Very Heepy Very Purple XIIIis the latest in Avi Rosenfeld’s series of original hard rock influenced by …..Uriah Heep and Deep Purple! Rosenfeld, born in 1980, is from Netany, Israel and has 63 albums to his credit (tho he says it may be 64 by the time I publish this article!). The 2 bands that Avi sites as his favorites are obviously noticeable throughout this album – there’s harmonies, Hammond organ, various keyboards, and plenty of hooks and solos sounding like Blackmore was his major guitar influence. But there’s more than just a Heep/Purple combo thing going on here -lead off track “Icarus Dream” starts off with a symphonic rock keys and piano before the riff [band] kick in, which sounds fairly Iron Maiden, but the song quickly progresses with harmonies, lead vocals, some Hammond organ in the mix, … a good lead off track. There’s bits of blues, symphonic rock, even a bit of an Indian inspired intro on the non-lyric track “Nigun”. Fave cuts include “Silver Shines” [gotta love when the Blackmore-type solo kicks in and it all speeds up], the fast paced “Knights Of The Castle” [Rainbow?], and “Marching To Nowhere”.
Avi Rosenfeld writes all the music & lyrics here, and works with a number of players and different singers on this album, presumably through online connections. He also plays some great guitar throughout. Cool album artwork, as it seems to be with all of Avi’s releases. Very Heep Very Purple – sounds like an interesting series I’ll need to check out further. Avi notes of the album – “Heavy Metal is the cure for these crazy times that we live in. This is another chapter in the Very Heepy Very Purple saga with influences from times where music at its best and played from the heart. From times where people actually had patience to listen and waited for the cool guitar solo, or even to the end of the song. From times where you could hold up the cover art and imagine the sounds and feelings. Times where every power chord made you move, and every note had a meaning..”
Legendary guitarist Steve Hackett is pleased to announce, ‘Genesis Revisited Live: Seconds Out & More’, the visual document of his 2021 UK tour celebrating the classic Genesis live album. Set for release on the 2nd September 2022 (with vinyl following on the 25th November), it sees Steve and his band perform ‘Seconds Out’ in full & in sequence, as well as a selection of solo material including tracks from his most recent studio album ‘Surrender of Silence’.
Steve comments: “I’m so happy to release my Seconds Out & More show… A spectacular night with a band on fire tearing into that magic music combining the true spirit of Genesis with a fresh virtuosic approach and an extraordinary sound under amazing lights. This show is a feast for both ears and eyes. The best of so many worlds!”
‘Genesis Revisited Live: Seconds Out & More’ will be available as Limited 2CD + Blu-ray & Limited 2CD + DVD, both including 5.1 surround sound, behind the scenes documentary & promo videos. Steve Hackett and his band comprise Roger King, Rob Townsend, Jonas Reingold, Nad Sylvan & Craig Blundell, and they were joined by Amanda Lehmann as special guest on the night.
Steve Hackett & his band have just completed a run of shows in New Zealand and Australia, and will continue their ‘Seconds Out & More’ tour in Japan, Europe and North America throughout the rest of year. In September and October 2022, they will present their ‘Foxtrot at Fifty’ 25-date tour in the UK. For the full list of dates and to buy tickets go to HackettSongs.com.
About Steve Hackett
Steve Hackett joined Genesis at the beginning of 1971 and gained an international reputation as the guitarist in the band’s classic line-up alongside Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins. Hackett’s intricate guitar work was a key element of Genesis’ albums from Nursery Cryme (1971) to Wind And Wuthering (1977) including the classic Selling England By The Pound.
After leaving Genesis at the end of 1977, Hackett’s solo career, which now spans more than 30 albums, has demonstrated his extraordinary versatility with both electric and acoustic guitar. Hackett is renowned as both an immensely talented and innovative rock musician and a virtuoso classical guitarist and composer and this was recognised in 2010 when he was inducted into the Rock Hall Of Fame. He has also worked alongside Steve Howe of YES in the supergroup GTR.
Hackett’s compositions take influences from many genres, including jazz, classical and blues. For his later studio works The Night Siren (2017) and At The Edge Of Light (2019) Hackett has explored the influences of world music. Recent tours have seen Hackett celebrate his time with Genesis including a spectacular 2018 tour in which he realised a long-held ambition to perform the works of Genesis live with his band and an orchestra.
The lockdown enforced by the 2020 global pandemic has proven to be a particularly creative period for Hackett. He began by releasing Selling England by the Pound & Spectral Mornings: Live at Hammersmith, a live recording of 2019’s hugely successful tour celebrating that Genesis classic together with the 40th anniversary of one of his most-loved solo albums. Lockdown also gave Hackett the opportunity to write and record two new studio albums, the UK Classical Chart hit Under A Mediterranean Sky and the forthcoming Surrender of Silence.
The new album from New York area band LIPS TURN BLUE features an eye catching cover created by artist Martin Kornick, aka Man In The Mountain. Martin has designed numerous album covers over the past 2 decades, notably for prog artists like Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Keith Emerson, and Kinetic Element. Admittedly, when I looked in to Martin’s work intending just to inquire about the LTB cover, I found a lot more of his work that I couldn’t avoid asking about! In this interview Martin details how he created the LTB cover, as well as a few others, such as those by John Wetton & District 97 and Keith Emerson, as well as his lengthy working relationship with Neal Morse. He also shares his background in the business and future plans. I’ve included images of some of Martin’s covers as well as pics of him with a few of those he’s worked for (all provided by Martin). *For more on his work as an artist, and various projects check out Martin’s site – http://www.maninthemountain.com (see more links below)
Can you give me a bit of background as to how you started in doing album covers (aside from your other works)?
I got my start doing album covers thanks to Neal Morse back when he was in Spock’s Beard – the ’90’s era progressive rock band that I was quite smitten with upon discovery. Floored really. I couldn’t believe the interweaving keyboards and lush prog arrangements I was hearing spinning “The Doorway” on my stereo. I quickly became obsessed with the band. I distinctly remember getting their newest album Day For Night and being entranced by the cover art by German artist Thomas Ewerhard, which had a strong Pink Floyd Hipgnosis vibe to it. As I examined it further it struck me that Thomas was using a lot of Photoshop techniques that I was already experimenting with in my personal art. I thought, “I can do that! How can I do something like that for Spock’s Beard? I must find a way!”
Shorty after I was thrilled to see Spock’s Beard were playing at Martyrs’, a Chicago area nightclub. It was such a magical night, as anyone who was anyone in the Chicago prog scene was there in attendance. I truly made several long-lasting friendships with people I met there that night. But what then happened is at the start of the show, Neal Morse ran out on stage with a video camera, then leaned over and gave me (randomly) the camera to continue filming the show. And honestly, I am the most insane prog fan/bootleg collector you could ever give a video camera too. Haha! After the show, I had to somehow get a copy of this concert video. So, I contacted Neal by email to ask for a copy, and we hit off a friendship talking about old Genesis and Gentle Giant Bootlegs. We even traded a few things. During our correspondence over the next few months, I mentioned to Neal that I was a graphic artist and hit him up if needed any art for a CD project. Nothing became of it until one more time I asked and by chance he was working on a fan club CD. He asked me to shoot him some ideas for it. And I ended up working for Neal for the next 20 years. How is that for fate? And of course, led to doing artwork for other bands as well.
Growing up – what were some of your favorite bands, albums, and album cover artists? [Any artists influence your own work? ]
Looking back at my youth, I did have an affinity for bands that had cool artwork and graphics. I easily fell for KISS who were the most graphic art-oriented band ever, from the face paint, the photos, to the album art. KISS were super easy to the draw, and I even made my own KISS comic books. I had a sort of musical awakening when I went to see the movie The Song Remains The Same and watched Jimmy Page make all these otherworldly sounds with a cello bow, while he turned into a wizard and drew an electric rainbow across the sky. My tastes then shifted to Led Zeppelin and bands like RUSH and Styx who also explored more cinematic musical landscapes and science fiction. RUSH used all that dystopian Hugh Syme artwork like A Farewell To Kings, Permanent Waves – two of my all-time favs. Bands like Judas Priest started attracting me because they were operatic in style and had gothic album art like a Sad Wings of Destiny and Sin After Sin. Plus the logos… AC/CD, Van Halen, Def Leppard, Styx, Judas Priest, all of them… which sharpened my skills by duplicating the logos all over my high school desk. They didn’t understand, that WAS my schooling!
After graduating high school in 1981, instead of listening to the popular music of the times, the hair metal and MTV, I fell in love with older music from the ’60’s and all the ’70’s progressive rock music like YES, ELP, Pink Floyd, Genesis, and Rick Wakeman. And certainly, that artwork delved deeper artistically into fantasy, science fiction, and mind-altering photo manipulation from Hipgnosis. Off the top of my head, artwork for albums like Wish You Were Here, Yessongs, The Myth & Legends of King Arthur, ELP’s Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery… were among my favorites. It’s a world I’ve been in artistically ever since. Roger Dean made a huge impression on me, and I started covering my apartment walls with his work. All of this was my school, my formative training
You’ve done a lot of covers for Neal Morse, as well as Transatlantic and Mike Portnoy. – can you tell me a bit about where ideas come from and how much collaboration [or input] there is from the musical artists when designing a cover?
Typically, there is little “idea” input from the musicians, but not in every case. I usually draw from the album title and maybe some lyrics. Sometimes I’m given the raw music to get a feel of what the music sounds like. I’ll listen to it over and over while creating images in my mind. No matter what I am fed at the start, my artwork is always developed organically in a stream of consciousness. I do not create my art in a formally trained manner, as I do not make sketches or roughs. I hit the digital canvas and go where it takes me. I keep fishing about until I see something good forming, and then tighten it up to a viable well developed idea that I can present to the client.
Collaborating with Neal Morse was fantastic, he has a certain aura about him, that’s hard to explain, it’s a unique energy. We had such a great symbiotic relationship in that we could read each well for any project that came before us. Neal allowed me tons of freedom, letting me develop ideas, but sometimes he suggested ideas too. With Neal becoming a Christian artist, I had to work within a more spiritual mindset, which could take me out of my comfort zone. God spinning the Earth on the cover of Momentum was an idea Neal suggested after he didn’t feel my attempts were hitting it. But how I created the cover from that suggestion, was all from my imagination. So, when talking about collaboration, to me it’s more about listening to the artists and their needs, rather than shooting ideas at each other or watching me every step of the way. It’s important to be responsive with artists and very reliable professionally. At the end of the day, you need to deliver on time, and not have a plethora of errors coming from the printing plant, that’s when you’ll get a call to do more.
Working for Mike Portnoy is always so fun. He’s hilarious and has an M family like I do (all names starting with an M), so we M’s get on great. Seeing my artwork end up on his drumhead is surreal to say the least. Mike is a terrific guy, who is inspiring to work with because he continues to be excited like a child when working on his music projects. He cares a lot about his fans.
One cover of your’s I really like is the Keith Emerson Band album from 2008. Any recall on creating that and working with Keith?
Thank you, that’s nice to hear. Yeah, how much room do you have in this interview? Let’s just say Keith Emerson was extremely excited about this release. He saw it as a return to form after not having any significant output for years. His desire was to have the type of cover artwork he loved from the ’70’s. Detailed enough to keep you looking at a vinyl copy for years. That’s what attracted Keith to my work. I do recall having a bit of a false start on ideas for the album which Keith was initially planning on calling “Ganton 7” about a distant planet. He did however let me do my thing, with Keith explaining that “there was a cow’s arse on the cover of a Pink Floyd album, so anything is possible.” – That’s a direct quote. Marc Bonilla was also involved with the album art, and I had many long conversations with Marc on development.
Eventually, Keith liked a piece I had already completed that was displayed on MySpace (of all places) depicting a Mellotron rusting in the desert under a red sky. Keith suggested changing the Mellotron to a Hammond B3, feeling this image represented the state of his music career, but also somehow wanting to show it as a rebirth. Along with Marc, we batted around a few ideas until I came up with igniting the organ on fire. That was the moment – I had nailed it! If you look closely, the fire is restoring the organ to its former glory. Keith pointed out to me that the opening section of the track “Miles Away” is based on my cover art. He had the art hanging in the studio. If you look at the cover while playing that intro, the synergy is strikingly clear. Keith was an amazing person to work for, with an unarming humbleness that made you feel comfortable to even disagree with him. He also had no problems calling me on the phone to discuss the album, which is rare – most everyone sticks to email. Nothing can top getting an unlisted phone call, picking it up and hearing in a British accent, “Hello Martin, this is Keith!” I miss him so much.
As a fan of the late John Wetton, can you recall working with him in creating the cover for the live album with District 97? [They are from Chicago!?] Also, were you at that show and have any favorite albums with JW?
District 97 is a Chicago area prog band that caught my attention with their 2010 debut album “Hybrid Child.” They had a youthful energy and a remarkably proficient singer, Leslie Hunt, that set them apart from most other prog acts at the time. Being local to Chicago, I thought I would introduce myself to the band’s founder & drummer Jonathan Schang and offer my design services. Jonathan was quick to take me up on that and hired me to design show posters and on-line promotions. Soon afterwards, John Wetton also became a fan of District 97 and started to collaborate with the band. A tour was then planned to have D97 play the music of King Crimson with none other than John Wetton on vocals. Because I was their tour poster guy, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity make the graphics to accompany the tour, which later turned into a live CD package. I can’t say I worked directly with Wetton, but was Cc’ed among conversations regarding the artwork. I do recall Wetton being indecisive about what photo of him we could use, insisting the CD color be red, and that the title of the album be changed from “One More Red Nightmare” to “One More Red Night.” Which probably was a good call! I didn’t catch the Chicago show that was recorded, but I caught them earlier up in Milwaukee. The CD is fantastic, don’t you think? I might say it’s my favorite Wetton album! I do love the first Asia album, Crimson’s Red, and Night After Night with UK is on top of my list. “Rendezvous 6:02” is my favorite song featuring John Wetton.
Your latest cover is the Lips Turn Blue cover, and its real eye catching. How did you wind up with this project? Were you familiar with any of the band?
Thank you! I was asked to do the project by the band’s manager, Bruce Pilato. Bruce and I have known each other for many years working with The Carl Palmer Band. I’ve designed many of Carl’s t-shirts and DVD covers, as well the “ELP Lives On” logo that Carl uses on the huge stage backdrop. When Bruce asked me about working on LTB, I was familiar with Phil Naro and the band Talas. The other players had strong resumes as well, so it sounded like a hot project to take on.
Where did the idea for the cover shot come from? Can you give us details on the photo and how you transformed it into the final piece of art [including the logo and the city scene in the girl’s glasses]?
I’m not sure who in the band came up with the idea, but Bruce described in detail what they were looking for. A beautiful female face, similar to those in the Robert Palmer video “Addicted to Love”, with a silver painted face and bright blue lips. That’s very descript. Selecting the particular model and just the right pose, with her hand on her chin, was entirely my call. People see a face, but it’s really about shapes working together in balance, and the selection and framing of those shapes is key to it’s strength. The city lights in the glasses were my way of adding some extra flash and depth to the image – putting the model in a place rather than just a flat image. The logo played off that, with neon lettering. With CD artwork now reduced to tiny icons on the internet, I needed to create a simple bold image to draw attention. The contrasting silver/blue color scheme worked well to that effect. Another interesting part of the development of the cover were instructions to put photos of all the band members at the bottom of the woman’s face. I did that, but then ending up having a disagreement over it. When I removed the band photos, Bruce argued that without them, people would think the woman is the recording artist on the CD. I reminded him that many male bands used a woman on the cover, like The Cars and Roxy Music. So, in that spirit, I guess I won out! I was also told Phil Naro approved the final artwork just before he passed, so that’s quite nice to think my artwork was among his last images on Earth.
Do you have any favorite tracks from the LTD album? and might we see you work on the next LTB cover?
All the tracks are consistently strong. “Pray For Tomorrow” is quite nice. And I love “Blood Moon”. Probably because it has a prog feel to it with prominent organ and synths, and I’m a synth player myself so I dig that. I’m certainly open to another LTB cover, but I think their current plans are for a tour.
Any upcoming album art you are working on [or will be] ?
I’m open for business. So, if Rick Wakeman or Peter Gabriel want to drop me a line, I’m ready and available! I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me, Kevin. There are many modern-day cover artists like myself that don’t get enough recognition because everyone seems fixated on the classic artist. So, good on you and Outsider-Rock for spending the time with me.
Singer/Songwriter Robert Tepper to release new single, album on July 30th
On Saturday July 30th, Robert Tepper will be releasing a new album entitled Feels Like Monday. Tepper, 72, will be sharing this release via Facebook Live, a first for the rock musician. Kendee Hughes of Kendee Hughes Productions will be overseeing the event.
“Robert will simultaneously release the music video for the single “Feels Like Monday,” and the album of the same name.” Kendee said. “It’ll be a virtual viewing party for his fans. Robert will perform live, answer some fan questions, and tell folks about what he’s got coming up.”
Robert will be supporting his new album Feels Like Monday with singer/songwriter/guitarist Chris Cameron and a small semi-acoustic ensemble. He is performing his hits along with new music in concerts and listening rooms across the US in 2022.
Robert Tepper is a singer/songwriter who lives in Los Angeles, CA. He is best known for the 1986 hit song “No Easy Way Out” as heard on the Rocky IV soundtrack, as well as the 1980 hit “Into the Night” that he penned with singer Benny Mardones. He also wrote and performed “Angel of the City” for Stallone‘s 1986 action film, Cobra, and wrote the Pat Benatar hit “Le Bel Age”, from 1986. His latest album is 2019’s Better Than The Rest.
The 2015 reunion concert of the original Alice Cooper band featuring Alice, Neal Smith, Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce along with Ryan Roxie filling in for the late Glenn Buxton is coming in various formats and most notably the film of the whole event to DVD & Blue-ray! There will be vinyl variants, as well as awesome new packaging for fans and collectors.
“Caught In a Dream” “Be My Lover” “I’m Eighteen” “Is It My Body” “No More Mr. Nice Guy” “Under My Wheels” “School’s Out” “Elected” “Desperado” (Intro Bonus Track)
Albert Bouchard’s Imaginos II : Bombs Over Germany, which came out last October is now available on vinyl. Check out the link below. Imaginos 2 features guest appearances from former Blue Oyster Cult bandmates Eric Bloom, Joe Bouchard, Buck Dharma, as well as Richie Castellano [of BOC], as well a number of guitar players. The album’s art was [again] created by Richard Zoll. Among the 14 tracks are classy re-workings of such BOC favorites as “OD’d On Life Itself”, “Cities On Flame (With Rock And Roll)”, “Dominance And Submission”, “The Red And The Black”, and “Shadow Of California” (feat Ross ‘The Boss’ Freidman on classical guitar).
Albert will be playing 3 shows with BOC in September, celebrating the band’s 50th anniversary, and performing the band’s first 3 albums in entirety (a separate one each night). He also has summer tour dates with Joe (The Bouchard Brothers in UK) and Blue Coupe (US & Canada)!
DIRTY HONEY PRESENTS THE “CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’” TOUR Dorothy and Mac Saturn will be Special Guests.
Having recently wrapped up the massively successful Young Guns tour that Bass Magazine called “a co-headline tour of two of the greatest modern-day rock bands,” today DIRTY HONEY announces “The California Dreamin’ Tour. ” The 28-date, North American headline trek will also see the band play a handful of major festivals and radio shows and include their first tour of Canada. “The California Dreamin’ Tour” will launch on Thursday, August 25, at Waterfest in Oshkosh, WI, and wrap at the Aftershock Festival in Sacramento, CA, on October 9. Fellow Los Angeles rock band Dorothy will join the tour in Portland, OR on September 7 as direct support, and Detroit rockers Mac Saturn will open the shows on all dates. Go HERE for all ticket purchasing information.
“This tour is a statement tour, and the statement is that ‘Rock is alive and well,’ and three bands are heading out to prove that – Dirty Honey, Dorothy, and newcomers Mac Saturn,” said guitarist John Notto. “Get your ticket and get your ass out here.”
“While this will be our first tour of Canada,” vocalist Marc LaBelle added, “we’ve played a handful of shows there and were floored by the reception. Canada definitely has a very strong appetite for rock’n’roll, and we’re coming to feed the fire.”
Although this is their first proper Canadian tour, Dirty Honey is no stranger to the Great White North. Dirty Honey’s debut single, “When I’m Gone,” hit #7 Active Rock in Canada, and their second single, “Rollin’ 7s,” peaked at #5 on the same chart. And this past March, Dirty Honey co-headlined a show with Mammoth WVH in Toronto and has previously played in Canada with Slash and Miles Kennedy/Alter Bridge and at Heavy MTL in 2019.
Just before the “California Dreamin’ Tour” kick-off, Dirty Honey will make it’s UK/European debut with a 29-city run. The itinerary will include a handful of headline club dates, slots on major summer festivals, including the UK’s Download Festival, Switzerland’s Rock The Ring, Hellfest in France, and Belgium’s Graspop, playing stadiums with Guns N’ Roses and KISS, and theaters with Rival Sons.
The dates for Dirty Honey’s “California Dreamin’ Tour” are as follows: August 25 Waterfest, Leach Amphitheater, Oshkosh, WI* 26 Fine Line, Minneapolis, MN* 27 Fargo Brewing Co., Fargo, ND* 29 The Park Theatre, Winnipeg, MB* 31 Louis’, Saskatoon, SK*
September 2 Starlite Room Edmonton, AB* 3 Commonwealth, Calgary, AB* 5 Rickshaw, Vancouver, BC* 7 Revolution Hall, Portland, OR^ 8 The Neptune, Seattle, WA^ 9 Knitting Factory, Spokane, WA^ 11 The Pub Station, Billings, MT^ 13 Bourbon Theatre, Lincoln, NE^ 14 Val Air Ballroom, Des Moines, IA^ 16 House of Blues, Cleveland, OH^ 17 Del Lago Casino, Waterloo, NY@ 19 Club Soda, Montreal, QC* 21 HMAC, Harrisburg, PA^ 24 Pine Knob, WRIF Radio Show, Detroit, MI+ 25 Louder Than Life, Louisville, KY+ 27 The Intersection, Grand Rapids, MI^ 28 The Forge, Joliet, IL^ 30 Apollo Theatre AC, Belvidere , IL^
October 1 Red Flag, St. Louis, MO^ 2 TempleLive, Fort Smith, AR^ 5 Rialto Theatre, Tucson, AZ^ 7 The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA^ 9 Aftershock Festival, Sacramento, CA+ * Mac Saturn will support @ Dorothy will support ^ Mac Saturn and Dorothy will support + Festival date
Band bio / press, 2021:
Some musicians take a while to build an audience and connect with fans. For the Los Angeles-based quartet Dirty Honey, success came right out of the gate. Released in March 2019, the band’s debut single, “When I’m Gone,” became the first song by an unsigned artist to reach No. 1 on Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock chart. Their second single, “Rolling 7s,” went into the Top 5 and was still headed up when COVID changed everything. That same year, Dirty Honey opened for The Who, Guns ’N Roses, Slash, and Alter Bridge and was the “do-not-miss-band” at major rock festivals such as Welcome to Rockville, Rocklahoma, Louder Than Life, Heavy MTL, and Epicenter. On its first U.S. headline tour in January and February 2020, the band sold out every date. When it came time to record its self-titled full-length debut album, the band—vocalist Marc LaBelle, guitarist John Notto, bassist Justin Smolian, and drummer Corey Coverstone—wasn’t about to mess with what was already working. Teaming up with producer Nick DiDia (Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam), who also produced the band’s 2019 self-titled EP, Dirty Honey again captured the lightning-in-a-bottle dynamics and energy of their live sound. “As a guitarist, I’m always inspired by the everlasting pursuit of the perfect riff,” says Notto. “I also wanted to extend the artistic statement that we had already made. We weren’t looking to sound different, or prove our growth, necessarily. It was more about, ‘Oh, you thought that was good? Hold my beer.'” “Because of the pandemic,” added drummer Coverstone, “we had a lot more time to write and prepare, which was great. It meant that we were able to workshop the songs a lot more, and I think it really made a difference.” Dirty Honey’s album indeed builds on the band’s output to date, with airtight songwriting that plays up their strengths: sexy, bluesy, nasty rock’n’roll, melodic hard rock, and soulful 70s blues-rock. On “The Wire,” LaBelle reaffirms his status as one of contemporary rock’s best vocalists, while “Another Last Time” is a raunchy, timeless ballad about a toxic relationship that you just can’t stop saying goodbye to. “Tied Up” and the album’s lead single “California Dreamin,’’ both feature smoking guitar solos bookended by massive riffs and hooks. “‘California Dreaming’ was the last song we wrote,” said bassist Justin Smolian. “We finished it about two weeks before we recorded it, so the song was still so new, and we were trying out different things, so every take was a little different. But there was that one where we just captured it, and it was magic.” Although each band member started playing music as kids—at the age of eight, Notto’s parents even bought him a red-and-white Stratocaster—each one brings eclectic influences to Dirty Honey’s sound. For example, drummer Coverstone has studied with jazz and L.A. session drummers but loves heavy metal; Notto grew up listening to ’70s funk and R&B as well as rock ‘n’ roll, and bassist Smolian has a bachelor of music in classical guitar and loves Tom Petty and The Beach Boys. LaBelle meanwhile, takes cues from his songwriting idols (to name a few, Robert Plant, Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, Chris Robinson, and the late Chris Cornell) when coming up with lyrics. As a result, the songs on the Dirty Honey album hint at life’s ebbs and flows—shattering heartbreak, romantic connection, intense soul-searching—while giving listeners space to draw their own conclusions. “Sometimes, if you just let lyrics pass behind your ears, they sound like cool shit is being said,” LaBelle says. “And then once you dive in, you realize, ‘Oh, that’s really thoughtful.’ But it still doesn’t have a meaning that’s easy to pinpoint. There’s an overarching idea that is really cool, but it’s not necessarily on-the-nose.” Although the Dirty Honey album may sound effortless, its genesis had a bumpy start. The day before the band members were due to fly to Australia to track the album, Los Angeles entered lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and traveling was off the table. However, Dirty Honey was still eager to work with DiDia, so they devised a Plan B: recording the full-length in a Los Angeles studio with one of DiDia’s long-time engineers, and the producer beamed into the proceedings via the magic of modern technology. “He was able to listen to what we were laying down in real-time, through this app,” says LaBelle. It was like he was in the room with us. It was surprisingly seamless the way it all went down.” Having to switch gears delayed the start of recording slightly, although this extra time ended up being a boon. Dirty Honey rented a rehearsal space and demoed the album’s songs in advance, meaning the tracks were in good shape when DiDia came onboard. Notto mixed and recorded these workshopped tracks himself, which helped him rediscover one of Dirty Honey’s biggest strengths: being well-rehearsed while not over polishing their work. “I’ve learned just a little bit more about what people might mean when they say, magic—you know, ‘This one has the magic,'” he says. “We would do two and three different demos of a song, so there would be a few versions. On a few occasions, the version that people kept going back to was the sloppiest, if you look at it from a performance standpoint.” LaBelle agrees. “It’s just about getting the performance right and not thinking about it too much. I never like to be perfect in the studio. None of the stuff that I really liked as a kid was. I don’t really see myself getting away from that too much in the future just because I think you lose the soul if you do it too many times, if it’s too perfect.” Notto also admits that the creative process isn’t necessarily always all fun and games. But for him and the rest of Dirty Honey, pushing through those tough times and coming out stronger on the other side is worth it. “When you finally come through on those moments, that’s where the real magic comes in,” he says. “What makes all of our songs fun to play and listen to is we don’t allow ourselves to stop short of getting the best possible results out of each one of them.” Dirty Honey’s self-titled debut album was released on April 23, 2021, debuted at #2 on the Hard Rock Albums Chart, and the album’s first single, “California Dreamin’,” sailed into the Top 15. As a nod to the many people who come to California chasing a dream, the song’s music video, directed by APLUSFILMZ’ Scott Fleishman, took the viewer on several trips through a magical doorway, not to the glitz and glamour, but to the darker sides of the Golden State. That summer, the band went out on a nine-week tour as Main Support for The Black Crowes’ “Shake Your Money Maker” U.S tour, receiving glowing reviews and standing ovations at the majority of the tour’s shows – not bad for a still-breaking opening act. Dirty Honey began 2022 with a special performance of the Prince classic, “Let’s Go Crazy,” shot on one of Minnesota’s 10,000 frozen lakes, that kicked off TNT’s New Year’s Day broadcast of the National Hockey Winter Classic. On February 20, the band headed out on the Young Guns tour, a 34-city, co-headline tour with Mammoth WVH, with both bands firmly intent on proving that rock’n’roll is very much alive and well. Dirty Honey’s new single, “Another Last Time,” was released on February 25, accompanied by a captivating, real-time, “one-take” music video, that plays out as an unbroken ribbon of storytelling.
For GOLDEN EARRING fans, guitarist/writer Goerge Kooymans and American guitarist Frank Carillo released their 2nd album titled Mirage. It includes 10 tracks , notably Kooymans’ “Seasons”, which was originally written in 1968 for Dutch band Earth & Fire.
Twelve years after their debut album On Location, George Kooymans and Frank Carillo return to the front with their second album entitled Mirage. Recorded over a period of approximately three years in various studios and countries, Mirage offers ten tracks that illustrate the natural chemistry between the two guitarists, showcasing artistic excellence, as well as a wide array of musical influences.
,,Four countries, a fantastic cast of real characters, sometimes an ocean between us and more than a few laughs: That’s how Mirage came to life. We wrote a number of the songs in George’s kitchen while he cooked and I strummed guitar. Then he strummed and I got on the cutting board. We like to cook.” – George Kooymans & Frank Carillo
George and Frank are accompanied by a.o. Paul Orofino (banjo, guitar, Hammond Organ), Rinus Gerritsen (bass), Bobby Langenberg (drums), Ocki Klootwijk (bass), John Sonneveld (keyboards, programming) and George’s daughter Cassy on harmony vocals.
,,It wasn’t a conscious effort to make a CD. We just wanted to write and record because we loved doing what we do. After a while, we realized that we had enough material recorded to put out a new collection so here it is.” – George Kooymans & Frank Carillo
1. Mirage 5.01 2. Where The Devil Won’t Go 2.43 3. Sweet Revenge 3.25 4. If I Go There 3.13 5. Den Of Thieves 4.03 6. Ticket To Heaven 3.21 7. I Wish You Were Still Here 4.50 8. Living Now 4.06 9. Crystal Cracking 4.40 10. Christmas in Gaza 2.27 11. Seasons (bonus track) 4.41
Mirage is released on 17th June 2022 by Red Bullet Productions and will be available through all renowned worldwide music dealers and online shops, plus digital channels (Spotify, Apple Music, a.o.). A vinyl version will follow later this year through Music On Vinyl.
*There is also Another release of Golden Earring’s classic Live album. I have the white vinyl of this, as well there is a red vinyl issue (released in 2019 & ’21 respectively). This edition issued on ‘blade bullet’ vinyl reportedly comes from the master tapes – “To celebrate its 45th anniversary, the album is being remastered for the very first time from the original master tapes.” I am curious how improved it will sound(?) A shame there’s no ‘bonus’ material .
This is an interview I did via email with Don Mancuso, formerly of Black Sheep in August of 2001 to promote his first solo album Now You See It. The CD featured 14 tracks, all written or co-written by Don, except for a cool cover of Badfinger’s “No Matter What”. His next album would be titled DDrive, and would be the basis for the band that became DDrive and more recently Lips Turn Blue, who’ve just released a new album – LTB.
(08/01) Rochester based guitarist Don Mancuso has been around the upstate New York scene for decades! In his early days he was in BLACK SHEEP with singer Lou Gramm [pre FOREIGNER], and after extensive tours of the US in the 70s supporting numerous classic bands and 2 LPs Black Sheep split before Don went on to form such bands as AURORA, CELTIC FIRE, and the legendary CHEATER!
Most recently Don has been playing and recording in RED HEART – which features a few ex members of Cheater. Don’s also got his first solo album out titled “Now You See It”; issued independently. Now You See It is a fine mix of rock, along with influences of fusion, southern, and roots rock n roll. It features a number of strong cuts like “Eyes of God”, “Freedom”, the instrumental “Waazzup”, and a decent cover of the Badfinger classic “No Matter What”.
Here Don discusses his career, tells a few Black Sheep tales, and gives the lowdown on his brand new solo album.
Can you give me a Top 10 list of favorite albums?
1) Axis Bold As Love (Hendrix) 2)Guitar Shop (Jeff Beck) 3)Free At Last (Free) 4) Dosage (Collective Soul) 5) White Album (The Beatles) 6) Sergeant Peppers Lonely Heart (The Beatles) 7) Magical Mystery Tour (Beatles) 8)Couldn’t Stand the Rain (SRV) 9) Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (Traffic) I think that’s the title… 10) Goodbye Creame (Creame)
Black Sheep was your first band, with Lou Gramm !? How did you get involved in that band, and what was your early take on Lou? 😉
Actually the bass player Bruce Turgon (who is now with Foreigner) heard me playing outdoors at a dance that I was playing at with a band called Maelstrom. He was at his girlfriend’s house and heard me playing from a half a mile away. (I must’ve been playing pretty LOUD!) He liked what he heard and had me over for an audition, which of course led to being the first american act signed to Chrysalis Records. (see my bio for details) then to 2 albums with Capital Records. That of course led to him getting into Foreigner. As far as my take on Lou, I felt that he was a great person, writer and singer and I loved working with him. We were like brothers from 1973- 1976. Didn’t spend much time apart between touring, recording, writing and hanging out together.
Black Sheep released 2 albums. How did those albums do nationally? And how do you think of them in retrospect? [any favorites?] oh…and how did you get signed on to Capitol ?
The first album “Black Sheep” sold well. I heard somewhere around 80-100,000 copies world wide. The second one “Encouraging Words” didn’t do quite as well. Somewhere around 40-50.000 copies.(from what we heard!) not 100% certain that these numbers are it, but that’s what we were told. I think these albums were GREAT! Some of my finest work and definitely a lot of emotion to it. I didn’t quite have the experience, or chops that I do now, but I have learned a lot from “myself” and what I’m capable of doing both writing and playing wise from these albums.(As you do with every project) I think my favorite one is Encouraging Words though. We had a chance to grow a little before that one and laid out a lot of spontaneous emotion along with some more organized ideas. The way we got signed was through an A&R rep that had heard a demo and quit Columbia Records to pursue his own production company. Stuart Allen Love was his name and between himself, a music lawyer named Barry Platnik and Vincent Romeo a honcho at ICM booking agency in NYC they worked the political magic that gets act signed.
The saying “it’s not what you know, but who!!”. It’s all that and more!
You guys toured with a ton of great 70s bands like Kiss, Argent [Wow! I’m a fan], Manfred Mann, 10 years After…. Any great stories from those tours? Any bands you loved or hated playing with?
I loved playing with all of them! (oh, by the way you forgot Blue Oyster Cult, Ted Nugent, Peter Frampton and Procol Harem) But seriously, they were all my idols, except for Kiss at the time. I never thought much about them until I witnessed them Live! They were WILD!!
As far as stories I’ll give you the worst and the best. When we were touring with Kiss the very first show I was standing on the side of the stage after we had finished our set and all of sudden I’m standing in this huge shadow. I turned around to see Gene Simons towering over me in that unbelievable outfit with an axe guitar! He must’ve known what I was thinking by the look on my face. He told me that he had watched our show and he loved the band! I was shocked and honored. Most headliners shit on the opening acts, basically because they need to make them selves look and sound better. These guys did not worry about that! Alvin Lee from Ten Years after was the same way. We got to be great friends and got into lots of trouble together… The bad story, well we had just finished recording our second album with a new drummer who hadn’t even played out in 5-6 years and was a farmer outside of Rochester N.Y. We had done some work to get the new show together and accepted a last minute gig at the New York Academy of music in NYC warming up for our hero at the time Peter Frampton. Well Peter hadn’t hit the big time with Alive yet and it turned out he was not the draw for the show either! We were plugged in, in place of a group called Montrose (who were the draw on that show). To try and make a long story short, we came out all psyched and had people screaming for Montrose and throwing shit at us to get us off the stage. If that wasn’t bad enough the power went out on the guitar amps and keyboards so Lou, Bruce and the “new” drummer who never played in front of a crowd larger than 200 people were naked in the wind for the rest of the set! That’s Rock-N-Roll!!
Who else was in Black Sheep? Any recordings past Lou Gramm’s time with the band?
The only people that were in Black Sheep during 1973 through 1978 when we broke up were myself, Lou, Ron Rocco (first drummer), Bruce Turgon, Larry Crozier and Mike Bonnafiedie (the second drummer) that was it. Everything we recorded was released on either Chysalis, or Capital.
What can you tell me such band’s as Aurora and Celtic Fire? [who else was in them, any recordings, tours…] ?
Well, Aurora was a fusion band that I was in for 2 years after BS. We didn’t do any national touring, but did a lot of TV shows and club dates. Linda Rutherford & Celtic Fire was a Celtic Rock band that did a good amount of touring and had 2 CD’s out on their own label. I was the guitarist on the second one only “Flames of Eviction”. Great Stuff and Linda and her family are some incredibly talented and creative musicians. Our claim to fame was playing at Woodstock 99 on the “Emerging Artist Stage” It just so happened that both the main stages were down when we played, so they broad casted us over the whole network of media equipment over the 5 mile coverage! More people saw me play guitar that day than on 4 dates combined on the Kiss tour. Not bad! You know the story on Cheater, we had an EP out and toured nationally and were like the Beatles of upstate NY when we disbanded.
Cheater was a fairly popular band in the Buffalo area for years. What are your fondest memories of this band, and the scene back then? Buffalo had a big HR scene in the 80s. Did Cheater have much success or following outside of the region?
Yes Cheater was huge in the area of upstate NY, Ohio, Florida and one, or two other places in the country. It was mostly from people that lived in NY had the EP and would turn people onto it where ever they happened to move. We had fans in Texas, Calif, Tennessee and who knows where else. Not millions, but 100’s. My fondest memories are of the people & the music that band created. We were actually supposed to be sign after spending $60,000 on the Cheater Album, which was produced by an assistant of Mutt Langs, Nick Blagona. Just before they signed us and heard the record they decided that our singer Jeff Cosco sounded too much like Steve Perry of Journey and for them to release it, we would need to get a new singer. Well, being the people we were there was no way we were going kick out the singer we loved working with and that helped create these songs, so we allowed ourselves to get dumped and ate the cost of the record. Only recently we finally got the masters back and are going to have them re mastered for release!
What’s the deal with the Cheater CD coming out of previously unreleased recordings? What can you tell us about those? BTW, aside from originals did Cheater play many covers? [if so, anything in particular?]
See above! Cheater did play covers like Zeppelin, Humble Pie , Journey (of course).
You also did some sessions with Ian Lloyd. What project was this for?
The thing with Ian Lloyd was a demo that Bruce Turgon was doing for his solo thing. We did it at the Hit Factory in NYC.
Wish I had a copy of that! Someday I’ll have to nail Bruce down and get one. It was wild working with him he was one of the lesser known staff writers for Foreigner from what I heard. Great voice, it just took him a while to work into it in the studio. (He said it was blowing himself out on the road with Stories after Brother Louie)
In recent years you put together Red Heart [w/ Jeff Cosco, also of Cheater]. What can you tell me about this band? How is the CD you guys recorded? And what are you currently up to with them?
Red Heart is basically a Modern rock band with a classic rock edge to it. We have the original drummer from Black Sheep (Ron Rocco) and between myself Jeff and Ron we wrote all the material on it. It’s got some great songs on it and it was recorded and produced by Jeff Cosco at his 8trk studio. We play a lot of clubs, festivals and so forth in the Northeast part of the country. A couple of our songs from the Bridge CD are being considered for movie soundtracks. We’re doing warm up dates for some national acts like Kim Mitchell. (Who is another one of my idols by the way!) We’re also working on the next CD.
When did you decide to do a solo disc? Is it safe to assume this was done over a long period of time?
I decided to do a solo disk about 2 years ago. Yes, it did take all 2 years and then some to complete. Way more than I had hoped..
Now You See It features a wide range of rock songs, jazz and southern influences, etc… What can you tell me about how the process of putting together such an album? 😉
I took all the ideas out of a library that I keep at home of all the original pieces of music that I’ve recorded over the years. Some are even original demo’s of the Celtic Fire cd that I really thought came out cool and left it just the way it was. Most people don’t recognize it as being Celtic Fire of course because it’s me doing everything and it sounds much heavier. As far as the different types music on it, I did that intentionally. I love everything from R&B to soul, to Punk, to classical, to Celtic, to Reggae. I love anything that has an edge to it. You have to understand that many people have used me as a hired gun guitarist/writer and all they know me for is hard rock, which I love and can do very well, but I needed to show people that there are another couple of sides to Don Mancuso.
You used a number of singers, but don’t do any vocals yourself, why? And aside from Jeff, what can you tell me about a few of the others?
I don’t like the sound of my voice unless it’s used for texture, or harmonies. I’m not a great singer and I didn’t want to settle for doing it myself just because I could. There’s a lot of my voice on there, but it’s disguised. Maybe someday I’ll find a song that I like the way I sound on and do it then! The other singers.. First there Garrett Crumb who co- wrote and sang the first cut Alota Nerve and the tenth cut Black-N-Dizease, which is getting some airplay in Germany on the Lord Litter’s Radio Show. The other main singer writer on is Pat Petrone. We go back to high school together and have done many bands. He has the most incredible Ballad voice. sounds kind of like Steve Winwood. That’s what prompted me to do a lot of the mellower stuff on there. It just complimented his voice very well. He also sings on Eye’s of God, which is definitely the heaviest cut though! I also had a friend that I wanted to do some writing with that is on their, Dawn Sherman. She has a wonderful voice and a real feel for writing in that country/rock type of vein. So that’s why Freedom is in there. (Besides the fact that I LOVE the performance and sound of the guitar solo!!) It’s one of those things that only will happen once!
Decent cover of Badfinger’s ‘No Matter What! Why did you do this track [being a trademark tune of their’s] ? And are you a big BF fan?
Thank you for the compliment on the choice. I loved Badfinger and had this version of No Matter What that I had done with another band that I liked, so I had just got a deal on a used Leslie 122 tone cabinet, which I needed to finish it and whaallaa! By the way the singer on that one’s name is Vince Guarnerie. Forgot to mention him in question 12 He’s a good friend and the only guy I know right now that can hit those high notes!
Can you give me a few words about some of your personal faves [or stronger tracks] from Now You See It? Are there any tracks you’ve been [or will be] pushing to local radio stations?
Every song on the Now You See It CD is my personal fave. I had plenty of ideas to pick from and these were all the A cuts. It depends on what type of music you like or are interested in playing on a radio station. For hard rock I really like Little Tail and
Black-N-Dizease, for more current sounding stuff I like Eye’s Of God.. (Very Heavy) For Pop I recommend Lonely Look! And for soulful rock I’d say Waaazzup. (I even have trouble recreating that one live!) If you like more of a classical edge then I Fly. Well as you can see I’m going to mention every song on there because I love them all, so I’ll stop here and let your readers decided. It’s interpretation anyway.
How has response been thus far to the CD? What promo / marketing plans are you undertaking? & Will the disc be mainly available at your web site, or will it be in [local?] shops? Any plans to promote it live?
The response has been GREAT! It’s the first project that I’ve done to date outside of Black Sheep that’s in the Black after only 4 months. The promo right now is just word of mouth, internet, and talking to anybody and everybody I can about it. I have Phil Naro (who might possibly sing, co-write and help produce the next one!) shopping it overseas in Canada and the US. I very little to nothing about marketing and promo, so can’t imagine how well I would be doing if I had that end together! I have hired a personal manager though to help try and get this done as well as book live performances for the show.
I’ve only played one show so far in my own home town, so I’m looking for opportunities to get into other areas and see if it does as well there as it does here. We’re trying to get airplay in Buff. and go there to play. At this point I’ll do whatever it takes to get this disc into peoples hands that would dig it as much as the hundreds that already have it. It is availible on the web site and also in Rochester at Media Play, The Record Archieve, the Bop Shop and the House of Guitars. I sell a lot of them at live shows, but the shows are with Red Heart and the Park Ave Band (R&B/rock/reggae/fusion) in the tri state area that we play in. I’m pretty sure that Red Heart will be doing a couple of songs off of the Now You See It disk in their show and the Park Ave Band is the main band that is with me for the Now You See It show’s. We just add the violin, chello, sax and all the vocalists (along with an extra guitarist or 2) and it’s the Now You See It show!
What other projects are involved in at this time? any plans?
See above! I think I mentioned everything I’m involved with except I am producing albums for a few friends out of my studio in Rochester NY. It’s great because I get to play on a lot of different stuff and help someone else live their dream!
What’s your association with Phil Naro? Any comments on him?
Yep, Phil’s a great singer and song writer. We’ve been in a few different projects together and we’re even toying with the idea of having him Co-produce the next CD and have him doing some writing and vocals on it.
What sort of music do you listen to these days? any current faves?
I listen to Aerosmith, Collective Soul, Jeff Beck, Hendrix, Incubas, Just about anything with any heart & soul in it!
Ever open for or familiar with Uriah Heep?
Nope, but I did love seeing them live and listening to them. Saw them in Rochester at the Dome arena . Great show, but as far as favorite songs I loved almost every song that they wrote!… Demon’s and Wizards!!
DON MANCUSO is the guitarist and a major songwriter in the band LIPS TURN BLUE. The band started out as DDRIVE years ago, which had originally taken the name of Don’s second solo album DDrive, from 2004. Upon starting the band’s new album the band decided to change the name due to the name D_Drive also being used by a young prog-metal band from Tokyo. In the ’70s Don was part of the legendary band Black Sheep, along with singer Lou Grammatico – who went on to Foreigner. Black Sheep released 2 classic albums on Capitol Records. Don went on to various bands including Cheater, Red Heart, as well The Lou Gramm Band (see their 2009 self-titled album).
In this interview Don discusses the new Lips Turn Blue album – the making of it, the songs, the late Phil Naro, LTB’s current happenings, as well a bit on Black Sheep, and what else he has on the go.
For more, check out all the links below!
How much of the album was done when Phil was still with you?
Probably 90 per cent of it was done while Phil was still with us. He couldn’t sing after he went through the 2nd round of the chemo and therapy he was doing, trying to beat it, but he was in on what songs we were going to pull from earlier albums. You know, we ended up using a couple of songs, where he couldn’t sing, we had to go back in the catalogue and we picked up a couple of DDrive songs and we re-did those around his vocals.
You co-wrote most of the songs with Phil. Were the lyrics his and it was all put together from that?
It was a group effort – Phil and I wrote a couple of songs, and Phil and I and the keyboard player, Eric Beiber wrote. We all contributed with music, words, ideas, melodies. And there was a couple that Eric wrote with just Phil and Steve Major, the producer up in Toronto.
Can we talk about some of the songs? I just saw the new video for “Pray For Tomorrow”.
That was a total remake. That’s what started the album going. Phil had some friends during the pandemic that said it would be a great idea to do an acoustic version of it, and we said ‘it’s a good idea – we’re sitting around anyway.’ We all kinda chipped in at our home studios and we got that rendition of it.
“Just Push” was the first single. Can you tell me anything about that song?
That was an idea Phil brought to the table, and him and I worked on it actually til we completed the song. It was during the pandemic, so we couldn’t actually work face to face. We were working on the internet, doing tracks with the other guys, and the producer coordinated it, sending all the tracks up to Toronto to have them mixed. It was our first take on the pandemic.
I like “Build My Castle”, that’s a great one. and I like Phil’s intro to that, it’s kind of a different approach.
Steve came up with. It’s actually off my 2nd solo album with Phil. And he wanted to re-do it in a different light, so we added keyboard passages, and melodies with keyboards, and changed the solos around a little bit, and he did the thing with intro and the chant in the breakdown in the middle, also. A great song. That was actually getting some airplay in Pittsburgh.
“Better Than I Used To Be” ?
Yes. That’s one of my favorites. That one is close to my heart. I actually wrote the basic hook part, and most of the lyrics on it – with Phil’s help. And Eric Beiber contributed, I think he wrote the solo section. That’s a good one. It’s the story of my life – haha – ‘I may not be perfect, but I’m always better than I used to be.’
There’s a couple of things on here that have kinda reflective lyrics, and I’m wondering if those are things that Phil wrote – “No Need For You To Call” and “Life’s Crazy Ride”
“No Need To Call” was one that I helped him with. He had just had a falling out with his fiancé, and I had a new girlfriend, and we kind of wrote that one. And the other one – that was basically how he summed up his life before it was over — for everybody, not just for him, for all of us.
Was he well aware of his situation when he wrote that stuff?
Oh God yeah. He was in the middle of wondering how long it was going to be. It was tough.
What stands out for you on the album – what are you happiest with?
I think “Sit Up” is one of my more .. .I mean even though it’s a real R & B metal tune, it’s got a great hook to it, and it’s one of those ones that makes you want to move. That one, and “Better Than I Used To Be”. There’s a couple of Eric’s that I really like, that are really amazing.
“Chain On Me”?
That was one that Lou and I wrote with Bruce (Turgon). We re-did it from the Black Sheep days; it was on the Encouraging Words album. That was Phil’s last request, he said ‘I always wanted to do that song.’ And I was like – ‘you got it – let’s do it!’. And he did it, he pulled it off great.
The last cut on the album Lou sings on.
Yes. That’s from my 2nd solo album. And we decided to add that in to the que when Phil really couldn’t do any more. And we didn’t want to put anything out that was half-baked. So we took a song that Phil and I wrote from my 2nd solo album, and had the new guys play on it. The only other original guy we left on it was Joe Lana, he also passed away 5-6 years ago.
Who’s idea was it to do the Beatles’ cover? It’s an interesting choice.
That was mine and Phil’s. That was another one originally off of my 2nd solo album that we always loved, so we said ‘let’s re-do this one too!’
Now when I see the album – I love the cover, but I see there is no vinyl option of it , yet. When I look on Discogs and on Amazon I only see the CD.
No? I thought they were going to do that, I heard they were going to do it. I know I want vinyl.
Now you guys have moved on, and you have Iggy Marino as your new frontman. How many shows have you done?
We’ve done 2 shows so far, one in Rochester, and one in Phoenix, Arizona.
So you are part way or mostly done a new album as well?
Yes, about half way. We’ve got a lot of it in the can.
Will we still see Phil in any of the credits?
Oh yeah, he’ll be on 2 or 3 of them, I think, as far as credits. He wasn’t able to sing on them, but he was part of writing them, And I think we did have some vocal parts that are still usable that we’ll probably slip in here or there, I’m sure.
Is there a projected date for the next album?
No. We’re just trying to put together a tour, and get out and promote the Hell out of this one. It’s going to take time, I mean we’re not a super huge classic rock band or anything, so we’re going to be toughing it out for probably the next 6 months to a year to try and get that out there. And in the interim we’ll slowly widdle away at the next album.
Are you still working with Lou at all, on the side?
No. I still play with him periodically when he needs me, and he calls me up and says ‘I’m in trouble I need a guitar player and a band.’ But he’s actually retired, but he’s been doing these guest spots with other groups who want to bring him in to the fold just for a few gigs, or special shows, kind of ‘all-star’ band stuff.
I just want to ask about Black Sheep. Is there anything in the vaults that would interest you guys in putting them out as reissued with anything extra?
No, probably not. Lou was actually thinking about that a few years ago and tried to check in to who owned it, and it was like a circle-jerk, no one could really nail it down as to who owned it. So to do something like that might be a lawsuit in the making. I’ve got digital copies of the mastered albums that I just turn friends on to, and give it to them if they want it.
That’s a shame there’s not newer pressings of them out there because they’re hard to find and they’re albums.
Oh they are! That’s why I’m glad I’ve got the digital remaster of it. I was really fortunate because it’s a cut-out in the catalogue now, and luckily a DJ who happened to get a copy of it before they burned them all, he sent them to me, and I was ‘Oh thank you – you’re my hero!’
Did Black Sheep have any regional hot spots, aside from where you guys were from in Rochester and New York – any places where you guys got a lot of air-play or had a hit?
Yeah, we had a hit in Knoxville, Tennessee. We had a hit in Japan. And I think in Europe there were a couple of classic rock stations that were giving us a lot of air-play – like in Germany, Switzerland, Austria.
Was that back when the albums came out?
Yes, when the albums were out and we were touring with Kiss, Hall & Oats, and Ten Years After, and all that.
What else are you working on now?
Basically, right now my main focus for original acts is Lips Turn Blue because we’ve got the deal with MIG Records over in Germany, and the record’s doing good. Then I’m still working with Tony Carbone and Derek Crom in Johnny Smoke. We’re going to be coming to Buffalo in January, I think, at The Rock. And I’m still working with Lisa Gee, from Chicago, who’s last albums and EPs were done with a different drummer, he’s a session drummer out in California, but now I’ve been working with Carmine Appice on her new stuff. We’ve got 5 songs in the can; she’s going to be releasing an EP, and she’s got 1 song we’re still finishing up, it’ll be a separate single with Carmine. (ed: single premiers June 18)
I interviewed Carmine a few months ago. A busy guy.
Yeah he is. Great musician, I love working with him.
Do you know the name Mike Marconi?
Oh God yes! I used to go watch him when I was in Black Sheep just to learn new licks and get my sound down. He was one of the guys – him and Mike Nicoles were my local heros. He’s a good guy, great guitar player. He was in a band called Wale here. They were a good band. They were the one voted ‘most likely to succeed’ over Black Sheep. haha. We fooled them.
Can you give me a bit of insight in to Phil as a writing partner, bandmember, and person, how you got along with him and that?
We got along great because we loved writing together, and playing together. Every opportunity we would get we would both work at it, but we were always involved in other projects to keep moving forward, learn more stuff, and hopefully grab more contacts.
Anything else you can add in about the album..
It was the biggest labor of love any of us have ever done. It was like pulling teeth to get it out. Luckily we were blessed with a guy that got behind us – Bruce Pilato, he manages the band and he kind of tied up all the lose ends and got it to a point where we can get it out to people. So, you gotta hand it to him.
Are you guys going to be adding a store to the website to order CDs and merchandise directly?
Yeah. We want to. Because I mean with the gigs we played we probably could’ve sold hundreds of those t-shirts with the cover art on them.
Do you know much about it (the cover)?
Yes. It was done by a gentleman in the mid-west who’s referred to as ‘Man In The Mountain’ , and he does all graphic art covers, a lot of CD stuff, and big time artwork.