|CRISS: Hi, Joey! Would you please tell us a little more about your career? I mean, how was it from working with Boystown and Coward to working with Tommy Henriksen and Meredith Brooks?
Sykes: Starting with Boystown, the singer David Polemeni saw me playing in a bar band in New Jersey, and he gave me some of his original music. We stayed in touch, and I ended up being in Boystown for years. As far as Coward, that was a similar situation.The singer Shep used to come see my band play in Long Island (where I am from).We starting a songwriting relationship, and a band, and got signed to Elektra Records about 8 months
later (CRAZY!!).I actually went right from Coward to Tommy Henriksen. Me and Tommy have been friends since we were about 17, and when he got signed to Capitol Records, he called me from California and asked me to play guitar. So I quit NY, and headed to LA to play with Tommy. We are still great friends. And, Meredith Brooks was a cattle call type auditon. I passed the audition.
CRISS: How did The Babys reunion happened? How did you end up being in the band? How much of input did you have in it?
Sykes: Someone that knew Tony Brock told me about it, and aside from touring, they also wanted to put a new album out. This person knew that I was a BABYS fan, and a songwriter, so, they brought me to Tony. He told me what he was looking for, and a week later, I brought them the music to “Not Ready To Say Goodbye”. I also had “I See You There”, and they wanted to make that the first single. So, eventually, they asked me to be a full member of the band. I accepted, and wrote about 7 other songs for the new album.
CRISS: How was it to record the last The Babys album? What about its promo video, "I See You There"?
Sykes: We had to write and record the whole album in like 3 months, so it would have been nice to have a bit more time, but it was fun.Tony Brock produced it and really wanted it to sound and feel more like The early BABYS. The video for “I See You There” was shot and direction by Danny Ursitti and John Brennick. I thought they did a great job of conveying the reuniting of a legendary Rock Band.
CRISS: I am a huge fan of The Babys myself, but I only got to know about the band's last album accidentally. I see there was very little promotion to talk about the band's come back, the new members and the album itself. Why do you think such a thing happened?
Sykes: GREAT QUESTION !!! The second I get that answer, you’ll get a call. Honestly, its still an ongoing process. We need to somehow get the news out. As I can attest to, based on the live shows, especially festivals, there are loads of BABYS fans out there, and many like you, who don’t even know that we are back. So, its both unfortunate, yet exciting to constantly be RE-recruiting BABYS fans.
CRISS: The Babys was a huge, classic band back in the late 70' s and early 80's. How do you compare the new line-up, which you are part of, to both the original and the classic ones, which featured Jonathan Cain, John Waite and Ricky Phillips?
Sykes: And Michael Corby….. Well, I don’t look at it like that, as far as comparing. I think that one of the main difference is having a major label behind you to get the records in stores, all the magazine coverage and touring with bands like Journey, Alice Cooper, etc. The new line up really tries to honor the catalog, and do it justice. John Bisaha is doing na amazing job singing and playing bass, especially with such big booties to fill. We all love all the versions of THE BABYS. For me, I am very confident in my songwriting and contribution to the new BABYS.
CRISS: You've been working with, producing and contributing to so many artists, from the most diverse music genres throughout the years. What made you decide to release your own solo album?
Sykes: I have released a few albums over the years.I write so many songs, and I have a recording studio. So, when I get the time, I set out to release an album . It’s a big undertaking doing it mostly alone. Fortunately,I love being in the studio. I also thought that I would be meeting plenty of new music fans through THE BABYS, so I wanted to show more of me. Speaking of diversity, there is a big movie in the theaters out now, called THE PURGE-ELECTION YEAR, and one of my songs is in it. AND, it’s a pop-Reggae song! Its called “Green Paper Burns”, and the artist is Frankee Razor. How’s that for diversity??!!
CRISS: When I listened to your new solo album, I had the feeling of listening not only to some great, melodic rock, pop music, but it all did remind me a lot of the band Candy (a mid-80's pop rock band which featured former Guns N'Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke). What were you thinking of when you started recording it?
Sykes: Well, Thank you. Gilby and Jonathan Daniel are actually friends of mine. I ‘ve always loved great melodies, harmonies, and lyrics. So, I definitely wanted to keep the 70/80s power pop spirit.
CRISS: How did you come up with the album title "Classic New Rock"?
Sykes: All of my favorite bands are Classic rock bands, but my album sounds “new”… So, I thought it was a clever way of attempting to create a new genre..”Classic New Rock”. Check back with me in 30 years, I’ll let you know if it worked.
CRISS: There have been promo videos for three of your solo album tracks, "Everything Must Go", "That's American Life" and "Take Me Someplace Else". What was the main reason for you to choose them to promote the album? Also, any other videos coming up?
Sykes: Videos are such a big part of delivering music these days. As far as those specific tracks, “Take Me Someplace Else” is NOT on my new album. “That’s American Life” is the opening song, and I thought it was a good choice for the first single. I think that song gives you a good idea of most of the elements on the record. I also had the privilege of having the great Kenny Aronoff play drums on 3 of my songs.That is Kenny on that one.
“Everything Must Go” is a “classic rocker”. I am shooting a video for “He Never Cried”, which is a Nashville type song. I actually wrote it in Nashville, and the video will be shot there.
CRISS: Did you use any of your personal experiences when you wrote the songs for the album?
Sykes: There are many songs based on personal experiences.The beauty of songwriting is that you can mess with the truth a little. It’s always “what’s best for the song”(not only lyrically, but instrumentally).
CRISS: You covered the classic Raspberries’ song "Go All The Way" on the album, which came out just great. Why did you choose it and what do you think when you listen to your own version of it?
Sykes: I’m glad you like it. It has always been one of my favorite songs. With a song like that, you cant stray too far….So, I didn’t. I’m proud of it. Lets put it this way, If you like that song, and you listen to my version, I GUARANTEE no one will say “That sucked”…
CRISS: How do you compare your new solo album to the album you recorded with The Babys?
Sykes: With my album, I was the boss. I had great guest musicians lend their talents, such as Kenny Aronoff, Josh Freese, Tony Brock, Wally Stocker, Nate Morton, Arlan Schierbaum, Jamie Muhoberac, John Bisaha, and more, so it’s nice to have that freedom to make it what you want. The BABYS album was more of a “fitting in” situation.Tony Brock was steering the ship. I just wanted to help as much as they wanted me to.
CRISS: What can you consider as the three best moments of your whole career?
Sykes: The best was probably signing a major record deal with COWARD (Elektra Records). Then, playing Madison Square Garden when I was playing guitar for Meredith Brooks. We opened for The Eurythmics. And, probably hearing my song on the radio for the first time.
CRISS: Please tell us about your main influences as an artist, how you got started in music and about the gear you're using now.
Sykes: Some of my favorites are The Beatles, Bad Company, The Who, Badfinger, The Cars, Cheap Trick,.. (you get the picture). I got started in music, listening to my mothers albums. As far as my gear, live, I play mainly Tom Anderson guitars, a few pedals, and Metropolis 100 watt head, with celestion Creamback speakers.In the studio, I have about 10 different old amps, and different guitars for different situations.(’66 Gretsch Jet Firebird, Fender strats, Gibson Les Paul, Sg, Chet Atkins, and more).
CRISS: Could you name five albums that changed your life?
Sykes: The Beatles – Sgt Pepper, Revolver, Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here,
Aerosmith – Rocks, The Eagles – Hotel California, The Who – Whos Next.
CRISS: Being born in New York, did you end up in L.A. because you thought the music scene was better there? How about being involved in so many projects in Nashville?
Sykes: Music brought me to LA, originally. I loved it so much that I knew I would live there someday.When Tommy asked me to be in his band, it didn’t take me long to think about it. As far as Nashville, I go there, mainly to write songs.I have a stable of co-writers that I work with.Every few months I book a 10 day trip, and write a bunch of songs. Great writers in Nashville.
CRISS: How about touring? Any plans?
Sykes: Not at the moment.I probably need an investor or label. If any of your readers want in, hit me up!
CRISS: You have performed in countries such as United States, England, Canada, Spain, Germany and Switzerland. Do you ever plan touring places that not so many artists go to, such as South America and, of course, Japan?
Sykes: I would welcome playing just about anywhere that would have me. (Almost anywhere).
CRISS: Anything to say to those who are reading this interview?
Sykes: Thanks for reading, if you made it this far. Hopefully, music means as much to you as it does to me. Check with my website www.joeysykes.com, and my Facebook music page.
CRISS: Thanks a lot for the interview, Mr. Sykes. I am quite positive that "Classic New Rock" has everything it takes to be a very successful album.
Sykes: THANKS CRISS… You Rock!