McQueen Street: 2nd Time Around.

McQueen Street was another classic American hard rock act that was swept aside by the grunge revolution. But thanks to persistent fans, good music and the Internet - they're back! I talked to frontman Derek Welsh about the road to their second CD release.

Derek, great to see a new release from the band on the market. A lot of classic hard rock bands are utilizing the Internet to reconnect with old fans and make available music and merchandise that they otherwise would have a chance in releasing.
At what point did you decide this was a good idea and how did you get started?
I've been thinking about doing this for a very long time. Actually I've been involved with the Internet and music promotion since the mid 90s. There's no doubt that the Internet is a great vehicle for music.

To someone who hasn't heard of the band - can you describe your sound and attitude - this is your chance to sell yourself :)
Hard driving, in your face, no frills hard rock.

How did the band get started? What are the origins of the band when you first hit the scene?
We got our start in Montgomery, Alabama in the late 80s. For 3 years or so we played every rock club in the Southeast and probably stayed in every flea infested hotel along the way. We played to packed houses and we played to handfuls of drunks that probably have no recollection that we were ever there. We played 5-7 nights a week. It didn't matter where we were, we were on a mission and we rocked as hard as we could.

You signed to a major for your debut - were you happy with the way that was released and marketed?
I was very happy with the actual recording of the record. I really liked working with the producer Tom Werman and the engineers Eddie Delena and Neal Avron. However, I wasn't happy at all with some of the marketing ideas. I was VERY opposed to the album cover with the woman and the truck. I remember the day one of the marketing guys showed it to me. He asked me what I thought and I told him I hated it. It became pretty heated and it pretty much came down to what I consider to be “the my way or the highway” scenario.
Like a lot of artists, we had to give up some creative control in order to get our music out there. It just wasn't a very accurate depiction of what the music or band was all about.
I think they really tried to tie us in with that whole sex, chics and partying thing. I'm not sure what the hell they were thinking. The first three singles were My Religion, In Heaven and Time. Not a very cohesive marketing plan in my opinion. Sorry, about the rambling. I could write an entire book on the subject!

Were there any specific areas or promises that were not fulfilled by the label?
Sure, lots of them. I don't want to get off on a negative rant about the whole thing but there were more things non-fulfilled than were fulfilled. I'll spare everyone the boring list.

Any great or favourite memories of the months surrounding the release of the debut album?
Sure. I have lots of great memories around this time. When the My Religion video aired on MTV was a great moment. One that really sticks out in my memory is when we were flying in to Los Angeles - I had my headphones on when we were landing and heard McQueen Street on the radio for the first time. I think it was on KNAC and we were headed to do a big show with bands like Alice In Chains, Armored Saint, Bang Tango and a bunch of other really good bands at Sammy Hagar's place in Cabo Wabo.

So what went wrong for the band?
Things that were out of our control. It was the day that music died. As all rockers know, when Teen Spirit hit the airwaves the industry changed dramatically. Anything that looked or sounded remotely like hard rock or metal instantly became taboo. When MTV and mainstream radio refused to play all of the artists in our genre we were all doomed. There was no Internet to save the day. The bands were screwed. The fans were screwed. The band moral was depleted and so were our funds. We simply had to move on.

Tell us of the frustrations of life in 1993....
We all had the rug pulled right out from under us. Personally I was at an all time low and I had to make a decision as to whether I wanted to sink or swim.

When you split, what did you and the other guys move on to do? It's been quite some time since we heard from you all!!
I had always been into different styles of music but hard rock was and still is my passion. I decided to start writing and performing in a different vein of music. I spoke to our bass player Richard and told him I wanted to do a new project. We formed the band The Rat Race which was more of a classic, folky, trippy, sounding band. It was about as far off from McQueen Street as you can get. The Rat Race was not heavy in the McQueen Street sense. No screaming vocals, no shredding guitars. The only heaviness would be in the lyrics and the actual playing. I just wanted to move in a completely different direction. I kind of a had to bury the entire hard rock persona just to keep my own sanity. I worked for a long time writing and promoting Strange Dreams, my book of poetry and ramblings.

And was it anything specific that got you fired-up to release the second album?
It seemed that McQueen Street just wouldn't go away. We would hear about different tracks being used for commercials, sporting events, etc. As the Internet came more into play, rock was able to start resurfacing. It's my philosophy that rock fans and rock musicians never went away. With the Internet, things have been able to resurface again. When the singer from Puddle Of Mudd decided to wear a McQueen Street shirt in the She Hates Me video my phone started ringing. I'd always thought about calling the other guys at some point but my wife really pushed me to do it.

Tell us about the songs from the album - when were they written and recorded etc?
Many of the songs were written in at a beach house in Florida that I rented. I pretty much camped out for a few weeks, had no phone, a TV that had 3 channels and all of my recording gear. I didn't talk to anyone for weeks and just sort of immersed myself in the whole process. We recorded them at various times and places.

Any favourites from the tracks included?
Like most people, I have different favorites for different moods. As an aggressive rocker I'd have to say World Machine. I really like performing that one live. On the mellow/dark end of things probably The Last Breath or What About Jane.

Are there any other McQueen Street recordings that have yet to see the light of day?
I'm currently writing some new material and there are quite a few songs that we've recorded that we may be releasing in the very near future.
If all goes well we may have another CD out within the year. We're also considering adding an option on our Website where you can purchase and download individual tracks. If we get that into place it will be sooner rather than later.

What are the rest of the guys doing right now? Are there plans for a new set of recordings, a few live shows or anything else?
Everyone is busy doing the day to day things we all do. We've all got our hands in the McQueen Street thing and are definitely going to be doing some live shows, recording and appearances. We're currently working on some large rock festivals in the US and Europe.

Where in the US are you located and is there any rock scene left in that area?
We all live in different states in the South. Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Alabama. I m not sure there s an entire scene anywhere but there are some clubs that are popping up again.

What's next for Derek and McQueen Street?
Live shows, new songs and I'm nearing completion on a new book of poetry.

Are there any other bands out there you still admire - who you think are doing a great job and are there any you think should retire already? :)
I saw Cinderella a few years ago in Nashville and they are still an amazing band. One of the best live shows I've ever seen. AC/DC is still kicking hard. Sebastian Bach is one of my favorite rock singers. Some of the newer bands and artists I really like are Audioslave, Puddle of Mudd, Kid Rock and Sevendust.

And what are you currently listening to or what CDs have you recently purchased?
I listen to a pretty wide range of stuff. In my car I've got The Doors, Audioslave, UPO, Steve Earle, Sevendust, Guns N Roses, Sheryl Crow, The Rat Race, and oh yeah, McQueen Street 1 & 2. I got a really good deal on those last 2 so occasionally I feel obligated to listen to those. :-)
In my house I mainly listen to Baby Einstein and Bob The Builder discs. Our 19 month old says they really rock so I go along with it.

Anything you would like to add?
I just want to thank all of the rock and metal fans out there that continue to show their support for us and all of the other bands in our genre of music. I truly am grateful for all of the emails and letters that people have written to us. Most of all I d like to let the people know who continue to buy and play our music how much we really appreciate it.

Thanks again for doing the interview.
Thank you it was my pleasure! You've got a great Web site and it helps keep the music alive.