As part of his month-long Bananiversary Celebration, rock 'n' roll comic C.C. Banana spoke to guitarist Jeff LaBar about the future of his bands CINDERELLA and NAKED BEGGARS. A few excerpts from the interview follow:
C.C. Banana: We hear that there are certain legal complications preventing CINDERELLA from releasing a new studio album. This situation dates back to the late 1990s when you first signed with Sony, so wouldn't any statute of limitations be up by now? Is there anything you're allowed to tell us about the status of this phantom album?
Jeff LaBar: "It's not a legal matter, we simply don't have a record deal. That's all there is to it. Sony never prevented us from putting out a record, they just never released one. Our legal problems with them are over. After we signed with Sony, we wrote material and made demos for the next three years. But they never put us in the studio with a producer to make a record because John Kalodner felt that the writing wasn't strong enough. So he just kept telling us to write. In 2000 we went on tour with POISON, then we came back and wrote some more and cut more demos. Then in 2002 we went on tour with POISON again and then the CEO of Sony came in and cleaned house, shutting down Kalodner's Portrait label in the process. Contrary to popular belief, we weren't signed to Portrait we were actually signed to Sony. They could have released our album on Portrait or Columbia or whatever they wanted. But the CEO just cleaned house of all the scrubs and all the dead weight, including us. This was after being on the label for three years, so we got into a lawsuit. They actually tried to settle and offered us a big chunk of change, but we didn't accept it. Which was a mistake, because we were in litigation with them for another three years and we ended up getting less than what we could have settled for. We walked away with about enough to cover our lawyer fees. So it's not that we can't put out a record, but we won't put one out without a record deal."
C.C. Banana: Is a new album something that CINDERELLA would still like to pursue at this point?
Jeff LaBar: "It's all up to Tom (Keifer). I don't think he'll do it. He probably won't do his solo album, either. Eric (Brittingham) and I can put out NAKED BEGGARS albums all by ourselves, but I don't think CINDERELLA will ever put out another record."
C.C. Banana: What happened to Fred Coury after "Heartbreak Station"? He's not on "Still Climbing" and he didn't tour with you guys for that album.
Jeff LaBar: "We just parted ways. There was a lot of controversy within the band at the time regarding Fred. 'Heartbreak Station' was the first record Fred actually played on, even though he's on the covers of the first two. Personally, I thought he played awesome, but 'Heartbreak Station' sold only half as many copies as the previous records and I think maybe Fred was made the scapegoat. So it was a little bit of that, but also a little bit of him being a whiny bitch! He'd caused some tension within the band, talking to me about Tom, talking to Tom about Eric, talking to Eric about me, that kind of shit. At the same time, he also had other things going on outside the band. So we just decided to part ways because it wasn't working out between us, but also because he had better opportunities elsewhere. So it was a little bit of everything."
C.C. Banana: There was even a time in the mid-1990s where CINDERELLA actually broke up for a number of years. What led to this breakup and at the time did you understand it to be permanent? What circumstances led to the four of you getting back together?
Jeff LaBar: "Well, we never officially broke up. We just didn't do anything as a band. It was more like an extended hiatus. We still talked with one another but everybody just went off and did their own thing. We took three years off because CINDERELLA didn't have a record deal anymore. What brought us back together was Polygram. They wanted to put out a greatest-hits record, and nowadays you put new songs on those. So they gave us a little chunk of change and we all got together with Fred to record a new song. We actually recorded it in Fred's studio, where he produced it and put the whole thing together for us. So Fred came back with a vengeance!"
C.C. Banana: Did he at least play drums on the song?
Jeff LaBar: "Oh yeah! So while we were recording, we all said, 'Wow! This is cool! Why don't we keep doing this? Why don't we go on tour again?' But at the time, we didn't know how to do it. We had no management and no record deal. So we just started putting it together ourselves. But even before getting back on the road, we'd found new management and prospects of a new record deal."
C.C. Banana: Wasn't there also a benefit concert in there somewhere?
Jeff LaBar: "It was a local South Jersey benefit, for a friend whose child had gotten into a car accident and didn't have insurance. Eric, Tom and I are all from the South Jersey / Philadelphia club scene, which is a very tightly knit community. Since the '80s, a lot of those people have stayed in contact with each other and whenever somebody from that scene gets in trouble, everybody else rallies around and does what they can. So yeah, somebody had gotten us all together and we played one show. It wasn't even a whole concert, I think we only played a few songs. If you see the pictures of us from then, we were all fat and out of shape! But it got us back together."
C.C. Banana: What do you think the future holds for CINDERELLA, NAKED BEGGARS and Jeff LaBar?
Jeff LaBar: "I think in the future, CINDERELLA will probably just continue as it is now, touring every other summer for the nostalgia of it. I do hope for more, but that's probably what will happen. I don't believe we'll make another record. Maybe we will, because I would certainly love for that to happen. As for NAKED BEGGARS, I see a record deal and I see a new future for myself, my colleagues and my friends. This is what we've been driving toward and working hard to achieve. I definitely think we have the goods. I've seen what's out there and we're so much better. I see NAKED BEGGARS being my future. Personally, I just hope to be happy with my new wife and to watch my son grow up to become a better person than I am. I hope to give him a better life than I had and I hope to be happy with Debbie in whatever we do."
Read the entire interview at CCBanana.com.