MITCH MALLOY - Interview, September 2000.

OK Mitch, Thanks for taking the time out before you hit the road to answer some more interrogations.
As you know and many readers of the website know, I have been privilege to seeing you record this album from the very start, thanks to you keeping in touch and updating me on the progress. I hope the questions can help reveal some of the hurdles you overcame.

So mate, standing where we are now, on the verge of the release of your third CD and the first to be independently record and released by yourself - how do you feel?!!
I am laughing at that question because I am so tired and overwhelmed at the moment I can't believe it. This tour is scheduled too close to the conclusion of the record and there are way too many details to be handled.
Let me put it this way, if you could see inside my head, you would scream. LOL!
Other than that, I feel great that the record is finally finished. And am happy to be able to give something back to the fans.

Looking back, would you recommend other artists out there reading this to take a similar path?
Laughing under my breath again, hum......not sure what to say about that one. I am not sure I could recommend how I am feeling these days to anyone.
I am much more compassionate than that. LOL.
But yes, as far as having creative control, I would recommend doing it yourself.

I think the most positive thing you have said to me is that you are really happy to at least be in total control of your destiny and the record you are making. Was that the single most rewarding part of the solo process?
In a way it was, yes.

On a similar note, you have also told me that this whole process is obviously financially challenging - were those financial restrictions the most frustrating part of the recording process?
The money aspect was very frustrating, cause when I was on RCA/BMG, those records were free from budget constraints.
We had the best of the best at every turn. On this record I had to do whatever I could to make it happen. As far as asking guys to play for free, or very very cheap, or just playing it myself. I played WAY more guitar on this record then I would have, had I had the big budget. It was good in a way though, cause I normally come up with guitar ideas and then give them to the guitarist, well, on this record I mostly just came up with the idea and then played it myself. Victor had some guitar ideas as well. It made me a better player.
And it made me a better engineer, producer and so forth.
Cause I had no choice, I HAD to do it myself. When Victor came in to the picture it made things much easier. And he gave me the energy I needed to finish the record.

I did laugh when you came back to me over the last few weeks with problems both to do with mastering and also in the manufacturing process. What was going through your head at this stage?!!
I was very frustrated, to have worked so long and hard and then to not be able to get the final process done properly. There were just so many problems during the recording and then to have it done, and then the mastering itself was another problem, it was making me crazy. But now it's done and done well, so there you have it.

Can you describe for everyone else just how many steps there is to releasing an album?
Wow! big question. Too many things to say here. It is very very detailed and complicated. You just don't have any idea unless you do it yourself. It's a little crazy to do what I just did. I don't want to do it again this way.

How was it also being the producer of the album? Was it a blessing or a curse not to have a guiding hand like Arthur Payson?
You don't know how many times I wanted to call Arthur and ask him to help. Especially with the engineering. But I couldn't cause he is very busy and I didn't have the money to pay him. He would have been fantastic to work with again and I would do it in a heartbeat. He is very good.
But as most people don't know, I co-produced that first record, and am a natural born producer. I have tons of ideas in the studio and I know how to make things work most of the time. That part of it was a blast!

The producer Sir Arthur Payson was rumoured to be a alias for Desmond Child?! Is this right?
Arther Payson is NOT Desmond Child and that rumour pisses me off because Arther is a very talented man and I was the first artist he produced without Des. He was trying to break away from the Des camp and he thought I was the artist that could help him do just that. Des wanted to be involved but Arther just wanted to do it without him. And after singing on Des's record I had no interest in having him produce me. He was MEAN in the studio! Now Des and I are friends and working with him now might be fun, but then he was in a strange place and he wasn't very nice to me. Or anyone else as far as I could tell and I am telling aren't I!!!

Back to the record - You obviously have spent a lot of time on this album - how long has it been now since start to finish?
I took a lot of time off and a lot of breaks so I would say it was about 6 months solid, maybe more.

Anything you would change at this point?
Well, I don't want to scare anybody, but I would change some things and might, when I make some money from it. We will see. I would like to maybe hand it to a great mixing engineer and have him take it into a world class studio and remix a few tracks, maybe the whole thing. But that will probably never happen. I am a perfectionist, so for me it's hard to let it go and just call it done.

Let's talk about the actual songs on the record. Over what time period were the tracks written?
Some years ago, and some more recent.

Is there many others that didn't make it to the recording process?
Yes, some newer ones that I LOVE didn't make it on to the record. There just wasn't time to record them. So they will go on the next one.

The album I think has a range of emotions on it. A great deal of the songs have a real positive vibe to them, while there is of course a few songs of heartache also.
Where did the lyrical inspiration come from when writing this time around?

It was the same as always, just my life experience. What I go through, what I have been through and so on.

A personal question. There is obviously a great deal of difference between the Mitch Malloy that released his debut album and the Mitch that is today. Are you generally contented with life?
I would say so, most of the time. I am MUCH happier now than I ever was.

Any favorites from the album that are close to your heart?
It depends on the moment really. I am very fond of You Lift Me and It's About Love. And Places Only Love Can Go.

What tracks are you planning on playing live with your upcoming dates?
We are doing most of the new record depending on the show.

Let's take it back to before the album got underway and take it backwards from there. What was the spark to get this started?
It was the fans. It was the site and the fans writing in and saying nice things and asking for this record.

It has obviously been a few years since the last record and you have been busy, but what inspirational moment got you started writing and recording again?
The web site and reading the messages from the fans on the website. I am proud to say, I have some very articulate bright fans and they know just what to say to me to get me going.

There was a time there when melodic rock was almost exchanged for a country feel. Were you totally burnt out on the rock n roll or what?!!
I am a very musical guy. I can appreciate good music in any form. I have a very acoustic side to me as well, and I tried to translate it into country music, but I learned that what I do isn't country music.
At least not by Nashville's standards, It's just really acoustic pop/rock. It was a great learning experience for me.

You moved to Nashville, what happened after that and why didn't we get that country album?
It wasn't meant to be, Nashville really took me in and wanted me to work in their market, but at the end of the day, it just wasn't me.
They tried to twist and turn and mold me into what they do, and after awhile I just about broke, or maybe I did break. It was just too far away from who I am as an artist. I had to walk away from it. Again though, it was a great learning experience.

Any chance of that happening or are you back to ROCK for good?!!
Ha, I would have to say, I think I am back to rock for good. Yes.

Another very interesting thing happened while you were out of the limelight so to speak. The great Van Halen experience!!
How did you and Eddie Van Halen hook up?

A guy who worked for their management at the time used to be my road manager and he kept calling me and telling me they were going to fire Sammy and that I was going to be the next singer in Van Halen and he was calling and calling and finally I got annoyed by this and told him to stop and that I didn't think I was a good fit in VH and that if he was serious he should have Ed call me.
A week later Desmond Child calls me and says he has just left Ed's house and was writing with them and that they were talking about me and that they were watching my "Anything At All" video, and that he told them that I was perfect for them, and that they would be lucky to get me, and before I knew it, I was on a plane to LA. Ed did call, a bunch of times. He was great.

Things went so well, you actually recorded a demo with the guys - live in the studio. For the record! What tracks did you jam on?
Yes, it was Panama, Ain't Talking 'bout Love, Why Can't This Be Love, Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do), Jump.

And what were you thinking while this was going on? Total disbelief?!!
LOL, it was very surreal. It was pretty cool. Valerie was very nice to me and Wolfy and I had a great connection. He just took to me right away. Ed was very taken with that as I recall, he told me I must be the guy cause his son loved me. It was cool. It was very nice. Ed is really a great guy, and so is Al and Mike. Ed was treating me like I was his best friend, his little brother. He still does most of the time. I miss him at the moment.
I have not talked to him in a while. I hope he is okay. He was very encouraging on this new record. I sent him You Lift Me, It's About Love, and Draw The Line and he called me while he was still listening to it and was very very excited and saying things that I couldn't believe. I can't really repeat them here without sounding like a total egotistic ass, so I will just say, he was very flattering.
I hung up and yelled at the top of my voice. That felt way better than when he told me I was in the band. I felt like he accepted me as a peer when he like my music.

I suppose I should tell of the moment when he told me I was in the band.....
On the 3rd day I was there, I got a call as I was staying in Ed's guest house. They told me they wanted me to be in the studio control room in 15 minutes.
I went up and sat there and waited, And a few minutes later, Ed walks in stops and says, "well, you are an amazing singer, you look great and you are one of the nicest guys I have ever met, we just talked it over and congratulations, you are in the band." he walks up to me, I stand up and he kisses me on both cheeks gives me a hug and turns and walks out of the room. I sit back down at the mixing board and say out loud, "I am in Van Halen, shit, now what"? I think I giggled a little in disbelief. It was a very strange moment.

So the unanimous verdict on Ray Danniels as a manager is shit to say the least, were you another victim of his control over the band at this stage?
Well, I am not positive as to what happened there, but Ray told me at first that no matter what happened, he wanted to manage me.
I already had a manager though. And he told me he wanted me in the band. I think it's best I reserve comment any further on that one.
I actually wrote Ray a letter, passing on the gig. It just didn't feel right to me at the time, what with all the MTV thing with Dave and all that.
They never told me they were doing that with Dave, and as far as I knew, I was pretty much in the band at that time. I knew they were going to audition Gary, but they told me they didn't really want to, cause they wanted me. And then I see them walk out on stage with Dave, I called Mike and told him that I thought it was a mistake and that they had just made it nearly impossible for ANY singer to come in and be successful cause now EVERYONE thought Dave was back.
I never heard back from them, and while I was waiting, I sat down and wrote a letter and had my manager send it up to Ray saying, thanks for the shot, but I am going to have to pass.
It wasn't an easy thing to do. I heard from Ed a few weeks later. I met Gary over the phone that day as well. Gary is a super nice guy. A real class act. I am very impressed with him as a person and would think he would be a very good friend to have.
We are not friends, I am just saying, there are not that many people you meet in life that are as gracious as Gary Cherone.

You did keep in contact with Eddie for a long while after this, but he wasn't happy at all with you when you recommended something to him was he....can you tell us what you said about what he needed to do for a vocalist?
Ed actually asked me what I thought, and I told him.......DAVE!
You need to get Dave back, and he raised his voice saying, "You know what happened and how he was such an ass and what he said to me and did to me, and you know how hard it was to get him to sing in the studio", and I said, but Ed, you had Dave singing Desmond Child songs.
Dave isn't that type of singer, you had him singing melodies he can't sing, and what you need to do is just let Dave be Dave. And then he got even louder and said that he wrote all those songs/melodies, and that Dave just wrote the lyrics and sang them. That's when I shut up. I love Ed, he has been like a big brother to me in a lot of ways. Who am I to upset him. But he did ask. And whatever happened with the Ed / Dave chemistry worked, and I just think that it will always work.
Even if Ed did write all the melodies, obviously they have the same vocal range and they are connected with that. It WORKS! At least it worked. I have never met Dave, but he doesn't seem THAT bad to me. I don't know, I just love Ed and I want what is best for him. If he doesn't want to work with Dave, then he shouldn't work with Dave. I mean, you wouldn't wish for your friend to be unhappy just because it will please the fans. Life is too short for that.
But he did ask, and I did say Dave. I guess at the end of the day, music isn't everything. And those guys have already given us a LOT of great music to listen to. Maybe that is enough?

How do you think Van Halen with Mitch Malloy as lead vocalist would have sounded?
Well, that's easy, all I have to do is go put in the tape and listen to it. :)
It sounds just like Van Halen with me singing. I had Asked Al on the first play back in the studio. I said, "what do you think?" "Does it sound strange hearing my voice over your music?", and he looked me right in the eye and said, "no, not at all, it sounds great"!

Everyone has opinions on the job Gary Cherone did as singer #3, what do you think alienated the fans so much?
The MTV thing. I just don't think the fans could get past that. I do think though that if they had had a hit like they did with Sammy that they would have had an easier time of it.

Back to all things Mitch Malloy, I wanted to ask you about your debut album and what followed it's release.
In these rock circles it was praised and is continued to be praised as a great AOR album with some killer AOR vocals. What promises did the label make prior to it's release? As far as promising to promote the shit out of it and how big it will be?
The Label told me in the beginning I was the great white hope! that I would be bigger then Bon Jovi! I worked my ass of promoting that record and I think we sold 100,000.

What the hell happened?!! Was it a case of major label screw over again?
Yes! I was on the tonight show with Jay Leno but it was too late. The song I did was "Our Love Will Never Die" The Label had already pulled the promo on it, so it was just stupid marketing! Here I am on one of the most powerful shows in the world and the label's not even promoting the single. And also they had no power! I learned a lot about the biz in that year. Too much really! They couldn't get me on MTV cause they had no power. No big acts to throw their weight around with. It was frustrating but an incredible experience at the same time.

With a critically acclaimed album (at least with the fans) it seemed a curious change in direction after just one album, with your second album Ceilings And Walls. Can you describe what was going on in the lead up to writing and recording the album?
After I got back from Europe, the head of the label sits me down and says "It's time to start thinking about a new record" I say, But I never got to tour! HE says! " YOUR GETTING TO MAKE A NEW RECORD" AND gives me this look like, DONT SAY ANOTHER WORD!! SO I just sat there while he told me how girls wanted to fuck me and how I sang ballads so good and how I had Michael Boltons Mngr. And he should be able to put me on tour opening for him and BLAH BLAH BLAH! So he says WE are gonna take you Adult contemporary, Well little did he or I know, but I was not allowed to be in the same building as Michael Bolton. (Why would an artist that HUGE at the time, be scared of ME????) BTW - I didn't find this out till after the C&W record was out!

So I fired my Manager. Asked to be let go from my deal and just thought, "I have to get out of New York and out of this horrible biz." So I came down to Nashville, got a pub deal and thought I would try my hand at an Eagles kind of record.
I had a few deals but at the end of the day all Nashville wants is one just like the last one, so I didn't really fit in to their little idea of what country should be and I have no intension of doing so. The stuff I was doing was Melodic Rock with some steel guitars! They thought it sounded cool and fresh but then they got scared thinking radio wouldn't play it. So they tried to make me do stuff that I didn't want to do. NOT AGAIN!

Now while all this is going on I'm writing more and more stuff like the first record and I hook up with Jeff Lamprecht - the guy who did my web page and I go look at what all the fans are saying and I'm like, WOW people out there still remember me and they miss me and they want me to rock and I'm like, "OK then, - Lets ROCK!!!!"

Anything else we have to cover?
I would like to thank my fans. They have been the real source of inspiration for this record. I would also like to thank who ever it was that came up with the idea for the Internet. It has made all of this happen for me.