Bad Bones is an interesting case to look at: a band that has managed to create a cult following of sorts and still growing and reaching to a wide audience release after release. They are a Hard Rock from Italy, a country not very known for its Rock scene but a few Italian bands have managed to break through–Rhapsody of Fire, Lacuna Coil and Vision Divine are the greatest examples of that. And now we have Bad Bones joining the ranks.
The band’s bassist, Steve Balocco, joins us for an interview where we can discuss multiple topics, such as the band’s history, his influences, the goals that Bad Bones have for the foreseeable future and a lot more. Hope you enjoy it.
Hello, it’s a pleasure to have you here.
Hi, thank you for the interview and the chance to let people know about Bad Bones.
Well, I would like to start from the beginning. Why did you get into Rock music? What inspired you?
I was born and raised in a small town in the North West of Italy, far away from the music scene, in the middle of a foggy country, fields, hills, all very quiet, too quite. I started listen to a cassette I stole from a classmate, Kiss Alive II; it was something that really changed my life, so I recorded it and I trade it with a second one, which was Iron Maiden’s Live After Death. Rock saved my life, giving me something to believing, a dream to fulfil and a way to escape from my small town. I wanted to see the world. Ten years later I was on stage with Nicko Mc Brain, playing in his band during the Total McBrain Damage Tour and some years after I was with Bad Bones headlining at the world famous Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles. What else can I say? I lived for my dreams.
What are some of the albums, bands and musicians that inspired you?
As a bass player I have to say Steve Harris and Iron Maiden; if I play bass it is just because of ‘Arry. I had the honor to meet him; he is a really humble and downhearted man, exactly how I imagined he was when I was a kid. I thanked him from the deep of my heart. I love also Lemmy and Motörhead; his style was unique and their music inspired us a lot–we usually end our set with Aces of Spades. Lemmy is a legend, no question. Sergio, our guitar player, is a great fan of AC/DC and he recorded an album in LA with former drummer Simon Wright. Lele, our drummer, loves lot of different music from Anthrax to Alice In Chains to Matia Bazar. Our singer Max is a great fan of Steve Lee from Gotthard, Jeff Scott Soto and Bruce Dickinson.
You guys are obviously from Italy, which is a country that is not very known for their Rock and Metal music. Was that a detriment to your band’s development and exposure?
I think it is not completely true. Italy has great bands in Power Metal like Rhapsody, Vision Divine and Labyrinth, in Gothic Metal like Lacuna Coil, in Prog Metal like DGM; those bands are international, so even if Italy is not a classic Rock nation, we have a good scene. We never felt that our nationality was a limit; we moved to California and we felt like home. Nowadays nobody cares where you are from, rock is a common language. If you take a Japanese, an American and a Russian Rock musician they have the same influences and, musically, they speak the same language. We played in US, in Europe and in Russia and that happened every time we played with local musicians. Rock music unifies the world.
Bad Bones has a very American sound. Do you have any influence of Italian music?
I don’t know, Italian music is 5% of our listening so I don’t think we are influenced by any Italian band. I really love Gianni Maroccolo from a Rock band called Litfiba; I love their first three or four albums, they were kind of a new wave band and they were famous in the early ‘80, but that is not traditional Italian music, they only sing in Italian. Lots of people said that our style is American, we are happy about that even if our challenge is to find a personal sound album after album.
Your latest album, High Roller, was very well-received by critics and fans. How was the process of making the album?
We are very happy for the great reviews our album had around the world. The process is very simple and fast: I come to Lele and Sergio with a rough idea of the song we work on it then, when we have four or five songs ready, I take the demo to Max and we work on the vocals. When all the songs are ready we record a demo then we send it to Simone Mularoni (DGM) and Roberto Tiranti (Labyrinth), our producers, and they give us advices, so we enter Simone’s studio and we record all the music, then when we are done all the tracks go to Roberto studio in Genoa where Max records vocals. The final mix and mastering is done by Simone in his Domination studio in San Marino. The entire process is very fast and the album tends to be ready in a couple of months. We don’t use computers or sequencers. We record it live because that’s our philosophy: we want to give to the listener the vibe of a live band.
Do you guys prefer developing songs as you go along or do you prefer having a preconceived structure before heading into the studio?
When we enter the studio everything is decide–the structure and the melodies. We obviously may change something in the process, but I think 90% of the album is ready when we enter the studio–we don’t like to waste time in studio, because time is money.
As I said earlier, your sound is very rooted in American Rock music, especially the Hard Rock of the late 70s and the 80s. Is this a style that you plan maintaining in the coming years or there is room for experimentation?
We have our style, our music comes from the heart and is not pre-determined, if you say it is 70-80 hard rock I say ok, probably because we were kids in that period and the music of that time shaped our creativity. It is something that comes natural, we won’t change our sound because of the fashion of the moment; we are an honest band and our music comes before any form of business–we are free rockers in a fake world.
It has been stated multiple times by many musicians that the music business has changed radically since the rise of the internet. As a band that started in the digital era, what can you tell us about the challenges and drawbacks of breaking through in the music business?
Music business has always been something very hard to face for a band. In the past it was very difficult to even record a demo: recording studios were very expensive and signing a record deal was just a dream for the majority of the bands, because the majors had their circuits and it was very hard to even contact them. Nowadays internet give you chances to promote yourself without any record company, but you have to know very well the social media platforms and work hard; the web is constantly changing, it is not simple to understand and 99% of the bands out there don’t have any idea of what to do, so the web has potential to help bands to be discovered but with all the social media, webzines web-radio and digital music platforms all the promotional and selling landscape looks like an infernal labyrinth. We have our manager, Donna Labate, to help us surfing that digital ocean because we are old school, we don’t like the internet very much; we prefer to tour, load our van instead of loading our music on a digital platform and drive to the next venue instead of navigating the internet. You know, meet real people, hug our fans, we are a live band, to be a rocker nowadays means to escape from internet and live a real life. This is the revolution we dream: turn off all your devices and come to see a show, dance, drink and have fun!
You already have a few albums and tours on your backs. Do you have any special moment or experience that was meaningful for you? Something that makes you go “This was worth the effort”?
Bad Bones are on the road since 2007 and that is a great goal: we played in Moscow, Rome, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Prague, Riga and many, many other cities and towns around the world so we feel blessed. I think a very special moment was when we saw Bad Bones written on top of the event banner of the legendary Whisky A Go Go–that was a dream come true.
Outside of music, what other interests do you have?
I love nature l, I live near the sea and I love to swim. I think it is really relaxing. I love history too; been recently in Pompeii and it was really amazing, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
What plans does Bad Bones have for this year?
We have just finished the first leg of the High Rollers tour and we are working on the second leg; we already have shows in Italy and Germany. Our label asked us to re-record an album with the best songs taken from our first two albums with special guests. We are thinking about it, who knows.
Thank you so much for this interview, Steve. Is there a final message that you want to leave? Where can we follow you on social media?
Thank you very much for the cool interview, hope to see you on the road. Rock ’N’ Roll is freedom, you can listen to Rap or Pop or dance on your device, but if you want rock music you have to go to a concert to have the real experience–that’s why rock’n’roll will never die!
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Video “American Days”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJICs7WXV8w
Video “Midnight Rider”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unn34NfWBp8