INTERVIEW AND OFFSTAGE PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
TRANSCRIPTION BY SUZANNE M. BANDERET
Drummer Jay Schellen is probably best known of his succesfull career in late 80′s hard rock act Hurricane but since then he’s been involved in many other interesting bands and projects. Jay’s career started properly in the early eighties when he decided to leave his birthtown Albuquerque and then moved to Los Angeles. Soon he was working with names like Lita Ford, Danny Johnson and Badfinger before joining in Hurricane at 1986. On last August Jay joined legendary rockgroup Asia and band came together with Dio and Uriah Heep to play two shows in Finland on last December. Many things have changed after December and after this interview was done. Asia has recently announced that they will do a re -union with all original members and Jay has just formed a new band called ONE which consist of him, John Payne and Woody Guthrie who also played in Asia with Jay prior the re -union.
THE EARLY YEARS AND MOVING TO L.A
Let’s start this interview from the very old days. If I’m right you first actual band was Ritual in the 70’s?
Yeah, that’s true.
Yeah and you did something like 9 years with them or something?
Yes we did something like that. My childhood friend Laurence Domingas was in the band and we all grew up together in Albuquerque then… this is funny. It’s funny that one he guys who played in Ritual was Lorenzo and he’s running monitors for Dio now.
That’s a funny coincidence…
Yeah. So sadly couple days ago I informed Lorenzo about Laurence, our childhood buddy, he took his life about two years ago, but we started a band together. We were always playing clubs. We were playing in bars when we were like 16 and our bass player had to be our legal guardian that we could play in there. So that group was called Ritual and we went on the road when we were 19 and stayed out playing the AME club circuit which is where I met Glen Sherba who was playing with Randy Castillo who was a good buddy of mine and Randy Rand and a band called the Offenders. So Glen said come out to L.A. And you know I got some auditions for you etc. so I just packed up and went so that was right from Ritual that was my connection straight into Los Angeles.
Did you had any material of your own or did you only cover songs?
Oh yeah, yeah we had our own stuff too.I think we did about 10% originals.
Would you describe what kind of material it was?
It was kind of like ah semi Progressive because we were really into Rush, Armageddon, Pat Travers and Thin Lizzy. One of our big songs was called “Your Life” and there’s some odd time signatures in it and things like that that I wrote in and stuff like that it’s kind of progressive. I should try to dig those up actually?
That would be interesting. Maybe you’ll put it out someday?
“Laughs” Maybe or then maybe not “laughs”!!!
You should release a box set or something? How about doing “The best of Ritual” ??
Mmhmm “laughs” There is a band called Ritual now though isn’t there?
Actually I think that there have been many bands around who have used that that name…?
You’re probably right.
After Ritual you moved to bigger circles when you moved to LA and at first you did some working together with Jef Scott and Tony…Tony Way?
Kay. Tony Kay was managing Jef and that was the audition that Glen Sherba had told me about. So when I got to Los Angeles I had about 3 hrs of sleep. We went to sound city which is a big studio there right next door to Keith Olsen’s studio Good Night L.A and I did the audition got the gig. We played a couple of songs and then in a matter of hours I was out on the tennis courts with Tony Kay. Who of course I was a huge Yes fan growing up so I even had his solo records Badger you and all this stuff. So to be just a few hours in LA and then playing tennis with Tony Kay was kind of a freak out it was kind of wow California it’s f*cking amazing!
How old were you when you did that?
Only 20 years. Not bad …
It was alright. And then I still wasn’t able to drink yet but that night we went out to the pubs. See I got early training on all this hanging with these British guys “laughs”
I understand “laughs”
Yeah, so back then it trained me for now and they are still freaking out. These guys are still expecting me to like stumble because we drink all night and we eat curry like crazy when we were in the UK. They were expecting me to have an episode on stage or something you know what I mean? Like where I have to run off or something. But everything went very smooth. They finally they broke down and said OK you must have had some kind of training or something because we figured you’d be face down at least once.
At that time you also did some working with Danny Johnson?
Oh Danny Johnson! Yeah he’s a great guitarist. Well I was on the AME circuit we crossed paths with Danny Johnson and the Bandits and I thought they were the coolest band I ever saw. Really, really just amazing players had this image that was bitching it was almost like the Rolling Stones. I thought this was a killer band so when we were in LA I met /hooked up with the bass player Gordon Copley. We were both doing a thing for Lita Ford at the time and he said “Hey when this is over you got to check out my band with Danny Johnson?” So I went in and did that audition and got that one and that’s when I got that gig. Our first deal was we were going on tour with ZZ Top “The Eliminator” -tour so we were playing to like 20-25 thousand people every night. It was fantastic. He’s a great guitar player though. We recorded a couple of live things and a single or two that I would love to find again somewhere…?
You don’t have it at all?
No I don’t. It was called “Love Thing”. We also did a video for that and it was played in MTV back then.
That must have been in 1985 or something like that?
You earlier mentioned Lita Ford and that you worked with her in mid 80′s?
Yes I did.
Was it the same time when Eric Singer was also working with Lita Ford?
I did a short thing and Eric came in later and then funnily enough later I kept bumping into Lita all the time. I guess in 1992 we got together then again kind of romantically for a while.
Jay on stage with Hurricane at 1987
With Lita Ford?
Okay…that was news for me.
That was a great thing. Myron Grombacher was playing with her at that time and she was working on her record at that point. I was doing I was choosing actually between Hurricane and Unruly Child at that point… but I’m sure we’ll get to that in a second!
Yeah, I think so. About Eric Singer how well you two do know each other?
Yeah, yeah we both kind of bumped into each other at that exact point and probably ever since then we did as well I think because he was also a friend of Randy Castillo as well. Randy originally put me onto the Lita gig and Eric, I think, was also put onto it at the same time so it was kind of a mutual thing. We’ve always been friends we’ve done some drum clinics together and things like that.
So you know well what he‘s up to these days?
Yeah I know. He’s a great drummer.
He was just in here with Alice Cooper.
Before we start talk about Hurricane are there other bands you would like to talk about?
There’s one band!
Which one do you mean?
Of course… the band you had together with Lenny Wolf?
That’s right. Randy put me in on that one as well so I hooked up and see that’s an important one that’s how I met Bruce Gowdy. So I worked with Lenny and Bruce we I guess we were on MCA records then and we worked on a bunch of new material and I guess it came out later what was it called “Lip and Talk” or something like that and then Lenny was performing under name Kingdom Come. We were talking a little bit about that last night but then Hurricane was starting to move forward and do our own thing. At one point I was playing with Lita, Hurricane, and Stone Fury all at the same time during this thing and I was just kind of waiting which one was going to go
So now when you mention Stone Fury I remember that I spoke with Lenny something like three years ago at Swedish Rock Festival and we talked about that band and also about you then…
Yeah we did a lot of partying too “laughs”
“Laughs” I bet! That project didn’t last too long?
No, not really because what was probably the thing was Bruce and Lenny were just kind of falling out as song writers, I think? Lenny since he’d been in the country for a while now and he was finding his way around better cuz when he first came over he was just like a newbie right off the boat you know what I mean? As far as coming to America once he found his way around. Lenny is a very forceful kind of confident guy and I always got along with Lenny. It was always kind of good we did you know it was always pretty good but I think then that’s when he started doing his thing and then Bruce started writing again with Guy Alison and then that’s how several years later then Unruly Child kind of came about.
Is there any material on latter Kingdom Come albums which is actually written by you during Stone Fury days?
No. I think I do know that some of our jam sessions from Stone Fury had some of the grooves and the elements what Kingdom Come used later and there were a couple of riffs in there and Lenny said, you know typical Lenny right? “Thank you Schloovey oh thank you Schloovey the check is in the post.”
Have you followed Kingdom Come’s career afterwards? In mean do you know that stuff what they have done lately?
No. I’ve heard just a compilation which they did. I think that was put out some time ago?
It’s only Lenny left from the original band, isn’t it?
Yeah it’s only Lenny and some session players. In my opinion the band is no same anymore.
Well it’s true I think in order to have a band that’s going to continue on and make good music you have to involve the other players it has to feel like a band at some point.
Now it’s only him.
Hurricane is the band wherefrom you are best known. How did that band started and how you ended up being in that band in the first place?
Kelly Hansen, Tony Cavazo and Robert Sarzo were already together they had a drummer here uhm… what was his first name, John Shearer, I think?
Yeah I don’t really know much about him. They played couple of shows with him and they had a couple songs together. I was in Lita’s band and her road manager Gary Ballan said” Jay you should check this out?” and that was when Eric Singer was doing Lita.
Gary was then off as a tour manager for her as well and he was just started managing Hurricane and when he said “You got to come and check out this other band” I’ve got going. So I went over there and everything was great we hit it off right off the bat and we actually wrote a song that evening and I wrote most of the lyrics for it which was “It’s Only Heaven” off the first record the first night. The chemistry was really good so that’s how it got started they were kind of together and just kind of came in and took over the drumming spot and it just kept going from there pretty much.
You did a lot of song writing for Hurricane, right?
It was all of us writing. I think the sound that was coming out, I think it later became evident even as we were doing “Liquifury”, was that I was kind of always into. Kind of progressive and kind of even Jazz in a way early on Yomavish Orchestra, Return to Forever things like that but Yes, Genesis, Rush all those kinds of things. I really liked a lot so the Hurricane’s music there was a bit of that element going on in there from my end because I was always trying to get it to be a little bit more intense musically but Kelly was very pop vocalist so he would keep it straight ahead that way which I think carved out the Hurricane sound. Robert’s guitar style was different coming from a kind of Cuban background he heard everything in triplets. So that combined with all the other stuff kind of gave that thing and when Tony played a solid bass so that’s kind of where that was at.
Nevertheless something less comfortable things happened in the late 80’s when you first had line up changes and several years later band simply disappeared. What actually happened back then?
Well the band pretty much disbanded is what happened basically two things happened I’m know if it was for the better but it was just the way it goes. When we came off “Over the Edge” tour we had a record, we had top 5 videos we had a summer hit with “I’m on to You”, we sold out our records in two weeks and the record company didn’t get any back more back in stores. We got screwed really the record company was too young and they just didn’t know what to do. So when it came out on radio and it did well and then videos took off we sold out across the country in two weeks and there was a lull of about 24 days or so of no records while we were on tour. So we’d be playing to these audiences and everything they couldn’t go get the record.
Do you know what kind of numbers did you sell by the way?
Well here’s the other interesting thing because unfortunately Enigma went bankrupt. They disbanded and they passed our contract on to Cabot which is a whole other thing which I’ll get into if you want me to but the numbers are easily over 500 000 units.
I didn’t know that you sold many records but if I’m right you never received any gold/platinium records?
We never got our gold record because no one bothered ever to put it together. So we may still take a look at that because we’ve talked to several people in Capital because we want to get the rights back to our some of our music.
Capital still owns the rights for that stuff, right?
Capital holds a few of them and they said “Oh yeah, we have got RIAA certification that you guys did well over 500 000 units. You have done more likely 700 000 and almost 800 00”. So we were like “Ok, really? So let’s make that official please!” ”laughs” You know what I mean?
Yeah I understand. It’s finally about time!
Yeah but they still haven’t done it so we will try push that through at some point because we did that if that was handled right that would have been out break out year like it was supposed to be.
From my point of view from Finland, Hurricane was always a kind of typical hard rock band from U.S. which did quite well but never made it big time?
Exactly and that’s why that’s the reason why we were there right along with everyone else we were setting attendance records at Gizzaris the Whiskey and all over the place so we were right there on the same scene doing the same trip and the difference was see Enigma as a label when we signed on to them Capital was their sister company Capital had an override clause in their contract that they could pickup any Enigma artist that they wanted “snaps” like that right? When they picked up Stryper, Enigma saw the writing on the wall. Which if they would have just stayed that way they would have been successful because they would build acts Capital would take them on they would still earn whatever their percentage was of the act that capital now had and they could continue to build acts but they got kind of I wouldn’t say greedy but they wanted to hold on to everything. So what they did is after Stryper got picked up they told Capital we wanted to renegotiate and they clipped Capital’s ability to pick up the band.
That’s sounds quite unfair in my opinion…
So you see otherwise see that’s what I mean if you go every little point Hurricane unfortunately right when we’d get to the gate “slam sound” wait a minute! Wait a minute! You know what I mean? That’s kind of what happened the whole time
The last Hurricane album “Liquifury” was released by Dead Line records with minimum promotion and it was only you and Kelly left from the original band. At that point, was it clear for you that band will soon break up and that album was going to be your last?
When Doug Aldrich came in what happened then is Kelly had a guy who was with Steve Phillips management manages Rod Stewart and bunch of people big manager’s right? They said they wanted to manage Hurricane so we made a management change from our guy Gary who took us from, you know, to a big management company.
It must have been very different for you to be in such big management company?
Yeah, that’s the thing. They are excellent if you are already going but if you need that push they’re kind of well….
Maybe they don’t then invest you too much because there are so many other bands coming all the time?
Well they had shopping to do “laughs” every day it was like “Oh hey guys how you doing? Everything’s going good? Good ok we’re going to Rodeo we have shopping to do.” Everyday they were shopping. That’s where we hooked up with Doug though because his old band Lion was somehow unofficially working with Steve Phillips as well or Randy Phillips somehow so he suggested when Robert was…God I don’t even know how to describe that. He and Kelly just had a falling out in a way anyway. They suggested Doug so Doug came in at that point. Yeah we tried it out sounded good we weren’t really sure how much of band guy he was going to be but the guitar style was great I enjoyed playing with him a lot so we put it together but I think in the back of Doug’s mind he probably always still didn’t feel he was finished working with Kal Swan ( ex –Lion) yet?
So you think that Doug wasn’t too happy being in the band at that point?
I think so? As soon as we finished our tour which that’s where the live record is going to come from is those live shows at the palace they‘re fantastic they really are just amazing.As soon as that was over we went back to Steve Phillips and started to plan our next thing and the writing was kind of on the wall. I’m sure that at that time Doug had been talking to Kal and said “Lets get this together?” and that sort of thing. So basically what happened was while we were trying to figure out our contact with Capital because now we had been passed to Capital through the bankruptcy, Doug was already kind of moving on to Bad Moon Rising and just doing all that kind of thing.
“Liquifury” is also quite different than any other Hurricane stuff. In my opinion it sounds much heavier and darker compared to older stuff. Do you agree with that?
I guess so which is kind of unusual when it’s just me and Kelly writing pretty much. One song a couple of those came out of just jam sessions. Shawn Manning he actually was going to be our guitarist after Doug and we started some writing sessions which one of the songs off of Liquid Fury…oh shoot I’d have to look at the cover to tell you exactly which one it is that came out of those early writing sessions in 1991 lets see……”Heart Made of Stone” that came out of song is a little bit I think it’s about Doug. Actually I believe that Kelly wrote those lyrics. That came out of that session with Shawn Manning. He’s a great guitarist yeah, definitely fun to work with, really bluesy kind of guy. Kelly and I we just kind of did it ourselves pretty much the production the whole kind of business we would do it differently now. The way album was done then that was what we did and it’s true a lot of the writing I was doing quite a bit of writing on guitar songs like “New God” there’s a riff that I had written quite a bit lets see “Heart Made of Stone” and then “Shine” was a complete song that I had wrote from pretty much from the beginning to end “Torn” so maybe that was a little bit of the heavier thing cause I was kind of coming off of Sircus of Silence but Kelly was also into writing some darker stuff that I had heard him do before.
You seem to still have really good relationship with Kelly. Is there any change that two of you would someday record some new music together?
Kelly and I… Usually we’re really close. We work on our cars together and we see each other all the time. You know what? Actually we have been asked to keep doing more and more records which we would but Kelly is pretty involved now with band Foreigner.
Yep, but we are still going to do some stuff at some point. We will, I promise “laughs”
Have you talked with him about being in Foreigner. What does he like it?
He loves it. He’s really, really happy about it.
There are some great new players in the band like Jeff Pilson and …
I know him and the other guys too. It’s a good band, and it’s a perfect thing for him his voice is just perfect in that band that’s for sure.
Do you think that they will to do some new stuff with this line up?
That’s the idea. Right now they just are recording a lot of live things and re recording the hits so that they can license them and make the money you know because Kelly sounds so close they can redo them so they will sound almost like the originals. But they will generate new income that way I think so but that’s the idea is to work on some new things. I hope that does happen because I know that’s what Kelly wants to happen.
I remember that I heard some stories that before you did the last Hurricane album Kelly worked briefly with C.C Deville. I just wanted to ask if that rumor is true or not?
Yeah. I do know that know he worked with C.C. Deville. He did that for a little while yeah. That was in 1991 when I was in Unruly Child
Ok. Tell us some more about Unruly Child?
Ok, that’s from Bruce Gowdy. We were always in touch with each other you know kind of doing things. Hurricane was still around we were working on stuff and Bruce asked me to come over so I went over and he played me some stuff. I thought it was really really cool stuff and then I met Mark Free (ex -King Kobra)
Or do you mean Marci Free?
He was Mark then. He was a budding Marci at that point but his voice man fuck god could he sing. He was fucking unreal so we started working on material and it’s kind of funny they said ok well we have a deal with Interscope we’re going to do a record we got to come up with about 4 more songs. So we just started working there wasn’t anything official or anything we’re in the middle of doing the record and they finally just came in and said you’ve been really cool about this whole thing you’ve never even really asked about what the deal is so they said that’s impressive and we want you to be in the band. We finished that one up and that was a pleasure making that record it was fun it was a lot of fun.
Did you tour with them?
We were getting ready to do some we did some shows and we were getting ready to break that whole thing loose cause radio was just starting to pick it up things were starting to happen this was another one of those AAARRRGGH “crashing sound”. Where it was all supposed to happen I was going to a baseball game at Dodgers stadium we had just finished kind of a marketing session and Bo took a phone call he was checking in to see how the radio was doing for that day. He was on the phone to the people at Interscope he’s there going “Uh huh. Yeah ? So how are the numbers? Oh. Great. Oh? Huh? Are you sure that’s not just a knee jerk reaction? Really? No. Oh alright.” And we had just finished a marketing session he goes “Oh. Oh you sure? Oh ok.” hangs up and goes “Well guys, it’s over.”
It must have been confusing situation then?
Bo and I are sitting there going “What? What do you mean?” Basically… oh I can’t get into too many details here but there were some personal stuff going at the record company that Bo was involved in that crossed the line with his partners and at the same time Interscope began their momentum with bands like NIN and they just bagged out of melodic rock bands.
So they just throw you away and…
They threw the baby out with the bathwater. Exactly that’s what happened. So we didn’t get to keep going but you know that record still to this day what I keep hearing from people over and over again is that record is one of their favorite records.
1994 you did one album with pop band Lynx. Tell me some more about that project?
Lynx was a good thing. Bass player Doug Cromwell and me, we had done some pick up shows with Eddie Money and something. He was producing a record in Belgium so he asked me to come over and do some drums so I went over there. It was a blast to do it we did it at ICP studios and the record went well sounded great I think there was a couple of good hits that came out of it.
You never did more recordings with them?
I didn’t. They wanted me to come back over and do it but…
Financially it just didn’t work out but it was great to do that one record. ICP offered to keep me on they wanted me to stay and just keep doing session work over and over again but I wanted to go back. Then Bruce introduced me to Billy Sherwood that’s when the World Trade kind of popped up again because Billy had a lot of music that was just sitting around so we decided to just go ahead and finish it. Then we got Bruce in and then Guy back in and we finished the “Euphoria” record. Billy and I have been pretty much been working as a team now ever since many many many years.
FROM SIRCLE OF SILENCE TO WORK WITH ASIA
Sircle of Silence was another band where you played in the mid 90’s. It was very interesting line up when you had David Reece (ex –Accept) doing vocals. What was that band all about?
You should hear it! Have you heard any of that stuff?
No, no never.
Man, it’s a killer stuff.
How would you describe it?
It’s extremely heavy very heavy stuff really over the top kind of playing like predecessor to Korn and Tool and stuff like that it’s really over the top. Guitarist Larry Farkas was earlier a death metal guitar player in a Christian death metal band called Vengeance. He was really good really, really fast rhythm player and Larry Antonio, I brought him for the bass for the first record again because I loved playing with him from Unruly Child and all that. You should hear some of that.
I think I should?
There are a couple clips on my website just short little mp3’s
Is it available anymore I mean what if want to buy those albums?
Probably you will find those from Koch Records or through internet?
Okay. I have to check from Ebay?
I think you will find some from there.
How was David Reece to work with? You know, when I asked about him from Wolf Hoffmann …
He said that the rest of the guys in Accept almost wanted to kill him at the end..
I know. I think his membership with Accept ended I think in a punch?
Wolf said they left just him in the hotel room when they left from the States and band cut off the tour. Wolf and Peter (Baltes) decided this tour is over and left David and second guitarist Jim Stacey in the hotel room and just left.
Really.I heard he punched out someone?
Wolf said things happened because David was drunk and high all the time and he was really having trouble with everyone then?
Yeah. Well for me he was alright to work with and never I trouble with him. Did you know that Greg Chaisson (ex –Badlands) was the bass played on the first Sircle Of Silence album?
I know about that.
It was a real killer album. See that’s the thing see is when I was playing that was the best part, Greg was great he was a blast to play with we had a great thing going and you know David great voice and I was just getting to know him really so it wasn’t too weird nothing was really too strange but then he and Greg kind of had a falling out and then when Greg left I was thinking oh shit you know that was part of the fun for me but we kept it going because there was some really good music coming out plus I was getting to write everything we were all just writing all the music really
Was David also doing writing for Sircle of Silence?
Yeah everybody did that was a full on complete band vibe we would go in a room and write the music
Does he still have his Accept tattoos and stuff?
I have to think…..
I remember that he had text “Accept Forever” or something like that tattooed in his shoulder?
Yeah, yeah I remember now. But there were some moments that got a little strange out on the road with David yeah but still it was a great time.
Did he ever talk about Accept and his…the way the failing and other stuff?
No, no he didn’t really I think he knew it was on him somehow he just said it ended with a punch I think didn’t he punch one of the guys out that’ll do it
I think it must have been Wolf?
Maybe? It was must have been over a girl. I mean that will do it too, ugh, but I think David’s lyrics are some of the best I’ve ever read knowing him and the way he was hanging out with him and then reading his lyrics they are really good.
He also did a great job on his only Accept album “Eat the Heat”.
I totally agree with that.
Do you have any ideas what he is doing to now?
Nope. I’ve had a lot of people e-mail me and ask me what David’s up to but I haven’t been able to find him he’s somewhere out near Nashville that’s it. The last thing we did was when we worked together on The Stream.
What about the Greg Chaisson, what he is up to these days you have any ideas?
Nope. Nope I don’t.
I remember that he released a solo album called “It’s About Time” or something like that some ten years ago but I haven’t heard nothing of him since that. Let’s get back to you then… Next project you did was “Heaven and Earth” which was a kind of all star record when you had names like Glenn Hughes, Joe Lynn Turner, Ritchie Sambora, Chuck Wright among others on it?
Yeah that was kind of Kelly was working with Stuart Smith and Kelly and I. We’re friends we’re always hanging out. I forget exactly how it started but I think I invited Stuart along and Kelly along on a skiing trip to New Mexico. So we went to Taos and just skied and Stuart and I on the way back we wrote a couple of songs including “Heaven and Earth” and some others so it just kind of came together really slowly and naturally and we ended up working on a lot of material for about a year and a half just hanging out a lot and but then I think World Trade…no Circle of Silence it was about the same time so I was going out and doing Circle of Silence and he wasn’t too thrilled about that because I was “his drummer” but there wasn’t anything really going on at that point so instead of it being a Heaven and Earth record as a band it kind of morphed into the kind of all star thing so that was how he was able to get that deal together and do that. So he had kind of met Richie Onori as his drummer so I came in and played a couple of things and just let it be right there. But a lot of the songs I’m playing on and I wrote most a lot of songs together with the guys.
Stuart Smith. He’s a kind of a Ritchie Blackmore clone right that guy? But in a good way, you know?
Yeah yeah “laughs”
How about Scott Warren? He plays on “Heaven & Earth” album and now he’s playing in Dio. How well do you know him?
No, not really
He also played at Keel at one point?
Oh yeah, now that’s coming back a little yeah I remember Keel. You know a lot about all these things huh?
You know, I don’t have a real life “laughs” Lately you have been doing lot’s of tribute albums for all kinds of artists and most of them are being handled by Bob Kulick am I right?
Bob Kulick/ Billy Sherwood sessions.Basically Billy and I were doing the tribute thing before Bob became involved because we did Jeff Beck tribute and a Stevie Ray Vaughn tribute and then I suggested that maybe Bob because I knew him from the Enigma days and Skull and all that he might be a good guitarist to come in to play on a tribute things. It turned into that Bob was better at production and organizing players than I guess being just a player so he ended up becoming important part of the production team. He knows rock players that can come in and cut sessions quickly when needed.
Can you remember anything about band Conspiracy?
Yeah I do and that band precedes Asia by a little bit.
Ok. Tell something more about that?
It started from World Trade. Some of that material Chris Squire was working with us on the World Trade stuff which then morphed into working with Chris on Conspiracy stuff so the first Conspiracy record was some stuff that Chris had on tape other stuff that we finished off became the Conspiracy record then the 2nd conspiracy record was really just Billy, me and Chris and we finished that one off it that was called “The Unknown” we shot a live DVD it will be coming out in a couple months on Cleopatra records. I think and there’s a new Conspiracy record that’s coming out and I’m pretty sure it will be on out in a couple of months or something?
Who others are playing on that record besides you and Billy?
It involves a lot of great players. My old buddy Tony Kay is on keyboards and Peter Banks on guitar and Gary Greene from Gentle Giant so it will be a good thing a really good thing. Good guys to play with that’s for sure.
You have never done a real tour with Conspiracy?
Nope. nope that’s the only thing about that project is when we did the live DVD we were ready to go and it just didn’t happen which drove me a bit batty really because I wanted to get out and play again especially when stuff is sounding so good. Why don’t you go play it you know? It doesn’t make any sense. So that’s Billy and I worked on some songs for “Silent Nation” that’s where I met John Payne and Geoff Downes and the rest is history.
So you get to know John and Geoff at that point. How did you ended up being a full time member of Asia?
We did the “Silent Nation” songs some of those and a few of them made it to the record and then they were even kind of mentioning to me what are you up to? This, I’d get an e-mail from Geoff every now and then saying Chris can’t make a couple dates would you want to come out and play a few to which I always said of course. And then I came out and saw the band play in Los Angeles and just sent Geoff back an e-mail to say great show and sounded awesome. First time I saw Guthrie Gowan play which was a pleasure to be sure that’s for sure I was very impressed.
How is he? I haven’t seen in action yet…
Guthrie in action! We’ve seen Guthrie in action! And he just said “do you want to get together in a rehearsal room just you know throw some stuff around” I figured maybe they just wanted to write a couple quick things for the new record get a couple new riffs down or something. Then they asked me if I would mind learning “Wildest Dreams” or something like that and I thought hmm alright this sounds a little bit different. To which of course my buddy Billy said “Oh dude, they’re going to want you to join their band man” so I was thinking there’s nothing really wrong with that is there? So anyway we played and everything went great and that night we kind of toasted a couple of beers and said let’s go for it. So the next day they made an announcement and the day after that it was on the internet and poof!
This current tour with Dio and Asia is your first with the band or have you done some more with them already?
We did I think 6 shows I think in the UK?
After this tour is over you are making a new record with Asia, right?
Yep, thefirst thing. Guthrie and John and Geoff are coming over January 3rd about we’ll stay there until the middle of February and then we’ll see how it goes?
Are you going to do recording in London or…?
Nope. Burbank California and then I’ve got a studio at my house too where I’m putting down ideas and stuff and Guthrie and I are going to probably fool around in there quite a bit and so that will be the preproduction and then once we get all that taken care of we’ll go into a proper drum room and just cut all the drums and I think johns going to be producing
How familiar you are with older Asia stuff?
Quite a bit I wouldn’t say I know the stuff note for note you know what I mean? I have my favorites though the first records of course you know all that stuff from the hay day the big MTV stuff and all that. And I really liked “Aura” you know because John’s melodic voice and his writing and stuff I like because the band goes into to different areas of groove and music and stuff which I like. It being that wide and adventurous and I think what we are going to try to do on this record is kind of bring it more into a focus and put a point on it and try to discover that sound again. Like that first record had it just did it’s thing you know what I mean? And a lot of that comes from the band being a band and everybody really contributing their bits you know so I think we are all really looking forward to this record and the process of making this one.
Well we have now spent almost one hour here… thanx for your time. I’ll pick up Sircle of Silence cd’s, I promise “laughs”
Please do that and thank you!!
SPECIAL THANX FOR PRESSPASS TO MII SARASKOSKI FROM EASTWAY PRODUCTIONS