So how did the whole concept get started? Who's idea was it for these tribute albums? Al was doing records for Blue Dolphin for a while, he basically knows more about how the concept got started then I'll ever know.
One day I got a call to come bail him out on one of these record's, Volume 1, because Joe Lynn Turner & TM Stevens had backed out on him, and I was
called to do clean up.
When blue dolphin caught wind that the two big name's back out, they demanded the record be handed in immediately, which left about an hour and a half to sing all the song's on that record, not to mention, mixing was not an option.
When was the first time you heard of Blue Dolphin Records and how did they pitch their deal to you guys? First time I heard of them, was when Al Pitrelli called for Volume one.
Al & I did a record year's ago for POLYGRAM in Japan (A Place called Rage). but I had never heard of Blue Dolphin before that.
So from what you have said it sounds like the label dealt with one album advance at a time? After Al had a falling out with Blue Dolphin, he asked me if I would take over the project....or he was going to shit can it. Not being able to put up with the nonsense any more. And yes, they dealt one advance at a time.
So these guys are paying you only a US$10,000 advance to make, record and pay for the guys on each record?!!! It was less than that towards the end. I had to take money out of my pocket to finish one of these records.
You told me that the label wouldn't forward any advance to you until you confirmed their nominated list of guest artists required for the album.
Did it work this way each time?
Yup, no advance until name's were confirmed. That meant theoretically we would have had a month for each record. But instead what happened was, they would play the name game....meaning that they would hem and horde until I came up with name's that satisfied them.
Anyone who's tried to confirm people for a record knows it could take a while and, in this case it always did. Which always left no time to record. In dealing with Blue Dolphin, it always seemed they were more interested in name's (or I should say, who they consider to be name's), than in making a great record.
I can see you would have been getting pretty tired of this by the time Volume 3 and 4 came around? More like disgusted......pissed off......pissed on.......pick one.
At what point did you guys all wonder what the hell you had got yourselves into? Around the end of Volume 2. We started to look at each other a little funny - especially when the U.P.S guy was there waiting for me to finish singing Mr. Browstone and we had to stall him for as long as possible, before we gave him the DAT. Remember there was never time to mix any of these record's ,so you can imagine how pissed I was when they kept giving me credit as producer.
Al Pitrelli produced the first project and then what happened? Like I said before Al (on top of a million other thing's he was doing at the time) had had enough.
So Tommy Farese to the rescue? More like Tommy goes down with the ship...(and took everyone with him).
I heard of these albums with the current release - Volume 3. The label dealt with you guys the same way for each album? Every record was the same shit, different day....
And how about the upcoming Volume 4? Same again? First let me say the whole idea for the name Rock Superstar's was completely Dolphin's idea; after mentioning on many occasion's the name was ridiculous.
I think they might have got the hint and took my advise. Volume 4 hopefully will be called Bang Zoom.
Even though the production once again on this record is not even close to
what it should be, there are some song's that stand out.
Some great performance's, listen to Theme From An Imaginary Western, Layla, Might Just Take Your Life and Band Of Gold.
Forget, if you can the production and listen to some of the performance's, especially Teddy Rondinelli's guitar solo on Theme. Al is brilliant as always on Layla, capturing this great jazz vibe & Randy Coven play's his ass off on Theme. John Guido is probably my favorite rock solid drummer, but unfortunately we
never had time to get him a good drum sound. George Cintron - one of my favorite all around guitar player's - he play's stuff I love to hear.
Did at any stage, you or anyone else involved try and approach the label for a better deal, re-negotiate the terms or at least try and explain the problems to them? I tried almost every day. It was like spitting into the wind.
Their response? Their response to put it politely.....don't understand English........make sure it's in on time. It always amazes me how English is only understood when it benefit's the other person.
You also mentioned that once you paid a few bigger names to appear on each album, there was bugger all left to pay the few base musicians...what were the guests being paid? Some of the name's got between $3500 and $5000. After paying them then the studio time. And on some occasion's we had to fly them in put them up at a hotel etc. There was nothing left to pay anyone.
And you said the advance was paid with only a week before deadline left...so the albums were recorded in only 5 to 6 days max! That's high pressure performances Yes, all these records were done in five to six day's. Remember we had to learn the song's, come up with some type of arrangement and figure out who was best suited to play the song, then record and work around accommodating some of the name's on these records. Meaning we had to give most of the little time we had to them. I always sang clean up, meaning what ever was left, after everyone
picked their song's, I had to sing like it or not because there would literally be no time left.
You said you take your hat off to the guys who hung in there with you under tough circumstances...do you want to take this opportunity to publicly say anything to these guys? I'd like to thank every one of them for putting up with the worst atmosphere, ever handed to anyone. Especially like to thank Danny Miranda (one of my favorite bass player's) for always giving a 1000% under any circumstances. Frank Gilchrist for always pulling through for us in the clinches. Dominick Esposito for also playing clean up, along with me and Rob.
Thanks Dom, we couldn't have done it without you. Snake & Corey Clover for being gentlemen in every sense of the word; James LaBrie for putting up with everything that was going on...thanks James - I owe you one! Mike Dimeo, I can listen to you sing all night. Mike Flyntz, thanks for being part of this whole fiasco. Katrina Chester - my favorite female singer (thank you darlin') see you next
year on tour. Katrina, Al & I are all member's of the Trans Siberian Orchestra - in case anyone would like to hear some great Christmas music! Frank Vestri, Jeff Cropper, George Carr, John Bavona - thank you all for your contribution's, it meant a lot ..but most of all to Ron Demartino for putting up with unbelievably bad circumstances. Rob and I felt like the two guy's in the movie Papillion...it would always be just us at 7 o'clock in the morning trying to make head's or tail's out of what went to tape. By the way. Rob played clean up bass on all these record's, and under the circumstance's did an incredible job.......and yes your still my favorite bass player!
If I forgot anyone please forgive me, I don't have any copies of the records for reference.
There are some OK versions of some classic tracks on V3 especially, the production just let things down....what were your favorite tracks? You've Got Another Thing Comin', Wanted Dead Or Alive, Into The Fire, Panama.
Why was V2 a sole Guns N Roses tribute? Who's idea was that? And who picked the tracks out for each album - V1,2 & 3?
Dolphin picked the tribute and 90% of the song's we had to fight for that 10%. Honestly we had no business doing a tribute to Gun's And Roses, seeing as how none of us ever listened to them. Not to take anything away from them and not to say some of us didn't listen to them, but none of us knew one song from them. And to pull off a tribute album in six days is nothing short of a miracle.
And what is planned for Volume 4 coming up? Volume 4 or Bang Zoom was finished in February.....which really pissed us off because they told us to hurry up and hand it in so they can release it in March. Then we found out it was going to be released in May.
Did you get any copies of the finished product from the label for your collection?!! Yes I got copy's for the player's....but none for myself.
You wrote to me but then expressed that you were not trying to make excuses for anyone or anything. That is very honorable I must say. Is there anything you would like to add to that? No excuses. I will take full responsibility for all the bad vibe's these records might have created (and in some case's the good one's too). I just don't want anyone who appeared on these records's being trashed in any way, shape or form, it's not their fault it's all mine.
I could have stopped trying to do the impossible and just quit, but I didn't and that's my entire fault.
Not anyone else's, these people put their trust and talent in my hand's and their not to blame. I remember growing up and a lot of my favorite bands were not so well produced, but the talent was incredible, all over those records. I think this generation (in a sense ) has been spoiled with production.....and can't hear past it.
Any other / further thoughts you would like to ad? Yes, I'd like to thank you (Andrew) for taking the time to even do this interview. Not too many people would after hitting us as hard as you did.
But that's the nature of the beast and in this business you better learn how to roll with the punch's OR GET THE HELL OUT.
Hopefully we'll be able to hit back with some great music. If I can find a label that's willing to do the right thing .
What is next for the guys on the albums? Back to their regular bands? I don't have to tell you about Al, he's doing great......as far as everyone else I'm sure it's back to touring and recording.
And what's in the future for Tommy Farese? Always working on something. Getting ready to record Trans Siberian 3....then comes fall, looking forward to going on tour.....in-between I'm looking for a good label.
Any further dealings with Blue Dolphin planned?!! :) Haven't spoken to them since February and they're not returning my call's.
I guess that's another birthday card I won't be getting.
If there's a copy of any record out of the 4 we did, I'd have to say I want volume 4. Being that they probably won't send me any, let me know how I can get one!!
Is there any pointers you would like to throw out there for any new bands or artist on the scene? Advice that could help them avoid what you have been through? Yes, never settle, demand; never compromise your integrity, especially when your not the only one to be accounted for.
Once again thanks Andrew, no hard feeling's. Just telling it the way you saw it and I respect that.