The Ballbreaker Column

XYZ’s Talks with Ball-Buster Music’s Angel Alamo

XYZ gave M3 fans twice the fun while performing on day 3 of the M3 Festival. The band presented a small set for fans at the after party event at the Sheraton and then performed at M3 Festival on Sunday afternoon giving fans a 30-minute set that left them hoping they could keep playing for another half hour. The band was kind enough to meet with fans and take pictures — one of the most fan-friendly bands to perform at the Festival. After the set, I got the chance to sit down with bassist Pat Fontaine. The group consists of vocalist Terry Ilous, bassist Pat Fontaine, guitarist Tony Marcus, and drummer Joey Shapiro.

Angel Alamo: Great performance by the way too as well.

Pat Fontaine: Thank you. It was a great time.

AA: How does it feel to be back at the M3 Festival? You guys did the first one in 2009?

PF: I think so, you’re right. It was an A stage and a B stage back in the day. The B stage was up there in the woods. It was really good though. It was still an Eric Baker in charge. He was always very generous with the bands and of course these places of his magnificent now. I mean, there’s are pool, there’s f***ing games and catering is fantastic. This is a massive thing. Back in the day was more trailers in the woods. It was still the same vibe. The vibe was great. People were great, very friendly. The weather was much better. I think the last time we played.

AA: Yeah, it was.

PF: It’s still a gorgeous place. The woods are green, it smells great, and I love this place.

AA: What’s the vibe like when you played at the Festival with your peers?

PF: Some festivals are more fun than others. Of course. Typically, strangely enough, the more north you go, the more fun it gets. I think, maybe people that come from a climate where things are a little bit less sunny, they have a tendency to party a little more. But you know, overall it’s really up to the promoter to create the vibe. Some of them are great. This is always a great place you can, they can sense that there’s a love for that music. Music from the 80s you know, of course, 50 years ago, 40 years ago. We’re not current, we’re not modern, and we’re not hip. We represent the 80s and the people that work this thing seems to have a love for it, which is fantastic because he could’ve gotten in lad after Nirvana, I think it’s good to have just gone. That it’s over and the 80s would have vanished into in the fall.

AA: Yeah. But look, I mean, I know it was the eighties music, and everybody is still coming out. Everybody’s still partying until three or four in the morning.

PF: Fantastic.

AA: That’s what makes it sense. It’s about entertainment, not singing and standing on stage singing, “daddy doesn’t love me. Daddy doesn’t care.”

AA: Many of your peers are doing the farewell tour? Does XYZ plan to retire. What are the bands plans?

PF: I wanted to retire when I turned 30 years old, but eventually you keep in mind that what we do is, is it a little bit of a dream come true really? And then you kind of look at the big picture and say, “You know what, if somebody wants to buy me dinner and give me gas money just to hear my songs, I’m going to f***ing do it and I’m going to do until they stop paying me.” So we were very fortunate that some people are willing to hire us to come here to play for 30 minutes. They buy us food and hotels and gas money and beer money, it’s fantastic. As long as that is valid, it seems silly to walk away from it. Now we’re all getting old, you know, we’re in our fifties of course. We started in Hollywood in 1984 we were all, you know, 25 years old, 20 years old. My guitar player actually was 18 I think when he joined the band. We have a tendency to change a little bit our view of the world. Now, I seek more peace and quiet and fewer drugs and less partying than back in the day. We’re still, you know, we carry the eighties message, which is, “Have a good time, enjoy your life, have a couple of beers with your friends and spend the night, look at the stars and enjoy the music.” That’s what the message is. The generation that came after we had a different message that kind of vanished. And then there was another message with the rap world, which is everybody is a bitch and a f***ing hoe and there’s a different message. And then somehow the message is coming back a little bit now, which is, “You know what? F***, let’s just have a good time and a couple of beers and have some fun and share a few laughs.” As long as that goes, we’re in.

AA: And it’s still going strong

PF: Yeah.

AA: Who were your favorite bass players growing up?

PF: The first time I discovered the bass player was Lemmy in Motorhead and I was mesmerized by this guy. He was a little bit of my hero. I even bought those white boots that he always wore. I wanted to be Lemmy, you know. As I wish, of course, I understand that it’s difficult music to sell. So we went a little bit more commercial because we want it to be successful. We didn’t want to make music to stay in a basement. I never wanted that. I started in the basement like everybody else, but we wanted to do earn a living at it. So I decided to go with a little bit more rock than punk, but I still remained and a little bit attracted to that era. You know, where the late seventies the great bass players like Lemmy. I’m still a big fan of UFO. I grew up on UFO and I was not Led Zeppelin. I was more Rolling Stones. Yeah, it was two camps. I was never Led Zeppelin. I love Led Zeppelin. I understand it. It’s not really my thing. I was more Stones.

AA: Did you ever get to meet Lemmy?

PF: We met Lemmy a bunch of times. In fact, I toured with Lemmy as a roadie in the early eighties in Europe and the person actually booked me on a tour is sitting in the room next door today, which is very strange. I met Lemmy of course because I lived in Hollywood for 30 years and I went through the whiskey every night, and Lemmy was there every night. So we often sat and have a couple of drinks together, and chit chatted about the good old days. He was a great guy, and it’s funny to think that the classic Motorhead that we love is completely gone. Everybody’s dead. Field Taylor, the drummer dead. Eddy Clark, fast Eddy Clark dead. And Lemmy, dead. They’re all dead. The three Motorhead people are dead. Is used to f***ing different… It’s like a different page status turns I think.

AA: How was reuniting in 2002 and how did the idea come about?

PF: You don’t understand, they didn’t want to do it because I was signed to another group. I was in another band on Interscope and we actually did pretty well. We were an underground punkish type of thing and I didn’t really want to go back to commercial and rock and roll or two melodic rock and roll. But Terry called me and he said, “Look, I heard about this festival called Rocklahoma.” It must have been 2005 or so, maybe a bit later than you mentioned. So we didn’t do the first one. We did the second Rocklahoma and I say, “Well, you know what? F*** it. Yeah, I’ll do one show. I really don’t know if anybody remembers us, you know?” So I did Rocklahoma with Terry and the guys that aren’t here today, of course, and I was so f***ing shocked. We got onstage, it must’ve been 6:00 PM the sun was setting down and it was f***ing packed. It was like, “Who the f*** are these f***ing people?” And everybody knew our lyrics. People sang along with the chorus. As I said, “Who the f*** are these people? Where have they been? I thought everybody was dead.” And it was kind of a bit of a revelation. I felt, well look, if there’s a market here, let’s do another strangle shows and they’d kind of just kind of carried on like that. We’ve got an agent, Sullivan who is here today, and he started to book us in clubs and venues and festivals and we don’t go every night, we don’t play every weekend, we do that once a month kind of thing. And that’s it. We keep the ball rolling until nobody wants us no more.

AA: What are the band’s tour plans?

PF: We don’t have tours lined up.

AA: Ok just with the fly in shows?

PF: That we fly in. We have a bunch of those festivals. You know, we’re going to Canada next, a couple of shows up there. And then we have a couple of things in Europe. We’re talking about, South America is always something in Rio and Argentina and it’s this thing in Australia next year, early 2020 melodic rock fest that we’re going to probably do. And that’s kind of it. We’ve done a few clubs last a month we did three, four clubs in a row and we were, no, we’re not against that. We’ll do a few clubs here and there. But really what’s fun is those festivals, because it’s organized, you show up, there are no surprises. Everything is in place. The staff is fantastic. It’s just very smooth, very smooth.

AA: So as far as music, can fan’s expect like a new song?

PF: Yeah. In fact, you know, we were working on a couple of things starting next week. In fact in Sacramento on Thursday we were going to get together and we’re going to sit in the studio. A friend of mine owns a studio in Sacramento and we’re going to sit around a table, we going to order some pizza and beer. Then we’re going to kind of see where it takes us, you know, we don’t really know. But yeah, we are booked in the studio to record new stuff starting next week.

AA: With the way it is. I guess with, with music and not having a major label, will the band have a producer or something else?

PF: Yes. We actually involved with the label now we’re talking to a US label. They’re not as present as it was back in the 80s when we on a major label, there’s no major label anymore unless you have a mini skirt and you’re 16 years old, you’re not going to get on a major label. So the labels that exist are independent and the people that got into this independent business are people that really love it and love the artists and the music so they can kind of tend to give you more freedom. Then the big labels of the eighties so we do have some freedom but we also kind of, you know, under the impression that I, one point you got to report to someone, you can’t just be completely obnoxious about things because you kind of wants to get on the radio here and there. You want to do some press you want to kind of fit a little bit of a jaw if you will. So we do have a producer that comes in and not every day that he’s not a dragon. It’s more like a guy that shows up once a week and tells us, “Hey! you know, I like that, that song’s not so great. Can you guys redo this? Can you redo that?” That type of thing. Pretty cool.

A past XYZ Jam!

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By Angel Alamo

Angel Alamo was born and raised in Camden NJ he has been doing journalism for 8 years. Angel hosts the movers and shakers TV show and on the road with Angel Alamo.