How Deen Castronovo’s Revolution Saints Rebuilt on ‘Eagle Flight': Exclusive Interview
Revolution Saints maintained a steady lineup over five years, as Deen Castronovo, Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich released a trio of Alessandro Del Vecchio-produced albums. Then Aldrich and Blades departed, offering Castronovo an opportunity to rework the lineup – and his vision for the group.
There's a sharper edge to Revolution Saints' familiar melodic rock sound with the additions of Joel Hoekstra and Jeff Pilson. Fans got their first taste with the title-track advance single from the upcoming Eagle Flight. "Need Each Other" and "Talking Like Strangers" provided more sneak peeks.
The album arrives on April 21 via Frontiers Music Srl, whose president Serafino Perugino conceptualized the band as a vocal showcase for Journey's drummer.
Castronovo talks to UCR about how Hoekstra and Pilson helped lead Revolution Saints to a new musical place, the band's secret weapon and his transition to frontman.
Watch Revolution Saints' Video for 'Eagle Flight'
Eagle Flight arrives with a new lineup. What kind of impact did Joel Hoekstra and Jeff Pilson make?
I think we're kind of getting away from the Journey sound, and it's a good thing for me as a singer – because to try and hit all that high stuff all the time can be a little rough. So I think for us, with Jeff and Joel, it's gotten a little – maybe not dark, but it's not so pop-oriented, which is kind of nice. I think we kind of got away from that whole Journey/Foreigner type thing that we were doing in the past with Doug and Jack, which is kind of refreshing. It's nice.
What were those first sessions like? Was it difficult starting over with new players?
The cool thing is I've known Jeff and I've known Joel for years and years and years. Jeff with Foreigner and actually back in a band called Cinema way back in the days when Mike Varney was playing guitar. And then Joel was with Night Ranger and Night Ranger toured with Journey for a long time. So playing with those guys, they're just such amazing players. To get them in and to have them contribute their monster musicianship, it was kind of like the chemistry was there right from the beginning. Everybody's personalities worked really well together.
What happened was when we started doing it, I got the demos and I guess Joel had been working on some stuff with [producer] Alessandro [Del Vecchio] already. So they gave me the demos with Joel playing on them, and I just recorded my drum tracks and did the vocals with Johnny Gioeli from Hardline producing the vocal tracks. And it just came out great. It was just effortless. It just felt great.
Watch Revolution Saints' 'Need Each Other' Video
It's not always so easy to find a comfort zone.
It's a huge thing. That's a really huge thing. You never know because we're all from different parts of the country. Joel was doing his stuff on the East Coast, and Jeff and I are on the West Coast. But I've known those guys for so long that we knew the chemistry just as people was going to be great.
Revolution Saints was created for you as a vocal vehicle. What's the difference between playing supporting roles in bands like Bad English and Journey versus serving as the lead singer?
It's scary. I'm a drummer that happens to sing, and that's the way I see it. Drums are my day job. I know I'm comfortable there. I'm not comfortable being a lead singer yet. You got guys who have been doing it for years and years and years, and that's their instrument. You know what I mean? I was kind of thrust into the whole vocal thing back in 2006 when [former Journey singer] Steve Augeri was having some vocal issues. I was always a background singer, so to sing lead is definitely different. It's not something that I'm comfortable with yet, but I'm willing to give it a shot, to try and be a frontman.
I don't know if I can do it or not. Right now, I feel like [novice Talladega Nights racer] Ricky Bobby: My hands are going in all these weird directions. [Laughs] I don't know what to do, so I'm just kind of feeling where it goes from there. But, yeah, for me, I love being in Journey. I love those guys. I love the music, and I love just playing my drums and maybe singing one or two songs because [Journey singer] Arnel [Pineda] is so damn good. That's his thing, you know? That's his wheelhouse. I'm a better drummer than I am singer, in my opinion. I mean, I've been doing it for a while, so for me, that's a no-brainer. But singing things? Definitely daunting.
Watch Revolution Saints' 'Talking Like Strangers' Video
You mentioned Alessandro Del Vecchio. He's kind of an unseen secret weapon for Revolution Saints. How has he influenced this project over the years?
He's our fourth member. Alessandro is the main songwriter, and he's the producer of this stuff. For me, as a singer, the first three records that Alessandro produced for me, he pulled a lot out of me that I didn't know I had as a vocalist. He knew where my voice lived, where it sounded the best, and how to try to bring the best out of me so I wasn't so much like Steve Perry. I'm such a fan; I love Steve so much as a singer, so Alessandro really pulls a lot out of me as a vocalist. And the songs, they're crafted by him. I mean, Joel had a lot to do with this one. I know Doug had a lot to do with the other records as well, and Jack, but Alessandro is kind of the main guy here.
He worked with a couple of guys in Sweden on this new record, wrote some songs and stuff. So he's still an integral part – and when keyboards are on those songs, that's Alessandro playing. Some of the really high, high backgrounds, that's him. He and I are singing together. He's a monster vocalist, very talented dude. If Frontiers loses him, they're losing it all – because he is that label, man. When you think about it, Alessandro is that label. Serafino [Perugino] is the president, but Alessandro is the one that's bringing it in. You know what I mean? He owes me 20 bucks for that one! [Laughs]
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