Having grown up on Long Island and played the LI original music scene
when there actually was one, I remember the band Hotshot very well. Having Formed in 1983 when hard rock was hard rock, this band made quite a few waves in the music industry. Having former members that included Teddy Cook (Dio,Great White) and Al Pitrelli (Megadeth, Alice Cooper) the band was obviously one of the better bands that never had it’s day in the sun. Yet it amazes me that Mike Pont has continued on through the rough times and keeps the band name alive.
He just recently released a collection of songs under the Hotshot name via his own label Split Finger Records. I recently had the chance to speak with Mike about the band and its new release. You can check out the website at
How did Hotshot start? Pretty interesting story.
The original Hotshot was formed as a cover-band back in 1983 with Bruno
and Steve from Danger Danger, Joey Sykes from Coward and Grammy
nominated remixer, Bobby Guy. We played 5 nights a week playing new wave stuff like Duran Duran, U2, and Billy Idol. Bruno did the best
Billy Idol. Those were crazy times. The later, and more widely known
Hotshot, I reformed with Al Pitrelli in 89. We had both played
together previously in the first line-up of Danger Danger.
How did so many future star players (Al Pitrelli, Leslie West) be a
part of the band?
Most of the players on the CD are from Long Island. We’ve all played
the same clubs in different bands. Really just a bunch of friends. I
still throw BBQ’s every week during the summers and whoever is in town that week is at the Q, eating Spicy Steak and drinking frozen drinks.
You never no who’s gonna show up.
When Al Pitrelli left to join Alice Cooper how did that affect the
chemistry of the band?
Thinking back, I don’t know how I kept things together. Not only Al
leaving but, TC Cook, our bass player, left to join Dio. This all
happened within a week. I suppose the fact that Hotshot was really
getting a lot of press at that time gave me no choice but to keep
things together. Finding Spike Frances to replace Al was amazing. I
mean he brought a whole new vibe to the band… a kind of street vibe.
Lots of attitude.
Now, the new CD is a collection of Hotshot and solo recording, is
it more of a best-of or rarities CD?
The Hotshot CD is Pretty much all of the material I’ve recorded through the years. There are a few other tracks that didn’t make the CD and a
bunch of others that we use to live but never recorded.
How would you describe the music to someone who has never heard of Hotshot?
Songs… I always felt that the songs have to be good. Some of the songs on the CD, the Hotshot material, rocks. The Mike Pont solo band stuff
is more pop.
How interesting was it playing and growing as a band on Sunset
Strip back then?
I actually grew up in NY, playing all the clubs in the tri-state area.
It’s not till somewhere around 1990 that Hotshot found its way out to
Who is on the recording and who is currently in the band?
Just about everybody’s on the CD… haha. Lets see, Al Pitrelli, Steve
West, Bruno Ravel, Tony Bruno, Chuck Bonfonte, Al Greenwood, Leslie
West, and a few others. Right now, there is no full band.
Will you tour in support?
As of now I am doing a few acoustic shows. Just me and original
Hotshot guitarist, Joey Sykes. Joey in the past has played with
Coward, Boystown, Meredith Brooks, and is about to release a new CD
with his band New English. As far as going out with a full band, it’s
something that I’m starting to think about now.
Tell me about Split Finger Records. I’m not that familiar with them.
The Hotshot CD is the first release on Split Finger. It’s a project
that my business partner, Mick Kofla and I started. He is the one that
pushed me to release the material. Although we are really busy with the
release of the Hotshot CD, we are starting to look for new talent.
How much of difference was there between the LA music scene and NY?
Wow… NY was home, so we always had our die-hard fans, which was great.
I don’t want to say that NY wasn’t exciting but there was something
special about being in LA, the whole band staying in one place… every
night some kind of madness.
Was it play-to-pay in the Sunset Strip? if so, how hard was it for
a band to survive?
At the time we played in LA I’m pretty sure most bands paid to play,
fortunately we were booked by some good friends so we were able to work
around most of that.
Most artists and bands would have given up will all that Hotshot has been through. Yet you continue. How do you do it?
Well your probably right. I did keep things together for a long time.
Losing and replacing band members is never easy. But I love music,
it’s my life.
How close were you when Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee were ready to produce the band? What caused the breakdown?
Towards the end of the band, in 91, there was interest from Nikki and
Tommy from Motley Crue. Nikki was giving our demo tape by a mutual
friend. I would speak with Nikki, sometimes a few times a day. They
were going to produce the band… there was a plan. We flew to LA and did a couple of live shows and a private showcase for them. Things
looked like they were finally gonna happen for the Band, until Motley
kicked Vince out of the band… and Hotshot out in the cold. This was
the proverbial last straw.
Do you still speak with all the former members of Hotshot or have most gone their own way?
I still speak and see most of the members. Steve and Bruno are like
family. I’m looking forward to getting out to see Al with
Trans-Siberian Orchestra later this year. I heard it’s amazing.
Was it hard to see a band like Danger Danger have success after
playing with Steve and Bruno beforehand?
Like I said Steve and Bruno are like family… no hating going on here.
How much has the hard rock scene changed since 1983?
It’s obviously changed a great deal. It’s great to see there’s new
interest in rock and roll. Young kids are actually buying the Hotshot
CD. Rock lives!
What lies ahead for you and Hotshot?
At first I was just going to release all of this previously recorded
material… just one CD. But it’s got so much attention that I’m already
starting to write stuff for the next CD. Hopefully I’ll get to record
with the some of the great musicians that played on this CD, and
hopefully with some new familiar names. I’m just really having a blast