Interview with Ann Boleyn
Ann Bolelyn is perhaps best known for her time fronting Hellion. Recently she has taken on being vocalist for Detente at a number of reunion shows. She is also the founder of New Renaissance records and I recently got to ask her about all of the above.
MM-Hello, I hope everything is going well. What are you currently up to?
AB-I just got back to the USA after doing some shows in Germany. So at the moment I am pretty busy. In addition to singing I also am a lawyer and still run New Renaissance records. My practice specializes in civil rights and litigation, so that is a very demanding area of the law, and many serious cases. Also, I am busy with New Renaissance records, and in trying to maintain the legacy of the bands that make up the label. Right now I am re-packaging the old releases, doing limited edition re-issues, and then getting the music up on I-tunes and similar sites. New Renaissance records just re-released the first album by Soothsayer, and we are waiting for the Medieval cds to arrive at the moment. When I am not working with the law firm or New Renaissance I am watching sports. I am a big sports fan.
MM-How did you come to get the vocalist spot for Détente for their reunion shows?
AB-As you know, Detente's first album "Recognize no authority" was re-released a year or two ago. After that, Detente had a lot of offers to do shows, but as you know, their singer, Dawn Crosby died in 1996. Last summer, Steve Hochheiser called me and asked if I would be interested in doing some shows with them and I said yes.
MM-You recently played with détente in Germany. What was that experience like?
AB-Playing in Germany was a really great experience because I had never before played in Germany. I have heard for many years about how great the fans are in Germany---and I was not disappointed. Not only were the fans really enthusiastic, but it was great to talk to people who really knew the history of the band. The German fans were very smart when it comes to metal. Also, there were people who came to see us from many other countries, as well. That was really cool and is something you do not experience in the USA. There were some people who came from as far away as Canada, Ireland, Denmark, and Spain. That was really great. It is really an honor to play shows in front of people like this.
MM-You also played the Tidal Wave festival in San Francisco a few weeks before that. What was that festival like? Were the audiences in America and Europe different from each other in any way?
AB-Before the tidal wave festival last July, I had never been to this festival. But, it was really fun and I’d like to do another one.For detente, this was really a warm-up show. Tidal wave was the first time Detente played together in front of people. So we wanted to perform early. If you look on you-tube and see the videos, you can see that there are ladders on the stage, and that the promoters were still setting up the banners when we were playing. That was okay by us. We were playing on borrowed equipment and just wanted to do a show and get the feeling of playing in front of people. After we played, I stayed for the whole day. There were a lot of really good bands. I especially enjoyed Exodus, Hirax, and Attitude Adjustment. I was especially surprised by Hirax. I had not seen them in many years and they were much better than I remembered.
MM-I know that you are scheduled to play with Détente at the Martohell festival in Spain in October. Will you be playing any other dates in the near future with them?
AB-I understand that we may be teaming up with some of the U.S. bands we met in Europe to do some more shows in the USA. There is talk of doing a west coast tour with dates in Portland, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, and maybe Sacramento. Both myself and Detente have myspace pages. So as soon as that is confirmed, it will be listed on those web sites.
MM-Has there been any talk of doing any recording with them or is it just the live shows for now?
AB-Yes, there has been talk about recording. I love playing music, so I am always up for it. However, Detente is not my band, and what happens with it really is up to the original band members.
MM-Any plans to resurrect Hellion in the near future or re-issue any Hellion cds?
AB-There have been a lot of offers for Hellion to do festivals. However, I will not do a Hellion re-union and be the only member from the band. I am in contact with both Ray Schenck and Chet Thompson. One or both of them need to be not only involved but excited about a hellion reunion in order to make it happen. And, naturally, I’d like to have as many of the members that recorded on the albums as possible. A reunion will probably happen at some time. But, I do not know when that will be right now. As far as re-issues, New Renaissance will definitely be re-issuing "The black book" and probably "Will not go quietly." Plus, I have had so many requests for t-shirts and patches, I am looking into doing that too.
MM-What are some of your best memories about being in Hellion?
AB- One of my best memories of hellion course was working with Ronnie James Dio. He is a great guy and I will always be thankful to him and his wife, Wendy Dio, for the opportunities we had. Also, I am still proud of the tour we did in the U.S.S.R. back in those early days, bands like ozzy, motley crue, or the scorpions would to Russia, play a show and fly home the same night. Hellion was the first U.S. band to actually tour in the U.S.S.R. to do such a tour took a lot of work and there were many people who made it happen. Valeri Gaina, who was the guitarist of the Russian band "Kruiz”, played a big role. Back in the 1980's and early 1990's "Kruiz" was the biggest metal band in Russia. So we toured with them. It was really an amazing experience. Some of the shows I did were in the country of Georgia. I remember going to the airport in Moscow and being told that Georgia had just withdrawn from the U.S.S.R. because the U.S.A. did not have an embassy with Georgia which was a new country; there was no guarantee on our safety. This really frightened the rest of the band members --- and they decided to go home. But, I had done some much work with Kruiz and the promoter to make the shows happen, I made the decision to go on and do some shows with Kruiz any way, and at least show up. The experience was really amazing. It is sad to see what is happening in Georgia now.
MM-What was the toughest part in being Hellion?
AB-The hardest part of being in hellion was that in America in the 1980s there was no chance of getting a major label deal with a metal band with a female singer. This caused so many problems for the band. The members of Hellion including myself knew many of the local bands that had got major deals, and had made a lot of money. When you are working so hard, and drawing as many, if not more, people as the other bands that are getting record deals, it was very hard to keep everybody in a positive mood. I remember Wendy Dio telling everybody that she had tried as hard as she could to get hellion a major record deal, and that the major record companies were not interested in Hellion as long as the band had a female singer---even if Ronnie James Dio was involved. Either Hellion had to play the pop-rock style---or if we wanted to stay a metal band then Hellion needed a male singer. Another thing was that the female-fronted bands that did get signed in the late 1980's were all marketed in a way that took away from the music. I remember seeing Lorraine Lewis crawl around the floor and act like she was having sex with a band member on one of the videos she did for MTV. In my opinion, that video was really insulting to both Lorraine’s band...and Loraine’s singing...which was actually pretty good. It was like the record companies were telling everybody: "if you have a female singer, she had better act like a stripper." The message being sent to the young fans was awful, as well. But, in those days, the industry really did not want to know about a female performer unless they could use the sex aspect for marketing. I remember when a manager who had worked with van halen told me that he wanted to manage Hellion. After we started talking, he gave me his business plan. First, he wanted me to get fake boobs. This idea was rediculous, because I had been a pin-up model since the 1970s--even though it was something I did not promote at all in Hellion. So the idea that I needed to have bigger boobs was just stupid to me. Also, he wanted to fire Ray Schenck (guitarist) because he was "too tall." Ray was the person with whom I wrote all the songs---so that was rediculous. But this was what the band faced. Eventually, the male members decided to get a male singer and start a new band which was called "Burn." Then I formed a new "Hellion," which did the "Screams in the night" album and the same thing happened again, with that band getting Mandy Lion and becoming World War iii. The changes in the line-ups were what killed Hellion. That was the hardest problem. Back in those days, females in metal bands were regarded as just a gimmick.
MM-Tell us a little about when you founded New Renaissance records? What were some of the most difficult aspects about getting the label off the ground?
AB-I founded New Renaissance for a number of reasons. I’d pressed our demo into an EP and had sold loads of it, especially as exports. The distributors came to me and asked if I could bring them more of the same kind of music. Since I didn't have the money to put bands in a recording studio, I started out with compilation albums. Then I did the full length albums. As you know, new renaissance put out some of the first recordings of bands like Sepultura, Bathory, Morbid angel, Flotsom & Jetasm (with Jason Newsted), and lots more. The most difficult part of running New Renaissance records was getting paid.
MM-Is there anything that you wish you had done differently back in the 1980’s with the label?
AB-Now that I am a lawyer and have a lot of experience there are a lot of things I would have done differently. However, at the time, considering what I knew back then, I believe I made the correct decisions based on the knowledge I had, and based on the idea of trying to do the action that was honest and morally right.
MM-I know there was some trouble with a number of New Renaissance titles being put out on bootleg cds and going for high prices on eBay. Are you still dealing with that? Has it quieted down or is that an ongoing problem?
At the moment, my main job with New Renaissance records is to preserve the legacy of the bands which recorded on the label, and preserve the label's catalogue rights. Naturally I am also involved in protecting bands right to their names as well. Many of the new renaissance records bands are back in action and doing shows. Even if a band only earns a small royalty, this is important to the band, and royalties can also help fund their performing at festivals or recording in the future. As an attorney I have the ability to sue people. I have made it very clear that if anybody tries to sell bootlegs in the USA I will sue them. People know I am damn serious. So there is not too much of a problem with bootlegs in the USA.
MM-What do you think about the metal scene in general today? Is it improving or not and why?AB-From what I’ve seen in the past few months the metal scene is doing great! I think people are fed up with being told what to listen to by the major record companies. I think that myspace. com and youtube are really helping the scene.
MM-What kind of music are you listening to these days?
AB-I listen to all kinds of music. But mainly I listen to 70's hard rock and metal and thrash.
MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your music or anything else?
AB-I just would like to thank everyone for their support all these years. If anybody wants to say hi, I have a page on myspace under the name “Ann Boleyn.” also I have a web page for new renaissance records at: http://www.newrenaissancerecords.com/