Former Hardline bandmates Johnny Gioeli and Deen Castronovo have reunited to form Gioeli-Castronovo, sharing vocal duties on Set The World On Fire. Gioeli fills us in on the reunion, the new record, tour plans, his other bands, an upcoming solo album and other topics.
Chad Bowar: What led you to work together with Deen again after all these years?
Johnny Gioeli: We reconnected after Deen heard about an interview I gave when a journalist went a bit too far with his comments about Deen’s life challenges. Deen heard what I said about him: that he is a great person, we all have our peaks and valleys in our lives, etc. Deen heard this and called me saying thanks bro, thanks for having my back. Later that week he said, “Would you do an album with me?” I said hell yes! And here we are.
Describe the songwriting process for Set The World On Fire.
We used outside writers, which I really like, actually. I love when writers find the place for your voice and style. It’s a cool thing. We then worked together to pick and choose who would do what and how we organize the album. It was a simple and fast process.
How did you divide vocal duties?
That was so easy! Deen, you wanna sing this? Sure! Johnny, you wanna sing this? Sure! (laughs) It was so freaking easy. We’ve known each other for 25+ years. We know the smell of each others’ farts. I mean, that’s a little much, but true! (laughs)
How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
There is nothing new here, it’s just a cool AOR album that we wanted to make. Strong vocals, big guitars.
What led to you cover Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now,” and how did approach arranging it?
This was a producer decision. Ale thought it would just be a cool fit. So, without hesitation we said “let’s cover it!” It’s not my favorite at all on the album, but can’t have all winners.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
I think just having people feel and understand our roots is a cool thing. The reuniting, the brotherhood, it’s all really cool.
Do you have plans to play any live shows in support of the album?
Absolutely. We are working the dates for 2019. We didn’t originally plan it, but when the song “Through” took off, we thought, ”This might be a good decision.” We’ll make it happen. Not a massive tour, but 10 to 20 shows is our thoughts.
If so, will you play some Hardline material in addition to the new stuff?
There are some European Hardline shows coming up this year. Any chance of US dates?
USA is a beat to shit market. I hate it, actually. I get offers, but nothing that makes the pants tight. (laughs) I would not be opposed to playing some shows in the USA at all, but they are so few and far between.
Were you satisfied with the response to the latest Axel Rudi Pell album Knights Call?
I don’t laser focus on any of the albums, really. I do the best job I can do as a singer and then it’s either accepted or not. We have to please ourselves first in hope that it translates to others. I can tell you we sell out just about every show, so I guess we’re doing something right? (laughs)
You recently played a Crush40 show for an event in L.A. Anything else in the works there?
Yes! I love playing Crush40 tunes. The kids (and adults) are the happiest on earth, like freakin’ Disneyland! It was a fun event and I always love to hear the stories of how this game music grew with the fans. It’s a cool thing. Yes, I’ll be doing more events in 2019.
Tell us about the Pledge Music campaign you’ve started for your first solo album. What’s the timeline for its release?
My solo album will be released in December 2018. I put it together for a kid on my hometown who became paralyzed from a diving accident. I had to do something. I never thought about a solo album before, but this pushed me. I dedicate the album to Joe Barber and for all who suffer with paralysis. If you can imagine not moving your legs for even 3 seconds, you would understand why I did this.
The cost to rehabilitate is over 8 million dollars in one’s life. I had to help, and then thousands of fans worldwide donated to Joe for the love of music. The world is filled with amazing people giving and loving. The album is called One Voice and it is my happiest music since 1992. Positive, a great message and a chance for me to write it all from my heart. I can’t freakin’ wait!
How difficult is it to balance multiple bands and a personal life?
Not at all difficult. Life is balance. I just find it. For me it’s easy to multi-task and switch hats because all of what I do is real so I don’t have to try hard. Thank God is comes easy. Doesn’t mean I don’t take all of it seriously. Trust me, I lose sleep over songs. But balance, I find it.
Seen any good movies/DVDs lately?
I’m into classics lately like On Golden Blonde. (laughs) No time for movies. None!
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
My son plays hockey so we’re always cranking up Three Days Grace, Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, stuff like that. I love this stuff.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Just want to thank all the readers! Readers are listeners! From my heart, thanks for keeping the music alive. Be sure to check out Pledge Music and make a damn donation you cheap asses! (laughs) Best to all!
(interview published July 12, 2018)