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Interview with John Macaluso :
(Drums / Vocals - Union Radio / Starbreaker / Ark)

Interviewed by the David Felix
Date: March 2007

His resume reads almost like a who’s who of the metal industry. Since the age of 17, he’s traveled the world bringing his brilliant and innovative techniques in drumming to fans from Asia to Zimbabwe. He’s performed in and been a part of countless clinics and festivals throughout the world and introduced his unique style which enhanced an entire genre. Now, in only his third decade as a performer, drummer, song writer, producer, engineer and even singer, there’s no sign of him slowing down.

Now taking his first crack at a true solo release, John Macaluso is ready to step out into the spotlight once and for all. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with John to talk about the release of his new project UNION RADIO and the debut CD, “THE RADIO WAVES GOODBYE.” Here’s what he had to say...

David Felix: Hey John! It’s so nice to speak with you again. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

John Macaluso: Come on, bro! Thank you! Ya know, I’ve done some email interviews before but never one over the phone so this’ll be the first! And definitely the first for the new CD.

David Felix: Very cool! So you all set?

John Macaluso: Hell yeah... let’s do it!

David Felix: Ok... so let’s jump right into things and start by talking about your new project UNION RADIO. How did you come up with the name and what does it mean?

John Macaluso: Ok... when we were writing for the third ARK album... me and Tore Ostby, he was living in France at the time. So I went over to work on it with him and we ended up renting out this little chalet in Southern France. It was great! His girlfriend knew some guy who did that whole “dog racing” thing up in Alaska and he was away for the whole summer and left us his chalet... so it was great! We just stayed there and wrote tunes. We set the drums up right there in the living room and all had a really great time... it was beautiful. Anyway, one day I was out in town and I couldn’t find any books! Everything was in French, obviously... but I did find one book in English and it was about the Spanish Civil War. So I ended up buying the book and as I was reading through it, there was this term that kept coming up which was “UNION RADIO. Now what the term referred to was the rebel’s radio station where they would tune in to find out what to do, where to attack, find out what was going on, rally the troops... etc. So that’s where it came from... it was the Spanish rebel’s radio station UNION RADIO. I just thought it was a cool name because it was a little modern sounding. I planned to use a lot of keyboards and weird effects more than just “metal” guitars and stuff so I thought the term... even though it was an older term, was still modern in a way. And “union” really fit because I gathered together musicians from all over the world on this so it was very much like a “union” of sorts.

David Felix: What about “THE RADIO WAVES GOODBYE?” Where did that come from?

John Macaluso: Well... see you guys do a good thing where you have a radio station affiliated with your website (STICKMANRADIO) where people can go and request stuff and they don’t have to pay to get on. And I’m really like the “anti-pop” where I try to write music that has a lot of hooks to it, but I can’t stand the idea of writing a song just for the sake of making it a “hit” song on standard radio. That never worked for me so, I’m not really a fan of what’s on the radio today. So the titled stems from that... just kinda waving goodbye to the radio! I never put it on; I can’t remember the last time I ever purposely listened to something... I’d rather go on satellite or internet radio because there is such a broader array of music and artists out there. So it really is a rip on the radio stations of today.

David Felix: Well, I know we’ve talked before and you’re familiar with what’s going on with internet radio.

John Macaluso: Yeah and it’s really sad that it’s actually coinciding with the release of this particular CD. It’s a shame and a real travesty to anyone who appreciates music. Please... if anyone is out there reading this and doesn’t know what’s about to happen, go to, get behind it and spread the word because you may not have many options at all pretty soon.

David Felix: Thanks for being such a great supporter! We’ll see what happens on May 15th, I guess. Anyway, what was the first song written for the project and how long has this been in production?

John Macaluso: It’s a crazy story... I signed the deal in September of 2005! And one night, I was just sitting around after just getting home from touring and I always get the “post-tour blues.” It’s like I get back and it gets depressing sitting there deciding on what to do next. Now I had just gotten back from a tour of Europe and jumped on the internet and started emailing every record company I knew saying, “Hey, I wanna do a solo record!” I probably had a couple of beers in me, but I actually got three responses by the next morning! I think I woke up with a hangover and was like, “Holy Shit!” (laughs) So then came all the discussions about how we were going to go about it and I was like, “Shit! I’ve always been hired to make records! What the Hell do I know about doing something like this?” I never actually went and paid for a studio, hired musicians or anything like that so I really didn’t know what it was going to cost to do that. So I was just like, “Oh a record deal! Let’s do it!” (laughs) In the end, I ended up fronting a lot of my own money to do this because it’s my first REAL solo album so I really had to make it my baby. So the first thing I did was I went to my favorite guitar player and good friend Marco Sfogli and asked him if he wanted to be a part of it. He, of course, was totally receptive to it so I ended up flying over to his place in Italy and it was just so incredible. I mean, from the balcony of his bedroom you can literally see Mt. Vesuvius! So before I left, I had recorded all my drum parts here in New York and basically just went over there with a few song titles in mind. I had “Shimmering Grey,” “Away With Words” and just a feel for the mood of how I wanted the song to be and built a drum arrangement around it. So when I got there, we were sitting in Marco’s bedroom and I played him the drums tracks and he was like, “So what do you want me to do?” And I was like, “Just play something!” And then he started with all this stuff about “What key is it in” and such and I was like, “Christ, I don’t know!” I can write lyrics and such but I can’t do like guitar riffs or anything like that and this guy’s asking me about keys? (laughs) So I went into the bathroom for a few minutes and came out with this riff in my head. I couldn’t play it but I was able to hum it and Marco was able to decipher my bad singing/humming and it ended up being the chorus to “Starring Pain!” After that, I was like, “Holy Shit! I can do this!” Then the next thing we worked on was “Shimmering Grey. I said I wanted a kind of PINK FLOYD/ Jeff Beck kind of thing and just hummed a little of what I meant and he was able to take it from there. But that’s the way I worked it... I just got a bunch of really talented guys who could decipher through my best “guitar language” and let them take it and enhance it from there. It took almost two years to do it this way, but in the end... I think it was worth it.

David Felix: That’s pretty amazing and a unique way to approach song writing.

John Macaluso: Ya know, there’s an old joke that goes “How do you know when it’s time for a band to break up?” And the punch line is, “When the drummer says he’s got some tunes!” (laughs) And it’s so true! Some of the best drummers in the world put out the corniest albums. I'm not going to name any names, but even some of the greats... not ALL the greats! Not Phil Collins! But most of your great jazz drummers, fusion drummers... they all put out some crazy shit. So when I first approached the idea, I didn’t want to go in with that way of thinking. It’s gotta have vocals, it’s gotta have lyrics and it’s gotta be music! That’s the way I was looking at it so, even with the singers, they would put me through the same test that Marco did and would be like, “What do you want me to sing?” So again, I had to go in and sing the lyrics to give them an idea and just let them take it from there. So I pretty much surprised myself because you’re not suppose to make a record starting with the drums... and that’s exactly what I did.

David Felix: How much harder do you feel it is to write songs the way you have when your primary ideas aren’t based on chords or riffs?

John Macaluso: I honestly think it helped not knowing what a “b-flat” was... or an “e” because it was built more on moods than it was notes. With ARK, I always arranged things and understood the structure but with this, I was able to base it more on moods and even though I’ve got a horrible voice and seem to be a bit “tone-deaf” (laughs), I was still able to get my ideas across easier rather than having to remember or write everything down in a standard and structured way. But I think if I understood music more than I do or had actually studied it more, I would have been more aware of the “rules.” “You can’t put that chord with that! You can’t go into that from there!” Even when I was working with people sometimes they’d be like, “You can’t do that! That’s not going to work!” And it ended up working out, ya know? So... as I said, I think if I really knew more of the technical aspect behind things, it wouldn’t have come out the way it did.

David Felix: What did you find most challenging about recording “THE RADIO WAVES GOODBYE?”

John Macaluso: Finances! (laughs) Finances and transportation because if I wanted someone on this record, I had to go to them. I wasn’t going to just go with a local guy because he was cheap, ya know? I didn’t just wanna put out a record; I wanted to put out a “FUCKING RECORD!” Other than that, mentally trying to have a drumming career you still have to work, do sessions and teach. Then, when you come off of that, that’s when you’re real job starts because now you have to write, do artwork, arrange, plan... I was exhausted! It was two years of this and there weren’t those other guys to lay back on where one would go do some writing, another would go work on publicity... there was none of that. It all fell on my shoulders because it was my project but I never once sat back and said, “Hey maybe I shouldn’t be doing this!” But sometimes, I thought it would never end!

David Felix: One of my favorite tracks on the release is “Pretzel” which is, in essence, a drum solo done in your own little tongue-in-cheek way. Not only was it a “ballsy” move to put something like this on a CD, but also a very unique and original idea as well. Tell me a little bit more about “Pretzel.”

John Macaluso: It happened when I was in POWERMAD which was the band I was in ’89 and we were in the movie “Wild At Heart” with Nicholas Cage... we were in the bar scene. I guess you could have described us as Warner Brothers answer to TESTAMENT or MEGADETH! (laughs) So we were their “thrash band” and they threw us on the road for like seven or eight months and we went everywhere! But you have to realize, I was a hired guy! But when I was on the road, I had this big-ass drum kit! It had like 20 cymbals, 4 toms... the double bass craziness so I would just go crazy out there! Then after our show, I would go out and watch whoever the headlining act was, maybe talk to some people in the audience or whatever and they’d always come up to me and be like, “So what’d you think about the first band?” And I’d be like, “What’d I think of them? I’m the drummer!” (laughs) “Why the Hell do you think I’m all sweaty and shit?” But it never occurred to me before that that people really don’t notice the drummer much at all... even if he’s “kickin’.” They notice the singer, the guitar player, the bass player or whatever. I’ve heard keyboard players mentioned before drummers, ya know? (laughs) And I didn’t really even “ham” it up that much so what I did was, I scaled down my kit... well that was actually for two reasons. The other being because it forced me to be more creative as well. And also, I’m a Keith Moon fanatic and doing what I did and watching him I started to realize that a lot of the show is pure entertainment. You don’t have to be hamming it up and throwing your sticks all over the place, but you can’t just sit there starring at your high-hat! You have to be entertaining and get into it or else people just aren’t going to believe it... you know what I mean? So when I started to use that attitude, scaled down the kit and started to sit just a little bit higher, I began to play better, I rocked more, and the people really started to get into it! Now all of a sudden, people are coming up to me after shows and shit and would be like, “Man... you did a GREAT job!” (laughs) So that’s where the whole idea came from... the fact that even though the girl in the introduction notices that there IS a drummer, when it comes times for the drum solo... she goes and gets a pretzel! Bottom line, no matter how entertaining or noticed you make yourself... if you’re a drummer, people still tend to wait to do things until the drum solo! If they have to go to the bathroom, want to get something to eat... in an arena you can see them walking out in droves! (laughs) I always say, wait for the bass solo! (laughs) So that’s the idea behind “Pretzel,” just poking fun at that whole “drum solo” mentality. I said when I first started this project, that if I was going to do a drum solo on the record, I had to rip on myself... because that’s what I do in life. (laughs) But I am glad you dig it because that’s the last thing I expected was for anyone to single out “Pretzel.” Thank you!

David Felix: Well I also found “6 Foot Under Happy Man” very unique as well because not only is it such a completely different genre than anything else on the CD, but it doesn’t even contain a drum track at all. What was the idea behind that?

John Macaluso: It’s weird, but I love 1920’s music! I love Victrola, I love the sound of it, it relaxes me and I don’t have to think about who the drummer is! 20’s, 30’s and electronic music help me relax because if I’m listening to stuff like I play, I tend to zero in on the drum tracks. I’m thinkin’ technique, I’m thinkin’ style, I’m thinkin’ who does this remind me of, I’m thinkin’ about the arrangements... so I listen to a lot of electronic shit and really, really old music. I was in the museum of modern art a few weeks ago and came out with a CD, “Burle/ Cabaret Hits” (laughs) But I like it because it’s got no drums, I don’t have to think and it’s got that Victrola sound that I love. I was always amazed and fascinated with the band that went down with the Titanic. They were called THE WALLACE HARTLEY BAND and, as you know, they played till their bitter end. And I remember (Billy) Cobham saying something like, “Every time I get behind the kit, I play like it’s going to be my last day.” So I take what he said and I think of THE WALLACE HARTLEY BAND and I play with that intensity every time I go out there and when you do that and to live like that you can really freak yourself out! I can’t live the life every minute of every day so... that’s where “6 Foot Under Happy Man stems from... the need to RELAX! The song itself is almost a “Monty Python” kind of thing... like a “Bring Out You’re Dead!” twist (laughs) but it also has a little of my own life in there. It’s a very dark, dark, dark way of saying no matter what happens in your life, try to be happy.

David Felix: Do you have your own personal favorite song off the release and why?

John Macaluso: It’s tough to pick just one but if I had to go in a little bit of an order, I would have to say “Dissolved” is definitely one of my favorites, “Soul In Your Mind” with LaBrie and the second track “Mother Illusion.” I like “Mother Illusion” a lot because it’s really hard to play. That’s all my drumming! There’re no machines in there and I wanted it to sound like there were. I wanted it to sound like live drum & bass and that’s not easy to do. I even had to tune my drums so that they would sound like drum machine drums and it was really a pain in the ass to do, but in the end I think it came out really, really cool.

David Felix: Are there any plans for a tour in support of the release?

John Macaluso: Definitely, Definitely! First what I am going to be doing... and I know this may sound a little “cookey,” but what I’m doing right now is I’m working with the engineer to take the drums off of all of the songs and my plan is to sync-up just the music with some video and some old video from like the 1920’s and what I’m going to do is go out and get a huge movie screen and set it up behind me and go out and play just all my drum parts with all the music and video going on behind me. And the video itself will contain a lot of really weird, bizarre, European cinema. Stuff from like Germany, France... some really freaky shit from when they first started making movies! So I’m going to be doing that along with some drum clinics at first. Then, I’m going to try and put an actual band together and take it on the road if I can get something happening.

David Felix: Will the United States be included in any of this?

John Macaluso: Oh yeah! First I’m going to do Europe... I’m actually heading over there with Caffery and then I’m coming back to do the tour with Doro and then it’s back to Europe again for some more clinics and such. But the actual band thing I was talking about would actually start here with a small tour here in the United States.

David Felix: Now you’ve been a part of many projects over the years; ARK, STARBREAKER, Yngwie Malmsteen, TNT just to name a few. What’s been your best experience in a “band” situation?

John Macaluso: It’s kinda sad, but I don’t think I’ve ever really been IN a band for longer than two or three years! Here’s the reality, man... I’ve always felt that I was born in a weird time for my style of playing. I always though I should have either been born in the past or in the future. Now things are finally starting to catch up to where I wanna be. I started playing in the late 70’s, moved to L.A. when I was 17 and all there was were bands like POISON and DOKKEN which I couldn’t stand! All the drums were those basic, straight beats and here I am busting my ass trying to do all this weird, crazy, double-bass kinda shit! Every band I tried to get into was like that so I got more into the “shredders” because at least there I could play a little more. So that’s the direction I went and I ended up being more of a hired gun for guitar players for most of my career. Which was cool because I got to play my ass off but as far as a “band” thing, I was only IN TNT... for Yngwie I was hired, for RIOT I was hired... so it’s been weird. I was with TNT for three years and they never asked me to join! (laughs) So I’ve always been a hired guy for the most part but the whole STARBREAKER experience was awesome! Making that album and getting back together with Tony (Harnell) after not really even speaking for almost ten years... we had the best time making that record. Dude, we laughed and just had the best fucking time making that record. Then there was the LaBrie tour... that was just amazing! I mean, he is the coolest guy, Marco Sfogli is the best, the crew was fuckin’ great and the band just got better and better every gig we played. But I would have to say MY only band ever was ARK... because I started ARK and all I can say is after that experience, I can see why Yngwie is such an... I think I’ll just leave a “blank” there! (laughs) When it’s YOUR band, there’s a lot of pressure there and there’s a lot of shit you have to deal with constantly. When things go bad, they come to YOU... when there’s no more money, they come to YOU! It was stressful being in ARK but at the same time, I never felt such fulfillment in putting and album out because I was there for the whole process. It wasn’t like I came in, did my thing and then split! But it was stressful and after a while, it actually got painful which is why we stopped.

David Felix: You have had the opportunity to work with a lot of talented and world-class musicians over the years. At this point, is there anyone that you haven’t worked with that you would like to?

John Macaluso: Oh yeah... my fantasy would be Pete Townsend or Peter Gabriel! But that’s fantasy... there’re so many. I keep thinking the biggest of the biggest, the classics! ... but I’m trying to put it in a more modern or realistic perspective. I’d love to work with Maynard James Keenan... the lead singer from TOOL. Nicko McBrain from MAIDEN is actually a really good friend of mine. We hang out a lot, we talk a lot and he’s almost become like a consultant to me. He’s a great drummer, a great friend and I would LOVE to do some kind of “double-drum” thing with him... I think that’d be cool. I would love to do something like that live... that would be REALLY cool.

David Felix: Even though you are pretty world-renown yourself nowadays and are considered one of the best in the business in your genre, do you still think it’s hard for drummers to get the respect they deserve?

John Macaluso: It use to be really hard back in the 80’s but, and now this is my OWN opinion, but I really think that grunge brought back the drummer. All those bands had great drummers! They started to tune the drums differently, they took away the big snare and added some of those “ghost” hits and that brought real drumming back in style. But I think now, drummers are getting more respect than they ever got! Yeah, it’ll always be hard because you still have your “flavors of the month.” There’re those people who are just in the right band at the right time and people just worship them even though they may not always be the best drummer. But a kid’s going to say automatically, “This guy’s the best drummer in the world!” because he has that vehicle. It’s hard to get by those guys because they’re the ones who get all the endorsements and are going to be put ahead of you for drum clinics and such NO MATTER WHAT! Because it is a business... make no mistake about it. So having the right band and the right people surrounding you is key to anything and doing what I do... playing all over the place with different people is a tough thing to do. I don’t do it because I’m a whore! (laughs) I do it because I love music and all different styles of music. I think it’s exciting going into the studio playing one style that day and then doing something completely different and off the wall the next! People want to label you. They wanna be able to say, “He’s black, he’s white, and he’s yellow!” and that’s it! If you don’t have that logo... like SLIPKNOT! The guy’s got that big “S” on his chest and they know him for that logo! People wanna put that logo on... and that can be very important. Me, I have one of those “traveling suitcases” that has stickers from like Montana, Brazil, Sweden, etc. slapped all over it. So it’s harder for someone like me to get the respect sometimes but when it comes down to it, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

David Felix: How old were you when you first started drumming?

John Macaluso: I was eleven years old. I actually wanted to be a guitarist at first and I remember way back when they use to have the JC Penny catalog. When I wasn’t looking at the “bra” ads (laughs), I was looking at the guitars. And I remember I saw the Jimmy Page model guitar... but it was a “Hondo II” or whatever... cost like $100.00 at the time. So I kept bugging my Mom to get me the guitar and when she finally caved in, you have to remember that since it was a catalog, you couldn’t get the stuff the same day... you had to order it and that sucked! So every day for like two weeks I was like, “Did it come in yet? Did it come in yet?” Then finally on the day it arrived, my Mom and I were on our way down to the store to pick it up and I saw this “gold-sparkle” drum kit up the block for sale for only $20.00! And I was like, “Wait a minute... I wanna play the drums!” So, my Mom cancelled the order, we brought the kit home and I’ve been playing ever since!

David Felix: Who was most supportive of your talent along the way?

John Macaluso: My father. He was an artist... a painter and an artist who grew up in a family of like carpenters and contractors! So he took a lot of slack for that and in those days, think about it... your goal was to get a job, get married, pump out a dozen kids and have a stable life! And here his was saying, “I wanna be an artist!” And this was also back in the day when those things in the back of a magazine started popping up... you know, draw “Tippy” and that kind of shit. So this was back in the 30’s and his brother actually took one of his drawings and sent it in and the guy actually came to the house and asked my grandmother, “Did your son draw this?” They actually gave him a scholarship! You NEVER hear of shit like that happening today where a guy will actually show up at your front door in a suit and tie to recruit you! So he was always the most supportive because he knew what it was like to be involved trying to make a living in some sort of art form. My mother on the other hand... yeah, she was supportive but I remember not five years ago calling her up when I was on tour in Japan and she was like, “You know when you get back; you can always still join the electrical union! I can get ya in!” (laughs) She just wanted me to be stable but yeah... my father was most supportive.

David Felix: If you had a child that wanted to get involved in the music industry and being that it is such a hard field to break into, what advice would you give them or would you be supportive at all?

John Macaluso: I would never discourage them but I think I would try to guide them more towards an education or something as well. I would never want them to go through the shit I went through... I can’t begin to tell ya! I’m glad I did it because there’s no better glory but the absolute HELL you have to go through is really unimaginable unless you’ve experienced it. I mean musicians are like big kids! And the older they get, the worse it becomes and it can feel like more of a regression more than a progression. You’re basically dealing with big babies all of the time so yeah, I’d definitely push the kid but on the other hand I’d try to push them into something else as well.

David Felix: Had you not been able to survive in the music industry, what do you think you would be doing today?

John Macaluso: I would probably have followed in my father’s footsteps and become an artist as well. I was always pretty good at that kind of thing but now... after so many years of playing drums, my hands shake. So at this point, I think I’m pretty much stuck doing what I’m doing!

David Felix: What are you most proud of?

John Macaluso: ARKBURN THE SUN”, the new album with UNION RADIOand STARBREAKER. See, I’ve always been one of those guys who’s gotten lost in mixes many, many times. When I left the studio after “WAR TO END ALL WARS” with Yngwie, I swore I was going to be one of the top drummers in the world and would be on the cover of “Modern Drummer” magazine because the sound was brilliant, the playing was cool and then I got that thing in the mail and was like, “What the fuck is this!?!” I think I listened to it once, put it away and never listened to it again. How could he destroy that sound? How could he do it? And he wasn’t even there! He had bought a new video game! I could hear him in the other room screaming at it sometimes and I recorded that whole record... from start to finish by myself with the engineer. He said whatever I wanted to do I could do. His thing was, “More is More!” I played my ass off but when I got that thing back in the mail, I almost cried. So ARKBURN THE SUN” was really the first album I ever really recorded where the sound was cool, the playing was cool, the arrangements were cool, the lyrics were cool and it really STILL blows me away. So I would have to say that’s what I’m most proud of.

David Felix: What would you most like to be remembered for?

John Macaluso: “My left foot!” (laughs) No... it’s true! In drumming, I have a method and if you listen to it, you’ll notice like in Yngwie, for example I always had that “double-bass” thing going. But if you listen to ARK, STARBREAKER or the new CD, you’ll notice I do this thing that I call “Morse Code with double-bass.” It’s just a style I developed and I do it with a lot of split rhythms using my left foot. So that’s what I mean when I say “my left foot” because it’s fast, intricate and I have to keep it going a lot to keep up with this “Morse Code” system which has become a signature of mine. Other than that, I’d say the lyrics on the new album... I actually think they’re better than my drumming. I think the lyrics are really cool and I’m really, really proud of them.

David Felix: Who’s your hero?

John Macaluso: Keith Moon! He was my hero on the kit and off the kit and there was a time when I tried to emulate him in every way until I finally realized you can only survive one way. (laughs) But I really idolized him in every way. He’d always be the last one up at night, like me! And he made drumming more popular than it was suppose to be. Think about it... in the time when Keith Moon was around, he became the star of that band! The other three were always finding themselves fighting for the attention and Moon was the one that got it! Even beyond the “attention” thing, I fell in love with drumming because I heard “QUADROPHENIA.” For some reason that really just blew me away as a kid and that’s why I’m a drummer! He looked good, he was a phenomenal talent and I ended up not wanting to be, but actually being like him in a lot of ways. Joe Franco is another hero of mine. He was with TWISTED SISTER, THE GOOD RATS, and did the best selling, double-bass drumming book ever and was my teacher for upwards of six years! And to me, he’s the best living drummer around. He’s the “Godfather” of double-bass, really and he changed my life and taught me in a way that no one ever could. He’s still a “rock star” to me. I remember seeing him opening with his band for like STYX in the arena and here he ends up being my drum teacher! So still... to this day, I can’t get over that and he got me the TNT gig, he got me the Yngwie Malmsteen gig and I became almost his right-hand man because he just didn’t have time to do everything. I just think he’s one of the best drummers ever. And, of course, my father is one of my biggest hero’s as well. The way he was an artist which was an unstable field and kicked ass at it, kept the family together, never brought his problems home with him, stayed sane and stayed stable... I look at that and am like, “How’d he do it?” So he’s another one of my idols as well.

David Felix: What pisses you off?

John Macaluso: See... I grew up in Long Island. Now to go back there and see what’s happened to it? THAT pisses me off! The vibe, the mood... it turned out to be Connecticut! You know what I mean? It became very “snooty” and to go back there after having grown up there and have to deal with these people... it’s a shame! Parking meter people REALLY piss me off! You know... the meter maids!?! It’s the same, fat lady! She’s EVERYWHERE! She’s in Queens, she’s in Brooklyn, she’s in Staten Island... you just can’t shake her! Now the tickets are like $115.00 and every morning I have to wake up to move my car by 8:00am and I’m out there at like 7:57 and I’m already ticketed! Oh I could really go on and on here, Dave... (laughs)

David Felix: What would you most like to accomplish with your music and in life in general?

John Macaluso: I’ve always wanted to be the status of Phil Collins... but with hair! (laughs) I want to be known as a song-writer before a drummer. I just don’t want to be known as the dude shlepping around on his drums, NEVER! I always want to be part of the writing process and instantly, when I go into a studio today, or an audition, or a rehearsal and I get the producer or the guitar player (usually) who’s not paying attention and just giving me that look like, “You’re just the drummer,” I’ll instantly say something and just know this is not the guy I’m going to be hangin’ with because you can’t change that attitude. Phil was another one of my idols because of how he could jump from behind the kit, sing so brilliantly and write the shit and play the way he does... he’s just one of the best “grooving” human beings you’ll ever see live. He just plays the shit out of the drums and it sounds just like an album. So I’d say to put somebody out there of who I’d like to be status-wise... it would have to be Phil Collins because he can do it all.

David Felix: So what’s next?

John Macaluso: Well... I’ve got my drum book coming out. It’s called “REPERCUSSIONS” and it’s a guide to opening up your creativity on the kit. My whole thing with drumming is, next to prostitution, it’s the oldest profession in the book! (laughs) And it’s the oldest instrument next to the voice! So for me to just stick with that basic drum rhythm... “boom bop boom-boom bop” (which Frank Zappa called the “Petrified Forest!’), I might as well just be playing in AC/DC! Don’t get me wrong, I love it but when I write shit, rhythm is just too deep for me. There’re so many undiscovered rhythms STILL... and that simply amazes me. That something that’s been around so long still has so many undiscovered elements to it. It’s just brilliant! So, as I was saying, for me to just sit there and just play what I’ve heard my whole life... I can’t do that. I’m always trying to invent! So my book is about what helps me to become a creative drummer. There’re stories about being on the road, in the studio... there’s a CD that goes with it, it’s about double-bass, it’s about hard times, it’s about jungle drumming... there’re jokes, photographs and it’s basically a book about drumming as a lifestyle. Not just, “Here’s example number one, kiddies!” Then I’m also working on a DVD for kids which is called “Rhythm Safari” but I don’t want to give too much information on it yet but its teaching kids rhythm through cartoons. My father actually did the animation for it but right now I just need to find the right company to help put it all together.

David Felix: Well that’s about it, John. Thank you so much again for taking the time to do this. Is there anything else you’d like to say in conclusion?

John Macaluso: Yeah... listen! Just listen... That’s actually the last thing you hear on the CD, “escuchar,” which is Spanish for “listen.” No matter what you though of ARK, STARBREAKER, Yngwie or whatever... just listen. It’s an honest record. It’s about life and fantasy and if you just take it for what it is and not try to compare it to anything else, I think you’ll dig it... at least I hope so.

David Felix: Thanks again John and best of luck with the release and all your future projects!

John Macaluso: You da man! You da man! (laughs) But seriously, bro... thank you so much. It really means a lot to me. I really respect you guys a lot. I always read your stuff and that’s why it means so much to get a really honest opinion right off the bat. Thank you, man.


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