Saturday, January 12, 2019

Interview with Steve Balocco of BADBONES by Dave Wolff

Interview with Steve Balocco of BADBONES

You recently released a promotional video for your song American Days, which can be viewed at the band’s official website and Sliptrick Records’ Youtube channel. What is the song about and who was involved in the making of the video?
Hi! Thank you very much for this interview, so let’s answer the question! American Days is the first single taken from our new album “High Rollers”. The lyrics talk about the beginning of our American adventure back in 2008 when we left our families, houses and jobs in Italy to move to Los Angeles, California and try to survive playing our music. It was an amazing journey that gave us strength and deep friendships, through highs and lows, learning the hard law of the streets we built the backbone of our musical integrity and our artistic vision. We need to come back to California almost every year to find ourselves again! The video has been shot part in Ventura County and part during our live concert at the Whisky a Go Go in November 2017 by the amazing cinematographer Krista Le’ Kefauver, and directed by the talented Andrea Gianotti and produced by our brother Roy Sotelo.

For what reasons did the band choose American Days as the first video from the new full length?
We chose “American Days” because it’s a song full of energy and the lyrics bring the listener straight to the center of Bad Bones world, our music is a journey and California is always a good starting point.

Were you already acquainted by the people who worked on the video with you, or were their talents sought out?
Roy Sotelo my best friend and manager introduced us to the talented cinematographer Krista Le’ Kefauver who did an amazing job during the shooting in the USA. Andrea Gianotti is a dear friend who works for Sky TV Italy. We are really happy with the final result.

In what ways does the American Days video represent the band’s experiences from the beginning?
At the very beginning of the video you see the band pushing a destroyed car and that’s full of meanings for us! We pushed broken vans and cars several times in our career and sometimes a broken van can help you to find new people and turn a tragedy in to something amazing. It happened ten years ago in California when we met our brother and manager Roy Sotelo. The whole video is a tribute to the idea of the touring band!

As you describe it, American Days is not a typical rock video. It’s more based in reality, presenting the idea that playing in bands is not all fun and games. Is this what you set out to put across?
Our music is based on reality. Being in a rock band is not easy; you have to work hard and do sacrifices but at the same time you are following your passion. You travel and meet people around the world, so in the end every effort leads you to something positive. We are honest to ourselves and to the fans. Our music comes from real life; each song is a picture of the things we were living in that moment. And American Days is a frame of a ten years journey.

Has the band made promotional videos to promote your albums, besides the one you made for American Days?
We released our new video two weeks ago. We shot Midnight Rider in Rome during our show at Let It Beer. The screenplay was by Christian Tipaldi who worked Vasco Rossi and Maurizio Solieri, who are really huge in Italy. 

Describe the recording process of High Rollers. Did you attend a professional recording studio or use your own studio as more bands are doing these days?
High Rollers was recorded mixed and mastered at Domination Studio in San Marino by Simone Mularoni (DGM). The vocals were produced and recorded by Roberto Tiranti (Labyrinth - Wonderworld) in his personal studio in Genoa. We have worked with Roberto and Simone since Demolition Derby. They are great musicians and there is a great feeling among us. There are always great vibes in the studio; we have clear ideas of the final result and there is a great chemistry among us. I think that this team will endure for a long time.

How much of a feel for the band does Roberto and Simone have since you’ve worked together for this long?
When we started working on our previous album Demolition Derby we decided to work with Simone as a producer. At the time we were managed by Aldo Lo Nobile from Secret Sphere and he suggested us to find someone to produce vocals. We immediately asked Roberto since he knew the band already. He was excited to work with us and Max was a great fan of Roberto since he was a teenager, so everything clicked between us. The same happened with Simone, everybody knows he is one of the top producers in Italy, we love his band DGM and the amazing work he made with Hell In The Club. To work with those guys was so natural and funny, we were really happy of the final results we decided to confirm this team even for the new album.

Tell the readers some more about those two bands DGM and Hell In The Club, and Simone’s work with them.
Simone is DGM’s guitar player and producer. He was known as a great Metal producer. We were really impressed with his work but we thought our music was too rock’n’roll for him. After we listened to the second HITC album, which is really good and 100% rock, we decided to ask him to produce Demolition Derby. Everything clicked from the beginning and I think we will work with Simone for long time.

Does Simone have an approach to producing that is all his own? How does his experience as a guitarist help Badbones?
Simone knows our sound very well. During those years we worked hard to find our way and Simone really loves our music. He worked with me and Sergio and it was a real exchange of knowledge. We use our amps when recording to have the same sound we have live. That’s the great challenge, to have the same live vibe on the tracks.

How did you hook up with Sliptrick Records to release High Rollers? Was this the first label you came into contact with? How has Sliptrick been treating the band so far?
Our first three albums were released by different labels. At a certain point it seemed we couldn’t find the right situation, then in 2016 we received a proposal by Sliptrick Records for the release of our fourth album Demolition Derby. Things went very well with them and we decided to go on releasing High Rollers. With Sliptrick we found a great balance between the constraints of being under contract with a label and the freedom of take decisions as a band. I have to thank Carlo Muselli and all the staff of our label for the love and respect they have for our music.

What are the labels your previous albums were released on? How many labels did you seek out before Sliptrick finally contacted you?
Our first album “Smalltown Brawlers” was self-produced in 2008 and then released by Red Pony Records in 2009 with bonus tracks. Our second “A Family Affair” has been released by Nadir Music, our third “Snakes And Bones” by Bagana Records in 2012 and then in 2014 with a deluxe edition with bonus tracks. When we recorded “Demolition Derby” we didn’t have any deal. We contacted a few labels sending our new music and two labels were interested. We choose the one that seemed more motivated in a long term partnership.

How much publicity did Sliptrick help Demolition Derby receive once it came out? How much did it help the album?
Sliptrick did a great job. “Demolition Derby” had tons of reviews around the world and has been supported by a real world tour. We played for the first time in Russia, then back to Europe and in the end the USA with our final show in Los Angeles at the Whisky a Go Go. Of course there were things to improve but we are really satisfied.

Is High Rollers receiving the same amount of praise from fanzines and magazines? Are there any examples you want to cite?
High Rollers has really good reviews around the globe, from the US to Spain, Germany and the UK. The most important rock/metal website in Italy,, put our album in the ten best albums of the year and that’s a great thing for us.

Has the band been interviewed in major publications from the countries where High Rollers has been favorably received?
We’ve been interviewed by Americans, Russian and European webzines and magazines, I think also some from Japan will come soon, High Rollers received a great response from journalists, we are really glad to have such good reviews around the world.

Which magazines from those countries gave High Rollers the most favorable reviews?
We are grateful to all the magazines who spent amazing words on our music, from Spain to USA to Germany UK, Japan and Russia, too many to remember, I have to thank Metal Hammer Italy who believed in us from the beginning, Jamsphere USA/UK, Classic Rock Germany, Loud And Proud and Rock Hard Italy, and you for this interview.

How much exposure have those interviews gotten the band in the countries where they were published?
When magazines ask you for an interview after reviewing your album is a good thing, it means that the band has a good appeal and it is a great opportunity for us, it is good to tell the story behind the music

Where has the band traveled since they started? Are there any tales you want to share with the readers?
We have been so lucky to perform in many different country from the USA to Russia and through Europe from Germany to the Baltics and of course Italy and France. I remember in Ventura back in the days we were supporting Youth Brigade at Mai’s cafe, our van died thirty miles before the arrival so we been towed to the venue, when we arrived next to the club there were all of the Youth Brigade waiting to enter the club and as soon we were close to them the Mexican truck driver who was towing us started screaming “Entrada Triunfal” to the people!!! Everybody laughed a lot! It was a tragic - comic situation!

What was it like to play in Russia for the first time? In what ways are the audiences different from those in the US? How do the clubs over there treat the bands?
We had great time in Russia, a beautiful country. We played in Moscow, Jaroslav, Vologda, Kaluga and Ryazan. We found true rockers and beautiful women, friendly and welcoming people, Moscow is astonishing; it surprised me as a modern and clean city. The clubs had good PA systems and professional sound engineers. The bands who supported us were really good and we are still in contact with most of them! There is not a big difference between Russian, American or European audiences. Of course there are different cultures but rock’n’roll unites people and that is amazing.

What bands who you met in Russia are you staying in contact with?
Cat House from Moscow supported us during the tour. They are really good musicians and nice people; we had great time with those guys! Actually their guitar player Jerry Lenin is releasing his solo album, It’s a really good work, so if you are interested in Russian rock music give them a chance.

How much of Russia’s cultural history did you and the band take in while you toured there?
Russian culture is very patriotic and you see flags everywhere. They are proud people, but very welcoming and open. They love Italians because during the Soviet Union era, Italian music was the only western music permitted to be listened to legally. The national television broadcast the San Remo Festival so people well know the traditional Italian “Musica Leggera.” So it was funny to listen people sing in Italian when they knew we come from Belpaese.

Do you have tales to share from your tour through Germany? What clubs in that country are well known and how were you received?
Germany is the best country for rock music in Europe. We had a great time there. We always play in a club in Kostanz for lots of friends and bikers. One night we played three full sets; people wanted us to play again and again and we couldn’t finish the show. I think we made the longest version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” ever made. Five minutes or it was just the guitar solo!

What was the name of the club you appeared at in Koztanz? Did you appear at any other clubs of note while you were in Germany?
We have a solid fan base at Rockbar in Konstanz. We are always happy to come back to Germany; our booking agency in Hamburg is planning a full tour there.

How well was Badbones received in the Baltics, Italy and France? What clubs from those countries are well known?
In Liepaja, Latvia there is Fontaine Palace. We played there on New Year’s Eve and it was amazing. Lithuania at Klubas Lemmy is another cool place. In France we played with bands like Saxon and Wasp at Le Splendid in Lille.

You mentioned the exposure the band received in Spain and Germany. Do you plan to perform in those countries in the future?
We will play in Kostanz, Germany on January 26. We also have contacts in Spain and I hope to book some shows there soon. I don’t know where the band will perform in the next future, we have proposals from the UK, Spain, Czech Republic, France but we don’t know what is going to happen.

How many ideas has the band thought up for the next studio album? When you start working on it, will you be working with the same people?
We will start working on new songs in 2020 and I am pretty sure we will work again with Simone Mularoni and Roberto Tiranti, it’s a great team and they are a part of the family.

Video "American Days":
Video "Midnight Rider":

-Dave Wolff

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