A Conversation With Johnny Gioeli.
If you are unfamiliar with the names Johnny Gioeli, Hardline and Axel Rudi Pell then you have obviously just stumbled on to this site by accident as any fan of the genre will be more than familiar with the classic ‘Double Eclipse’ album, the guitar virtuoso’s music and one of the most recognizable and incredible voices to ever grace the genre.
Personable, funny, humble and one of the absolute nicest guys I have ever had the pleasure of talking with, the powerhouse vocalist recently took the time out his busy schedule to sit down and chat with me at length.
Never once over the course of the evenings conversation did it ever feel like I was talking with Johnny Gioeli, world famous rock star, but rather like I was spending the evening just chatting with a buddy over a beer about our shared love of the greatest music in the world. That is just how incredibly accessible and friendly Johnny is with people. A man who truly has not forgotten his fans or the fact that they are the ones that helped put him where he is at and still makes time for them. A true rarity among artists to be sure.
In the midst of our conversation Johnny was kind enough to answer a few questions about his very first upcoming solo album, the new Hardline record, the music industry in general and share some stories behind some of the songs from what is arguably one of the greatest records to come out of the tail end of the hair metal era.
MMR: This year has been a really big year with melodic rock in general with some great releases coming out. It’s a really big year for you personally as well, you had Axel’s (Rudi Pell) excellent album ‘Game Of Sins’ come out in the first part of the year. You’ve got Hardline’s fifth studio album coming out…
MMR: In I think September, right?
MMR: Okay. And you’ve got your first solo album.
MMR: So what prompted you to do a solo album at this point?
JG: Good question. You know I think it was, I have been performing with Crush 40, Axel (Rudi Pell), umm those two groups for 18 years, it’s the 25th anniversary for Hardline, you know 25 years there. I think it was just uh, creative freedom.
JG: You know it’s just…I just woke up and said “I wanna do this’. I’ve always been so faithful to the groups, and I remain that way, but I just thought it was time that I just do something on my own and to see how it goes. You know more for the creativity, more for the outlet. And yeah, that’s it.
JG: Just a spur of the moment thing. Not a whole lot of thought into it, just like I wanna do this. I’ve been so dedicated to other bands and I just want to do this.
MMR: Okay. Is there a projected date for that album to come out?
JG: For the solo album?
JG: We’re, I’d say three quarters finished with writing. So what I’m…the complication, that’s also another great question. The complication is releasing the Hardline record and the solo record. You know people who buy the Hardline…well my fans, thank God, buy everything that I put out but I just want to give a little bit of breathing room between albums otherwise one can suffer.
JG: And Frontiers records has been, you know they’ve been so great to, you know, keep melodic rock alive.
MMR: Yes! Thankfully.
JG: Yeah, I mean…
MMR: Serafino (Perugino). And Alessandro (Del Vecchio)…that man is everywhere.
JG: Yeah, yeah.
MMR: Seems like every album I buy it has Alessandro Del Vecchio on it in some capacity, what a talent.
JG: Yeah, and you know Serafino was the one that forced me to do a Hardline record way back when. He said you’ve got to do it and I said no. He said you’ve got to do it and I’ll give you this much money and I said it’s not about the money, I don’t want to do it. He said you’ve got to do it man, they need to hear your voice. I said just let me sleep on it. And then he said please man please, I’m begging you, you gotta please do it. And I said alright, I’ll do it. And that’s how the whole thing started. But it’s either going to be a few months after, I’ve told the people that the solo album is going to be done the end of Summer, and it will be, but the release date I have to coordinate with Frontiers.
MMR: Okay, so it’s gonna be a Frontiers release then?
JG: Yes. A Frontiers release. Well they’ll will distribute it, you know.
MMR: Right, do you plan to tour any for that album?
JG: For the solo album?
MMR: Yes. Preferably here in North Carolina!
JG: Sure bro. You set it up, get some clubs there and we’ll do it.
MMR: Okay, I’ll talk to my people. (Laughs).
JG: Am I going to tour with that? Yes.
JG: I definitely want to try to do some shows and make it kind of like the acoustic show where, it won’t be an acoustic show of course, but like the acoustic show where it will kind of be leading you through the career from start to where I am kind of thing. You know, I am a little uncomfortable doing the Hardline shows because it’s just me as the original member. But anyway so to answer your question, yes I am going to try it. Am I going to do like a full blown tour? I don’t think so but maybe like 5 to 10 shows and see how it goes. But I don’t know where. It’s unfortunate you know that a lot of my fan base is Europe and Asia. You know? I joke around and and say you know I don’t think I could put ten people in Starbucks.
MMR: Yeah, here on the States.
JG: Yeah, you know it’s tough, it’s tough. When we did Spain and Italy I was shocked that we sold them out. I couldn’t believe it. But maybe we can do something here in the States.
MMR: Hopefully! I do hope so.
JG: I’m going to try. If it were my decision I always want to tour, I always want to play. It’s whether promoters engage in the whole economics. You know, it’s big business.
MMR: Right. Well since we are talking about making new albums, obviously the musical landscape and industry has changed drastically since the release of ‘Double Eclipse’. As a writer and artist what is the biggest difference um, good or bad, for you with recording an album now as opposed to ’92?
JG: Well, first, you know the most obvious difference is budget. I will tell you man, and not too many people know this, but the first album, ‘Double Eclipse’, costed us a half a million dollars to make.
MMR: Wow, damn.
JG: Yeah, five hundred thousand dollars to make that record. And today if I spend more than twenty grand I’m kicking my own ass. The technology is just so amazing. Like Alessandro (Del Vecchio) and I, today, passed files back and forth, vocal files for the new Hardline record. So that’s number one. So budgets are the biggest difference. And then, you know what’s changed musically, unfortunately, is the fanbase in America goes through phases, musical phases. They don’t… it’s not…very few fans have a cult following. Like a Grateful Dead following. They do in Europe man, they really do. When they love a band, I mean we’ve got some old guys following, like with ARP (Axel Rudi Pell). I mean like old guys! Seriously it’s like a Grateful Dead concert sometimes. But they stick with what they know and they don’t waiver. In America they waiver. So the music and the fans have really changed, a lot of them, in America. So, that’s the big one for me. I mean when that grunge stuff came in ’92…
MMR: Yeah, oh God, just shoot me now.
JG: Yeah, I hate it. I hate it. Here’s a great story for you. When we were in the studio called NRG, which recorded Linkin Park, the first Linkin Park album and a friend of mine, he engineered it. But I’ll never forget a record company guy from Universal/MCA came in and he said hey, I want to play you guys something, this is a band called Pearl Jam. And I’m like Pearl Jam? what the…okay. And then he played…(sings a line from Pearl Jam’s ‘Even Flow’). And I said what the Hell is that? It’s crap. And he goes, this is going to wipe out melodic rock. And I went yeah right. And bro, boy it just…it did. It did. And John from Geffen, I was in a meeting and he says, uh you’re not going to be playing on MTV anymore. As a matter of fact they’re really not going to be playing videos anymore on MTV. And I said John, what are you talking about, it’s…
MMR: It’s Music Television!
JG: Yeah, he says no, it’s all changing. Your music, everything’s changing. And God, we walked away like what is this guy, nuts? And boom. It altered, it…(sighs), it just altered everyone’s lives.
MMR: Right. And obviously the problem, as you know, is that Hardline hit it right at the tail end. Obviously you would have been huge otherwise. I mean with a record, with a debut record like ‘Double Eclipse’…you know.
JG: We like to think so but you just never know what could have happened.
MMR: Well yeah true, you never know, but…
JG: You know I think that if, like Bon Jovi, Cinderella, all that, if we came out in that mix I think we would have been also. I mean Slaughter just made it.
MMR: And Firehouse just made it.
JG: Now I knew those guys for years prior to that record and umm, they had those songs recorded with Dana Strum years before that album came out…
MMR: Yeah, as Maxx Warrior?.
JG: Yeah, they just made it too. And we were just, we were late. Great record.
MMR: A great record! And a great lineup. I mean Neal Schon and um, well now Deen Castronovo wasn’t really anybody yet at that time I don’t believe.
JG: No, he wasn’t, well he was a great drummer and came off of Bad English.
JG: But he was, he wasn’t really known, didn’t really have a specific style. Some people knew him from his technical stuff, some people knew him from the pop stuff, you know what I mean? So he really didn’t have an identity at that time.
MMR: And up until…well I knew it beforehand because I saw him, um…I guess it was around 2007. Back when (Jeff Scott) Soto was lead singer for Journey and I heard him (Castronovo) sing. And up until Revolution Saints I think most people probably didn’t know that he has a fucking awesome voice.
JG: Oh yeah, incredible voice.
MMR: Incredible. He sang, on that tour, he sang most of the ballads as I recall.
JG: Yep. (Sings a line from Journey’s ‘Mother, Father). Wow.
MMR: And you could barely tell the difference between him and Steve (Perry).
JG: Yeah, he’s incredible.
MMR: The first time I heard him was on the ‘Generations’ album (Journey, 2005). But I wasn’t too impressed with the songs on there so I didn’t give it much thought until I saw him…when I saw him in concert and I was like, wow, he can really sing, he can really fucking sing.
JG: The guy is so talented you can’t even imagine. The guy plays piano incredibly, bass guitar, he’ll just (imitates some bass lines). He’s an incredible musician. He really is. Great guitar player. He’s probably one of the most talented guys I know. And I tell him all of the time and he is just like, oh shut up. And I just go dude… unbelievable. All comes natural. And, you know, no one taught him anything. He just picks it up and just goes. He’s great.
MMR: He is incredible for sure. Well I think it was another interview that you mentioned that your solo record was obviously going to be a little different then a Hardline record. More personal. What inspires you as a songwriter to write the songs that you do.
JG: I think it’s um, you know this is the other reason I wanted to do a solo album. It’s events that take place, you know, something that…anything can inspire me. Something I see outside you know, something I read about. And so that’s the other reason I wanted to do this solo record. But that’s basically the way that I write. I think of either a riff, that sort of gets the juices going, and I hear something, or I see something and it starts lyrically. It’s weird man, it can happen any way. Some of the, I think, some of the best songs that I’ve have written, I’ve written in like five minutes. It just comes.
MMR: Without too much thought, right.
JG: Yeah. Just, you…I see something. Like ‘Rhythm From A Red Car’ for example from Hardline…
MMR: Oh I love that song.
JG: Dude I was, back in the day, we were roller blading along the beach and when a girl looks at you and goes like “hey” (mimics wave) we called that throwing rythym. And she was in a red car. And I went Joey, to my brother, that chick’s throwing rhtyhm from that red car. And I went hey, rhythm from a red car, and I just started writing, literally in that moment. So yeah, weird stuff can happen.
MMR: Actually one of my favorites, and that is a great song, the whole album is great of course, but one of my favorite Hardline songs is ‘Takin’ Me Down’. I love that song.
JG: So I don’t know if you know who inspired that song but that was Neal (Schon) bitching every day about his ex-wife and I saw this guy just getting drained, not only finanacially but just getting drained. And I would tell him, this chick’s takin’ you down. And that’s when. That’s what inspired the whole song, (sings a bit of the song). But yeah, cool song.
MMR: Yeah I love it. Very good song.
JG: Yeah, very cool song. And a lot of people don’t know it but I’m playing guitar on that song. The intro, that’s me.
MMR: Okay, I didn’t realize that. I know that you used to be…you used to drum when you and Joey shared vocals in Brunette, but I didn’t realize that.
JG: Yeah. Yep, and what other song did I play? (sings a riff). ‘Love Leads The Way’. That’s me. The whole solo at the beginning and the acoustic (sings another riff). That’s all me.
JG: Yeah, I love it. It’s cool stuff.
MMR: You know I hate talented people like you, (laughs).
JG: Me too, sons of bitches! (laughs). No, I’m just kidding. No man, I just don’t know, I’m just thankful it keeps coming out. Sometimes I just go, where do these ideas come from.
MMR: Right. I…
JG: You know, and that’s what ‘In The Hands Of Time’ was about, you know. Staring at an empty page and just being grateful for everything. ‘Cause I used to, and my wife would vouch for, sometimes I would sit in the studio, because the record company would force you to write. They would literally call me, the A&R guy, and say Johnny can you…we want like two or three new songs by next week. Can you just give us something. We want to know what you are doing for the next record. And I’m like holy shit. And I would go up to, at the time my studio was up on the second floor. And I would sit there and I would riff and…nothing. I’d crumple paper and throw it and just nothing. Staring at an empty, will it come to me and, it’s just a lot of truth. And I hate to force write…
MMR: Yeah, you are not going to get very much good out of that.
JG: No, you really don’t man.
MMR: You’ve got to be inspired.
JG: Yeah. It’s not cool at all. And, yeah…
MMR: I remember reading that when the second album came out…is it right that you had a whole other album written? and then the record company came and said they wanted it to sound different?
JG: Yeah, Yeah. There’s a lot of stuff that…yeah. There’s a lot of stuff in the vault. Sure. Yeah, they wanted us to conform to that Pearl Jam sound. They said you guys are talented enough that you can do it. And we said we can’t do that.
MMR: Talent? That kind doesn’t take talent. (Laughs).
JG: I mean you can’t just slap tattoos on us and say okay here you go, just sing monotone. And I went through my little punk phase with my brother and stuff and just experimented and just had some fun. We were writing songs like that would have made Linkin Park look like a bunch of girls. We wrote some heavy heavy stuff and I did it for fun. But yeah, these guys wanted us to change. And you can’t, you can’t so people say, so is your solo record gonna sound different then Hardline? Well Hardline was me. That was my…so that started out with my brother and I. And my brother really is not a writer. So anything you see my brother’s name on he really didn’t write it. Some stuff he did, little riffs here and there but the bulk of it was me. And then Neal (Schon) would come to the studio and we would work and refine everything. His chord knowledge is amazing. And we would refine everything so I gave him credits too. But people go, is it going to be different, what’s going to happen? Well it’s me so it’s going to be me but it’s going to be more personal. It’s gonna be…you know, it’s hard to explain bro. We’ll just see what happens. You know I’m a sucker for a great ballad, a big power ballad.
MMR: Oh yeah, me too.
JG: And so the song ‘Take You Home’ (sings line from song) that I sang at the acoustic thing, dude you should hear that song right now. It’s awesome. We cut the video in Italy and it’s awesome. It’s just a grand piano and black and white, it’s cool! And I’m like wow, I love those, I love those songs man where I can just dig in to the emotional part and get inside the song. But I know there’s going to be, well there already are quite a few ballads.
MMR: That’s fine, I love ballads.
JG: Yeah, and I think for a solo record you can’t have too much like (imitates hard rock singing) I don’t know, you gotta have a few but…
MMR: That’s the point of doing a solo record though, to be different, you know, umm, something you can’t do with your band.
JG: Yeah, yeah. Exactly, yep. Exactly right. Some cool covers that I’ve always wanted to do and stuff like that. What else you got bro?
MMR: Well, um, as you know obviously the melodic rock genre is not very popular, especially here in the States sadly and I’ll never understand that.
JG: I won’t either.
MMR: The shit that passes for music now is ridiculous.
JG: Do you listen to the radio bro? Like…
MMR: No, no.
JG: I don’t either. I just can’t do it.
MMR: I own um, I’d say roughly seven thousand CDs and…
JG: Are you kidding me?
MMR: No (laughs), I do. I would say, you know, other than melodic rock and a handful of others I would say you know probably none of them have been made since probably ’95 or so. I listen to them you know, I can’t stand anything new. I just don’t…I’m not saying that they are not talented, the artists…
MMR: But they just write shit. Or whoever writes for them writes shit.
JG: Yeah there’s just, I don’t hear music out there anymore man.
MMR: I was actually, I was in a pool hall the other day shooting some pool with some friends and the jukebox was playing and these young people were dancing and high fiving and talking like you know um, damn this is my jam bitch! And like, I was like what the… I went to play some classic rock you know and there were four songs, four classic rock songs on the entire jukebox. It was just, shit. Full of people like Justin Bieber you know. Just shit.
JG: I gotta tell you I was very happy. My son was in Brewster, New York doing a hockey tournament last weekend and there was a jukebox in this bar and it had twenty six Hardline songs in it and I was like yes! Two albums. It was ‘Double Eclipse’ and Hardline ‘II’ and I was like yes…no no I’m sorry, ‘Leaving The End Open’. So I was like yes, that’s awesome, there was some hope. But you’re right, it’s pure shit.
MMR: It is.
JG: And you know I can hear, ’cause I know all of the technology behind how you record obviously and what you can do and you know I can make you sound like a million bucks, man, in a studio and it’s not right.
MMR: No it’s not. I’ve read so many times that anyone can be a singer these days in a studio.
JG: Man you can’t imagine what you can do. It’s sick. You can time stretch so if someone’s phrasing is too slow or too fast I can draw their pitch. If the key’s right here and they are a bit under I can just take it and slide it up. Oh bro it’s terrible.
MMR: Yeah it is, there’s no talent required now. You know I said um, I think it was I said in my review of your acoustic show that I said what you did just having a guitar and a microphone, that would make most people these days just shit themselves. They couldn’t do it.
JG: (laughs) That’s true man, no they couldn’t. No one sings anymore.
MMR: No they really don’t.
JG: They don’t do it man and it’s frustrating. It’s funny, we were just with some friends and this gal works for Verizon and she gets all these tickets to go see these shows and stuff and she saw this rapper who sings that song (sings the lyrics ‘Turn Down For What’) and she says he comes out and just keeps yelling “turn down for what” and the crowd is going wild and just bouncing and I’m just like doesn’t that suck how a guy can say “turn down for what”, four words….
MMR: Over and over and over.
JG: Yeah, over and over and people just think it’s the greatest shit and ah…it’s brutal bro.
MMR: Or you get somebody like Taylor Swift who is basically considered a god now in music because she has the uncanny ability to write a fucking lyric about an ex-boyfriend.
JG: Over and over too.
MMR: Yeah. No talent anymore.
JG: I know right, it’s brutal.
MMR: Anyway my question was, with melodic rock being unpopular like it is now nobody is getting rich off of this anymore obviously, why do you continue to do this music?
JG: It’s in your blood man, it’s in your blood. And there’s fans like you honestly, and you’re rare ’cause you are here in the States but there is still a reach out there. And I’ve got to feel my blood and I’ve just gotta do it. Now I can’t do it the way I did it before because I’ve got family, businesses you know, etc. But I need it. I have to have it. And you can ask my family, there comes a point when I’m like I gotta go. I have to go, I love y’all but I gotta go. I have to play, I have to go play rockstar, you know. You just need it. So, you know I gotta tell you, so here’s the thing, Hardline had a record deal. It was what we call a 2+2+2, it was a six album deal and over eight and a half million dollars, it was a big deal. It was eight and a half million dollars in ’91, actually ’89 when we started cultivating the deal. So in today’s money that was a massive deal. And when the deal was over I didn’t worry about the money, I worried about losing guys like you, I worried about people not knowing who I was, you know, ’cause the fans for me, and I’ve said it a million times in interviews, that’s the lifeblood of the music. I use the same saying all the time, but without the fans we’re just a song. Literally just a song. No one’s going to hear it, no one’s going to appreciate it and it’s not going to alter someone’s life. And for me bro, when someone comes up to me and says you know what, I’ve been going through a cancer treatment and when I listen to whatever song it brings me up. Think about what that does for an artist. That’s everything. There isn’t a dollar amount that you can put on that. That’s why I do it. I get all choked up thinking about it but I mean I’ve had so many people come to me and say this song changed my life, this song got me through this, this song did this, this song I played at my wedding. And to have that kind of creative effect on someone’s life, I’m telling you man there’s …that’s why. That’s why I do it. And the stuff that kids write, you know. What’s really, what really gets me just so happy is when some kid, young kids, I mean young young, 14, 15, 16 are hearing the music and they’re writing to me, I mean I still get handwritten stuff and I love that. A kid taking the time to handwrite something. Wow. You know when all that happens and there’s fresh blood in the game I’m like that’s cool. So I just keep going. And I’m going to keep going until people tell me to stop. You know what I mean? I’ll know when to stop.
MMR: Well hopefully that’s never.
JG: Yeah hopfully never. I mean I feel alright. I mean I know I’m getting old…
MMR: Well you still sound amazing.
JG: Thanks bro.
MMR: I think it was, well I think I said it in all three reviews, Axel’s ‘Game Of Sins’, ‘Double Eclipse’ and your acoustic show, I think your voice is better now then it was in ’92. And it was incredible back then.
JG: Thanks man. I think I’ve learned a lot more vocally. I mean you learn. You learn how to shape things and phrasing and I think so. I mean I am not as physically able as I was before, I mean singing a tour, a long tour, man I trained every day hard. Not just physically in the gym but with vocal coaches just to, not to teach me how to sing because I know how to sing but to make sure I could keep it and could sustain. So I learned a lot. So as the years go on you can change tone and stuff like that. But thank you for that. And it’s funny, Neal Schon always said to me, wait til your older bro, your voice is going to get better. And I was like really man cause I’m like (imitates singing a high note) you know now. And he said it’s going to get better, the quality is going to get better and things are going to happen. And I was like alright bro, that’s cool, I like the sounds of that. So thank you bro.
MMR: Well you sounded amazing then but now…I mean ‘Hallelujah’ is one of your best vocals.
JG: I’m telling you honest to God I’d never heard it before. I’ve never had a record collection ’cause I never wanted to be influenced by other artists you know, I didn’t want to subconsciously rip something off. So if I didn’t listen to a lot of stuff when I wrote then I knew it was gonna be me you know what I mean? So I didn’t know the song. And he said I want it sung kind of in this style and I said okay Axel (Rudi Pell) I’ll go for it. And I love it too, I really do. Now of course I put emotion and tried to do my best to put the emotion into the song and I’m a religious guy also so that also helped.
MMR: And one of your best vocals.
JG: Thank you bro.
MMR: It’s crazy that you had never heard it though because at that point in time, I think I mentioned it in the review of your show, when I read that Axel was including that on the album I was like crap, this song is everywhere and I am so sick of hearing it, so when the track came on I had my finger on the button all ready to skip it and then it started and I was like holy shit, this is awesome!
JG: Thanks man.
MMR: I mean your vocals and his arrangement of it is incredible too.
JG: And he won’t play it live, he’s killing me man, he won’t play it live. I’m like let’s play it!
MMR: Then I can guarantee he doesn’t play my other…and actually it is my favorite vocal of yours period, ‘Don’t Say Goodbye’.
JG: You know what, I love that one too and I know this guy that owns a welding shop, his name’s Bob, and when I go in there he’s always playing ‘Don’t Say Goodbye’ and ‘Hallelujah’ like they’re on a loop. I’m like Bob, put something else on and he says no, I love these. It relaxes me and I love this song when I’m welding. I’m like okay then, that’s cool. But no, he won’t play it. He won’t won’t do it and I don’t know why.
MMR: I don’t know. Well it’s his, obviously, it’s his band so does he have all control over everything that y’all do live?
JG: Pretty much. If there’s something I really don’t want to do then I’ll say Axel, I really don’t want to do this one and he’ll say that’s fine, that’s fine. So yeah. What’s else bro?
MMR: You’ve obviously sung a lot of songs for people who have written songs for you and I know that somewhere in there you’ve, you know, had to um, sing songs that you don’t care for. So how do you keep the emotion in your voice and really get into and feel a song that you don’t care for when you are singing?
JG: Well the answer is yes. Sometimes I do have to sing songs that are not quite for me and part of being a singer and an artist is to get…try to create what the writer wants out of it. So I don’t focus too much on wow, this just doesn’t work for me, I just focus more on the lyric and what I always say is I try to get inside the song and just pull it out that way and it just works man, I don’t know how but it just works. So I just kind of think about what, for example, Axel wants out of a song and then I’ve been doing it long enough to kind of figure it out and then pull it out somehow. But yeah, I’ll listen to it and it’s not for me but he’ll love it. So yeah, it works. He’s happy, I’m happy. But yeah, sometimes I’m like ugh, I…
MMR: I just don’t want to do this one!
JG: Yeah, I don’t want to do it. And I mean, it’s a struggle man and I may have to take it verse by verse, pre-chorus by pre-chorus and chorus by chorus, but I get through it.
MMR: Well next year I know is the twenty-fifth anniversary of ‘Double Eclipse’ which is one of the, if not the, best album to come out of the tail end of the hair metal era. But um, I think that one of the problems, and I have heard you reference this before, one of the problems with having such a classic and well loved album under your belts you know, is that after it you have fans that are always expecting everything you ever write to sound exactly the same, right. I’m sure you still get that a lot. Are you okay with that, are you proud to have such a well loved album and, you know, that they like it that much or do you want to tell them to wake the fuck up, it’s 2016 people and it’s twenty-five years later!
JG: A little bit of both, bro. A little bit of both. I mean it’s natural to compare to first records, and it is a classic. And people say that all of the time, that record’s just classic. And I mean that was my life’s work, since I was 11 years old you know, just writing songs for that record. Then you put it out, and I kind of compare it to, I don’t know if you remember Men At Work (Sings a line from ‘Who Can It Be Now’) they had every song in that album was a number one hit and then after they just couldn’t do shit. It was over. And I kind of, I mean not that we had all those hits, but it’s kind of like that. It’s like how do you top that, can you top this. But I don’t play the can you top this game. I write to write, and if the fan wants to compare it to the first album, fine, it’s never going to be like that. It was that group, that time period, that vibe, those songs. I just write to write. So yeah, wake up people, it’s 2016 and it is what it is.
MMR: And as much as fans would love a ‘Double Eclipse part 2’, hair metal is just not very condusive to the musical landscape anymore sadly. And I don’t think it matters how big you are, or were, you know, even Bon Jovi still gets raked over the coals by some fans for not still sounding like the ‘Slippery When Wet’ album. I think everybody gets it to some extent.
JG: Yep, that’s right, well said. It’s just, those songs come out when they come out and their great but…it’s interesting, it is.
MMR: I know Alessandro wrote a lot for the ‘Danger Zone’ record. Is he intricate in writing here also on this new record?
JG: Yeah but we all collectively put this one together so a lot of the ideas were sparked and then he runs it by me and then I lyrically go to town. I have this lyric idea and I go okay I’m gonna work on that you know and stuff like that. That’s kind of the way we do it. No ones…every one is cool, ’cause you know, when you have a band it’s just gotta be a band. And I can write something and it goes like this but the second I hand it to Josh (Ramos) to play it becomes Josh and he adds his thing so, you know this record you’ll see it will say songs written by Hardline except for this one or this one, you know what I mean?
MMR: Yeah cool, I get that. And the talent. I mean Alessandro is fantastic and Josh, he’s an incredible guitar player.
JG: Oh yeah.
MMR: Now correct me if I am wrong but he used to be with a band called The Storm did he not, with Kevin Chalfant?
JG: Right, yep.
MMR: Heavily underrated band, they were incredible.
JG: They were. They were on tour with Bryan Adams, they did some cool stuff. And I met Josh through Neal and Neal said hey man this guy sounds just like me, and I always remember that, and I met him and Josh said that’s a compliment Neal and Neal said you do, you kick ass man you sound like me. So funny. But yeah, I met him in San Francisco at the BAMBI awards. I’ll never forget that. And then when Neal was no longer in the Hardline project I said, I need to get the guy who sounds just like Neal and that happened.
MMR: Well he is a great guitarist.
JG: He is, he’s a good dude too.
MMR: You always seem to get such fantastic musicians in your band.
JG: I try man, I try to.
MMR: One more. Obviously you front Hardline, Axel Rudi Pell and Crush 40 and I know the stories behind those. But there is one that I don’t know. Um, in 2006 an album came out called ‘She’s On Fire’ by a band called Accomplice. I’ve got the album of course but I just don’t know much about it. Was that meant to just be a one record deal or you know, was it a band that just didn’t make it or what?
JG: No, it was just a bunch of guys that said Johnny will you sing on this and I’ll give you a bunch of money. So I said let me listen to the tunes and I said okay, I’ll do this for you guys, it’s cool. Great guys. That was just a fun thing. And people send me stuff all the time and say are you interested in singing on my record and I listen to it say nope, not going to do it. Just because it’s my voice on your song it’s not going to make the song better . It’s gotta be right, otherwise I’m not going to help your record. So it is pretty interesting. Yeah, I turn down a lot of those. But sometimes I’ll go that’s cool, okay. And if the dudes are cool I’ll say okay let’s do this. I like to guest vocal on records but again it has to be right and it has to be good man. Whatever you do you want to do good.
MMR: Well I know you are needing to go so I’m going to wrap it up there. Thank you so much for taking so much time out of your night to talk with me man. You know, it’s artists like you, ones that are so kind and genuine and real, you are the ones that really make me love rock ‘n’ roll. ‘Cause sadly there are some that are just assholes. So thanks man, I really appreciate it and I can’t wait to see you in October.
JG: Thanks Dave, I wish you the best with the site and we’ll see you there bro.