INTERVIEW WITH WICKED MEMBERS CHAD MICHAEL, DANNY, SCOTTY V. AND GUNNAR
Date: October 6, 2020
Photos: John Stoney Cannon (first photo), Courtesy of Wicked (second, fourth, fifth and sixth photos)
THE FIRST THING THAT POPS OUT WHEN YOU SEE A PHOTO OF THE NEW YORK STATE BAND WICKED IS THAT THEY HAVE A DEFINITE LOOK TO THEM WITH SOME KISS LIKE OUTFITS BUT IN WHITE. WICKED BAND MEMBERS, CHAD MICHAEL (VOCALS, GUITAR), DANNY (BASS), SCOTTY V. (GUITAR) AND GUNNAR (DRUMS), HAVE DEFINITELY PLACED AN EMPHASIS ON THEIR VISUAL PRESENTATION FROM THEIR CLOTHES TO THEIR BOMBASTIC STAGE SHOW. THE GROUP HAS RELEASED A FEW HARD TO FIND LIMITED EDITION EPS / ALBUMS IN THE PAST AND ARE NOW SLATED TO RELEASE A NEW RECORD IN 2021. SLEAZE ROXX RECENTLY CAUGHT UP WITH ALL FOUR WICKED BAND MEMBERS.
Sleaze Roxx: When I look at Wicked’s visual presentation, I think of KISS mixed in with Angel due to the white outfits? Who came up with your KISS influenced look?
Danny: When the band started, we had a very sleaze rock (Crashdïet) type of style, you know — cowboy boots, lace up pants, etc. Very quickly however, we knew we wanted to take our appearance to another level and break out of the mold of what our peers were doing. We thought no one else had the balls to wear seven inch platforms and we loved the New York Dolls and how bands like them in the ’70s always towered in them! The white color of the old outfits was purely an attempt to stand out from every other rock band in black… We think it worked, but we never really had Angel on our radar until we played with them in 2018 in Brooklyn. In hindsight, I think we’d give KISS a pretty good run for their money back in ‘73!
Sleaze Roxx: I understand that Chad makes all the Wicked outfits. How long does it take to get one outfit done from top to bottom and where did Chad get that skillset?
Chad Michael: It really was a necessity to learn the skill set in our minds as we evolved our look. You can’t just go out and buy outfits like we wear and they don’t exist in thrift stores. I just completed a new set of outfits in five days before our New York City Soho photo shoot last month!
Sleaze Roxx: So I understand that Wicked originates from Utica, New York, USA. I’ve been to Utica and it does not seem like there would be much of a rock n’ roll scene there. How did the band form in the first place and how is Utica’s rock n’ roll scene [laughs]?
Chad Michael: The band started with my brother Danny and I and we searched relentlessly around upstate New York for two other rockers like minded to us! We used to even post flyers the old school way. Imagine that! But we found Scotty on a site called Glamnation — ironically he lived in the Finger Lakes region — and Gunnar was always in our backyard. He was younger but always had the rep of being the area’s most talented drummer!
Danny: Dude, you have no idea! We were the rock n roll scene! There was no other “rock n roll” bands like ourselves in Utica to play with so we started off playing a club by the name of Gordon’s Taproom, which no longer exists, and it became like a residency for us where fans who craved original rock n roll with the glammed up stage show would just pack in that place. Those shows always were like highschool house parties.. You never knew what was going to happen!
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! Not only does Wicked have a very KISS influenced look but you have some very ’70s sounding material. What are your main influences besides KISS?
Scotty V.: Yeah, we have the early ’70s KISS influence for sure when they were hungry, but we’ve always had several other more core influences like Thin Lizzy, David Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’ era, UFO and Alice Cooper! But we don’t live and die by influences from one snapshot era in time… On the new record, you can definitely hear some influences like Third Eye Blind mixed in with all that great ’70s hard rock!
Sleaze Roxx: I’ve never seen Wicked play live but it seems that you guys really put a big emphasis on your live show. How would you describe a Wicked live show to entice a new fan to come see you guys play live?
Gunnar: We’ve always been a live band at our core! It’s loud thunderous rock n roll plugged directly into a wall of Marshall stacks! The “children of Thor” in front of me enraged with nonstop stage energy, usually found in mid air jumps while wearing those platforms! And I always bring a ripping drum solo! It’s the best part of the show, unless you’re the lucky lady who is brought up on stage for a kiss during “Seal It With A Kiss.”
Scotty V.: Hey! What about me? They like my solos better!
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] I know that Wicked have released a few EPs / albums but they seem really hard to find on the traditional internet mediums and even on your website. Please tell me about all the music that Wicked have released over the years and why is it so hard to find your albums?
Danny: We put out maybe four EPs / albums, but they were all limited release options. Some of them are still floating around and one of them was a live vinyl! Now we’re at a point where the band has matured and evolved into our own and our new album we are poised to release will really represent WICKED at its core!
Sleaze Roxx: Alright. So for the people who would like to track down your previous limited editions EPs / albums, what are the names of those albums and what year was each released on? And which one is your favorite and why?
Danny: Our very first album released as a limited print in 2014 was titled ‘Origins’ and had some really cool early WICKED songs as well as some of our staple hits. That same year, we released a limited run of ‘Life Alive’ which was a live recording on vinyl. This was probably my favorite because I’m a huge vinyl fan and the band’s energy was through the roof for the live show we recorded! In 2018, we put out ‘Rock N Roll’ and in 2019, ‘All Covered Up’ which is a covers album of some super cool ’70s favorites of ours including songs by UFO, Brownsville Station, Alice Cooper, David Bowie, The Hellcats, Rick Derringer and Thin Lizzy!
Sleaze Roxx: It must be heartbreaking for Wicked not to be able to play live due to the Covid pandemic. I see that you have the Glam Slam Festival in Belgium on your schedule for September 2021. Will that be your first time playing live in Europe and what are your plans leading to that show?
Danny: It’s very much heartbreaking for us not to play live. Yes, from a financial standpoint, it is a huge hit, but we also thrive off of that social interaction between fans and the band that only exists in that moment when music and excitement are exchanged. We plan to launch a Patreon this coming month so we can offer some virtual interaction for our fans and ourselves! This will be our first time in Europe and we are very excited to play live for our European audience! It’s been a long time coming! We are working on building shows around the Glam Slam Festival and will have some exciting press releases in the near future regarding that!
Sleaze Roxx: Have there been any member changes over the years? If so, who have been the other members and why did they get replaced?
Danny: Everyone always thinks we had another drummer before Gunnar, but he just grew a lot in the last few years and finally grew out his hair!
Gunnar: Shut up dude! You’re an idiot! Oh my God!
Scotty V.: Don’t listen to them! JP was the first drummer and was just too good so we had to bring in Gunnar!
Gunnar: DOOODE! I swear to God!
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Are there any concerns that WICKED’s look and music might be a little too close to KISS? Do you think sometimes that you’d be better off with a more original type look to separate yourselves a little more from KISS?
Danny: Not really. KISS fans have been great to us, but in the same breath, KISS took the look from the Dolls. Plus KISS would have to spend some more time in the gym if they wanted to look like us!
Chad Michael: With that said though, I think you’ll see the WICKED look evolve with the new music this coming year. We’re not the same as we were when we were 17… And as much as we will never turn our backs on having a theatrical look, we are not defined by the clothes on our backs.
Sleaze Roxx: If you had to pick the three best Wicked songs, which ones would they be and why?
Danny: Fans go crazy for “High Roller,” “American Rock N Roller” and “Reptile Roots.” I think it is because you can sing along to the songs like arena songs back in the day, but they also deliver raw energy. My top three pics would be off the upcoming album! Guess you’ll have to be patient for that answer.
WICKED‘s “All American Rock N Roller” video:
Sleaze Roxx: Alright [laughs]! Can you provide a little bit of information on your new upcoming album such as how many songs do you have for it, whether you’ll be re-recording some tracks from your prior EPs / albums, and when you plan on recording it and releasing it?
Danny: We began recording back in May with this young and hungry producer Nacho Molino who we met through friends in Salem. The process was incredible. We locked ourselves away for a month and a half with Nacho and recorded 18 tracks! We went into the making of the album with a tall task to narrow down the new songs in the bucket of production ready demos, but in the process we found ourselves writing a few last minute tracks five days before pre-production that really put the album on a totally different level! Fans might find a few extras of some re-recorded favorites once the core album releases in early 2021!
Sleaze Roxx: It looks like you have pulled some videos such as the one for “Radio Brain.” Why is that?
Chad Michael: The band just finished recording two new music videos for the upcoming album with a very talented videographer who happens to be the old Nasty Habit singer, Tom Ende! WICKED is being reborn.
Sleaze Roxx: It’s exciting that you will have some new videos being released soon but you seemingly avoided answering my question about why you apparently pulled some of your videos like “Radio Brain.” I am always curious why younger bands do that. I’ll give you an example. Finnish rockers Shiraz Lane released two EPs at first — ‘Before It Strikes’ (2011) and ‘Lights Out’ (2012) — but you’ll never seemingly see them acknowledge those two EPs. It seems that you are doing that as well with your prior albums and some videos. Is it to get a fresh start? Why not embrace your past and how far that you have come?
Danny: [Also laughing] Actually, some of it is really out of our control. A licensing deal that ran its course, that we unfortunately did not have privy to, is mainly responsible for the videos you’re referring to. Otherwise we are pretty proud of our roots and the hard work we have done over the early years! Regarding a fresh start, I don’t think we would ever bury our past, but we have grown as a band significantly in the last year and I’m excited for the fans to see how that plays into the evolution of WICKED going into 2021!
Sleaze Roxx: How did you end working with Tom Ende?
Danny: Kind of a long story… Back at the beginning of Nasty Habit, there was a point where I almost joined them! I decided to stick to my vision of creating what was to be WICKED with my brother Chad! Nasty Habit and WICKED came from the same part of New York so we crossed paths a lot after that! I knew Tom was doing photo / video work and I always believe in supporting friends, not to mention, it always brings out something extra special when you enjoy who you work with!
Sleaze Roxx: You ended up attending the Atlanta KISS Expo where Vinnie Vincent made his “comeback” after many years in hibernation. How was the Atlanta KISS Expo and did you get to meet Vinnie?
Danny: We’ve been very fortunate to be invited to be a part of many KISS expos! The Atlanta one was one of many great ones to meet new and old fans. You always end up meeting guest rockers, like the guys from Twisted Sister, Ace [Frehley], and in this case Vinnie! Like the others, it’s always cool to hear affirmation from these rock n’ roll names of the past and Vinnie was no different! He had his manager walk us in to meet him and take pictures with him, which was pretty cool! But the best part was him sharing stories we could all relate to, even generations apart, about wearing makeup and the interactions that brings [laughs]!
Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?
Danny: We’ve really taken control of the business aspect of WICKED in the last year and have a great path we are on, working with some amazing people in the industry! We plan to spearhead it all with our new release in early 2021 produced / engineered by five time Grammy award winner — Nacho Molino of Brooklyn, New York! Till then, stay up-to-date with WICKED, our Podcast (WICKED: Glamcast) and our Patreon when it launches as well as via Socials (Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok) @wickedrocknroll or our website.
Sleaze Roxx: What do you mean by really “taken control of the business aspect of WICKED”? What are the differences in that regard from the past and how do you think that has made a difference and will continue to make a difference for WICKED going forward?
Danny: After years of playing the rockstar role with all the cliches of being a young dreamer along the road of paying dues, I think we had a wake up call to take a closer look at what we were doing and what we needed to do if we wanted to take WICKED to the next level. We spent so much time honing our craft of songwriting and playing live, but always let others turn the dial on the business end of things. Lessons learned and a lot of hard work to understand the business end ourselves has proven already to be a great asset and I can definitely see the difference for the future! I’m looking forward to the future of WICKED and what we have in store for rock n’ roll!
WICKED‘s “High Roller” video: