Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: February 18th, 2006
What was the first garage band you were in?
It was one of my high school bands called Down to Earth.
Do you remember the first album you bought?
I’m going to show my age here. It was either Creedence Clearwater Revival or Grand Funk Railroad.
What was the first concert you attended?
My first concert was…check this out, it was Mountain and the opening act was Rush. Rush didn’t even have an album yet in the United States.
What kind of kid were you in school?
I wasn’t a trouble maker. I hung out with the cool crowd and I was average… not a great student… no sports.
Was your music always focused on Christian music?
Our music is not Christian based and never was. I not into organized religion but I am very spiritual. I have affinity towards Jesus but not in the same way Christians do. I have a really strong connection with him because I was brought up Catholic but I was always that way. I went to see ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ on Broadway when I was eleven so I was really connected to that. I even questioned if he was a real person. It’s horrible because I want to believe that he really lived. I don’t care about any resurrection or the Blessed Virgin Mary I only care what he stood for and what he spoke of and his words. At this point I don’t know what I believe. I know there is a higher power; I know that for sure because I see how it works when I’m in that positive energy. I can’t prove anything but I can’t disprove anything either, just look outside; I tell people that’s an accident? Atheists don’t know what to say to that question, they will just beat you down because they’re so aggressive. They would say ‘I didn’t say there wasn’t a god…’ then you’re not an atheist. If you believe there is something out there you’re not an atheist. Everything is energy, YOU, this table, is just a slower vibration. You were connected to everything… its one giant creation. Where all connected. Muslims can go and kill people over a cartoon character. You know how many do mockeries on Jesus… come on.
Was Surgin the first band you were in that recorded material?
No, it was a band called The News. But Surgin was the first major label release.
Why did you leave?
I left the band because Jack Ponti and I didn’t get along. I don’t care for the man.
In the 1988, release of the Prophet “Cycle of the Moon,” you replaced Dean Fasano?
I replaced Dean Fasano and we did pretty well. We had Noel Monk, Van Halen’s manager, managing us. We came close. We put out one independent and one major label release. Prophet was a huge cover band. I was in the band when they first started taking off as a cover band and then I left because I wanted to do originals. So I left the band and then years later after Surgin didn’t work out they called me back and things clicked.
After Prophet, you moved on to Arcara and you signed with Escape Records; How did you go about getting signed to that label?
We signed with Escape because they called looking for me, same thing with Liberty N Justice. They called Charlie Calv who is in The Way with me. They called him because they were looking for me.
In most of these bands, you write all the music and lyrics?
I do melodies and lyrics, some of the tracks on The Way record. Steve DeAcutis wrote a couple of the songs and some of the hooks but 99% of the melodies and lyrics I did.
Are you originally from New Jersey?
I am a Jersey boy and still struggling. I have an audition for that show Rock Star, if I make it… great, but I first have to pass an audition to get on the show. I need some kind of career boost.
How was it working with Karl Cochran?
Yeah we worked together in Arcara. At the time Atco records was interested in Concrete Management and us and if you know politics… well people in the band started to go bizarre, so it didn’t work out. I really like Karl but we started to go in different directions and finally went our own ways.
You recently did a benefit concert for Kartina relief in New Jersey; How did they approach you in doing that show?
Yeah. Dale Thompson from Bride contacted me. He called me to see if I could get Edgar Cayce to play. I told him they really don’t play in the winter but I would call them anyway and they said they would do it. That’s how my other project Friction got on the bill.
Have you ever played for a big crowd before?
We toured with Leatherwolf and Kix back in the day. Surgin opened for Aerosmith at the Fountain Casino.
Have you ever turn down a benefit show?
No, I never did. I was talking to Justin Murr from Liberty N Justice and said we should do something like a big show. Find out what state we want to hold it in and have all the singers come and perform. I wrote “State of Grace” and I also wrote “If The World Could Be Mine” performed by Joe Cerisano of Silver Condor / Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I wrote “State of Grace” with Mike Maino and Charlie Calv from Shotgun Symphony.
How was it working with Justin Murr?
He is a nice guy and he is willing to help out and do anything that has to be done. I just figured we should do a benefit. We should do it for a good cause, pick a good cause and do it. I would like to do it for the homeless people in America. There are so many people that are starving with no health benefits. I would like to do something like that. Justin has some great distribution.
His wife’s favorite song is the one I did on the CD and I feel good about that. He worked hard on the CD. Bach was the last person to help on the CD but he has some big names like Stephen Pearcy, Mark Slaughter, Peter Loran and Ted Poley, plus Tony Harnell… I like Tony he is a great guy.
Tell me a little about Friction?
It’s very current music. It’s a heavier sound, not eighties sounding. We have a demo out right now. The first track “What Do You See” is about kids having to live up to expectations of being super models and being something big. What is happening to the generation today that has to be so perfect like a magazine, it’s not real. “Building Walls” is about a break up. “Sum X Luv” is slammin’. Sex is not a dirty word; it’s not a bad thing. It’s just as long as you have responsibility for it. It’s the “Sum X Luv”. “If I” is about everybody’s different beliefs, spirituality, religion. I believe in Jesus Christ you believe in Buddha if they were both together would one think they were greater. “Down Moment” is about pissed off things. “Mr. Brownstone” will blow you away and “Give Peace of Chance” was Lennon’s tune, which is slammin’.
Tell me about The Way CD?
The Way is basically Stevie DeAcutis and Charlie Calv with me. I had a previous band called Where’s Mary and Stevie had a band called the Loved Ones. We got together, produced the songs, and changed what they sounded like and we made them sound like…The Way. The songs are positive and give some insight on some of the negative crap around us. I love hip hop, I love rap. I just can listen to it for only a couple songs because I’m tired of it talking about ‘bitches and ho’s’ and ‘show me the money,’ ‘more money, more money.’ It gets to me, I love 50 cent I love Snoop but I can’t listen to too much of it and we are just trying to wake people up. We have a song called “What Do You Want From A Man.” It’s my ode to women, like what do you want from me. I don’t get it anymore, what do you want (so I’m asking the question). They want the bad boy but when they get the bad boy they want him to be the good boy. It doesn’t work that way. You have to have the good one first to get the good one later, can’t make the bad one good.
What was the last CD you listened to?
The Friction CD, I can’t believe we have not got a record deal yet. I think you’re really going to like it; it’s a bit heavier than what we usually play.
What’s your feeling about the music business today?
It’s rough. Many band members are doing side projects. There is a lot of talent out there and it sad that some will never be known. You have to have a positive flow and do something you love. We put our heart and soul into this CD. We are looking for distribution on an independent label.
Russell it was great to have the opportunity to interview you at the home of Rockeyez. Would you like to say anything in conclusion?
Yes… Check out The Way on Myspace and wait until you hear Friction you will be surprised in the new direction and the heaviness of Friction. This is a great new start. I would like to thank all the fans that have stuck with me on this long ride. I would like to thank Rockeyez and all their readers and I would like to thank The Higher Power for opportunity to do what I love.