C.J. Snare - Firehouse

August 15, 2002

I thank you for expressing an interest in doing a Firehouse story. That's cool.

I love you guys. You guys always do good stuff.

Well thank you.

How's the tour going so far?

It's going fantastic. We are having such a good summer because the people are coming out in droves and they're appreciative of the music because it's not all over MTV and VH-1 right now. The only time you seem to hear it on the radio is the Aqua Net Show or Hair Spray Show or Perfect Hair or something like that. That's usually about an hour a day so basically it's a grassroots approach. We're taking it to the people. They're coming out to the shows and we're rocking and rolling live for them.

So the attendance has been pretty good.

Yeah, it has been. I'm real happy. It seems to be growing too. There's certain pockets of the country which are better than others but I think people forget if you're not in the mainstream. What happens is, it's a snowball effect in that the more we're out here re-educating the people about this type of music, the more our audiences and our listenership and the following continues to grow.

How did you guys get hooked up with the tour?

Well, VH-1 voted us one of the Top 40 hair bands of all time and I like to joke that we're the hair band with no hair because we've all cut our hair off. We have done shows with Warrant. That was one of our first tours. Also we've done shows with Dokken and Ratt and L. A. Guns and all the guys on this tour. We've performed with them at different times and so this package just came together through some of our managers and booking agents and some of the bands members like myself collaborating to make this work.

What slot are you guys in?

We're in the second slot which is really cool. L. A. Guns goes out there and they warm them up and then they get five and a half hours of solid rock and roll. It's really good. We come out there and we're second. Sometimes Ratt and Warrant flip flop back and forth and Dokken always closes the show.

I was interviewing Michael a couple of days ago and he was saying that you guys are going to have a Firehouse coming out sometime at the end of the year I think he said.

Yeah, when we're done with this tour we have some more things coming up. We have a show in October with David Lee Roth and Lynyrd Skynyrd and a lot of different bands. We're doing some of our own one-offs. We're going to be doing some things internationally. Then we come back for the holidays and we hit the studio for another Firehouse album. I know it's slated to be released probably in the spring in Japan which means a late 2003 or maybe even early 2004 release here in the States.

Have you guys been working on any new material before you went off on tour?

Absolutely. Bill and I have usually done the majority of collaborating on all the music on all the records and we've already begun putting down ideas. I'm sure we'll draw from the some of the experiences that are happening to us here on the road.

What kind of a setlist are you guys doing?

It depends. We've done a couple of shows where Judas Priest has also hooked up with the Metal Edge Rockfest 2002 package and that's a heavier audience so we might gear the set accordingly. With so many bands you only have a little bit of time to play and it's a very compressed set. It's not like doing a headlining show so we feel an obligation to the listening audience out there to play the songs that were our hits because those are the ones they're going to know. It makes it very difficult. It's limiting for us as artists, however can you imagine Angela, if you went to see your favorite band and they didn't play any of their hits. If they just played deeper cuts and deep tracks. That's cool but it might be a little disappointing too. Unless you're a hardcore fan and because we are trying to re-educate people that this is fun and it's really cool and there's a lot of musicianship as far as guitar work and vocals in it, we feel that sticking pretty much with the familiar songs is the way to go.

When you guys do a show on your own, you try to throw in some newer stuff sometimes.

Oh absolutely. When we do headlining dates and one-offs for just ourselves which we do quite a few of actually. They're called fly dates and that's when you're not pulling the big tractor trailers and have all the tour buses. Basically all of that stuff is provided for you. The PAs, the sound and the lights and the backline meaning the drums the guitars. We just bring out some gear. We fly out and we do a show. When we do those kind of shows or when we do one-offs from this tour, we get to throw in deeper cuts from some of the older albums and we get to play some of the new music too. Of course when you've been around as long as we have, it gets very difficult to choose a setlist because there are so many songs.

Yeah, that's true. Are you guys with a label right now?

Yeah, we're still with Pony Canyon which is a Fuji label over in Japan and Southeast Asia. We were with Spitfire for the last two albums in the U. K. and the United States and we really didn't feel like they did anything with us. I don't know if they're just a tax writeoff or what but they gave us some licensing money and brought the records here to the U. S. and put no promotion into it. That's slow death to a band's new music. Of course going into a deal it's always rosy and you never know exactly what you're getting into. They dropped the ball on that so we're not going to be with Spitfire this time. We're going to be shopping for new U. S. support which is great so we're hoping this time to get the promotion we feel our music deserves.

I remember seeing an ad for Alice Cooper's Brutal Planet CD and it was an ad with some other band that was on the label and their ad was bigger than his. I didn't know who they were but I knew who he was. It was weird.

Sometimes labels like that try to piggyback a bunch of bands together to stretch their promotional dollars further and I'm not so sure that's the right approach. I don't know. I think what you really have to get from a record label is commitment. That they're going to go out there and they're going to really beat up the radio stations to play your songs. That they're going to make the calls to VH-1, get some of the classics back into rotation, and play the new stuff. They are going to have to subsidize with tour support and they're going to have definitely do some print ads. Things like that. You need that sort of commitment to generate any buzz about new music.

The last time I talked to you, you and Bill were working on solo albums. How is yours coming along and are we going to be seeing it soon?

Yeah, mine's coming along really good. Bill's is in the can. It's pretty much done. It's really funny. Out here on the road I see Billy Morris from Warrant has a solo album and Jani Lane has a solo album and Bill Leverty has a solo album and John Corabi has a solo album. Bobby Blotzer has a solo album. I really haven't heard anything from any of them so I am being very strategic here. I'm like the little general up on the hill on horseback watching as the battle ensues down below and I'm planning my moves as to where to go, when to go, so I can't exactly say when it's going to be but I am planning it because it's tough out there. It's very competitive and I'm doing something different than any of the artists that I just mentioned are doing also. I'm more pop oriented. I've always brought the hook aspect to Firehouse I feel and the singability and the melodies. Of course I am going to be incorporating that in my new solo album but if I sing on top of another rock track it may remind you of Firehouse. I have that stigma so I have to try and take a different approach to make it sound fresh and that's what I'm doing.

Something I've noticed with some vocalists is that they lose their vocal abilities over the years and you seem to have maintained yours over the years. How do you manage to do that whereas some people lose their vocal range?

I don't know. Good genetics. Thank you for the compliment. I appreciate that. I love to hear that because I take a lot of pride in what I do. I was classically trained and I think that using your voice properly is part of it. That contributes to it's durability and longevity. I do warm up before every show and I take care of myself because my body is my instrument.

You were actually trained in singing.

Yeah, I started when I was six years old on the piano and I'm a classically trained pianist. A lot of Firehouse songs actually are written on piano and transcribed to guitar and I use that as a writing tool. Believe me, my chops are down. I can't hit the Bach and the Mozart and the Beethoven like I used to. I still have my favorites that I play on my piano at home but I'm no virtuoso by means. I don't know. I went from that and the lady who taught me piano also taught vocals. Then I did singing in church and in choir and at school. I actually was first chair tenor one in the state choir in Pennsylvania when I was in high school so all coming up through I learned about how to breath control and singing from the diaphragm. That singer stuff.

Do you think that by not doing that, that's why some people lose their vocal abilities after a while?

I don't know. Who knows. I can't really comment on what other singers are doing. I can only tell you what I'm doing and how it works for me.

A fan in Argentina wanted to know how you enjoyed your last visit there and what you thought of the audiences in Argentina.

The Argentine audience was excellent. Muy excelente. Argentina is muy bueno. We love it. It's very, very good. Gosh, we went to Buenos Aires and we did some cool televisions shows down there with Shusha and just we were very, very well received. I thought that Buenos Aires was an extremely beautiful city. Ciudad muy bonita.

When were you there?

That was in the mid '90s. I would say when "I Live My Life For You" came out. We went to South America, to Sao Paulo, Brazil, and to Rio de Janeiro which is one of the most beautiful cities in the world I'd have to say, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. I'm hoping to major some of the markets that I intend to cultivate with my solo music as well because Firehouse still remains popular there.

Do you think the Japanese label you're with will hopefully enable you guys to do some more international touring?

Oh absolutely. That's been one of our mainstays throughout the whole grunge and alternative era. Japan and Southeast Asia kept us alive as well as other parts of the world. Now because of the conflict between Muslims and Christians which I think is crazy, people are killing each other over how they're going to spend the afterlife. That's dumb. That limits us now. We can't go to the Philippines and we've had many offers to return to Indonesia but unfortunately until the American Consulate gives us an all clear, we can't go back. Japan is still very cool. We'll be going back to Japan and Thailand. I love Thailand. Malaysia, Singapore. That's a very strong market. We Americans get into our little bubble here. We're in a little shell. You say Indonesia. When I say that, I don't know what images that invokes for you.

I have a friend from Indonesia. He's a really nice guy and has told me a lot about his country. A lot of people don't really have the opportunity to have friends from all over the world. I even have a friend from Iran. I have a different outlook on things than most people do.

Right. Americans don't understand that when you just say "yeah, we go and we tour Indonesia", there are 250,000,000 people in Indonesia. That's a lot of people. That's almost as many as we have here in the States. We kind of tend to forget. I think the television and the Internet definitely have it's cons but it's also making the world a smaller place too and that's one of the pros.

South Korea has a really good music scene going on too. A lot of bands are touring there.

As a matter of fact, that's another one of the markets that's very good for us too. We go to Seoul, South Korea.

Any other comments or ideas?

I know that we're planning on touring again next summer. We have many irons in the fire. Just know that Firehouse intends to be around producing new music and still going out and exposing people to not only our new stuff and how we're feeling and expressing ourselves artistically, but also the old favorites. One of the things that we do that I'm not sure how many bands do, is that at the end of each show we try to go out and meet with everyone that wants to come up and shake hands and hang out. Have a drink with us and we've been doing that for about six years now. I think that that helps grow your fanbase too. You get to meet people and it's a good thing.

When I talked with Michael Foster and Mike Fasano, both of them were talking about how everyone was getting along so well.

I enjoy just about everybody on this tour. That's one thing. We're all in this together. We've been through it and we've seen it all come and go. There's been a camaraderie out here on the Rockfest 2002. It's great. At any given time you'll see all of us up on each other's buses. We come out and watch each other's shows. You get to know the guys because even though you're traveling separately, you all end up at the same destination and you have that certain amount of time to kill or we'll go catering and we sit down and eat together. Over a few months you really establish some friendships and some bonds there.

It can always work out into something cool liking writing on an album together.

That's a great idea. It's funny but we've been touring on and off with Warrant since 1991. Here it is 2002 and we've played even internationally with them. We've been out of the country with them. They've opened for us before. There's just been so many scenarios and I think as we continue to mature as artists and go down the road, that's one of the bands I've enjoyed touring with. Ratt, those guys are a great bunch of guys, most of them. It's just fun and the same thing with Dokken. And L. A. Guns. They're sweethearts. It's just cool. It's really, really been a great experience and I wish it wouldn't stop but we got to go home.

Firehouse