Interview with Biloxi
Biloxi were beginning work on their third album in 2006 when guitarist/vocalist and founder Clyde Holly passed away. The rest of the band pushed on and completed Biloxi 3-In the wake of the storm. I recently interviewed vocalist/guitarist Mark Allen Lanoue and drummer Rob Gronkoski to find out more what went into completing this album and their plans for the future.
MM-What has been the response to Biloxi 3 so far?
[Mark Lanoue] -It has been wonderful. Of course like all bands and releases it goes out to mixed emotions, especially since this was originally Clyde Holly’s band. The release has found its way onto traditional radio and internet radio globally and there are still reviews and interviews coming out over the next few months. As you know, this release is about 4 years over due. Hurricane Katrina, the loss of Clyde, and the loss of Holly House recording has definitely slowed down the release of this CD.
[Rob Gronkoski]-Better than I could have hoped for! This is the first time we did not have to come out of pocket to get it printed and released!
MM-How much music and vocals had Clyde Holly recorded for this album when he passed away?
[Mark Lanoue] -Clyde recorded vocals on Synchronicity II and Pray for Rain. There were melodies here and there that I remember from him singing them to me, so I sang the ones that I remembered on this CD. For instance: even though, I am singing on “Here Alone”, the chorus melody was Clyde’s. I just mimicked the chorus from his live rehearsals with us.
[Rob Gronkoski]-Unfortunately Clyde had not finished much on the CD before he passed. Mark and I did the best we could to try and keep to the Biloxi theme but you can definitely hear our influences on it.
MM-Are there any songs on the album that were completely written after Clyde's passing?
[Mark Lanoue] -There was quite a lot of work to do on nearly all of the songs. However, “Empty Road to Nowhere” was written about 2 weeks after Clyde’s passing. Most of the lyrics and vocal lines were written after his passing. He can be heard in many places on the CD playing guitar, lead, keyboard, and bass.
[Rob Gronkoski]-As Mark said a lot of work from he and I went into finishing the CD.
MM-Was the album title set while Clyde was still alive or after his passing?
[Mark Lanoue] -“In the Wake of the Storm” was set before his passing. After our losses in Katrina, we felt that the name was fitting for the release. I came to Clyde with the name and he agreed that it would be an excellent title. He was thinking originally of just calling it BILOXI III.
[Rob Gronkoski]-Only seemed appropriate after Katrina.
MM-Was the decision to keep going with creating this album automatic or did it take some time to figure out that you guys would push on?
[Mark Lanoue]- It was nearly automatic. We were beginning to work on finishing it in September of 2006. We, his family, and his fans wanted to press on and finish the legacy of BILOXI for Clyde and for the healing process of a band that has been a local ICON on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
[Rob Gronkoski]-There was never any doubt that we had to finish this for Clyde if for nothing else but I believe he would like what we have done for him.
MM-Was it a difficult process to carry on and see this album through?
[Mark Lanoue] -It was very difficult along the way. Many obstacles were along the way: we were still rebuilding our lives after the hurricane, we were still feeling that emptiness after the loss of our dear friend, Clyde, and we were dealing with the changes in location for finishing the recordings and the mixing. After all, we didn’t have the original engineer, the original producer, and Holly House Recording studios was now history. Rob, our drummer, did a great job stepping in as engineer in light of the loss. There were also times that were very emotional. There were a couple of tunes that Clyde was playing all of the background tracks and I was filled with emotion while singing over them. It affected Rob that way as well. There were other times that we found surprised such as the solo in the song “I Pray”. Clyde must have recorded that solo shortly before his passing. Neither I nor Rob had heard it until we started recording the vocals for that tune.
[Rob Gronkoski]-I did feel allot of pressure to make it sound like Biloxi. But I had a dream that Clyde was with me and he said that he liked it and then I knew I could do the job. It is Biloxi with a bit heavier sound, which comes from the way I mix live.
MM-Dean Fasano of Prophet gave you some assistance on this album. How did you meet him and bring him into this project?
[Mark Lanoue]- I met Dean while I was still living in New Jersey. A drummer friend of mine, Mike Luciano, who was mutual friends with many of the artists in the area such as TRIXTER introduced me to Dean. Dean immediately loved my guitar playing and my writing abilities. So we started working together. He came in and sang on two of my songs “Fine Line” (which would become the title track to the 1998 MESSAGE FINE LINE release through Escape Music, Ltd. And “Just One Step Away”. Both of these songs ended up on the MESSAGE LIVE with Dean Fasano & Richie Sambora as bonus studio tracks. Dean and I have been friends for a long time now.
[Rob Gronkoski]-Dean was very helpful in getting Mark where he needed to be vocally to sing on the CD. After Dean had left I found it much easier to get out of Mark his best performances.
MM-Exactly what role did he play in this recording?
[Mark Lanoue]- Dean heard my voice on the BILOXI III scratch tracks and asked me when I had become a world class singer. He then asked that he come down and coach me through this release. It was a real honor having such a world class singer such as himself come work with us.
[Rob Gronkoski]-I met him through Mark!
MM- How do you think the new album compares with the previous two Biloxi releases?
[Mark Lanoue]- It is completely different. This was more of a chemistry release between all of us on a musical level. And even though there are people that dig my voice, I am simply not Clyde and Clyde’s voice was what made the BILOXI sound at the end of the mixing session. There is also a heavier sound on this one than the other two. I would say that it is a little more modern than the other two as well. They really can’t be directly compared, due to the fact that Clyde is not singing on the entire BILOXI III. It is really up to the fans to decide how they feel. Some reviews have stated that it is the best CD from BILOXI since their very first BILOXI mini DEMO release.
[Rob Gronkoski]-Well on Right the Music was mostly Clyde and myself with a few other guys playing parts as we needed. This one was more of a group effort. You will notice a heavier sound and feel to the CD. This is from the influences of Mark and I. I come from a bit heavier background and so does Mark so it was just natural that it comes through in the mix.
MM-Are there other projects are the band members currently involved in?
[Mark Lanoue]- Rob and I have a band called FICTION SIX. We have a collection of songs that are more modern and driven by the need to have more exposure to the airplay market. We are not going to give up the harder edge completely, although some of the tunes may fall closer to the commercial edge. Again, I will leave the final word to the masses..
[Rob Gronkoski]-Mark and I are currently writing material for our band and hope to get that rolling soon.
MM-Any plans to tour in the near future?
[Mark Lanoue]- There has been some interest for us to do some showcase shows in support of BILOXI III. It is a tough decision that we have to make without the presence of Clyde. Our last supporting show was for RIGHT THE MUSIC. Rob and I will be working on a new line up for FICTION SIX and we will definitely let the fans know about what we decide with BILOXI. They can check up every now and then at http://www.biloximusic.com/ where we will post any news that comes up in reference to BILOXI III.
[Rob Gronkoski]-Really not sure but if the fans want it we will make it happen.
MM-Will this band continue on recording as Biloxi in the future or was this album a final project for this band?
[Mark Lanoue] -No. BILOXI was a part of Clyde and was started by Clyde. There is not one original member from the original line-up. However, Clyde felt that we were a part of his BILOXI and he was proud to have us in the studio and on the stage with him. We finished this to close the chapter on a very kind and talented friend’s life and talents. We will be recording under the name FICTION SIX here out.
[Rob Gronkoski]-Without Clyde I cannot see doing anymore for Biloxi. We will support what we have done but really want to move on to our project.
MM- What is the hard rock/ metal scene like in your area?
[Mark Lanoue] -As you know scenes come and go. I was in a band called PERSIAN RISK in Orlando, Florida when all the bands were being gobbled up in the mid 90’s. We were actually supposed to be signed before Matchbox 20. Anyway, the scene here has been rebuilding since the Storm in 05. It was hoping there before the storm with the signing of several bands, one being 3 Doors Down. With the Casinos here on the Gulf coast, there are many different Genre of music that comes through here. We also are very close to New Orleans which has a heavier Rock Scene.
[Rob Gronkoski]- Since the storm. Nothing! LOL!!!
MM- It's still early in the year so what do you hope to accomplish in 2008?
[Mark Lanoue] -I want to record some smokin’ hard hittin’ Rock with my friend and band mate Rob to get FICTION SIX onto the shelves for others to Rock out too!! There are also some other projects that I and Rob have been asked to lend our talents to. Those will be announced in the near future.
[Rob Gronkoski]What Mark said!!!
MM-Pick the band from the following pair that you prefer and tell why.
Lillian Axe or Zebra
[Mark Lanoue] Both are great and both of them are my friends. Friends don’t pick sides J Randy and Steve are both awesome!!!
[Rob Gronkoski] I am a big Zebra fan from way back and have opened for them and also mixed Lillian several times.
Firehouse or Steelheart
[Mark Lanoue] Steelheart - that guy singing in that band screams like a banshee. I saw that band live in Orlando and that dude hit every note. SHHHHEEEIIILLLLAAAA!!!!! J
[Rob Gronkoski]Stealheart!!!!!!!!Just like the songs!
Foreigner or Journey
[Mark Lanoue] Journey – Great Songwriting, Great talented, yet tasteful musicianship, and just jam packed with tunes that can last the test of time. That and Steve Perry has tone for days…
[Rob Gronkoski]Journey—Some of the best songs ever!! And Great vocals!
White Lion or Whitesnake
[Mark Lanoue] -Whitesnake (HANDS DOWN!!)- Smokin’ Rockin’ Raunchy, hit ya below the belt rock and roll. What else can I say?
[Rob Gronkoski]-The Snake Rules!!!!!!
MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band or your music?
[Mark Lanoue] -It has been one heck of a ride these past several years, while being a part of BILOXI and I have felt privileged to be in a band that was comprised of such a talent base and just down to earth good friends. BILOXI III is our curtain call for BILOXI and the cornerstone that honors the life of our friend Clyde. It closes the book on what was the life of a very talented individual.
You can pick up a copy of BILOXI III at http://www.retrospectrecords.com/ , http://www.biloximusic.com/ , and www.cdbaby.com/cd/biloxi . It will soon be available at ITUNES, RHAPSODY, NAPSTER, and EMUSIC.
Keep an Ear our for the Fiction Six. We will be blastin’ some ear drums soon!!
[Rob Gronkoski]I love to play and it will be a part of my life until I pass. Playing with Mark is a joy and Honor! Rock will never die!!!!! Rap sucks!!!!!
***Thanks to Mark and Rob for doing the interview.