XYZ and Straight Six drummer Joey Shapiro Interview

INTERVIEW WITH XYZ AND STRAIGHT SIX DRUMMER JOEY SHAPIRO
Date: November 28, 2018
Interviewer: Olivier

MANY PEOPLE WILL RECOGNIZE THE NAME JOEY SHAPIRO AS XYZ’S DRUMMER FOR OVER 25 YEARS. HOWEVER, SHAPIRO IS ALSO THE DRUMMER FOR A HOT UP AND COMING BAND OUT OF DENVER, COLORADO, USA CALLED STRAIGHT SIX, WHICH ALSO FEATURES BASSIST GLEN DRIETH, SINGER JAY QUINTANA AND GUITARIST ERIC SCHAUDIES. THE GROUP RELEASED ITS SENSATIONAL DEBUT SELF-TITLED EP BACK IN FEBRUARY 2018 BEFORE RE-RECORDING THE SIX SONGS PROFESSIONALLY AND ADDING FOUR MORE SONGS TO RELEASE THEIR DEBUT FULL-LENGTH ALBUM ‘FULL CIRCLE’ TWO MONTHS AGO. STRAIGHT SIX ARE ON A HOT STREAK AS THE GROUP JUST WON THE COVETED HEART FOR HAYDEN MUSIC FESTIVAL’S BATTLE OF THE BANDS FOR 2018, WHICH SAW THE BAND BEAT OUT 30 OTHER TOP COLORADO BANDS IN A COMPETITION LASTING TWO MONTHS.

SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH SHAPIRO TO DISCUSS STRAIGHT SIX ALONG WITH XYZ WHO RECENTLY REFORMED AND ANNOUNCED THAT THEY ARE WORKING ON NEW MUSIC. 

Sleaze Roxx: You have a new band called Straight Six. How did the band come together?

Joey Shapiro: The band came together — Glen Drieth, our bass player — he’d had this band many years ago in Los Angeles. He actually got the band signed with some of these songs but you know, the whole thing with Napster and the shut down of the music business, he never got to record the record. Glen and I have been friends since high school. When I moved back to Colorado, coming from Nashville and approached me about starting a band. We kind of went from there.

Sleaze Roxx: How did you get the other guys in the band?

Joey Shapiro: We knew Jay [Quintana] and he’s the best singer in town. Glen wanted to put the band together with the top players. There’s only one guy that we wanted on our list and that was Jay. One thing about the music is that it’s really technical between the bass and the guitar so you really have to have the right shredder / guitar player for what Glen has going on the bass guitar.

Sleaze Roxx: Yeah, it really seems like a cross between having Billy Sheehan and Steve Kai or Eddie Van Halen in the band. Would you agree?

Joey Shapiro: I agree 100%. You know, those guys would have been some of our heroes growing up and would definitely big influences for the band. Glen is the only guy that I’ve played with that has that style for the bass playing and it really shines through with this band.

Sleaze Roxx: Now you guys released a debut EP earlier this year — a six song EP. Why did you decide to do a six song EP and eight months later, a full album?

Joey Shapiro: Yeah. So we formed the band a little over a year ago. We were writing and rehearsing to get a full show of material together and at the same time, there was a big charity Battle of the Bands contest happening here in Denver [Colorado, USA] called Heart For Hayden Music Festival. Someone dropped out so they asked us if we could be a part of it. And you know, it’s an event that lasts a couple of months and there are about 50 Colorado bands that compete. We were writing, rehearsing, putting a full show together and at the same time, there’s this Battle of the Bands called Heart For Hayden Music Festival. It’s many months. It’s not just one night. There’s many original bands from Colorado that get to the final four. It’s a great charity. It’s a great event and it’s a lot of fun for the bands that place at the top so we played several shows and were getting a huge response. So we were like, ‘Hey man. We need something to sell the band. People want to hear the music.’ So the EP, we call it a demo. which was what we did. We had five-six songs together at the time and we recorded it ourselves in a big room in our rehearsal facility. We were able to track everything live and we had a professional mixer so the EP was just to have something in our hands to see at shows. It was well received so we decided to do a full album, record it professionally in a real studio with a real producer, engineer. And that’s what the ‘Full Circle’ album is.

Straight Six‘s “Middle Of The Ride” video:

STRAIGHT SIX “Middle Of The Ride”

STRAIGHT SIX video for their song “Middle Of The Ride” from the debut album Full Circle. Downloads, Streaming, CDs and Vinyl available at http://www.StraightSixRocks.com http://www.facebook.com/straightsixrocks

Sleaze Roxx: Cool! The EP has six songs. The new album has those same six songs that I understand have been re-recorded with four additional songs. Did you write those four additional songs after the release of the EP?

Joey Shapiro: Yeah, we did. We did the EP real quick. In between our shows that we were already booked on, we were writing new material and getting ready to do the full album. Much of it, Glen already had written in his mind but there were no recordings of it for us to learn the material. We just put it together at rehearsal. Everybody put their own stamp on the music and it came together very quickly.

Sleaze Roxx: I find that the ballad that you had on the EP, which was “What Would I Give” sounds a lot better on the ‘Full Circle’ album. Do you find that the songs….

Joey Shapiro: Yeah. Well, there’s a few productions tweaks that we did between the EP and ‘Full Circle.’ I think that our performance of songs improved over time and also, what you’re hearing is Steve Avedis, an award winning producer, engineer and mixer. You’re hearing his skills on the album. It’s an art and it’s a skill set just like you know, it takes decades to perfect playing drums. It’s professionally what Steve has done.

Straight Six‘s set at Sunshine Studios Live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA in 2018:

Straight Six – Opening for Dio Disciples

Straight Six Some of our awesome local bands opening up for Dio Disciples at Sunshine Studios Live in Colorado Springs, CO. Check out the other videos featuring Straight Six, Sabbatar and FN Wylde. Be sure to like the videos and subscribe to our channel.

Sleaze Roxx: Now, a lot of people know you through XYZ. How did you get into the band in the first place?

Joey Shapiro: Sure. Back in the day, the band’s first tour manager was Larry Morand, who now, as you know, is head of the Monsters of Rock Cruise and the tour manager for many huge bands. At the time of XYZ’s first album, he was just starting. We were one of the first bands that he co-managed on his own and his wife at the time moved to Denver so we kind of knew each other. There was a time when the MTV Unplugged stuff was popular so XYZ was kind of doing a radio station tour acoustically without [drummer] Paul [Monroe]. They do a thing at the radio station and party at night at clubs to pick up girls. The guys were at a club in Denver. They were trying to find someone who could jump on stage and play. I happened to know two songs of XYZ and we played at the club that night. [Bassist] Pat [Lafontaine] called me two weeks later and said, ‘Hey. Paul doesn’t want to be on the road anymore. Our first show is in three days. When can you come to L.A. [laughs]?”

Sleaze Roxx: Wow!

Joey Shapiro: So that’s how I got into the band and it’s been 25, 27 years now.

Sleaze Roxx: Now, if I look at Wikipedia, it looks like Paul got back in the band when the band first reformed back in early 2003 but you were in the band shortly thereafter and have been there ever since. So what happened there?

Joey Shapiro: You know, I don’t really have the specifics. That stuff sort of happened previous to me so I don’t know what I could add to that. I’m going to have to look up Wikipedia to make sure the date is right [laughs].

Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Fair enough. Well, how about this? On Sleaze Roxx, we recently posted an article from Rockin You All Night podcast who had interviewed Don Dokken.

Joey Shapiro: Yeeees [laughs].

Sleaze Roxx: Don Dokken had some things to say about XYZ. One of the things is that he did not end up producing the second [XYZ] album ‘Hungry’ which you ended up playing on. Do you remember the conversations about which producer was to produce the second album?

Joey Shapiro: Well, I mean, with respect to Don, I grew up listening to his music. I’ve played drums for George Lynch and got play some of those songs with some of those bands. I really don’t want to get into a dissing match but I was disappointed reading that because I mean, it’s completely fabricated. I mean, the band had been signed a long time before they even met Don and Don knows Pat well. They see each other all the time being in Hollywood [California, USA]. They hung out, laughed and told stories together for hours. To read that Don referred to Pat not even by name but as the bass player, I don’t know. I prefer singers than air drummers. That’s all Don does these days, air drum on stage. I don’t want to make a thing out of it. Maybe Don is right you know [laughs]. O.J. Simpson didn’t kill anybody either, right [laughs]?

Sleaze Roxx: To be fair, you’ve indicated that you think that Don fabricated what he’s indicated. So what was the truth with regard to the production of the third album? 

Joey Shapiro: You know, he said in that article about you say something, you have to fall on that sword. Well, I mean, Don has to fall on his sword here because to say in an article that [XYZ singer] Terry [Ilous] couldn’t sing. He’s one of the greatest rock singers of all-time who sings even better now than back in the day. To tell the podcast that he can’t sing, c’mon [laughs]!

XYZ‘s “Face Down In The Gutter” video [from Hungry album]:

XYZ – Face Down In The Gutter

Album – Hungry 1991 Members Marc Richard Diglio — guitar Patrick Fontaine — bass Terry Ilous — vocals Paul Monroe — drums, snare drums

Sleaze Roxx: What about the third album? Don said that the band sort of asked him to produce the third album after the second album didn’t sell as many copies, and then Don declined. Is that true?

Joey Shapiro: I don’t want to make a big thing about this. In my mind, it’s not. I’d probably say and encourage you to do an interview with Pat or Terry because what I’d give you is third hand. I wasn’t in on the conversations. I doubt that happened. I certainly know what happened. I think that he’s [Don Dokken] grabbing at straws to get attention or press. He’s got a date in Denver posted for next month [at The Venue on January 4, 2019]. I don’t have an explanation for you. I was told yesterday that he went off on somebody else. I see a pattern.

Sleaze Roxx: Fair enough. One last question on this. Don mentioned that the band lost its record deal because he didn’t produce the third album but I mean, at that point, a lot of bands were losing their record deal with the grunge things and stuff like that.

Joey Shapiro: The band lost its record deal, here’s the cold hard truth. The band lost its record deal because [Nirvana frontman] Kurt Cobain took our pussy away.

Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]

Joey Shapiro: It happened overnight. We were touring and Nirvana broke. When you’re on the road, you’re not watching TV or reading the paper. We weren’t really aware. We went from packing clubs and theaters to literally overnight, all the hot girls in mini-skirts were wearing baggy clothes and flannels, and were pissed off and not smiling. We didn’t know why and they didn’t want to hang out with us [laughs]. That’s the cold hard truth. Nirvana broke and it changed the mainstream overnight and that was it for us and every other band that rocked and had long hair. It was over. It had nothing to do [laughs] with Don Dokken [laughs].

Sleaze Roxx: Fair enough. In terms of XYZ, you guys have reformed. Did those plans materialize once Terry was out of Great White or was there talks about doing that even before?

Joey Shapiro: We’ve been talking about doing this for a long time. We would have been playing a lot more shows and working on music but you know, Terry was tied down with Great White. So now that that’s over, and we have a couple of big festivals booked for 2019. I’m happy to say that we’re in the middle of writing songs.

Sleaze Roxx: Cool! So if you’re writing songs, do you have date when you expect to release the new album?

Joey Shapiro: I mean, we’d love to have something for our first festival back, which will be the Monsters of Rock Cruise in February [2019] but you know, you can’t really schedule or rush creativity and we’re just in the songwriting portion of it right now. You know, the magic happens. When everything is ready and right, we’ll schedule to go in the studio and we’ll have a better picture of a release date. You know, it’s going to be a great project. It’s going to be a redeeming album so to speak. There’s going to be some past members playing on the album and a real group effort that I think the fans will be really happy about.

Sleaze Roxx: Cool! Which past members would be appearing on the album?

Joey Shapiro: [Laughs] Nothing is set in stone. I don’t know if I should be printing it or not but I think that [guitarist] Marc [Diglio] may play a few songs. Paul [Monroe] may play drums on one song. We’ve got guys from you know, the original demos before the big debut album that everybody knows. Bobby Pieper, one of the guitar players, may play a solo or two. That’s what we are talking about so far but right now, it’s just talking and writing songs. We’ll see where it goes.

XYZ‘s “What Keeps Me Loving You” video [from XYZ album]:

XYZ – What Keeps Me Loving You Melodic Rock Hard Rock HQ VIDEO

http://rockmelodic-radio.com/ AOR, FM ROCK, MELODIC ROCK, MELODIC HARD ROCK, RADIO STATION. Only the best melodies. A new custom HD universal player created especially for Rock Melodic Radio, so you can listen to our favorite music in HIGH QUALITY. Also you can listen from your mobile phones, android, iphone , from mac pc, ipad, tablets, any browser, from everywhere!!!!

Sleaze Roxx: Well, that sounds exciting! Getting back to Straight Six, what are your plans for 2019?

Joey Shapiro: 2019! Well, you know, we’ve just released [the album] ‘Full Circle.’ In face, because of manufacturing delays for everybody, I just got the shipment notification that our vinyl records are on the way so we’ll have those for next week. We’re pretty excited about that. You know, right now, we’re still building our following. We’ve got some big shows coming up. We’re actively looking at management and agents. All those great people that help a band move forward. That’s our stage right now. The band with our record, the response has been incredible and we did not expect that. We write the songs, record them and listen to them a million times. We’re too close to them to tell whether they are really good or not [laughs].

Sleaze Roxx: For people that know you from XYZ, how would say that the songs are different with Straight Six?

Joey Shapiro: Wow! I mean, the similarities are incredible players playing rock n’ roll. Outside of that, it’s different guys performing with different writing styles but the rock is there, the energy is there. So for me personally as a drummer performing, I get the same rush in playing these Straight Six songs as I would at a XYZ show or anything like that.

Sleaze Roxx: So last question for you unless you want to add something. What are your top three albums of all-them and why?

Joey Shapiro: [Laughs] Aaaah geez! Well, I would have to say for me, and I don’t know that these are in order but it would be Van Halen’s ‘1984.’

Sleaze Roxx: I love that one!

Joey Shapiro: For me, that’s one of the last great rock albums recorded completely analog. No computer. No $50,000 overdubs. Of course, they were masters at their craft. Not a lot of studio fixing needed but you put that record on with some headphones and listen to what is going on there, and it’s just mind blowing. Nobody is recording like that. Nobody is playing like that on records and nobody sounds like that. Maybe never again [laughs] I’m really sad to say but that is the magic of those records. For me, Alex Van Halen is one of my heroes and his drumming — the technical level of playing and what he put down on that album — is really a big leap. It’s the first really big leap in playing on ‘Diver Down’ and it’s really captured on ‘1984.’ That’s why it’s one of the top records for me. My second album would be The Police’s ‘Zenyatta Mondatta.’ Third album would be from Led Zeppelin. Any of them. Basically everything John Bonham played. The drumming he did on every album is why every rock drummer you’ve ever heard since plays the way we do.