IAN MAYO INTERVIEW:
May 10, 2006
Ian Mayo is a seasoned veteran of the hard rock scene, playing bass for such bands as Hericane Alice, Bangalore Choir, Bad Moon Rising and Burning Rain (www.burningrain.net). Currently he works for a post-production company, is the proud father to his new-born son and continues to play music. In this exclusive interview with Sleaze Roxx, Ian talks about his past and future, which may include a third Burning Rain CD.
SR: What are you doing these days?
IM: Well, I’m working for a company called Modern Videofilm. It’s a post production house. I’m mixing mostly reality T.V. shows. Last year I had five shows, starting with Average Joe, Con, Tommy Lee Goes To College, Three Wishes and I also mix the foreign tracks for Will & Grace. I’m still playing but mostly writing not playing live. My wife just gave birth to my son on 03/10/06. So I definitely have my hands full.
SR: Raising a kid must be quite a change from endless months on the road.
IM: Yes it is. I’ve been off the road for a while now and I guess I don’t even think about it like that. I enjoy being at home with family. Don’t get me wrong the road is a lot of fun and I wouldn’t change those years for anything. Besides you never know I may hit the road again.
SR: What kind of music are you writing these days?
IM: I’ve been writing music for T.V. drops, so it is a wide range of different styles. Everything from singer songwriter to industrial. They are 2 to 3 minute music beds that can be played behind dialogue. I submitted some material to a new reality show I’m going to be mixing starting in April of 06.
SR: Do you still write the odd “hair metal” tune, or are those days behind you?
IM: I still love the 80’s & 90’s metal, but I find myself writing more for the material I’m trying to place it in, if that makes any sense.
SR: Is it harder to write something that has to tie into a TV program as opposed to writing for an album?
IM: I guess a little because with T.V. you have to give the producers what they want and on your album you hopefully are writing what you like & feel at that time. The stuff I’ve had placed in shows up to this point I’d already written and it was not really intended to be put on a record. With the new material I’m submitting I was asked to write something for this new show—- no guarantees it will be used but, in that situation you try to write for feel of the show because obviously if you go in a direction they don’t like they simply won’t use your material.
SR: Who were your early influences and when did you decide to pursue music as a career?
IM: I was very much into Kiss when I decided I wanted to pursue music. I loved the image, the idea of that lifestyle was very appealing to me. I guess I was about 14 or so when I thought this is the road for me. My Mother was supportive of me, my Father on the other hand thought it was something I’d grow out of. I guess being a Dad now I can understand why he felt that way, it’s not the easiest path to take. Some of the bands I was listening to when I first started playing were AC/DC, Judas Priest, Scorpions, Iron Maiden & Black Sabbath, bands like that. Later I started getting into The Beatles, Led Zeppelin & Pink Floyd. Now I listen to pretty much every kind of music as long as it is done well.
SR: What were some of your earliest bands?
IM: The first bar band I was in was called Counter Attack. We were located in Minneapolis, MN. We played mostly cover tunes, we did have a few originals but nothing I had written. I was quite a bit younger than the other members and wasn’t so concerned about making money in a cover band and I wanted to pursue a band that was more into writing original material. I felt if I had any shot at getting a record deal it defiantly wouldn’t happen by playing cover tunes. I left that band and moved to Phoenix, AZ. I was there for about 2 or 3 months and was offered an audition for a popular Phoenix band called Surgical Steel. They were one of the 3 top bands at that time in Phoenix, the other two were Icon and Flotsam & Jetsam. Surgical Steel almost got signed with the support and help from Rob Halford, but the deal Kind of fell apart right at the end and didn’t end up happening. Jeff Martian the lead singer was recording some demos with Paul Gilbert and eventually left Phoenix to start Racer X. I left shortly after that and moved to L.A. That’s when I started Danger City with Mike Galena And Danny Gill, and that turned into Hericane Alice When Bruce & Rusty got involved.
SR: Do any demos or old recordings exist from those old bands?
IM: If they do exist I don’t have any of them. I was always really bad at keeping stuff like that. If someone would ask me for a copy I would always give them the last one I had thinking I’d just get another copy from one of the other guys. I think Danny Gill may have some of the stuff that was intended for the second Hericane Alice record.
SR: Hurricane Alice existed in Minnesota before LA’s Hericane Alice. How much in common did the two bands have and how did your version come together?
IM: I was in L.A. working with Mike Galena And Danny Gill and we were auditioning singers. We went through about 5 or 6 guys and just couldn’t find anyone that we liked. I was still in contact with friends from Minnesota and thought someone from there may at least be able to sing on our demo so we could have a tape with vocals on it to send around to other singers to hear what we were looking for. After speaking with Rusty Miller (who I’d played in Counter Attack with,) he suggested Bruce Naumann might be into singing on the demo as a favor. They were both playing in the Hurricane Alice from Minnesota at the time. I spoke with Bruce, sent him a tape of the music and he was into it. A week or two later he flew out and sang on the 3 song demo.
After he left for Minnesota I was able to drum up some interest in the demo through a few friends of mine. A meeting was set up with a guy named Glenn Parish who was working as Stevie Nick’s personal manager. He was interested in shopping the tape. I told him the situation about Bruce living in Minnesota and basically singing on the demo to help us out. He said, “I think I could get you guys a deal if you can put the band together and give me more tunes like the ones on the demo.” I let Bruce know what was going on and he was interested in making the move out to L.A. The only kink in the chain at this point was he wanted to have Rusty Miller play drums instead of Mike Galena. We had to let Mike go which was not an easy thing to do because he was a good friend. The two of them left the Hurricane Alice in Minnesota and moved out to join what was called Danger City at the time out here in L.A.
After writing more tunes I believe it was Bruce that didn’t really dig the name Danger City. He suggested we take the name Hurricane Alice because one, he liked it and two, the old Minnesota Hurricane Alice had a great following up in the tri-state area around Minnesota witch would allow us to go up there and make money. I think that pissed off old members of the Minnesota Hurricane Alice and they looked at it like Danny and I joined Hurricane Alice which in fact it was just the name that was the same, the songs and the band line up were all new and different. I don’t know way those guys had a problem with it but whatever. The reason for the different spelling was due to a pending lawsuit that the band Hurricane in L.A. threatened us with after we got signed to Atlantic. Instead of paying the lawyers & the band Hurricane or changing the name, Stevie Nicks came up with the idea of changing the spelling. So that’s The story behind that.
SR: What were some of the bands Hericane Alice was competing against at the time in L.A. and did any of them really impress you?
IM: We actually didn’t play in L.A. that much. We technically got signed when we played a show up in Minnesota and Atlantic Records flew out to see us. The L.A. bar scene was just overrun with hair bands. I mean if you opened a L.A. Weekly every band looked the same. The out of town and out of state crowds seemed to be quite a bit less jaded and they weren’t afraid to let loose. L.A. crowds were more controlled and they looked like they were all trying to act cool. I guess that’s due to the fact that 75% of the crowds in L.A. were musicians trying to get a deal.
The big draws were bands like Faster Pussycats, Bang Tango, Tuff and Racer X. I never really felt in competition with them though. The competition came in after we got signed. Then you were competing with the other bands on your label. Skid Row and White Lion were happening at the same time we were trying to get some recognition. We actually cut a version of Radar Love before White Lion did, it was on the second set of demos we cut when we hooked up with Glenn Parish. We were going to put it on our first record. We had some of the same reps as White Lion at Atlantic and I don’t know if they heard our version and decided to cut a version of it or if it was just a fluke we cut the same cover tune. Anyway their record came out before ours and then Atlantic informed us that White Lion was going to release it. It did well for them. So we were a little pissed about that but that’s the way the ball bounces.
As far as bands that impressed me Racer X musicianship was killer, they were a great live band. Some of the other bands I mentioned drew a lot of girls witch always made going to those show a great time.
SR: What was it like recording Tear The House Down? Do you like how it turned out and do you think it has stood the test of time?
IM: It was a great time. We recorded at A&M records in Hollywood. At the time we recorded the record other producers were going for more of a big verbed out drums sound. Thom Panunzio got more of an authentic sound witch I think made it stand the test of time sonically a bit more than some other records at that time. The songs represent the sounds of that time. In other words, I’m proud of that record but my writing style has changed a bit. I think that’s the way it is though, as you experience different things in life it changes you and the art you put out.
SR: How well did the album sell? Did you film any videos for it and what sort of tours did you land on to support it?
IM: It sold a little over a hundred thousand. We did one video for Wild, Young and Crazy. We did dates with Whitesnake, L.A. Guns, Skid Row, and a few other bands. We toured the clubs a lot out on our own.
SR: How did some of those groups treat you as an opening act?
IM: Sometimes you got a little vibed out by the headliner, but for the most part if you didn’t bitch about the monitors and lights they would end up giving you as much P.A., lights and monitors as they could. They band guys were always pretty cool, if you had any problems it was usually a disgruntled crew guy that was a musician thinking he was hot shit.
SR: You said Hericane Alice recorded a second album, tell us about it and why it ended up being shelved.
IM: We didn’t actually record it we did demos and pre-production with Neal Kernon and we were a few days from walking into the studio and we got dropped. Our A&R person got let go at Atlantic and that was that. Instead of trying to peruse another deal, Jackie Ramos and I got an offer from Bangalore Choir. In retrospect not much happened with Bangalore and the friendships and work ethic of the guys in Hericane Alice was a lot more rewarding.
SR: Was Hericane Alice on the verge of breaking up when you left or was it a case of Bangalore Choir offering a better deal?
IM: We were not breaking up, I think we were all in shock that one minute we were walking into the studio and the next we were dropped. If we wanted to continue on we would have to find a new deal. Bangalore choir was managed by the same people that managed Hurricane Alice. So when Hurricane got dropped they offered the drum and bass gig to Jackie and me. David from Bangalore liked the way Jackie and I worked together. I think we took the gig for two reasons, one was we liked the music and two after getting dropped being able to continue on right away was a good feeling. The management and the record label (Giant Records) were promising a lot of things to Bangalore like tours and support but ultimately those things didn’t happen. Bangalore had a lot of inner turmoil so the chemistry of the band was a little off. The whole music scene was changing and that sound was becoming what some call dated.
SR: What kind of inner turmoil did Bangalore Choir have, and is that what eventually broke up the band?
IM: Everyone in the band seemed to party a lot and I remember if we got to much booze in us we would seem to get into yelling matches and sometimes it would go to blows. That’s not what broke the band up though. As I said before the whole music scene was changing and the record didn’t really sell that well. Giant records wasn’t in my opinion really behind the record and it just kind of fizzled out.
SR: You and Jackie Ramos then went on to Bad Moon Rising. How did you become involved with them and were people starting to wonder if you and Jackie were joined at the hip?
IM: Doug Aldrich was playing with Bad Moon Rising and he was working with House of Lords. House of Lords was looking to do another record and Doug brought a couple of the guys from House of Lords to a Bangalore show to check me out for the bass gig. I was interested, at the same time Doug had told me about Bad Moon Rising. After hearing some of the material for BMR I thought it was really good stuff and was more interested in checking that out. Chuck Wright had played on the BMR record but Kal Swan and Doug were looking for a touring bass player. At that time Ken Mary was playing drums but he wasn’t sure if he was going to tour. I left Bangalore and joined up with Kal And Doug. Ken Mary didn’t stay with the band so I told them about Jackie. Jackie is a great drummer and he has a very strong singing voice. We all got together and ran through some of the BMR tunes and it worked so that’s how that happened. People did comment on how Jackie and I were in so many bands together but we played really well together and we a great friends so it made sense to us.
SR: Why did Bad Moon Rising eventually disband?
IM: That’s a good question, It doesn’t feel like there was a specific time that we said O.K. that’s it. We finished a tour in 1995 and I think we were all a little burned out. Well I suppose I should just speak for myself. I was a little burned out. We took some time off and everyone started doing other projects. Doug started to work on some solo works. I played on a few of those records and did some tour support for them. I was also doing gigs with friends in town just for fun.
SR: You were also with Doug Aldrich in Burning Rain. Tell us about that project and how it differed from Bad Moon Rising.
IM: I did more writing in Bad Moon Rising. Not that I couldn’t have written for the records, I was doing other things at the time and sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day for everything. We did some touring with Burning Rain in Japan and Europe. I not a 100% but I think Doug plans to release more Burning Rain records.
SR: I noticed that the official Burning Rain website mentioned that you would be involved in recording the third album this year, is that info not right then?
IM: Doug is very busy with Whitesnake and I’m not sure when he is planning to release the next record. I do know that he has a lot of material for it. I would love and be honored to be involved with it.
SR: I’m gonna throw out a few names and tell us the first thing that comes to mind:
– Jackie Ramos
IM: One of my best friends, a great story teller and I could count on him for just about anything.
– Doug Aldrich
IM: He is a very considerate person. He doesn’t have a bad bone in his body. He’s my Harley riding partner.
– Kal Swan
IM: Total pro, I don’t see him that much anymore which is kind of a bummer. I need to give him a call.
– David Coverdale
IM: I’ve always thought highly of him. He’s the real deal. I only did a few shows with him so I don’t know him that well.
– Sebastian Bach
IM: Great front man.
– Leni Dimancari
IM: I’m sure by now he’s no longer pissed about Bruce and Rusty moving out to L.A. But I’m sorry if he feels Danny & I stole his band because that simply is not what happened.
– Tracii Guns
IM: I have respect for him. The Florida potion of L.A. Guns tour was a blast.
– David Reece
IM: I think he has an incredible voice. I haven’t heard from him since the Bangalore days. Where the hell are you?
– Max Norman
IM: Great producer.
– Bruce Naumann
IM: He moved back to Minnesota, I miss hanging with him. We butt heads every once and awhile, but I love him like a brother and he is a great entertainer. I still talk to him from time to time.
SR: It seems like the majority of 80s rockers I interview had issues with alcohol and drug addiction. Did you get caught up in the whole sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle as well?
IM: I definitely could tip a few drinks. I didn’t get into the drug thing that much. I’m not saying I never dabbled but it wasn’t a huge part of my life. The sex thing, well isn’t that one of the biggest reasons to get into rock ‘n’ roll in the first place?
SR: What is the most memorable or craziest story you have about life on the road?
IM: I don’t know if it was the craziest but one odd story comes to mind . We were doing a show in my home town of Rochester, MN and it was the first time we had been in town since we got signed so there was a petty good buzz about the show. We did the whole home town boy radio interviews and the newspaper did a story so my Mom was very proud. We did the show and it was a blast, following the show date we had a few days off. Danny Gill and I decided to stay in town and hang at my mom’s house. The night after the show we were watching the news with my mom and the headline story came on. It turns out some girl was reported missing and was last seen entering the tour bus of Hericane Alice. Well my mom’s jaw hit the ground. The rest of the band had already left town and headed to the next show and we were going to meet them there. So my Mom’s thinking The rest of the band had abducted her. It got pretty bad, the FBI called the house and they weren’t the nicest people to deal with. The girl turned up 2 days later, it turns out she was forbidden to go to the show and went anyway. She was afraid to go home because her parents were going to kill her so she hid out at a friend’s house until the story got to the point where she had to face the music.
Oh yeah, then the was the time I got alcohol poisoning so bad I had to be wheel chaired out of a airplane in Japan and hospitalized. I won’t be doing that again real soon.
SR: What can fans expect from Ian Mayo in the future?
IM: I’m really enjoying mixing in post production, so as far as that goes at some point I want to make the switch from television to future films. Musically I will be writing for T.V. drops, and if scheduling permits it I will do the 3rd record with Burning Rain. Thanks for you time and questions, take care.
Thanks to Ian Mayo