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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Exclusive Interview: Marq Torien of BulletBoys Dishes on Hair Nation Tour, His Solo Project and More


ICYMI!

When I mention BulletBoys most rock fans will immediately think of a hard-driving band that is known to all but blow the roof off of a venue while leaving absolutely everything that they had to give on the stage. That's a pretty accurate description of any performance that you'll happen to catch by Marq Torien (Vocals & lead guitar), Nick Rozz (Guitar), Chad MacDonald (Bass), and Phil Varone (Drums) these days. Not content to rest on nostalgia, BulletBoys have released a string of albums over the last thirty years that have shown off the band's musicality and ability to evolve with the times.

I was lucky enough to be able to spend a bit of time with the band's loving and gracious founder, Marq Torien this week and he was oozing with excitement and joy over everything that the BulletBoys are, and the things they have planned. Check it out below.


Cate Meighan: I have to admit, I was really excited to learn that BulletBoys would be doing the Hair Nation Tour this fall with Enuff Z'Nuff and Jack Russell's Great White. How thrilled are you?

Marq Torien: We're really ecstatic about it and we thank Live Nation for approaching us to do this. It's the three different bands (BulletBoys, Enuff Z' Nuff and Jack Russell's Great White) and we're all guys that are still putting out records. Jack's amazing and then Chip Z'Nuff and I have been friends forever so it's really cool. Out of the three, we are definitely the hardest band that will be playing on this tour so I think people will be counting on us to blow the roof off the place, and that's exactly what we'll do (laughing). We're kind of like the villains and we're okay with that, we're happy villains (laughing). Even though we're older we still know our place and really roll with that, it's part of the charm of the BulletBoys (laughing). People know what they're going to get with us, they know that we'll be out there just throwing down. We go out there and just blow the stage apart and the biggest gift for us is knowing that we can surprise and win people over based on that performance.

We're pluggin' away kind of like a Zamboni (laughing)! Just slow and steady and if you're going slow and steady, the race is already won. 

CM: You released From Out of the Skies earlier this year and I'm wondering how you feel about that record now that the dust has settled and it has been out for a while.

MT: I'm very grateful that it has done so well and that people are still gravitating towards the record. In all honesty and I'm trying to say this very graciously, I wish we would have had more support from the powers-that-be with this record. I don't know why that wasn't facilitated but it is what it is, and we are who we are. I'm just very happy that people have loved it and the fans have given it amazing accolades, but I wish more support had been there. The BulletBoys camp has worked very, very hard just to be out there on social media doing our part and the fans have been so very loving to us. Our fans and friends are just magical in the way that they've supported this record and I'm glad because we were really trying to do something special for them with this and I think they understood that. 

CM: It really is such a solid record, with so many good, deep songs on it.

MT: Oh, thank you so much. There was definitely a letdown on our side and even though I really do appreciate everything that is ever done for the band, I just wish somebody would have heard this thing the way that the fans have. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink and thankfully there are a lot of beautiful horses out there that came to drink with us at the troth. 

We've received accolades from artists that I revere very much in this business and then also from people that put on their hard hats and head out to work every day. Those are the people that I really want to touch. As a band, we took a risk with this music and people were touched by it. We live in a world where we almost expect everything to be heavy and the fact is, not everything should be. I think that I've crossed those bridges many times vocally and this time around I wanted to do something out of love. The result was a record that is more diverse and it shows off our musicality, so I'm really happy about it. 

CM: I know that you've said that you feel like your writing is more honest now, why do you think that is?

MT: I really think it's because of the people that I have around me. They are wonderful, magical musicians of different genres. I always wanted the BulletBoys to be able to grow musically and when you look at other bands like Aerosmith for example, they've been able to do different things and write different kinds of music. When they did "Janie's Got a Gun" it was completely out of the box for them, we had never heard anything like that from them before and it was a big hit. They took a lot of criticism at first but then also got a lot of love once people understood what they were trying to accomplish. Bigger bands have the freedom to grow musically but for some reason with bands in our genre, fans really like us to keep the same sound and for all of our stuff to sound kind of similar. You want to honor the fans, but at the same time, it can be difficult when as a musician you really need to grow. 

I think that when you're an artist you sometimes have to be a little selfish with your creativity and do what makes your heart smile. Then you just hope that when people actually listen to the record in its entirety. they'll get it. I've never wanted the BulletBoys to just be known as a sex joint band that's constantly facilitating songs about sex. I mean, that's amazing and I love it (laughing), but at some point in time as an artist, you need more. That's not what I got into the business for- the drinking, drugs and sex, I got into it to write music that would move people. 

I also love Chad MacDonald and Nick Rozz with all of my heart. I can honestly say they are my brothers and family now. After almost nine years of performing together, there is a real comfort in being around them and trying new things with them as well. We've done a lot of touring together and we just have a lot of trust, which is such a beautiful thing.


CM: Growth as a band seems to play a recurring theme with you guys doesn't it?

MT: We have always taken steps to grow. On our second record, Freakshow, we were taking bolder steps and doing things a bit more out of the box, even by releasing "THC Groove" as our first single. Everyone else was doing ballads and we weren't going to just follow along instead, we wanted to push different buttons. Then by the time we hit the third record, it did feel a little like we were trying to chase the success of the first one and I just wasn't into it. My favorite song on that record was "Mine" and I really ended up wishing that we had done things more in that vein so when I reinvented the band years later it had to be different. The BulletBoys sound had to be consistent and familiar but I really needed to write songs that tread on different musical waters and into some new waters. I think that we have been able to really bring the band into the now, into 2018, and I really believe that's why we're still semi-relevant (laughing). 

The places that we play, people know what they're going to get, we're a plug and play type of band.  We don't have the budget to facilitate grandiose light shows. No frills, no tricks, there's no soundtracking it's all real vocals and real guitars. It might be a throwback to some in a way, but we see it as straight rock n' roll with a mix of some punk and hard rock. That's what we serve up and hopefully, it'll sound great or maybe it won't (laughing). You never know what's really going to happen when everything is live but there is always that same magical feeling that goes hand in hand with experience of a live show. We like to keep people on their toes too so you never know what we'll be wearing or saying or whatever else. Those things are part of the fun, both for us and for the fans I think. 

CM: I feel like the light shows and bells and whistles often seem to be there to distract from what is missing performance-wise.

MT: I see bands with all of the theatrics and the old footage of them from years gone by rolling on a screen behind them and it almost takes away from it, for me anyway. No disrespect to the bands that do these things and some of the fans love to see that footage, but for me, I just want to watch them play, stripped down and straight away. I think it moves me more as a musician to see an artist playing, mistakes and all. It pulls me in and makes me more interested in what they're doing. I want to watch the band interacting on stage and see the authenticity in the moment. 

It's one of the reasons why I like watching Foo Fighters. There's not a crazy light show or anything, it's about the individuals performing their music. I love to watch my friends in Eagles of Death Metal play because they just are who they really are. The facial expressions are electric and the sweat pouring off his brow is a real reaction to how hard he is performing. I like to go and see bands like that.

We've got some really great bands out there now like The Struts or of course the band of the moment, which is Greta VanFleet, playing their asses off. Rock and roll is definitely not dead, people are coming to shows all over the place. Venues are just packed with rock fans and I love that these bands are really into the performance that they're giving each time out. I love when people are focused on the entertainer rather than a rad light show. 

CM: Authenticity is also crucial for you, isn't it?

MT: Oh yes, things have to be a certain way. I'm kind of a perfectionist and I know I can go a little overboard so sometimes I have to let things go and let the universe take care of it (laughing). That's where I'm at these days, do the best that you can and take things to the highest level possible and then let it go and have some faith. 

CM: I know that you've always been into soul and funk, do they still influence your musical style?

MT: Oh yes absolutely. Even though I play in a rock band I've never really thought of myself as a metal singer. I'm not a Rob Halford, who I love with all my heart because he is just so magical, but I'm more of a soul singer who has real range. While I'm able to sing hard rock, I think I'm naturally more of a 70's style soul singer. I gravitate to soul and R&B music, and also a lot of hip-hop as of late. If I had to choose to listen to either a Kendrick Lamar or Marvin Gaye record then I would choose to listen to Marvin Gaye. I was raised on Motown and actually signed on with them as a young artist, so I'm actually part of the Motown family. That is just such a humbling thing to even say, that's how much I adore that kind of music.

I gravitate towards a lot of different things musically. I've always loved Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons and other American rock groups. I love the backstories of what these groups went through in order to become great and I find myself listening to a lot of what I grew up on these days, especially as I'm getting ready to step into the solo realm.

CM: So you need to tell me about your solo plans then- will it be more of a soul-infused sound?

MT: I'm very excited to do my own thing with my own twist and it'll ultimately be my solo project. I've never ever attempted to do one before and so I'm excited about it. I've already got some amazing people lined up to work with me and it's going to be very funky and danceable. That's actually what I've been working on right now and when it's ready, it's ready.

CM: Do you see yourself releasing a full record?

MT: I think this time I'm looking at doing singles'. I've written three BulletBoys records within the past eight years and so I think with this I'm going to step out of that box and do it differently. I'm really excited to do something on my own that will be different from what everyone has already heard me do. 

CM: Does this project feel really freeing for you?

MT: It's actually really scary (laughing), I'm terrified! The thing is I love a challenge and that's what this is, so it's good for me.



CM: What would you like to tell your fans that are counting down the days until the Hair Nation Tour?

MT: That I love them with all of my heart and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for being there as friends and as fans. I love them so bloody hard and I do this for them, as a band, we do this for them. I also want to tell people to try and lead with love. I know it's really hard and some days I don't want to do it either (laughing) but lead with love. Don't gossip because it kills peoples' hearts. If you have something mean to say, just don't do it and instead try to uplift the artists that are still around. I've had a lot of my friends die lately, good people that loved others and tried very hard to perform and make people happy. We're getting older now and we really are on borrowed time so if you love an artist, let them know it. Just love each other, you can never spread too much love in this world, especially now.

Check out the BulletBoys official site for the latest info on everything they have going on. Make sure you check out tour dates, VIP packages and more! Also, follow BulletBoys on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram for exclusive goodies!

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