Recently, I had the opportunity to interview veteran rock band Hybrid Ice. The following is Part Two of that question and answer session. This interview first appeared on Technorati.com. This post contains some additional video links so you can enjoy just how good this band continues to be 30+ years later.
“The Most Famous Unknown Band in the World.” is how Hybrid Ice once described themselves. This year, that may change in a big way.
While this Pennsylvania-based band has toured with and supported some of the greatest names in rock history, a deal with a major record company has never materialized. But it isn’t for lack of talent or conviction. Coming up this year, Hybrid Ice will be the support group for such classic rock names as Jimi Jamison, best known as the former frontman for the chart-topping band Survivor, Bobby Kimball (Toto), Joe Lynn Turner (Deep Purple) and Derek St. Holmes (Ted Nugent). The first set of shows will feature Jimi Jamison, including a March 17th date in the hometown of Hybrid Ice…Danville, PA.
Recently, three members of Hybrid Ice answered a few questions about their approach to working as a support band, their 30+ year history and what’s in store for the upcoming shows with Jamison.
Hybrid Ice is: Rick Klinger (vocals/drums), Bob Richardson (vocals/keyboards), Jason Schaffer (bass), Chris Alburger (vocals/guitar) and Rusty Foulke (lead guitar/vocals).
In Part Two of the interview, Hybrid Ice discusses the band’s long journey, how they reunited, the current line-up and their expectations for the upcoming shows.
Kat's Theory (KT): Reading your bio, I was really impressed by the marketing ingenuity you guys possessed at such an early age, before you had the Hybrid Ice name. Since I think I’m about the same age as most of you, I can gauge pretty accurately and I know many of the things you tried would never have popped into my head. Example, renting the local Y, hiring a headline band and having your band open for them. Who was the entrepreneurial genius at work back then?
Rick Klinger (RK): If I remember correctly, that was Rusty. Jeff (Willoughby, former bassist) was responsible for the idea to buy old limos. Playing clubs like PJ'S in Daytona Beach for the purpose of finding out whether or not we could find a concentration of hot girls who liked guys in bands - that was me.
Bob Richardson (BR): The band has the ability to think outside the box. We did not have the internet back then and marketing was done the old fashion way. We earned it. One plan comes to mind. We wanted to play New York City at the same place Aerosmith was discovered: Max’s Kansas City. We hired two buses and brought our fan base to make an impact. It was a lot of fun and we had some interest from labels, but unfortunately nothing ever developed.
KT: With more than 30 years of music in the rear-view mirror and a legion of fans following you from the start, Hybrid Ice is a very odd success story. You’ve opened for some of the greatest musical acts, did some recording and had your music recorded by others, most notably Boston covering “Magdelene”…yet the brass ring was never quite in your hand. Do you think the music demise of the 1990s was a key factor?
BR: It is one of those mysteries that will never be solved. We had a regional hit on our hands but still could not get a record company to take interest. Looking back you can see that we were not alone. Record companies did not want to sign Rush or Boston either. Proves that the suits don't really have a clue when it comes to good music.
RK: Who knows for sure. We were told we had too many lead singers (like The Beatles or Styx). We were told we were too self-contained. This is true: We were actually told that a deal from a New York label was pretty much in the bag if Chris would shave his beard! I get your question though. All I know is that when I realized nobody recorded guitar solos anymore, our dream was probably toast.
KT: Bob, you started out as a drummer and switched to keyboards when you joined Hybrid Ice. That takes a lot of conviction in thinking this was the right band to join, when hooking up with another band and staying on the skins might have been an easier path. What did you see in Hybrid Ice that allowed you to make that decision?
Looks like Bob still has all the right moves!
BR: I had seen Hybrid Ice play before I joined and they were very impressive. They had talent and full production at a young age. The real question would be why did they hire me? When I played drums in my previous band I had a synthesizer at my side, so I guess this made me a keyboard player. The audition was shaky at best but I am glad they decided to take a chance on me. I wanted it so bad that I practiced 8 hours a day to get up to speed.
KT: Around 1998, the band went their separate ways for quite a few years. Now you’re back, sounding great and looking toward a very busy summer. What was the driving force for the reunion?
RK: A label in England contacted us wanting to reissue the first record, remastered, on CD. ( It was only ever out on vinyl ).
BR: The five that had recorded on the album had a meeting to discuss this. A reunion idea came up to support the release so we had intended to play one or two shows and go our own way. To our surprise it went over extremely well. This is too much fun, so we still do it.
RK: We recorded 2 new songs for it. That spawned the idea for the shows. We just never knew that they'd be so successful. So, 2002 became 2003 became 2004 - you get the idea. And here we are.
KT: Rick, you and Rusty are the two members with the most seniority. Having Chris on vocals and Bob back as well, the current line-up must be very comfortable for you. With several other former members to choose from, how did this line-up come together.
RK: Myself, Rusty, Bob, and Chris, and at the time Jeff (Willoughby, who left the band in 2010 for medical reasons)…we're bandmates, brothers, the recording version of Hybrid. Rusty and I talked, then went to Bob to see if he wanted in. He said yes, and at that point we decided to " blow the dust off of Chris to see if he could still sing ". We had decided that in order to do reunion shows, we had to have all 5 original guys. Really, playing music with these guys is like putting on your favorite old comfy jeans. It just fits.
KT: The first shows with Hybrid Ice supporting the classic rockers begin in March with Jimi Jamison. One of those shows is in the town where it all began…Danville PA. It’s got to be a kick to be back performing to the fans who were there when you first started out, as well as backing up one of melodic rocks most respected voices. How fun is that night going to be?
BR: This is one of those moments that we will have to see before I can answer that one. It is a new thing for us to have a world renowned singer with us in our little home town. It is kind of strange.
RK: I'm sure we'll all relax, play loose, and kick ass. Not much happens around here. All indications are that this will be HUGE!
Jason Schaffer (JS): It’s going to be beyond a blast doing the shows. Can’t wait!
Kat’s Theory: Can’t thank you enough for your time and insight. Danville, PA is sure to be rocking on March 17th, looking forward to being there.
Hybrid Ice Interview (Part 1)
Enjoy a taste or three of Hybrid Ice.
Never Coming Back
Find Hybrid Ice:
The Hybrid Ice Official Website
Hybrid Ice Facebook Page
Jimi Jamison Official Website
Article first published as "Hybrid Ice: On Fire and Going Home (Part Two)" on Technorati