Access Control with Mark St. John

Behind the scenes with Phil Naro and Russ Mackay in creating the new Talas album!


  From the moment I first saw a photograph of legendary bassist Billy Sheehan within the pages of Guitar Player magazine advertising Di Marzio pick ups way back in 1985, I was soon addicted to his band Talas and I’ve remained a massive fan of theirs in the decades since.

  Although I was saddened to learn of their disbandment, I consider myself blessed to have become very good friends with Talas’ lead vocalist Phil Naro just a few short years later …and I was beyond overjoyed when he told me that the band had reunited for a series of shows in western New York state, followed by a deal for a new album with Metal Blade Records!

  It was not to terribly long ago that Phil invited yours truly “The Count of Rock” to join him at Blue Sound and Music (located in the heart of Toronto, Ontario’s gorgeous Beaches district) for an exclusive into the making of Talas’ eagerly anticipated upcoming release.

  “I’m totally psyched up about this album!” quips Phil excitedly. “And I want to assure our fans that we are continuing right where we left off back in 1985 in terms of sound and musical intensity. They can also expect 4 songs that appeared on an unreleased album which Talas recorded 35 years ago that was entitled “Lights, Camera, Action” plus 4 re-recorded studio versions of tracks which originally appeared on our classic “Live Speed On Ice”.

  The studio’s owner and recording engineer Russ Mackay (whose impressive credits also include working with Foreigner, Iron Maiden and Styx) was also happy to share a few moments of his time during my visit to 

Blue Sound And Music for this article.

 “I first became involved with Talas three years ago when I recorded and mixed their very first reunion show which took place in Rochester, New York. Phil heard it and sent a copy to Billy at his home in Nashville, Tennessee who loved the quality of my recording -as did his personal engineer Scott Bush. When it finally came time to recruit the personnel  to be involved with the making of this album, I was honored to have been selected to engineer it due to the band feeling both confident and comfortable with my skills.”


  Talas is a band that has a reputation of being one of the most sound and revolutionary artists in the history of rock. An intimidating scenario at best, one has to wonder if Russ feels a sense of pressure working behind the console -especially with high expectations from both fans and critics alike surrounding the buzz about this future gem in the works.


  “Honestly? I can’t say that I’ve found any pressure in working with a band that has a rich legacy of musical innovation such as Talas. We’re all on the same page and enjoy each other’s company. What I really seem to enjoy about working with these guys is the fact that we’re truly recording this album old school by utilizing that raw / off the floor Talas technique. I suppose every engineer must get that “something might go wrong at any moment” cloud over their heads when trying to capture musical excellence. However, that vibe works in my favor because it keeps me even more focused on my job which is capturing this band at their highest level.”


  In closing, Phil had a couple of surprises to share plus some words of reflection. 


  “There are guest appearances on this album from two of our previous members: Mitch Perry and Johnny Angel. We are so proud to have them joining Billy, Kire Najdovski (guitar), Mark Miller (drums) and I -not to mention plans for a live DVD! With the current mess the world is in due to Covid 19, none of us have recorded an album simultaneously online via Zoom  from different locations in North America. It’s been a unique experience, but at the same time it’s also been a lot of fun. We’re confident this yet untitled album will put a smile on the faces of every Talas fan during these uncertain times!”

Track List


Don’t Try To Stop Me Tonight

Come When You Call

Black And Blue

Do You Feel Any Better?

Lone Rock

I’ll Take The Night

Crystal Clear

In The Take

Close To The Killer

Power To Break Away

In Love With Yourself

Inner Mountain Flame

Miss Understood



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