The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

THE ROCKPIT INTERVIEWS - FIONA FLANAGAN

 

Most of our readers may remember the golden period between 1985 to 1992 when Fiona put out her first four albums. Described by some, such as our interviewer, as classics, Fiona's brand of melody-laden AOR certainly struck a chord with some and then as the times changed and grunge reared it's head she dropped off our radar. well it's 2011 and Fiona is back. So what has changed and why now? Steve investigates... Mark Rockpit

 

fiona ww.therockpit.net interview

 

BY STEVE WARSAP

 

 

Steve: First of all, thanks you for taking time to talk too The Rockpit! With preparations for the new album you must be busy.

 

Steve: You were brought up in New Jersey to Irish parents, what was your childhood like?

 

Fiona: It was very easy, I have an intact family, and my parents have been married for 50 years now. We are very close. I have one brother, now living in Tokyo, and one sister. They both have two kids, as do I. I have fantastic cousins in my neighborhood and in Ireland and in Spain. I went to a local Catholic school in NJ and I have very happy memories of all the kids. It was not an affluent town, I didn't play many sports because my parents were immigrants and they didn't sign us up! Just for swimming so we wouldn't drown! We travelled as much as possible; both of my parents were curious about absolutely everything in the world and gave us a great start. They also had very good grammar so by osmosis schoolwork was a breeze.

 

Steve: What music did you listen to growing up?

 

Fiona: I loved Foreigner and Billy Squier and Asia and my bro loved Queen.

 

Steve: Do you play any instruments?

 

Fiona: Clarinet!!! I still play but I feel silly when I look in the mirror. I can get by barely on guitar and piano.

 

Steve: You started off with the Dixie Dregs. Did you want to be in a band or a solo artist?

 

Fiona: I wanted to be in a band like Fleetwood Mac. That would have been my ideal situation. Several singers. I had that (still have) with my friends Harry Reilly and Fritz Doddy.

 

Steve: Were you wary of playing up to a sexy image and not being taken as a serious artist?

 

Fiona: No. I have a big voice, it wasn't pretend. I was young and I looked okay. Sometimes I wore more traditionally sexy garb for photos but mostly I wore rock stuff. Lots of bandanas and striped pants. It was fun.

 

Steve: You also did some acting (including Hearts of Fire and The Doors), was that a direction you wanted to go in?

 

Fiona: Sure, but when I left NYC I left my acting coach, Harold Guskin, and I think he really knew what he was doing.

 

Steve: Would you like to do more acting in the future?

 

Fiona: I don't think about it. It's funny. I think more about the kids. What they need and want.

 

Steve: What was Bob Dylan like to work with?

 

Fiona: Very funny. Very friendly and I thought he was kind to me.  I'd never been in a film before. What a wild experience.

 

 

fiona ww.therockpit.net interview

 

 

Steve: Your first two albums are classics. What do you think when you listen to them now?

 

Fiona: Classics? I'm laughing now as I type this answer. If I'd sold millions more I'd agree with you!  When I listen now I remember being there in the studio and singing the songs. I'm proud of the vocals. Peppi and Beau were very different vocal producers. I was like a caged beast on the first one and on the second one I struggled with the rhythms but ended up with some interesting stuff.  I remember a lot of relationships, too! Lasting loves and friendships. I worked with Reb and Kip and Bobby Messano and Joe Franco and Donnie and Benjie and Louie Merlino and Andy Unangst and Lynn Goldsmith and Rick Kolster and Malcolm Dome.  Not a bad ride at all. 

 

Steve: Your last album (Squeeze) was almost 20 years ago, why the long wait?

 

Fiona: Uh, I had to go the Post Office? DMV? 

 

Steve: After Squeeze, you concentrated on your family. Why decide now was the time to record again?

 

Fiona: Everything started to align. A friend of mine, Annmarie Collins, took me to a John Eddie concert and after she introducing us he pulled me up on stage. I couldn't believe how much fun I had. Then Winger had me up for an encore. Same feeling. Wow!  The final piece of the puzzle was Robin Beck. She just had all her ducks in a row and when James Christian sent me the first Tommy Denander tracks I nearly fainted with happiness. They were so right for me. I also finally, finally got to sing a song that Laura McDonald and I wrote together. Bobby helped turn it into a duet and Voila! I'm even singing it as a duet with Robin. 

 

Steve: Did you ever tour the UK? If so do you have any good memories of it. If not, were you ever offered the chance?

 

Fiona: No, I played in the UK for the film. I sang w/Winger at Batobar in Paris, but that was a year or two ago. I would do it in a heartbeat. I love to sing live. I'm booked with House of Lords at K7 in Switzerland on October 30, 2011. Can't wait! Better do my warm ups!

 

Steve: I heard you’ve recently collaborated with other artists like Dweezil Zappa, Steve Stevens and Aldo Nova?

 

Fiona: They are all on you tube and for sale on tunes and Amazon. I sang on Dweezil's record--My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama and on Steve Stevens first CD and for Aldo Nova. I think I sang Rumours before I moved to LA. Mark Mangold did that. I don't remember where we went to sing. I do remember singing it, though.

 

Steve: Who were your favourite vocalists?

 

Fiona: Stevie Nicks, Linda Rondstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Pointer Sisters, Lou Gramm, David Coverdale, Robert Plant, Pat Benatar, Ann Wilson, I could go on and on.

 

fiona ww.therockpit.net interview

 

 

Steve: Why don’t you think you became as famous as you should have?

 

Fiona: You are very sweet and I don't even know how to answer. I have and am having a wonderful life. Who gets to do what I did? It was amazing. I do not take back a thing.

 

Steve: With the emergence of melodic rock festivals such as Rocklahoma & Firefest, would you be tempted to play at one or have you ever been asked?

 

Fiona: AHHHHHHH. I would love to. Get to sing and see old friends. What a lovely possibility.  Hello Sam! 

 

Steve: With music now leaked online, were you wary of releasing a new album?

 

Fiona: No, but I hope that people who have the resources buy the CD because it makes it possible for more music to be made, not just by me, but by everyone and it keeps the distributors and publicists and journalists and manufacturers in business, too. Everybody gets hungry and thirsty and wants a bed and a radio!

 

Steve: How do you think you have developed as a person and musician since you started in the music business?

 

Fiona: I have no idea. You'd have to ask my friends. I hope I have developed! That would be embarrassing. My brother has been in the Ironman twice!

 

Steve: What song by another artist/band do you wish you had written?

 

Fiona: Saddest Victory by Sandy Stewart and the one John Waite sang, Missing You. And Rocky Mountain Way! And Fire and Rain...

 

Steve: What can we expect with the new album?

 

Fiona: I stuck consciously to AOR Melodic Rock with a couple of surprises. There are 11 songs. It is rocking; soaring at times. All the songs are strong. The guitar is amazing. I also enjoy the vocals very much.

 

Steve: Do you have any big names guesting on the album?

 

Fiona: Tommy Denander, James Christian, Robin Beck (sound familiar?!), Bobby Messano, The Elements.

 

 

Steve: Could you give any song titles or the album title?

 

Fiona: The Album title is Unbroken.  It's because I have a song called Broken and I thought it went with the picture. Other titles are This Heart, Salt on My Wings, Wild One, Loved Along the Way.

 

 

Steve: What in your opinion is the meaning of life?

 

Fiona: You give it one yourself.

 

 

Steve: Thanks you for taking the time and good luck with the new album.

 

Fiona: Great. Thank you!  Here's the info: www.fionarock.com  I'll be taking pre-orders in a few days.  You can find me on Retrospect Records in the US and Cargo Records outside the US. The release date is October 17th, 2011 in UK and Europe and even sooner in the USA. I'm amazed. I hope you enjoy the music. I've enjoyed answering the questions. Thanks for being so patient. Best, X F

 

 

Steve Warsap interviewed Fiona September 2011