INTERVIEW WITH HARDLINE SINGER JOHNNY GIOELI
Conducted on January 21, 2019 by Tyson Briden
Connect with Johnny here: www.facebook.com/johnnygioeliofficial
Talking Rock: Hey Johnny good to talk to you. I want to start by asking about your place of residence. You moved out of California? Where are you living now?
Johnny Gioeli: New England area. I’m in the state of Connecticut. I was actually born in New York. So I’m a New York guy. Then we moved to Pennsylvania to this kind of Amish country. I think it was witness protection. We lived in a very Mafia area of Howard Beach back when John Gotti and all these mobsters in the 70’s. So we went on this little vacation in Dutch wonderland. A month later we were living there. It’s so funny. Even before my Father passed away, which was not too long ago. Just about a year. I still asked him, “Dad, what the hell was that all about?” He just said, “Don’t worry about it!” We laughed our asses off. When I was 17, 18 years old, I moved with my brother Joey to California and that’s when we started that whole Brunette band and all that kind of shit. We were there for 26-27 years. Then my Father-in-law passed away. He lived in Connecticut. We came out here and my wife said, “Can we stay?” I was like, “Ahh! Okay!” It took me a year. I had all this shit that you don’t need. I had an airplane, a helicopter, four restaurants. We had just stupid shit. It took me a year and I sold off all that stuff. I brought the airplane out here. I just sold that. Then we never left Connecticut. We put the kids in school here and here we are. I’ll never go back to California. I hate it there. The people are just not real. You never know who you’re talking too. It’s just a land of bullshit! It’s warm, but where we were, right on the L.A./San Bernardino line, we got all those damn fires. All that shit started in our neighborhood. It was horrible.
Talking Rock: Connecticut is awesome though. It’s a beautiful place.
Johnny Gioeli: It’s a beautiful place – love it! We’re on the shoreline, so we have the water. We have a beach house in Westbrook. It’s my wife’s families beach house so anytime we want to fish or do whatever it’s just there. We love it.
Talking Rock: How far from Hartford are you?
Johnny Gioeli: Not even forty minutes. Yeah, my son plays hockey for the Junior Wolfpack. So that’s all part of the Hartford/New York Rangers line. He’s not a Canadian player, but he’s pretty damn good.
Talking Rock: There are a lot of good American players coming up through the ranks. The best Toronto player, Austin Matthews is American. From Phoenix, Arizona. The Buffalo Sabres have Jack Eichel. That’s their star player. He’s American.
Johnny Gioeli: So you’re into then?
Talking Rock: Oh yeah. I’m into Football, Baseball and Hockey.
Johnny Gioeli: Alright, music. Sorry man!
Talking Rock: No, it’s all good. I recently caught the interview you did back in October with Three Sides of the Coin. When you did the mocking of “Calling Dr. Love” I nearly died laughing. I want to talk about some other stuff first, but we will get to your new release ‘One Voice’. There were things I didn’t realize in that Three Sides interview. You mentioned that yourself and Joey were not keen on Neal Schon joining Hardline. It was a situation of, “I don’t know!” You have touched on this, but I want to reiterate. What actually changed you mind?
Johnny Gioeli: You know it wasn’t anything specific. The vision was kind of this hard rock, cool 80’s looking Nelson thing with my brother and I. That’s how the whole thing started. Then when Neal got involved he just loved the music. He loved it to the point of being embarrassing. We’d go to the studio when he was recording the Bad English record. The new Bad English record.
Talking Rock: The second one?
Johnny Gioeli: Yeah, the second one. Jonathon Caine was there. John Waite. He’d be like, “Check this shit out muthafuckers!” He’d put on the demos because I’d work all day in the studio and he’d say “Come on over to the studio and play me what you got!” Then he would flip out. “Listen to this man!” It was almost embarrassing. He was so into it. So what changed for us was nothing specific. My brother and I just said one day, “You know what? What can it hurt?” We just looked at it as, “How bad can it be? It’s Neal. We write great music together. He’s produced these songs great. We’ll learn a lot about the music business. It will put us at a much different level”. Just those sort of things were a deciding factor really. It wasn’t anything specific. We just thought, “Alright man, let’s just go for it!” Initially he was hurt. He was pissed. At the time he was either dating my sister or married to my sister. I can’t remember. I do remember her calling and saying, “He’s really upset that you guys don’t want him in the band!” “It’s not that he’s not awesome, it wasn’t our vision. We’re trying to stick to something that we see.” So maybe that pushed us a little bit. That’s how that all happened. We just kind of morphed into it. I’ll never forget going to the studio. Neal and Jonathon Caine said, “We have this piece of music!” That turned out to be the song “I’ll Be There” on ‘Double Eclipse’. “See what you can do with this Johnny!” I said, “Okay”. I take and literally the same day I went back to the studio and said, “Check this out!” And they were like, “Holy, shit!” They loved the song. Literally, I don’t think we changed much of anything other then rerecorded it. I remember seeing Jonathon Caine sitting on the couch going, “Holy shit dude!” “You like it?” “That’s friggin’ awesome!” Then Neal’s going, “Check that shit out man!” John Waite was in the corner with his jacket hiked up, having a bi-polar moment. Anyway, those were fun days putting that whole thing together. How it happened is just mind blowing.
Talking Rock: Were you guys Journey fans?
Johnny Gioeli: Huge. You know sometimes just goofing around if I had a piano. I would play a Journey song and Neal would follow along. I’d be like, “Holy shit! That’s Neal Schon!” It didn’t really connect sometimes until you did that. Then I’d say, “ Neal, how did you do that thing in such a such a song?” “Ah, man that was just me going like this!” Here’s another funny story, I said Neal, sometimes in the creative process you want to know what writers are thinking. What motivated them? Was it something so epic that just happened in there life? I said, “Neal, Wheel in the Sky man, where did that come from? What were you thinking? What was in that?” He’s like, I’ll never forget it [laughs], “Man, it was just like the thoughts in my mind. Shit was like turning in the sky!” I said, “That’s really disappointing! That’s it?” He goes, “Yeah man. It was just my friggin’ thoughts. Like wheel in the sky keeps on turning. Things keep going in my head!” I go, “Oh shit!” I said, “Okay, thank you!”
Talking Rock: It’s funny on one hand, but disappointing at the same time. You’re thinking, “There’s got to be more to it?”
Johnny Gioeli: You wanted to hear some tragedy or something that inspired that song, not your friggin’ thoughts in the air.
Talking Rock: I found it intriguing that when you were writing with Neal that he was really good at coming up with different chord structuring. Would you say that his style pushed the album in a different direction then what your self and Joey had initially been coming up with?
Johnny Gioeli: I can describe it this way for you. You can paint a car and it will look cool, but the second you add that lacquer, clear coat and a little sparkle – that was how I would describe Neal’s contribution. His chord knowledge is something that you can’t even comprehend. What is so amazing about how talented that guy is, he can’t name the chords! I’d say, “Neal, what is that?’ “I don’t man, it’s like a C# augmented 7th. I don’t know. This is like a G – I don’t know man!” He didn’t really know.
Talking Rock: But he just knows how to play it?
Johnny Gioeli: Exactly! He hears it. He sees it and it just comes out. So with him involved, it took a very basic song and turned it into something very polished. That’s how Hardline actually started. We were having a family get together on the East Coast. We were all living in California but we’d go back to my parents and kind of hide out. My brother and I were playing “Face The Night” off of Hardline ‘II’. We recorded that, it’s in the vault at Universal, with Deen [Castronovo], Todd [Jensen] and Neal. We just never put it on the album so some day on a reissue that I’m working on we’ll mix that and blow peoples minds. Anyways, Joey and I were playing that, Neal comes running into the kitchen, “Let me see that guitar man!” He goes, “Try this! Try that!” It was just like, “Holy shit!” He just lifted the songs because the guy just knows. He knows how to layer. Sounds. He just knows. He is extremely talented. He’s probably one of the most under-rated guitar players out there.
Talking Rock: He’s amazing. How old was he when he got the Santana gig? He was young right?
Johnny Gioeli: He was 15 and making like a hundred ‘K’ a year. He didn’t even have a driver’s license but he bought a brand new Jag. He took it to his high school. He went to his principal and said, “Check this shit out!”
Talking Rock: No way? Imagine what the principal thought? “Hey, check out my car, it’s a Jag!”
Johnny Gioeli: You know I had the same problem in school. I wasn’t making a hundred grand at 15, but I had the same problem. No one really took me seriously when it came to the music. They just thought, “Oh there’s Johnny in his rock band!” I had a very clear vision as you know. That’s sort of where Neal was coming from with that whole thing. “Okay, you didn’t think I was going to do anything! Check out my Jag!”
Talking Rock: I would assume he wasn’t going to school a lot either if he was playing with Santana?
Johnny Gioeli: Oh no. He dropped out. I actually dropped out as well. I went to 11th grade. The deciding thing was – I don’t know if this was on that Three Sides interview – I think it was – when Paul Stanley called my house. That whole situation that happened, when I went back to school, they freaked out on me. I said, “That’s it, I’m done!” I did go back and I finished privately.
Talking Rock: Where did Neal grow up?
Johnny Gioeli: He was a Jersey guy. What’s interesting is he joined Santana instead of Eric Clapton. Eric Clapton wanted Neal to be the guitar player in his band opposite him. Neal did not want to move to England so he took the Santana gig.
Talking Rock: He must have been something at 15?
Johnny Gioeli: Yeah, Neal’s got this blues thing. I’ll never forget we used to do these Bammie Awards in the Bay Area. San Fransisco. We’d have all these great guitar players come out. Guys like Richie Sambora. He’d come out and just do all this fast shit. Then Neal would come out and hit one note. He’d hold that note and people would just go nuts cause Neal could just milk one note and make it sing. He doesn’t need to do all this fancy shit. Talented guy. I’ve got to tell you, 99% of those solos you hear on the Journey records are live. They are first take. No punching in bullshit. A lot of those records they played live. They played, 1,2,3… go! People don’t do that anymore. Even today, Hardline cuts the rhythm tracks that way. We overdub in different areas, but the rhythm tracks are all cut that way. It makes it sound so much better. Even with the Hardline ‘Double Eclipse’ record, we played live, but then the solos were added. Neal was always first take. He always wanted to try another one. We’d be, “No, that was friggin’ perfect!” “Let me throw down another one!” He’d throw down another one and we’d go, “Neal, listen to this first take!” Then he’d say, “Okay, that’s cool, that’s cool. Let’s keep it!” That was it.
Talking Rock: Now did he work out his solos?
Johnny Gioeli: He’d just go. He here’s melody. I tell you though, the most difficult thing we had to accomplish was to beat the demos. Those demos that got us the record deal with MCA were awesome. Now we had to go in and record it for real, but try to keep the whole vibe and the feel. The demos were incredible. Sonically, they sound as good. I recorded them on a little Tascam 8 track cassette with a little mixing thing. That was the great thing also about Neal. He didn’t need anything fancy. He came to my wife and I, who was my girlfriend at the time, apartment – we had couches up on end. We made a little make shift studio. Neal would come over. We used paper clips and shit on the faders to kind of make our own automation. “Okay Neal, at this point you put these up!” We did it on a minimal budget. We didn’t care. It was about the songs. We didn’t care about the fancy studio shit.
Talking Rock: I still listen to that album all the time. It has stood the test of time. I have two copies. I have the American pressing and the Japanese pressing.
Johnny Gioeli: Right “Love Leads the Way” is on the Japanese pressing. I don’t understand why we have to give bonus tracks. Here’s what happened. We can segway a little bit into ‘One Voice’ just to give you some info. ‘One Voice’ releases to the Japanese, who I love dearly. I love the culture. I love the people. I love playing there. I love being there. So don’t misinterpret what I’m saying, but there’s this obligation for American record companies to give them something more. I don’t know why? ‘One Voice’ is released early in Japan. The next day there’s over a hundred download sites. All illegal. All we end up doing is shutting down site after site and all your record sales disappear because everyone’s downloading free albums. I talk to the record company and say, “Why?” “Well, cause we have to give them a little something special!” “Well, they’re probably giving you a little something special!” It destroys the music. Everything has to come out at the same time now. “Love Leads The Way” was very special to them.
Talking Rock: Such a great song! My understanding and I heard this years ago was that CD pressings at the time in Japan cost more than the American pressings. So to entice the Japanese people to buy the Japanese pressing, they put extra tracks on the albums. I don’t know how much truth there is to that, but that was what I heard.
Johnny Gioeli: Well, could be. I’m just trying to recall back in the Hardline days, we did that bonus track, but we also shipped 90 000 US albums and sold to Japan. It was a really weird thing. I don’t know if we released early there, but we still sold 90 000 of the US version just to Japan alone. Which was strange. That probably sounds right Ty. It’s a value thing for them.
Talking Rock: I would go and hunt down Japanese albums on Ebay years ago because the simple fact was you knew that a lot of the releases would have a bonus cut on it.
Johnny Gioeli: Ty, those two ‘Double Eclipse’ albums you have in your hand right now, if you put them side by side, are the colors exactly the same? There are so many bootlegs out there it’s ridiculous. If one’s lighter in color then you have a bootleg.
Talking Rock: No, it seems they are similar. I don’t have the OBI strip with the Japanese the CD. It even has the Japanese liner notes and everything.
Johnny Gioeli: Oh yeah. That’s good.
Talking Rock: So I think it’s legit!
Johnny Gioeli: I feel so bad. On the last Hardline tour some fans came up and said, “Oh, we got this one. We got that one!” I immediately go, “That’s a bootleg! I’ll sign it for you no problem, but just so you know, that’s not a real album!” They go, “What? I paid such and such for that!” “Look at the color. Look at this. Look at that.” They went, “Oh my God!”
Talking Rock: What’s funny is that they didn’t put “Love Leads The Way” on the track listing on the back of the album. It’s the same as the American pressing. All the Japanese info is on there. You know on the Japanese pressings they always put the date? I bought the Japanese copy for that one song. It’s like the Doug Aldrich album you sang on. The track “Facedown”. I think out of that whole album, I do like the instrumental stuff, but the stuff with your vocal on it and I believe Ron Young from Little Caesar, those are the best. .
Johnny Gioeli: Andy Johns, I’ll never forget, recorded that album. We recorded that in Doug’s house. Andy John’s was ripped. He was drinking all day. He was right close to me, reciting Shakespeare and spitting all over me. Doug was like, “I’m so sorry man!” He wanted to get the best performance out of me but he was ripped out of his mind. I just wanted him away from me. We ended up having to call his wife, “Come pick him up. He’s friggin’ useless!” Doug just apologized and apologized, but we had fun. We all learned a lot about Shakespeare. More than I wanted to know.
Talking Rock: So the songs that yourself and Joey were working on, were they most of what ended up on “Double Eclipse” and they changed?
Johnny Gioeli: Yes. That is correct. We did write new stuff. A lot of that stuff was what I was working on and Neal just came in and produced them. We enhanced them and did all that kind of stuff. Our process was this – Neal would go to the studio with Bad English, I’d go to Neal’s house where I had a whole rig. He had this house up in the hills. It was quiet and I could just really focus there. At the time my wife and I just had that little apartment. I just wanted to be able to jam and the whole thing. Literally, I hit the gym in the morning, I’d go right to his house and work all day until he came home from the studio. When he came back home to his house, he’d say, “Alright Johnny, let’s hear what ya did!” I wrote “Change of Heart” in that house. I wrote “Can’t Find My Way”. All that stuff happened in his house while he was at the studio. Then Neal – this is just another testament to how hard the guy works – He’d work all day on Bad English, he’d come home, listen to everything I did, then we’d record more until I’d say, “Okay, I gotta go. I’m exhausted!” That was our process. We did that every single day. That was just like my job. I’m going there and I’m gonna write.
Talking Rock: That was before you had a record deal to, right?
Johnny Gioeli: Yep. No record deal at that time. We just wanted to write songs.
Talking Rock: I understand that you once shared the stage with Sammy Hagar?
Johnny Gioeli: Yeah, that’s a funny story. We were playing Marin Civic Center, Sammy Hagar is out and he brings his now wife and we do the song “Top of the Rock” which was HSAS that Neal made. So Sammy goes, “Hey man, I’ll come out and sing it with ya!” I said, “Yeah, that’s awesome. Let’s do it.” It’s friggin’ Sammy Hagar. So he says, “What do you want me to do?” “Sammy, come out on the stage on verse number two. I’ll start the song and you walk out on verse number two. Then we’ll go back and forth with the chorus.” He says, “Okay, cool!” Not only does he not come out on verse two, he comes out on verse one. I’m singing and all of a sudden I hear the crowd go wild. I’m thinking, “What? What am I doing?” I look over and there he is all like, “Hey!” Then he starts singing jiberish. He didn’t remember one lyric. He make no sense and then he’d say, “Take it Johnny!” He gave it right make to me. So I sang it and then we sang the chorus together. He didn’t remember one word from the album, but laughed like hell. He said, “Sorry man, I couldn’t remember shit!” I was like, “Why didn’t you tell me that?” There is some photographer out there that has the pictures. I had it and I don’t know what I did with them. Back then we weren’t storing shit on external terabyte drives. It’s my big Italian nose and his nose together singing literally looking at each other. It’s like nose and nose. It’s the most awesome shot. I can’t find it anywhere. I don’t know what photographer took the picture, but it’s out there someone.
Talking Rock: Hardline opened for Van Halen correct?
Johnny Gioeli: My very first show as an international artist was Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit opening for Van Halen. That was show number 1 with 55 000 seats. I’m like, “Holy shit!” That was for a kid in my young 20’s, walking out there going, “Whoa!” Meeting all the Van Halen guys was wild.
Talking Rock: So let’s move to ‘One Voice’ your latest piece of work. [Holds up the vinyl]
Johnny Gioeli: Boom! I don’t even have the album.
Talking Rock: Really? They did a great job on it. A fantastic gate fold.
Johnny Gioeli: They weren’t even nice enough to send it to me. I’ll probably get it when I get there in April for the Frontiers Fest.
Talking Rock: Okay so…
Johnny Gioeli: ‘One Voice’
Talking Rock: Yes… ‘One Voice’. As I was listening to it and it’s kind of hard to describe because I do get the feeling of Hardline, but in the guitar side of things of heaviness, it’s your vocal delivery and the phrasings, which of course it would be because it’s you. This question is more geared to your vision of what this would become. Did it become what you had hoped it would?
Johnny Gioeli: Yeah. That’s exactly the way I wanted it. What was interesting was when I started writing for it, it wasn’t coming out that way, but I wanted it that way. It wasn’t until Eric Gadrix, who was in that band Raquel back in the early 90’s. I didn’t know who Eric was, but he contacted my assistant and said, “Here’s a little piece of music. Can you send this to Johnny and see what he thinks?” Man, I gotta tell you, actually I can’t tell you how many people send me music and I just don’t have the time to listen. I try to be respectful, but I just don’t have the time to listen to every artist on the planet. I don’t know what made me listen to it – I know what it was, he was a US guy and I didn’t know who he was. He told me he was in the band Raquel and I sort of remembered that band. Anyway, long story short I listened to it and went, “What else do you have?” I immediately ran down to my studio and I heard melody on top of the stuff. A lot of times these guys say, “I wrote this song in one piece!” Then they don’t have anything else. Then five more tracks came. Five more on top of that and then another ten. I went, “What the hell!” So I start structuring. “Deeper” that was one of the early songs. “Drive” was one of the early songs too. “Outta Here”. Then of course we started communicating. Now he’s like a brother. It’s just crazy how things can happen. That was the direction I wanted to go, but I couldn’t quite get there myself. So I’m grateful that he came into my music life and my everyday life. He’s a great guy. Later I learned that Eric’s band Raquel was the band that sued Nirvana because they made fun of them with their big hair in one of their big videos. Eric ended up suing them for what I’m sure was a good sum of money. He hasn’t really worked since. Nirvana just said, “Let’s make fun of these guys and we’ll put it in our video.” You can’t use someone’s likeness without their approval and make fun of them at the same time. So that’s how ‘One Voice’ actually formed. It is exactly how I wanted it to be.
Talking Rock: It’s phenomenal.
Johnny Gioeli: Some people say, “Oh, you know it sounds like Jon Bon Jovi!” I don’t have one Jon Bon Jovi record in my house. I don’t know how he sounds. I don’t know him. I don’t listen to anything. My voice is my voice. If it sounds like him, I’m not trying to cause I’m not a Bon Jovi fan. Jon’s a good writer, but I certainly did want to emulate him. I also did get great comments like, “Jon Bon Jovi wishes he had these songs!” I just wanted to write some turn it up in the car, positive, good message, feel good rock music. I admitted early on that I wasn’t interested in reinventing the wheel. I just want to write some songs that touch me and hopefully translate to the rest of the world. It’s been quite awesome so far. I think it’s only beginning. I’m getting ready to next month do a whole radio tour. I’m going old school. I’m going radio station to radio station. Those that still exist. I’m just going to have some fun with it. That’s what it’s about. It’s like that old school feel. That’s why I want to take the whole grass roots approach to growing it too. I don’t care if it takes two or three years for it to connect globally with people. I’m just enjoying it and for me the charity part of it, it’s like I sold two million records already. If it stops tomorrow and people forget about it, I’m good. I did what I wanted to do. I took two years, raised a lot of money for a great cause and I feel good about the music I wrote. You know this record, I never wanted to be a solo artist. I’m a band guy, but I must say it went exactly the way I wanted it to go start to finish.
Talking Rock: Getting to the track “Drive”, I’ve been listening to it as I’m running on my treadmill, which ironically enough I was listening to the track “Running” as I was running as well.
Johnny Gioeli: [laughs] I wondered if people were going to do that you know? [sings the line – keep on running!] I actually run to the whole album myself.
Talking Rock: I have done the same and it is a great album to run too! It’s positive right? That’s one thing I’ve always found about your music is that you are always positive. I love that.
Johnny Gioeli: I think it’s just my nature. I wake up and my wife can vouch for me that there are probably only two days a year where I’m a grumpy asshole. I can probably tell you which two days it is, but other than that man, I wake up happy. I’m so grateful. So I’m glad it sort of represents itself on the music. That’s who I am. I have a good time and I stress out just like all of us, but I don’t let it eat me apart. I just don’t.
Talking Rock: The track “It” actually reminds me of the late 90’s band Vertical Horizon. It possesses that modern simplicity with great guitar structuring behind that builds that song nicely. I also think it would fit well on Hardline ‘II’.
Johnny Gioeli: Yeah! Good point.
Talking Rock: I find that you have a great knack for writing the perfect song. There’s always a great melody which make for the perfect formula. What do you attribute that to?
Johnny Gioeli: You know I’m a religious guy. I don’t go around preaching to people, but I am a religious guy. I have to say, “I don’t know!” Sometimes I get through these albums, I write all this stuff then my wife goes, “How did you think of that?” Then again I say, “I don’t know, but let’s just hope it keeps happening!” There is no formula for me. I’m driven lyrically and melodically by music. So if you put a piece of music in front of me, I will either hear something on top or I don’t. When I’m hearing something on top, a melody, it’s usually a feeling. That feeling I tie into words. So, anything can inspire me. I don’t know if you’ve seen some of the interviews or read some of the interviews I’ve done on this album but songs like “Outta Here”, I don’t know if you have the Dunkin Donuts chain in Canada?
Talking Rock: We don’t, but I’ve been to the States enough that I’m familiar with it.
Johnny Gioeli: That song was inspired by a kid who kept hitting my credit card accidently. I was buying gift cards for Christmas for people. It was a couple hundred dollars in gift cards and he kept hitting me, saying, “Oh shoot! I put the wrong thing in. Let me give you your money back on that!” “Okay bro, this is what I need. I need a hundred on this card and fifty on that.” I’m doing this whole thing and he kept screwing it up. I was like an hour trying to do a Dunkin Donuts gift card thing. I just wanted literally, out of there. So I came home so frustrated saying, “Shit, I just wasted friggin’ hours of my life at Dunkin Donuts trying to buy gift cards. My wife usually does all that shit. I don’t know how I got stuck with it. That’s how that song came to be. Anything can happen. I’ll be inspired lyrically or melodically but it usually stems from a piece of music. I’m not a lyricist who writes this deep thing and puts music to it. I work the other way. I don’t know how it happens, but hopefully it just keeps happening. My latest outside project I did was with a gentleman named Robert Rodrigo. I don’t know if you’ve heard the song “Living for Louder”. I wrote six songs on his album that was just released. The album itself is called ‘Living for Louder’. This was very Yngwie Malmsteen, kind of material. I said, “Can you write half the album?” I was like, “Well, I’m up for a challenge and I only work with people I love!” I’m just not interested. I don’t care about the money. You can give me a million dollars, if I don’t like you I’m not doing it. I don’t need to, but I became very good friends with this guy and he sends me this music. My wife hears it and says, “What the hell are you going to do with that?” I said, “I don’t know!” Now you should listen to the album and hear what I did. It all connected. Once I get into the studio, something happens. I just work and I keep moving forward. It’s just like my life, I keep moving forward and the result happens. I listen to that stuff now and I go, “How did I do that?” I don’t know, but thank God it does. So I say, the big man is directing me forward and steering the ship for me. That’s the shittiest answer I could ever give you.
Talking Rock: I think it’s a great answer. It’s honest.
Johnny Gioeli: I’m a grateful guy. I take the gift seriously. Where a lot of guys they have a different agenda. With me I just want to make sure I’m doing the right thing. It’s like an athlete, hopefully he’s representative because there’s a lot of kids watching and I just want to be a good musical role model. I was never a good Harley Davidson, tattoo, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll guy! I just didn’t fit that. Maybe that’s why I’m not as big as of a star as I could have been, but it just wasn’t me. I’ve always stayed true to what I am.
Talking Rock: Metal Edge was big for all the bands right?
Johnny Gioeli: Holy shit! Yeah!
Talking Rock: I read it monthly. I knew of Brunette back in the day through Metal Edge. They always had that ‘Rock on the Rise’ section every month. The new up and coming bands. I was in tune to everything. I followed it all. I loved it.
Johnny Gioeli: Gerri Miller right? We would send limosine’s to her. We’d pick her up in New York and drive her out to shows just so that she would review and hang out with us. She was a nice lady. I don’t even know where she is now. Hopefully she’s okay. I’ve completely lost touch. That magazine hit it man! ‘Rock on the Rise’? Wow! That’s right. I remember that. Do you remember the teeny bopper magazine call “Bam”? Back when we were managed by Bill Aucoin and Kenny Kerner who just passed away not too long ago, they gave us a centerfold. Kenny Kerner was contributing editor or something for “Bam” magazine. We put our little fan mail address. Back then it was all mail and I had this little Hollywood Boulevard P.O. box. It was all we could afford. It was fifteen dollars for the year or something. I never forget, after that came out, I said, “I’ll go check the mailbox and see if there’s any mail!” I pulled it open and the thing was full. I’m pulling it out and the postal people said, “Do you own box number whatever?” I was like, “Yeah!” They said, “Hang on we have mail for you!” It turned out to be tubs and tubs of those white postal bins of mail. I’ll never forget that. Nothing like that had never happened to me before. I was like, “What the hell!” Letters from that “Bam” magazine. I have it somewhere in storage.
Talking Rock: I remember seeing Brunette in Hit Parader too!
Johnny Gioeli: Oh yeah, We had, at the time Deb Rosner who was Poison’s publicist and marketing girl. So she was on our team. We did anything that we could exploit press wise. We jumped on stages we weren’t supposed to. We did all kinds of shit. I’ve got a good story, you’ll love this. Back when we were Brunette and we were selling out shows in fifteen, twenty minutes in Hollywood. We flew an airplane and I don’t know if you remember this, but we flew an airplane over Van Halen at the L.A. outdoor arena. Underneath the wings was all LED and it said, “Brunette Live at The Roxy!” It was something like that. The pilot flew that freakin’ plane so close. This was back when there were no restrictions. He flew it so low. We got so much press from that. Now fast forward – that was the 80’s – now fast forward we’re on tour with Van Halen and I tell them about that. Michael Anthony goes, “I remember that. That was during my bass solo!” He remembered that. He said, “That friggin’ plane scared the shit out of me! It came right into the arena, than it would circle around!” We paid the guy three hundred bucks to fly that thing for fifteen, twenty minutes into the area. It was the Monsters of Rock tour or something like that. So Deb did all that kind of creative shit. She got us so much press. So Hit Parader. All the Europeon magazines. We had as much as we could. That band just couldn’t get signed because I wasn’t a songwriter then. I wasn’t ready.
Talking Rock: On Hardline ‘II’, “Blue Eyes” which became “Your Eyes” and “Do Or Die” were Brunette songs that made it onto that album. It was cool to see that these songs were revamped.
Johnny Gioeli: I always thought those songs were worthy, but they weren’t worthy enough to get a record deal back then.
Talking Rock: I bought the Steelhouse Lane CD for the simple fact that I love Mike Slamer’s guitar playing, I put it on, I’m listening to the songs and “Dr. Love” comes on.
Johnny Gioeli: That’s it! People don’t know that that was a remake. It was Slamer and Mark Baker. It was our manager Herbie Herbert who heard that song and said, “Guys you gotta remake that song! Listen to it. It’s a friggin’ smash!” That’s how that song happened. You know Slamer went on to write the music the in between, commercial breaks for American Idol! I made about a qa-zillion writing that song. Just those little music pieces in between. His wife did something on the show. She was one of the producers or something to American Idol. She says, “Mike, we need some music in between!” “Okay!” We would just go over to his house. We all lived in the same area. We were just a bunch of rock musicians and we’d get together, kick around ideas, write some shit. Great guy. Talented. That’s where that song came from. He was starting to score movies. He’d play us some of the stuff he was scoring. Not only was it brilliantly written, it was sonically incredible. He’s so off the charts.
Talking Rock: So I’m going to let you go.
Johnny Gioeli: Great talking to you man.
Talking Rock: You too. Thank you very much for doing this.
Johnny Gioeli: No problem. Take care.