There aren't many groups worth raving about lately, except if you're talking
about Detroit's " Alliance".
With a debut album out on Handshake Records titled " Alliance",
these guys are definitely "hot".
We spoke with " Alliance" lead guitarist Pat Hand.
Q. Before you guys got this record deal, you were a Top 40 group in Detroit.
Now, did you play the Holiday Inn, Sheraton Inn, Ramada Inn circuit?
A. Well, actually, we weren't that much of a laid-back group. We were
playing the hipper nightclubs in Detroit. There's like rock rooms and then
there's Top 40 rooms. There's some really sharp rooms, then there's the
Holiday Inns which are still catering to almost disco. It's very, very laid-back;
whereas we were very MOR. We weren't rock, we weren't disco; we were just
Top 40. We were what's happening on the radio.
Q. Most groups will send their demo tape to a record company's A and R
Department. You sent your tape to a management firm. Why?
A. I had seen friends and all kinds of people send their tapes to A and
R Departments of record companies and a lot of them obviously weren't even
opened. They were sent back; regret no interest, not buying at this time.
I felt, there are hundreds and hundreds of groups giving tapes unsolicited
to record companies. Now, the record companies have their hands full with
tapes that are legitimately submitted by legitimate, big companies that
carry a certain amount of clout. What I felt is, although you may sacrifice
a certain percentage to a personal manager, the personal manager that has
the clout and credibility of a Stan Bernstein (" Alliance" Manager)
would get us where we wanted to go faster. I felt management would be our
watchdog, the person that would bite the heels of the record company, make
sure what had to be done, would get done.
Q. How many tapes did you sent out?
A. I sent out about twenty-five tapes, and I got a favorable response
from lots of people. The majority of the reasons that we got any tapes back
with no response at all, was because they didn't hear it.
Q. Just what are record companies looking for in a new group?
A. What record companies are looking for is the most commercial hit-oriented
group they can find that involves the least amount of work for them to turn
into a smash hit. If they look at a group, and they have management, the
group is together, they have equipment, they have a show, they have enough
songs written for three albums which we do. If the group is basically self-sufficient,
that means a great deal less work on their part. All they have to worry
about is putting the record out.
Q. Your lead singer almost sounds like Foreigners' Lou Gramm.
A. A lot of people think that. That's possible why the single "How
Does It Feel" was picked, because he doesn't sound as much like him
on "How Does It Feel". There are very few people in the world
who can sing like Mark or Lou Gramm. There's probably ten in the world who
have that strength and power, up high. Because there are so few, I think
a lot of people when they hear a voice that's that clean and strong, immediately
associate 'em with Lou Gramm, Frankie of Frankie and The Knockouts, Mickey
Thomas from Jefferson Starship. Another thing that makes Mark sound like
Lou Gramm is that Mark got his beginning in Gospel. Gospel singers tend
to do riffs; they'll do these crazy adlibs, very good control. Lou Gramm
does that because of his upbringing, whatever his musical upbringing was.
Boy, there are some great voices springing up, there's no doubt. That's
why when you look at it and knock on wood, you think how lucky you are.
Q. Will any of the songs being recorded today stand the test of time and
be played twenty years from now?
A. I think there are, yeah. I don't
think by any means all of them will stick. I think the majority of them
will fall by the wayside, but so did most of the songs from the Sixties.
There are classics being written and there will be songs that'll be around
for a long time.
Q. How has your life changed since the album's release?
A. I'm getting tapes from musicians. You know, they want me to try and
get them a deal, and I'm so wrapped up in this. They're friends, and I try.
My God, I've got so much to worry about with this. Musicians, it's unfortunate,
because they've devoted a lot of their life to become monster musicians,
and common sense-wise, they're in the zone, and that's where you have to
treat music as a business because it is. If only musicians would just think,
and pursue the right business avenues, there would be more successful people.
© Gary James All Rights Reserved