Axel Rudi Pell
Hardline has had a very unique and interesting history. They came fast out of the gates with Double Eclipse in 1992. The next effort entitled ll was never released until 2002 due to the band losing its MCA record deal among band members going off and doing other things that eventually left only singer Johnny Gioeli. Currently the band is back with a strong effort in Human Nature. The band currently includes keyboardist Alessandro Del Vecchio, bassist Anna Portalupi, drummer Francesco “Cesco” Jovino and former Storm guitarist Josh Ramos.
RSC: Hardline is back with a new album entitled Human Nature. Tell us how the recording went and why it was time for a new Hardline album.
Johnny Gioeli: It’s always time for a new Hardline record. We take so much damn time in between records and thats because we’re busy. For me life is like a balance. I have my family, music and we have companies I own. I’ve got a little hotshot twelve year old hockey player. We’re busy man.
The process for this particular record was probably the fastest record I ever made. We’re dialed in now with all my Italian Hardline brothers and sister. We know each other so well so the process was great. I hate to say we wrote it but we wrote it. I hate using that term because the second Josh Ramos or Anna plays, that to me is still writing. The second they have their talent on the song and bring it to a different level it’s considered writing. I can tell you I did the entire album vocally in less than four days. We cranked through it because we’re prepared. We knew exactly what we wanted to do. The difference with this record from Danger Zone is this is a much heavier record for us. I don’t know what it is about playing heavier but playing heavier is easier don’t ask me why, it just is. We had a great time making this. We destroyed Cesco on the drums. We told him play harder, play harder. When you re-listen to it listen to his drumming, you can hear the pain in his hands. You can just hear him slamming the drums. We went for this heavy feel and just cranked it up.
RSC: “Take You Home” is one song the fans should really enjoy. What other songs standout the most to you?
JG: For me it’s my favorite song. I’m a sucker for a ballad. I love a good powerful melody in a ballad. My father was always pushing me to write ballads, write ballads because your voice sounds so great on ballads. So I do and I love to and it used to make him so happy. I think that song is going to be a big one for the record. The video is going to be released in a week or so. It’s really cool, it’s just black and white, piano and voice, just Allesandro and myself. The whole concept is simple. Love always takes you home. We all need it no matter where we are in the world. That song for me sums it all up for me.
RSC: Tell us about the current band and how you assembled them?
JG: After Double Eclipse, I needed some serious therapy. You don’t have a band like that with an eight, nine million dollar deal and when its over you’re not ok. I didn’t really have therapy (laughs) but I needed the time to gather my thoughts. Just Like The Human Nature song “Where Will We Go From Here”, I had to figure it out. So I took a whole bunch of time. It was Serafino from Frontiers who pushed me I mean he broke my stones to put Hardline back together. He said “People want to hear your voice”. I said “they can hear it they can buy Double Eclipse.” He was instrumental. Of course for months and months I said no, he then begged and the begging worked. “I want you to meet Allesandro,” he said “your gonna love this guy, he’s like you, he writes like you.” He pushed Allesandro as a producer. Then I heard Allesandro sing and I heard him play and I said “no you are playing on this brother.” It just sort of happened at the time his girlfriend Anna was an awesome bass player and I watched her play and absolutely. I met Josh way back in the early 90s with Neal. Neal said “He sounds like me. If things don’t work out for us you can always get him.” We laughed about it but I remembered that. So when everything went the way it went I called Josh and said “hey man are you interested in getting together and writing some tunes and seeing where things go” and here we are.
RSC: Hardline has done only one proper tour of the States even though you are an American band. Are there touring plans to support the new album? If so will you be doing some shows in the States?
JG: I get that question all the time and it’s a hard one to answer. I’ll do the best that I can. There’s two things going on. It’s our 25th anniversary of Double Eclipse. So we are attempting to assemble the original lineup to do some very special shows. 99.9 % those shows will happen in the U.S. at festivals and big places. I’m not certain that Neal would be available to do a show like that, the other guys most likely. Are we focusing on a U.S. tour for the current lineup, not really. Unfortunately the economics just don’t work. We have a lot of fans there’s no question about it but to bring everyone over here it’s becoming really difficult. We had such a hard time with the Rock N’ Skull festival that we did last year. I couldn’t get my guys here. I couldn’t get the work visas. Would we want to do it? F*ck Yes! Can we do it? We don’t have all the control that you think we do. It’s really hard getting them into the country right now with all that’s going on. In Europe the tour is already lining up starting end of May. Spain Portugal, Germany, Italy, Sweden, so brother you have to jump on a plane so c’mon.
RSC: Hardline would have been a nice fit on the recent Hair Nation Festival. They are looking to have another next year perhaps you guys can land on a few of our festivals?
JG: I talked to a few people and yeah that could happen. That’s all I’m gonna say right now.
RSC: So give us a rundown of some of your other music projects and things you’ve been up to more recently?
JG: I’m working on my first solo album. Which is really so new for me. You have to be in the right mindset to do a solo album. I’m a team guy and to go out on your own and attempt to put a record together is not an easy thing to do. But I want to do it. I’ve been in this business for thirty-five plus years and I want to have full creativity and just enjoy making this record at my pace. What prompted it it was a local kid in my town here in Connecticut who was in a diving accident. He dove into the Long Island sound and hit a rock and shattered his C-5 and is paralyzed from the chest down. This kid was seventeen years old, high school senior and the community ran to help him financially and emotionally. I wanted to help too they are great friends of my family. I started reading about this whole thing I didn’t realize the rehabilitation costs are six, seven million dollars. Where does that money come from? I said I’m not a social media guy, I never really been but I am now. I’m gonna engage with fans all over the world and tie into charity the making of this solo album and offer it to Joe. That’s what I’ve done. Through Pledgemusic.com fans can donate and get exclusive rewards and such. I’ve given away guitars and memorabilia, Hardline passes, shirts everything. I get to take care of Joe. The fans get the insight to watch the creation of the record. So it’s really a win win for everybody.
RSC: Your voice still sounds as powerful as it did on Double Eclipse. Do you do anything special to keep your voice in good shape?
JG: I do I yell at my children all the time. No I’m kidding. I’ll never forget 25 years ago Neal said to me as you get older your voice is gonna get even better. I said what is he talking about? But he was right. I don’t think I can hit all the notes I hit when I was twenty but the quality actually changes. Of course with experience you figure out ways to use the voice and to place it. No I don’t do anything, I don’t train constantly. It all happens naturally. Short answer no I don’t do anything but just sing.
RSC: What was it like playing the sunset strip when it was the place to be? Give us one of your favorite memories.
JG: I hated it. I absolutely hated it. I really did. I would get a stomachache driving to the gig. We worked so hard promoting and that’s what you did back then with the flyers and the whole thing. We were lucky Brunette was one of several bands that never had to pay to play because we packed those places. I didn’t like the whole process. I loved the people, I loved the fans. For me that time period was like music puberty. It was a tough time, things were changing so quickly. Although it was a cool time for music it was not a great memory for me work-wise. It was a lot of pain and agony it really was. You were expecting a different answer didn’t you.
Check out Hardline and Johnny at the following: