Guitarist Tommy Bolan discusses about Warlock, Triumph and Agony 30’th Anniversary shows and more

August 27th, 2017
by Marko Syrjala

TOMMY BOLAN

Warlock was a German heavy metal band, formed originally in 1982. The band gained popularity and commercial success in Europe in the mid-1980s, due also to the personality and stage presence of female lead vocalist Doro Pesch. Warlock supported on tour successful metal bands, such as Judas Priest and Megadeth and they also performed on some of the biggest metal festivals including Monsters of Rock at Castle Donington in 1986. A couple of months later the band relocated to the US and also went through a few line-up changes. Guitarist Peter Szigeti and bassist Frank Rittel left the band they were replaced by American musicians Tommy Bolan and Tommy Henriksen. The new lineup started working new material with acclaimed producer Joey Balin, and as a result, the band released TRIUMPH AND AGONY (1987) which is still the band’s most successful album to date. Although the album was a big success, there were more changes to come. By the end of the decade, Doro Pesch was the sole original member who remained in the band, and she was forced to change the name to Doro for legal reasons. Doro has continued her successful career as a solo artist, but Warlock has reunited with different lineups for festival appearances and special occasions since 2003, under the name Warlock 1986. In 2017, Doro announced that she’s going to reunite with TRIUMPH AND AGONY era guitarist Tommy Bolan and the band would do a selected shows to celebrate the 30’th Anniversary of the album under the name Doro Pesch’s Warlock. The first show took its place in Swedenrock Festival on June. There I had a pleasure to meet Tommy and discuss all things related to his time with Warlock, reuniting with Doro and his other career steps including working with Richie Ramone. Read on!

REUNITING WITH DORO

First of all, it is great to see you back in action with Doro!

Tommy Bolan: Thank you, guys. It was a great feeling to play with Doro again.

The first obvious question is, how and when this idea of this Warlock reunion was born?

Tommy Bolan: Doro called me like last November, and she said, would I be interested in playing because, you know, TRIUMPH AND AGONY, this is the anniversary year and would I be interested in doing some shows.I said, “Yeah. That would be great.” Because the album, it always had such an impact on the Warlock community and the fans. I mean, my career started with that, you know, that album is a moment in my life I’ll never forget. I always remained friends with Doro; we made some great songs together, we always had chemistry. If you listen that record, my guitar, and her voice answer each other almost all the way thru and that’s the way it went with us, and it was always a great vibe. So, when she called and said she wanted to do it, I said, “Absolutely.”

Did you have plans to invite the other TRIUMPH AND AGONY era members to join the shows?

Tommy Bolan: Doro has a great band, great guys working with her. I believe that the idea was to celebrate the album, because of the anniversary and , I guess, you know because I worked very closely with her and the Producer Joey most of the time while the album was recorded . It was us 3 in the studio for many nights. . All the lead guitar/riffs were me, and the majority of my rhythm parts had a big presence in the final mix of the album.I guess the timing locked in, and the vibe which she wanted and I just think, it worked, it came together really good.

Sound reasonable, but it would have been great to have at least Tommy Henriksen been included?

Tommy Bolan:He’s real busy with Alice Cooper and stuff like that. You know, I think to celebrate the album, this really came together and we feel good. We’ve got more shows coming, so I feel really confident that this really represents the sound and feel of TRIUMPH AND AGONY and what it was about

Doro Pesch and Tommy in Swedenrock 2017

 

THE EARLY DAYS AND RECORDING OF TRIUMPH AND AGONY

Let’s go briefly go back to the time you joined Warlock. It was in 1987 and then the band went through several changes. In the end, you and joined the group. How did it all happen?

Tommy Bolan: Oh, how’d I get in the band? That’s an interesting story. The producer of Warlock, Joey Balin, was producing my old band, a band in New York called Venus, and one day my singer Willy called me up and says, “Hey, Joey wants you to call him at 01:30 in the morning.” I go, “What,?01:30 in the morning?” Now, Joey, you know, was an established person, he’s serious. If Joey asks to call him at 01:30, you are calling Joey at 01:30. So, I called him at 01:30 and he goes, “Tommy, hey what are you doing?” I’m Italian/Irish, New York and he’s completely Italian New Yorker, so I’m doing his voice. (Smiles )He goes, “Hey Tommy, how are you doing? Hey, I want you to come down to the studio, I’m working with Doro. I want you to bring everything.” And he goes, “Bring everything, all your equipment with you.” I worked in a music store teaching guitar, so I had plenty of gear”.Just bring all your gear man, and come on down.” And, then he said under his breath, he goes, “ This could be good for you,…really good for you.” And, when he said that, I said, “Whoah”..So, I went down there, and I met Doro, and we did “Make Time for Love”, “East Meets West” and “3 Minute Warning.” The chemistry was immediate. My first takes, my improvisations, like 80% of that would be later asked to be redone on the album because like all the little tattoos and hooks , I did all those on the spot. “Make Time for Love,” I made all that up from the top of my head because it was such a chemistry, and working with Joey and hearing Doro’s voice with my guitar, it naturally started to answer it. That day Doro wanted me to play on the new album. She goes, “Do you wanna to play on a record?”I said yes with a big smile :)The next day, Joey calls me and goes, “Dude, they love it, they just played it for the president of Phonogram, he loves this. This is great stuff.” He goes, “You made me proud, you’re going to Germany, you’re doing the record.” Next day he calls me, “Come to Manhattan, I got a surprise for you. Come fully dressed.” I put on my leathers, did the hair etc and I go in, and they ask me to join right on the spot.

The album is overall solid, but the big songs of the album were “All We Are and “Fur Immer.” Were those two any different compared to other material at the recording stage?

Tommy Bolan: Those were great songs. I mean “All We Are,” that was about, I think, 40 of my friends from New York and they came down, they triple-tracked it,so it was like 120 voices on the chorus and It was rockin”Fur Immer,” you just know when some songs have a great vibe with it and they’re fan favorites. It’s a great feeling and then doing the video for, “All We Are” that was a lot of fun

It’s a great video. It has a lot of great scenes.

Tommy Bolan: The guy who did the video was called Mark Rezyka. I know he’d done tons of music videos for everyone. The guy who did the make-up, he worked on “The Fly,” the movie “The Fly.” Have you ever seen the movie “Grease,” the chase scene at the end,? that was filmed down at the LA River where we filmed.They spent a lot of money on it and It was just a perfect time, I mean, we were blowing up cars and shit, you know, it was just a great experience. It’s just a moment that you won’t forget. You know, it was great stuff.

Do you have any particular memories of making a video?

Tommy Bolan: It was just great chemistry, I mean, if you notice a lot of the time, during the chorus of the video, i am shown singing the chorus with Doro.We always played off each other live.it was great .I know it sounds redundant, I’m using that word alot, but how else do you describe something you love.? I mean, I loved the Warlock music.

When I interviewed Tommy Henriksen and asked about the video, he said he still remembers best the scene where he throws his bass in slow-motion around “Laughter.”

Tommy Bolan: Oh, throwing the bass around, swinging that, yeah. That was his shtick back then, you know, I thought it was cool. The production was great; it fits the song,

The song “Fur Immer” was sung in German. It was probably something you did not know, the German language?

Tommy Bolan: Well, actually no, I didn’t speak German, but once Doro told me that she was singing a ballad, you can still feel the emotion no matter what language it’s in. I mean, even though I don’t speak German, I know a few words. I was starting to learn some German, you know, but once you feel the emotion, you get the idea of the song. That’s why even the solo was like very straight on into the emotion … I didn’t necessarily overplay; I just played what the song needed because that’s what struck me, you know, like a movement.

Warlock 1987: Tommy Henriksen, Niko Arvanitis, Doro Pesch, Michael Eurich and Tommy Bolan

 

LIFE AFTER TRIUMPH AND AGONY

As mentioned earlier, this tour is due to the 30th anniversary of TRIUMPH AND AGONY. If you listen to that album now, what kind of thoughts does it bring to your mind?

Tommy Bolan: I’m proud of it. I’m proud to be part of that because even when I go out and work with my band, or I play with other people, I’m still signing that record, people are still talking about the record, I mean, I think it sold five million plus worldwide, and it keeps selling.and that album struck a chord with a lot of people. I get a lot of messages on Facebook, people telling me what that album meant to them, how they listen to it all the time and that’s amazing. I just remember all of the creative energy that went into it and that fact that it reached that many people and still does. You know when you have that favorite album you’re growing up with, that great album and this is that album to some people, and it is to me too. You feel proud, I guess the word would be a proud man. I mean, I’m proud of the work I did on that and then sometimes lightning strikes and that was lightning striking, period.

The album was a great success, and you did a lot of tours with the band until Warlock broke up in 1988. What did you do after that?

Tommy Bolan: I went on to some other things. I had a band called Freight Train Jane, which had the singer from Black & Blue. We had an album out on /Toshiba EMI, Japan and I did that and we came very close to doing a lot of great things, then I played in some other stuff, just here and there, but then I had my project going called NYC, which I sing and play. We’re getting ready to do a new record on that. I played with Richie Ramone for a while; I did his first solo album, his tour, South America, Australia. That took a couple of years for that and then I also started working on another side project called Banzai, which is me, and my friend the bass player (Jiro Okabe)from Richard Ramone. That’s more a rock, shred type thing, fun jammin and hooks goin fucking nuts, you know, but NYC will be my other main act. I’m the lead singer in that as well.

Freight Train Jane. Tommy far on right

 

 

NEW YORK TALK

Speaking about NYC, are you still living in New York area?

Tommy Bolan: Well, I live in Los Angeles, but I still have family there, I’m born and raised in New York so that never goes away.

What’s the reason why so many musicians have left New York behind and moved to other cities. It seems that a lot of them have moved to Los Angeles or Nashville?

Tommy Bolan: Nashville. A lot of people are going to Nashville. It’s just every other fucking day; somebody is moving out there. The music industry is in such chaos right now. I mean, people are just, I guess, going wherever there might be some action, .Everything I got set up, is out in Los Angeles, you know, band people, lawyers, and all that shit, but I’ll go back to New York as often as I can

Of course, it is cheaper to live in Nashville, but whether there are other factors why people want to move there?

Tommy Bolan: Well, that helps I’m sure, and there’s a lot of creative music elements there, studios and stuff, so that’s all there. I think, you know, once you lock in a few key friends, you know, I recorded a lot of the recent Banzai Cd in Nashville and Richie Ramones cd was tracked there as well . It depends on what you are doing and who you know, if you got relatives or friends there, you go where it’s at. As long as you can still do your business, Hell, I’d play on Mars at this fucking point.(laughs)

But are you saying that musicians don’t have a future in New York anymore, and that’s why everyone has moved away?

Tommy Bolan: Well, it depends on what type of musician you want to be and what you do. To me, you know, you’re who you are no matter where you are. I mean, if you’re trying to do a certain scene, if you’re trying to play in the Village, or you’re doing certain types of shtick then maybe, but you know, me, I think 360, I want to play New York and the world. That’s the way I aim at it. I mean, I take New York with me no matter where I go, so I might not be the person to answer this question precisely or accurately because, to me, I’m in New York right now. “I’m never out of New York” is probably the best way to say it.

 

MORE ABOUT WARLOCK

A few more things about Warlock, or shall we call it Doro Pesch’s Warlock now?

Tommy Bolan: Well, Doro Pesch is Warlock, “The Voice of Warlock,” (smiles)

I know that she owns the right to the name again because she told me the whole story years ago.

Tommy Bolan: Yeah, she does. She won the name back, which is was unfairly taken away from her years ago. It was just fucking ridiculous. So, she now has the right to the name and the logos, that name means a lot to a lot of people and technically what we did up here was a great representation of Warlock, I think. The TRIUMPH AND AGONY album, you know, obviously you have the songs, Doro’s voice, but right after that my guitar is right there next to her on everything, so bringing me back is a great representation of the sound.

Everything seems very bright now but how do you see your future with Doro?

Tommy Bolan: Well, there’s more Warlock talk. I mean, we’re playing Norway, and then we’re playing a whole bunch of US dates, and I guess it depends on promoters etc etc but the fan reaction has been thru the roof online and at the show and the vibe of the whole band is totally Rockin and Positive. You were saying and telling me how you love the show and this and that. Well, if that buzz goes around and that gets going, then obviously, you know, that will create the demand. As long as the music is real, and the fans dig it, and there’s, you know, a place to rock it, I can’t see why not. I mean, of course, she’s always got her solo project. She’s got that and, of course, her band is part of this. These are great guys, and they’re great musicians, so it works pretty well.

Do you know Doro’s current band members in person?

Tommy Bolan: Yeah. I’ve met all these guys before. Two years or so ago, I jumped up on stage in Anaheim in the Hollywood and a couple of years before that, I had jammed with them, and I’d met them before and seen them at the NAMM show, the big music trade show.They’re like the friendliest people in the world, man. Believe me; I’m a New Yorker; I’d tell you right away ,you know, “Fuck this, Fuck that…” But, these people are real, they welcomed me in, and they treated me so great, so cool, and everybody, from her management to her crew… And you know, Doro herself, she’s the absolute real deal,. She’s genuine. What you see is what you get. She loves the music, loves the fans, there’s no rockstar bullshit. And, that just carries over in the whole situation.

 

A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THE REUNION SHOW

Let’s talk a little bit about today’s gig. I can only imagine what kind of feeling you had on stage because there were certainly more than 20,000 people there. How would you describe that emotion?

Tommy Bolan: Yeah, well that was incredible. I played ANZ stadium with Richard Ramone; we played StoneFest like three years ago. We were on the same bill/stage as Aerosmith and Van Halen and that stadium was where they had the Olympics and that was great But to play with Doro, whether I’m playing at a club or something as Great and Huge as this, it’s about chemistry, and it felt great, and it was awesoem to see the fans.with some of the Warlock shirts out there and people reacting etc and and then you guys saying how much you personally dug it. You never know, you go up there, and you play, and the minute you come offstage, you’re like you feel great at first, but then you start thinking, “Well, I could have done this, I could have done that…” You start psychoanalyzing everything, you know, that’s being a musician and a New Yorker for me. Then, you know, to hear people and find out how It hits them, that means they see the passion and emotion beyond the technical what you think. I’ll analyze it, but the the vibe and the feel is what really counts the most and Doro’s all about the vibe and the feel. That’s what I mean…like I said, the real deal.

Right. It seemed like you had a lot of fun on the stage. But at times it seemed like you were like in another world “Laughs,” I’m not saying that you played badly, but it was visible that you took this thing very seriously. Do you know what I mean?

Tommy Bolan: Well, a lot of the times, when I get the feel, and I play, my eyes will roll back in my head, I’m just gone, dude. I’m just in the moment; I’m just zoned out “Laughs.” With me, when I zone out if my eyes go back in my head and if I start really locking and feeling it, then at that point, it’s like I’m out of the phone booth, I’m Superman. I’m gone you know. That’s a great feeling, and I always get that feeling when I play with Doro, that’s because of the energy.

What was the highlight of tonight’s show for you personally?

Tommy Bolan: Playing some of the songs that, you know, we never played live. Playing “Make Time for Love,” that solo part” in “Make Time for Love,” my guitar answers her through the whole song. You know, so playing the emotional phrases between that and the solo with her and then singing, “All We Are,” and seeing the crowd sing it, it brought back a rush of memories. So, I’d say those were some of the high points, you know, and to me this is just like yesterday,.This was just yesterday to me, and I’ll give you a perfect quote to sum it up”It was like coming home.”

How did it feel when Doro announced “All We Are,” and then saw all those thousands of fists in the air?

Tommy Bolan: That’s great dude, you know, that song, that’s an anthem song for us and seeing people start singing it and reacting, and the fists, you know, that’s like how more… I mean, shit, like proud is almost not even a good enough word. I mean, you almost choke up, you know. It’s like… It’s fucking awesome and, appreciative also.

The last question. How would you describe Doro as a person because she is a very exceptional person on many levels?

Tommy Bolan: I would say, if you are talking like in New York, “She’s the real deal, man.” Like I said earlier, what you see is what you get. I mean, she is a 100% genuine, you know, loves her fans, loves her music. It’s all passion; it’s all 100%… It all starts… Here’s the quote, “It all starts with passion for Doro.” …Passion for the music, ..passion for succeeding, passion for connecting with the people, and the music, and the fans and from that, she builds everything. Her friendships, her business, her longevity, it all comes back to being real.

I think that this was a great way to finish this interview. This is a real deal too. Thanks for your time Tommy.

 

TOMMY BOLAN OFFICIAL FACEBOOK

WARLOCK/DORO PESCH OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE

 

PICTURES OF DORO PESCH’S WARLOCK IN SWEDENROCK 2017

 

 

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