ERIC BLACKWOOD & ANTHONY J. FOTI ..... (Blackwood & Foti, Closenuf, Edison's Children)
REV. DR. BILL GRAM ..... (Killing For Christ)
PHIL JONES ..... (Phil Jones Band)
THEO CEDAR JONES ..... (Swaybone)
SCOTT KELLY ..... (Neurosis)
SETH MAJKA Interview 1
SETH MAJKA Interview 2
UNCLE BOB NYC ..... (3tles)

J.D. BRADSHAW ..... (Debbie Caldwell Band)
PAUL CROOK ..... (Anthrax, Meat Loaf, Sebastian Bach)
NICK DOUKAS ..... (Full Circle, Half Angel, student of John Petrucci & Al Pitrelli)
DAX PAGE ..... (Kirra)
MARTY PARIS ..... (Paris Keeling, Permanent Reverse, Barbarian Way)
RUINED MACHINES & MICHAL BRODKA ..... (Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 1
RUINED MACHINES (aka KENYON IV) ..... (World Of Rock Records, Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 2
CHRIS SANDERS ..... (Knight Fury, Lizzy Borden, Nadir D'Priest, Ratt)
TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY & DAMOND JINIYA ..... (Rebel Pride Band, Under The Gun Project)
"METAL" DAN SORBER ..... (Thy Kingdom Done, Ferox Canorus)
ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 1
ERIC STROTHERS & ZACH LORTON ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2
CHRIS MICHAEL TAYLOR ..... (Carmine & Vinny Appice's Drum Wars, Sunset Strip, Hair Nation)

A.L.X. ..... (Love Crushed Velvet)
GRAHAM BONNET ..... (Rainbow, Alcatrazz)
JOE DENIZON ..... (Stratospheerius, Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp, Sweet Plantain)
DORO ..... (Warlock)
TOMMY FARESE ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Kings Of Christmas, A Place Called Rage)
ANTHONY J. FOTI & ERIC BLACKWOOD ..... (Blackwood & Foti, Closenuf, Edison's Children)
ANGIE GOODNIGHT ..... (Fill The Void)
CORNELIUS GOODWIN ..... (12/24 Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Band)
DAMOND JINIYA & TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY ..... (Savatage, Retribution, Under The Gun Project)
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, f.k.k.d.) Interview 1
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, f.k.k.d.) Interview 2
GUY LEMONNIER ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Kings Of Christmas, Wizards Of Winter)
ZACH LORTON & ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2
PARK SIPES ..... (Sunset Strip, Barbarian Way, Tune In To Mind Radio Kelly Keeling Tribute album)
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 1
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 2

SCOTT KELLY ..... (Wizards Of Winter)
ERIK NORLANDER ..... (Asia Featuring John Payne, Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane)
MICHAEL T. ROSS ..... (Lita Ford, Missing Persons, Raiding The Rock Vault Las Vegas Revue)

DAVE CRIGGER ..... (Foghat, World XXI, Michael Fath)
CHRIS NUNES ..... (Ornament Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Band)
JOHN WETTON ..... (Asia, King Crimson, Roxy Music)

RAFA MARTINEZ ..... (Black Cobra)


RODNEY MILES & ALISON TAYLOR ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)
SEVEN (aka ALAN SCOTT PLOTKIN) ..... (Exile In Rosedale author, Public Enemy, Busta Rhymes)
ALISON TAYLOR & RODNEY MILES ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)

MATT CHABE ..... (Bangtown Timebomb, Chapter Two Marketing)
JAMES MOORE ..... (Independent Music Promotion, Your Band Is A Virus Book)

MIKE "THE BIG CHEESE" CATRICOLA ..... (Heavy Metal Mayhem Podcast, Stillborn)

May 21, 2019

"We Actually Were Up There With Clapton" An Interview With ANTHONY J. FOTI of CLOSENUF & ERIC BLACKWOOD of EDISON'S CHILDREN

Oct 2010 (phone interview broadcast live on Roman Midnight Music Podcast Eps #5)

Blackwood & Foti was a N.Y.C. band fronted by songwriters Eric Blackwood & Anthony Foti, who also played guitar & sang with a group of backing musicians. They released one CD & got some national recognition before going their separate musical ways. Foti would release a solo EP & then form Closenuf. Closenuf is a regular feature of N.Y.C. clubs doing covers & Foti originals & have released numerous CD's of original songs. Blackwood would form the Eric Blackwood Band, before putting more focus on career working behind the scenes in the movie & tv industry. He would also research & write a book with his wife on 500 baseball stadiums in America. He return to actively creating new music in 2010 with the sci-fi prog-rock outing Edison's Children, whose debut was a 72 minute almost mystical concept album. This is a duo with Pete Trewavas, the bassist of prog torch bearers Marillion of which Blackwood has been an honorary member of the touring crew since 2005. Blackwood is also the brother of Vincent Pastore, famed for his ill-fated character Big Pussy on TV's The Sopranos.

I first heard of Blackwood & Foti while researching the career of guitarist Al Pitrelli who guested on their album. These unknown bands became my favorite discoveries, versus his better known music with Alice Cooper, Megadeth & Tran-Siberian Orchestra. I contacted Foti wanting to know more about working with Pitrelli & so enjoyed the telephone conversation on the music business that I decided he would be my first guest on the podcast I had just created of music reviews & commentary. Playing with Pitrelli was almost the least interesting thing he had to share in an conversational buzz that was like a father giving advice to a son, with maybe a few secret stock market hints thrown in for good measure. Given I had never done a live interview I never expected that the hour long interview would become so popular that I'd convert my show within a couple months to only interviews & end up talking to folks like Sophie B. Hawkins & Rainbow's Graham Bonnett. I had only limited communication with Blackwood, but both Foti & I reached out letting him know the interview was happening & to feel free to call him. Neither of us expected to hear from him, given his busy schedule.

* * * * *

AJ: welcome to my show, Anthony. You're my 1st guest & it's just an honor to have you.

ANTHONY: I appreciate it so much. It'll be a lot of fun.

AJ: Before we get too far I want to discuss a particular song, which is the basis of how we met. I'm a fan of & have been researching the life of guitarist Al Pitrelli of TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, MEGADETH, ASIA, played with Alice Cooper, Dee Snider & countless others. In my quest to get all his music I came across your recordings with him. We've talked about that experience & I enjoyed so much of what you said about music in general that I wanted to expand our conversation & introduce you to my audience. So, starting from where you & I met seems to be a good jumping off point. The song in question is "At Night" & its a favorite of mine of your work. It's from your 1st album under the name of BLACKWOOD & FOTI, the album is Haunted Memories. This features one of the best, I would say, maybe top 10 guitar solos by Al. Anthony, will you tell me a little bit about "At Night"?

ANTHONY: Sure. This is actually from the debut album of my label Wreckords Records. I was in a progressive acoustic band called BLACKWOOD & FOTI. Aaron, you're the captain of 6 degrees of separation, so you will appreciate this. What happened was my relative is in the ARROGANCE, which is a band from the '60's. Eventually they wanted to put all their material on CD. They got a producer named Dave Greenberg who worked with Van Morrison.

AJ: What's Dave doing now? I know he's working with some big names?

ANTHONY: He shifted a little bit from rock'n'roll & he's doing work with Method Man & Redman & some of the big hip hop acts now. Back then, he co-owned a production company with Al Greenwood from FOREIGNER.

AJ: Isn't he one of the founding members? He was the keyboardist, right?

ANTHONY: He's the one in "Cold As Ice" when you hear those slamming keyboards at the beginning. You can't miss him. So, I brought the band in. The funny thing was we were between guitarists & we also had a drummer who couldn't play with a click track at the time. So, the producer said, "Don't worry. We'll bring some ringers in for you & we'll make this project really worth our while." They brought in Vinnie Conigliaro who's played with everybody from like Joe Satriani, Joe Lynn Turner, Meat Loaf, etc. to be our drummer for this tune.

AJ: Joe Lynn Turner, who sang in RAINBOW for those that might not immediately know the name.

ANTHONY: Right. & Al Pitrelli was brought in.

AJ: When Al worked with you he'd already been working with Dee Snider in WIDOWMAKER & Alice Cooper & the new line-up of ASIA.

ANTHONY: Right. 1st the name eluded me. Then he comes in. Here's this skinny guy with long hair sitting on a stool. He played his guitar almost like a classical guitar with the neck up in the air. Put on the headphones & we had him do 4 numbers on the album, working on solos, intros & outros. But, he really took a shine to this song. He said it was the best song on the album. I think just because he just had the most fun with it. We really wrote it as a pop tune with with a hook to try to get, you know, to try to pierce the corporate veil & get some radio airplay. It's Al at his best & it was really a highlight for the band to be able to actually produce something that a lot of people have noticed. It's not just Al. It was just a the meeting of the minds & the hearts & the souls at the time. It's a song about ... well, I picture the video someday with a man who wakes up in the middle of the night & his woman is not next to him & he feels around. He winds up putting on his coat & goes out in the pouring rain & he follows her to see what's going on. It's just this bump in the road that makes a very spooky rock tune. I always had Rick Derringer & people like that in mind when I wrote it & I thought it was just a cool tune. I hope everybody enjoys it.

AJ: How much did you instruct Al & Vinny or how much freedom did you give them?

ANTHONY: Well, the drummer more. We had a structure & drum pattern there to to guide him as a bed track, but the guitar work, no. We had the progression, of course, with the acoustic, but we gave free reign. It was funny because Al would just do a couple of takes & then he would just nod his head & they would let the tape fly. Most of "At Night" is just off the cuff, because he just felt it. Sometimes you can't re-record when you have that magic. You let it go. You captured it & it's in. We were looking through the glass & we were like whoa. It really gives you that feeling that you wrote something that someone is able to embellish upon & then you say to yourself 'Okay. this is more than just a rock tune or a pop tune. This is something that has some substance & some art to it.'

AJ: Let's make a note here that down the road this particular song would get some recognition?


AJ: We've got to mention the recognition, as I think it just caps the story of the song.

ANTHONY: Absolutely. Years later I wound up starting a band called CLOSENUF. It was 2001. Al recorded with us for BLACKWOOD & FOTI in 1994. We re-recorded the song, because we wanted to have everything on the new album played by us. I brought this song as part of my repertoire to the new band & the guitarist turned in a really respectful version of what Al did. He knew he had to be his own man, but he also saw how Al guided the song. So, we re-recorded it & we had a fresh version. A little more pumping. We extended the drums in the middle. Our promoter out in Rhode Island wound up getting this version on the Grammy ballot for Best Pop Performance by a duo or group in 2010. So, you know, the whole thing is that the song itself from a writing & performing standpoint has had serious recognition, but we also know that Al & Vinnie & Dave & Al Greenwood, etc., they gave us the ingredients that made the cake that eventually got us the recognition. Both versions are on our current album in our 15th anniversary of the record label for compare & contrast & it's a lot of fun.

AJ: It's such a great song & knowing all that story behind it just makes it more interesting. Before going on to the next topic, I actually have a caller on the line. I don't know who this is. Hello, caller, are you there?

ERIC: I am here.

AJ: Who are we talking to?

ANTHONY: I know who this is.

ERIC: This is Anthony Foti's haunted memory.

ANTHONY: I know who this is. This is Eric Pastore Blackwood of BLACKWOOD & FOTI.

AJ: Eric, welcome to my show.

ERIC: Aaron, how ya doing?

ANTHONY: Wow, man, I have not spoken to Eric other than e-mails in, what is it, 10 years? More?

ERIC: I think it may even be more than that. 15 maybe.

ANTHONY: Wow, this is a BLACKWOOD & FOTI reunion.

ERIC: They said it would never happen.

AJ: Since I have both of you on the phone you can both answer. Let's talk about BLACKWOOD & FOTI. Bring me back in time. How did you guys meet up? Where did you start? Either one of you. Eric, go ahead.

ANTHONY: Actually, Eric, how did we meet?

ERIC: You know, that's a good question. You were my insurance agent.

ANTHONY: That's it! That's right, I was selling insurance. I sold him an automobile policy. I dropped out of law school to continue my musical career. I picked up a property & casualty license to make some money. Eric came in & it turned out he was a singer/songwriter & so was I. He lived on Staten Island. I worked on Staten Island. Eric's influences & his writing style were really what I was looking for it at the time. It was this progressive stuff that had an acoustic guitar & we had a real abject respect for Dan Fogelberg, John Denver, Cat Stevens, Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, Van Morrison & Billy Joel & all the people who were crafting stuff. We liked longer songs & interesting songs like GOLDEN EARRING & you liked MARILLION, & PINK FLOYD & KANSAS & RUSH. It was really what we were looking for. We got some buddies together & we started the act. It was very eclectic. We worked like crazy.

ERIC: Yeah, we would do 6 gigs a week. We were busy.

ANTHONY: I have to owe a lot to it. We had some falling outs & we had more drummers than SPINAL TAP, including this 400 pound Hell's Angel guy.

ERIC: I forgot about him.

ANTHONY: I thought he was gonna break the drums every time he played. So, we lost a few members & we started going through some changes & that's why it started falling apart. Now, Eric is actually doing special effects work for movies. His 2 brothers are actors, so he went into the Hollywood type side of the business & I stayed in music. But, the BLACKWOOD & FOTI, the whole thing about it was it was crafting. Even my current album has 4 songs that are co-written by Eric that have always been in my repertoire that people have always really enjoyed. It also made us start the record label & it made us get serious about creating a NY state S Corp, joining ASCAP, following the music, dealing with entertainment attorneys, releasing singles around the country, reproducing & designing album art. All that started because of the of the organization & the business aspect that Eric & I took together. I mean, the 25 years I've been doing it & the 15 years of the label, I owe a lot to Eric. It wasn't just 'We're gonna get girls & young people want to score pot.' It has nothing to do with that. It was business. It was fun. It was creative. It was artistic. But, there was business. It still stands today. Even the current guys in CLOSENUF, which is the spawn of BLACKWOOD & FOTI at this point, they know it. They know that the business is just as important as the art.

AJ: You know, the music & performing is really just half of it. The other half is business. I think a lot of bands fall apart because they're not paying attention to the business.


ERIC: Absolutely.

AJ: I've been in bands because the guys thought success was found in the rehearsal room only & the business would happen by itself. You make both a good point & a bad point, Anthony. Eric, since I have you joining us, unexpectedly, are you still doing music? I know your movie work takes up a lot of time, but are you still playing?

ERIC: Yes. I'm in the middle of doing an album with some of my biggest heroes that I grew up listening to. I'm going to be putting on a new album soon. My music career has done pretty well. After BLACKWOOD & FOTI broke up I continued a little bit longer as the ERIC BLACKWOOD BAND with all the same songs. After that we went a little bit alternative rock for 7 years with the lead guitarist we had at the end of BLACKWOOD & FOTI. He became the lead singer & he drove the band for several years. After that I started writing music for movies & got further involved in the movie business because my brothers are in it, as Anthony eluded to. Now I've been mostly doing special effects for TV & motion pictures, but the music is still a part of me. Because of how busy the business I kind of got out of it, but I'm getting back into it again more so now in the last 5 years.

AJ: Obviously you heard the beginning with Anthony talking about the album & "At Night." When you're hearing that song again & going back, what's running through your head, Eric? What's your thoughts on this past life?

ERIC: I'll tell you, one of the things, listening to it after not hearing it for a while, it really still sounds pretty damn good. I mean, the work we did together really still shines. I think it still stands up pretty nicely. You know the work that Al Pitrelli did & all the work that Greenberg did in getting us all the players that would come in & perform with us, it was actually kind of a magical thing the way it all kind of just unfolded. It's a shame that it all the issues wound up coming up that didn't allow us to take it any further & it ended when it did. But, it was still quite a quite a magical experience.

AJ: There's a little history on you guys, if one of you could fill me in, about bringing your demo to to Greenberg & Greenwood.

ANTHONY: Well, Eric had a 4 track in his house & we would record basically acoustic guitars, vocals & some effects to fill in where the percussion was lacking. Here we are in the days of the cassette. I remember them because they were these dark clear looking cassettes like Coke bottle color. But, when we presented it to Green Machine Productions they wouldn't just take it. That was the whole thing. We gave them these 4 songs & said this is what we are on our own without 24 track, digital or even the big analog tapes. Sure, you pay them by the hour & you know they want to put their name on something. They don't want to get frustrated in the middle of the project, that it's going to be something that's not going to be completed. They don't want complete amateurs that they have to hand hold. When we gave it to them they were like, 'Sure we'll record your album.' That's where we got the product that we got. I mean, you know you could always say that you have great art, but yet you have to get let every pinball hit every bumper appropriately to get the right score.

ERIC: Right.

AJ: Let's let's talk about that for a second, since I have here with me 2 songwriters & I know you both probably have different approaches to songwriting & composing. I want to ask both of you what's your approach to
writing & maybe how coming together, you know, affected that or didn't or whatever.

ANTHONY: Well, I'm a composer second & a songwriter 1st, so what happens to me is I get the poem & the vocal patterns, etc. So, a lot of the stuff that I would approach to my current band CLOSENUF, as well as BLACKWOOD & FOTI, or even with my other songwriting partners over the years, I would sing the song & find the progression behind it. But, the other thing about Eric was that he would come up with chord progressions & instrumental pieces that it was my job to to write a vocal pattern on top of. That was where I got the more well-roundedness of being able to hit it from both angles.

ERIC: I think too, I came from a more progressive background. As Anthony said, I'm more of a MARLLION & PINK FLOYD kind of influence. I come from like the deep dark recesses of music. I like the real intense stuff. Anthony is more from the inspirational side, things like Billy Joel & John Denver. Even though we always had like plenty of middle ground we could share, like Dan Fogelberg who we both believe truly is one of the greatest musicians on earth, I think one of the great things is that Anthony ... I was so dark that Anthony would bring me up. At the same time Anthony was bright & I would bring him down a little bit to my end. What would happen, I think, is that between the 2 of us we were able to kind of create this middle ground that both the him & I could meet at. He kind of needed me to bring him down & I needed him to bring me kind of up. That kinda helped a lot in terms of how the songwriting went. I think that's why some of the songs were so was so different from anything that either of us would have normally written without each other at the time.

ANTHONY: Right, right. It's funny, because Blackwood is a stage name & it means darkness & Foti actually is Italian for brightness. It was kind of funny, because when we made the CD itself we cut the CD in half & had it half black & half white in its design. I think it was so great & I'd show it to a friend of mine & be told the CD looks like one of those black & white cookies you get at the Italian bakery. Yes, I have a thousand black & white cookies in my basement.

AJ: I know together you formed Wreckord Records & Anthony now keeps it going. Can you tell me about the formation of that &, obviously, some of the background to this business?

ANTHONY: It was actually Eric's idea that we needed the label. I happened to know a nice attorney who cut us a nice deal. We needed a name. It was funny, because we made it Wreckords Records, but the 1st word is spelled like a train wreck. The actual symbol is a W, which is actually a record that's broke it in half. When you put the 2 halves next to each other it makes the arcs of the W. We ran it together & everything was 50/50. When we went our separate ways I continued the corp. Eric's publishing for the few numbers we did are still owned by the corp. It's all on the books. You need that stuff on the books. That's the fair & equitable way to be. Even with a couple of other songwriting partners that I have. I can't find them all the time, but when they have money owed it's been set aside for when it can be claimed. You have to think of it that way. The other idea is, & we know this because here we are men & not little kids, our music is primarily for & with respect for white people pretty much 35 to 55 with with a more male oriented audience. The people who look for 38 SPECIAL & LYNYRD SKYNYRD, who come around & see all the reunion tours. You can't say we're gonna sell out, you know, a 1000 seating arenas every night & all that type of stuff, but here we are with a bunch of people who still buy CDs & don't download. Who have disposable income. The idea is that I would want an investor, an angel, like a Broadway play, to put up the money to forward CLOSENUF &show the world what we are. If we make it, it's all profit. If we lose we're a tax write-off. But, that what you're looking. You're looking for that angel to invest in you. I mean, look at "The Macarena." That is the highest selling single on the earth. The funny thing is, when they saw those 2 65 yr old Spanish men on TV people were taken aback, but it didn't take it away from being the highest single ever sold on the earth. So the thing is, here we are mature gentlemen & as long as the music is on the radio, that they would turn around & say 'Okay, now let's see what these guys look like.' When they finally see what they look like & they see they're men, they're not boys, but the song is still awesome. That's where the industry has gone totally awry. Bands like MOUNTAIN & JETHRO TULL, I don't know if they could make it these days.

ERIC: No, they wouldn't.

ANTHONY: It's not the music, its because they're not pretty boys.

AJ: It's all visual.

ANTHONY: Right, I mean you see a beautiful sculpture in the middle of a park & you see an 80 yr old man come out of his basement who made this thing & you would still say 'My god, that's a beautiful statue.' You don't turn around & look at the man who's lived his entire life who isn't a sex symbol & say to yourself that that statue is now ugly. No. That high art is still high art & music has to go back to that. That's why we're here. That's why I'm still here. It's the album & then it's the reproduction of the album in a live show that has to be awesome.

AJ: Absolutely.

ANTHONY: Sex, drugs & rock'n' roll, I mean, maybe the subject matter of the songs, etc., I mean, bottom line is it's rock'n'roll. There's nothing else occurring on that stage except there's theatrics, but there's music. Audio & visual of music.

AJ: It's actually a very simple equation on one level. Before we talk anymore I have to thank Eric. I have to thank you for calling up.

ERIC: No problem.

AJ: We were talking over the past week. This was totally unexpected. I know how busy you are. Can you reveal openly what movie you're working on? If you can't, it's okay.

ERIC: I can. Right now I'm working on a quirky movie called Violet & Daisy.

AJ: Whose in it?

ERIC: It stars James Gandolfini from The Sopranos on TV. He's the main actor in it. I just finished doing Boardwalk Empire.

AJ: I can't thank you enough for being a part of this. Having both of you guys here is a treat given your respective schedules. I want to talk about another song that you both had a hand in recording & creating. This got re-recorded by CLOSENUF, but because I have you with us, Eric, I want to look at the version you to do. I'm talking about "In The Eyes Of The Rose." Anthony, I know this has some special things related to it.

ANTHONY: This is a song about the thoughts of a 16th century philosopher who said that a rose sees a gardener as an immortal creature. The thing is he's just a man. The idea is that since the rose is misrepresenting the gardener, in the song the man in the relationship who's symbolizing the rose as their love is in a misrepresented relationship. The funny thing is, we did this live at Wagner College on a great lawn as a concert in the park for some politicians. Everybody in the audience was flabbergasted, because it was this  heart-wrenching ballad. Well, we ran out of money for the album. My father came up & said he'd put up the money & he became the co-producer. Frederick D. Foti, my father. We recorded it with John Abbott, who was with Dionne Warwick, & Steve Jerome, who actually just passed away a couple of months ago. John Abbott died a few years ago. Jerome has done everything from SIMON & GARFUNKEL to Gloria Gaynor, Neil Diamond, everybody. They recorded this song for us. It was a power ballad & it became our 1st nationally played single. It's still something that's in my repertoire all the time. I've done festivals all over NYC & people will request the song. So, it's something very special.

AJ: Who played what on that song?

ANTHONY: No actual special guest stars. "In The Eyes Of The Rose" is a capture of the ensemble that was the BLACKWOOD & FOTI live band. I was lead vocals & Eric was doing acoustic guitar. It was actually the live band that performed the song everywhere around New England. This was the band which we captured live in the studio.

ERIC: I think one thing should be noted, too. Anthony pushed this song quite a bit. I'll tell you, this song just exploded down south. This got on every radio station from Texas to Atlanta. I mean, they were playing this thing probably 8 or 9 times a day. We were on the Gavin report for most played song. We actually were up there with Eric Clapton for most played song down in Atlanta. It was also El Paso, too. There were 2 radio stations trying to outdo each other for who could play this song the most times in a day, it seemed like. So, this song really got huge. It turned into a monster fast, faster than we ever expected it to.

AJ: Excellent. I think this song compared to "At Night" creates a nice contrast showing 2 sides to the BLACKWOOD & FOTI sound. I think it really shows the breadth of your repertoire & what you were about.

ANTHONY: Thank you.

ERIC: Thank you. Speaking of "At Last". The one thing I can say about Al Pitrelli was that not only was he brilliant, but he was just effortless. I remember with " The Old Man", which has a 2 minute guitar solo outro on it, we recorded it once. He fiddled around on his guitar. The 2nd time around he laid down the track. He'd only heard the song once & he fiddled around on his guitar while it was playing. He said "Alight, let's just give it a shot." Greenberg hit record & Pitrelli put that lead as it sounds. We were sitting there with out mouths open. We could not believe how incredible a guitarist he was, that he was able to come out with something that amazing on the 1st take without ever having heard the song but once. He was just brilliant. Pitrelli looked at us & said "I think I've got it. We can do it over." We're like 'You're not doing it over! That was it. That was the track. You can't get better than what you just did.' We told him to leave it alone as it was absolutely perfect. He was such just a professional. So, that being said, Anthony, thanks for keeping it alive.

ANTHONY: I appreciate it. Very very nice talking to you again.

ERIC: Thank you, take care.

AJ: Eric, thank you so much.

ERIC: Thank you, Aaron.

AJ: That was a surprise for all of us.

ANTHONY: Absolutely.

AJ: I want to make sure we touch on CLOSENUF before we end our talk. You've been fronting the group for quite a while now & put out a couple albums & gotten some awards. Let's talk about what you've done & what you're doing with CLOSENUF.

ANTHONY: CLOSENUF was actually originally a Adam Vicelich & myself, 2 singer/songwriters. We met up with a bunch of people answering ads & we all were going to meet on Sept 12th, 2001 & on Sept 11th, 2001, we all know what happened. So we're waiting at the diner & we're saying to ourselves, 'I don't know if the bass player & the guitarist & a drummer are going to show up.' Well, little by little everybody showed up in a lobby. We we spoke about how it touched us & we sat down & we spoke about what we wanted to do. We explained what the project was & we brought our repertoires together & our experiences. It was funny, because we needed a name & every time we would do a song Adam would go 'Yeah, close enough.' Then we'd play another song. We'd finished the song, boom big triumphant ending & he'd go 'Close enough.' We would move on to the next one & it stuck. So, we said that was great from a marketing point of view. I mean, closenuf to musical perfection, closenuf to your heart, closenuf to the radio, closenuf, to television. We had "Music Man" very very much on the forefront with BLACKWOOD & FOTI, a Billboard songwriting contest award winning work that is an homage to the music industry. It's just a lot of fun. It's my 60's influence at its best. We did the new version of it with CLOSENUF where every member of the band is playing every note as opposed to guest stars. I did have a version produced by Steve Jerome & John Abbott with Screamin' Steve Barlotta from Gary U.S. Bonds doing the sax work. When we did a version that was more rocking we actually had BLUE OYSTER CULT's soundman be our producer for these 2 albums. He took the song to a major level. We released it to a promoter in Rhode Island & the guy got us to the Grammy ballot for Best Musical Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist. This started the 1st of many times up on the ballot for CLOSENUF.

AJ: What is going on with the band right now?

ANTHONY: I have a new line-up. I go through different keyboardists & guitarists. I plan to revamp the live show for 2011 getting that 60's/70's rock vibe out there. But, I keep promoting. I'm putting some old music videos up on youtube. We always stay in it from a promotional point of view even when we're not actively performing.

AJ: The 1st time I heard the 1st CLOSENUF album it just blew my mind. There's just some excellent songs on that album. Great songwriting & great music. That being said, I guess we're ... closenuf to the ending of this interview? I just want to ask, you've been doing music for how many years?


AJ: You've put out 4 albums. You've done more shows than we can count.

ANTHONY: It's been a wild ride. It started when I was in college.

AJ: Just a punk kid with big dreams?

ANTHONY: It was actually, believe it or not, in 1977 when I heard Billy Joel's "The Stranger." I started singing it in the living room. It was amazing because I could sing just like him. I could sing the album from start to finish. I went to college for music. I have a music concentration from P.A.C.E. University in NYC. One of my professors called me in after one of the shows. I was singing American Bandstand, Bill Haley & all that. I was sat down & I thought I was in trouble, but she said, 'You got it, but what you have to do is you have to find your voice & you have to write. Write like a mad man.' That summer I just started writing songs. I picked some partners of mine to work on the progressions behind me & then you get addicted. You get addicted as an artist. It's just something that becomes inside of you that you have to be, you know. What it is, when you find out you're an artist it's like finding out you're gay. What I mean by that is that is you feel 'Okay, I'm unique. I may not be of the majority. I may get persecuted for who I am, but I'm gonna be the best person I am & I'm going to live my life honestly.' When you're an artist it is the way God made you. You are creative. You are overly emotional to the average aspect of things. You're more observant. You draw from different sources. You feel muses carried through you & you have to be who you are. But, of course, getting that little boost in the behind speech of 'you got what it takes, go for it, you're blessed,' that's something that changes every artists life.

AJ: Anthony, we're at the end. You & I have talked for the last hour. We've talk on e-mail & on the phone. It's always a pleasure.

ANTHONY: You, too, man.

AJ: I enjoy conversing with you because you really bring out the intellectual side of music & also the emotional side. It's not just good time & fun talk. You really bring out the seriousness of the music business, yet underneath all that you say there is this sense that you love what you do. It's not been your full time job & you're not a millionaire, but it doesn't matter because you love what you do. That is the feeling so obvious in what you say.

ANTHONY: I appreciate it.

AJ: This is the first interview I've done, so you're inaugurating something for me. It was obvious who was going to be my 1st guest, too.

ANTHONY: It's been an honor. You're quite thorough & you made it as painless as possible. Interviews can sometimes get a little hairy.

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