An Interview with Mickey Finn of Jetboy

By Andrew DiCecco
adicecco@vinylwriter.com

Image courtest of Jetboy Facebook (official)

With his signature mohawk and distinct punk rock aesthetic, Mickey Finn was about as charismatic as any frontman playing the various rock clubs along West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip in the mid-1980s.

Finn, who migrated from New Jersey to California when he was fifteen, ultimately ended up settling into San Francisco’s burgeoning punk rock scene before parlaying years of miring in relative obscurity into a successful audition for local hard rock act Jetboy.

Before relocating to Los Angeles, Jetboy honed its skills playing on a vibrant Bay Area circuit, selling out popular venues such as the Mabuhay Gardens and The Stone while also opening for rising rock acts in L.A. such as L.A. Guns, Poison, and Guns N’ Roses.

When those bands would travel up to San Francisco to perform with Jetboy, the billing order was reversed.

Powered by Finn’s gritty vocals and commanding stage presence, Billy Rowe and Fernie Rod’s guitar wizardry – and an unwavering commitment to being themselves unapologetically – Jetboy stood apart from its contemporaries. After eventually establishing itself as an alternative to many other hard rock and glam metal acts of the time, Jetboy began doing its due diligence and vetting different record labels.

After much deliberation, it was Elektra Records that ultimately made the offer and signed Jetboy in 1986.

Finn and I recently spoke about his formative years as a musician, his initiation into Jetboy, the roller coaster journey that ensued, and everything in between in a career-spanning interview.

Andrew:
Mickey, thanks for carving out some time to chat. I’d like to rewind and start by discussing your earliest introduction to music.

Mickey:
I kind of got into music at a young age. I was really the kind of kid who ran around singing all the time; I sang everything: cartoons, jingles, commercials, and everything. In elementary school, I think I did a year of clarinet, but I didn’t really gel with that. Then I had some older cousins and stuff that started turning me onto rock ‘n’ roll. I think early on, it was like Elton John and David Bowie. Then it was Aerosmith and Foghat – my cousin bought me a couple of albums – and then I started wanting to play drums. My parents forced me to take drum lessons for a year before they would buy me a drum set, so they knew I was going to stick with it. So, I started playing drums at probably, I don’t know, twelve or thirteen years old.

At fifteen, we moved from New Jersey to California, and I started playing in some garage bands with friends and stuff like that. Just playing covers and whatnot. Then, I wanna say in my late teens, I started playing in some bands gigging out; I had a band called Sweet Evil, that was kind of like something between Mötley Crüe and Black Sabbath. Then I started getting turned onto more stuff from the UK and England, like Motörhead, Tank, Saxon, and bands like that. That kind of led me to get into the punk rock world. I had dropped out of high school, and then went back to a continuation adult ed program. A guy that I met there, John Norman, took me to my first punk rock show and I was super into it, just because I think I always kind of felt like an outcast. Growing up in New Jersey, the schools were real tough – I got picked on a lot – and that punk rock vibe was just so freeing. Everybody was different – different hair and styles – and I really dug it. So, I got heavily into the punk scene for a couple years there, and that’s when I started hanging out at the Broadway, San Francisco scene. And that’s ultimately where I got hooked up with the Jetboy guys.

Andrew:
Now, when you were in Sweet Evil, Mickey, were you the primary songwriter?

Mickey:
Yeah. I mean, pretty much, I’ve always been the lyrics and melody guy. I never really gelled with too many instruments, but I was always very involved in the writing, whether it be humming a part to the guitar players, and they figure out the chords or whatever, or them just presenting a song and me just writing lyrics and melody to it. But yeah, Sweet Evil was an original band. We played all originals. It didn’t last for too long, but I still have a picture hanging in my office from one of my photoshoots with that band. It was pretty cool.

Andrew:
Your relationship with the late Todd Crew predated Jetboy. How did you and Todd meet initially?

Mickey:
Well, our girlfriends were friends and they introduced us. My girlfriend at the time was super goth. She was like super goth girl, and her friend was more on the glam rock side, and Todd was super on that. Everything from the [Rolling] Stones, to classic rock kind of stuff, but also the glam stuff, and the [New York] Dolls, Johnny Thunders, and stuff like that. So, we became friends right away, and he started talking to me about this band that he was playing in. Eventually, he got me out to audition, and I bailed on Sweet Evil and I joined Jetboy. Jetboy was pretty together. I mean, it was Billy [Rowe], Fern [Rod], Ron [Tostenson] – our original drummer – and Todd. They had a good batch of songs, so I was really able to just jump in and write lyrics to all these great first batches of songs that they already had. So, it was a real smooth transition.

Image credit: Mayhem Music Magazine

Andrew:
What are your memories of the audition?

Mickey:
At that time, I think I was kind of on the outs with my folks and staying at my girlfriend’s house. Drugs were definitely a heavy presence and drinking. I remember I was strung out from the night before – I probably had told them that I was gonna come audition the next day when I was super high or whatever – and they came to her house and we were not answering the door, and they literally came in and picked me up out of bed. I went to the studio with no shoes – like, I had my socks on – and they literally pulled me out of bed and dragged me in there. And I was like super drug sick and throwing up or whatever. But as soon as they started playing, I think I started penciling lyrics right there on the spot, and that was the audition. I started writing lyrics and then it’s like, “Alright, let’s try it from the top,” and I started singing. It was really kind of a magical moment that day.

Andrew:
Jetboy honed its chops playing the San Francisco and Los Angeles music circuit before subsequently becoming an L.A. mainstay. I’m always interested to hear about the grind that led to the eventual breakthrough, so set the scene for us if you don’t mind.

Mickey:
Well, remember, we established ourselves for a few years in San Francisco and the Bay Area. We pretty much got to the point where we were selling out all the clubs up there, and then we started coming down to L.A. and opening for bands down there. Then we would make friends with the bands, and we would say, “Hey, you guys gotta come up to San Francisco and play with us.” I remember early days, we would come down and open for L.A. Guns, or Poison, or Guns ‘N Roses, and then we would bring those guys up to San Francisco and they would open for us up there. Remember, this is before the internet and all that stuff, so it was pretty hard to get the word around. But people kinda knew. We were, at one point, known as the “Flyer Kings of San Francisco” because we would go out at 3 AM and we would just plaster entire giant walls with our bucket of wheat paste and our cut-and-paste xerox copy flyers and stuff. Then we started attracting record labels. We went through a couple managers but got our first, solid manager, and she suggested that we get down to L.A. because that’s where we needed to be. At that point, we started going to record company meetings, and meeting with A&R people for lunch and that kinda thing.

It took a while, you know? We went back and forth, we had a few labels interested, and then in the end it was Elektra Records that finally made the offer and signed us, and that’s when we officially moved down there. But, I mean, that was rough, too, because it’s like all the red tape of the contract going back and forth between the lawyers. And we were staying at a hotel on Hollywood and Vine – like fuckin’ crack and prostitute central – and waiting for our money so we could get set up in apartments and start recording our record and all that stuff. It took a few months, but it eventually came together and we were on our way.

Andrew:
I realize this is going back a bit, but are you able to recount the first gig with the original Jetboy lineup?

Mickey:
You know, I think the first gig we did was actually at Billy’s high school prom or like a high school dance. But I don’t think he was still in the school; like he had graduated but we went back to the same school. He would be a better person to tell the details about that, but it was definitely a high school party kinda thing. Then, of course, we started playing at the Mabuhay Gardens, “The Fab Mab,” on Broadway there. Our early, first few gigs were there, too, between the On Broadway, The Mab, and The Stone across the street. Those were all our regular gig spots.

Image courtest of Jetboy Facebook (official)

Andrew:
How about the Elektra showcase?

Mickey:
I think the Elektra showcase was at The Troubadour. We had such a passionate following at that point. If I remember correctly, I think we had fans upfront that at one point like ripped my pants half off, and ripped my clothes almost all the way off during the set. It was mayhem. But, you know, it’s funny because the record company people are so nitpicky – I feel like they always had something to say – where it’s like, “Look, do you like the band, do you like our songs? Either sign us or don’t.” But it was like, “Well, we’d like to see a little more of this.” I remember, at the time, I was super into motocross and I had a motocross water bottle on the stage, and it was like, “Oh, he didn’t like the water bottle. It didn’t look rock ‘n’ roll.” It was like, “Okay, do I need a bottle of Jack there? Would that make you happy?” It was always shit like that. But, you know, that’s kind of the sad part about it. I think what we had was so raw and pure and beautiful, then you come to L.A., and all these cooks get in the kitchen, then we start having all these custom-made clothes, and custom-made this, and everything got so professional. In the end, I think one of the things that worked against us was that we weren’t cookie-cutter, right? I mean, we didn’t necessarily fit into the mold that they were looking for at the time that they were signing all those bands like Poison. And the fact that I had a mohawk and stuff, everybody had a problem with that. It was like, “Well, if it’s not punk rock, then why does he have a mohawk?”

Andrew:
On a sonic and visual level, who were some of the band’s prominent influences?

Mickey:
Well, I think it was a big mix of everything. Billy and Fern exposed me to a lot of bands that I wasn’t yet into, like New York Dolls, like Hanoi Rocks. A lot of the overseas stuff. But we all were kind of into everything rock, metal, and punk. I was probably more into punk than the rest of them, but one weekend we might be at an Adam Ant show, we might be at – if you remember the band The Alarm – then we might be at a Testament show, and then we might be at X, or Black Flag. I mean, we were all over the place, and that’s kind of how the scene was. People weren’t so categorized by listening tastes. Very rock ‘n’ roll; from the beginning, we wanted to be really fun, party rock ‘n’ roll music. We wanted to be sleazy, and we wanted to be androgynous, and flashy. Our shows were great, energetic stage presence and great craziness and mayhem.

Image credit: Mayhem Music Magazine

Andrew:
At what point did it become apparent that Todd was in a bad place?

Mickey:
Well, look, over the years I’ve seen friends come and go and go down that road bad. I think what it comes down to is we all have a certain level of addictiveness in our genes and our personalities, and some people can delve into things but stay level-headed and keep it under control and some people don’t, like very easily. And I think [Todd] was one of those. Unfortunately, I was one of the ones who, like – I mean, he didn’t use needles before me – I kind of exposed him to that. So, you know, we were shooting coke and shooting heroin. But for me, it was like once in a while; I was never addicted, necessarily. I really think with Todd, it was mostly alcohol that got him. I mean, it was like 24/7 drinking. But then, really, after we got signed and moved to L.A., we were close with the Guns N’ Roses guys. But [Todd] became really tight with them, and I think they were delving a little bit deeper into the heroin and stuff. Most of the other guys in Jetboy would like smoke pot, and drink if we went out to a club or something, but that was kind of it. They were more serious-minded.

It was at that point where things got really serious for us, where we were interviewing producers for our record; we were having non-stop record company meetings and non-stop rehearsals, and they were putting us in to record demos. At that time, they want forty or fifty songs to pick from when you record a record, so they were constantly putting us in the studio to record more stuff and more stuff, and [Todd] just started not being able to hang. He would pass out during rehearsal and fall on the ground, and he would not make it to meetings, and he would disappear, and you couldn’t find him and we’d have to go to meetings without him and explain. So, all the powers that be, from the label and management and everybody, started warning us like “Look, this guy is gonna blow your deal here.” We knew something had to be done, we involved his parents at one point; they put him in a rehab, and he immediately failed the rehab and went back to the Guns N’ Roses house. He was really leaning on them at that point, and they were leaning back on us going like, “Fuck you guys. This is your bro…” And I do think they didn’t realize – they didn’t know him for as long as we did – and they didn’t see him on a basis. I remember them specifically going, “He’s never missed a gig and he’s never fucked up anything for you guys…” But that wasn’t the truth; he did. He was like fucking missing important meetings and like passing out in rehearsal and shit like that, where it’s just like, “Look, dude, you’re wasting our time. We have shit to do and we need you to be here to do it with us.”

But look, we were all young back then. I don’t blame anybody or hold anybody responsible. Ultimately, [Todd] was his own demise. I wish I could have done more for him. Obviously, you live with that guilt of kind of what we did; we kicked him out of the band and we replaced him. Then after that, he went really downhill and he died. That never gets easy to remember or deal with, but we were young and you can’t go back and change anything now.

Andrew:
How did you guys break the news to Todd, and what led to bringing Sami Yaffa into the fold as a replacement?

Mickey:
I don’t remember how we broke the news to him, so maybe it was our management that let him know. But I know it was very uncomfortable because we would go out to the clubs where we all went every week and he was there, and like grew this big, grizzly beard, which at that time was unheard of for our kind of band. He looked awful. He just looked greasy and dirty and slurry whenever we saw ‘em. Management just said, “If you could have anyone, who would you pick?” And we immediately thought of Sam Yaffa, because I mean, Hanoi Rocks was really our favorite band as far as what we were doing. They were the biggest influence at that time. We were scheduled to open for them in the Bay Area, like literally the week after Razzle died. So, as far as we knew, they weren’t doing anything, and so we said, “Let’s reach out to Sam Yaffa,” and they reached out. It was super quick; he was on a plane and he came and met us and we inked the deal. At that point, we were very close to being ready to get into the studio and start recording the album, so it moved real fast.

I mean, at that point, we were on a budget – our accountant was managing our money – so we had, I think, three apartments between the band and a couple of our crew guys. When Sammy first came to L.A., me, Billy, and Sammy were living in a little, tiny studio apartment and we literally had three single-bed mattresses on the floor with a TV and, like, that was it. It was very, very humble beginnings at that time, but good times. We bonded over Star Trek, cheese quesadillas, chocolate chip cookies, and bong hits. [Laughs].

Image courtest of Jetboy Facebook (official)

Andrew:
As you prepare to record Feel the Shake, you guys have your list of producers in mind and decide to go with Tom Allom. Who were some of the other candidates?

Mickey:
You know, I really don’t remember, but I do remember Paul Stanley came down to rehearsal and he was on the plate for a minute. And you can imagine for us at that point, too, we’re at SIR rehearsal studios and Paul Stanley comes in and sits down on the couch and it’s like, “Okay, guys, let’s hear some stuff.” I know there were some others. I was never a producer guy; Billy and Fern, when I met them, they could tell you who produced every record, who engineered it, what studio. I didn’t know any of that shit; I was just into the music of bands. But when I heard that Tom Allom had done Judas Priest, and Loverboy, and Black Sabbath, and all of these bands and some of their first albums and that kind of stuff, he was perfect for us at the time. He was a super fun-loving party guy, and he did a good job. I think our music got a little bit white-washed at that point, just as far as the wild abandonment and craziness of our shows and the songs – and then they kept making us write more and more, and more and suggestions here and there or whatever – I think [Tom] did a good job to capture the sound of the band, but Feel the Shake really is not my favorite Jetboy record. If I was gonna play Jetboy music for somebody who had never heard it, I would much rather play Damned Nation than Feel the Shake. I have a hard time listening to some of the songs on Feel the Shake.

Andrew:
Interesting. Is this because you feel it was watered down so much?

Mickey:
Yeah, I mean, I love the song “Feel the Shake,” it just feels really young to me. Real young and immature, and I feel like we became a better band as we developed over the years, but unfortunately, we got cut short. I feel like the next record that would have come after Damned Nation would have been amazing. If you have a chance to listen to some of the tracks – we put out records afterward with Perris Records – and our sound got heavier and heavier, and more raw and intense. Some of that stuff, that would have been the natural progression for our next record. And they’re good; they’re demos that we recorded that didn’t come out on a major label, but we put them out on Perris Records. You can maybe still find those. A lot of them just have demo versions of the songs that were on the record, and then some of them have songs from that same batch of songs from Feel the Shake but didn’t make it onto the record. But there’s one, Make Some More Noise (1999), that has “No Limits,” “Slow Grind,” “Ultimate Crime,” “Stolen People,” those four tracks right there would have been the next step for JetBoy. They’re freakin’ heavy; my voice was at its prime.

Andrew:
As far as gathering ideas for an album is concerned, what was Jetboy’s creative process?

Mickey:
I am pretty easy to work with as a songwriter. If I’m called upon for ideas, I have music in my head. If I knew how to play guitar, I could probably write ten songs in an hour, because I just have music in my head. But I also love when somebody presents me with a song idea, as long as it’s got at least two parts. I kind of hear melody and lyrics at the same time. Like let’s just say if somebody comes to me with two parts of a song, but we know it’s also gonna need an intro, and a B-section, or a down-beat section or whatever, I’m good at coming up with the key change for a B-section or whatever. So, we worked together – Billy and Fern wrote most of the licks and most of the meat of the songs – but I wrote all of the vocals, lyrics, and melody for everything we did. And I still work that way.

Image courtest of Jetboy Facebook (official)

Andrew:
Do you recall how you came up with the title track?

Mickey:
I just remember, because we always have, collectively as a band, been huge ACϟDC fans. When we started getting more professional, and those guys started really tuning in their guitar sounds, and tones, and amps, and all that, and they were really striving for that Malcolm Young [sound]. You know, I think Fern wanted to be somewhere between Angus Young and Joe Perry; that’s kind of how I see Fern. We have always been pretty good at writing songs that are kind of ACϟDC-ish in the riffage. Probably, that comes from Billy more; he’s really good at those mid-tempo, catchy, simple, straightforward hooks. Like, sometimes I’ll hear a lick, and a phrase will come into my head, and I’ll write the song around that phrase. So I would imagine with “Feel the Shake,” it was probably something like I just heard that … “Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh… Feel the shake!” And then write the rest of it around that. It was definitely one that we knew was gonna be the title track of the record, so that’s always nice to not have to have that be a hard decision.

Andrew:
The Philadelphia Flyers, my local hockey team, played “Feel the Shake” at one point as their goal celebration song.

Mickey:
Yeah, I know! That was so cool to see that, man. I’ve got some video clips and stuff. Everybody started sending me clips and stuff. It was pretty cool.

Andrew:
I wanted to revisit something you said a little while ago, as you expressed fondness for Damned Nation. What are your memories of the recording sessions?

Mickey:
Well, we worked with Duane Baron and John Purdell, who were kind of a hot team at the time. This was our first experience recording using digital end tape. So, in other words, like a pro tools program or whatever. Vocally, we did three takes of every line of the song; and I kind of still like working that way. I mean, there may be times where I like to do one take of the whole song all the way through, but there’s almost always gonna be parts you wanna go back and fix, anyway, unless it’s a song that I’ve been rehearsing and playing live for a long period of time, or I’ve worked it all out. Like when we recorded our last record, Born to Fly, I did everything piece-by-piece. So, that was kind of cool. I mean, I know we did some of that with Damned Nation, too, but it was all on tape, so you’ve gotta stop, cut the tape, splice it, move on, or whatever, you know? So, it wasn’t as easy to just have three different versions of a solo and then pick which parts you like and “Boom,” digitally put it together.

Those guys were next-level. I mean, Tom Allom, great guy, but he was really really old school. Definitely, I think, past his prime at that time, whereas Duane and John were really just up-and-coming and on fire and just such a good team. They felt more like band members, you know?

Andrew:
I prefer Damned Nation to Feel the Shake as well and maintain that it should have garnered more attention than it did. One of my favorite tracks on that record is “Heavy Chevy.” Any memories of piecing that one together?

Mickey:
Yeah. A ’57 heavy Chevy is my favorite car, and again, I probably came up with that, “Cruisin’ down the motorway…” at the beginning, and then I wrote the rest of the song around that. Still one of my favorite songs to sing live, just to belt it out. Climatic. And again, we’ve always been good at those kinds of mid-tempo, heavy-driving-but-very-simple … “Feel the shake!”“Heavy chevy!” Simple, but very effective.

Image credit: Mayhem Music Magazine

Andrew:
What was the support like from Elektra at that time?

Mickey:
Here’s the thing; Elektra dropped us before we released Feel the Shake. So, we recorded Feel the Shake for Elektra, but after we finished recording the record – we were literally weeks away from the release date – Elektra was a New York-based label and they had west coast offices. So, they literally fired the president and everyone in the west coast offices. They cleaned house and they just dropped everything they were working on at that time. So, our record got shelved. Then we had to go back to the drawing board. Our management and lawyers were like, “Oh, don’t worry. You guys will have no problem, you’ll get picked up in a minute.” Well, a minute in that world winds up taking a year because you agreed to do the deal, but then the contract goes back and forth between the lawyers, and they negotiate every little freakin’ point on there. Then much to our surprise, after we signed the deal, they were trying to push us to record a new record. Think about that; imagine if we would have given in; then Feel the Shake would have been shelved. Remember, too, at that time, Guns N’ Roses and Faster Pussycat and everybody that had gotten signed around the same time, their records had come out on time and they were already going off on tour and stuff. We’re like, “Are you kidding me?! Our record was finished a year ago! Now you want us to start a whole new record.” And like, we never even got to go on tour; we were so pissed. In essence, it was not the smartest decision, because they agreed and we were adamant; we were like, “No, no. The record’s done. It’s great. We’re happy with it. Put it out and get us on the road.” I think they agreed to do it, but they never really got behind it. I don’t know if it’s because they just didn’t like the idea of putting out something they didn’t have any creative control over or whatever. I think we toured with KIX; we toured with Cheap Trick; Then they pulled us off the road. I mean, it was like, three months touring, maybe, and they pulled us off the road and said they want us to come back and start on the next record. We said, “Okay,” and came back and started on the next record.

Then after Damned Nation came out, we have the worst luck as this band because literally, a few months after the record came out, we went out on tour and had back-to-back tours lined up – I know we were supposed to tour with Extreme – and then we got a call from our management, and they said, “Okay, the tour is canceled. You guys gotta come back.” And they didn’t tell us anything. We were like, “What the fuck is going on?” So, what happened was, that was the point where MCA was bought by Sony Music, and again, they just cleared house. When we got back to L.A. and we went for a meeting at the record label, it was like empty. I mean, I’m talking, before that, it was a giant building with like desk after desk after desk after desk and all these offices and apartments. Probably a hundred people working in that building, and you walk in and it’s empty; nothing but empty desks and chairs. Everything’s gone. Literally, that’s what they did. Sometimes when companies take over like that, it’s not, “Oh, everybody gets to keep their job and we’re just gonna be the new owner.” No, they came in, cleaned house, and shelved everything. At that point, we were really screwed because we were out of money, we had no record deal, and everybody kind of abandoned us. Our manager, they were all like, “Well, why don’t you guys back up to San Francisco, stay with your families, try to regroup…” It was also at the time, too, where Nirvana was starting to happen and our scene was dying off and new shit was happening. So, this time around, we found it impossible to find a new deal. Nobody wanted us. Not only were we tainted at that point, but they were looking for the next big thing, like this grunge thing that was happening. They weren’t looking to get into more bands like Poison, and Guns N’ Roses, and whatever because those bands, they had hit it big at that point already, you know? That’s how fast things move sometimes in the music industry.

Andrew:
In the midst of an industry that had been drastically altered, how did you navigate the rest of the decade?

Mickey:
Well, first of all, Sami was the first one to bail because during that time, Michael Monroe came over to L.A. and Andy McCoy came over to L.A. I think all those guys kind of saw, “Oh, Sami got signed and he’s with this band…” so they started making their way to L.A. and getting shit together. So, Sami was the first one to bail and he went back with Michael Monroe and started playing with him again. Then he went on to the [New York] Dolls and Joan Jett; he was kind of all over the place. Now he’s back with Michael again for quite a while. So, we got another bass player. I mean, we had clout, so we signed a deal with Bill Graham Management, who was the biggest management company in the Bay Area and a well-known promoter. But it was just like nobody wanted to touch the Jetboy name, so we changed our name to MindZone; we got heavier and heavier; we were super into Pantera and the heavier bands that were coming through at that time, so we moved in that direction. Our drummer bailed – Ron, the original drummer bailed – so we kind of were evolving and changing. That was still a tumultuous time in the industry; we came close to record deals with MindZone. I think we did MindZone for about six years; we opened and played with every great metal act that came through the Bay Area. We were like the kings of openers for like all the big bands that came through. We came close a few times – like we literally had contracts in our hands – then the label would go under, or fold, or whatever, before we got to do the deal.

Then I wanna say by ’96, I bailed on the band. I met a girl from San Diego; I moved down there and we got married. I got into the DJ world; I started DJing and I was doing the rave scene. Then I think it was about 2006 when we reunited through Cleopatra Records and Brian Perera started revising stuff. I came back to San Fran and we started doing it again. We haven’t been consistent, of course, but we’ve had some good times and put out some good music through that period, too.

Andrew:
I concur. A Day in the Glamourous Life (1998), Make Some More Noise (1999), One More for Rock N’ Roll (2002), and Off Your Rocker (2010) are all crucial to the band’s legacy in their own way. Were those records exclusively comprised of previously unreleased tracks the band had recorded over the years?

Mickey:
Off Your Rocker was when really when we regrouped in 2006, got a new manager, started hitting it hard again, and started writing new songs. So, Off Your Rocker was, I don’t know, all that stuff came out that was like demos and stuff we had a recorded a long time ago. But again, we had some troubles and some falling outs. I was trying to have a good life, and a job, and money, and have my shit together. Then I remember we were trying to go do a European tour, and when it came down to it, it was clear that it was gonna be a losing-money tour. Like, I’m gonna try to take six weeks off work, to do a European tour – maybe even lose my job – not make any money; how am I gonna pay my rent living with my girlfriend? I was like, “Dude, no. We gotta cancel it. I’m not doing it.” They were like, “Well, everybody’s just gotta save up money. We’ll go super low budget.” I was like, “No. Fuck that, man.” So, then they replaced me for a short time, and that didn’t last too long. Then we regrouped again and kind of had another good run of it. I moved to Hawaii, got married again, and started having kids. Then that deal for the Born to Fly record, that just came out of left field. They got with Chuck at Artist Worldwide, our booking agent, and they offered us a deal. So, we just said, “Alright, here we go again!”

Image credit: Devorah Ostrov

Andrew:
Born to Fly is an important record in my estimation because it captures Jetboy’s trademark energy to a great extent.

Mickey:
Oh, yeah. I love it. We wrote and recorded that entire record in like three months. And that’s with me living in Hawaii. That’s literally like sending music files back and forth; I think we wrote fourteen songs. I came to San Francisco and I did scratch vocals at Billy’s house for all the songs. Then we went into the studio in L.A. in like, a week I wanna say, and we recorded the whole thing. That was another one; they pushed us to this, like, “It needs to be done by November,” and it’s like September 15th or whatever. And they pushed us, and we did it and we delivered, and we explode super-fast and everything moved quickly. Then it was like the same thing, they kept pushing the release date and pushing the release date. But I’m super proud of that record; It’s a great-sounding record. We were able to get all those videos done on a budget and we got some traction again. But unfortunately, it’s one of those things like, look, I’m a grown-up now; I’m fifty-eight years old. I mean, we did that record, I was fifty-four or fifty-five. I’m not gonna go off on a fuckin’ tour, you know what I mean? It’s like make a few hundred bucks at a show or whatever. I have a family, I have a house and a mortgage. I mean, God bless Billy, man; he’s got his guitar company, he’s in Buckcherry now, he’s on the road, he’s making all kinds of money. Great, awesome; I would do all that too if somebody came to me and wanted me to be the singer for their band, and I could go out there and make two-thousand dollars a show. I’d fuckin’ do it in a minute. I’d love to do it, but we gotta be realistic.

We have some songs we’re working on. We’re working on a cover record right now for Cleopatra, and it’s gonna be a real funky, eclectic, blend of old classic songs from the ‘70s. Billy’s super busy now. Fern is like officially out of Jetboy. This is the first time I’m actually announcing this publicly, but Fernie no longer wants to be in the band or do anything with Jetboy. Super bummed about it, but we are looking for a new guitar player, and obviously, they have to understand we’re the kind of band that works here and there. But usually, when we work, it’s good; we do good one-off festivals, like the Monsters of Rock Cruise. We get good things to do, but it’s just not consistent. And we also need someone who can learn the songs and show up to a gig and play, because the chance of all of us getting together in the same place and rehearsing is like a difficult thing to accomplish. But hopefully, we’ll be able to keep it together and we’ll do this cover record for Cleopatra. We’ve done covers and released some stuff, but never a cover record. So, it’s gonna be a fun project.

Andrew:
I just wanted to clarify, is Fern done with Jetboy or the industry in general?

Mickey:
No, he’s out. He’s retired. I mean, he plays music – he’ll always play music – but he’s not doing anything professionally. He’s just out, man. I mean, I haven’t even talked to him for a year, couple years. He’s like not even returning calls or whatever. We got an offer to do the fifty-year anniversary party at the Rainbow, and we hit him up because, he had already said, “I’m out. I’m retiring. I don’t want to do it.” And then we’re like, “Hey, dude! Let’s do this!” And he was like, “Nope.” So, I said, “Alright, dude. I wanna make sure you’re cool with us replacing you.” He said, “Yup, all good. Get whoever you want.”

Andrew:
Last one. From your perspective, what do you attribute to the recent resurgence in nostalgia for the music of your era?

Mickey:
I think people grew up and went their separate ways and got into different things. It’s like a revival era, right? It’s like ten years later, you go to your high school reunion or whatever. People started wanting to bring it back and people started showing up at shows. You’re playing to people your own age, so it’s an older crowd and whatnot. People like Eddie Trunk, Rocklahoma, and things like that really kicked it into gear. It was just a whole scene that started happening and we were part of it, so we were able to jump in there here and there. A lot of the other bands do really well still, but we never have been consistent enough. So, we’re not a top-billing act or top-earning act when it comes to stuff like that. We’re just happy to still be able to do it, make some money, rock out with our friends, and really keep the flame alive and do it for our fans.

Image courtest of Jetboy Facebook (official)

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Be sure to check out the full archives of Shredful Compositions, by Andrew DiCecco, here: https://vwmusicrocks.com/shredful-compositions-archives/

About Post Author

Andrew DiCecco

Predominantly known for his NFL coverage, Andrew DiCecco is a Pennsylvania-based journalist with a profound passion for Rock music and its illustrious history. What initially began as a childhood hobby collecting CDs eventually evolved into a full-blown absorption into the world of Rock and Roll. An aspiring rock historian, Andrew seeks out every autobiography and documentary on Rock artists imaginable to further his knowledge to go along with a growing collection of vintage albums and magazines. Andrew’s musical preferences include, but are not limited to, Def Leppard, Van Halen, AC/DC, Guns N Roses, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions, Foreigner, and Journey. An innate appreciation for guitar heroes, Andrew cites Vito Bratta, Eddie Van Halen, John Sykes, George Lynch, Dave Meniketti, and Neal Schon as some of his personal favorite players. Andrew is also a regular listener to SiriusXM’s <i>Trunk Nation</i> with Eddie Trunk, his primary source of inspiration.
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