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  • Writer's pictureCharles I. Guarria

A Wicked Rock n Roll Storm Is Brewing

Updated: Jun 3, 2023

I had the good fortune to speak with Wicked before their April 15 show at the Debonair in Teaneck, New Jersey. The interview was conducted in two parts but written as one for the sake of an even flow to the blog. This is an all-encompassing interview; studio news, a tour, designing stage outfits, living together, influences, and the evolution of the band. Dig in!


Scotty V. (left) Danny, Chad Michael & Gunnar talk all things Wicked.

Charles I Guarria

It's really unique how you guys just aren't going out in t-shirts and jeans and are going out in costumes, more or less, right. So I was wondering whose idea was it to actually design costumes?


Danny Martin (Bass, Backing Vocals)

When Chad and I started the band, we always knew we wanted to have that theatrical rock and roll band. Ya know what I mean? We loved bands like Kiss, Motley Crue. When we were kids, seeing those big shows like that was like, that was the dream, right? Like, go up there and someday have that big bombastic show. So it really started there. Chad's the guy who makes all the outfits, so he learned how to sow, sow leather so fabric, and jean-denim material. It's pretty crazy the studying he could do. He's like the mastermind behind it.

Danny on bass at the Debonair Music Hall April 15.

Charles I. Guarria

How did he learn that? Did he always have that kind of knack to do that kind of thing?


Danny

The thing about us boys in the band is it's all DIY, right? We just figure it out. If it takes like finding people who know better than us and picking their brains or looking it up online, or just trial and error. That's how we get things done.

Charles I. Guarria

All right, I thought you guys were doing one album, and I've watched some of the reels, Sunburn (is their next lp), but you actually have two?


Danny

So we've got the Last American Rock Band came out last March. We're still kind of promoting that. And we've got Sunburn coming out this summer. But we were in the studio right now for a whole 'nother album after that called Go Rebel.

Charles I. Guarria

Oh, I thought you were in the studio for Sunburn.

Danny

It gets so confusing, too, because, like, we're constantly recording. Again back to that DIY, we got our sound engineer producer to come to our house, and we built as best of an acoustically treated studio in our house so we can always demo at any time.

Gunnar keeping the backbeat alive at the Debonair Music Hall April 15.

Gunnar Coston (Drums)

The goal is to be a year ahead.

Danny

Yeah, we're always at least a year ahead.

Charles I. Guarria

So the album Sunburn is coming out this summer?

Danny

Yeah.

Charles I. Guarria

And then the following year is Go Rebel?

Danny

It all depends on how things go. You know what I mean? Like, our plan is always to have at least an album ready to go. Because maybe the year becomes a double album release. I don't know. You just don't know. You got to see how a campaign evolves. And that's where we're at is really the planning stage right now.


Charles I. Guarria

All right. Off of Sunburn., what's going to be the single?

Gunner

Well, there's gonna be a few coming out. We have what, four or five music videos all together?


Danny

So Sunburn will be the first single, self-titled track. But we've got a couple others that we could just mention. Gorgeous is another one, and then one that I'm super proud of is Summer and Sun. Which goes with the whole motif of this album, as you could see, but what the song is actually about is, last minute, when we were in the studio with Nacho (Molino) our engineer, we were sitting on the front porch just about done with all the songs to a certain extent. And I was playing on my phone a demo recording that I had. A song I wrote for my grandmother, who just recently passed, and if anybody knows anything about the band, she was the heart and soul of the Martin boys and all the boys. She was like the mother to all of us. So we actually were able to go back in before we were too far along and cut that track. It makes the album more than just any other album because now we're starting to say, like, let's be a little personable on some songs too.

Charles I. Guarria

That sounds like it might be a ballad.


Gunnar

Yep.


Charles I. Guarria

That was one of my questions, are you guys ever gonna do a ballad? So you have one.

Danny

You got it.


Charles I. Guarria

So I'm gonna cry when I hear that. (everyone laughs) Why did you guys decide to live together?

Gunnar

It makes it easy for if we have an idea, you know, we can just go right downstairs and record it. We can pick our brains right then and there.

Danny

We were also fortuitous enough to look at other bands through history and how they don't do that. Not like it was back in the day. And it's like, who's here doing their own thing and that person over there (is doing their own thing). I mean, we're truly a family. We're more than a band, more than a business. We're best friends. But we're also a family, and we help each other with our day jobs, excelling at that stuff; we get together with each other's families, and it just something different, you know what I mean? You could feel that when we write and when we play. I think if we didn't live together, it would just be a very different feel to everything.


Charles I. Guarria

While I have three of you together, influences?

Note bender extraordinaire Scotty V. at the Debonair Music Hall April 15.

Scotty Ventura (Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals)

Aerosmith is my very first love for a rock band. My dad got me into it, and that was the only thing I was listening to, you know, when I was 13, 14. And then I started finding all the 80s Guns n Roses type bands. I started going out to the rock'n'roll world. I started catching on to l90s stuff like Red Hot Chili Peppers, probably my second favorite band. Van Halen. One of my favorite bands a lot of people don't know about, is Enuff Z'Nuff. Derek Frigo is one of my favorite guitar players of all time. Great songwriters awesome band.


Danny

Then Lizzy, be all end all. I just love, obviously, the twin guitars, you know (Scott) Gorham (Brian) Robinson. But Phil (Lynott) is just such a poet with the way he writes, and even though we all write together, I'm the main person who charges the lyrics when we sit down, you know, the boys will pick up the guitars, Gunner will get the rhythms going, but I have that eagerness of ideas that kind of just flows naturally. And I think it's just from idolizing somebody like Phil.


Gunnar:

Twisted Sister for me, I think. And also Alice Cooper, that shock rock stuff that did it for me.


Charles I. Guarria

I've seen Alice Cooper twice.


Gunnar

Yeah, he was one of my first concerts.

Charles I. Guarria

It's just so great to see a legend like that (him.)

Gunnar

Yeah, it's crazy. I remember I met him when I was a kid. And the only memory I have; m e and my parents went backstage, and my little sister was scared. And he chased her around the table. She ended up going underneath the table. Yeah, it was crazy; it was so funny. He's such a good guy.

Chad Michael guitar, lead vocals at the Debonair Music Hall April 15

Chad Michael Martin (Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocals. I spoke with Chad about 30 minutes after finishing the initial interview.)

AD/DC. Van Halen. Paul Stanley and Sum 41..


Charles I Guarria

Will there be a tour accompanying the new album?


Danny

Absolutely. And that's where we're at right now is we're in the planning stages. Everything's ready. We're just kind of fine-tuning our campaign plan. We want to make it all it could be. But we also want to get the music out. So we're excited, we're eager, we got a bunch of people we're working with to kind of get that all pulled together. So stay tuned for that.


Gunnar

We have some shows coming up now; you can check out the website.


Danny

Yeah, the warm-up shows over the next two months are going to be pretty cool. We're going to be sneaking in some treats and songs from even Go Rebel. Just to tease people.


Charles I. Guarria

What's the marketing for Sunburn?


Danny

We got a new team behind us. And we're super excited to be working with them. We've got, really, for the first time ever, all those different folks working those different angles, marketing, the whole nine. So we're just excited to see kinda how it rolls out the first go around.


Charles I. Guarria

The sound on the album (Sunburn) what can people expect?


Gunnar

It's gonna be completely different from what you expect. The songwriting has evolved. The quality of sound has improved. Just everything is; it's night and day.


Danny

We really took another step when we got Nacho, our producer, sound engineer, on the team. He's really like a fifth Beatle. He doesn't really take us out of our bounds of who Wicked is or outside of the brand, but he supplements it so nicely. And you know, like Gunnar said, we're really evolving the sound and the writing. And like I kind of alluded to with some of those singles is, we're trying some different things too. We're stepping outside of the box a little bit with maintaining the Wicked brand that everybody knows and loves. So it's gonna be pretty exciting.


Chad Michael

Wicked is maturing a lot with our sound. We are taking production and media to a completely new level. Finally, letting our creative process be fun. (He explained they are mixing power pop rock with 70s blues, pushing the rock scene in a direction that no one has seen.)


Charles I. Guarria

It sounds like Last American Rock Band was a little heavier than the EP Rock and Roll, like a little more crunch to it. I don't know recording, but maybe you doubled and tripled-tracked some of the sounds to get a deeper, punchier sound. Is that where you guys are headed?


Danny

I think what you're hearing a little bit with Last American Rock Band because we did double guitars and, you know, things like that in the recording process on both (Last American Rock Band and Rock and Roll), but we really started dialing in tones. We did use Marshall's on that record. But we played with some different tones and some different things that we can do and replicate on stage live because, at the end of the day, we always want to be able to replicate the album without having to play tracks.


Charles I. Guarria

Hot Stage Lights is a phenomenal song.

Gunnar

Thank you.

Charles I. Guarria

I don't know how a human being cannot hear that song and just absolutely fall in love with it.


Danny

Hot Stage Lights was pretty cool because it's a super, super old song, and we have a huge catalogue of songs we've written over the years. And as you know, it's like you write a new one. That's your new favorite one. But you always love your babies that are left behind, and we intend on using them at some point in time. Hot Stage Lights was one of the early, early songs that finally, it made sense; we wanted to put some of those old classics on Last American Rock Band, refresh them. But we wanted to put a couple of new ones; Hot Stage Lights is new to the public, not new to us, but it definitely summed up what the album was all about. And that's like (a) homage to the last several years of us just beating the streets and learning how to be a band.

Charles I. Guarria

Is there anything I didn't cover that you guys want out there?


Danny

Yeah, just stay in touch with us. You know, we got our website wickedrocknrollofficial.com. All of our social media @wickedrocknroll. You know, we're looking to build a community, a rock and roll community. Not only with the fans and our friends and family, but you know, with the other rock bands out there, and we've got a lot of exciting stuff. The more engaged you are, the more fun it is. So, look forward to the album release this summer. We've got five or six music videos that go along with it, and then I'll give you one more little teaser. We're working on a reality TV show since we all live together. It's gonna be a riot. We've got a 30-minute pilot done, and it's just incredible. So when we drop that, you guys will be super excited to see what's happening.


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