So Johnny, the first question I should be asking you, is what have you spent your time doing with life after Hardline? Well, me and Joey started an e-commerce company that's going real well.
Really? In 2000 we're going public
What exactly is the company?
It's a company called FULLe-com. What we do is handle the complete end-to-end transaction for an Internet site. Pretty much the Internet company comes to us and we don't do anything on the front end, we don't build sites or anything like that. We're all back office. We'll handle all the credit card authorizations. We have 327,000 square feet of distribution. We ship the product direct to the consumer. We do all the data storage and online reporting. We run Internet business for about 600 corporations. We started in a little eight by eight office 2 years ago in a little 3 car garage. We have 55 employees just on this coast.
We have offices in New York and Vienna, Austria.
Who else is the 'we' in that?!
My brother Joey and myself run the company. Joey is CEO of the company. My sister is also involved.
You are either incredibly smart cookies or had some fantastic advice or both?
Well you what is funny is that, this business is no different to making and selling a record. You have a story to tell and you go into pre-production. You build the record and promote the shit out of it. You release the record or release the stock and try to support it by working your ass or. The process is very much the same. Joey and I were always the business guys in Hardline. It just comes very easy for us. I attribute a lot of it to timing. The first time in my life I was really in the right place at the right time.
Yeah ok. Now tell me you obviously don't need to make records for a crust anymore but it's good to still see you involved.
Yeah it's in the blood. I gotta do it.
You are right though - financially I don't have to perform or make a record for creating revenue. I still have to do it or I will die internally.
It was a several year gap between the Hardline and the Axel Rudi Pell album.
Yeah it was a bunch of downtime that's for sure. It was out of the frustration of the band life. It's not having control of where you're going. It was the most frustrating part of music for Joey and I. The other thing was the fact that we had to make music to make money. When we were kids making music for fun and creating something was everything. Then all of a sudden you are forcing yourself to pick up a guitar or forcing yourself to write something that someone is going to like. That's when we looked at each and thought this sucks. This whole thing just fucking twisted on us. It's not supposed to work this way. That's when we decided we have to make a move to something we can control and we tinkered around with some things. We owned some rehearsal studios and we had a snowboard clothing company. We tried many things and it was Joey's brainchild to tinker around with this Internet thing. We had no idea what a browser was or what Netscape was. We had no clue. So we shipped product. I don't know if you guys have a 1-800-FLOWERS down there. We ship their orders.
No, but I know what you mean though.
I have 27 distribution clients. It's amazing. We ship anything from candles and food. We ship those infomercial products you see on television. We ship all that shit.
Thank you. I was telling a friend of mine today who was asking me how my daughter is. Katie (Caitlin) is 3 and a half. I said who knows I've seen her literally about 3 hours all week. When I come home she has to go to bed. That part of it is not fun. It still beats touring though.
Let me take you back to the start quickly. I've got a couple of question to ask you here. You first got started with Brunette Why didn't that ever come to fruition? Timing again?
Probably. I think from a songwriter's point of view we weren't there with the music. We were a little dated. Although we were packing them in Hollywood, we were breaking like The Doors records at the Roxy and the Whiskey on the strip. The record companies were just thrilled but they didn't quite get the music. Now I look back I can understand. It wasn't right for that period. We were a little dated. In my opinion I think that group had a serious chance because it was incredibly marketable. We had 17 feet of hair and everybody looked like a brother. It was a good looking band I think. Almost the entire audience was girls and not that I minded that at all. I don't think we brought in a good mix of people.
You need a balance I guess...
Yeah you do need that.
You did record demos for the band and they are quite well traded around the fans these days.
Yeah I've heard of a few bootlegs out there. I actually have some people that check on all these auction sites like E-Bay and see what the hell is going on. I'm finding stuff I never even new we had.
Is it worth thinking about releasing some of that stuff?
I think we'll just leave it alone. Eventually I have a goal to make a disgusting amount of money in this business that I'm in now and then get back to music. I want to get back to my roots to when I was making music just to make music. That to me would be the ultimate life. Stylistically and musically I don't know that I'd go back to that direction. I think I'm looking more to the rock/pop and big ballad kind of sound. Something a bit different to what people are used to me doing.
Hardline was obviously an incredible band. People that visit my site often vote that as a benchmark album to comparing other albums. Do you still get good feedback on the record?
Yeah, absolutely. I know that you are aware of Sons and Angels the JVC group are begging me to come over 2001 and revamp that Hardline stuff. So the Japanese fans of Hardline could witness what that sounds like live.
I may give that a go.
I caught your show in San Francisco back in '93 . It was Mr. Big and the Electric Boys. The band smoked on stage!
That was a great tour. The goal was to try and destroy Mr. Big!! (Johnny said this is good humor folks!!). That was a very good tour for our morale and our ego. Truly you caught me enjoying every gig on that tour. I've had some miserable tours. The one with Extreme in Europe I would rather have been chopped into little pieces and sent home in a bag.
It was one of those tours that didn't sound right. The fans were not our fans. Every night was a battle to win the fans over. I nearly had to pull my pants down to try and get a reaction. It was a bitch.
On this particular show I saw Neal steps aside and Sammy Hagar steps out. The crowd just went wild.
It was so funny I had talked to Sammy and said make sure you know your own lyrics. He said don't worry I got it. He comes out singing all the wrong frigging lyrics and Neal and I just look at each other. This guy he doesn't care (laughs).
I've still got a Dean Castonovo drum stick he pitched into the crowd. Oh what a drummer he is.
He's a machine.
He is just a mind-blowing musician. He's over with Neal at the moment. They look like they're catching a good wave with this Journey thing. I think the last I heard from Neal was that they are potentially using some of the songs that Neal and I wrote for this record.
What happened with Hardline? Who dropped the ball?
Our AOR Paul Atkinson left the record company. The new guy that came in was Ron Overman. He was a very respected guy but the only one that didn't respect him was Neal. The first meeting we had Neal just went ballistic on this guy verbally and Andrew I'll never forget it I walked out the door and I told our personal manager that's it we're done.
The very next day we were done. So do I blame Neal. Yep I certainly do. Could we have stayed together as a band and re-shopped another deal. Yep. The sad thing about the Hardline deal was and I'm open to admit it once the money was gone the band was gone.
Neal, Dean and Todd had a lifestyle to keep intact. They weren't really willing to dig in the sewers like Joey and I did. It was a shame.
How much money did the album cost to make?
It was half a million.
It was way to much. We had a 12 million dollar record deal. It was one of the biggest record deals for a new band in a very long time in this coast.
Bloody hell exactly.
Well you didn't piss it away then obviously?
No Joey and I saved every bloody penny. I know many people that have just lost everything. I knew there was a life span of about 3 years and Joey and I had this pact that if we could eek out a solid 3 years of income by enjoying our music then we are done. We have nothing to be ashamed with. It was time to move on.
Do I miss it though. Yeah.
I'm going to be doing the Bang Your Head Festival in Germany. This is old school rock. You know I want to play but I can't get the hell away from the business right now. So it's a struggle but I hope to open that up.
After Hardline you guys had a second project?
What we tried to do was not to disappoint the fans. We had to music all ready to go for the second album but couldn't' convince anyone to record it. So we started regrouping it.
Joey and I were always the foundation of it anyway. Neal was only going to be a producer in that group. He wasn't going to be a player but he twisted our arms. We turned him down the first time. We didn't want him in the band we just wanted him to produce.
We had a different vision. But anyway we started to have kids, which didn't make us want to sit on a tour bus for a year. Joey actually has 3 kids now. So we tried you know.
I do feel that every one that brought the first record deserved to see us play live or witness a second record at least. I especially feel we ripped off the Japanese market. We sold a shit load of record in Japan and the deserved more music and a live show. Maybe before I check out I may be singing Hot Cherie when I'm 60 but I will do a live show for some of those people.
Axel Rudi Pell e-mailed me and was looking for a new singer and I put him in touch with James Christian who in turn nominated you. How did the approach come?
It was strange. I had some of my guitars advertised for sale and this guy comes over to my house and I have a studio built into my house with all the Hardline posters up and the Billboard charts and this guy is like you're in Hardline. I said yeah I'm the singer of Hardline and it turns out he is a fan. We got to talking and he's become a very good friend of mine and he went back to his house and went to some Hardline page on the internet and put up on the message board that he met me. Axel accessed that Hardline page and e-mailed that guy that brought my guitar and said please forward this message to Johnny. I emailed Axel and we conversed via email for a year. It was old school stuff and I told him I could sing that sort of stuff in my sleep. So I told the family I'm going over there and I'm gonna make the record. He's like a brother.
You've made 2 and a half albums now? Yeah that's right.
You sound a little different to Hardline.
Yeah. Journalists always say how do you compare guitar players. Neal to Axel. You can't compare. Neal is very polished and his chord knowledge is amazing. This is a more Richie Blackmore sloppy kind of style. I mean that in a good way. I don't have to be selling millions of records. I sing with people I enjoy working with period. I don't have to be top ten in the Billboard. I just want to sing and enjoy people.
I gave both records around the 9 out of 10 mark. Oh thank you. I'll email you the reviews because I think I said several times that you were singing your ass off.
Oh thanks. This Maquerade Ball record I practically had to squeeze my testicles to get some of those notes. Holy shit.
I was going to say there was some pretty intense singing on this one.
I cut that whole record in 5 days. 4 days for the whole record and on the 5th day I touched up some harmonies.
You must have been busted after that?
Yeah I slept for a frigging week after that. I was fucking beat up. I put myself in the studio and I sing until I'm dead.
I'm really surprised it only took that long.
Yeah well I just don't have that much time these days.
How and where did you record the Sons and Angels record?
That was through Doug Aldrich. The music co-ordinator for the project got in touch with Doug to put them in touch with me. I started off by singing just one tune for there Sonic the Hedgehog project. I met Jun and we got along right away. That project led in to the Nascar Project and then JVC decided to turn it into a record.
So the Sons of Angels have both those songs on it?
Yeah that's right.
So how many vocal tracks are on there?
It's a vocal album with one instrumental song. What the music was written for is those entertainment games. So they are selling it as a band. We didn't write those songs for the public we wrote them for those games.
The unfortunate thing about that record is that I sang it sick as a dog. I was supposed to go to Japan to record and my schedule didn't allow that so they decided to come to me. So we record it here in LA. I got the nastiest sinus infection and sore throat so my range wasn't as great as I wanted it to be. I think it works ok though. I wrote some of the stuff on there too. Just think video game when you are listening to it.
So you guys are still based in LA then?
No, we have offices in New York so we jump back and forth. We are still LA boys.
I'm technically in San Bernardino, which is towards Palm Springs.
What's happening in your neck of the woods? How's the music scene?
It's not bad. Aussie is doing all right at the moment. It's more pop than anything else at the moment. We've got a few great up and coming bands that are going to make an impact at pop radio.
So how about Joey? How is he these days?
Joey is full on business guy and he's got one goal and that is to make this business a public one. That's all he cares about. He only misses one thing - Joey and I started a group called the Jiz Rivets with a Mexican drummer. It is the most hilarious full on punk. Joey often mentions that was the most fun he ever had. Joey's put on about 40 pounds. Oh my god it's funny.
That I would have to see I will send you a photo someday!
Thanks Johnny and thanks also for your time, appreciated. Thanks Andrew