Mark Evans recalls Jeff LaBar teaching new Heavens Edge bassist Jaron Gulino how to spin his bass
Heavens Edge frontman Mark Evans was recently interviewed by Andrew DiCecco for Vinyl Writer Music. Heavens Edge originated from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA area which is the same area that now deceased Cinderella guitarist Jeff LaBar came out of.
Evans shared a few stories about LaBar with Vinyl Writer Music (with slight edits):
“I had known Jeff for years. When he was in Precious Metal with Mike Regina and Mark Chasen, they would do off-nights at Dick Lee’s; they would come in and do a set with Network to kind of, like, open up for us because we would get different
bands. Which was actually kind of a selfish thing, because we were like, “My God, I gotta play six nights at Dick Lee’s,” because we’d play like Wednesday to Sunday. Larry would find different bands from the area, whether they would be original bands or bands just looking for a break and see if they wanted to come in and play a set here or there on one of the off nights. But Precious Metal used to play with us quite a bit back then. I remember it being one of the first times we ever got to hear Tony Harnell sing, and we were just like, “Holy shit. Who can do that?” He was just amazing. That was really when I met Jeff.
Then probably about ten years ago, I had been asked to come and sing a set with Jeff. It was going to be myself singing, Jeff playing guitar, I forget who playing bass, and Jimmy Drnec playing drums at The Cherrywood. I don’t know if it was a benefit or what it was. As you know, Jeff had his issues, but I had seen him the night before with Cinderella; they were at The Electric Factory and they were phenomenal. Jeff was one of the most electric performers; when he was on, he was just on. The next night I played with him, he was off, but the thing that struck me with him was, that was the first time I met Sebastian; he was probably 12 or 14.
But the thing that struck me with Jeff – he was just the proudest dad. He’s had his issues, but he was such a great dad and so proud of his son and so into being a dad. Then getting to see him years later, when Sebastian was up and playing in Mach22 and then eventually with Tantric, and seeing his dad just beam when he would see his kid on stage basically doing what he used to do. Sebastian is just like a little mini-me of Jeff. Just another great player. He’s great on stage; all the right poses; all the right looks. But seeing the way Jeff would look at him and just beam with pride, that’s what broke my heart the most when I heard it. When I first heard it, I was like, “You gotta be kidding me.” To me, that’s one of the biggest memories because no matter what went on in Jeff’s life – he had the superstardom, the world tours, the gold and platinum records – but when it came to being a dad, he was this down to earth, humble, and amazed dad.
One cool story; I’m sure you know after George [“G.G.” Guidotti] passed, we continued to move on, and I ended up suggesting Jaron [Gulino] to be the bass player for Heavens Edge; even though we were all old enough to be his dad. He just seemed like the perfect fit. So, before we did the first shows with him on the Monsters of Rock Cruise, we got together and rehearsed and we were like, “You know, we still do some of the choreography.” And he’s like, “Oh, no, man. That’s great.” We were like, “Well, do you know how to spin your bass?” Which is kind of comical because the guy is like 6’4″ and wears the bass around his knees. So, we’re like, “This is gonna be quite a circle if he goes to spin it.” About a week or so after we got together to rehearse, and probably a week or so before we went on the cruise, Jaron sends a video because Tantric was on the road and they happened to be down near Nashville. And when they were down there, they would stop and stay at Jeff’s house. He sends this cool video because he was just like, “Yeah, I was having problems spinning the guitar. May as well go to one of the masters.” And it was a video of Jeff showing Jaron and Sebastian how to spin their guitars. Which I thought was just classic. Jeff’s like, “No, no, stand up straight. Get up straight. Get your shoulders up. If you lean over like this, it’s gonna flop. It’s not gonna work.”
Reggie, Dave [Rath], and I have talked a few times since then and we’re all just blown away. You just can’t imagine. Here’s another strange aside for you; Dave goes, “You guys may not realize this, but if it wasn’t for Jeff LaBar, I wouldn’t be in Heavens Edge, and I would probably not be the vice president of the record company right now at Atlantic.” And we’re like, “What are you talking about?” He said, “When I was going to Villanova, I was a drummer, but I was going to Villanova and doing what my parents wanted me to do.”
He said, “And I was friends with Gail,” who was dating Jeff at the time. [Dave] said he was talking to her and he’s just like, “I’m frustrated. There’s no music going on over here and I just want to join a good band.” She was like, “Well, why don’t you come over to my place tonight? My boyfriend will be there, and you can talk with him because he’s a musician.” So, he goes and gets together with them, and Jeff’s like, “Dude, there’s a place in Somerdale called The Galaxy. Just get in your car this weekend, drive over there, and check it out. There’s just a ton of bands and some great talent. You want to join a band and you want to be a part of this scene, that’s where you want to be.” And [Dave] came over and ended up meeting us. We were in the process of auditioning; in fact, I think we had actually almost settled on a drummer, and I can’t remember who it was at that point, and Dave kind of came in last minute. If it wasn’t for Jeff saying, “This weekend, get your ass over to The Galaxy. You want to find a good band and you want to start playing in the right scene, this is where you want to be,” we would have never met the guy.”
You can read the rest of the interview with Mark Evans at Vinyl Writer Music‘s website.