Mary Ann Scandiffio Interview
(Mary Ann Goes Solo)
From the mid 1980s up until 1987, Mary Ann Scandiffio fronted a band called Black Lace. Highly successful both here and abroad, when the group called it a day back in 1987, Mary Ann decided to go Solo. She's put a demo tape together with help from such notables as Corky Laing and Ace Frehley, and is currently "shopping a deal."
Mary Ann shared some thoughts with us about her career and the music business in general.
Q. Am I correct in saying Black Lace was doing European tours without benefit of record company backing?
A. We did have a record company at the time, but it was a small independent company. They were based in Belgium, and they had a pretty good arm of distribution of an independent company. But, they went bankrupt after our second album. So, at that point we were trying to do whatever we could on our own. But, when we went to Europe, we did have the record company bringing us over there and hooking us up with the gigs. We never made any money from any of that, but nobody really expects to. Not at that point.
Q. Weren't you headlining Rock Festivals in Europe?
A. Oh yeah. We flew over to Belgium just for a weekend once, to headline a heavy metal festival out there. We headlined. We were the only American band playing there. That was also done through the record company.
Q. And you were getting major press.
A. Oh yeah. We got into Hit Parader, Circus, Kerrany. A lot of metal magazines were around at that time. It was great. You could do a lot of different interviews and get a lot of pictures in a lot of different magazines that everybody was trying to get their hands on at the time.
Q. So, why did the group break up?
A. To be honest with you I would have to say that the only reason the group broke up is because we couldn't get it together after a series of bad luck things. Our management went sour. The little record company that we did have went bankrupt. So our third record that we were working towards never got put out by anybody. We had a series of lawsuits and hassles at 'live' shows pertaining to lawsuits. It was really just a bad time where we couldn't seem to get on our feet ourselves, and we didn't really trust anybody around us either. It wasn't for musical reasons, and it wasn't for lack of trying. It just wasn't happening. So to keep things nice and be remembered well, we thought the best thing to do would be to separate.
Q. So, you're pretty much back to Square One, aren't you? You have to start all over again.
A. Well, in a sense, yeah, it's starting all over again, but it's different. In the last two years since I haven't been in Black Lace I got to explore a whole different side to singing and music itself by being here at North Lake Studio. I did all my recording after Black Lace at North Lake. I got to explore a lot of different songwriting styles, and that changed my vocal style a lot. I got to work with session players, which was a big difference for me, 'cause working in a band and working with studio session players is two different worlds. Now I'm starting over where I'm ready to be in another band again, which I have. I've put together another band. I know what I want to do. I have the same feelings that I had about Black Lace, the same drive, only I feel I'm a little bit smarter this time around.
Q. So, you don't find it all a bit frustrating?
A. It's frustrating in that there are a lot of good bands out there. Now there's a lot more bands that are set up like Black Lace was, a hard edged trio with a girl front. Now, at the time we were doing that not a lot of record companies that were majors wanted to take a chance on something like that. Now, it's nice to see that the door is open, but I wish it was a little more open when I was doing it. It's nice to walk around and say I was ahead of my time, but that doesn't make me feel all that much better.
Q. How much input did you have on your demo regarding song selection?
A. I recorded about 8 or 10 songs altogether. I picked four for this particular tape. When I started doing these recordings, it wasn't even thought of from the beginning as being an album. We just started recording.
Q. How did you decide on North Lake Studios as being the place to record?
A. The owner of the studio is a friend of mine. I've known him for about 15 years. He actually got me started in recording, as far as getting in front of a microphone and doing things in the studio. He sort of brought it to my attention that I might have a career in singing or I might enjoy singing.
Q. How did you get Corky Laing and Ace Frehley to play on your demo?
A. All through North Lake Studios, they'd come in here and do their own stuff, and everybody gets friendly and they come back and help me out when it's convenient.
Q. Do you play an instrument?
A. Now I do. I play guitar now. I'll be playing acoustic guitar in some numbers during our live performances. In the past I always use to write with my guitar player. He would write a bit of music and I would take it home and listen to it. I would really wait for it to suggest a mood to me before I could start writing. I'm not really a poetry writer where I write words and then all of a sudden I can put these words to music. I let the music inspire me, as far as what mood it suggests, and then I write from there. I fit my phrasing in with the music that's already there. But now that I'm picking up the guitar, I find myself humming things and going into chord progressions. I guess I will be doing some writing with a guitar in my hand.
Q. Some women in rock bauds tell stories of record company people trying to put the make on them. Has that ever happened to you?
A. I've never really been face-to-face with a situation like that. I've been in uncomfortable situations, but I wouldn't put them in that category. Thank goodness, whether I had good or bad management, I always had management, and it kind of kept me at a distance from people like that. So, I can't say that I ever experienced it.
Q. Who manages you these days?
A. I would say it's pretty sell-contained here at North Lake Studios. I'm looking for management. Good management. Or else I'd rather do it myself.
Q. And with your experience you could probably do a pretty good job.
A. At this level I can. But, if anybody should get interested I either better have a good lawyer or a good manager, or hopefully both.
Q. What singer(s) around today impresses you and why?
A. I could name you my five favorite singers right off the bat.
Q. Go right ahead.
A. Steven Taylor. David Coverdale. David Lee Both. Paul McCartney. Ann Wilson from Heart. Most of them can sing, but most of them just have that star quality. That's something that is attractive to me.
Q. Star quality equals charisma. We can't even define what charisma is.
A. It's just there. You see it when that person enters a room.
Q. What's ahead for you in the immediate future?
A. Gigs. Right away. As soon as possible. I want to be playing in the Cat Club. I want to be playing L'Amours. And I want to be opening for some hot up-and-coming bands, and maybe headline some small local clubs in the tri-state area, and develop the following that we had when we had Black Lace. Get back out there and enjoy what it is I really liked most about the music business, and that's performing. And the name of the band is the Noyz Boyz. Mary Ann and the Noyz Boyz.
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