The Reign is the band you are currently recording and releasing material with. How many bands had you been working with previously? Were there any CD releases and/or live performances with those bands?
I formed The Reign in 1985 that is the only band I have been with since then. Prior to that I was a kid, playing in three cruddy bands, punk bands mostly. Seriously the bands I was in before The Reign were garage bands, total crap. There were plenty of live performances with those bands but only the very first one was worth noting. That was in 1978. I was thirteen, I lied to get in, and my dad brought me to the club. We played one of those all-ages gigs that they had every so often at CBGB. That night a band decided it was time to return home and had a surprise mini set. So on my very first gig ever I wound up being on stage the same night The Ramones came home to CBGB. Technically I opened for The Ramones on my very first gig. That band was called The Red Light District and I was the youngest guy in the band. Our drummer Chris was a little older (fifteen) and the bass player (John) and guitarist (Ruben) were seventeen. We were horrible and at the end of the night Joey Ramone puked on my Pro Keds high tops, haha.
What made you want to be a working musician in the first place? Did something you heard on radio or saw on TV make you want to pick up an instrument?
Three events took place at the age of seven. My dad took me to The Concert For Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden, with George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Badfinger and Ravi Shankar. A few months later he took me to see Led Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden. At the end of the year there was a triple feature at the Old Cross Bay Movie Theater (Now a sporting goods store on Cross Bay Blvd). The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, A Hard Day’s Night and Let It Be. When I was done I knew I wanted to be a musician so I started with drums. My dad bought me a kit like Ringo's and got me lessons. My mom hated it and it made her nuts. So somewhere my parents got the big idea to switch me to Keyboard lessons and again I got some lessons for a few years. By the time I was ten years old I wanted guitar lessons and switched to that. To this day I play drums, guitar and keyboards, plus I play bass, accordion, mandolin, banjo, autoharp, and I have an intention of learning the cello, viola and violin before I am done with this life, haha.
It must have been an experience playing with The Ramones at the height of the 70's punk movement. Do you remember the scene at CBGB's that night, between the atmosphere of the club and the people who were there that night?
That night was surreal I was just starting to really dig into the punk/New Wave movement as I said I was thirteen so I was forming my own tastes at that point in time up to that point I was listening to what my Father liked so I was heavily into 60's classic rock bands like The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Who, Led Zeppelin etc. So by 1978 I was just discovering bands like The Cure, The Talking Heads and Blondie. That night at CBGB there were members of Blondie and The Talking Heads in the room so everyone knew something was up. I walked to the bar with my guitar player/lead singer and ordered a Coke. Clem Burke of Blondie was standing right next to me and said “you’re a little young to be here ain't ya kiddo?" I was like “nahh I'm in the second band” and he was like "ohhh wow The Next Generation starts tonight." I looked at him baffled. Then Chris Stein walked over with Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison. They were like “what band are you in little guy”? I was stunned that I was talking to musicians who I was just starting to look up to. There were all kinds of punk rock chicks with barely there clothing, mohawks and safety pins. There were a lot of normal people there too; I guess they were the curious and uninitiated.
Did you listen to any of the shock bands from the early 70s such as Kiss, Alice Cooper and the like?
I loved Kiss, The New York Dolls, Alice Cooper and David Bowie also with his whole Ziggy/Aladdin Sane Period. I was an outsider growing up, a long haired kid with the guitar when all the other kids were playing little league baseball and such. I was already sexually active, I was always ahead in the things I did so I didn't have any connection to kids my own age. So I felt a disconnect from them and was spending time with kids between ages of fifteen and nineteen so naturally I gravitated to the more obnoxious type bands of the period.
How much credit do you see CBGB as having been influential on music since the mid to late 1970s?
What can I honestly say about CBGB that hasn't already been said before? It was a paving ground that set trends and made or broke bands. There is no way you can measure what its value is to music as a whole. It's like trying to measure how important The Beatles were to every teenage kid who watched them on Ed Sullivan in 1964. It changed lives and was a cultural Phenomenon. The room itself was unforgiving; if you were a great band you sounded great but if you were a shit band it only made you sound worse. The crowds could be tough; if you wanted to win over a crowd you had to deliver the goods. I give it a lot of credit for the impact it had on so many bands from the mid 70's till even its closing when the music scene was watered down with shitty bands wishing they could be like Blink 182, Sum 41 & Green Day which was/is a watered down version of the original punk scene. The original punks had blood, guts and balls. Today's punkers have Broadway shows about Green Day pussy punk. I saw Billy Milano & S.O.D., Stiv Bators & The Dead Boys, GG Allin and The Ramones although I missed The Sex Pistols!
Unfortunately I missed the bands you have seen live, though I did see the Murder Junkies a few times. They are going on tour across the US shortly during which time they’ll be coming to NY. Do you hope to see them?
I had no idea GG's Band was still out there. I'd probably go check them out just if nothing else to see where the punk scene has gone. I mean anyone who thinks Green Day is punk needs to go see The Murder Junkies haha. They will scare most people straight.
I remember reading that the Beatles started as the Quarrymen; I also read comparisons between the Quarrymen and punk and that the Quarrymen could be considered early punk. What would your thoughts on that be?
I would say that is a pretty spot on assessment. Most folks tend to think of The Beatles as clean cut mop tops, but they started out as a grimy leather clad bar room band that was loud and rude. Pretty much sizes up punk like The Pistols. They even had a bass player who really couldn't play bass. The Beatles had Stu Suttcliffe and The Sex Pistols had Sid Vicious, haha.
Many people feel that punk began in the late 60s with artists like Lou Reed, Velvet Underground and David Peel. Did those artists contribute to the birth of punk in your view?
Those artists were what would be called prototype punk bands, The Kinks also were punkish as were The Troggs and Them, so there were plenty in the mid to late 60's.
A movie about CBGB was released a few years ago and was panned by critics as being a gross misrepresentation of the club and the punk scene at the time. If you saw it, do you think it was an homage or total crap? When Patti Smith played CBGB’s last show ever she encouraged people to create while thinking outside the box
I honestly didn't see the film. I heard the bad reviews but just never felt the desire to investigate further. Although I am not such a fan of Smith I do agree with what she said. If artists don’t try to test their boundaries, what’s the point of even doing it unless you’re doing it just for shiggles. If you truly are trying to be a musician and artist there have to be risks to take.
Were there other clubs where you played with The Red Light District around that time, such as Max’s Kansas City? Did The Red Light District release any demos while they were active?
The Red Light District lineup lasted until maybe the end of 1979 when I quit to join another punk band called The Dented Eyeballs. But by that point punk gave way to new wave and I wasn't into the whole Flock Of Seagulls/Depeche Mode thing. So neither band recorded anything while I was a member but The Red Light District did record some tapes and a few self-released singles. I had no involvement with those. It got harder to get gigs due to my age but I managed to play Subways, The Dive and a club called The Bank. The Dented Eyeballs played Great Gildersleeves on the Bowery near Great Jones Ave. Back then there were tons of crappy bars tailored to the new wave scene. Some of the places I am sure didn't even have Caberet Licences for live music but no one ever bothered us, I did more shows with The Red Light District than with The Dented Eyeballs. The Dented Eyeballs was a horrible band singing stupid songs like "Incest Is Best," "Clit Rubbed Raw," "Fuck The Police, Fuck Your Mother," “Mutilated Baby Legs" it was god awful and no one took it too seriously. We played Kenny's Kastaways once and they threw us off the stage for "Incest Is Best" so we made it four songs into our set and got shit canned haha. We played a ton of shows in my own back yard. We would charge two bucks to come in would get a keg of beer (my dad would get the beer for us). If you came into the yard just to listen it was two bucks and if you drank it was five. We did that a few dozen times and made really good money once we paid back my dad for the keg. They were more of a block party/gathering type of situation and were outdoors so they were always fun. My third Band was more of a generic hard rock band called Sinister. It was at that point in 1980 that I started writing my own tunes and became the lead singer. Sinister stayed together for about three years then I formed a band called Trax at the end of 1984 (which eventually became The Reign). At this point my writing started taking on the power pop style The Reign is now known for.
How much of a fan base did The Red Light District and The Dented Eyeballs have while those bands were active?
Neither band had great followings, at least not when I was in the band. The Red Light District did wind up doing really well for a lot of the early to mid-80's but I had left before 1979 so when I was a member they had nothing much to build on yet. The Dented Eyeballs was terrible music and terrible musicians. They never went anyplace after I left the band and took the guitar player with me. There is a band in Los Angeles named The Red Light District now. I can’t say if they’re any members of the band I was in.
Who were you citing as influences when you began composing your own material?
Hmmm this list is mighty long, haha. But I can safely say I had a vision right from jump when I started writing my own tunes. My goal was to mesh The Beatles, Badfinger and The Raspberries with Bowie, Kiss and Cheap Trick, the main ingredients for what is now called power pop. I had other influences as diverse as The Clash and The Cure to The Bee Gees and The Hollies to Ted Nugent and AC/DC. There is a thread that connects all the bands, everyone has a starting point, you borrow from the best and worst of them and if you’re lucky you find a style that is distinctively your own.
What common factors did you see in all those bands when you began incorporating them into your approach to songwriting?
The ability to write a hook. A riff that draws you in, catches you abd gets stuck like an ear worm. Great bands with great melodics, harmonies and guitar riffs. I mean I could list a bunch of shit and sound like a pretentious ass, haha. They had something that just spoke to me. I took the harmonies and melodic styles, I use mostly minor keys. That's just cutting it down to basics.
How much more effective are minor keys and why do you prefer to compose with them instead of major keys?
It depends on the song I am writing. For the most part I find minor keys have more emotional complexity and can express anger, sorrow, loneliness, disconnection, unsurety, feelings of loss or feelings of being alone. Even my upbeat songs tend to have a minor feel to them. I think it's how I approach my melodies. As a whole I find them to just be more effective.
Many black metal bands use dissonant chords and incorporate traditional music as well as opera in their songs. Did you ever consider doing something similar with The Reign?
I think my music used aspects of a few different genres of stylistic writing. I mean I grew up listening to anglo pop, symphonic pop and power pop bands but utilized aspects of classical as well as country, R&B, jazz, even vaudeville and swing. I find my music leans towards those and folk. Though we tend to be much more heavy and forceful than what is classically known as pop (thus the power in the pop) no one would ever mistake The Reign for black metal. But I know what you’re getting at and bands like Opeth and Emperor are neo classical fusions with hard core metal sounds and I love that aspect of those bands.
What were the first songs composed for The Reign and how did they differ from what was popular at that time?
When The Reign was formed I had about thirty songs written. We started working our new sound with the old songs which was really not the direction I wanted to take my band in. So the first truly pure song in the style that would be The Reign’s was a song called "Body & Soul" I wrote in 1987. From there I figured out exactly what direction I wanted to take my band in. The other issue was the original line up of the Reign. Outside of my former drummer Lenny Kibanoff who I co-founded the band with, the rest of the original lineup were carry-overs from the last two bands I was in. Danny Hoffman came from Sinister and John Cain came from The Red Light District. Musically speaking they didn't have the chops to do what I was trying to go for so naturally the songs I was bringing to the band were played less than stellar. But once I started making lineup changes and found the style I wanted to write with was easy to start composing songs that fit with the direction I wanted. From there I started incorporating different stylistic songs into our set that still maintained our sound but allowed us to step outside the box.
Given your use of minor keys in your songwriting, and your range of influences, how do your lyrics reflect your musicianship?
I tend to write about interpersonal relationships mostly. I write about love because it's the subject I know most and least about, haha. But seriously getting to the musical aspect i find the combination of minor keys with emotional lyrical content makes my music more relatable for people. I find it hard to define, but just about everyone has had a broken heart or have fallen in love or at the very least lusted someone. It just so happens minor keys work within the context of my subject matter.
What about your lyrics differ from other lyricists who write based on relationships? Such lyrics can easily become clichéd; do you make an effort to avoid that?
I generally try to veer away from the standard type rhyme patterns a lot of lyricists fall into. The moon and June rhymes are cheesy and campy, though sometimes unavoidable. I could give an example of my lyrics here, from my Song "That Summer" from our soon to be released second album "Storm": "The promises are long gone, from a summer that never should have ended. All your words of love, they never came true, where are you now that your night spark is sated. And all the lies you told me, your eyes they never would betray you. And truth came crashing on me like a wave, what happened to you that made you so jaded". I try to make my lyrics poetry. The key is to evoke a mood and scenario that people can identify with feel empathy for and relate to. The lyrics are about a women who was just unfaithful and got found out, but it doesn’t come out and say ‘you cheated and lied and you’ve been busted bitch’, haha. It would be so easy to go the cliché route. Yeah I have lyrics that go that way but even when a lyric isn’t as poetic as the one above I make sure the chords, melodies harmonies are strong to make up the difference.
Where did The Reign play their first shows, and how long did it take the band to start building a fan base?
The first gig The Reign Played in 1985 was a bar called Timothy's in Queens Village. The place is long gone now. We had a pretty big following right from jump I think because of the yard shows with my other bands. I personally had a fan base that was pretty big because leading up to the formation of The Reign I played some battles of the bands with Sinister. We had a lot of friends and we won a few even though the music was less than fantastic. But we made a spectacle of ourselves onstage and would fist fight with each other. Drums would be crashed into when the lead guitarist would push the bass player into the drums. So people used to come to see us for the chaos as much as for the music. The Reign's first few shows were almost all covers because I didn’t have quite the arsenal of original songs I now have (I have close to 400 songs now and I am still writing) but we made things interesting because we did shit that was way off the beaten path. If bands were playing songs like "I Want You To Want Me" or "Surrender" By Cheap Trick The Reign would play "Heaven Tonight" or "On Top Of The World". If bands were doing “I Saw Her Standing There” or “Ticket To Ride” by The Beatles we were doing "She Said She Said" or 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun". We went the obscure route even when playing covers. That’s how we built our fan base as I wrote more songs of my own and they started replacing the covers.
I always thought it was a better idea to cover obscure songs since the songs you mentioned seem like obvious choices. I feel the same about radio stations that play the same songs each day. Did doing obscure covers make you stand out?
I always hated bands that played “Honky Tonk Woman” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, songs you can flip on any classic rock radio station. Why would I wanna spend a night in a bar listening to some band hack it's way through “White Wedding”, haha. When we played live we'd be more inclined to play "Baby Talks Dirty" rather than "My Sharona" which is the obvious choice if you’re playing a song by The Knack. Too many bands fall into that trap. For a few months The Reign did some shows as a cover band. We called ourselves the Obscures and played all these cover songs you wouldn’t expect until the novelty wore off. But the idea stuck with us and even today when we play shows where we must play an amount of covers we still do songs Like "I Am Superman" from R.E.M's Life Rich Pagent album, though we have done two of their hit records every once in a while (“The One I Love” and “So. Central Rain"). By the way we are releasing our version of "I Am Superman" as a single on April 12 of this year on iTunes. Our first single after releasing our debut album was a cover of the Cure's "Killing An Arab" and on our second album to be released in 2017 we are covering The Myracle Brah's song "Minimum Mary" from their fourth album "Bleeder".
Now the question of whether or not these covers make us stand out? I think yes and no. Sometimes people would come up to us and say ‘great song you played, did you guys write that’. We would be like ‘no that’s a cover’. Sometimes folks would think these obscure tunes we did were our own; it can be funny but when you get a Beatles fan and we come off after playing "Hey Bulldog" or "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me & My Monkey" people lose their minds, So yeah it can make you stand out or it could just go unnoticed as one of your own originals. So you have to pick your obscurities wisely.
Do you stay away from mainstream radio, preferring to look elsewhere to find songs to cover?
Somewhat. I also like digging deep into bands’ catalogs for hidden gems that aren’t so obvious for example the risk of covering The Cure's Killing An Arab (especially these days with all the ISIS crap and the risk of being deemed racist). That song Robert Smith wrote was an anti-war song based on The Albert Camus book The Stranger. Naturally folks read into a song what they want. You can’t stop what people feel and that’s why songs are open to interpretation. But I love covering songs by obscure bands like Hunk. Myracle Brah and Honeydogs but I also love finding a cut from The Stones’ "Citadel" from their 1967 album "Their Satanic Majesties Request" so even bands as huge as The Stones have songs no one would expect anyone to play. I am not even sure if The Stones play it live, haha. That being said you don’t have to go so far to find a good song not played out to the point of boringness.
How many shows did you play as The Obscures and who were some of the other bands you covered at that time?
I think we did like fifteen or twenty shows. No one knew it was The Reign playing as a cover band. The crowds were not too big but they were enthusiastic. We covered songs from everyone from the Beatles to Nirvana. Instead of doing obvious songs like Smells Like Teen Spirit or All Apologies we did "Rape Me" and "Negative Creep". We did Knack songs, Sam Phillips, Matthew Sweet, The Monkees, Squeeze, Big Star et cetera.
Name some more original songs you were writing at that time and describe how you worked them into your set.
I have never been shy about adding new originals to our set list. There was a time when we would do three sets of covers at the beginning. We did say 36 songs a show, three and a half song sets, and maybe two originals. I started to write more prolifically around 1988 when I wrote "Emotional Design" and “Body & Soul" By the late 80's & early 90's I had written "Not So Lonely", "Night Walk" and "I Love You, Why Don't You See That?" To this day those songs are staples in our set list. Though they are no longer our signature songs, for many years they were. By the time we started opening for national acts like Zebra, Enuff Z'Nuff, Cheap Trick and The Ramones we had amassed a good amount of originals. We had to because national acts don’t want cover bands opening for them. We gathered a good amount of originals in the first seven years of our existence. Speaking about opening for the Ramones, it was funny meeting them again years later. I reminded Joey that when I was thirteen he puked on my Pro Keds, haha. He thought that was so damn funny when I told him. The originals I write have gotten pretty popular locally and in the tri state area. Now the Reign is starting to become a national act in our own right, but the reality is if your songs suck you’re not going to get anywhere, so work hard put some thought and effort into your writing. Too many bands rehash stuff sometimes; you have to be bold and ballsy and carve a path of your own.
Describe your experiences performing in large arenas and opening for established bands?
It was an Unreal Experience. It would be hard to put into words what playing for large crowds are like. I mean I was scared shitless for the first twenty. It was an experience I would like to have again. When you’re doing things like that you think it is gonna last forever then one day you find yourself playing bars in Whitestone, Queens again and you ask yourself what The fuck just happened? Haha. But there is a rush like nothing in the world. If you ever saw a national act play live with a couple of opening acts you know that the first band to go on basically plays while people are still finding their seats. In some cases the house lights were only half dimmed for our sets haha but still you look out and see thousands of people you are like ‘holy crap how did I get here?’ haha. There were a fair share of groupies (I will refrain from getting into deep detail out of respect for my lady who will read this) but my god, the girls, the drugs, the free booze, the parties and just hanging out with some of the members of the headlining bands is a trip. I was always like ‘I need to pinch myself. I can’t believe I am eating food backstage, and snorting lines and smoking weed with bands I grew up listening to. It was pretty surreal walking in on the bass play of The Knack having what seemed like his own personal orgy, haha. Shit like that was out of control. The opening bands get to take crappy beat up buses as the headliners fly to the next city so as they are sleeping in a Holiday Inn in Detroit we are sleeping on Route 66 in the most lumpy pokey bus seats you never ever want to sit in, no less sleep in, haha. But I would give anything to get on a bus right now and head to Cleveland Ohio to open for Cheap Trick or Zebra. I will get back there if it's the last thing I do.
The thing about all that partying is that I’ve heard about all the repercussions bands experienced afterward. Me personally, I probably would not have the energy to visit a groupie after playing a full set on that grand a scale.
When you’re on the road in your early 20's through your early 30's and you’re rubbing elbows with established musicians you will find they can’t take the number of girls that demand them so what happens is the opening bands get the castoffs. It was very easy to have the energy to hang with groupies when you’re flying around the room on eight grams of blow running through your system. The trade-off is you start to feel like a slab of meat after a while. You can’t keep that rock star crap going 24/7, which is why I always find the Bret Michaelses and Tommy Lees so amusing because these dudes are living a lie 90% of the time and can't maintain lasting relations with anyone.
Were you often reviewed as an opening act while touring with national bands?
I don’t recall any reviews, other than when we opened for Wishbone Ash in 2000. We got half a paragraph and a positive write-up. But that’s the only one I ever saw. Sadly we did our opening slots mostly before everyone had all these Iphones and smart phones that make crisp, clean videos. The only surviving video I have of us opening for an established act was when we opened for Randy Jackson of Zebra at The Wall in Woodside, Queens. We brought our own camera crew to the show. If we had been touring as an opener during today’s era I am sure tons of videos of us would be on Youtube. Sadly most of our shows were done in the late 80's & early 90's; we are trying to get back to it again. We had so many lineup changes and we just replaced our bass player in January of this year. We lost some momentum over the last decade, but in spite of it all we released albums and songs on iTunes, CDbaby etc. We are getting serious plays on Spotify, Iheart radio and even Tidal.
Describe the making of The Reign’s debut album and any demos you recorded before working on your first recording?
Recording our debut album is a story unto itself. "The Long Wait" started off as an album that was going to be titled "Pizza Train". When I started recording the album the lineup of The Reign was me, Rob Mayer on lead Guitar, Konstantine Laskaras on bass & BV's and Lenny Kibanoff on drums. Lenny founded the band with me back in 1985. After initial sessions to record basic tracks for the first thirteen songs, Rob Mayer left the band with much acrimony. It was ugly. We brought back a former member Marc Fox on guitar and vocals. Konstantine didn’t want to be in a band with Fox so as Marc came in Konstantine made his exit. I returned to the studio with Marc to redo guitar tracks and bass lines. I redid all the bass lines and Marc fox started replacing Rob’s guitar parts. We got four songs into the process of replacing guitar tracks when Marc and I had a falling out. I removed one song from the sessions because it was written by Rob Mayer. I recorded a few acoustic cuts without drums to pad out the album but decided the album still needed a few more songs (the final song total wound up being seventeen songs). Two of the songs we had recorded for the album seemed out of place so I decided to shelve them for a later release and wrote a few new songs with a good friend Larry Flaxman who was going to be my Bernie Taupin. Our partnership lasted about five songs and he got with his personal life and had to stop. We recorded three of the songs we wrote for the album. Lenny was in a motorcycle accident and broke his neck, so I had to find a new drummer to record. I brought in a good friend John Orestanno until I figured out if Lenny was going to be able to return to the fold (sadly he cannot). The album started logistically to become problematic. I needed some help so I called upon a close friend of Mine Chip Z'Nuff of Enuff Z'Nuff to help co-produce the album with me. He had to do it long distance because he was working on four other albums in Chicago, so every session I would send him the dailies. He would email me back what he thought I should add or change. At the next session I would try his ideas. Some stuck and others didn’t. At the end of the day it took seven years to finish the debut album which was now called The Long Wait. But it was worth the time because you never get a second chance to make a first impression. My debut album is doing really well so I guess the time spent was well worth it. The demos: I have two digital machines to demo my songs. I play drums, guitars, bass and keyboards. I did all my demos self-contained and proceeded to give the demos to the guys in the band to learn their parts. Pretty much all the songs have demos from the album. Maybe someday if my album ever warrants a deluxe reissue I will make it a two CD set with one CD of the home demos and such. Now the sales are modest so it doesn’t warrant such an elaborate reissue but one never knows.
After the initial sessions for the album I switched studios because I wasn’t happy with the work the original studio did. The engineer did shoddy work and the sad thing is he is a fairly well known sound engineer. Both he and the studio will remain nameless but because of this I found the perfect studio to work. I will record at this studio for as long as I am a working musician or for as long as it stays in business. I recorded the bulk of the album at Persico recording studio; Frank Persico became one of my co-producers and played lead guitar on tracks after both Marc and Rob left the fold. The album would be unfinished without the assistance from Frank fixing the original Protool sessions that was recorded at the first studio. I didn’t even credit the studio on my inner sleeve for the album because all the real heavy lifting was done by Frank cleaning up the abysmal engineering work.
How much distribution did your debut album receive? Did you release and distribute it independently? Did any copies make it to countries outside the US?
When it came to time to finally release "The Long Wait" I decided to release it on my own label, which at fist was a logistic nightmare as I never ran my own record company. But I asked a few of my fellow musicians who were releasing albums around the same time; all of them suggested I release the album through CDBaby using their Proalbum option which gives me international releases on iTunes, Emusic and 500 other worldwide digital retailers. My album is available internationally and since CDbaby collects all said royalties for me it makes it so damn easy. They collect from all the retailers worldwide and collect my mechanical royalties from Spotify, Iheart Radio Tidal etc. Here is a link for "The Long Wait" on iTunes which is rated at 4&1/2 stars: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-long-wait/id842707482.
Are you still working on your own record label since you released The Long Wait digitally? How much of a response has this album received since it was made available through those sites?
My label is doing alright. Besides The Reign I am doing some releases in the next few years of albums by my former lead guitarist Hope Parisi and her band Parisi. My drummer Rob has a vanity project I am producing for him and doing some guitar work on by the name of Prophet Motive. My bass player will be doing a solo album and he is where your earlier questions come into play. I still have some of my early written punk songs that survived my Dented Eyeballs and Sinister era I am thinking of recording a solo album of my old stuff just to have a shiggle maybe even call the album The Dented Eyeballs since I did come up with that name. The label is kind of going to be our Apple Records, without The Acrimony that befell The Beatles hopefully, haha.
The Long Wait has gotten some good press from your magazine. We also were reviewed by two other major Power Pop websites, www.popgeekheaven.com and www.powerpopaholic.com. Both sites gave us glowing reviews. I have been featured in an article from a Long Island entertainment mag Aces and was recently interviewed for a film about an old rock club in Flushing Queens, 'Nobody's, and footage of the Reign from 1993 will be featured. I can't give any details but the movie itself will most likely be available on Netflix and Amazon Prime when it gets its distribution deal. We have been getting serious rotations on Spotify, Tidal and Iheart radio. The Label will hopefully be signing acts not related to The Reign but that’s a few years down the line. Once I see how sales from my CDs and side projects from band members do the sales will hopefully generate enough finances to allow me to invest in some new rock bands.
Have former members of your bands gone on to start new projects?
There have been plenty of members who have gone on to other projects. There was Evan Silverman who went on to be bass player for a band called "The Rosenbergs" They made two albums for Robert Fripp’s record label. Then there is Craig Aspen who is guitar player and vocalist for a band called The Believers, a mainstay in New Orleans currently, There Is Rob Mayer who played for recording artists Dave Shaw and The Streetlight Circus. There is Frank Persico who has three albums available on iTunes and may be returning to the fold. Marc Fox is currently in the studio working on his debut solo album and has a band in NYC called The Revivers. Jason Martin was the drummer for us & for the metal/hardcore crossover band Sheer Terror. We had David Lietner who worked with the metal band Nitro as well as the alternative rock band Red House Painters. So some notable musicians have gone on to or came from acts that have had some commercial success.
When you began work on the second full length, how did you build on your experience working on the first full length?
Every time you work in the studio it's a learning project. What I have learned most importantly is not to overdo it. If I can’t get something done in the first two or three takes move on to something else to build on because I hate these new clinically sterile sounding albums. I love the old school records where bad edits, mistakes and whatnot can be heard on hit records, be it the squeak of the piano stool at the end of A Day In The Life to Jimmy Page saying "stop it" accidentally in Out On The Tiles. It lends a human nature to the music. Music isn’t perfect, humans aren’t perfect and it's those imperfections that lend feel and character to a song. Also to work fast; it saves money, haha.
In what ways is your second full length an improvement over the first? How soon do you expect it to be released? Will you likewise be releasing it in digital format?
I like to think that each time I record I get better at it, haha. The second album will be titled Storm. It will be a longer album with 21 songs. I feel since we don't have the kind of fame that bands like Oasis or Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, we need to put more music on an album to justify charging people ten dollars for it on iTunes. I know many folks think I should wheedle down my releases to eleven or twelve songs but I am older and basically just starting my recording career, so I have a backlog of songs dying to see the light of day after all these years. I am still writing with a wealth of songs. There are 400 and counting and I may not have enough years in my life to ever record and release all of them. A lot will probably go to the grave with me. I make no bones about putting as much music on each release. Now with two new members in The Reign (Rob Postrel on drums and vocals & Ben Laffin Rose on bass and vocals) both writing there will be songs not written by me, maybe even some new collaborations. There will never be a shortage of songs in the Reign. The Future is limitless for The Reign. So see you all down that rock n roll road where the music is loud, the beer is cold, the women are pretty and the band always gets paid.