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A Special Interview With Tony Amato And Steve Schreager
Boccigalupe
A lot of people attribute it to other people, but there was actually only three bands that made the Asbury sound here. The actual bands are Southside Johnny, Vini Lopez and the Shakes and Cahoots. - Tony Amato (Boccigalupe)
by Josh Davidson
 [Chorus and Verse] March 2002 Feature: Boccigalupe and the Bad Boys
Boccigalupe and the Bad Boys

Tony Amato, better known as Boccigalupe, walks off stage after playing his primary instrument, the B-3 organ, with a young band of kids called Jade Fire. Song after song, they continue to freak the crowd out with the idea that kids barely reaching their mid-teens can play with so much proficiency. Manipulating the Stone Pony speakers with their big sound of r & b and funk, they manage to impress Amato, whose early work on the Asbury scene played a large part in creating the sound they are searching for.

Amato gets off stage after playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” with a broad smile on his face and some words expressing his excitement at seeing and playing with a new young band. “See what I told you, it’s all about the kids.” He is referring to a previous discussion about where the local music scene is headed and what needs to be done so youngsters like these can get out and play live as many times as possible. That sentence means a lot, especially for Amato, who was younger than most of Jade Fire’s members when he first began playing down the street, at Cookman Avenue’s Upstage club.

Possibly, it brings Amato back to when it all it began.

The sound created in Asbury Park some thirty years ago was brought to the mainstream when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes inked their record deals. Little Steven Van Zandt also played a major role through his work in those two bands and as a solo artist.

Many musicians from the early Asbury era persisted in searching for a place on the mainstream charts, but apparently the music industry didn’t agree. This left many tremendous musicians in the area playing around a magical scene until Asbury eventually began to structurally decay. When its decay began, many of these musicians opted not to leave their home, deciding to ignore any danger they faced from the riots around them.

Some remain in the area, mostly playing at The Stone Pony or other local bars or blues clubs. Three of these, now in Boccigalupe and the Bad Boys, are Tony Amato, Steve Schreager and John Luraschi. During Asbury’s heyday they played in a band with George Theiss, called Cahoots. The three now live together. While that could be a tough thing for a rock band, these guys share a musical chemistry that is dying in today’s rock. It developed from playing together as young kids at the now boarded-up Upstage. Surrounded by day-glow artwork, built-in-the-wall amplifiers and swarms of people, they would play until early-morning hours, even with school the next day.

According to Amato, they can feel what each other is going to play next without even looking at one another. The chemistry, bond, and music is something Amato would clearly love to see passed on to the younger bands he sees.

Boccigalupe and company carry a presence on the stage that makes it apparent they have been playing the local scene for years. They possess a confident vibe that lets you know they mean business, but aren’t afraid to joke around either. Part of their focus is bringing back the party that once took place for years in Asbury Park.

Boccigalupe and the Bad Boys have the potent Jersey horn section, and an all-star cast on guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards. One that knows how to groove within the confines of a song. The early Asbury scene gave us great songs, ones written then and ones penned by those still around from that era. The band continues to contribute to this legacy and is beginning to pick up major distribution deals to get their CD, It’s My Turn Now, out to as many people as possible.

The CD has a diverse range of musical styles, from r & b, contemporary blues, rock, Latin, and others. The sound consists of Amato’s B-3 riffs and unrelenting solos, Luraschi’s sometimes psychedelic, sometimes traditional, always thunderous bass lines, Schreager’s never-miss timing and tune-moving drum beats, and Billy Walton’s spontaneous melodies and energizing blues solos. This, along with well-placed and harmonious horns, creates a movement that goes further than the Asbury sound. It’s the sound of a band working hard to create music that’s fresh, fun, and romantic.

This Interview took place at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ, prior to the February 17th benefit show for Sgt. Tommy Simmons, an Asbury Park police officer injured in a motorcycle accident.

What musicians or groups first inspired you to start playing?

Tony: I don’t know. I’ve been playing since I was seven years old. So the Beatles, Dave Clark Five. Not so much Elvis. I don’t know. Yeah, well, the Beatles I guess would be the big factor. But I was playing before the Beatles came out. So the Beatles would be a good one, yeah.

What about the Beatles got you inspired?

Tony: Just the fact that they were musicians I guess is what it was. Or their look or something. The real thing that got me really playing was probably: If you’re going to be a musician it’s in ya and you start to feel it, you know. You know what you’re going to play. It’s just something that you want to do, it’s not like God decided I’m going to be a musician. It’s just something that’s inside of ya, you know, and it’s like, ‘wow, look what they’re doing, I think I can do that.’

I remember when I saw the Dave Clark Five. You know I was a drummer when I started out.

Oh, really?

Tony: Yeah, yeah. I started on the drum until I was about 14. Then, at 14 to 17, I was going back to doing drums, bass guitar and keyboards. And I ended up on the keyboards. I had to find out what I really wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be a musician, but I wasn’t sure of what instrument I wanted to play.

Tony Amato

When you started playing keyboards did you just stick with that or did you still play a lot of instruments at that time?

Tony: When I started playing keyboards I was jumping back and forth between keyboards, drums and bass and guitar. Then, finally, Emerson, Lake and Palmer made that decision for me, or the Young Rascals. The Young Rascals made that decision.

When the Young Rascals came out, I heard the B-3 with Felix Cavaliere and was like, “Oh, yeah!” So it was back and forth between Dino Danelli and Felix Cavaliere.

So, I ended up in the Felix area.

When did you start playing in bands? How old were you?

Tony: Twelve.

Twelve? Wow.

Tony: I was in a band with this girl singing. A red-headed girl, Patti Scialfa. She was 14 or 15. It was her first band too. Yeah, my first band was when I was 12 or 13 years old.

That was me, Patti Scialfa …

You were playing the keys?

Tony: No. I was on the drums.

Drums?

Tony: Yup, I was playing drums. Patti Scialfa was the lead singer, Jerry Armstrong on guitar, Brian Sayer on bass.

Do you remember the name of the band?

Tony: Ecstasy. That was about the same time I was hanging at the Upstage.

(Steve Schreager joins the interview after sound checking.)

(To Steve) What musicians and groups first inspired you to start playing?

Steve: Ah, let’s see. What individual drummers?

Yeah.

Steve: I met Gene Krupa when I was about 12 or 13 years old. And I got real excited about playing drums. He told me to get a drum set and start practicing, basically. So, I made my parents get me a drum set. Then things started rolling along, you know? I started hearing Elvis and Bill Haley and all these guys. Dug into that.

Then, you know, I started rolling into the Beatles and the Stones and what have you. Or the r & b stuff.

When did you join your first band?

Steve: First actual playing band, [playing] out professionally was in 1973. A band called Daze.

Was that in this area?

Steve: Yes. Asbury Park.

Tony: No, it wasn’t Daze. Cold, Blast and Steel was before Daze.

Steve: Um, yeah, he’s right. What am I saying? Retract that, man. Actually, it was Cold, Blast and Steel with me, Vini Lopez [the E Street Band’s original drummer], John Luraschi and Ricky DeSarno [a local guitar wiz]. We were the first local guys to play here [at the Stone Pony].

Really?

Steve: Yeah, the local house band. That was in ’74, actually. So then after that, the other band came about. That was the first actual band that I was in that got recognition around here. You know, everything else was high school garage.

How did some of those early bands form? Did you guys just meet up at clubs?

Steve: Yeah. Well, I had known about Rick DeSarno, because I went to high school with him. And Vini, of course he was playing with Bruce at the time. I met John Luraschi through a friend of mine that was working with him. And I just got out of the military, and he was looking for a drummer. My friend said, ‘well, I know some guy.’ And we started practicing. Then Vini had left Bruce’s band and we had two drummers. That was pretty interesting.

Boccigalupe and the Bad Boys with Vini

You had two drummers going?

Steve: Yeah.

How many musicians total were in that?

Steve: Four. Bass, two drums and guitar. It was pretty wild.

How did you work that out?

Steve: Well, you know, we’d basically keep it the same through, but we wouldn’t actually play the same thing. Like if one guy was playing low on the high hat, the other guy would play up. So we complimented each other. It wasn’t like we were both doing the same thing at once. Like the Allman Brothers kind of, you know.

(To Tony) How did some of your earlier bands form?

Tony: By hangin’ out, actually. You know, like, I used to hang at the Upstage when I was 14. My father used to be the accountant for Margaret Potter’s mother. So we knew the family and Margaret’s sister used to baby-sit me. So, as I got older, I was hangin’ at the Upstage and you’d just meet the guys. And then as the bars got open, we started hangin’ in bars and started jamming. It was like, ‘Hey, lets put a band together.’

Well, towards the end of Daze we were all hangin’ at the warehouse. Which is the Fastlane or whatever they call it now. And, you know, it’s like, ‘well, come and play keyboards.’ Then all of the sudden this happens and then that band breaks up. And then you’ve got four guys here and two guys and then, ‘All right, let's put a band together.’ It looks like a band.

You know, it’s not like planning. It's just things happen.

Steve: It was more like a musician’s community around here, you know.

Tony: That’s all it was.

Steve: You know, because all the musicians, they all just landed in Asbury. So there was always guys around you could play with. You know, if a guy needed a bass player, there was five bass players around. There was keyboards and, you know …

You could kind of pick the musicians you wanted?

Steve: Yeah. Like Tony said, everybody was hangin’ out. A couple of guys would jam with the other guys. You know, things would formulate out of it.

Tony: Yeah, with us it was easy. Because there was a pretty tight clique. Most of the guys were guitar players. So me, Danny Federici, David Sanscious and Kevin Kavanaugh, we knew were playing in a band because we were the only four keyboard players around and there was ten bands. So we knew we had a job.

You know, but everybody’s itching to start a band. You know, a lot of guys who did play back then stopped because they just didn’t have that chemistry that the guys who are still playing today still have.

Steve: Yeah, so that’s what Tony’s saying. That we're fortunate enough that I had the band Cahoots, and Tony came aboard with us to help out and start booking the band. Then we decided, well, he plays organ, we'll just have an organ player and a piano player.

So now we had two keyboard players. But then as things rolled along, we always kept in contact. For the most part we played in different bands together me, him [Tony], and Johnny Luraschi. So that chemistry has always been there, which is what makes it a lot easier for us today. You know, it does make it easier.

Tony: Steve, me and John Luraschi have been playing almost 30 years together. Well, with John, I’ve been playing with 30 years because John Luraschi was in Upstage.

Steve: So, even if we had separated for a while, we always kept in contact with each other. To see what each other was doing. There was always a communication factor there. Tony would call me and say, ‘Look, I need a drummer. Why don’t you come down and see if you like it.’ So, I’d end up playing with him again. Then I would stop for a while, come back, do something and he’d call me again and say, ‘hey, what are you doin’. So, it was always like …

Boccigalupe and the Bad Boys

Tony: ‘Hey, c’mon, let’s go bail somebody out of jail and start a band.’ (Laughter.)

Steve: You know it was, like, community service and bail bondsman or whatever. (Laughter.)

But, it’s like he said. We were fortunate to have that. Plus, the whole idea of being right here. Right here is The Stone Pony. We were here and saw the whole deal.

So, you could compare it to what Liverpool was like. In those days with the Beatles and the Stones and all these guys, you know. Because this [The Stone Pony] was the spot. After the Upstage, this became the spot. And all of the musicians gathered around, you know.

Tony: Hey, we created this. You know we are the guys that, like, created it. A lot of people try to imitate what we’ve been doing. Sometimes it gets a little bit hard on us because people say, ‘You guys sound like an Asbury band, but you guys really have that Asbury sound.’ And then it’s like, ‘Yeah, well, no kiddin.’ We have no choice but to sound like that because we are the ones who made it.

A lot of people attribute it to other people, but there was actually only three bands that made the Asbury sound here. The actual bands are Southside Johnny, Vini Lopez and the Shakes and Cahoots.

Of course, Bruce was in on it because at that time, he had his album out. He wasn’t actually playing here. But he helped us all out. He helped all three bands out. We all had record deals.

Steve: It’s true, you know, it's like ... you know, you say about the Asbury sound ... basically, it’s an r & b, rock n’ roll sound. And, it's funny, like all right, you go to different parts of the world, right? For instance, I was in Ireland for a while and I saw a band over there. They had, like, the Commitments and I saw a band over there that tried to do r & b, right? And their interpretation of it is, totally, they have no idea. So that really convinced me, like, our sound is authentic. You can call it the Asbury sound or anything you want. It’s just soul. It’s soul, you know.

And over there they just sound, like, don’t know that. It’s an energy and it’s a soul thing, you know.

Tony: Like I said before, I don’t know so much where that sound is. There was no sound. We don’t sound like Bruce. Bruce don’t sound like us. We never sounded like the Shakes, the Shakes never sounded like us. And the Jukes, forget about it. We didn’t have a horn section. It’s a chemistry that we created. That’s what kept the pieces together. It’s a chemistry, it has nothing to do with sound.

You can get 15 bands that do the same songs we’re doing. If you had 15 bands doing the same stuff that we’re doing, they’re not going to have that same chemistry that we’re doing.

Did the sound come by itself or did you work on it?

Tony: No, it came by itself. We didn’t work on it.

Steve: Yeah, by itself. From playing and all of the sudden, you know, there was the chemistry. And, just all of the sudden, it just came out. We started playing, you know, and found a niche of where the chemistry landed. And, all of the sudden, here it comes. That’s basically it.

And it to this day, like I was saying previously, us three [Tony, Steve and John] playing together; that’s still there. We incorporated it into what we’re doing today. It just keeps going on, but I agree with Tony, it’s not so much an Asbury sound. That’s what they were saying back in the 70’s, but that’s ok, you know.

Was it a combination of the music you guys listened to?

Steve: Yeah. A lot of, like, Sam and Dave and Motown stuff.

Tony: But, the thing back then was, most of the world was doing disco. You come in this town, don’t be playing any disco. Originally when The Stone Pony opened they wanted to make a disco club.

Steve: Yeah, they wanted to.

Tony: The Stone Pony was a disco club.

Steve: They were talked out of that.

Tony: They had disco bands here, doing all of the disco songs. It was a disco club. But then, Cold, Blast and Steel came in. I remember I was sitting around one night and I heard Butch yelling at the guy, ‘Oh, no, no, no. You guys gotta learn a disco song. That’s where it’s in.' So, they’d write a song the next day called “Butch’s Bump.” That lasted about ten minutes.

Steve: He insisted that, he said to us ... it was me, Vinny, John and Ricky ... ‘You guys have gotta start doing bump music.’ They’re talking to guys that have been playing r & b and rock n’ roll since they’re kids, and he wants us to churn stuff like Abba or whatever, I don’t know.

So, Vini comes into rehearsal the next day and says, ‘hey, I wrote a song called “Butch’s Bump.' We added, like, a rock n’ roll beat and a disco beat and wrote a song and played it for him. Well, guess what, he never mentioned it again. ‘Look, they wrote a song for me.’ (Laughs.)

Tony: What really got rock n’ roll …you know, everybody’s like, how did rock n’ roll start in Asbury? The real person who really did that was Steven Van Zandt. Steven Van Zandt was … he wasn’t with Bruce at the time. We all played together, but he was out on the road with the Dovelles. So, there was this band called the Blackberry Booze Band. So, Steven Van Zandt came in with an idea that he was going to start a band.

So, he put a band together. He got Southside Johnny and a couple guys from the Blackberry Booze Band. They started rehearsing, they start doing gigs. His idea was to come over here [The Stone Pony] and start playing on an off night for the door.

The first night they played I think they made about four dollars. The Asbury Jukes made four or five dollars, you know, and that was to go and get coffee. It started out with three people in here. The next week there was six people in here. The next week there was twelve people in here. You know, four months later Van Zandt had this place smashed in. You know, there was people jamming to get in here to see the Jukes.

Then Steve says, ‘All right, what do we do next? Well, ah, let’s go get …’ They got Vini Lopez starting playing here with the Shakes. At the same time we had put Cahoots together and then Van Zandt calls me up and says, ‘Tony, you’ve got to get your band down here.’ And I say, ‘What? We’re home doing laundry.’ And he says, ‘Well, put your dirty laundry down and get down here.’ Well, I lived with Steve at the time, so we’d come down here and all of the sudden we’re opening up for the Jukes.

A month later, the Jukes get their record deal. A month after that, the Shakes get their record deal. A month after that, we get our record deal. We all have record deals. It was funny as hell. That was the creation of the Asbury sound. You know, it was like, ‘let’s go.’

While Bruce was off the road, he was showing up and jamming every night with all three bands. Looked what it turned into.

So who was in the Cahoots?

We [John, Steve and Tony] all were.

{Steve leaves the interview to return to sound check.)

When did you form Boccigalupe and the Bad Boys?

Tony: A friend of mine called me up. He wanted me to come into the studio and produce his songs. He had some songs and he put a band together, he wanted me to produce it. So, I’m going in there and producing. We’re getting it down and we’re getting it down. He’s got all these songs and they're having a lot of problems with vocals. He had these songs and couldn’t get anybody to sing them that would sound right. You know, this was after I was in the George Theiss Band.

So, we’re sitting around the studio one night and it was, like, this guy sang the song and it sounded like this. This girl sang the song and it sounded like that. So, I must have been in a mood. The next thing I know, I said, 'Look. You know what, give me the damn words, let me go in there and do this.'

I went in there, I sang the song in two shots, I came out and everybody’s looking at me and saying, ‘Hey, since when did you ever (sing) ...' Because I was never a lead singer. I barely sang background, I only sang background when I had to, with George. Next thing I know and I’m singing lead in the studio on this guy’s stuff.

So, then we put a band together called Ill Spent Youth. And somewhere along the line we started making changes in the band and started getting other people in the band and it’s clicking, it wasn’t clicking. And everybody was saying, ‘Hey, why don’t you just call it you. Name the band Boccigalupe.’ So, we started Boccigalupe and that was about three or four years ago. Things weren’t working. I had my other friend Little Billy [Walton]. I was in a band with him called Moment’s Notice from South Jersey. That band was breaking up. I played in a band with the guys, and I said, ‘Billy let’s go do some r & b.’ Next thing I know, you know, it’s like, 'well this ain’t working, that ain’t working.'

So, then I found out that these two idiots weren’t doing anything, so I called up John and Steve. So, here we are back together again. Boccigalupe and the Bad Boys this time, ‘cause we didn’t want to call it Cahoots, ‘cause we don’t have the other guys. It is the Cahoots' rhythm section.

How do you guys write your songs? Is there a lot of jamming involved in your creation process?

No, not really. Basically, Billy will sit home with his acoustic and start writing. He’ll write some songs and I’ll sit home and, you know, I got all that computer stuff. And I’ve been playing with that. Like, I’ll put a song together, sit down, and start putting the drum beat down.

Oh, do you use Cakewalk or something like that?

That’s what I use. I use Cakewalk Pro Audio. I do that and I start working on it and I put it together. Once I put it together, I’ll call Billy and he’ll put the guitar part down. We’ll change it around. That’s how I do it.

Billy will come in with the song, this that, then we’ll start working on his song. Billy and I do most of the writing, definitely though, maybe try and put everything together as easy as possible for everybody.

Like, we come in with finished product, basically. This is the finished product, let’s see what we can do with this and then we change the product. You know, we put the road map down and everybody else follows.

So, you kind of have a sketched version of what you want and then you build off of it?

Sometimes, yeah. (Laughter.) Sometimes you just start playing and, here it is. You know, Billy’s 26. Steve and John are, like, hitting 50. I’m 47. Me, Steve and John, it’s like, we just start playing because we have the chemistry thing. The radar’s happening, we know where each other’s going. Billy, being as young as he is, I don’t where he got it, but he’s got the same thing. If I decide to make a left turn in music, Billy’s making the left turn with me automatically. And that’s what it's about. That’s what the chemistry’s about. Anybody can sit down and listen to a record, learn the song and learn the chords and do everything exactly like the record. But, it’s been done, you know, it’s been done.

My philosophy is: being together all these years, we’re gonna argue. It’s like, we’re brothers. You know, don’t get in between us. We might be fighting each other, but don’t get in the middle of it. Because we’ll both turn on you. We’ll argue about stuff like, ‘on the record ...’ And that’s when I usually snap, because like, yeah, the record’s cool, man, but it has been done. Let’s not do what they did. Let’s do what we do. Let’s do that song our way and make it our thing. And that’s basically what the music around here’s been.

You’ve heard this song done by this guy, that guy and the other guy, but we’re gonna do that song like us. You’ve got to be creative. You know, you want to be creative with cover tunes too.

How do you decide which songs you’re going to cover? Is it a vote?

How do we decide? A vote? No, we don’t vote. (Laughter.) Well, whoever’s singing it: You know the words, you know the chords. Does the song fit the band, does the song fit our style? Can we pull the song off properly? If not, let’s not even begin with it.

A lot of times we learn songs that we rehearse, rehearse and rehearse. Then, a couple days later we’ll look at each other and say, ‘we ain’t doing that song.’ Or, like, I’ll come up with a song and I’ll say, ‘Yeah, let’s do this, that and the other thing.’ And we’ll do it and then Billy will come in a few days later and say, ‘Are you nuts? We’re not doing that song.’ I try to pick songs that I can sing. That I know I can sing. That we can do. You know, it’s like, we’re not gonna pull out a …well, I can’t say that because we do everything. We do everything, like, from … like we said, Sam and Dave, all the way up to Metallica.

Really!

Ah, hell yeah.

I haven’t heard you guys do Metallica. Wow. Which songs do you do from them?

We do ‘Seek and Destroy.’

Wow!

Yeah. We do ‘Seek and Destroy.’ We can do Ozzy Osborne.

Wow.

We cover everything, but we make it ours.

Do you decide based on where you’re playing which covers you’re going to do?

No. Years ago, you use to do that. Now you don’t have to do that, because right now the music scene is so starved. There’s too many bands and not enough clubs to play anymore. Like Asbury, you come down this strip here, you use to be able to play one, two, three, four, five, six, there was seven clubs just on this strip here. You go to the other street, Kingsley, there was seven more. Not to mention the ones on the side streets. There was, like, 15 clubs where bands could play in then. And I feel bad for the kids today because they can’t do that anymore. It’s just not available for them. It’s a sin, because there are a lot of talented kids and they don’t get the chance that we got when we were their age. It’s slippin’ away, I guess.

It’s kind of changed because, back then, you said there were places for musicians to kind of get together and just jam a little.

Oh yeah. Now you’ve gotta find places to jam. Society’s changed. There’s not enough stuff for kids to do. You know, they start all these kids programs, but let’s face it, kids don’t want to go to something that’s a program. You know, ‘oh, let’s go to the youth center.’ They don’t want to hear that. You know, if somebody would open up another, like, Upstage-type thing where kids could just show up and start playing and it wasn’t so much youth-centered programs. You know, [if] you want a youth center then go to the Boy’s Club and play basketball. You want to play music? Let's open up a spot for these kids to, like, just open up.

It’s a shame. The Pony would be good for that. The Pony has a youth foundation, too. But it’s hard to get those things done. Who wants to bring their kids to this town. I’ll bring my kids now that they’re all grown up. It’s tough.

When you first started playing [in Asbury Park], did you know it was going to be as big as it became?

Hell no, hell no. I had no idea this was going to happen. None of us.

Did you think a place like the Stone Pony would still be around today when it first opened up?

You know what? To be honest, we never gave it a thought. We never even batted an eye that it wasn’t going to be here. It’s our club, it’s our home. Yeah, we never thought that, ‘what do you mean the Pony’s closing?’

You know, they had the Save the Stone Pony [an organization started after the possibility of waterfront developers demolishing and re-locating the club] started. I called up Steven Van Zandt. I said, ‘Steve, Jesus Christ, you’ve got to help me here.’ [Steve says] ‘What do you mean they’re closing the club? They can’t do that.’ No matter how dilapidated this town gets, nobody wants to see it gone. You know, it’s our roots. This is our roots. We take a lot of this shit to heart. Like the other guy had the Stone Pony before Domenic [Santana, current owner of The Stone Pony]. What he did to this club, we wouldn’t even come here. The club was open. It was open for four or five years before Domenic had it. We wouldn’t walk into this room. I think I was here once. I played here once, for two nights, that’s when he closed it.

We thought it was the end before Domenic came in. But when Domenic came in, hey man, this looks almost like the way it was. Few little changes, but it's not big deal. It’s still here. We’re still here. We’re gonna be here. As long as this place is here, we’re gonna be here and the people will come.

I noticed that you guys have a distribution deal now. What’s happened with that?

BMG Distribution in India made a deal with the other distribution company that we were with. So BMG is going to be going to be distributing it in Asia, I guess. India, Asia, whatever they do. And, right now, my manager is working on some distribution for the US. If you’re not signed to a major record label, you’re not on the radio. Unless you’ve got $125,000 to promote one song.

Are you working on a CD right now?

Yeah.

How far in that process are you?

Billy and I have enough songs for four more albums.

Do you guys have your own studio?

I have a studio in my house, but we do a lot of outside studio work too. It’s easier going with somebody else to engineer it.

Have you guys started recording the new CD yet?

No. We’ll probably start recording next month, March. Yeah, we’re thinking about March because I’ve got this other guy who wants me to do some songs.

What will the songs be like? A lot of straight-ahead rock and blues, or some more kinds?

That’s a hard question. I don’t know. It’s gonna be a little more funkier maybe. Last album, every song was a little bit different from the other one. We don’t say this is what the album is going to sound like. We come up with an idea: let’s put these songs on there and make these songs work together.

Do you record a lot of songs first and decide which ones make the album later?

Uh, yeah, I was taught that. I had a good teacher. You know, I don’t have 125 songs in the back waiting. Bruce taught me a lot. He said, ‘when you’re going to do an album, make sure you have three albums worth.’ So when I say we have four albums, we probably have enough for eight albums. But you have to do that, because you don’t know if the song is going to fit the album, if the song isn’t going to fit the album. You have to be able to pick alternatives. You know, it’s like, ‘Yeah, the album is grooving with this. But, yeah, why is that song on that album if it doesn’t fit?’ So, well, let’s not put that in, it don’t work. You know, that’s why they do that.

But you’re always writing and recording fresh stuff?

Oh yeah. You might have a song that’s half done, you might have one verse. You put it aside. Oh, geez, I remember I got this. It’s like, “It’s My Turn Now.” The guitar player that we had at the time, Kevin Ward, he came up with some music. And I wrote out the words to the song “My Turn Now,” which had nothing to do with his music, I just had words. Next thing I know, the guy’s ,like, playing this thing. I was like, ‘Oh shit, wait a minute.’

I ran into the other room, got the words, come running back into the studio, I said, ‘here, now play it.’ Boom! Everybody’s like, ‘Well, there’s the song.’ That’s how it works, man. There’s no set pattern. Sometimes you get something that’s so obscure that comes together. “My Turn Now” was like that. This guy had no idea that I had those words. I had no idea he was doing that, but we started playing it, we started fooling around and it was like, ‘Hey, wait a minute.’ It was like, ‘What are you doing like reading my mind?’ (Laughter.)

You got a song out of that right?

We got a song out of it, yeah.

Josh Davidson
Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.
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