Interview with queen of metal Ann Boleyn
- Welcome Ann to Indian Music Mug.
- What have you been upto lately
At the moment I am in the studio and am recording five new songs.
- Tell us about your formative years
I don’t know what you mean by the term “formative years.” As a human being, who is alive and breething, I am influenced by everything I experience.
When I was a child, I used to play in bands with my friends from school We’d play what ever songs were popular then. I remember learing and performing songs by bands like Grand Funk Railroad, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and that kind of stuff.
Later on, I had the great opportunity of playing with people who were older than myself and who had a lot more experience. That was really when I started learning what it is to be a musician.
- You recieved offers of touring with several bands at as early as 15. How was it to garner such attention at such an early age?
First of all, my parents were not happy at all. I remember a couple of times when the managers of touring bands were on the phone to my parents and I was on a spare phone in my parents’ bedroom. If I remember correctly, one of the first calls came from somebody who was trying to get a band together with some of the people who had been in Zephyr, which was Tommy Bolin’s band. Zephyr had had a female singer, which was kind of unusual in those days. The manager thought if he could get myself in the band, along with some of the people from Zephyr, and Candy Zephyr’s singer, that everyone would make a lot of money. My parents didn’t want to hear about it. They said NO! They also threatened to call the police is I ever went on the tour with them.
A while later, when I was almost finished with high school, I got a call from Kim Fowley, who was the manager of The Runaways. They were looking for a bass player and Kim wanted me to come to Hollywood.
Again, Kim was talking to my parents on the phone, and I was l listening in on the spare phone line. Between the time I’d had the offer from the people in Zephyr, and the call from The Runaways, Tommy Bolin had been on quite a few albums and had joined Deep Purple. Meanwhile, I was at home in my small town, feeling like a loser. I felt like time was passing me by. I told my parents that if they didn’t agree to let me go and check out the opportunity with The Runaways, that I was simply going to leave home anyway.
- How was your family’s reaction to all the attention you got at such an early age?
My brothers thought it was great that I was escaping my small town. My parents, however, were very angry. As of today’s date, my parents still have never seen Hellion perform.
- Were you officially associated with The runaways?
I don’t know what you mean by “officially associated.” I went to Hollywood in early 1976. I was immediately taken into Fidelity Studios in North Hollywood, where The Runaways were recording the first album. The manager, Kim Fowley, and one of his friends began making sexual comments almost immediately, which made me very unfomfortable. I think he was trying to see if I’d have sex with him and his friend.
Even though I’d worked with musicians who were ten or more years older than myself, they had always been very protective of me. My older musician friends looked out for me, as if I was their little sister. I was really surpried at the way Kim Fowley talked.
I have never been a prude, but, I made it clear that I was not going to have sex with Kim Fowley or his friend. I was also angry when I found out that a couple of the band members were missing and that Kim Fowley wasn’t even sure if Cherie Currie, the singer, was still in the band. I was mad because Kim had made it sound like The Runaways had a solid line-up and that it was a stable situation, and it obviously was not.
I was asked to put down some accoustic piano in the studio, which I did. However, I went home to Washington State. I have been told by a number of reliable sources that my piano tracks were included on the first Runaways album, even though somebody else got credit. That is my only connection with The Runaways. I was never a member. I did not perform or tour with them.
- You have coined the term “Speed metal” which in the years hv become legendary.How did you come up with it?
In about 1976 I had a radio show on KROQ in Los Angeles. I always played very fast music on my show. To my knowledge, I was one of the first people to play the music of bands like Judas Priest on a large commercial radio station in the USA. My show started at midnight, and ended at 6:00 a.m. in the morning. One morning the DJ who came on at 6:00 a.m. arrived early. He told me he nearly got a speeding ticket because of the music I was playing. I had been playing a song by Judas Priest. The DJ started callimg the kind of music I played, “Speed Metal” – because he nearly got a traffic ticket every time he listened to my show on the radio. The show later became known as “Speed Metal Hell.” Later, I put out a series of compilation albums by the same name.
- Before hellion you worked with guitar maestro yngwie malmsteen and were a member of beowulf. How was the experience?
I met Yngwie through mutual friends. I was also a friend of Marcel, Jens, and Anders, who were in his first band. I always got a long with all of them. My only involvement with Yngwie was on the Third Stage alert album, where I played keyboards.
Beowulf was a special band. We had a great singer by the name of David Reese, who later went on to sing in Accept and in Bangalore Choir. The guitarist in that band was a Brittish guy by the name of Chris Voyse. Chris is a very tallented guitarist.
- How did hellion come about?
Beowulf had stole singer, David Reese, from another band whose members were from Minnesota. Ray Schenck and Paul Eihler were members of the band that David Reese was from.
After Beowulf broke up, Ray Schenck and Paul Eihler contacted me, trying to find David Reese. We talked about forming a band. But we were all concerned that it would take a long time to find another singer that was as good as David Reese. When Ray and I eventually formed Hellion, it was just for fun. We decided that we’d all share the duties singing.
- How was it meeting up with Ronnie james dio n being managed by his wife wendy dio’s Niji Production?
Since the very early days of Hellion, I heard rumors that our male members were planning on replacing me with a male singer. Because I had no experience as a singer, I didn’t blame them, especially in the beginning, because their musicianship was always excellent. This situation, however, made it very hard for me, and hard to have any confidence, unless I was in doing a show. When we did shows, things always fell into place, at least in my oninion.
Even though Hellion’s fans liked my voice, even from the early days, a couple of our band members, mainly Tut (bassist) and Sean (drummer) insisted on a male singer and to tried to get me to quit. One of the ways they tried to do this is by being mean to my black cat, Sabbath.
Sabbath had been a wild cat. It took many months for me to tame him. One of the ways that Tut and Sean would try to get me to quit was by being mean to my cat, Sabbath. This made me so very angry, but I was aware of what they were doing. I stood up for myself, and did not quit.
A while ago I learned that Sean Kelley, the first drummer, had been trying to get a singer from Philadelphia named Richar Parico to replace me for a long time. Richard Parico, supposedly, had been a finalist at some point in time for the singing job with Black Sabbath, but had gone into a diabetic coma on the day of the audition. The guys in Hellion had decided for a very long time that Richard Parico was going to be my replacement.
When Ronnie James Dio offered to help Hellion, at least for a while, the talk of throwing me out of the band stopped. Ronnie told all of the band that my singing reminded him of a cross between Klause from the Scorpions and himself. So I got a break for a little while from the threat of being thrown out.
I was very, very nervous when Ronnie came to Hellion rehearsals. I wondered why, out of all of the bands in the world, he wanted to help Hellion?
When we went into the studio with Ronnie, I was very nervous. But, things went great and I eventually became a friend.
Ironically, it was not until Dio was out on the Last In Line Tour, and Ronnie was not going to be home for a number of months, that the guys from the original Hellion fired me and formed Burn with Richard Parico. In the early 1980s, it was not like it is now when everybody has cell phones.
My experiences with Ronnie were always great.
- Every musician has a dream of playing to packed arenas.How was your first experience?
My first experience playing at a really big place occurred when I was in high school. Dickie Betts, who’d been in the Allman Brothers was touring with the Ozark Mountain Daredevels. One of the bands on that tour was having problems with their keyboard player, who hadn’t showed up at the soundcheck. So I got to sit in and play in the sound check. Even though the venue was empty, just earing the sound of the instruments in a really big place was so powerful. I knew at that moment that I wanted to make playing music my career.
My first big show as a singer was opening up for Dio and Whitesnake. That was great because Ronnie and David Coverdale were to of my favorite singers. One time during that night, both of them were watching me and nodding or giving me a “thumbs up” to show that I was doing good. It was something I will always remember.
- Tell us a bit about New rennaissance records?
New Renaissance Records was founded because Hellion didn’t have a record deal in the USA and needed to have a way to put out our music.
- You have been instrumental in developing the careers of bands like Sepultura, Bathory, Morbid angel ,actor johnny depp’s band Rock city angels. Looking back how do you feel when you see those bands becoming legends themselves?
Those performers are tremendous. They were all destined to be successful. I think they all would have been successful, with or without my help.
- Tell us a bit about your education?
I barely finished High School. Years later, I went back and studied Old Norse at U.C.L.A. and later attained my degree in law.
- Your biggest influences and people you idolize.
My favorite person in the entire music business was Jon Lord, the Hammond player for Deep Purple. Right behind him is Ritchie Blackmore.
- How was it to be recognised as a metal queen and a pioneer in the then male dominated metal scene?
It’s nice. But I am sad that so many people today have no idea how difficult it was for females who wanted to play hard rock in the 70s and 80s. I am also sad that some of the new performers are trying to re-write history.
A while back I heard interviews by two separate female performers who are probably in their twenties. Both of them were bragging about how they were the first female singers to be taken seriously in metal and about how hard it is for them. I’m thinking, “Really? And, who are you kidding?!”
The interviewer asked one of them if she didn’t think that Doro Pesch had impacted the music scene (before herself)? This female singer, whose name I don’t care to mention, said that she’d never ever heard of Doro and that she doubted that Doro had any impact since this “singer” (who was being interviewed) had never heard of Doro.
The other “singer” was asked what she thought of me. She answered, that I was dead. I was raising my eyebrows, thinking, “Funny, I guess I never got that memo!”
The comments of these two female singers surprised me, because, in my opinion, metal fans usually know their metal and heavy rock history very well. I remain appreciative of them.
- Recently former Hellion bassist Teddy days passed away.How hard is it to cope up with the loss and carrying on considering the fact that a band is a family in itself?
Teddy Days was a part of the Hellion family from the beginning. In the early days, he was only a teenager, and he helped us move gear and pass out flyers. About ten years later, when we needed a bass player to fill in for Rex Tennyson, Teddy had become a very good bass player. He played on our videos for “Stormrider” and “Living In Hell,” which were off out “Black Book” album.
I attended the memorial yesterday. A funeral is a sad excuse for old friends to get together. However, it was nice to see that Teddy had lots of friends.
- News is that Hellion will come in a new avataar soon? Enlighten us.
I don’t know what you mean by, “come in a new avatar.” If you mean will we have a new line-up, the answer is “yes.” Right now Simon Wright (AC/DC, UFO, DIO), Bjorn Englen (Yngwie, John Norum, etc.), Maxxxwell Carlisle, and I are in the studio now. I hope they will each be able to tour.
- Any new female singer that has impressed you?
My favorite female singer will always be Janis Joplin.
- How do you see the future of global metal?
I think it will be good. The internet has made so many things possible.
- Any plans for touring India?
We would love to tour in India. I have always wanted to do this. However, at this time our managers and agents do not have any contacts in India. If there are promoters or agents who are interested in doing shows, they should contact our management at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- A message to your huge indian fanbase.
I just want to thank everybody for your support and for all the posts on the Hellion pages. Hellion has a twitter account. Please follow us @HellionOfficial
Also, we have a new web page at: www.hellion.us
We also have a facebook account.
I just want to thank everybody who continues to carry to cause of metal and to never forget that magic is still real.
- Thank you ann .