Interview: Deen Castronovo from Revolution Saints and Journey

Revolution Saints is the newest rock and roll band on Frontiers Records. The band consists of Jack Blades (Night Ranger) on bass, Doug Aldrich (White Snake) on guitar, and Deen Castronovo (Journey) on drums and lead vocals. The project was first put together by the founder of Frontiers Records, Serafino Perugino with music written by Alessandro Del Vecchio. The idea to create a “melodic rock”/AOR album appealed to the band members, who had all known each other for several years.

The Revolution Saints’ self titled debut album is going to be released on Feb. 24 in North America. Before rejoining his Journey bandmates for their spring and summer tour, drummer Deen Castronovo took some time to talk to TAM about the Revolution Saints, the new album, balancing multiple projects and future plans for his bands.

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Hey Deen, how does it feel, being this close to the Revolution Saints’ debut release?

I’m very proud of the new album. We did it for fun. We didn’t think it was going to get this much exposure, and this great of a response. Now it’s just amazing to us!

Could you tell us a bit about how the project came together?

This was Serafino Perugino’s brainchild. He called me and asked if I would do drums and do some singing. I didn’t realize I was going to do the whole record, honestly. I thought I was going to do some songs and there was going to be guys coming in and singing the rest, but it turned into this. When we were talking about other musicians for the project, he brought up Jack Blades and it was a no-brainer. He was perfect. I’ve known Jack since I was 17. He’s a great songwriter, great singer and a fantastic bassist.

Then they brought in Doug Aldrich’s name and I said “of course, he’s a monster!” Doug is a highly under-rated player. He’s done his stuff with Whitesnake and Burning Rain and Lion, which is what I knew him from. Journey toured with Whitesnake. We did a UK tour with them, and I would watch every night. Doug was ferocious! To have him in the band is a blessing. He is an amazing player.

What do you think about the revitalization of album oriented rock and vinyl records?

I’m amazed at that. I grew up with the vinyl, and then it went to cassettes, CDs and then downloads, but I am a purist. I love the vinyl. The old vinyl recordings… there is nothing like that.

So, let’s talk about the creation of the music behind Revolution Saints…

You know, all of the lyrics and the music were written already. Alessandro Del Vecchio, the house producer for Frontiers Music sent us the demos. We listened to them all and said “Yeah, we can do this!” I remember Jack calling me just before I did my drum tracks and he told me, ‘Deen, I want you to play like you. Don’t play like the demos. Just bring yourself out.’ Sure enough, I just went in there and tore it up. Good, bad or indifferent, I did what I did on it.

The hope, for the next record is that Jack, Doug and I are going to write the record together and make it our own. This was an amazing project and we’re grateful for what Alessandro brought to the record, but for the three of us to do our own record next year, it’s going to be an awesome thing.

With your touring schedule with Journey being so busy during the spring and summer, does Revolution Saints have any shows that they’re going to try and do?

Definitely. We won’t be doing anything in the States right away though. We’ve had offers from countries in Asia to do stuff in October, so we’re looking at doing some concerts in October and November. The UK, Asia and hopefully the States. Journey finishes our tour in August, which gives us a lot of time to do Revolution Saints shows, until Journey goes back out on the road next year in 2016 in March and April. We’re going to do as much as we can, schedules permitting. Doug has his projects, Jack of course has Night Ranger, and I have Journey, which is my priority and it always will be until the band ends.

How was the recording handled with the Revolution Saints, given the complicated schedules of everyone involved?

We couldn’t get into a studio together, because all three of our schedules were conflicting, so thank God for technology. It gave us the opportunity to do the drum tracks, send the files to Jack, so he could do his bass stuff, and then have Doug come in and do his spin on it. I’m grateful for being able to do something like this, the way we did it, but I can’t wait to get into a studio with all three guys and create what we’re going to create. There’s nothing like the vibe in a studio. There really isn’t.

There’s a spirit that happens when musicians are in a room together and the magic that ensues when you’re together in a studio. You lose a little bit of the magic, but since we all knew each other and are all friends, a lot of the magic was still there and it came out in the files. The magic was still there and the fire was still there because we’re friends and the chemistry between the three of us is great.

To a listener, the first time they listen to Revolution Saints, they may pick up the Journey sound, the next time, maybe some Damn Yankees or Whitesnake. Each listen seems to bring out a different sound…

Exactly. You are going to hear those. I am a huge Journey fan. I was a huge Journey fan before I even joined the band, so you’re going to get those Journey comparisons. Honestly, that is humbling and I am very grateful for that. To be compared, even a little bit, to Journey or Night Ranger or Whitesnake… dude, that’s huge for me. I embrace it wholeheartedly. It’s a cool thing to be compared to such iconic bands. Journey is still the soundtrack to my teen years. For people to say that they hear it in Revolution Saints, that’s a compliment. I’ll take that any day.

Neal Schon and Arnel Pineda from Journey both contributed parts to the Revolution Saints album. Have your fellow band mates from Journey been supportive of the project?

You know, they have been. I always run everything by the guys because they’re my brothers. When I told them I was going to do this, they embraced it and said to go for it. Neal was the first one to post the Revolution Saints EPK on his website, which was huge. He’s very supportive and is my number one cheerleader. I remember when I first sang on his record, when I did “Love Finds a Way” on the So U record he said “this is going to open up major doors for you… you watch.” He was right. I couldn’t believe it. I went from that to getting the offer from Serafino to do this record. So, I am forever indebted to my Journey band mates and brothers for allowing me to have this shot.

So, do you see yourself doing a ‘Phil Collins,’ bringing yourself to the front of the stage and running around while you sing?

Actually, that’s what we’re talking about. If we do a tour, we’ve got a drummer already lined up: One of my best friends, Steve Toomey, who’s an amazing drummer. He knows all of my stuff. He’s been with me as Journey’s drum tech for nine years now. He knows my stuff back and forth, so we’re going to bring him in and I’ll come out in front on some songs and then go back on drums and sing as well. But, yeah, we want to take a page from the Phil Collins, Don Henley book of singing drummers. It will be a challenge, but I’m up for it.

For more info on Revolution Saints, check out their Facebook page and Pledgemusic page

CD Review: ‘Only to Rise’ by Sweet & Lynch

Few sounds can capture the feel of the late 80s and early 90s like the clean guitar licks that scream from George Lynch’s (Dokken, Lynch Mob) fingers and out through his amp. Combine that with Michael Sweet’s (Stryper) powerful trumpeting vocals and you have the recipe for a hard rock album the likes of which we haven’t heard in years.

Sweet & Lynch is comprised of Michael Sweet on vocals, George Lynch on lead guitars, James Lomenzo (Megadeth, White Lion) on bass and Brian Tichy (Whitesnake) on drums. The super-band was formed when the president of Frontiers Music, Serafino Perugino, asked to approach Sweet about singing on a record. Sweet and Lynch began producing the project and co-writing the songs, eventually enlisting Lomenzo and Tichy to complete the band.

With the release of Only to Rise on Jan. 27, the silent halls of guitar rock are finally beginning to resonate again. The first song on Only to Rise, “The Wish,” starts with a guitar punch to the face and begins marching the listener proudly through music designed to make you play air guitar, bob your head and throw up the sign of the horns.

 

While the creation of such a super-group may cause some to raise an eyebrow, the end result of their genesis is enjoyable and powerful. As a whole, Only to Rise is well produced, enthusiastic and genuine. Each song on the first half of Rise to Me builds on the previous one, eventually reaching a high point with the fifth track, the rock anthem “Rescue Me.” Sweet & Lynch then pauses for a breath and brings us the one rock-ballad on the album,”Me Without You.”

The brief respite for the Bic-lighter-waving slow jam is soon forgotten as the album rolls to the finish with a non-stop feast of fast beats, guitar solos and Sweet’s powerful vocals. The final (and title) song of the album, “Only to Rise” begins with a sound and rhythm reminiscent of Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart” and leaves us only wanting more.

Only to Rise manages to transport the willing listener back to the days when the pants were leather, the pyrotechnics were big and the hair was even bigger. If you loved the bands of that era and long for the time before Nirvana and the grunge movement stole their thunder, then do yourself a favor and check out Only to Rise. While the guitar rock bands of the 80s are enjoying a renaissance, very few of them are recording any new material of note, opting instead to play their greatest hits in front of their adoring fans. If the idea of hearing new music from hard rock masters appeals to you, then be sure to check out Sweet & Lynch. You will not be disappointed.

Only to Rise is released in the US on Jan. 27 and in Europe on Jan. 23.

Follow Sweet & Lynch:

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