From their inception on the streets of Los Angeles more than thirty years ago, BulletBoys have proven themselves to be one of the most enduring and hardest-working rock/blues bands to come out of the so-called “glam metal” scene.
Written from founder and frontman Marq Torien’s introspection and love for the City of Angels, the band’s new album, From Out Of The Skies (which will be released on March 23) showcases the BulletBoys’ continued growth and longevity as musical heavyweights. The album is chock full of the familiar sound that’s made the band a mainstay of rock radio while simultaneously opening up new avenues of funk; soul, and at times, something akin to the tasty “California Sound” of the early 1970's.
Recorded at the famous Foo Fighters’ Studio 606, the first single/video from the new album, “D-Evil” also features guest vocals from Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal.
AXS recently spoke with Torien about From Out of The Skies and more in this exclusive new interview.
AXS: How does the sound of From Out of The Skies compare to some of BulletBoys' previous work?
Marq Torien: Musically, we took big risks on this record and really wanted to do something that celebrated life. It's a very peaks and valleys record with a lot of emotion. Lyrically, I tried to convey uplifting feelings about love, family and life in general. The feelings I get about being born and raised in Los Angeles has a lot to do with what's on the album. It’s a combination of that as well as me going back to my punk rock roots; funk; soul; R&B and hard rock all thrown together.
AXS: Where do you draw inspiration for songs?
MT: There are always things around to inspire me. These days, I really try to be a lot more upfront with my feelings and share them. The BulletBoys have always been able to write and grow. From the get-go, we've always done records that were congruent but also had a different vibe and feel. We have our own sound and with this record, I wanted it to have a rhythm and funkiness and a feeling of the streets of L.A..
AXS: Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album, beginning with “Hi-Fi Drive By.”
MT: On that song, we were trying to emulate Earth Wind And Fire. I've always been a big fan and we did some things vocally that made the song have this real dreamy, surreal effect. The title actually comes from something that happened years ago when we used to go into the studio. We'd always drive by people's houses, open up the car doors and then crank our demo tapes. I remember we used to tell everyone that we were going to do a Hi-Fi drive by on them [laughs]. The song is basically an introspective story about me.
MT: That's a straight-out song about the people here in L.A. We live our lives like it’s the end of the world every single day. One of my favorite bands is Eagles of Death Metal and I asked Jesse Hughes (who’s a rock hero to me) if he'd be interested in coming in and singing on the song with me. He came into the studio and just killed it. It sounds amazing.
AXS: “From Out of The Skies.”
MT: When we were on the road last year, I had the idea about wanting to write a song about a fall from grace, and about how sometimes the City of Angels can be the City of Devils. It’s a song about what we do in everyday life; both the good and bad, and about being raked over the coals. But we'll come from out of the skies to tell you the truth about what really matters—in a rock and roll way.
AXS: This year marks the 30th anniversary of BulletBoys' debut album. What thoughts come to mind when you look back at that whole era?
MT: It was completely magical. It was a time when there was no Internet and when music was made for music’s sake and about real, live performance. There was no backtracking. It was all plug and play. You either had to know how to sing and play or you didn’t.
AXS: Can you give me the origin to the song, “Smooth Up in Ya”?
MT: Myself and Lonnie Vencent wrote the song in his Mom's garage. I remember we had been up for a few days when he came to me and said, "Hey, I have this riff and it's a hit!" There was no song to it but he played it for me and then afterward, I looked at him and said, "You're right! That bass riff is a hit song!" [laughs]. We were so young, but we already knew what we were going to do with that riff.
The title comes from when I had toured with El Debarge. The line, “Smooth Up,” was something we would always jokingly say to each other. Toward the end of the tour I said to him, "You know what? One of these days I'm going to write a song called “Smooth Up” and it's going to sell a bunch of records,” and he was on the floor laughing. I remember he said no one would ever play a song with that title and that it couldn't be done. Sure enough, years later when I saw him, he pulled me aside and said, “You DID it! You DID it!" [laughs]. He was so happy for me. That's how it came about.
AXS: What satisfies you the most about From Out Of The Skies and this next phase of your career?
MT: I'm excited that we got to record this at Studio 606, the home of the Foo Fighters. I want to give my thanks to everyone there for being so kind and generous and to Dave Grohl for letting us come in and lay down this body of work. This is the happiest I’ve ever been with the band. We're kicking on all cylinders and have taken it to a high level. We'll be touring all year and are really excited to play some serious music for our fans, family and friends.