As part of his month-long Bananiversary Celebration, rock 'n' roll comic C.C. Banana spoke with singer Marq Torien about the current state of the BULLETBOYS as well as Marq's recently completed new album. A few excerpts from the interview follow:
C.C. Banana: What is the present status of the BULLETBOYS? Does the band even exist at this point? Who is in the current lineup and are there any plans to tour or release a new album?
Marq Torien: "There is going to be a BULLETBOYS semi-reunion and we'll be doing some shows during the summer and into the fall. I say 'semi' because there is one member who is still resistant to the idea. I love this guy very much and I just wish he'd come back so that the four of us can do what we do best. I care about this person immensely and I think he's one of the greatest musicians I've ever played with. We shared a lot of things together and we've gone to battle alongside one another in the music world. So far I've spoken with both Lonnie Vencent and Mick Sweda and they're both on board. Lonnie's definitely ready to go and Mick has said that the only thing he'd ever turn down is a warm Budweiser. So we'll just have to see what happens with Jimmy D'Anda. (I am also) starting a new project. A brand-new band called TEN-CENT BILLIONAIRES. I've been working on the record for a couple of years now and I'm really excited about it. We're getting ready to drop it with a brand new record company but I can't really go into detail just yet. I'm not trying to sound secretive or anything but we honestly have something really, really solid with this record. We're just trying to dot the I's and cross the T's. God willing, I hope to have this record out by the end of summer with a video on one of the video channels.
"I would say that the sound of this band leans toward the old school with a fresh touch of the new school. It actually sounds very Sunset Strip to me. There's not really a lot of embellishment on it, it's real meat-and-potatoes. Vocally, I'm screaming my butt off so the fans should dig that. People who hear it really seem to like it and I'm very happy about that.
"Originally I wasn't even planning to release it. I was just going to form the band and play some shows and see how things went. But people just kept asking me to play them the new music and they'd always be baffled that it hadn't already gotten me signed. The music actually got picked up by 6 or 7 radio stations in the state of Florida and it just did really well so we went in and started to make a record."
C.C. Banana: What happened on your ill-fated tour with L.A. GUNS and BLACK 'N BLUE in 2003? It seems like the BULLETBOYS dropped off the bill pretty quickly.
Marq Torien: "It was a combination of a lot of different things. One of them was that we were told the tour would pay a certain amount of money, which it ultimately did not. Plus, when the BULLETBOYS were onstage the place was full. After we finished, the place emptied out. I won't say which band would be out there playing, but there would only be about 20 people left. So monetarily it just didn't seem fair. We were also having a lot of problems on the road. I was out there with a new drummer and a new bass player, with guitarist Keri Kelli pulling double duty with BULLETBOYS and L.A. GUNS. Keri is an amazing dude and I love him to death but I think it was just too much for him. He was burning off a lot of energy playing the BULLETBOYS ' set because we just go off and have a great time. Then he had to play in L.A. GUNS and he was just exhausted. It started out to be a good arrangement but it just turned into a mess. Then one day I woke up to find that our tour manager Mark Rojas had been stabbed by our bus driver. He literally tried to kill him! When something like that happens on the road, it's just a bad omen. Then after the bus driver was sent to jail, we found out that he had been wanted for attempted murder and that he had a big gun on the bus that nobody had known about. I just didn't feel comfortable continuing after that so we decided to pull out. I think we played 2 or 3 shows, maybe few more than that. It had nothing to do with L.A. GUNS, it just wasn't right for me. I felt that there were a lot of Indians out there and that I was the chief. And that was a little hard on me because I like to have fun, too. Plus like I said, the money wasn't right and I just felt very uncomfortable playing our songs with people who hadn't written them. I don't know, it was just very difficult out there on that tour."
C.C. Banana: Who or what were KAGNY & THE DIRTY RATS?
Marq Torien: "KAGNY & THE DIRTY RATS was a band signed to Motown>, featuring a singer by the name of Steven St. James. This was actually the first time I was ever signed with any record company. The band had been put together by Berry Gordy's son Kerry Ashby along with Benny Medina. Benny now has a huge management firm, Handprint Entertainment, where he's managed artists like JENNIFER LOPEZ and MARIAH CAREY.
"A friend of mine had asked me to come in and sing with the band when they were recording at Hitsville USA. They needed someone to sing on a song called 'Emotions', a real R&B-style ballad which featured THE TEMPTATIONS on backgrounds. So I was just amazed that they wanted me to come in and sing on it! But when I showed up, Benny and Kerry just kind of looked at me as if to say, 'What's going on with this surfer dude?' They thought I looked too much like a rock guy and wanted to know if I could sing R&B. So Steven said to them, 'Hey, I'm telling you, this guy is great.' So they played the track for me and I just fell in love with it. Fortunately, I was able to give them what they wanted and they were just amazed that I could sound like that. We ultimately recorded a full album for KAGNY & THE DIRTY RATS, which got MTV airplay and everything. This was way back in the early days of the channel, around 1983 or 1984."
Read the entire interview at www.ccbanana.com.