Freddy Curci: From Alias to Zion - The Complete Curci.

From his best known role as frontman of Alias, to his roots fronting Sheriff, through the solo years, the Alias demos and back to his new project Zion Freddy covers it all in this new interview.


Freddy?
Yes.

Andrew from Australia
Oh, Andrew!

How are you going?
Good, man. How are you?

Very well, thank you. I'm a few minutes late of course but at least this time I called. [Last scheduled time I forgot…Ooops]
Oh, no. Not at all. It's fine. It's only 4:15 in the afternoon.

Terrific. Have you got a moment to chat?
Absolutely.

Fantastic. Great to talk to you after all this time.
Yes.

I've been a fan since the debut, in fact. I picked that up upon release back in the day.
Oh, my gosh.

Longtime fan.
So you're calling from Australia?

I'm from Australia, indeed.
And where are you calling me from now?

I'm in the state of Tasmania right down the bottom.
Incredible. I love Australia.

Do you? Have you ever been down here?
Yes I have. I did a promotional tour with Alias down there and it was unbelievable.

Is that right? Did you really?
Yes, it was just a dream come true. We have a few fans down there and I'm excited about releasing a new record, you know?

Yes. Let's jump straight to that.
Okay.

It's great that you're working on a record; it's been far too long.
Thank you.

You've been working on and off for a couple of years on this, right?
To be perfectly honest, I was sick for a year and a half.

Really?
I couldn't sing.

Oh, my God.
I had lost my voice and I thought, that's it, I'm finished, I can't sing anymore. I had kind of the same thing that Phil Collins had.

Wow.
It was a viral infection. There was nothing I could do about it. I had no range. It sounded like I had a cold. If you were to hear me it sounded like I had a cold and there was absolutely nothing I could've done. It took me a year and a half to… I lost a bit of hearing in my left ear.

Wow. That's vicious.
It was a little scary but not enough for me to hamper my career or anything. I lost a bit of hearing in my left ear, but thank God my voice is back. I've been taking really good care of it. I'm singing like I was a kid again. I'm very, very pleased where I am now as far as my voice is concerned.

Do you know where you picked this up from?
No, I don't know. It's so weird. Not to compare myself to Phil Collins at all but he said that he picked it up in L.A. and that's where I live.

Great.
So it must've happened here somewhere.

So this is what, a couple of years ago then?
Yeah. It did. For a year and a half I was devastated. I thought, oh my God, there's nothing anybody can do. I went to specialist after specialist and all they wanted to do was fill me up with steroids. I said, “I don't think so.” “Well, we can't really do anything, then.” “Okay.” I just got really depressed.

As you would, yeah.
I tried to write and kept praying that one day I would be able to sing. I can sing now and I'm a happy bird.

Oh, yeah. Did the virus affect you physically otherwise like a normal cold or a virus?
Right, I just felt run down. It felt like a flu. I didn't have the strength, I couldn't do anything, I didn't want to go out. It was a terrible thing.

A year and a half flu, great. I'm just getting over one I can't kick and it's been a week!
God bless you. I hope it doesn't go any further. I hope it goes away now.

I think I should stop wincing now that I've heard that story.
Yeah <laughs>

So a couple of years ago you signed onto Frontiers for a record.
Yes.

Did you get it started then before…
Yes, I did. We were into the project and going for it and doing it and everything came to an extreme halt. I didn't want to hear about anything. I couldn't proceed.

Sure...
They've been terrific. They said, “Take as long as you need to get better.” I did and now I'm really excited. They've been terrific. I didn't expect it. I thought that they would be all upset but they were in my corner and incredibly supportive, you know.

Well that's great. That's all you can hope for.
And now they've promised me huge support on this record, so what else can you ask for?

Yeah, exactly. So where are you at now with the record, Freddy?
I'm pretty much done.

Really?
I've got three songs to mix and then that's it.

Wow.
I'm really in a good place. I feel like my guns are loaded. It's just so much fun! <laughs>. I can't tell you. I want to let you hear songs over the phone. I'm bursting.

I bet.
I can't wait for people to hear this stuff. It's been so long.

How many tracks will be featured on the album?
Probably 11 or 12, something like that. I've got enough for a double record right now but hopefully we'll put another one on the market soon.

Gotcha. Let's talk about who's playing on the album.
Tons of people. Everybody from Joey Scoleri to Paul Marangoni… I forget who else, Jason Hooks and I hooked up recently and he's been playing on the record.

I heard about that. That's interesting.
Jason is phenomenal. He's my hero. Have you met Jason?

I haven't. I've had some email conversations with him.
He is so amazing. He's the nicest guy in the world. He's in rehearsals right now with Hillary Duff.

Yes.
Next week in fact we're going to be mixing a song that we wrote together. As soon as I put up my computer I want to let you hear… I'm so stoked about this song.

That's cool. Something just clicked and I've got a much clearer phone connection with you.
Oh, is this better now?

Absolutely better.
I just changed phones.

Terrific. It's much better.
I'm in my studio now.

Fantastic. So style-wise, people aren't looking for an Audioslave record they're looking for a continuation of Alias. Is that what you're…
I don't know. It started out being a really dark murky ugly record because that's where I was.

I bet.
It was just horrible and then I literally let it go for about 6 months and didn't listen to anything and then I popped the CD in my car one day and said, “What the hell is this?”

Really?
<laughs> It was so ugly. The lyrics were about suicide and death and the whole world is going to blow up and Armageddon's here, and I'm like, “I don't think so.”

Okay. So you've left those off the record or there's a little bit of that?
Well, I don't know. There are some great songs. We've certainly got a lot to choose from, but I would like to see, for lack of a better word, an uplifting record – something that makes people feel good. Dare I say it, almost edifying?

Yeah. I think that's what people will be expecting.
That's who I really am and what I like to sing about and where I come from. It makes me happy to be able to do that and see people's reactions and stuff. Hey it makes me feel good as opposed to let's all go commit suicide.

<laughs> Well I can't blame you for singing and feeling it, that's for sure.
I guess I'm with the old school that music should be entertaining.

Yeah.
Here, want to listen to something?

Yes, mate. Absolutely!
Okay, hold on a second here. Hold on.

You bet.

<Freddy begins playing Andrew a song (“All It Takes Is A Minute”) from his computer>

Oh, wow. That sounds like something people are going to want to hear.
I hope so, I hope so. I'm singing good again, anyway. That's what makes me feel good.

That sounds great. You sound perfect.
That's the one that Jason and I just wrote a month ago. I'm singing good again. I'm feeling good again, and thank God I'm singing in tune! That was my biggest worry that I wouldn't be able to sing in tune. I focus and I sing with one ear off anyway.

Okay.
So that's okay.

Now what was that song called?
“All It Takes Is A Minute”

Fantastic. I can tell people on my site that I heard a snippet of that and it sounded great.
Oh, cool. That was right off the multi-track.

Wow. Lots of vocals going on there in the chorus.
Yeah. I guess I'm over doing it now that I can sing again! Not to harp on the subject.

You can never overdo it. The more vocals the better.
That was 46 background vocals. All me.

Really?!
Yeah.

Fantastic.
Well the thing is it's a blessing and a curse. It's great to sing exactly what you want to sing, but you've got to sing so much of it to make a cut because it is all me, there aren't real different textures.

Yep. Okay.
It's all me and you've got to keep singing to make it sound full. To make it sound like 10 people you've got to do like 46 tracks of it this time. I've never appreciated music more than I do now. I'm just so enamored with this whole thing again. I don't know how to explain it. It's such a joy now to be able to so this. I guess when I was younger I took it for granted and now it's just doing music for music's sake and being really excited about whatever the record does it does. That's not important. It's out of my hands; it's out of my control. What I can do is make the best record I can and that's all that really matters now.


What a perfect place to be in, so enthusiastic and being able to promote a record, almost, you know, get it up there and make the most of that.
Well I'm sitting in my studio and, I counted, it was 17 steps from my house.

Really?
Yeah. I have a studio in my guest house and it's really state of the art. I have incredible neighbors that don't mind if I play into the wee hours of the morning. You know how neighbors complain? I've got an English couple living next to me and they say, “How lovely, we were listening to you playing the guitar last night and it was just lovely.” And I'm thinking, “Can I kiss you right now?”

You couldn't ask for better.
Yeah, it's a really, really wonderful situation to be in.

Where about in LA are you?
You wouldn't believe it; you could spit to the strip from my house. I live right up Sunset and Fairfax.

Yeah, okay.
Right where the strip starts.

I was there about 4 weeks ago.
Get out of town! Why didn't you come over?

I only had three days.
You could've taken some pictures for the article. Way to go.

I know, I know. It's terrible, isn't it? I just had so much to do in so little time.
The hotel was on Sunset and North Vermont.
Gosh, you were 10 minutes from my house.

I know. It wasn't far was it? Next time.
You could've had dinner.

Yeah, could've had dinner. Exactly.
I'm good with barbeque.

Are you? Oh, we love barbeques!
I'm good with barbeque. I'm Italian. I can whip up anything. I had my mother's – I don't know if it's a blessing or a curse – if you look in my refrigerator it looks like there's nothing there, but I can whip up a 3 course meal.

I'm hopeless like that. My wife is good like that. I'm hopeless.
It's like, “What do you want to eat?” “We've got nothing in the fridge?” “Oh yes we do.” Boom.

Brilliant. Do you know when the album will be released?
I'm hoping that it will be released in November sometime.

Terrific.
That's what we're shooting for.

Excellent. So you really are seriously close to finishing it.
Yeah. I truly am.
I'm mixing this song next week. I've got some odds and ends to finish. I've got a lead vocal to finish on “One Man Alone”. Just a few things to finish up and then we're out of here. I'm going to do everything I possibly can. I'm going to be doing some promotional dates in Europe.

Oh that would be great.
We spoke with Frontiers; they're really behind this record. I'm so stoked about it. I go, “I want 50 promotional dates,” he goes, “How about 5?” I said, “Done.”

You can barter up from there.
Yeah.
Jason's going to be touring with me.

All right.
It's going to be Jason and I and possibly one more guitar player and we don't know if it's going to be an acoustic set or a full band thing but, yeah, that would be a blast.


Let's talk about acoustic tracks and in particular, the VH-1 Metal Mania release.
Sure.

I heard that a tour was being put together. So that's a go?
Yes. It's been put together; we start Oct. 8 or the 18 somewhere in America and we're going to be touring.

Wonderful. And how many dates?
I think 20 or 30 dates across America.

How did your involvement in that record come about?
I just got a call from the head of A&R who said, “We need you to do a record for this,” and I said, “Okay,” so two days later I had a record for them.

Yeah? And that was a whole new recording you did for them, wasn't it?
Absolutely. Yeah. It was weird because that was the first thing I sang that I didn't know… I kind of put myself under the gun because it was the first real thing that I sang and I didn't know if I could do it, but I did it. I figured that if there was anything I could sing in my sleep it could be that, “More Than Words Can Say.”

Yeah.
So when I pulled it off it gave me a ton of confidence to be able to say, “Okay I guess my voice is back.”

Yeah, it sounded great.
Thank you. That was so easy to do and a lot of people liked that vocal on that track. They say it sounds even more soulful than the original. <laughs>

It was. I liked the format. It was the perfect song to lend itself to that format.
Yeah, I dig it.

I have a buddy that was in the LA show for the live show and he said you sounded great there too.
Well thanks. The live show came off really well. I had a really wonderful time doing it and was really glad to be there. When you get to my age, being a rock star doesn't matter anymore.
All I want to do is get out there and get the music to the people. Because, let's face it, when you're in the studio it's a wonderful environment but yet it's like hell because you've got this microphone and all it's doing is sucking your soul. It's sucking every ounce of your emotional well being. And it gives nothing back.

That's an interesting take on that.
When you're live you're getting all of this incredible energy back. It's almost overwhelming. It's the first time I had played in I don't know how long. I was totally grateful for the guys I was playing with and man it couldn't sound any better. I was being taken away by the crowd. I thought the crowd was into it. They didn't know who I was originally but then you could see it in their faces, oh yeah! I think half of the girls lost their virginity to my song. They're like, “That's the guy?”

Haha…Tell me, when Alias had that – that was a massive hit, even here in Australia.
It was a #1 hit in 18 countries.

Yeah, it was a huge hit. How does, you don't have to talk details here, but how does that specifically set you up financially? Does that really do it for you?
We did okay. We were okay. There was a ton of airplay; we sold a decent amount of records, we weren't really foolish with the money. Just because I wasn't dealing with it. Thank God we had wiser heads prevailing at that point.

A lot of guys snort it or blow it, don't they?
Well, yeah. I tried my best.

Did you? <laughs> Fantastic!
Yeah.

I ask that because a lot of people get screwed, don't they?
I got screwed in Sheriff. I never saw a penny in Sheriff.

Really? That's just sad isn't it?
I equate stories by bottles of wine and that's a 4 bottle of wine story.

Really? <laughs> That doesn't sound too good.
It's really a sad story. It's so typical of rock and roll bands or all those bands that come and go it's such a shame. I know for a fact that the bass player and the drummer in Sheriff are working in factories and whatever money they would've received from Sheriff would've been a windfall. The last I hear, the drummer from Sheriff was living in a, how do I say this, a bit of a ghetto.

Yeah. That is really…
And we're still fighting. It's been 15 years of lawsuits.

Really? And you're still going.
And I don't want to tell you how much money we've spent. Oh, I don't care, I'll tell you, we've spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars on lawsuits. All I know is that there is a God because when there had to be money for a lawsuit, boom, here's Alias with this hit and we were able to afford the lawsuit. It's not about the money, it's about doing what's right. Sometimes you've got to do what's right in spite of the money.

Who are you fighting? The record label?
In a sense, we're fighting the publishing company.

Okay.
Which is the keyboard player that was in Sheriff and the keyboard player's cousin that was in Sheriff.

Oh, dear. Never bring family in to it.
What are you going to do? It's been 15 years and it's sad because we never made any money when we were in the band. We could've had a wonderful situation after the band and it's just sad. How can you not take it personally?

I would. Absolutely. Sheriff still receives good airplay in Canada, I'm sure.
I guess. I hope so, yeah. I wouldn't know.
And the scary part is, Sheriff, the lawsuit that we filed, we won in 1995.

Right.
We won two subsequent appeals and they're still smoke and mirrors. Stuff like they keep changing the bank account every month because we've garnished the wages.

That sucks.
It's been…it just really sucks. It's stupid, you know. It would be really wonderful if we just got it all over with and could move on. Well, there you go. There's my Sheriff story.

I feel like a drink after that.
Yeah, I feel like having a shower.

Absolutely. But Alias was obviously a better deal for you and that went well.
Oh, yeah. Alias was amazing.

Do you keep in touch with the guys?
Yes, I do. Steve and I spoke yesterday for 3 hours Steve DeMarchi and myself. I spoke to Steve Fossen about two weeks ago and he updated me on the other two guys and if this tour goes to Seattle I'm going to get them to come up onstage.

That's cool.
We're still friends. They're wonderful guys, great musicians. Mr. Derosier is still the loudest drummer I've ever played with.

Really?
Poor drums. He had to change heads every gig – boom, whap, boom! I felt so sorry for those drums.

Alias was a pretty rocking band.
The band was the best band I was ever in.

A lot of people will only know you for the ballads, from radio play, but you were a pretty rocking band.
It was such a small part of the band.

Exactly.
A lot of bands have fallen into that trap. I don't regret having the hits. How many people have had two #1 records in their lives? I just wish that more people would've seen the band rock live because we were amazing. We were really amazing.

Is there any live recordings or radio shows?
Yes! We did a live show… yes we do as a matter of fact.

I'd love to hear some of that.
I'm thinking of perhaps convincing the record company to release that.

Oh, I think they'd be there in a second.
We've become old enough now that we've become nostalgically hip if that means anything.

Absolutely. I've seen the 2 video clips off of the album, which I thought were great, but I've never seen or heard anything live.
The band was… the Heart guys knew what they were doing, Steve and I knew what we were doing. When we were up there, nothing mattered. We didn't' care about anything. It was like a punk attitude with melodic songs.

Yeah.
We would go and I would look at whoever and go, “Go do a solo. I've got to go have a drink.” <laughs> It was fun, we would react to the audience. It wasn't staged in any way. We would talk to the audience. It was really the best band. When you get a bunch of people up there who really love performing. The bigger the crowd, the better. Actually sometimes the small crowds were great too. After the show we would go jam at some bars and that was a blast too.

That's fantastic.
I'm really looking forward to actually touring. Hopefully I'd like to be touring non-stop for a while. I want to sing now. I can!

That VH-1 thing is a good leg up, isn't it?
Yeah, I'm really grateful for that again.

Do you see Alias touring or recording or getting back together?
That would be my dream. If we could get together somehow…It's just a matter of logistically getting it all together. Me, I can't even get out of bed. I'm not a very organized person. <laughs>

I can sympathize. <laughs>
Somebody's got to step in and go, “Okay, guys, this is what we're doing.” “Okay.” So hopefully that will happen.

That's cool.
Maybe Sarafino will go, “Okay, guys.”

Well, I will pass that on to him. I've got to ask you, Freddy, about the… I don't even know if it is officially the 2nd Alias album, but the tracks have been bootlegged the hell everywhere.
Oh, the bootleg?

Yeah.
I don't know how that happened.

Some company in Sweden put out a 10 track…
They're not even mixed!

Really?
They're not even mixed, they were just roughs of some stuff we were recording and it got out somehow.

Right. Personally, I've got 14 tracks.
Wow. I don't know how that got out. I have no idea how that got out.

Was that something you were working on at the time?
That's what we were working on at the time as a 2nd Alias record.

Did that just get swept aside because of the usual label bullshit?
You got it. I don't know how that happened.

You're re-recording a couple of tracks for Zion, right?
I am. Yes.

That's cool.
One is “How Much Longer is Forever” and I can't remember the other track.

Was it “Heat of the Night”?
Oh, “In the Heat of the Night” has never been released and nobody has ever heard it. It's a track that I wrote with Jim Vallance.

I think I've heard it.
No way!

Yeah.
Has Sarafino let you hear it?

No, I think it's part of the original trade thing that got traded.
No. I don't think so. I saw that record. “In the Heat of the Night” is this song here… hold on a second… Let me find it.

I swear I think I heard it because I was talking to Jim Vallance once because I got a hold of him via email.
And you've heard that song, huh?

I sure have, yeah.
Well there you go.

I don't think it's one of the ones being widely traded or whatever, you know.
That's interesting.

These ones have been traded are crappy quality anyway. I even featured a couple on my site, forgive me, but…
Wow. There you go. Well, “In The Heat of the Night” is a smash song and if it got out, what are you going to do?

Well, I'm really pleased that you're doing it properly now.
Yeah, it's going to be a good version. I love Jim. Jim's got the best work ethic.

I have enjoyed e-mailing him.
Yeah, he's the most amazing writer. I don't know where he gets his ideas, but I just thank God for them.

Yeah. I'm a big fan of the stuff he works with. He seems to bring out the best in artists.
I don't know. He's just an amazing man and an amazing writer. Just a lovely guy. I could never say enough wonderful things about the guy because he's just… he's that one in a million that somehow I had an opportunity to write with the guy and I'll never forget it. I'm very pleased with that. Hopefully one day I'll be able to do it again.

That's good.
He's just so amazing. You know, then you understand why he's had all of these amazing hits. You think, “How can he do that?” Just amazing. We wrote two or three songs together and they're all amazing.

How many songs did you write together?
Either two or three.

And where are the other two? Have they been demo'd or recorded?
Oh, yeah. A song called “Believe Me”, that's a really good, that's like a shuffle, it's really cool. Maybe it was just two, I don't remember.

He's doing a web site where he's doing a history of every track he's ever written.
Has he? It'd have to be a pretty big book.

I know. This is two years ago and he goes, “I'll let you know when it's finished,” and he still hasn't emailed me.
God bless him.

Yeah, he's a nice guy.
His work ethic, he knows how to caress a song. He knows how to get the best out of whoever he's working with. I can't say enough about the guy.

Yeah.
There's some people who I work with that just… I guess I'm too old now to have an ego now but some people still have egos and I'm like, “Oh, shut up. Come on.” My father has this saying, “Even the Queen has to go to the bathroom.”

Exactly.
So let's make it real here.

You're in the wrong business not to deal with egos.
Well, yeah. What do they say, “How does a lead singer change a light bulb? He just stands there while the world revolves around him.”

I like that. <laughs>
How true.


Yep. I'm also a fan of your solo album.
Oh, Dreamer's Road. Well thank you very much!

That was a really nice album.
Thank you. Thank you very much. It was supposed to be a 2nd Alias album.

Again.
Again. It was supposed to be a 2nd Alias album but we had to make a bunch of changes because the record company said, “Well, rock isn't happening anymore so we want to do a Freddy Curci solo album.” “What? Okay”.

That was good of them.
But, we pulled up our socks and tried to do the best job we can. It is all music after all.

Well, it was great, a little more relaxed; it was a nice sort of laid back record. I really like it.
What a band I had for that record!

Yeah, because you had Steve on there as well, didn't you?
Yeah, Steve DeMarchi, he's my champion, always will be, but aside from Steve there was Abraham Laboriel played bass, I had Carlos Vega playing drums, I had Debra Dobkin playing keyboard, I had Kevin Savigar playing keyboards again.

Oh, wow.
I just had this incredible studio band that were all so amazing and then I had Marco Mendoza playing bass; you know Marco.

Oh, Marco. I met him in the UK last month. He headlined the festival.
Marco. We spent months together working on that record.

Fantastic.
And Larry Aberman playing drums. If you look, all the 6 string fret lists… it's Marco.

That's great.
In fact, on that bootleg, that's all Marco.

Is it really?
Yeah.

I never knew that.
Yeah, you've got to hear some of the stuff though. He gets a little funky on... There's a song called “Love is a Jungle”. You've got to hear Marco just wail on that.

I'm going to dig it out and play it in a minute.
Marco's all over the place on that. Larry Aberman is playing drums all over that stuff. Larry Aberman was the guy who replaced the drummer… remember when the original drummer in Foreigner left?

Yeah.
Larry was the guy who took his place.

Okay.
So I had all of these incredible musicians to play with. Robert O'Hearn played on some of this record, so it was like my dream band. Plus Steve, you know.

Yeah.
That was a really joyful experience after spinning our wheels with Alias. But I'd love to do one more Alias record.

Absolutely.
It was a pleasure, pleasure speaking to you.

You too, Freddy.
This was the most un-interview interview I've ever done.

I know. Sometimes I tend to get a little bit laid back and tend to just chat through it!
That's the way it should be.

Yeah.
Completely informal. I probably told you more than I intended <Laughs>.

Yeah, I charm it out of you. I ooze it out of you.
Well, you're a charming man, what can I say.

<laughs>
Well we've got each others' e-mail addresses, let's keep in touch.

Thanks, Freddy!
I'll talk to you soon!

A pleasure talking to you, mate.
You too.