It?s been some time since Jetboy graced any stage with their brand of guitar-driven hard rock. But that will come to an end very soon as the band reunites for the first time in some 14 years to play at the Key Club to help promote the release ?Hollywood Rocks? boxed set that the band provides a track towards. The band never did acquire the fame and status of the Poisons and Warrants of their era, but they did develop a loyal fanbase during their years. I had the opportunity to speak with Billy Rowe who gave me some insight on their reunion gig and their future plans. You can check out www.jetboyrocks.com to get more information.
What made Jetboy get back together?
Well we have talked about doing a reunion for the last few years but it just never came together… Then this last March my new band American Heartbreak had a show at the Viper Room in Hollywood & Brian the owner of Cleopatra records was there…. He told me the Hollywood Rocks box set was coming out soon & they were putting together a release party & what are the chances of getting JETBOY to reunite & headline it. I made a call to Mickey & Fernie and they both said BOOK IT! And that was it! I knew we would do it someday & I guess that day is now here.
Who is in the band right now? If it’s not the original members, do you still speak to any of them and what are they up to?
The only original members are myself, Mickey & Fernie… Sammi is now in the New York Dolls & Ron our drummer gave up music ten years ago. So the guys in my band will play their parts.
I see you’re part of the ‘Hollywood Rocks’ Boxed set. Tell me about being part of that project?
Well the Hollywood Rocks book came out first, which was, like my high school yearbook, amazing book. I heard from Brian ( Cleopatra Records) that he would eventually do a follow up to it with an audio boxset & he would like a JETBOY track for it which I got him, simple as that…. now here we are playing the release party for it. It’s pretty cool to be a part of this boxset/era of Rock n’ Roll…. Back in the 80’s when all this started to explode it was really a special time for music… Soon after it became world wide…. and to this day I can’t believe how many people adore those years & bands….. mainly because JETBOY was a big part of it…. For me it was just normal & being young I thought that’s just how it works… Looking back now that’s not it at all…. there really has not been anything as exciting at all since those days … to me it was the last great era of genuine good fun music.
How was it playing and coming up on the ‘Sunset Strip’ scene? You must have some cool memories
Well JETBOY was from San Francisco so the Sunset strip was not our home base…. It was more of a place we played…. even though we did get noticed by playing some of the strip clubs….. When Fernie & I formed the band we would make frequent trips to LA to try & find that perfect singer… That’s when we meet Izzy & Axl … they were still doing Hollywood Rose at the time & Poison had just landed in LA (early 1983)… The actual club we hung out at more was the Troubadour… Later we hung out & played more at the Roxy & Whiskey… We all became friends having that serious love for Rock n’ Roll as well as unknown bands of that time like Hanoi Rocks… Soon we were all up in running in early 1984 & started to book shows with each other… We had an advantage being from SF & built two big followings…. Eventually we ended up moving to LA as it felt like the right move to make, which it was. As for memories … Hell yeah quite a few … to many to type here but some I can’t remember as life really was sex, drugs & rock n’ roll 24seven…. It sounds cliche but it really was like that.
How competitive was it back then…especially the ‘pay to play’ rules back then?
We never fell into the pay to play era…. we were a bit before that started. That happened due to the whole thing getting so big later on. We were already selling out all the clubs in SF & LA… As for competitive…. Bands were a little but not that much…. We just did our own thing when it came to all that.
How much has the LA scene changed over the years?
Well for me LA is still the same in some ways but has changed a lot in others…. LA will always be LA to a certain extent… but the rock n’ roll scene is getting big again.
How much has the hard rock scene changed?
Today the hard rock scene is way different… It’s really hard to even call it that. In my opinion there are just not that many great bands to get excited over…. A few here & there … but not like before… seems like people are more excited over the older bands from that era of the 80’s.
Are your albums still available or out of print?
I think the MCA released albums are outta print…. I released a few on smaller labels a few years back, which are still available, I believe… Hell you can get anything now with ebay!
I see you have a one-off show at the Key Club in La. Will you consider touring full time afterwards?
Well again this is the first time we said yes to doing a reunion show… If it leads to more offers then to a tour? if it feels right I’m sure will say yes to it.
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Are there any plans to record a new studio album?
There is talk about recording a new album? but it’s just talk right now…. who knows…. I’m open to it all. I still play rock n’ roll & never really stopped…. Hell if it feels right why not.
How much did having Sami Yaffa from Hanoi Rocks help the band, if at all?
I think Sammi gave a certain amount of credibility to JETBOY… We were already on our way before he joined the band … but it definitely gave us a good boost…. As well as it made us a much tighter band & players.
How difficult was it when bands from the ‘grunge’ era came onto the scene leaving bands like Jetboy on the outside looking in?
This happens to the best of them… Even KISS got bumped outta first place from the 70’s to the 80?s… No one will ever be on top forever… that JETBOY was on top but you know what I mean…. that’s just how it goes….. I’m just happy I got to be a part of it period.
Do you think there were too many bands that sounded alike around the time you came out?
Not when JETBOY came out…. We formed in 1983 & got signed in 1986…. What held us back was the buisness end & getting dropped from Elektra then being picked up by MCA, which ate up about a year of our momentum. By the time 1988/89 rolled around it was a cookie cutter assembly line of generic bands left & right…. By that time thank god the grunge scene came along…. because some of those bands were just god-awful.
What did you do during the ‘down time’ after Jetboy ended?
After JETBOY split we all did nothing for about a year (1990 /91)… Mickey, Fernie & myself then formed a heavy band called Mindzone trying to clone the whole Pantera / White Zombie thing but that just never took off at all. After that we all went out own ways till now… 14 years later.
Anything you’d like to plug/promote?
Well after I parted ways with Mickey & Fernie I formed a band called American Heartbreak with X Exodus bassist Michael Butler & an East Coast singer Lance Boone. I got back to the basics of playing simple catchy rock n’ roll. We have released a few CD?s on indie labels toured Europe 4 times & now we are about to sign a pretty nice record deal… So for me now I’m doing two bands… I really love what I’m doing with American Heartbreak (www.americanheartbreak.com) & I love that JETBOY is doing this show with more possibilities as well … If it leads to more than I’ll make it work.
What lies ahead for Jetboy?
Who knows…? Only time will tell?