Blades Jacked up over his New Melodic Rock Supergroup Project
By Jim Barber
When you are bringing together three musicians whose collective pedigree is off-the-charts impressive, it’s hard not to consider it a supergroup.
And that’s exactly what Revolution Saints is. Another brainchild of Frontiers Records founder and President Serafino Perugino, the band features drummer/vocalist Deen Castronovo (Journey, Bad English), bassist/vocalist Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees) and guitar whiz Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio).
Their self-titled debut album will be released in Europe and the UK on Feb. 20 and on Feb. 24 in North America.
Like similar Frontiers supergroup projects Rated X (Joe Lynn Turner, Carmine Appice and Tony Franklin) and Sweet & Lynch (Michael Sweet, George Lynch, James Lomenzo, Brian Tichy) Revolution Saints is built around the melodic hard rock vibes of the 1980s – big riffs, phenomenal vocal harmonies and out-of-this-world musicianship.
This particular conglomeration of talent actually started out as a way of showcasing the hitherto barely known (at least among the general music loving populace) vocal prowess of Castronovo, who is best known for his extraordinary skills behind the drum kit, for the last 17 years with a revitalized Journey.
“The idea was to pull together some great players to surround Deen so they could really bring him front and centre as a vocalist. He’s got an amazing voice and has been doing some pretty cool stuff with Journey but it’s mostly been background or secondary vocals. I know how great this guy’s voice really is and he absolutely nailed it on this album,” said Blades, who still records and tours with Night Ranger.
“So when Serafino asked me to come on board I thought ‘awesome’. I’ve known Deen for 25 years or so and have always wanted to work with him. And then when Doug came into the picture … well he’s a monster on the guitar. So I was excited to get started and see what would happen.”
Blades and Aldrich came into what would become Revolution Saints after most of the sons had been written by Frontiers’ resident producer and keyboard virtuoso Alessandro Del Vecchio, who played on the album as well as producing it.
“That is the one regret I have about this whole thing is that we all didn’t get a chance to make a contribution to the creation of the songs. I did do the chorus for the song Dream On, which is an awesome song, and co-wrote Turn Back Time with Alessandro,” Blades said.
“But all three of us did put out own unique stamp on the songs, just because we all have our own style when we play.”
A pair of Castronovo’s Journey bandmates also make guest appearances on the album, with singer Arnel Pineda sharing lead vocals on the powerfully emotive song You’re Not Alone, while ace guitarist Neal Schon lays down a masterful guitar solo on the track Way to the Sun.
But those were just the cherries on top of the proverbial rock and roll sundae and Revolution Saints is giving you the music you’d expect from such masters of melodic hard rock: driving rhythms, crunching chords, lyrical depth and meaning, and songs that contain both catchy hooks and virtuosic playing. It’s a fresh take on melodic hard rock in the sense that Aldrich, Blades and Castronovo are not ‘trying’ to be derivative of themselves and consciously write singles or songs to get airplay – they are simply making the kind of music that they want to hear and love to play.
Blades said he and the others were not interested in trying to rehash what had already been done in each member’s previous bands, that they wanted to continue to stretch as musicians on the Revolution Saints record. And they also wanted to push one another, as great artists or athletes on a team do, to bring out the best in one another and capture it on tape – or in this case digitally.
“None of us has anything to prove to one another or to anyone else. We’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Our track records speak for themselves. We are all professionals but we are all also still giant fans of rock and roll music and we still love that rush you get when you create something new and when you’re playing alongside guys who are as jacked as you are about it,” Blades said.
“Even though we weren’t all in the studio at the same time, we could still feed off the energy from the other guys’ performances on their tracks. And you could just tell they were going to be fucking killer songs, man.”
Blades has a wealth of experience playing in a ‘supergroup’ setting. Damn Yankees was a bona fide phenomenon in the early 1990s, releasing two albums and a string of hit singles/videos. He joined forces with Tommy Shaw who was then on hiatus from Styx, the Motor City Madman Ted Nugent, in his first group environment since he was part of the Amboy Dukes two decades earlier, and accompanying this titanic rock trio was current Lynryd Skynyrd drummer Michael Cartellone.
He said there are similarities with the Revolution Saints project, in that there are also an agglomeration of superstars, but also some significant differences.
“The process was a different because we were originally kind of brought into this thing to help out Deen, whereas Damn Yankees was meant to be sort of a partnership between Tommy, Ted and I right from the get go. And we were also a lot younger back then and at different stages of our career, so there were times when egos did get involved and we sometimes had different priorities as a band,” Blades recounted.
“But it was a great experience and I am proud of the work we did, just like I am really proud of the work we have done with this Revolution Saints album. And you now, we’re not on a major label and having to deal with all the politics and bullshit that goes along with that. Again, been there done that. I wouldn’t say it’s a better experience, but in some ways I would say it’s more fun and less pressure this time around.”
And with such a potent and explosively rockin’ album, there is definitely going to be pressure on Blades, Castronovo and Aldrich to hit the road as Revolution Saints. At the moment, Blades said there is a lot of talk, but nothing definite
“I know we’d all like to and that there are offers out there for us to do some festivals and maybe tour. We’d like to, but it’s a matter of fitting it in. Journey has a bunch of dates lined up, so does Night Ranger and I know that Doug has a lot on the go with his projects. So we’ll see. It definitely would be great to hit the road with these guys. The show would kick ass for sure,” he said, adding that there is also no long-term plan in place for Revolution Saints in terms of future albums, although he said actually being able to write an entire album with Castronovo and Aldrich would be something he’s very interested in trying.
“These guys are great writers and musicians and just super cool guys too. I think if we had the chance to bash out some songs together, it would be a pretty kick-ass record. We’ll see what happens. I know I am game if we can make it happen.”
For more information on Revolution Saints, visit their page on Facebook, or www.frontiers.it