INTERVIEW WITH HARDLINE AND GIOELI/CASTRONOVO SINGER JOHNNY GIOELI
Date: June 19, 2018
Interviewer: Tyson Briden
WHO CAN RECALL BACK IN THE LATE ’80S THERE BEING A BUZZ ABOUT AN UNSIGNED L.A. BAND CALLED “BRUNETTE“? IF YOU WERE A FREQUENT READER OF THE METAL EDGE PUBLICATION, THEN YOU WOULD HAVE COME ACROSS BRUNETTE AT LEAST ONCE. THINKING BACK TODAY THE NAME MAY RING A BELL, RIGHT? WELL, THE TWO BROTHERS THAT WERE THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND “BRUNETTE”, JOHNNY AND JOEY GIOELI WOULD GO ON TO FORM THE BAND HARDLINE WITH BAD ENGLISH/JOURNEY ALUMNI NEAL SCHON AND DEAN CASTRONOVO RESPECTIVELY. HARDLINE WOULD BE ROUNDED OUT BY FORMER DAVID LEE ROTH BASS PLAYER TODD JENSEN AS WELL.
1992 WOULD SEE THE BAND’S FIRST RELEASE FOR MCA RECORDS ENTITLED ‘DOUBLE ECLIPSE’ WHICH RECEIVED CRITICAL ACCLAIM. HARDLINE WERE DESTINED TO BE THE NEXT BIG THING. ‘DOUBLE ECLIPSE’ WAS CHALK FULL OF ARENA ROCK ANTHEMS AND BONE CHILLING BALLADS. THE ALBUM WAS SOLID FROM START TO FINISH. UNFORTUNATELY, ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END. THIS LINE-UP OF HARDLINE WOULD ONLY GIVE US ONE RELEASE. TOO BAD REALLY, BUT SINGER JOHNNY GIOELI HAS KEPT THE HARDLINE NAME ALIVE FOR YEARS. SINCE 2002, HARDLINE HAVE RELEASED FOUR VERY SOLID MELODIC ROCK STUDIO ALBUMS. THERE WAS ALSO THE RELEASE OF A BRILLIANT LIVE CD/DVD FROM THE GOD’S FESTIVAL IN 2003. I MUST ALSO MAKE MENTION THAT JOHNNY GIOELI HAS HAD A LONG STINT SINGING FOR GUITAR VIRTUOSO AXEL RUDI PELL. JOHNNY SEEMS LIKE A MAN WHO LIKES TO STAY VERY BUSY.
RECENTLY, JOHNNY GIOELI REUNITED WITH FORMER HARDLINE AND CURRENT REVOLUTION SAINTS SINGER AND DRUMMER DEEN CASTRONOVO TO RECORD THEIR FIRST ALBUM TOGETHER IN TWENTY FIVE YEARS. WHAT IS HEARD ON TAPE IS A PURE PIECE OF MELODIC ROCK PERFECTION. I RECENTLY CAUGHT UP WITH JOHNNY GIOELI TO TALK ABOUT HIS LATEST PROJECT AND A FEW QUESTIONS I’D BEEN DYING TO ASK FOR YEARS. SIT BACK AND ENJOY THE RIDE!
Sleaze Roxx: Johhny, as a fan dating back to your days with Brunette, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I’ll start off by asking about your latest project, Gioeli/Castronovo. How did this project come to fruition?
Johnny Gioeli: Brunette? YOU’RE OLD [laughs]! I’m older damn it! Those were fun days but boy were we stupid trying to “fit in” instead of just being who we are. So, a journalist had a few off color questions for me regarding Deen and I said, “Interview over!” I was so pissed, I said, “Man, I know Deen’s heart. We all have our peaks and valleys in our lives. Give the guy a break!” Well, Deen heard that interview and contacted me immediately to say thanks for believing in him, etc. You know, people who care for each other should do it without boundaries or conditions. Just simply care for someone for who they are. Period! Deen and I share a lot of fun memories. We were young when ‘Double Eclipse’ came out and we cherish those times. So Deen said, “Johnny, you want to do a record together?” It took about three seconds to say, “Yes bro!” Done.
Sleaze Roxx: With both yourself and Deen Castronovo handling the lead vocals on this album, how did you decide who would sing what? There seems to be a lot of back and forth vocals.
Johnny Gioeli: It was an easy task to decide. We left most of those decisions to Ale [Alessandro Del Vecchio], our producer, but Deen and I said “How about you take this? I take that” etc. That’s it! Easy. I really wanted to sing the song “Mother.” That was the only tune I said “Guys, would you mind?” And of course they said “Johnny, for $6,560.24 you can do it!” They always want my money those bastards [laughs]! Kidding!
Sleaze Roxx: In terms of songwriting, did you and Deen compile the songs together? Or was there any type of outside influence?
Johnny Gioeli: We did use outside writers. Ale coordinated the tunes. He also wrote a bunch. I like using outside writers for things like this because it’s cool to hear what other writers imagine for your voice. A great song is a great song. I’m not greedy. I don’t care if my grandma writes it. Deen and I then approved, altered and put our twist into each song obviously.
Sleaze Roxx: Tell me a little about the recording process itself. Where was the album recorded? What was the timeline? Who handled the production duties? Really anything in terms of the process that our readers may find interesting.
Johnny Gioeli: The process was fast. We are old school. We don’t spend six weeks fucking around with computers, etc. We sing, we play. If it didn’t sound right, we play and we sing again [laughs]! We had this album done in the matter of two weeks. We cut a bunch of vids in one day. Yes, coffee is our friend. Deen, as you know, is a monster player and I think I know how to sing a little. I’m still learning [smiles]. Ale handled the technical set up, engineering, etc. We have no interest in that shit. We just want to sing and play. Push the green button — go. I love that!
Sleaze Roxx: Will there be any live promotion for this release? If so, would you primarily play material from this release?
Johnny Gioeli: Absolutely! We are working on a tour. A small one for 2019. I mean, this would just be the most fun ever. Both Deen and I don’t lack in the energy department. Together, we are like a hyena on crack. Got that visual?
Sleaze Roxx: It seems the norm these days that every release is surfacing on vinyl. Will this be available on vinyl? I know Dean’s last project “Revolution Saints” was available on 180 gram, gate fold vinyl. I was very surprised on a trip to Nashville recently to find it.
Johnny Gioeli: YES! Bring back the plastic baby! So, yes it will be but in a limited quantity.
Sleaze Roxx: With yourself and Deen working together on this project, has there been talk of possibly getting the other three original Hardline members back together for a reunion? I have to admit that I am a huge fan of that first album. Enough so that I own two copies of the disc. I know of many people that hold this album in very high regard.
Johnny Gioeli: We “talk” about it but nothing in stone. We’ll see. I think everyone would be receptive to it, but how, when, if, maybe — not sure.
Sleaze Roxx: Which brings me to my next question… Primarily the reason for owning the two discs is due to the fact that I purchased the Japanese version. For our readers that may not know this, there is a great bonus track entitled “Love Leads The Way.” From the moment I initially heard that track, I wondered why it was only released in Japan. It is one of my favorite tracks on the album. What was the thinking behind only releasing that song in Japan?
Johnny Gioeli: It was a stupid mistake in my opinion. One of the best songs on the album and we make it exclusive? I love the Japanese people, don’t get me wrong, but this bonus track shit for them is so stupid! I own the license for ‘Double Eclipse’ and I will make a massive re-issue including live tracks, unreleased material, acoustic tracks etc. “LOVE LEADS THE WAY” WILL BE ON THIS RELEASE! Slated for 2020 [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: The track “Hot Cherie” was originally recorded by Danny Spanos, then by Canadian artist Streetheart. I believe you were actually doing the song back in the days with Brunette. Why do you think that it brought Hardline more success than the previous artists? Do you think it was a matter of timing?
Johnny Gioeli: Hey ! It was my voice! MY VOICE [laughs]! It was all the factors you mentioned. Timing — yes, style — yes, musicians –yes. It all matters.
Sleaze Roxx: With the vinyl craze making a comeback, I must ask if ‘Double Eclipse’ was ever available anywhere in the world on vinyl? I recently saw an interview with Mark Slaughter where he stated ‘The Wild Life’ was released on vinyl, but only through Columbia House. To be honest, ‘Double Eclipse’ is an album on vinyl I would love to get my hands on if it existed.
Johnny Gioeli: Yes it was. Limited but available. We made 50,000 of them and they went in a matter of days. Each new Hardline album is available on vinyl.
Sleaze Roxx: When ‘Double Eclipse’ was released back in 1992, what was the perception in terms of success in the eyes of MCA? With Nirvana and the uprise of other Seattle artists, did they feel it may be an uphill battle? I am always curious to hear an artist’s take in terms of that time period.
Johnny Gioeli: Even MCA had no clue what was about to happen. They thought Hardline would be as big as Bon Jovi. We still did very very very well.Don’t kid yourself. I’m proud, grateful and have great memories all packed into my tiny brain.
Sleaze Roxx: I am curious about a track that you contributed to on Doug Aldrich’s ‘High Centered’ album called “Facedown.” Was this a track that you specifically recorded for that album or was there possibly something in the works with Doug Aldrich that just never came to fruition? The reason I mention that is because I feel that the song really has a fantastic chemistry and I really would have loved to hear more of the two of you together.
Johnny Gioeli: I love Dougy. Known him since 1989. Doug asked me to write that one with him just for that album. I love that song and the recording process was so fun especially working with Andy Johns who was so drunk we had to sit him in a corner and tell him to shut the fuck up [laughs]. Omg!
Sleaze Roxx: What is the status of your solo album? Will we see it completed in 2018?
Johnny Gioeli: It is and will be released this December 2018. It is by far the most musically excited I have been since 1992. This CD will open a new world musically for me. It’s a Bryan Adams meets Foo Fighters vibe. Positive message, powerful hooks and just a feel good album. I can’t freakin’ wait for its release. The back story on why I did it can be found at www.pledgemusic.com/johnnygioeli. We are working on appearances on some of the biggest morning TV shows such as GMA, Today and more. This album is golden in my eyes and heart.
Sleaze Roxx: Johnny, I want to thank you for your time. Hopefully at some point I will get the privilege to see you live. Cheers.
Johnny Gioeli: Thanks for your time! And your “fanship”! Is that a word? If not, I just made it up! Creative license! Best to you always.
Gioeli/Castronovo‘s “Set The World On Fire” video:
Subscribe To Be Alerted When We Add New Videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers From the album “Set The World On Fire”.
Gioeli/Castronovo‘s “Through” video:
Subscribe To Be Alerted When We Add New Videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers | From the album SET THE WORLD ON FIRE. Get your copy NOW: http://radi.al/SetTheWorldOnFire Follow the “Newest From Frontiers” playlist on Spotify to keep up with all the new songs we release each week: http://spoti.fi/1rQz5Zm Johnny Gioeli and Deen Castronovo first played together on the debut Hardline album, “Double Eclipse”, which was released in 1992.