like it so much.

Oh, this is a great driving record.
Oh yeah, it is a great driving record. I mean, you just can't help but to drive a little too fast with it, that's for sure. Let me see, any other ones, oh , "Wishing Well", I love "Wishing Well". I think Fergie's performance on the vocals were just incredible; he really sang way above what I could ever hear a person singing on that song, it was just great. The way the harmonies lock in on the chorus is just wonderful. I really dig "Miss-Chevious" because it's a little different. Its got the horn stuff, you know, it's got the '80s flavor but not like the '80s pop flavor, but more like that Aerosmith "Rag Doll" type mood, you know, real sexy, real sassy, so I really dig that song a lot. It's such a tough thing to pick, let me see if I can pick another tune on there that I can tell you would stand out, I don't know. Honey (to someone off mic) do you know any song that stands out? (background voice) OK, she likes "Velocitized" and "Miss-Chevious".

Actually, yeah, "Velocitized" does stand out well because it's just a great straight ahead rock tune that doesn't... just from the first drum hit it doesn't let up until the very end.

Yep. I guess that's the radio track.
And, I'd say if I really had to name one more tune, it would be "Close That Gap".

Isn't it awesome!?
It is a great tune.

I'll tell you what, I really like the new mix with your guitar more in the mix.
What's really cool, is that song finally sounds like a song with what they did in the mix. When they took everything out in the beginning except for the piano and the vocals and then bring the guitars in at the pre-chorus and then everything else and then at the chorus drop them all back out, it really makes the song sound great. Everyone around Chicago knows Joe Vana as a singer through Jim Peterik and the Jim Peterik shows knows Joe as this real high harmony singer and everything and no one has ever really gotten to hear him just sing in that comfortable, normal range of a vocalist. And, of course I've heard him sing in that before when we're writing tunes, and he sounds great singing lead on a tune that's right in that upper middle range and he sounds phenomenal, his vocal is just killer and I sit there... I've played that for friends and they go, "that's Joe? He sounds great singing this stuff." Yeah, I'd say that song does stick out a bit too. I mean, I could sit here and name them all, but I won't.

Yep, I know what you mean. Fantastic. Fantastic Mike, I think that's all I've got to know really.
Cool, wonderful.

That's a great little wrap-up.

Yeah, and I just presume that you'd like to be part of Mecca II if something should eventuate?
Oh sure! It would be a blast; it would be a blast. I would love to do it, and I would love to work with the same guys again. It was an absolute blast.

Fantastic. Thanks Mike.
All right Andrew.

Many personal thanks to Ron Higgins for transcribing this interview from tape for me. Appreciate it mate!





Mecca - David Hungate (2002)

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DAVID HUNGATE / Mecca - Bass

Hi David. You are one of the legends of this rock genre, having started your
recording career many years ago. Was Toto your first band?

My recording career actually began in 1969....Toto began in 1977.

Wow…Ok! Looking back, is their any particular segment of your career that you enjoyed most and consider the most rewarding?
The period from the recording of Boz Scaggs' "Silk Degrees" (late '75) through Toto IV (1981) was the best.
I worked on a number of projects with musicians like Jeff Porcaro, Dean Parks, Lukather, Jay Graydon, Ray Parker, David Paich, David Foster, and others....great rhythm sections, and some great pop/R&B music. No drum machines or click tracks...we just played.

Is there a low point that stands out at all?
My two years on the A&R staff of MCA Nashville (1985,86). I did very little playing and missed it greatly.

What caused you to leave Toto at a period where the band was very successful? In 1982 I had already moved to Nashville and was getting my career started there.
I had a 3 year-old and a new baby and a 9 month tour was in the works. I didn't feel that I could leave my family at that time, or that it would be fair to the group to ask them to find a sub for the tour. I left at the right time, for a number of reasons.

Do you prefer the work of a session musician? After all, you have done that
for 20 years now!!

I've done it for 32 years, unbelievably, and I much prefer it to the road, though I love live playing under the right circumstances.

I saw the list of credit that you have played with - it's quite a phenomenal lost of people. What are your best memories from that list?
I've gotten to work with so many greats it's hard to narrow it down.
From a musical standpoint I'd start with most of the 70 plus records I worked
on with Jeff Porcaro...

As far as rhythm sections go, you and Shannon Forrest sound sensational
together. Have you worked with him previously?

I've worked with Shannon a lot, and it's always a joy.

How'd you get to know Shannon?
We started getting called to work together several years ago.

Shannon is being compared to the late great Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro, who obviously you worked with for some time. How accurate is the comparison?
I think I'm the first one to compare him to Jeff, so I obviously feel it's accurate.

Did you enjoy the 3 day session work out for the Mecca release, there in Nashville?
It was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my recording career.

What's next for you? What do you have planned for the coming months - who are you working with etc...
I recently played on albums for Randy Travis, Billy Gilman and Billy Ray
Cyrus. I plan to continue doing session work as long as they keep calling me.
I do live jazz gigs several times a month with singer April Barrows (playing
guitar and trombone) and enjoy that very much.

And any further future plans?
To try to do as much enjoyable music as possible. I've also been writing a book about my experiences in the music business which I plan to publish when (if?) I retire.

You have written several movie scores, any more of those planned?
I played on quite a few movie scores.....didn't write them.

Anyone you would one day like to work with?
I'd like to work with a great traditional R&B band, but there aren't many out there these days. Actually I enjoy most styles of music so long as great musicians are involved.

Thanks again David.
Hope it's been helpful.

Yes indeed!




Glenn Hughes (2002)

Building The Vocal Machine



Hey Glenn….so how are things with you anyway?
So everything's good man, the reviews this week are strong so I'm just, I don't know, startled. All I can tell you know is, I just made another record and people are digging it.

Yeah, absolutely, Absolutely. And I'm one of them.
Oh yeah? You know, Andrew I've got to tell you, I guess being married and having no… I didn't want to listen to anybody's advice on what my album shouldn't be like. I get a lot of people, trust me, telling me what to do. Like for instance, you can't, you know, be funky. Or you can't have echo and you can't have background vocals. And you shouldn't have any chicks. And you can't have any horns. And whatever you do, don't have… I get people all the time suggesting. And I just locked myself in my studio and I wrote songs. Off the record I said, I wonder what Trapeze would sound like doing this or let's put an acoustic track here. Let's put some real Hammond on there. Let's, let's put some more vocal on the record, let's have more vocals. Let's um… I just had fun.

Yeah. It sounds like it.
It's a good album. It's mournful in places because there's two songs about people that died. But it's, it's a very… I mean look at Kip Winger's stuff, some of the stuff he's done has been mournful, but it's good, your know?

Oh absolutely, absolutely.
I just got off the phone with him.

Ok. So you guys are friends?
Yeah. Well, I'm going to give you an exclusive. You might be seeing something from the two of us in the next two years.

Yeah, we're actually talking at the moment, but I mean, we're thinking about putting our heads together. The music obviously is going to be, what it's going to be, it's going to be Kip and Glenn doing… and it's going to be a mix. But we are actually talking about it and Rod Morgenstein and Andy Timmons are the other two geezers.

Oh wow! What a powerful line up.
Yeah, we haven't... Once again, we haven't written anything. Kip's writing now and I've got some ideas. But we're really, really into pursuing something special.

Yeah. Kip's got an interesting sound on his own, his solo sound these days. You two mixed would be very interesting.
Yeah well, you know, I like his lush arrangements and I like… see I dig…, you know he's had a lot of bad luck in the last few years, we know that. And I'm akin to the soul of him. Not the soulfulness of his voice, but the soul of who he is as a man. And I admire him as a man. I get asked so many times, write with this guy or write with… and all these prats out there you know. But you know, I don't have any time to work with anybody that's not loving and nurturing. And he's a lovely bloke. But it's been a heavy week. This is the last interview and it's been great because some of the interviews I get normally, some of the people are difficult, because of different languages they are really difficult. And they're like, rude.

Oh really? (laughs)
Oh, some of the Germans are rude, yeah. But, all in all, every interview and review have been very strong. And they want to know what I did differently. And I said well, I just wrote some more music. You know I just wrote and I sang. You know I have that gift where sometime… you see I'm living inside this body and people go, 'how do you…God, you're Glenn Hughes.' I say, what do you mean? I said like, I'm just a human being for Christ's sake. I just happen to sing because God chose me to sing.
And it really is that simple you know. I mean I have been blessed with this, with this beautiful gift that, let me tell you, I tried to abuse that for so long. In the eighties you know. I was so out of my head. And I had no idea what I was doing to my soul. I was in like an empty, you know, tank. And now I've got this life ex… and here's the deal, I have so much life experience to draw from in my music. And I don't, as you know sing about weasels and goblins, I sing about human conditions.

Yes you do.
And it all is coming from deep, deep down.

Whatever sort of part of your life you moved onto, I just think the songs on Building are really a strong collection of songs.
Yeah, and I'll tell you what. I hate to say this but the next one, I'm even going to get even more melodic.
Not because you've got melodicrock, I'm not saying that to appease you. I've got to tell you that I sometimes in the last 5 years have gotten lost in the performance of how great a singer I'm supposed to be or how many great licks can Glenn sing. I am trying to not derail myself on the ride by keeping to a great melody. I keep forgetting it's the tone of my voice that is strong. We all know that I can sing rips and all that stuff and I can do all that stuff with my voice. But I'm coming home now to a place of – this is a great tonal instrument. Just that one note can change people's lives. Just the one single note, you know, like Paul McCartney has that great tone. That's what I'm coming… in my older years, I'm coming to grips with the voice. Not just the rips and the ad-libs and all those screams and those long, winding notes. Which like the Mariah Carey syndrome. You know what I'm talking about?

Yes. Yes I do.
So, you know, some of the album smacks heavily of a young Glenn Hughes in like “Out on Me” and “Slip Away”. Those performances I could… an 18 year old kid. I was blown away when I sang out on me. I'm going, listen to this little bastard. I sounded like a child. I'll tell you, I have not felt so enthused singing on a record in since probably Play Me Out.

You know what? You really can hear it. When I put this on I could really feel a spirit in the record.
Even in ”Can't Stop”, the first track, when I go up-down the second verse It's like it's whoa! It's like, a guy that really means it. And let me tell you Andrew, I'm not kidding you, all of these songs, pretty much first takes.


You know I don't really sit a home mapping out the structure of the melody, what I'm going to do. I just, well I sort of blues it out you know. It's a beautiful thing to have that thing.
Whatever tools we're given. I mean the tools I've been given, it's taken me almost half my life, more than half my life to realize that I sustain my soul by singing, either to one person, or one thousand, or ten thousand, or twenty thousand. I write music to sustain my soul, to make me a better person. A Glenn Hughes that isn't writing and producing is not a happy guy. And I've got nothing to give back to the human race. And I do change people's lives. It might not be millions anymore. But people do get affected by my music.

They do. You've got a very vocal fan base.
I do. And they are very sweet. And even the die hard, let's call them the die hard Purple fanatics that have grown over the years to love the funky, ballad Glenn too. Because if you like Glenn, you've got to know Glenn comes from Trapeze. You know, and that was 30 years ago. And I'm so proud of that man. When somebody says to me, I'm a Trapeze fan. That really tickles me.
When somebody says, I'm a huge Trapeze fan, whether I'm a Purple fan or a Sabbath fan. I go, Oh my God, you must know who I am. You know? Coverdale got his copy two days ago and he's very, brutally frank with me. We talk about all of my releases and he was blown away by it. And I was really happy 'cause he really criticizes. In a very good way, we talk about our records.

I like David a lot. Actually I did a really good interview with him.
He's a good interview. He gives great interviews.

Yeah he's very intense, but he's also got a…. he's aware of himself. Got a good sense of humor.
He's gearing up right now to doing a record. I think he's told you we're going to do a duet.

Oh, on the record. Are you really?
Yeah, well you can go to his …, he's talking about it on his web site, so it's not going to be a secret.

Yeah, great, great. I'd love to see you two do a record together.
Andrew, you know the deal is for me, and this is the beauty of it. You interview lots of artists. And you'll ask the question, 'Well what's up coming up for you?' And they'll probably tell you what's coming up. I know what's coming up for me.
You know JLT's coming in this week and we're going to do the album. But what's coming up for me in the next two or three years is I don't know, but it's going to be fun. 'Cause whatever it's going to be, I'm going to be there for it. I shall be present and correct, standing at attention, ready to go.
Whether it's with David or Kip or whether it's with another KLF type crazy venture or whether it's a bloody opera. I'm up for it. And, the deal is, I'm not chasing the double-platinum success I had in Deep Purple every year 'cause I'd kill myself. It's that Dorian Gray thing. I'm going to be fifty-years old, I feel fucking great. People say I look great. And the thing is, is that… Did I tell you that story of David Lee Roth, years ago. About five-years ago. We're having dinner and he said… I'd lost all this weight. And he said to me, 'Man,' he says. 'You can lose like another twenty pounds, you like, you can hit those notes you used to hit.' I said David, I can hit them and more. I said, well, what about Pavarotti, for Christ's sake? He was looking at me like, it's like a physical thing. Singing for me isn't about that. It's about, deep within. It comes from somewhere so deep. It comes from generations of life. There are certain singers, that obviously you know, in your feeling that sing from somewhere that is so deeper than most people. They draw it from somewhere, you go, 'Where are they finding that?'

Ah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Right? Like for me, where does Jeff Beck find those notes? A certain, whatever. A certain soccer player. How did he do that? It comes… It's just deep. And I don't mess around with that. So what I do is, I flow with it knowing, there's something coming here. And whatever it is, I'm present and correct. You know what I'm saying? I'm actually using it now as the tool that God gave me. Now I'm not talking religiously crazy Andrew. I'm telling you that the world now knows that the s????????? Glen uses is a little deeper than most peoples, singing wise. So it comes from a place were it's special. And I tell you, Andrew, I'm a humble, grateful man for that.

I can tell. I can absolutely tell. I can tell the difference between what you're saying now and what you said the first interview I did with you about three years ago maybe now.
I remember that. The Way it is, right?

You were sort of searching a bit more then. You're sounding more comfortable now.
At that time, I think I'd just done The Way it is, or I was making it. I took a two and a half year hiatus from Addiction. The Addiction album damn near killed me. I was revisiting the period were I got sober and the album was so dark.

It is dark.
I'm telling you I got ill making that album. And I was hard pushed to promote it. I promoted it and I was sick, I had my band… at that time I wasn't playing bass I had this 5 or 6 piece band we were going out and playing it. And some of the songs were so exhausting. Drawing from that experience, I don't want to live that way again, that song was damn near frightening to sing. That's why Building the Machine, although some of it is mournful, I found it to be refreshing to sing, you know, refreshing.

Yeah. You sound revitalized. That's probably the best word.
Revitalized and comfortable in one's skin. Comfortable again…um, I'll tell you, I've come a long way these last ten years of sobriety that It's like…, the spin of the coin Andrew is, is I should be dead for Christ's sake. You've seen these Behind the Musics, these Motley Crues, 'Oh I was dead, I turned blue'. Well you know sort of the same thing with me, you know, I came back from the dead. And I'm not, you know, wearing like diamonds and dripping with gold and wanting you to think I am some sort of super god. I came back in a spiritual path. Which I don't really talk about that much, but I did. And low and behold I met a wonderful woman and I've got great friends. Rock and roll is not going to kill Glenn Hughes, like it's killed many of people. You know like the Phil Linnots and the John Bonhams and you know the drugs and the alcohol have just killed the '70s legends. All of those, Jim Morrisons and Janis Joplins and Jimmi Hendrixes you know.
You don't see so much Kurt Cobain, you don't see so much of that anymore do you? Hopefully I won't be one of those statistics, I won't be a statistic like that.

Yeah, never. You've got another 50 records left in you.
Well, you know, it's scary isn't it? Because I'm producing…I think since I've got sober, I've been on about twenty, twenty odd records. Eight of my own, well, nine of my own and then tribute records. You know I've done, in the…, since I've spoke to you last, I've done…Christ…in the last four months I've done an Aerosmith tribute, a Queen tribute and a Nazareth tribute. After I said I was never going to do any more tributes, I did three in like a week.

I've heard the Queen one.
How is that?

I haven't got a copy of it.

Haven't you?
No. I'll call Bob Kulick.

Yeah, I had to buy one from Japan myself. I still enjoyed it a lot. And the Nazareth one, I have not got yet.
That's 'Piece of my Heart', the Janis Joplin song.

Oh, that'll be good.
And the Aerosmith song, I've got to tell you the truth, it's a song that wasn't a hit in the '70s. And I can't remember what it was called. Something about kings or something. Well they chose that track for me 'cause it was like an obviously not a Glenn Hughes…, I just turn it into something new. Steve Lukather to play guitar. It's great. It'll be coming out in the next year or something. Kind of cool.

Yeah, ok. Well they're good fun to do aren't they?
Ah, you know, Bob Kulick's the tribute king.

He's the best producer of them isn't he?
He is for that you know, and I get to play with like Steve Lukather and all those guys. I like those guys. People say to me 'what do you do that for man, you're taking away from your record sales.' Bullshit! In the big picture, it don't mean a diddly squat.

No, I agree, it doesn't.
'The mystique of Glenn Hughes…' Well I should be dead already. Let me sing. Let me sing for Christ's sake.

I tell you what. I did my own little compilation of a bunch of tunes that you'd covered. You know, from tribute albums or from whatever. And there are some really fantastic versions of some songs on there. I mean just to hear you sing 'Whiter Shade of Pale'.
Of that's a nice moment. Did you get the live version of that?

Because you know, Keith Emerson, and Mark Benear and myself recorded it live in San Francisco two years ago. I thought you might have got a bootleg of it.

Oh ok. No.
There's not a bootleg going about but there's a live album coming out with that song on it and I sing 'The Talk is Sweet' and there's about…, there's 12 cuts that Keith and I are going to put out, I think in the spring. The live version is great too. It's a great live version of that song.

Yeah, fantastic song, it really suited you. And I also liked 'Video Killed the Radio Star'.
Oh that's wonderful. I was, I think, sick when I sang that at Jeff's studio. I love that. You know, it was his idea to strip away the… to just have the piano. It was just totally… 'cause that was a quirky song wasn't it?

Oh absolutely.
And then all of the sudden, here comes this melodic voice, like an angel singing it. I thought it was very cool.

Oh it was, it was. I enjoyed that one immensely. And I must say, I probably told you this before but still as much as I love all of your records, my favorite is still From Now On.
Well to tell you the truth, I didn't listen to From Now On for a number of years because I thought it was. Let me just say this honestly to you, I thought it was an unhip album. Probably because I did it with players that were very, very good, but very technical in their way, and not at all soulful. And here's the kicker…I didn't listen to Burning Japan Live for the same reason. Because everybody thought it's a great live album, and it is vocally, it's great. But then again, I, six months ago, started listening to those two albums and I was bowled off my feet. With the song content, number one. And the… it was a… From Now On is a great album. So I've actually gone on print and said, you know, I take it back. I was wrong. It's a great album. And I'm actually thinking about playing some of those songs live again.

Oh great, great.
'Cause, somebody sent me a video of some of the stuff from somewhere… some footage of me singing some of that and I went…this is a good record.

Yeah, it is, it is.
It did really well you know. It was a big one. Some have said that if I'd have kept on that path, probably would have done more with my career. But you know, because I don't have an A & R guy like a John ????? nor a huge Columbia records or you know, ten producers on my album. I'm not Aersomith. I get to conceive an album, produce it, arrange it, write it, sing it, play it. Because that's who I am. It becomes a little bit much sometimes.

Yes, I can imagine that.
I would love. I would love to have the money and label that would afford me to have a top-notch producer. Somebody to come in and produce me. 'Cause man, you know, it would be wonderful. I would love to be produced by someone. You know, I'm telling you, a lot of artists wouldn't say that. But I would love it. To have a label, a big label and a producer come in. Lilly, that is not very cool. My dog is eating shit, again. Come on outside, outside, outside Lilly.

(Laughing) What kind of dog have you got?
She is a long-haired Chihuahua. Now when I say that, she probably would freak if she heard me saying that she eats shit but she is the cutest, physically, the cutest looking dog. It's not like a Chihuahua in the aspects of bulging eyes and small. She's got long legs, beautiful blue eyes and she's white with fawn markings. She's like a little princess, with her little diamond collar. But she eats her shit. And it drives me and my wife fucking crazy! I mean, she'll do it and we'll go and get some toilet paper to wipe it up. And before we can get it, she's eaten it. Now I'll tell you, it's horrible. And it happens all the time, and we have people over.

But all I'm doing is keeping busy, and keeping busy means that, I believe… see now one thing, I really want to you remember this… I'm not chiseling away to get double platinum. It would be nice to have platinum records you know. And a guy at Columbia, this big cheese at Columbia said to me a month ago, he said, “You possibly Glenn, in the rock genre of your peer group, you're probably one of the only guys at your age that could actually come back and have huge radio and TV success doing rock if you really, really, really found the right label, producer, manager, etc.” And you know something? He's probably right. So I say this to the universe: I'm welcoming a label and a manager and producer to come in and put the ship together. David Coverdale my dear friend, will tell you the same thing. He's a very wealthy man. But I'm sure David…, I don't know where he's going to go, I think he might produce himself again. But you know, we're all in the same boat, the guys from this generation. The Limp Bizkits of today are ruling because twenty-year-old kids don't want to be me and David, they want to be Fred Durst and all those other geezers.

It's a shame thought, isn't it? But if you look at it, it's just near the top and it's about the MTV music awards that were on the other night.
Listen, that was absolute… I waited to the last second saying, OK, somebody blow me away.

Yep. And they didn't did they?
You know Andrew, it was absolutely…it was a bloody… Here's what I'm predicting. I might be wrong. I'm predicting and this is, as you know, the Led Zeppelin catalogue is mammothly successful. I'm predicting because people, young kids now are being told by their parents go listen to Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd or Deep Purple or something like that. I'm predicting the age of the rock gods, guitar players and singers is coming aback.

I hope so.
It's got to man. Because rap is huge, is never going to go away. It's going to be huge for the next fifty years. But rock music as we like is teetering. It's on the brink of sort-of doing something. But this Limp Bizkit stuff it's like bubble gum, for me.

I predict that the song-writing, singer guy with the guitar player foil, you know good looking. Doesn't have to be eighteen, could be thirty, thirty five, is going to come back.

I hope so.
Stripped down, bass, drums, guitar, vocals, a little bit of Hammond organ.

Oh yeah, good ol' Hammond.
You know why? Because it's everything. Be it clothes, be it whatever, it comes full circle. It comes full circle. So you never know where we're going to be. I mean, all I know is I'm plugging away. I'm singing, I'm writing, I'm producing. I've never been so creative. I don't hardly get any sleep. People say, 'How do you sleep'? I say I don't get a lot of sleep.

(Laughing). And next week you're back into it again.
Joe arrives on Tuesday, we rehearse on the 15th, 16th, 17th and we start cutting the 18th. And we're done the 12th of October. The album will be released world wide, February.

Called 'HTP' and the album will be called HTP. The songs I can tell you now are pretty much, 90% of it…, there's always going to be one song on the record that's a bit of a twist for Glenn, but it's not that much of a twist. There's one epic song but the rest of it is… you could actually find… For me I wrote in a way that it would definitely fit on a Deep Purple or Rainbow record in mid '70s to mid '80s.

Wow, you know that sounds pretty cool to me.
Yeah, and it's going to be authentically produced in a Fender Stratocaster, Hammond again, acoustic drums with Glenn and Joe trading vocals. Two songs, one song sung by Joe, ballad, alone. One song sung by Glenn alone, ballad and then the rest is Glen and Joe at toe-to-toe going at it.

That's what we want to hear!
It's just the two lead singers, you know there ain't really anybody done it since me and Coverdale. So you're going to get it with me and Joe, and let me tell you, Joe's no slouch.

Oh I know that. I just got his new record.
How is it?

Ah, great, really.
Is it good?

Yeah, good, rocking album.
I was in New York when he was cutting it. It's called Slam, right?
I heard a couple of cuts while I was in the studio and it sounded great. That guy Akira is coming to town, he's playing a couple of songs on our record too. That guy Akira is a Blackmore influenced.

Yeah, he's quite a swift player.
He's good.

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Look Glenn, that's about… anything else you want to throw in? I think that just about covers it.
You know, I'm… this is personal to you. I just…it's really good since you started your company that you've got a lot of people go there and it's very influential. I want to leave this on a personal level, to say, the first time we spoke you were very nice to me and I'm a huma…I'm just you know…rather than... I want you to know me as a friend. I just happen to be a singer. I think it's very cool we have this relationship where you can call me anytime, that you know that.

Thank you.
Remember this. I should be dead. So every day of my life is a fucking gravy. So I have been given this tremendous gift of life which every day I wake up going, Yeah man, I'm fucking still here!! So just remember me for being like that. And I'm glad you like the record and there's way more to come.

All right, Glenn, thank you.
Thank you brother.

Great talking to you again.
And you bro'.

c. 2002 melodicrock.com




John Waite (2002)


Hey John, how are you going?

I'm very good thanks, how have you been?

Fantastic mate. I don't know if you remembered but I did interview you about 18 months ago... two years maybe.
Well I do actually have a vague recollection, but it's a while ago.

It was a while ago; in fact, it was when… just before When You Were Mine came out.
Oh God, that is a while ago.

So how have you been?
Very good thanks. Very busy, thank God.

Yeah, OK. Absolutely.
Where are you calling from actually?

From Tasmania, Australia.
Oh you're calling from Australia, great. Fantastic.

Any excuse to cover you, basically.
God bless you.

I've been trying to get a hold of you for an interview for about 3-4 months, I reckon. You're a busy man.
Well it's all picked up recently. I've been doing the Journey thing, the Peter Frampton thing. The tour went on… It's been so busy, it's been like the old days, like knocking out an album and getting right back on the road. It's been very enjoyable.

Fantastic. How did you find the experience with Journey?
Well I didn't see much of them. I mean, Neal came out after the show on the last song and played with us most nights, but we were traveling on a different time schedule. We'd get there fairly early in the day and we would be the first on stage and then we'd be gone, you know. And then Frampton would go on, and then Journey would go on, but we were on a whole different schedule and we traveled in a whole different way.

I had a lot of feedback, and they basically said that you blew Peter Frampton off the stage… you should've had more time. But that's just your dedicated fans getting excited, isn't it?
I like that. Well, you know, we were good. We had a tremendous band. Damon Johnson's on the guitar, the guy from Brother Cane, Buck Johnson, no relation, was on the keyboards. Jonathan was playing the drums as usual. We had a couple of bass players move through the band, but it was a sensational live band, really sensational. We played half the set was new songs. We didn't just stick to the Greatest Hits thing.

That's good.
Everyone was on their feet from the word go… it was very intense. I think the other bands might have been a little bit more relaxed, but we were going for it you know.

Put on your show, sure. Any plans for a solo tour?
Well we're looking for some days between now and Christmas and we're going to definitely do as much as we can. We just got back from Holland, we played live in Holland and then I went on to London to do some press and then back home to LA. It's pretty thoroughly busy…

Now you've just cancelled a London date haven't you?
I'm afraid I just got the news yesterday. I'm unhappy about that but…

Yeah, somebody posted on my message board this morning, this is the 4th refund he's had in 4 weeks due to bands pulling out, but it sounds like you didn't pull out…
It's nothing to do with the trouble in the East. It's purely that we had the 1 date and the record company won't underwrite us going for one date, but I would go for one date myself; I think it's London, it's Britain, it's my home. I can't believe we cancelled it, I mean, really… it's not sitting well with me at all.

Good idea mate, I'll put that….
There's a reschedule though, I think we're going to try to put it back in in late January.

Right, OK
And, you know, put a whole string of European dates together and not just do the one. Maybe do like 10 dates, major cities throughout Germany, Holland, France and obviously Britain. I couldn't believe it. I was a little roused about that one, but apparently the powers that be - they control the cards.

Yep. Well I'll put that up on my site.
Would you? That'd be great, because I feel very weird about the whole thing.

At least that way they'll know that you're not personally responsible, and they can just relax and, there's a few artists that've pulled out, unfortunately, that have sort of annoyed some people.
Well this whole terrorist thing doesn't have any affect on me. I refuse to…you know, we fly a lot at the moment, we're doing all these one-off dates and we just got off doing one of those big benefit dates in Dallas. You know, that's how it is. I absolutely will not let it affect where and how I play. It's purely about having 1 date instead of 10, you know.

Yeah, I'm exactly the same. You can't let stuff like that rule your life.
Oh, absolutely not.

You'd never do anything would you? How did the Dallas dates go - the big show?
Fantastic. I mean it was a gigantic show it was like 17,000 a night and we did the electric set in broad daylight and went out later on and did a couple of songs unplugged. We did “Missing You” and “Fly” back to back and took on huge meaning with the crowd I think with it being such a poignant moment really, but it was great really. I had a great time. I met Paul Rodgers.

He's a great singer isn't he?
Yeah, so that… I've never met him before, so that was a big deal for me. It was nice to say hello. But all of the bands were very much about doing a great job and the crowd was on its feet from the word go, it was a big, big show.

Yeah, I would've liked to have been there, but it's hard for me to get away for a weekend flying from here <laughs>.
There's a couple of people who got the big expectations for a Bad English sort of set. Was that ever sort of on the cards?

Not really. I think the fact that Neal and I played together at the end of our set every night was sort of a sign that me and Neal are very good, you know, we always have been, and Deen actually bought me a guitar for my birthday, but I just don't get on with Jon.

You don't do you…
No. It's… John's got his own thing that he does and we've never really… it's just been the weirdest experience for me actually, but yeah, you know, what can you say?

I heard you were working with Neal in some way?
Actually, I'm working on Neal's solo record. We're working on doing a track for Neal's compilation, live solo record that he's doing.
We're working on the song for that right now.

Tell me more about that.
Well, he comes to me and said, “Will I come and sing on a song and write and sing on a song and write with him for his solo… he's got a greatest hits sort of compilation record coming out and he wants me to sing on it and be part of it and write a song with him. I met him last week and we've been hashing out ideas and hopefully that'll be a really great thing.

Excellent. Well, I look forward to that. John, I'm going through a couple of records, and obviously you've got one main record out on the market and a couple of other things that you probably don't have much to do with.
That's right.

But we'll go with Figure in the Landscape, how do you rank it as far as… I mean, you've had two sort of styles with your solo career – your last 3 albums and then probably your first three. How do you rate this?
Well, it's an extension of Temple Bar and When You Were Mine, it's like it's when I started writing songs in the '90s I think it's very personal. I think there's some beautiful songs on it like “Touch”, “Always Be Your Man”, and “New York City Girl” are beautiful songs.

I'm still obviously it's got nothing at all to do with arena rock. I think it's got real value, and it's got depth and I'm very pleased with it. It's just like the last 3 albums, including this one, have been watershed moments for me, and I've felt the work has been very good indeed. Hopefully the next one will be a departure from these 3 and maybe go move back into a slightly more rock thing.

You think so?
Yeah. I'm looking at it. I'm missing… we come out on stage and we do like, what's the 3rd song on the record…

“Thinking 'Bout You”
Yes, we do that - it's like The Who version of that. It's pretty rock, you know. The rock songs on the record that I like the most they're great to play, they're great to play live but “New York City Girl”, for instance, we sing every night… I think I'm writing for the stage more now, because I'm only trying from the best part of the last album to play live. I mean, I love playing live so much, that I'll probably write the next album more around playing live.

I'm a huge fan of your career, - believe me. Every record, I love it, I really do.
God bless you.

Thank you. And Temple Bar, to me in particular is absolutely, as you said, watershed to me that album is intimate perfection; I love it.
Thank you.

I will say… I'll be absolutely honest with you; I didn't rate Figure [in a Landscape] as much as I did the last two.

I hope you don't mind me saying so.
No. That's all right.

But I thought I'd be honest with you, because you can look at my website and see the review and go, “He was full of shit; he told me he loved it.”

But, I do think there are moments on there that… you picked out my two favorite songs actually, “Thinking 'Bout You”… I can't understand why that wasn't a single, the first song…
Well, it might be.

I hope so.
After what was done in Europe, it might be the final choice for the single. These songs were written over the three year period when the Mercury album went down.
I was writing songs for other people, and I think it got more and more abstract; I wasn't really concerned so much with making a giant big personal statement as much as just writing great songs. Even though some of them were extremely personal. And I was looking for writing great three minute songs and it's the first album I've made that I've put out, that I wrote songs for other people as well as songs I wrote for myself. I never write for other people. I only write for myself. So that's the difference I think you're feeling and I understand where you're coming from.

I think you've nailed it. Absolutely.
Yeah, but it's a freer thing in some ways. When You Were Mine and Temple Bar were intensely, intensely personal.

Yes, very much so.
It was so dark, so dark that I didn't want to stay there. You don't want to stay there unless you're going to off yourself, you know <laughs>. I wanted to do things like “Keys To Your Heart” which were like great live songs. “Thinking 'Bout You” is a great live, up song. They have an edge to them. And I was trying to move out of that very quiet moody thing and do something a bit more universal.

Yeah. In fact, I noticed… I actually had a couple of your unreleased tracks in my collection which I'm very proud to have and one of them was the original version of “Special One”.
Ah, great!

And to me, that was like part of the Temple Bar, moody, very dark, and it sounds like you tried to rock it up a little on this album.
Yeah. I think I was very conscious of playing live and I was sick of being a miserable bastard. I was so dark, I cut “Masterpiece of Loneliness”, listened to it, and I was so rattled by it, it was so dark. I thought, man, you've said this, and you can't say it any better than “Masterpiece of Loneliness”

That is an intense song, yes.
Yeah, and that's why it's last on the album. It's so… that could be on Temple Bar, it could be on When You Were Mine.

Yes it could.
It's a beautiful, beautiful song, and I could not have made that at any other time that when I cut it, you know. So the album has… you know what, this album is faulted. It was made so quickly, and I wasn't sure what anybody thought I was going to do, I just sort of had fun with it and it's the first time I made an album where I didn't take the microscope out. I thought, well, it's a small label, it won't go anywhere, have fun, put it out, don't torture yourself. And some of it was so perfect I couldn't believe it, and some of it wasn't quite what I thought I was going to do, but I like that almost it's like a sketchbook. It's like a sketchbook along with like 4 or 5 really finished pieces, and I like the fact that it is a sketchbook.

I really appreciate what you're telling me there...
Yeah, but I appreciate… you're the only person that's brought it up, and I agree with you. I've got to tell you, I really respect what you said, because I agree with you completely.

Oh well thank you. I mean, I'm a completely anal fan that idolizes everything that you do <both laugh>. What can I say?
I don't know, but I understand why you said it, and I take you seriously because I feel the same way, I honestly do.

OK, OK. And of course, like I said, it's not putting down any individual tracks, it's just the way it flows.
Yeah, I know.

You've nailed it, you're exactly right. But then listen, you and Glen Burtnick, what a magical team you make.

Is there any other songs apart from that...
No, I saw him last week in the dressing room at the gigs in Dallas and Atlanta, and I said Jesus Christ man, the 2 songs we wrote together - they're my favorite songs. And I said, how can we possibly only write 2 songs when I've known you for 10 years?" And he said, "Johnny... he calls me Johnny Long... he says Long Johnny Long... he always calls me Long Johnny Long, I have no idea why, and he says, "We only finish the ones we know are good." And I thought, well, how articulate can you get.

"Down Town" and "New York City Girl" are two of my absolute favorite songs.

They are awesome!
Glen Burtnick man, he's a genius.

He's a great guy isn't he? I talk to him every now and then and I e-mail him. A great songwriter and if it took you 10 years to do that and it takes another 5 to do 1 more song then that would probably be worth the wait as well.
Well, I always thought "Bluebird Cafe", even though I didn't write it with Glen, "Bluebird Cafe" off When You Were Mine was Glen's sort of style; it was very deep.

Very much so.
Very much like a novel.

Very much so. I actually like that song a lot; that's one of my favorites off of the album.
Well, I think those 3 were probably the direction I would, if I do get a big budget to work on the next time, it would probably be those kind of songs I'd turn to and the other half will be that white soul... I think I'm going to go more towards rock and soul, but I can't let go of that kind of songwriting because it's significant to me.

It's too good, isn't it?

Well I'm looking forward to you rocking it up a bit again.
Yeah, well if you saw the live show, we only had 40 minutes with the Journey thing, they wouldn't let us do any more, but by the time we got like 20 minutes in to it, the entire audience was on its feet, and by the time we finished the set, it was like manic, you know, it was great.

And I think that the shape of things to come. With a backbeat, I'm almost a black singer. And without the backbeat, it's singer/songwriter. There's a definite choice to be made there, every time. And I love the sex of singing with a beat; I like the sexiness of it. I think it's really where I'm from.

I must be really nice to have the talent to be so diverse.
Oh, yeah. Damon, man, brought so much to the table.

Did you record any shows?
No. We didn't have the budget to do it. We were doing it on a shoe string, you know, we didn't get paid enough money to do it and make it… I could only pay the lads a certain amount of money because.... we were a last minute addition, so we only just kind of broke even, but, you know, it was a very successful tour, but it wasn't our show really, we were just the first band on.

But next time around... this is such a good, good, band. It's absolutely the band that should be in the studio right now, really, but we've got to wait until we really get a chance to finish this cycle of gigs, you know?

So you think you might take Damon in the studio next time?
Oh yeah. I've had a really great time with Damon. Damon's this Southern gentleman; he's like a tremendously hard-edged, thinking melodic guitar player. This modern and young, you know, he's only 35, and most of the guitar players I've played with have been in the 40s, you know, they've been my age. But Damon brings an extra 5, 6, or 7 years of different... but we have an enormous amount in common, and he's a great guy - one of my better friends. If I could look across the stage and see Damon on there, I know we're doing all right.

He's great.

I'm pleased to hear that. There's, of course, a couple other releases in stores at the moment, one of which, well, you're probably about as impressed about it as I am, what do you think of the Live and Rare tracks release?
Well, I saw it in the shop, in Atlanta; I was buying some sneakers in Atlanta before the show...

Yeah, and I went into a record store, and I saw it, and I couldn't remember half the tracks from the "rare" part of it, but I was so disgusted that I didn't even buy it, I mean for like $12 I could've bought it, but I thought, "Fuck you," you know? I mean, this One Way thing has been so bad for me. They release all of these albums, and they don't pay me for any of it. They repackage it, remaster it, and to add insult to injury, they've actually put together an album of live tracks and stuff that I never intended to be released and I think it's all very substandard and One Way can kiss my ass.
I think they're just crap, they're scum.

I'm going to be e-mailing them because I couldn't believe, you obviously haven't read it, but the inside liner notes are just taken from some generic site off the net and they're inaccurate and they're absolutely wrong. They're just crap!
Well, they obviously don't care, they bought the masters or licensed the masters from EMI and they're just doing it for the money and it's substandard stuff. I just concentrate on the... I think Bad English was great and I think the three albums since then have been great, and I'm focusing on that. I have to let go of it, because it's such a mess, you know.

I will make the comment that I love your version of "I Drove All Night".
Oh, I haven't heard it for about 10 years, so I wouldn't know really.

Yeah, well I thought that was really good. It actually stands the test of time, it sounds really good still.
All right!

But the other tracks were, well, they're OK, you know.
Well they didn't make the album. I think it was Rover's Return they were cut for.

Yeah, some of them sound... a couple of them sound like they may have been even earlier than that, Mask of Smiles even.
No, I think Mask of Smiles they used the best stuff and we never overcut on Mask of Smiles.

But there's some doodles that I did... you know, it's just embarrassing for me, you know, I did all these really high profile... the standard is always very important to me.

I mean, The Babys you know, I always fought for the best stuff, and Bad English and Temple Bar and When You Were Mine it's just really incredible to have somebody that you've never even met take your work over and release it sounding inferior. I'm just beyond disgusted and if anybody reads this out there I recommend strongly that you don't get this crap, just move on to the new stuff and stick with what's current.

Absolutely. I was absolutely mortally offended... the guy in the liner notes was just referring to how good the unreleased tracks are - obviously this is self-promoting kind of trying to get people to buy it - but he was saying any one of these tracks could've fit into Rover's Return and made it... he sort of insinuated it would've made it a better, stronger album. And I'm just like...
Oh, crap.

Yeah!! Rover's Return was an absolute track-by-track masterpiece.
Oh God bless you; thank you very much.

Oh it was. It's just a strong rock record.
Thank you. Thank you so much. You know what, I remembered talking to you about 10 minutes ago.

Oh yeah?
Yeah. It all came back to me. I remember doing an interview with you from Madison Avenue.

That's right, yeah.
I was in my new apartment in Madison Avenue.

That's right, it was a couple of years back now.
But God bless you.

Thank you John. It was a lot of fun talking to you then, and I was so looking forward to it ever since. It was great. Tracks like.... just albums like Rover's Return have been like 15 years now and I'm just like, love it to death and I can't...
It means a lot to me.

Yeah, well that's great, that's great. With any luck there will be another 15 years to come.
Well, yeah. I feel like I've got it in me. I really do feel that this last tour has been an education for me. I've never had such a great time on the road, and like I say, the band was phenomenal and the audience was the surprise of my life. I mean, to get that kind of acceptance without having a hit single in the stores - the album hadn't come out, you know.

We'd walk out with this gigantic Union Jack behind the stage, like a 20x30 Union Jack and the band were like... they call themselves The White Trash Mods because they're all from the Southern states and stuff.

So it's like just an incredible hard-edged thing going on in the middle of what would've been like a very arena rock kind of greatest hits evening and we went for it with all this new stuff and I think it was very sincere, very fiery, and the guys played it very, very well, and I think I sang the best I've ever sung, so...

Oh fantastic. Well, I'll tell you, I had numerous people e-mail me to say the show was phenomenal, so it wasn't just you feeling that positive vibe.

There's' been a couple of labels in Europe interested in releasing some of your old demos but it never did quite came together did it?
Well I actually put an album together with about 15 tracks on it. I remixed a lot of stuff, took stuff out of the vaults and there was an agreement, a handshake that they'd release it and.... I was dealing with somebody that wasn't really very cool and it just all fell apart at the last minute. I was very surprised, very surprised that people would be that unprofessional so... it was just something for the fans anyway. It was stuff I wouldn't normally release, but it was stuff that was very good, and me and Shane Fontayne had written two new songs which we put on that record. They were getting a huge amount of stuff, for almost no money. I was doing it just for the fans to keep the name alive while I made this new record. This guy was just the worst, so I withdrew the album; I just pulled it back.

Yeah, OK. Well, is there still a chance that someone else could come along?
No. I couldn't do it now. I'm under contract to release songs for this new company so the chance has come and gone completely.

That's a shame because I'm sure there's some great songs there…
Well, you know, all he had to do was pay for the expenses of it and he would've got like this original album and he... it's kind of cheap, you know. A shithead really. What are you going to do man? I wanted to make it a very high quality album and he didn't see it that way.

OK. What about some of the old Bad English stuff that's still unreleased?
Well that's out. You can get that bootleg I guess. You can get that if you just go to a bootleg store and find stuff that's been written. There's one that's called "World Gone Wild" that's quite good.

Yeah, I know that song.
And there's one called "Hard Rain" that's quite good.

It's a shame the bootleggers get to make a buck on you.
It doesn't matter to me. I mean, it'll only sell about 5,000-10,000 because it's just for the hard, hardcore fans and with my blessing, you know. Have it. It's from me; it's only music. It's not like a major release, it's just songs that I've written and if somebody gets off on it, then they're welcome to it.

I'm sure they would. So your new contract is basically... who's your new contract with? Is it with Gold Circle? Or was that a one-off?
Yes. It's Gold Circle.

OK. So how many albums have you signed up with?
I've got two more to make and we're looking at doing something in the New Year, fairly soon like February run back in. But it depends, if this tour takes off. We're getting heavy airplay now in England on BBC2 and, which is really unfortunate because the garage gig pissed me off even more, but we have a hit in Holland and Germany.

What song have they lifted?
"Keys To Your Heard" is the big single in Britain. Jerry Walken - BBC2. So we're thrilled about that, so hopefully we'll be there in January, February, and do a European tour. At least do one European tour.

But there is now a real.... we just got back from Holland, we played one gig and did a ton of live broadcasts, we're supposedly bootlegged if we can say.
I've got one here.

Oh have you? <laughs>
Yeah, somebody sent me a bootleg of all the live... we did about 7 live broadcasts - unplugged - and somebody sent me a recording of all of them. So I expect any second that they'll be bootlegged too, but that's good. As I say, it's for the fans, you know.

Is it nice for you to have such dedicated fans?
Yeah. Where would I be without them? Between Temple Bar and When You Were Mine and between When You Were Mine and Figure in a Landscape where would I be without them? They've been with me through thick and thin, you know. They're like my family really.

Yeah, you're one of the few, well not one of the few, one of the main artists with a really strong fan base and especially on the net. A good following that started gathering on the net.
Yeah, it's pretty worldwide right now.

Fantastic. And your next trip to Australia is when?!
Ah, the magical question. But actually Gold Circle are very keen on me doing stuff outside America. They're very keen. It's the first record company that I've had that are very keen about that. So who knows?

There's this radio station here that keeps playing "Missing You" and I keep ringing them up and saying, "Look, I'll bring you the new song if you just play it." And they go, "I'll get back to you."
Well, if you make it a hit, maybe I can just come with Damon and do an acoustic set.

I'll keep ringing it, I'll keep hounding them. Every time they play "Missing You" I'll ring them up <laughs>

I'll say, he's still alive, you know, you guys.
Yeah. I know. It's one of my bigger regrets Australia. There are times that I wanted to get down there and then the record company saying, "We can't do it know, we can't afford to send you, and there's no records in the stores, it's only an import and all this stuff and other bands have done it but people like Phil Collins did it because they had enough money to leapfrog the gear because it's a shit big country but God I would love to come to Australia.

Well I'm getting married January 5 and...
God bless ya!

We still haven't got a wedding singer! <laughs>
Hey. You make me a number 1 single and I'll come down there and sing at your wedding.

That sounds good, sounds good <laughs>. Anything else John?
No, man, I think we covered everything. And you were very right about what you said and I appreciate all the details of what you said, and I completely agree with you.

Well, I appreciate it.
Onwards and upwards man.

Onwards and upwards, absolutely. And, you know, anything I can do.
God bless you.

Thank you John.
Well God bless.

You too. I do appreciate your time and your words and everything you've said, I really do.
God bless you.

Thanks John.
I'll see you soon, man.






Eric Bazilion (2001)


Eric Bazilian
T h e T h e O p t i m i s t  I n t e r v i e w

Eric Bazilian is a man with several faces. He's part of the pop-rock sensation The Hooters, who took the world by storm in the summer of '85, he's also a man with a darker side that likes to write about God - scoring a second Grammy nomination for his efforts.
And he's the guy that can adapt to write in just about ay style, co-writing one of the best tracks to last year's Journey album - the track To Be Alive Again.
He also at the drop of a hat scrapped all the work on his second solo album and instead wrote and recorded a new one on his Powerbook computer in six days in Sweden this past summer.
His new album is now called A Very Dull Boy and will be released on his own label Mousetrap Records soon.
After this interveiw was done Eric added this update, adding that the new album features "...two guitars, bass and drums and a lot of singing. It rocks and I like it a whole lot."

Eric Bazilian - Outside of Philadelphia.
"I've been here my whole life, and until just a few years ago I was absolutely determined to live anywhere but here. And then, having toured for forever and met the woman who was becoming my wife, from Sweden, and spending a summer there, I realised I had traveled and would continue to travel and continue to spend my summers in Sweden. I like it here [in Philadelphia]. I like being able to come back here. This time of the year,
there's nowhere on Earth nicer."

Having a home-base and the freedom to travel is a good thing. I guess being
a musician, that's what you do.

"I used to, a lot. I haven't toured in a long time and I don't know when I will again. To do a solo tour, you need to have a successful, well promoted solo record. I have a good solo album, but the other elements are........I shouldn't be disappointed or bitter about it because my whole modus operandi, the point of putting out and the reason I called it Mousetrap Records was because I thought I'm going to build a better mouse-trap and
just let it out there and let the world beat its path to my door. Now, the thing is that it hadn't occurred to me.....I would prefer it if that path were beaten while I'm alive!

To shop it to the major labels is a hard sell. The same thing that opens their doors to me...and they're all open. They want me to write songs for their artists, produce records....sprinkle magic dust over them, but at the same time they know how old I am, what I've done, and I guess they think it would behoove them better to milk me for my ideas rather than invest in me as a long term thing. It's kinda infuriating, because the reason I do any of the stuff they want out of me is because I want to get up on stage and
perform. All I really want to do is plug my Les Paul into my Vox amp and turn it up to 11 and shred!"

You shred pretty well on 'The Optimist'!
"Thanks. You know, I could have shredded more but at the end of the day, the song was the king and whatever would serve it best would determine how 'shred-like' I could allow it to be."

It's a pretty raw and stripped back record, isn't it?
"You know it's funny. Within a week I read two reviews, one of which said it was over-produced and too dense, and one that said it was under-produced and sounded like a demo. It's raw because I wanted it to sound raw, but it's got a lot of stuff going on, and if you listen with headphones you'll hear all these cool little bits coming and going. I actually redid things because they were too perfect and I wanted to mess them up a bit. It's rock and roll!"

I wouldn't agree with either of those reviews. My review fell somewhere in

And now you're already finished or are working on a second one?
"I'm working on a second one. I thought I was finished...I was hoping to
finish before I went away this summer, but I got side-tracked a little. I was simultaneously working on the solo record and an album with a guy in Sweden, who's sort of my musical hero. His name is is Mats Wester, late of the group Nordman.
They are the largest selling Swedish language act of all time. He plays this instrument which is the Swedish key fiddle. He's a folk musician originally, but he wrote some pop songs and put these tracks together in his basement with drum machines and synths and all these folk instruments. He got a singer from a heavy metal band and a woman to write
some brilliant lyrics in Swedish, and they put this thing out and it was just this phenomenal success. I hunted him down and it turned out he was greatly inspired by The Hooters to do this project. So we got together and I got to play with him on stage at this festival in front of 10,000 people. I told him, not only am I going to play mandolin with you, I'm going to sing the second verse of this song in Swedish! So we've been best friends ever since, and we started doing a record together last summer, which was really
exciting. But one of the songs from 'The Optimist' we re-cut....he had a piece of music which I just loved and I was trying to write a new song to it.
I was sitting in his basement in Stockholm and I started singing 'Until You Dare' over his track and suddenly I liked the song a lot better, and his track a lot better. It's just this intense thing with fiddles and heavy drums and fuzzy guitars on it, and we thought it would be a slam dunk in Sweden, but I think it was too American for the Swedish labels who expected him to do another very Swedish folk thing, so that sort of hit a wall.
Then I encountered a couple of interesting, young talented guys here, one of whom is a singer who is very like-minded spirited guy. He's much younger than me, but he went to my high school and we've become very good friends.
I toyed with the idea of actually making him my singer, kinda like my Roger Daltry, because he can just do things with his voice that I cannot. However, it's hard to ask somebody to just step into your shoes and be you instantly. So that's probably not the right thing to do anyway, but it side-tracked me a bit. So I'm glad I'm going away because it'll give me some perspective on the twenty or so songs I've written and recorded since I came back from Sweden last September.

It's all very interesting, trying on all these different hats. I get so excited when I work with other artists, and at the end of the day I come back and it's like 'I want to be Dylan, I want to be John Lennon, I want to be Paul McCartney'. Just thank God I'm able to hock my wares to the Philistines for shekels and wampum, haha."

Well, you've done better than most in your field, in that you've already got
a fair legacy of music behind you.

'You know, you can't really sneeze at that."

Yeah, my Hooters CDs are some of my most prized possessions. I got into you
guys the first time I heard 'All You Zombies'.

"I still like that one. That's one of the songs I can still listen to."

Actually, you had an album before 'Nervous Night'?
"Yeah, we had an indie album. We have boxes and boxes of vinyl copies, so
I'll have someone at the office send you out a copy."

Thanks Eric! So what do you class as your favourite Hooters record?
"I can tell you which is my least favourite! Unequivocally it would be 'Zig
Zag'. That's my 'What on Earth was I thinking' record.
You know, even as we were finishing it I knew this was not a record I wanted to make. It was a record totally devoid of attitude, devoid of edge, but at the same time I was there for every second.
I got excited with the other guys, I said 'Okay' and I have to take full responsibility for it, but at the same time we had come off of our second big tour, we were a rock and roll band and we were kicking ass live, and we should have made a major rock and roll record.

I would say my favourite is probably 'One Way Home', even though I have
issues with most of the songs for various reasons. I think the songs on 'Nervous Night' are probably better songs, at least knowing where they came from, the motivation behind the stories....they are so much more real. But just the sound of 'One Way Home', the attitude....it rocks!
And it actually has the worst song I've ever written on it, 'Hard Rocking Summer'. The problem with that track, and this was a great lesson in what to do and what not to do. Our rehearsal place at the time was in a kind of funky little neighbourhood, and all these heavy metal kids would hang out outside our door....and they were all into AC/DC and the like.
We walked out to get pizza for dinner and we looked at these kids, and it was the beginning of summer, and we said 'Yeah man, it's gonna be a hard rocking summer'. We were kidding, but we were like 'That's a song'. So we went back and did this track and got this really nasty sounding drum pattern, and did this guitar riff, and then Rob started doing this screaming rap.. 'Teacher says I gotta stay after class, I say that teacher better kiss my ass'. It was a hilarious thing, but it was just so unlike us, but it rocked. And I remember the day we cut the basic track for that with our drummer and I walked from the
studio into the maintenance guy's room and I heard 'Fight For Your Right to
Party' for the first time.
And it was the same, exact record, except it was guys who were ten years younger than us and they did it better. Basically what happened was we tried to write a real song to that track and to that title, and we couldn't. Well we did, but all the original spirit was totally gone. We tried to get serious. Rule #1...do NOT get serious."

But it was a pretty serious record though, wasn't it?
"Well it was, but that was our downfall. That was the thing about 'Zig
Zag'....it was so bleeding heart liberal serious after a while. We lightened
up a bit on 'Out of Body' thank God."

Yeah, that's my second favourite album, and depending on my mood can sometimes slip into #1, because I love the sound you guys got on that.
"The sound on that was great, I was really happy with the sound and the
playing. And having Mindy in the band was wonderful. She was just such a
great player, and our live shows with her....do you have the live album?
That jam at the end of '500 Miles'.....You see, Rob and I had this great
sympathetic musical thing going on, but we could never really jam like that
because being a keyboard player....he's not a shredder, it's just not his
way. Mindy, on the other hand, is totally that way. By the time we recorded
those shows, at the end of that jam we would sit down together on a monitor
and light a cigarette."

The only thing I was disappointed in was that it wasn't a double live album.
"We toyed with the idea, and it could've been. There was a lot of good stuff
and it was almost all from one show. We taped one in Stockholm and two in
Germany. I did the artwork for that album. I bought a computer just to learn
how to do that. Looking at it now, I could have done better but it's got
some attitude.

And then after that tour and the year after, we were poised for absolute
world domination, especially in Scandinavia and Germany, and we had a new
record deal with Polygram and I was totally determined it was going to be a
rock and roll record or nothing, it turned into 'Largo'."

I don't even think I've heard 'Largo'!
"It's a very nice record. The people who liked 'Zig Zag' liked 'Largo'. A
beautiful record, but for me that was just the writing on the wall."

But 'Largo' was never credited to The Hooters, was it?
"No it wasn't. The kind of wanted to for a while and I said 'No way is this in any shape or form a Hooters record'. The record company decided they didn't want to use the guys in our band as regular players...they'd only play on a few tracks, and that there were going to be all these other singers on the record.......okay, I think I'm going to build a studio behind my house and make a rock and roll record!"

And was that the last time you worked together?
"Just about. I've done stuff with Rob since then. They're actually making a Broadway show out of 'Largo' right now, and they've got some cool ideas.
They have a very, very noted playwright who has come up with some story for it which I've heard bits and pieces of, and it really completes the picture a bit....it still ain't rock and roll! And to me, that's the alpha and the omega of it."

What's Mindy Up to these days? She released a record, didn't she?
"At least one. She's raising kids now, she's got two. I love her, she's like a sister to me. I think the world of her. In fact, if this project with my Swedish buddy ever comes off, I'm going to bring her into the band. I love touring with her, and love performing with her."

It was mentioned there might be the possibility of The Hooters touring again
this summer.

"Well actually, I was very game for it but it was Rob that put the kibosh on it, which I was surprised about. But he has stuff going on here that he can't get out of. Rob and his very serious keyboard player.......we sat down to discuss it and they were like 'If we're going to bring The Hooters back then what does that mean? Shouldn't we make it more?' and I'm like no, let's just have some fun with it and see what happens."

It's funny. I talked to Jonathon Cain of Journey, and he's the same way, the
serious one.

"I had a great time working with Jonathon but he totally reminded me of

You two wrote some killer tracks together. I've only heard 'To Be Alive

"So he didn't play you 'Rhythm'? This track was by far the better. He sang it great, and it absolutely would have had to go on the record with his lead vocal. It was actually kinda Hooter-esque in its way. It's kind of a song that could have redefined Journey for a new generation, but it didn't really sound like Journey. Jonathon's talked about putting it out under his own name as a side project."

I'll tell you something I absolutely adore and it's on the American official
Greatest Hits record, is the live version you did of 'Time After Time'. One
of the rumours I have heard is that you were going to make an album of all
the songs you've written for other people like Cyndi Lauper and Joan
Osborne. Any truth in that?

"Never, ever, ever heard of that. It's intriguing but the thing is....taking the two most notable songs which are 'Time After Time' and 'One of Us', those songs are recorded as they were intended. 'Time After Time' Rob wrote with Cyndi and the recording was done so quickly. It was a real inspired couple of days. 'One of Us', when I first wrote it, the voice I heard in my head was Brad Roberts of the Crash Test Dummies.
The day after I wrote it I brought it into Rob and Rick and Joan, who were writing for her record at the time, and I played it for them, just to say 'Check this out. I did this
last night and it's whacky.' And then Rick looked up and said to Joan 'Do you think you could sing that?' And before she had a chance to think about it she said 'Yeah, I guess so', so I wrote the words out and plugged the guitar in and it was recorded live guitar and vocal, and I got in my car afterwards and started practicing the Grammy speech I never got to give."

So who robbed you of the Grammy?
"Well Seal won, but I know that I did write the song of the year. I also know that I came in second. That's what Rob said, because he got robbed with 'Time After Time', which got beat by 'What's Love Got to Do With It'. The Seal thing was an industry thing....it was a movie theme. Seal's a great artist. In fact, I ran into him the day before and said to him 'If you beat me in this, I don't mind.' And then when he won I said 'You know what? I
lied. I mind.' But I've already gotten my rewards for the song. It defined the times and kind of captured a whole movement in human consciousness, I think."

And dare I say it, you were also instrumental in Cyndi Lauper's success.
"Well yeah. 'Time After Time' did the same thing. Making that record was a lot of agony and ecstasy. It took a lot of time and a lot of blood was shed."

Did that get your foot in the door at Sony?
"It helped. It certainly didn't hurt. When Rob and Cyndi played me their first draft of 'Time After Time' that was my first brush with greatness, with immortality. I said to them 'You know what? This is 'Yesterday'. This is a standard.' And they even offered me to jump in on it with them and finish writing it but I said 'You know what, the song's written. You may change a word here or there but you don't need me for this one.' I did come
up with the signature guitar line, which they always use for movies and TV commercials, so if I'd known then what I know now, I would have made them put my name on it anyway, hahaha."

I love that record. 'Money Changes Everything'....
"Oh yeah! And Richard [Rick Chertoff - producer/collaborator] absolutely deserves all the recognition and respect in the world for that record, and for the Joan record too.

I look up to Rick. I still think 'What would Rick do', especially now when I'm flirting with the idea of working with other artists, and really co-ordinating and producing entire projects.

I try to put myself in his shoes. It's very different though, because he's not a hands on guy. He doesn't play, he's not really a writer per se, although he's great to have in the room. Me, I'm like such a megalomaniac. The records that I want to make I play everything, I engineer, do it in my home studio and I let the other person sing. But it works out great, like the Amanda Marshall record. She and I had an amazing synergy, and I was going to produce that whole record but it was a political business thing that kinda broke my heart, and then they came running back to me at the end having spent a fortune on a record that nobody liked, and asked me to finish the songs that became the singles."

The other rumour I heard was that you were going to team up with Cyndi
Lauper for a new album.

"I know Rob has done some stuff with her on this new record of hers. I have no idea when it'll be release. You know what? If she called me I would do anything she asked, although I would kick myself later. Cyndi is like family. I think the world of her....she sang at my wedding. She can make you, feel so good about yourself and then make you feel like a piece of shit. She has that kind of power, that kind of magnetism....if only that power could be turned to good. No, it has been. She has a great heart, but she is really
intense, and when you are making a Cyndi Lauper record you are making a Cyndi Lauper record. It's all about her, and it's her way or the highway, and I respect that about her. But I can't work in a situation where I'm only allowed to use five percent of my brain."

So what's the next chance we have of a Hooters record?
"You know, I wouldn't keep your fingers crossed. I just don't think that we could agree. What happened was, the Largo record came by default. Rob and I had been working, trying to write songs for two years and we weren't finishing anything because we were just pulling in opposite directions. I found my voice in 'One of Us'.
I wrote that song, I played those guitars...it was really what I had been doing twenty years earlier. That's what I do...I play guitar like that, I write lyrics like that, melodies like that.
Rob had kind of found another voice which was a much more kind of esoteric......and we were just not able to make it work. I wanted to make something rock and Rob wanted something else. So now, I just don't know that we could do it. We hang out all the time, I love the guy. He's my brother, and anything's possible. And again, it was particulars that prevented the German tour from happening this summer.
If we get offered next summer, I think we'll probably do it. And who knows, perhaps we'll go out and play those rock and roll hits and get excited and do something new."





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