Patt Fontaine Interview
As rock groups go, they don't get much better than XYZ. An L.A. group, with
a debut album on Enigma Records, produced by Don Dokken, these guys have everything
going for them.
Bassist Patt Fontaine took some time out from a very busy schedule to talk
Q. You started the band in Europe, moved to New York
City, then up and moved again to Los Angeles. Where do you get all the money
to do this globe-trotting?
A. That is a very good question. I'm gonna be very honest with you. We didn't
start the band in Europe. We put the project as a band together in Europe.
I was thinking about doing something but I wasn't quite sure where to do it.
The reason I was in Europe was, I was living in New York, and spending my vacation
in Europe. My mother used to work for a U.S. company here and I would go back
home just for summer vacation. I met Terry, my singer one summer and then we
started talking about it. I was living in New York, and I told him if you want
to spend a couple of weeks in the city, then we can sit down and write and
see if we get along, and see if we can write something decent. If it sounds
good we can demo it, and if it still sounds good we'll see if we can call it
a band or a project. The money was so tight when we got back to New York that
we had to sleep in the car. We struggled a lot. When ya want to do something
you find a way to do it. Where there's a will, there's a way. I quess the music
we put together appealed to a lot of people. So, a lot of people helped
us financially. But, it was a struggle, it was hard.
Q. What about the whole "Pay to Play" club circuit in
L.A. Just how healthy of a situation is that for a band to deal with?
A A. When we got to L.A. six years ago the "Pay to Play" situation was not
in place yet. It was a difficult situation. As XYZ grew as a band, we never
had that problem. We were lucky enough to have a following and to have plans.
Today, it's a different situation. It's a shame that bands actually have
to pay to get the exposure. I don't think it's healthy at all. I don't think
it's healthy for the music of it or for the art of it. I think it creates a
financial competition which is not healthy for the music. There's not a lot
of ways around it. There are so many bands in L.A. I guess promoters are
finding a way to make money and to make a natural selection — only
the strong and the rich will survive. There're so many bands that want to play,
it comes down to money. I don't think there's any way out of it. It's a rock
n roll thing. It's a business thing. If there are a lot of people wanting to
do the same thing, then eventually it's going to come down to big money. If
you build a following, if you have a "buzz," if your band is fit enough to
adjust to any market you're in, and build a following in clubs where you don't
have to "Pay to Play," then when you hit the (Sunset) Strip and the expensive
clubs and you have enough of a following, then you don't have to "Pay to Play."
Q. You were together four years before you got a deal?
A. Well, Paul our current drummer joined us about 2'/2 years ago. So,
we had a different drummer for awhile. But, basically, yeah, it's the same
Q. Since XYZ was turned down by everybody, why did Enigma
Records stand up and pay attention to you?
A. I guess Enigma Records, thank God, has a reputation for finding "the acts." They're
out there, and they keep an eye on what's going on. The reason we didn't get
signed right away is, when we got to town, Poison was all over the place. Poison
was doing great. Record companies didn't want to take a chance. They were only
signing Poison clones. And, a couple of years later it was Guns 'n' Roses.
Everybody was signing Guns 'n' Roses clones. We were not a clone at all.
We had our own individuality and style. We always refused to follow the trend.
Q. Did Enigma bring Don Dokken in as your producer?
Did you ask for him? How did that work
A. It is like a slow process. We were looking for a producer and no one seemed
to be available, or in the right price range. Enigma, Bill Hein (President
of Enigma), said what about Don Dokken? He's a friend of mine, and he's been
trying to keep an ear open on what's going on in the L.A. circuit. We said
why not? We met the guy, had dinner with him, started to hang out with him.
We didn't make a commitment to him right away. Naturally, things started to
fall into place. It was more like a fifth member of the band. It was not like
Q. In your bio, you say attitude is only the tip of
the iceberg. You have to be able to deliver the goods or sink. How then does
that explain all the groups that are being signed to major label deals,
who have no talent?
A. Well, I guess talent is a very subjective thing. You like it or you don't.
It's really a matter of taste.
Q. The public would like to believe a band is signed
because of their musical talent, you're good musicians.
A. I guess that's what the public wants. Well, reality is so different. Good
has nothing to do with it. (Laughs). It's such a big business now. You need
everything now. You need the look. You need the music. You need the connection.
You need the timing. You need luck. You need a lot of work. You need everything
you can possibly think of.
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