- Let Me On by Jessie Evans
- No Tomorrow by Jessica Will
- Untouchable by Stimulator
- West Wham by KB
- What Do by Go Indi (Indigo)
- Dog Star (Fly On) by Blackbyrd McKnight w/ G. Clinton and P-Funk
- Got me Like by Marquis Canaan Da Lion
- Bookenka (The Adventurer) by Ancient Future
- Life String by Scouts Honor
- Class Magic by Jessie Evans
- Flower Lei by Scott Katsura
- I Feel Love by ElectroSexual & Sunday Luv
- Kool by Mo'Fone
- In My Blood by Star & Dagger
- Culbutos by Djizoes
- Mosquito's Buzz by KB
- Run 2 U by Shawn Michael Perry
- Piano Sonata #3 by P. D. Witter w/Fred Horowitz, piano
- I'm Good To Me by Go Indi (Indigo)
- Come Home by Marquis Canaan Da Lion
- Breathing (Instrumental Ver) by KB
- Bring The World by Jessica Will
- Love Conquers All by Scott Katsura
- Speakeasy by Brent Goodbar
- Blood & Silver by Jessie Evans
- Kick It With Me Now by Blackwash
- Honest Opinion by UAF - Feat. Eric McFadden
- Crosswind by Mo'Fone
Author's Note: This is another in a series of Q&A's with artists, musicians, promoters, managers, publicists and other industry insiders by yours truly. The general focus is to get an idea of how these people do their thing, with an eye towards surviving/coping in the current state of the music business.
By Ace Annese, Artisthead consultant/blogger.
BILLY ROWE has been a driving force along with lead axe Fernie Rod behind 1980's Rockers JETBOY for over a quarter-century. His solid rhythm guitarand slide work has been a staple of their sound from the very beginning. Fueled by a love of classic 1970's rock like KISS, AEROSMITH and AC/DC, mixed with early glam acts like HANOI ROCKS and MOTLEY CRUE, among many others, JETBOY lifted off from humble beginnings in the San Francisco Bay Area to conquer the Hollywood Glam-Rock Scene, sharing stages with acts like GUNS 'N' ROSES, FASTER PUSSYCAT, POISON, and LA GUNS. Unfortunately, fate dealt the band a bad hand, which led to internal problems; record company politics, and all kinds of mishaps that left them grounded while their peers soared to mega-success.
Still, JETBOY enjoyed many career highpoints and left a solid legacy after disbanding in the early 1990's. As the 2000's unfolded, a resurgence in the hi-energy, good times party rock of the 1980's happened, leading to the eunion of many acts from that era, including JETBOY. Since reforming in 2006, JETBOY has performed at numerous Rock Fests (including the M3 Fest, Rocklahoma, South Texas Rockfest and more; toured with RATT frontman STEPHAN PEARCY in the US; opened for ALICE COOPER; released a CD/DVD compilation called 'THE GLAM YEARS' on DEADLINE/CLEOPATRA Records (which contains Bonus DVD Extras and interviews Produced by Yours Truly and REALITY CHECK STUDIOS); put out a self-released EP of brand-new material with live tracks called OFFYOURROCKER (available on iTunes); toured Europe for the first time and even placed a song from that EP in a film starring JACK NICHOLSON, of all people. Currently, the band is doing select live shows, including their 3rd appearance at the M3 Fest in Columbia, Maryland on Fri. May 13th. For more info, log on to http://jetboyrocks.com
AH: Give us a brief history of JETBOY prior to signing with Elektra, including what the scene in SF and LA was like, and the bands you came up with. What led to Elektra signing you?
BR: JETBOY formed in 1983 and became a working band by mid-1984. We played our first show, which was basically a party for my high school graduation class and friends thrown by a close buddy of mine. About two weeks later, we played our first club show at the Mabuhay Gardens and the story began. From that time on, we must have played nearly every month in the Bay Area at clubs like The Mabuhay, Rock On Broadway, The Keystone family and more, until we eventually made our way down to Hollywood for the first time. In 1985. The scene in both SF & LA was pretty big, but the new glam movement was still fresh and JETBOY were definitely the leaders In the Bay Area for this next wave of Rock N' Roll. Los Angeles had its scene of course; we were one of the three bands alongside Poison and Guns N' Roses to start shaking things up in Hollywood with our street style glam punk Rock n' Roll. Elektra was interested in the band early on. A&R guy Steve Pross was originally at Enigma records when he took an interest In the band. Soon after, he got a job at Elektra, and this is around the time we started working with manager Brigitte Wright. About a year after Steve seeing numerous shows, Elektra made an offer, which was in mid-1986. Once we signed the deal we made the choice to relocate to LA to be close to our management and label; plus the music scene was much bigger, and we felt we had more of a chance getting more done being closer to it all.
AH: Like other bands, you then were dropped by Elektra. What led up to that? What took place after that point, until MCA came along?
BR: After recording our debut album 'Feel The Shake', everything was in place for the release of the album. Advance cassettes went out, and the band started to get press in magazines like Creem, Hit Parader, Rock Scene, Burrrn (Japan), etc.-- way before the album was scheduled for release. Originally, 'Feel The Shake' was set to be released in October of 1987. Then our A&R guy was fired, and soon after the band was dropped from the label. This is where the dark days began. Right after it was street news that JETBOY had been dropped, Michael Goldstone, who was at MCA at the time, called our manager and wanted to sign. We did a few showcases for other labels like Warner Brothers, Chrysalis etc., but it was MCA who was really fighting to have the band. After nearly a year of dealing with this, the band finally had a new home and 'Feel The Shake' was released in September of 1988. Unfortunately, a year had passed and the bands we started with like Poison and Guns n' Roses were becoming a national success, as well as a new slew of bands that formed after the glam scene started to explode locally in Hollywood. JETBOY basically got lost in the shuffle of all these new bands, and we lost all our momentum. Our debut album got rave reviews in many big magazines, but the timing was off and the album got lost in what was now called 'Hair Metal'. Those were some emotionally tough times for all of us. In a two-year period, JETBOY had gotten signed to a major label, fired our original bass player Todd Crew, and gained Sami Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks fame. News comes in while we were mixing 'Feel The Shake' in Florida that our former friend and bass player died from a heroin overdose after a night of partying with Slash and pornstar Lois Ayers. Then a month later, myself, Mickey and Sami get into a car wreck on our way to sound check for a Day On The Green in our hometown area with Motley Crue, Whitesnake & Poison. I suffered a compound fracture to my right arm and had to have surgery to re-build my arm. Sadly, I did not get to play the gig and the band performed without me. Two months later the band was dropped from Elektra Records. So we had quite the roller coaster ride, and it wasn't over yet.
AH: Back in those days, labels shelled out big bucks as advances. Describe what that was like--and do you wish you'd been more frugal in retrospect?
BR: That's for sure; money was not a problem back in the 80's. Labels had loads of cash flow. All the bands went through hundreds of thousands before even releasing their first record. We were all young and living the dream in so many ways. We all had big management at this point, so it was all carefree living. If you were In a band like JETBOY or Poison or G'N'R or LA Guns, you got into every club for free, our shows were packed, it was full on sex, drugs n' rock n' roll. Then we start meeting with producers like Jack Douglas, who did all the early Aerosmith albums. Paul Stanley from KISS was also interested in producing our first album, so he showed up to a few rehearsals. Life was great, all we had to worry about was being in a band, and that was nothing to worry about. We ended up working with producer Tom Allom, who produced all the classic Judas Priest albums, so we were loving it. Looking back now I'd say we blew lots of money, and big amounts. Back then you don't realize that there is an end to it -- even if you make a lot of money and sell loads of albums like many did from our era. Today we see what can happen if you don't pay attention, most of those bands went belly up and broke. That's the music business for ya, that's why it's called the music business.
AH: You toured with quite a variety of bands. Which were your faves and which perhaps were not so fun?
BR: We played with a lot of great bands, but we only got to tour with a few that I thought were great. Some of our most fun shows, for me, were back in the club days before we had a label and money behind us. It wasn't so business-driven then. Some of the great acts we were lucky to share a stage with included Johnny Thunders, Lords Of The New Church, The Ramones, Iggy Pop, the Toy Dolls, to name a few. The bands we were very lucky to tour with extensively were KIX (who we played with May 13th, 2011 in Maryland at the M3 Fest and Cheap Trick, which was the ultimate for me personally!
AH: Unfortunately Jetboy again fell victim to Record Label politics, and were dropped by MCA. What happened afterwards?
BR: Yes we did, but shit happens. After we were let go from MCA In 1990, we were broke, so we moved back home to the Bay Area and we all pretty much didn't see much of each other for a while. After some time passed we ended up writing and demo-ing a few songs to try and secure a new deal (including demos produced by BILL CUTLER (see the Artisthead Q&A with him), but the ride was clearly over. That whole era of music was falling, and soon the new scene took over, which was Grunge.
AH: You went back to your roots in American Heartbreak, and became an "indie" band, including several tours of Europe, and a variety of releases on several labels. What AH stuff is out there? What did this DIY period show you?
BR: Well, before I got back to my Rock n' Roll roots with American Heartbreak, I was in a metal band called Mindzone, which were the final members of what was JETBOY. We tried to hop the other trend wagon that was blowing up parallel to the grunge scene, and we did a pretty good Pantera rip off. That didn't get far, and after a few years it ended. This is where I formed American Heartbreak with the last bass player In Mindzone, Michael Butler. We actually went on to be a pretty active band In the Indie punk/pop scene. We released around 5 CD's, a few 7" singles and we were on loads of comp CDs, which was really big at the time. We supported some great bands like the Dickies, The New York Dolls, Queens Of The Stone Age, and a few more but I can't remember...We toured Europe five times; it was a blast. But we went through a few members and it eventually ended. I did learn a lot from those days, good and bad. There's quite a bit of stuff out there if you search it down on the Internet. This period really showed me how much you can do all yourself and without the big bucks behind you.
AH: All along, you kept the Jetboy name going with releases of alternate takes, demos and other rarities of Jetboy material. Do you think this helped lead
to the eventual reunion? How did that come about?
BR: JETBOY recorded a lot of demos. In the very infant stage of the band, we would sell these on cassette. Years later, I realized that I had all these recordings sitting in a box. The first release American Heartbreak put out was on the label Perris records, which was mainly releasing stuff from a few 80's hair metal bands. This label put out the first self released JETBOY CD, an 18-song demo we did right after we signed with Elektra Records. He agreed to take a chance on AH and that's where that whole thing started with releasing JETBOY material. I ended up putting out 4 CD's of old material in a 3-year period. I do believe this helped keep the JETBOY name alive, as I started to see a younger generation become fans of the 80's glam music. This is part of how the reunion of JETBOY happened. Our friend and owner of Cleopatra Records put out a book called Hollywood Rocks. It was a great coffee table book loaded with photos and flyers from the whole 80's Hollywood glam scene. They then put out a CD box set and a DVD. For the release party for the CD box set I was approached by Brian at Cleopatra, saying he wants JETBOY to headline this release show at the Key Club In Hollywood. After a phone call to Mickey Finn and Fernie Rod,
they both called back saying two words: "BOOK IT!" -- and that's where the second wave of JETBOY began, which was around 17 years after we all parted
AH: Unfortunately, in the post reunion period, a number of line up changes have occurred, including the loss of original singer Mickey Finn. What has kept
BR: Yeah, JETBOY has gone through quite a few changes throughout the years. It's not easy keeping a band together, as we see this happen to the best of them out there. They say change is good and that quote has really been true. Unfortunately it happens; it's like being in a marriage with 4 other people. What has kept me going? Well, I've been doing this since my last year of high school, which puts me at 27 years of being in a band. It's what I do. Do what you love and love what you do.
AH: Recently, you scored a prime spot on the soundtrack in a major film. You also have some older material on various films and TV shows. How important is soundtrack revenue, and where can people hear your stuff?
BR: Yes, JETBOY just landed a song in a new movie with Jack Nicholson, Reece Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and Jack Rudd called 'How Do You Know!' What's great is it's a new song from our last release, 'Off Your Rocker'. We were lucky to land placements back in the 80's in the 'Burbs' (with Tom Hanks) and 'She's Out Of Control'. It's great exposure having songs in major films and you get paid every time it's shown around the world in the TV market. Today it seems as if that's the best way to really make some good money, if you can get into that market. It's not easy to begin with to make money on music you write, but if you can get a steady stream of song placements for TV/movies you can really do well.
AH: Jetboy, like many bands of the 1980's, have benefited from Summer Festivals oriented to that era, both here and abroad. What are your thoughts? Also, you finally got over to Europe. How was that, both financially and personally? What else is coming up for Jetboy going forward?
BR: The summer festivals that started back in 2007 were a big help in bringing back bands from that era. For JETBOY It worked out really good, mainly the exposure to reintroduce the band to an audience that missed out on us in the 80's. The end of 2010, JETBOY toured Europe for the first time, and it was nothing but great. Touring has its ups and downs when it comes to crowds and money, but overall it was a positive thing. We played the M3 festival In Maryland for the third time. This year we play the 'KIX Off' party opening for our good pals KIX, along with WARRANT & LA GUNS! After that, we plan to write songs and slowly put a new album together.
AH: Since being a "Rock Star" isn't what it used to be, you've branched out to owning your own guitar company. Tell us about what it is, how it came about, and who are some of the more notable people who use your stuff?
BR: Yeah, it seems like all the rock stars of yesterday are doing more than just being in a band and living the life. That being said, I started a guitar company called Rock N' Roll Relics in 2006. I basically build my guitars from the ground up, and the models are all classic vintage style guitars like Teles, Strats, Les Pauls, etc. The big selling part is of course how great they play and sound; also, I age them to look as If they've been played to hell for years. The whole "relic" world has really gotten big in the last few years. My goal is to grow my company to a big level and start producing my guitars in large quantities. Some of the players out there who play my guitars are Keith Urban, James Hetfield (Metallica), Stevie D. (Buckcherry), Kevin Breit (Norah Jones) and Kevin Hearn of Barenaked Ladies. You can check out my guitars at: http://rocknrollrelics.net
AH: Any other final thoughts, cheap shots, bon mots or advice for people who are crazy enough to want to do this nutty job for a living?
BR: It's been a great ride so far, even with the downs because it makes the ups all that much better. If you're passionate about music and love playing whatever you play, go for it. Living life with no regrets is living life the right way. As the Stones wrote and sung well, "It's only rock n' roll
... but I like it"!
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