Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Musician Interview: JIM KANE

Interview with JIM KANE

You are an old school musician who has played in underground bands since the 80s. One of the first clips you forwarded to me was of a band you were involved in that appeared on the first Speed Metal Hell compilation.
The name of this band is Battle Bratt; the song on Speed Metal Hell is called "Henchman". The band formed in 1983 and I joined in September. We were fortunate when we went out on the Long Island scene and we took off quickly. Which came as a surprise to all of us. We recorded the song as well as a song called "Tough To Bad". We submitted them to Ann Boleyn of New Renaissance Records in California and luckily for us she picked "Henchman.” Fingers at WBAB picked it up and played nonstop on Metal Shop. It was also played at CW Post College’s radio station WCWP. It afforded us the opportunity to bypass a lot of the usual B.S. dealing with club owners and put us as either headliners or the opening act for a lot of national and international bands.

Was Speed Metal Hell the first compilation Battle Bratt appeared on, or were there others around the same time?
Speed Metal Hell was the first we contributed to. There were a few other compilation albums that featured other bands from the Long Island rock scene were on around that same time. One that I remember was called “Metal Massacre”. Fast forward to 2007 Battle Bratt. We had a song ”Om” from our 2006 release “Forged In Steel” placed on a 3-CD compilation album called “RaceTrack Rock” released on Versailles Records. I’ve always maintained the view that being asked to contribute some of our work to a compilation CD is one of the biggest compliments that we as a band could be paid!

When you started playing in bands back in the early 80s, was it easier to get the attention of independent labels?
Well, there really weren’t too many Independent labels that were well known back then. I mean you had MegaForce, I.R.S. and Island Records. Those were the two big ones back then, and as you probably now MegaForce was big on heavier bands like Metallica and Anthrax. I.R.S. was exclusively going after new wave bands. With that being said, back in the early 80’s when you filed a copyright form with the Library of Congress they would circulate your music to some obscure Indie labels and we’d get some form of correspondence from them in the mail. I personally wouldn’t entertain them because, as with any deal as the artist, you’re usually going to wind up on the losing end.

How did you hear Ann Boleyn was seeking bands to appear on SMH? Did you contact her by mail or phone at first?
Actually the whole thing with Ann Boleyn came about thanks to our drummer Matt. He was a few years older than I was and had more contacts in the business so he made all of the arrangements. And I believe that they corresponded both by telephone and mail. The one thing I do remember was that in order to get onto the album after our song was accepted we had to pay the label a hundred dollars towards the mastering.

In hindsight, do you think paying the mastering cost to appear on the compilation was a fair deal?
To answer this question in its proper context I have to start with the year which was 1985. Now by today's standards $100 dollars is pocket change, however back in 1985 that was like spending $400 dollars today. So with that said we were actually a little miffed that after submitting our song that they would then want us to pay for the mastering, but cooler heads prevailed and we put together the money and sent it as requested. And in the end it was definitely worth it, because again looking at the time period not many bands were getting record deals never mind being asked to be on a compilation album. The publicity that we got was well worth the money because by being on that album it made us a legitimate band.

Were you familiar with the bands who appeared on the Speed Metal Hell compilation with you?
Oh yeah, everyone on the Heavy Metal scene knew who Savage Grace was, and personally we were friends with fellow Long Islanders Attila. But as far as the rest of the roster, I wasn’t too familiar with them.

Did you try submitting your material for inclusion on the Metal Massacre compilation?
We didn’t, which may or may not have been a mistake at the time. But we had our convictions that we were going to shop for a label at that point. Some things did surface but nothing ever came to fruition.

How many other compilations were you considering submitting your material to at the time?
Actually we weren’t entertaining the idea of submitting any other songs to any other compilation albums. You have to remember we were all young ranging from our teens to our early 20s, so we naively thought that that was enough and from that point forward we would shop around for a record deal.

So looking back on it, do you think BB would have had more chance for success if you appeared on more compilations? What labels were you looking into while Battle Bratt was seeking a recording deal?
I don’t believe there is a right or a wrong answer to this question. Would it have helped us gain more recognition? Maybe. I wasn’t involved in a lot of the decision making because I was looked at as “the kid”, but I remember we were looking at Atlantic Records as a primary goal. As far as other labels we were trying to get the attention of Road Runner Records among others. I know that we could have gotten a deal with New Renaissance Records which released “Speed Metal Hell Vol 1 & 2” as well as “Best of SMH” had we written more songs geared towards “Henchman”. Which would have been great because they had a distribution deal with Capitol Records. But as with everything in life hindsight is everything. So maybe in a lot of ways it was for the best that nothing happened at that point in our lives.

Slipped Disc records and Uncle Phil’s records in Long Island, Bleecker Bob’s records and Venus Records in NYC were active supporters of independent labels for some time. Did you frequent any of those stores?
I grew up in The Bronx before moving to Long Island in my mid-teens, so I would go to Bleecker Bob’s up until the point that I came out here to the Island, but I never went to Venus Records. Slipped Disc in Valley Stream was a record store I would go check out from time to time. Uncle Phil’s I believe was on Sunrise Hwy in Massapequa. They carried a decent amount of Indie stuff including another band I worked with in 1988, RockSlide with Stuttering John. The other store that was really the Holy Grail to Independent and overseas Metal was The Wax Museum in Massapequa Park. I basically lived there!

Mike the owner of Slipped Disc still does show/convention appearances selling his Slipped Disc gear.
Wow, that’s news to me. In my defense I was still singing, playing guitar and writing music. Plus I live in Western Suffolk County so when I would go out to buy new music I would frequent local record store like Looney Tunes in West Babylon. But I’m glad to hear Mike is still involved in the business. Thinking about it now when I played at the Rio Theater which was across the street from Slipped Disc Records I actually went there to buy a copy of Speed Metal Hell!

How long was Massapequa Park’s Wax Museum around? How much gear did that outlet carry while it was open?
I’m not exactly sure when Neil opened Wax Museum but I’m pretty sure it closed in 1989. The Wax Museum will always hold a special place in my heart. Neil was the only person that carried almost all the European imports before most of them signed with major labels. Plus he was one the first to also carry Independent label bands and albums that local bands put out themselves. I remember going there in 1982 and Neil told me about a band from Copenhagen called Mercyful Fate and their debut EP as well as Venom, Loudness, and California’s own Cirith Ungol. That place was for me the mecca of all things underground in heavy metal.

There was None Of The Above records which was open from 1993-2002. And of course Tower Records that was around until 2006 (this store still exists online). How often did you visit those places?
I wasn’t familiar with None Of The Above, and Tower Records was the biggest national chain store until their public demise. Once I found the small independent record stores I would always go there to buy my music. I always believed in supporting the mom & pop stores over the bigger chain outlets. Oddly, the only time I would go to Tower Records was to buy DVD’s. Go figure.

Two stores that are still there for people to buy stuff are Utopia in Hicksville and Mr. Cheapo’s in Mineola.
I rarely went to Utopia in Hicksville for the purpose of buying music; that was my head shop haha! But Mr. Cheapo’s I would stop into when I was the area mostly to look for a rare obscure album that I couldn’t anywhere else.

What do you remember of radio and metal programming around the time you started out as a musician?
Well radio programming in the early 80’s was still in tight grip of the station owners and program directors. What we didn’t have that today is all too commonplace is large corporations buying up FCC licenses and their affiliated stations. Thankfully stations like WBAB let someone like Fingers start his own heavy metal show “Metal Shop” which drew local and national/international acts to the area. Plus as I mentioned, college radio, specifically WCWP at CW Post College in Westbury. They had a two hour Saturday morning show that played nothing but metal. We became station favorites and they hosted a lot of the shows that we played in the tri-state area. It wasn’t till the 90’s that alternative metal had a platform on mainstream radio, so I think it’s safe to say those early DJ’s from the 80’s paved the way for stations like 94.3 The Shark today.

I remember WCWP lasted until the mid-2000s or so before it was taken off programming. How often did you tune in to hear information about underground bands? Do you miss listening to it since it was removed?
Well Dan Cox was the program director when I started listening to the show in 1982, and he was a big supporter of New York Metal bands which lead to us meeting and becoming friends. But honestly this came from him, not me. He told me in the beginning of his final year there that the format was changing and he was losing control over the direction that the station was heading. And by that I mean they were leaning towards more mainstream music. I personally don’t have a problem with mainstream music but if I wanted to hear that I could tune into any major broadcaster. So I stopped listening to WCWP around 1987.

There was also a program from WNYU radio called Crucial Chaos that gave exposure to punk and hardcore bands from the New York area from the 80s to the 2000s. As far as I know it was still active in 2009. Did you ever check out that show?
I used to listen to Fordham University's WFUV 90.7 FM, and from time to time I’d tune into New York University’s WNYU 89.1. As I started to get into my early 20’s I noticed a shift in radio programing that was actually trying to squeeze out the college radio programming signals, at least where I live in Western Suffolk. The bigger stations started to eat up more bandwidth and it became harder and harder to get the stations tuned in as well as I used to. Maybe it’s just me but I feel that as with everything that we as younger people claim as our own, somebody in a suit and tie will come along and hijack it for their own corporate greed.

Getting back to Battle Bratt, how many local stations were supportive of the band in the time you were active?
Besides WBAB and WCWP there was a station in New Rochelle, New York whose call tag was WNRC, as well as another college radio station at State University of Plattsburgh whose call tag was WQKE 93.9FM.

Describe how Battle Bratt formed and the band’s decisions on what they would play, who would write and compose, etc.
Battle Bratt was formed in the fall of 1983 with Matt Famighetti (drums), Bill Kania (guitar), Tony Demaio (vocals) Joe Viola (guitar). Joe and Tony left the band in the spring of 1984 and bassist Rob Dexter had joined with Chris Gallipoli (vocals). Bill Kania and Matt wrote most of the music and while Chris was there he wrote a majority of the lyrics. When I joined in September of 1984 they had recorded two songs with Chris that I re-recorded the vocals for. One of them was “Tough To Bad” which the lyrics were written by Chris Gallipoli, and the other was “Henchman.” Bill and Matt wrote the music and a friend of the band named John Bivona wrote the lyrics to that song. I started getting involved in writing lyrics for the band soon after I joined until my departure in 1986.

How easily were you able to learn the band’s material after you joined? How much did your vocals differ from Chris’? Was it a process to sing BB’s songs with the same notes or did you put your own twist on them?
I was extremely fortunate when I joined the band because most of the lyrics were already written for me and the learning curve wasn’t that hard. As far as my style and Chris’ style it was like night and day. I’m personal friends with Chris and he admitted to me that while he wrote a lot of the lyrics (which to this day are outright amazing) his style of singing didn’t really fit with what the band was trying to achieve. As far as my approach to the songs I came from a heavy metal background so my attack and style fit like a glove.

How did you get accustomed to singing lyrics written by another vocalist?
The way I approached it was basically in the same fashion that I did when I learned the words to some of my favorite songs. The only difference was I was able to take artistic license with some of the words as well as the phrasing, and the way I would attack them. I always felt that if you’re going to do something whether you wrote it or not, you should put your own stamp on it and make it your own.

Who would you say were your influences as a vocalist, in terms of range and delivery?
As with a lot of people in my age group I naturally started of singing along to Beatles records, then by the mid to late 70’s I started to expand my range by practicing to bands like Boston and Judas Priest. So to that end I would say my influences were Rob Halford, and Freddie Mercury. And I would have to throw in Geoff Tate.

At which clubs did the band most often perform? How much of a turnout would you get when making appearances?
We had three main clubs that we held weekly slots in. Cheers in North Babylon was our Thursday night slot, Wednesday was The Stage Door in Deer Park. And my favorite was Tuesday nights, we were the hosts of Wet Tee-Shirt Night at a club called The Stage in Farmingdale. That was always a favorite of mine as well as the rest of the guys in the band. I guess that doesn’t take much explaining to understand why haha!

How many changes did you see in the local Long Island scene since the 1980s? Including the transition from local record stores to internet streaming and the closing of many of the clubs that were around in those days?
What I witnessed and was a participant of was the drinking age change from 18 to 19 years of age. I truly believe that in and of itself had a direct impact on the closing of so many clubs across the Island as well as the entire state. But as far as record stores closing that really didn’t start happening until the 90’s when big box stores like Tower Records came along and undersold some of the smaller stores simply because of their ability to be able to purchase more inventory. As far as the internet creating both problems and solutions that really didn’t have any type of impact till the mid to late 90’s.

After Metallica and Napster made headlines in the mid-90s, and internet downloading became an issue, bands and labels were forced to showcase their own material on official sites and social media sites.
As someone who writes and performs music I was on Metallica’s side. Songs don’t fall off trees. But the whole issue of ownership, copyrights, and publishing is another topic entirely. As far as what the internet did to the music industry, I thought that it was a good thing that the major labels were exposed, what sucked is as always it’s the artist that suffers. I mean as someone who knows the inner workings of the industry I took delight in seeing someone take a baseball bat to their knees. Not that it leveled the playing field totally but it definitely put them on notice. And it gave bands the opportunity to market themselves as they saw fit without the restraint that major labels always put on them. So to that end, I think it was a big game changer that benefitted the bands more than the labels.

Did you record any full length releases with Battle Bratt while you were working with them in the 80s?
I’d love to sit here and say that we did, but the truth of the matter was that we never were able to get ourselves into the same studio every time we recorded new material, whether it was because of our budget or timing. And by timing I mean when we had the money usually the time we wanted wasn’t available and vice versa. However we did record enough material for an album which finally was released in 2006 by the German label Battle Cry Records. The problem was there wasn’t a real cohesiveness to the album because we recorded all over the place and not all in one studio.

What was the title of the re-released album and how many songs appeared on it?
The album was titled “The Anthology” which I want to state for the record I had no say in. That was a decision that Matt made without consulting me or the other guys in the band. I would have just titled it “The Early Years”. I believe that there was either eight or nine tracks with alternative versions.

List all the tracks that appeared on The Anthology and indicate which of them you most like?
Henchman, Tough To Bad. Delusions, Remember Me, Fear Stricken Man, The Guilty One, Prisoner of Desire, Screaming In The Night, Battle Bratt, WBAB New York. Tough To Bad (Alternative Version), Henchman (Alternative Version. I have three personal favorite tracks Henchman (for obvious reasons), Delusions, because at the time and even today it was our most ambitious song, and Screaming In The Night which I always loved performing and I believe it was and still is the heaviest song that we recorded.

In how many studios was the album recorded? How much of a difference can you hear from song to song?
It was a patchwork of three different studios. We recorded at Music Palace in Garden City, Justin Time Studio in Smithtown, and Up All Night Studios in North Babylon. The difference was pretty substantial. Some of the songs were recorded on 24 tracks while others were 16 tracks as well as 8 tracks. It was never meant to be released as an album; when we were recording the material on 16 and 8 track they were demos we recorded as part of our package to shop for a record deal. However I will say that the folks at Battle Cry Records did a great job making it sound as cohesive as possible.

How did it come to be that Battle Cry Records released the full length in 2006? How well a job did they do promoting it?
That one came out of left field actually. Matt and I were working on some new music at his home studio. During that time he received an email from this guy Andi from Germany saying he was interested in releasing our material partly due to his knowledge of Henchman on Speed Metal Hell. After my departure in 1986 the band hired a new singer and guitar player and released an album on another German label called US Metal. As far as promotion went they did a great job taking care of the European market. America was our responsibility and while it did OK here stateside it was received much better in Europe.

Why did you decide to leave the band in 1986? Did you rejoin the band at some point before they released the material you mentioned in the 2000s? Were you fronting for any bands in the interim?
My leaving the band had to do with a number of factors. One that I mentioned earlier was the change in the drinking age. I was 18 when it changed to 19 and that created some trouble for the band to get into certain rooms because of my age, the it happened again when it went from 19 to 21 and I was 20 so that kind of ended my time with the band. The other reason for my departure which for me was the bigger problem was that the band started to write material that was more hair metal while I was vehemently opposed to going the commercial bubble gum route. However I did rejoin the band in 1989 to play a series of reunion shows. After I left Battle Bratt I quickly put together a new band called Without Warning which was much heavier than Battle Bratt and proved that the age change wasn’t a problem after all. We played almost every room that Battle Bratt had previously played. After Without Warning disbanded I went on to join a band called Rockslide with Stuttering John of Howard Stern fame as well as Dream Theater, however I walked from Dream Theater after I realized I was going to be a hired gun and not have any involvement in the writing process. After that I joined a Thrash Metal Band called Rugg Ratt consisting of Jason Ian (Scott Ian from Anthrax’s younger brother) as well as Pete Martinez of Murphy's Law. After that I put a band together called Rise which has been a functioning unit for the better part of the last twenty years.

How successful were the reunion shows you did with Battle Bratt? Were any of those particularly memorable?
They went really well, we actually only did two of them due to the fact that we were all in other bands at the time. The turnout was good and the response was amazing. I should probably take this moment to say when I left the band it was on good terms. We all remain friends to this day outside the passing of Matt Famighetti in 2014.

Describe your activity with Without Warning and explain how they differed from Battle Bratt. How much material was released by them before they disbanded?
The formation of Without Warning came about a month prior to my leaving Battle Bratt. Seeing as I knew that my time with them was coming to an end I wanted to make sure that I really didn’t miss a beat with my audience. At the time my good friend and guitar player Rich Knapp was looking to put together a real heavy band, more in the vein of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. I had a history working with Rich just months prior to joining Battle Bratt, so thankfully he witnessed what was going on with my situation in BB and said “hey whenever you’re ready, I’m here”. So it didn’t take much coaxing to get me to make the move. So at that time whenever I wasn’t playing with Battle Bratt I was at Rich’s house writing new material to get this off the ground. As soon as I departed from the band we recruited another guitar player Nick Trotti (Live After Death) as well as Charlie Meltzer (bass), and Ronnie ShaSha (drums). Now our style was straight metal, and by that I mean we weren’t interested in writing commercial music, we went for the throat. As far as the difference between the two bands: Battle Bratt while a heavy metal band at its core was actually a radio friendly band if I can say that. With Without Warning we went back to our roots as underground metal. Sadly the group only stayed together in that lineup for about a year before both guitar players and the drummer left leaving Charlie and I to rebuild. We did but as a four piece rather than a five piece band. Two things that were in stark contrast between the first and second lineup were that 1) we actually got heavier, if that’s at all possible. And 2) we actually got label interest with Virgin Records. But once that fell through we disbanded. And sadly outside of live and band practice recordings we never went into a studio to record anything.

How did you start corresponding with Virgin Records and why did the potential deal eventually fall through?
A representative saw us playing in 1986 at Queensborough Park at the site of the 1964 World's Fair in front of the globe, and he was really interested. So he set up a session for others at Virgin to come and hear us at SIR Studio in Manhattan and while there was some interest it appeared to be lukewarm. I would have to say that we were too heavy for what they were looking for and nothing panned out from that. It was also during the whole hair metal era. I guess timing really is everything, haha!

Do you think Without Warning would have been signed a few years later when thrash was breaking into the mainstream? Hair metal was dying out and it was still a few years before Nirvana and Pearl Jam surfaced (alternative and grunge did become a trend in the 90s, but that’s another story) followed by Pantera.
That’s a difficult question to answer, simply because we weren’t your typical “thrash metal” band. While we had elements of thrash in our songwriting, there was nothing straight across the board that would place us solely into that category. And the other reason was the music industry as a whole was in a state of flux at that time, which may be impossible for most people to believe seeing as the industry as a whole always seems to be one step ahead of the listening public. But that’s not always the case, and from 1987 through 1991 the music business was somewhat of a ship without a rudder. I believe a lot of that had to do with the fact that they oversaturated the market with hair metal and the hybrid of metal/rap. They were too busy counting their money, and took their eye off of the birdie. So with all that being said we were pretty much the “odd man out” so to speak. I don’t believe they would have known how to market us in any specific genre had anyone of them actually taken a chance and signed us to a record deal.

How did you and Stuttering John form RockSlide? Did this band get any exposure through Howard Stern?
While I was working with Without Warning I had a “singer for hire” ad in Good Times Magazine. He was working with his band Traitor but their singer had left and they needed someone to write lyrics and sing on a song they had written in the studio. So I met him and the guys in his band, went into the studio, recorded the song, got my copy, filed the copyrights and that was to be the end of it. Fast forward to November of 1987 and I get a phone call from John asking me if I was interested in singing in his band. So I told him I’d come down and check it out. Now this wasn’t a heavy metal band, it was strictly a hard rock band but I had no problem doing that. It was actually nice to switch gears for a while. The only thing that happened with Howard Stern sadly was that when John got the gig as his intern his head exploded and he fired the rest of us from the band essentially leaving himself with nobody. But prior to that we were on the show at K-ROCK where Howard and Robin did an impromptu interview. That only came about because we did actually spend about six months writing and recording an album of music as well as making a video for MTV’s Basement Tapes, which sadly never got picked to be on the show. And it was a professional video shoot in 16MM film of which to this day I still never received a copy. John being John has kept it under wraps since 1988.

When did you start getting into heavier music after parting company with RockSlide?
I pretty much went right back into heavier music right after I left RockSlide. At the time when I joined that band I was looking for something different to do and they definitely fit the bill. But it was a no-brainer to go right back into playing heavier music. It’s where I cut my teeth, and where I felt most at home.

Would you have liked to have more involvement in songwriting and whatnot when you were working with Dream Theater?
First I must say that when I joined them the name of the band was Majesty which was later changed to Dream Theater after I left due to the fact that there was already another band who owned the trademark to Majesty. I sang with them for about nine months before departing, and yes the question about my involvement in writing was the reason I left the group. I had worked most of my time in music as a hired gun up to this point. And I felt that I had put in the sweat equally and I should have a hand in writing. However with Dream Theater that was not to be. One day after rehearsal I approached John Petrucci and asked him if there was any chance that I could get hand in writing some of the lyrics to which he abruptly replied “I write the music. I write the lyrics. I tell you when to sing them and how to sing them”. So I kept my mouth shut, went home and didn’t answer their calls. Two weeks later they showed up at my door asking me what was going on. I replied that they were just too far ahead of me. And that ended that.

Are you currently involved in any musical projects, that give you more creative control?
Most recently I completed an album of alternative metal/rock with the remaining members of Battle Bratt called Thunderback. It was supposed to be a new Battle Bratt record. Guitarist Bill Kania and I began writing new material for the record and we made sure that we had Rob Dexter and Matt Famighetti on board. Everything was going along great, Bill was submitting material to both Rob and Matt to make sure they liked what we were coming up with. Then we were about six months into writing new music when I got the phone call that Matt had died from a heart attack in his sleep. We didn’t know what we were going to do at that point so not long after his funeral we talked about following through with the album. We finished it but due to the fact that Matt not only was Battle Bratt, but owned the trademark to the name we decided to put it out under a different name and dedicated the album to him. Outside of that I’ve been involved with Bill Kania on a side project for the last fifteen years called Dumb White Boys. We wrote and recorded four CDs over the last fourteen years and are currently working on new material for our fifth CD. This project is nothing like anything either of us have done before. Each CD has a tongue in cheek country parody song with the rest of the material ranging from folk to straight rock to alternative rock. So it’s a completely different type of musical endeavor but also a welcome reprieve.

I’m sorry to hear about Matt passing away. How well did the Thunderback record do upon its release?
Matt's death hit me really hard. He and I had remained friends the entire time after my departure from Battle Bratt right up until the time of his death. We all remained friends and collaborated each other's musical projects throughout the years. Now to the question of how well did Thunderback do upon its release: It actually didn’t do well at all, and not for a lack of trying. We put a lot of effort into the writing, arranging, and recording of the album. As well as the artwork, and where we tried to sell it. We were fortunate enough to have an amazing graphic designer do all the artwork on the record as well as having access to The Imagination House which is the facility in Florida where most of the Disney/Pixar Films/Soundtracks get recorded, mixed, and mastered. We worked with CD Baby as well as Amazon for marketing, promotions, and sales. But sadly it did rather poorly. And I know I’m not alone when I say that most people today don’t want to spend the money to buy a song, never mind an entire album. It was at this point I realized just how much the industry had really changed. I mean I couldn’t even give the album away (we made it available for free download four months after its release date) and even with that there wasn’t much interest in it. Now I’m not sitting here crying in my milk; quite the contrary. I look at it from the point that I’ve been involved in this industry since 1979 (the whole of that time without a major record deal) and I’ve been fortunate enough to have had an extremely loyal group of fans. I spent the better part of the last 37 years having the privilege of being able to play the music that I wrote for my fans and I’ve almost always gotten a positive response. Did I get rich? No, but if I were in it for the money I’d have given up a long time ago. I will always feel blessed and privileged to have had the extent of time that I was given to entertain my family, friends and fans.

How has Dumb White Boys progressed as a band over your last four full lengths? What do you hope to accomplish with your upcoming release?
Dumb White Boys or D.W.B. as we call ourselves isn’t so much a band as it is Bill Kania (Battle Bratt) and myself along with a handful of other talented musicians along the way (including Bill's son Chris Kania on drums as well as Rich Schiavo on bass guitar). We actually had the idea of writing music in a number of genres for the purpose of trying to get a publishing deal, or getting a songwriter’s deal. We started kicking the idea around back in the spring of 2001 that we would take a totally different approach to the industry as writers rather than performers. So Bill wrote a bunch of songs in all different genres and I wrote the lyrics to them. We got together in January of 2002, recorded thirteen songs and packaged them under the working title of DWB. We made about 100 copies and proceed to send them to everyone, and anyone we could think of hoping to land a deal as songwriters. Initially we didn’t get any response from anybody which we were cool with seeing as we weren’t looking to land a deal as artists, then out of the blue we were contacted by an Independent label called Statue Records from California. They had heard one of our songs, “Trailer Park Booty” on Soundclick. I had set up a free band page for anyone who wanted to hear any of the music without us having to send out a physical copy. The song had gone to #11 on the site’s alternative country charts. Much to our surprise, they contacted me saying that they really liked the song and listened to the rest of the CD and they were interested in signing a licensing deal with us. We accepted the deal, signed the contract, and sent them the music and the artwork. They re-released it on their label; while it didn’t sell that many copies it was nice to finally feel a sense of accomplishment after all these years. Nothing ever came of that deal outside of having a professional studio actually pay to remaster our album and release it on their label. What it did do was give us a boost of confidence, and from that point till today we recorded and released three more CDs. We are currently in the process of writing our new album. For the first time since we started this project we’re going to try to put a band together and book some dates to play shows in Florida and New York, with Bill living in Florida, and myself living here in New York. Neither of us has any grand expectations of anything ever happening with the Dumb White Boys; it’s really more of an outlet for us to still be creative musically while at the same time never closing the door on the possibility that something could happen. I mean, look at Kenny Rogers. he started off singing in First Dimension and he went on to become a solo artist and had his first real hit in 1977 at the age of 39 with Lucille. So with that being said, “stranger things have happened”!


-Dave Wolff

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