Ann Boleyn Interview
Ann Boleyn is one busy woman! Besides fronting one of rock's most exciting
groups ("Hellion"), she is also the founder of New Renaissance
Records, in Burbank, California. How do you mix singing, with signing acts?
That's what we wanted to find out.
Q. Back in 1984, things were looking up for Hellion.
You had Niji Management (Ronnie James Dio formerly of Cortland, N.Y. shares
the same manager) as your manager. You had major label interest. What
happened with Niji Management?
A. There were a lot of inside things that were going on in the management co.
that we had no idea what we were getting into, when we got in. We were a pretty
successful band in L.A. We were doing pretty well in the clubs. We had a pretty
successful record in Europe. We thought it was time for us to go out and get
major management. Ronnie was interested in producing our band, and we were
real excited about that. His wife Wendy said she would be interested in managing
us. She had just gotten a group called 'Rough Cutt', a record deal, with Warner
Bros. We figured if she could get Rough Cutt a record deal, she could get Hellion
a record deal. We went into the studio with Ronnie and he recorded a really
good demo for us. Then he was busy, out promoting his own career, so he went
out on the road. After our tape got circulated, and there were no immediate
record company offers, to our knowledge, that came in, their co. concentrated
their efforts on Dio and Rough Cutt, and nothing was happening for Hellion.
It got real frustrating, because our band went from pretty much able to support
itself through our music, to a point in time where we had major management
and we couldn't get gigs on our own, we couldn't get our own record deal. We
couldn't do anything, except sit around Los Angeles and do nothing. In the
end I started really getting on the case of the people there at Niji, saying,
'Hey, what's going on here'? 'What's happening'? In the end, I made myself
pretty unpopular, because they were busy with their own projects. They said,
we sent out your tapes and the record companies really weren't interested,
and they just don't think a heavy metal band with a girl singer is going to
accomplish anything. That was really the reason "Hellion" broke up
Q. And you formed New Renaissance Records in 1986?
Q. But there is still a "Hellion?
Q. How can you be the singer for "Hellion," and
run a record co. at the same time?
A. It's an unreal amount of work. I mean, even with my Hellion stuff, I spend
about 16 hours a day, 7 days a week on doing what I do. With New Renaissance
I’ve got 7 people who work with me here in the United States and 2 other
people over in England. It's pretty much a situation where I couldn't do it,
without the support of some pretty cool people.
Q. Doesn't it take a lot of money to start your
own record co.? How do you get something like that off the ground?
A. With me, it was desperation and luck, a lot of bad luck thrown in there
I have to add. After splitting away from the original Hellion and Niji Management,
I had no money at all. I had an apartment I had to pay rent on. I was really
scared. In L.A. the rent is so high, even if I went out and got a $5.00 an
hour job; there was no way I could pay my rent. So, I put out the Hellion,
original mini album in America limited edition. It sold 3,300 copies immediately.
I thought, hey, maybe I can make some money doing this. With Hellion, and the
new line-up, again we had no record companies that were interested in us in
America. I had some keyboards leftover from my keyboard playing days and I
sold them. So, I had a couple of thousand dollars to start pressing my own
records. In the early days my manufacturer paid for the pressing and manufacturing,
and just sort of gave me a royalty. They gave me $500 a month if I just provide
them with a compilation album or two, a month. We were just starting to get
going, when that distributor went bankrupt, owing me, what would've been $50,000.
Then we went with Important Records, and I was determined we were going to
do our own manufacturing. We started out just putting every dime we made back
into the label, just like a snowball process really.
Q. With all the media attention that the P.M.R.C.
has received, do you, as a record co. executive feel any obligation or
responsibility to turn down, or turn away acts that promote excessive
violence and/or sex in their lyrics?
A. O.K. this is my opinion on a lot of this censorship issue; first of all,
art form is art from, books, movies, records; the whole bit, to me is an art
form. I personally think that Mentors are really funny. A lot of my friends
think they're sick and offensive to another person. We all have, as far as
I'm concerned, responsibility to each other on this plane of life, on this
plane of existence to help each other get by. We've got some bands that are
really out there. It's their way of expressing themselves. It’s their
way of getting their aggressions out. I don't necessarily see them as influencing
people to go out and shoot people or anything like that. Some of their aggressions
are a lot better if they're gotten out on music, and gotten out by being crazy
at concerts, then if they were tied up inside of them.
Q. Would you place a warning label on the back of
an album, if the lyrics dealt with excessive violence or sex?
A. If I thought our fans were really young, and if there was stuff on there
that I thought would bother them, I probably would, if I was in a pop band.
It wouldn't really bother me. To me, the stuff that 'Hellion' writes about,
should not be offending anybody.
© Gary James All Rights Reserved