Record label Frontiers Music Srl to focus on young new talent for the future
For the last two decades, Frontiers Music Srl has released some of the greatest albums in the melodic hard rock and metal genre, and has brought some well known artists together to come up with some interesting and sometimes brilliant collaborations. The record label spearheaded by its president Serafino Perugino is now looking to its future and has determined that young new talent is the key and will be the focus going forward.
While Frontiers Music Srl has sometimes been criticized in releasing too many albums or by “supergroups” that will never tour to support the albums, there is no denying that Frontiers has had a huge impact on the hard rock and heavy metal music scene during the last two decades. Frontiers‘ influence can easily be seen in Sleaze Roxx‘s year end polls as many of the Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Top Album of the Year were Frontiers releases including in 2011 with Whitesnake‘s Forevermore, 2013 with Stryper‘s No More Hell To Pay and 2017 with L.A. Guns‘ The Missing Peace.
The following message was posted on Frontiers Music Srl‘s Facebook page earlier today
“SERAFINO PERUGINO, PRESIDENT AND A&R DIRECTOR STATEMENT ON FRONTIERS, NOW AND THE FUTURE.
While we are approaching release number 1000(!) on Frontiers [Edge Of Forever “Native Soul” FR1000], I’ve been thinking about my past 23 years or so in the music business. Some random thoughts started to take shape and I figured it was as good a time as any to make an assessment of what we have done and where we are going as a label.
I think no one can deny that Frontiers literally relaunched an entire musical genre which was considered dead and gone and brought it back to life and to a respectable position among other musical genres – with the same dignity and relevance as it should have always enjoyed – with regular releases, every month. We constantly worked on catering to the existing fan base, while “awakening” a substantial number of “sleeping” fans who kind of lost contact with and passion for the music because of the grunge/alternative explosion of the early ’90s.
I do this job and have my passion for music basically because of one specific person: Steve Perry. Frontiers exists and I do what I am doing because of him! I had the good luck of meeting him in Los Angeles when he was looking for a label partner before the release of his new record, “Traces.” It was a highly emotional meeting for me (and Mario, who was also there and definitely shares a similar musical passion with me). We listened to the album in full many months before the actual release and were touched emotionally by the depth of the songs. Unfortunately, Frontiers did not manage to become his label home, which is something that I had worked hard to achieve – at least for the European market. It is a shame that this did not happen in the end and I regret I could not be involved as I would have spared no efforts to give justice to the music of my personal hero. Anyway, who knows what the future will bring and it is still so great that he finally decided to come back and give joy to all the fans with new music!
Over the years, I could not have done this alone. For sure, all the people who have worked for the label have contributed with hard work and commitment to the growth of the Frontiers brand. As a matter of fact, a special mention should go to my brother in arms Mario de Riso, who has been beside me for the past 21 years helping, supporting, and fighting the good fight every day with his hard work!
I also want to share a bit about the hard and humble beginnings of the label in 1996. The spark was ignited when Håkan Häggblom of WestCoast Records, a small Swedish label which released a handful of records back between 1996 and ’97, offered me the possibility to buy product and become their distributor in Italy, after I tried unsuccessfully to place then with all the Italian independent distributors handling rock. AOR was vastly despised by the business at the time, so it was necessary that someone started kicking some asses over here, and I thought, “Why not me?” With my wonderful wife Maria supporting my vision (and bearing with me for every single day afterward) and the invaluable help of my retired father who packed the goods after I gathered the orders, I started working in the evenings to sell CDs. More labels started to come in… MTM, Escape Music, USG, Event, and of course Now & Then.
When I decided to visit the GODS Festival in November 1997 in Wigan UK, I asked Mario to come with me. During the travel, on the plane, I told him I wanted to grow and expand the business to become a real label. He could not believe what I was saying, but when we got back home I asked him to start contacting some artists that he was in touch with as a journalist and that’s how it basically all started. However, it was the partnership with Mark Ashton and Now & Then Records, which came about in early 1998, that really put Frontiers on the map, since it provided a catalogue of releases including artists like Ten (their live album “Never Say Goodbye” is FR CD 001, so it is a band that will always be special for me!), Bob Catley, Hugo, Crown of Thorns, and many more. It is a shame that things ended not so well between the two of us, but I always wish him the best.
The label was certainly instrumental in successful returns, even from great bands. Successfully releasing Journey records in Europe even though they hadn’t been touring here; Toto, who no longer had a major label deal, were again on top of all the European charts with Frontiers with “Falling In Between” (and later on with “XIV”); ELO and Jeff Lynne were relaunched, when the Frontiers label released the “Long Wave” and “Mr. Blue Sky” albums. Michael Kiske, who is now successfully back fronting Helloween, was convinced to go back to rock and metal music with Place Vendome, and little by little he understood where his heart really was. Also, for Deen Castronovo, while we had the first Revolution Saints out, he was caught in a difficult situation that caused him to leave Journey. Frontiers has always kept a belief in him and brought him back to play again live with Revolution Saints at the Frontiers Rock Festival, and then…. more records with Revolution Saints and also, former Hardline bandmate Johnny Gioeli.
Thinking about the return of ASIA with the original lineup….that was a special one. The relationship we managed to build with John Wetton was such that he genuinely believed that if it wasn’t for the Frontiers label and the push we gave him to work, he might not have found the strength to fight his demons and come back after the first Icon album. He is sadly missed, as is Chris Squire whom I had the pleasure and honor to meet in a fabulous night in Los Angeles together with Alan White, Derek Shulman, and of course Mario. What an amazing pleasure it has been to work with genre-defining bands like YES and ASIA!
And also, it was a great experience to work for many years with legendary A&R Derek Shulman, who helped bring the label to the US market and that introduced us to the great Nick Tieder who has been proactively running the US office for many years now. And another luminary and label mentor that I want to mention for his support over the years is one of The Orchard‘s founders, Scott Cohen who greatly supported the label’s expansion in the then emerging digital marketplace.
What about the massive honor of working with legends like David Coverdale, an artist with such magnitude and charisma, which will probably never be equalled in rock? Whitesnake are such a legendary and iconic band that I could only dream to be able to do so much work with them during the years. What a massive amount of talent there! Not only, but bringing back another absolute legend like Alan Parsons with a sultry pop rock album was another dream coming true this year. It took a few years, but we made it in the end! How could I not mention also unbelievable artists like Def Leppard, Sammy Hagar, Glenn Hughes, Chicago, Ritchie Blackmore, Uriah Heep, Blue Öyster Cult, Nazareth, Sebastian Bach, Rick Springfield, Extreme, Boston, Jorn, Stryper, Mr Big, House of Lords, Ted Nugent, Tesla, Geoff Tate, Warrant, L.A. Guns, Tyketto, Unruly Child, Dennis DeYoung, Nelson, Survivor, Lords of Black, TNT, Crazy Lixx, John Waite, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Drive, She Said, Seventh Wonder, Keel, Quiet Riot, Loverboy, Danger Danger… the list goes on and on, but we are blessed and honored to have been able to spread so much great music during the years. What other label in rock can boast such a MASSIVE amount of talent!?
The hard work that we did to make sure Kip Winger could return to rock…he is truly a musical genius – possibly overlooked – but his talents go way beyond what is perceived by many. His abilities in classical music are unique and impossible to top. It was a genuine joy to see him having success with the classical music record he did and also his solo catalogue is so great. I could also mention some other awesome memories, like a lunch in Chicago with David Huff that brought the basis of the return of Giant with “III” or the incredible opportunity we had to release a “new” product with Dokken’s classic lineup, notwithstanding the difficulties of the personalities involved in the band dynamics. Other memories that I particularly cherish are tied to the first meetings I had with some of my own personal musical heroes. Meeting Jim Peterik in Nashville at John Elefante’s studio to “audition” him and Toby Hitchcock for his real return to rock with Pride of Lions is something that still gives me chills. They played an acoustic showcase with some of the classics that you can now hear ono the band’s debut album. And THOSE vocals… WOW! And what can I say of Jack “Jockimo” Blades? I met him for the first time with Mario and his wife Molly in Paris and we spent a beautiful dinner together drinking beaujolais wine. I won’t forget all the strength and the support he has always given me during the years – love you Jack!
I also wish to mention the awesome relationship with Jeff Scott Soto. We celebrate 20 years of work together next year and notwithstanding so many fights, insults, and arguments, we are still having so much fun together that I cannot see the label’s future without him being involved in one way or another. And the good thing is that we are indeed creatively expanding the boundaries of our cooperation. I also have a similar relationship with the great Johnny Gioeli. He is such a funny and smart guy that what the fans can experience on stage with Hardline (another of those bands that I fought SO hard to bring back in the early years) is probably only a small part of his abilities. You can’t help but have a smile on your face when you spend time with him!
And let me finally mention Pretty Maids and their recent string of amazing albums… coming from awful experiences, the sales were going down, but now they are one of the most celebrated classic/melodic metal bands in Europe – long live Pretty Maids and long live Ronnie Atkins!
After so many years of doing this, sadly we have mourned the loss of some real musical heroes which basically put an end to a number of bands or projects, at least from a creative point of view. Others have carried on and some others have retired or simply and honestly completely lost interest in making more new music. It is understandable or at least we have to accept it, given that some have reached a certain age and considering how complicated the musical landscape is now. Motivation for many of those artist seems to be missing and for several of them it is becoming increasingly less interesting to find the right inspiration to come back and release more music for the fans. If and when they change their minds, we will still be here, but we have to start thinking about how we want to grow and develop the rock genre in the years to come….
We have been working very hard in the past few years on the creative side of A&R. We have been sometimes criticized for creating “projects,” but the reality is that we created a smart environment in which so many talents flourished. Regardless of what some fans may think, every one of those albums was created with true passion and respect for the music. W.E.T. – to make an example – was the perfect setting for Jeff Scott Soto to land after his experience in Journey. He had the opportunity to work with some truly outstanding talents like Erik Martensson and Robert Sall and, three albums later, the result is now in front of everyone for you to hear. Another would be The Dark Element, which highlighted the return to metal for one of the biggest frontwomen in the industry, Anette Olzon, who – thanks to the production and songwriting from the musical genius Jani Liimatainen – could deliver again for her many fans. Many of these projects are the musical “daily bread” for fans who wrote us thrilled about being able to experience the beauty of still being excited with new music coming from their musical heroes.
Not only that, but we have showed that many of those “projects” only need a spark to go out and play live. The festivals we organized and promoted were a great chance for many of those acts to play live and/or to make their live debut. And not resting on our laurels, we are the only label who has invested directly in a festivals who brought the gospel of hard rock to different parts of the world. Sure, not all artists understood completely what were trying to do and build and not everyone has been grateful, but this is certainly a part of the game and we have to live with it.
In addition to this, the label has succeeded in launching absolute gems of albums from INCREDIBLE artists such as Eclipse, Work of Art, Inglorious, One Desire, Wayward Sons (just to name some recent examples), producers and writers (Alessandro Del Vecchio, Magnus Karlsson, Daniel Flores, Dennis Ward, Aldo Lonobile, Fabrizio Grossi, and the list goes on) who thanks to successful projects like Allen/Lande, Revolution Saints, W.E.T., Sunstorm and many more, are now very much in demand.
However, as I mentioned, we have now to look at the future and start wondering how we can bring rock music to a new generations of fans. While we will certainly not deny the work we have done so far and keep open doors to all the classic artists who have brought fame and fortune to rock music in years past and to the incredible wealth of musical treasures that can be found in the label’s catalogue, our focus, as a label, has already shifted on what is new and fresh on the scene. The new platforms and ways to enjoy music not only have opened new markets, but are helping the music to be more global and allow access to fans everywhere. Young talent is what you should come to expect from the Frontiers label going forward as this is going to be our main focus in the years to come!
Frontiers has signed and will sign bands from all over the world and additionally will go even further, taking a look at new musical styles and ways of expression. This does not mean we will become a hip-hop label, as our focus will definitely still be rock and metal, with an emphasis on unforgettable melodies; however, our attention, and the label’s strategy, is to focus on finding new talent. Young, motivated, talented, and determined musicians who are not scared to work their ass off and be on a mission to be the next big thing in ROCK! We plan to be their vehicle and you will see – if you want to follow us in this neverending journey – that in many cases their talents and abilities are certainly not inferior to the masters who wrote the history of rock.
I always love to hear feedback from the fans and look forward to any suggestions about young and exciting new bands which you think can write the future history of ROCK!
Frontiers now is stronger than ever. Mario, Elio, Lorenzo, Giulio, Ezio, Massarock, plus Nick, and last but not least my wife Maria and my two kids, Eleonora and Fernando, who have recently joined the team, will keep working hard to bring you exciting new styles and new bands. We just hope you will embrace them with the same enthusiasm and passion that we have in signing and launching them. Frontiers 2.0 starts now – the foundations of ROCK have been built, the future is now!”