Interview with World Known Drummer and Solo Artist Richie Onori
By Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
Richie Onori is a multi-talented musician and versatile percussionist who released two CD’s with Stuart Smith’s band Heaven and Earth, and has a new album in the works. He also teamed up with Stuart Smith in Sweet about five years ago and has toured extensively with them. Richie Onori is currently focusing on his Solo Career, and will be releasing two CD’s in 2012, “The Days of the Innocence” and “American Fighters.”
All Access Magazine (AAM): First of all, congratulations on being nominated for Artist of the Month on Rockwired.com. You have my vote!
Richie Onori: Thank you so much !
AAM: You definitely have a lot going on these days, with your Solo Material, Sweet, your work with Stuart Smith, and you have two of your own businesses. Let’s start off by talking about the first of your two upcoming releases, “Days of Innocence.” What can you tell us about the CD?
RO: I am so very much excited about “The Day’s of Innocence.”
It has some poignant messages, storytelling, and a few “about love” types of tunes. One song is called “Goodbye Cruel World.” I guess you can figure out what that’s about; I had a couple of bad months…
AAM: What is the meaning behind the title track?
RO: It’s about me and people that experienced the 60’s 70’s and 80’s musical renaissance and growing up in this magical musical time. Things are different now. Sometimes I wished I could back to those times when life and families were different.
The last lyrics of the song are:
NOW THE WORLD’S A DIFFERENT PLACE
PEOPLE LOST IN CYBERSPACE
WITH YOUR CELL PHONES YOU CAN’T REPLACE
HAS THE MUSIC DIED
AAM: What is the expected Release Date for the CD?
RO: Gerry Gallagher from Sola records (www.solalabel.com) and I are shooting for a late March/April release and launch.
AAM: You also plan on releasing another CD, “American Fighters,” some time in 2012. What inspired you to release a full-length concept CD?
RO: I think many artists like to make statements about what’s wrong in the world and offer their own beliefs to bring about awareness through their songs. My inspiration comes from my own experience of knowing and understanding the truth on what’s behind the curtain. I think mankind is at tipping point and now it is my time to make a statement through my music.
AAM: Your CD focuses on messages of truth, awareness, and change. What is the most important message that you are trying to get across?
RO: Many of my protest type songs on “American Fighters” were written in the 90’s and early 2000 and I find them extremely relevant in today’s menacing world. Many issues I cover are addressing greed, the environment, politics, inappropriate taxes, drugs, both prescription and street. Additionally we need our people to come together instead of being sidetracked and confused by the suppressive and oppressive forces. Finger pointing is what they want us to do and thus picking a side is what people are conned into believing. It’s just a trap. We need to go after the correct targets, and that’s what I try to do with the messages that come through my music.
AAM: Do you have any plans to do a solo tour or any upcoming shows in the works?
RO: Yes, in the works. We are talking about dates in Japan and Europe, but first we will do some local warm up gigs before we have the launch party gig! Stay tuned www.richieonori.com. We are putting together an all-star band for the shows.
AAM: That’s awesome. I will definitely keep a lookout. I saw on your website that you will be at NAMM this year. Will you be doing a Signing or Performing?
AAM: Wow. That sounds great. I was going to ask you about your businesses. In addition to being a World Class Drummer and known Musician, you have your own Fashion Line for Musicians called Onori International Guitar Straps. It launched just about six years ago, and to date is in 2000 stores in the U.S. and in 22 Countries. That is absolutely amazing! How did you start your Line, and can you tell us the ‘secret to your success?’
RO: Well I listened to my Grandfather’s advice. If you are going to be an artist you better have a back up plan. Now that I see so many of my music biz friends eating “you know what” I’m glad I did. Somehow I managed to keep my artistry #1. I must say it’s been like a minefield. Put it this way. I had to fire a lot of my girlfriends and wives. I don’t have a lot of time for B.S. And that has been part of my secret. As far as starting my guitar strap line, I just created, with the help of some very talented artists, a line of straps that I believe were missing in the marketplace.
AAM: What advice would you have for someone (like me) who is just starting out his or her own business?
RO: Have enough funding and pack a big lunch because you will need it.
AAM: It looks like you are also involved with Albion Amplifiers. What is your affiliation with them?
RO: I am the U.S. distributor for this incredible Amp line. The AMP guru “Steve Grindrod, who designed the entire Marshall product from 1973 to 2000, and then designed the VOX reissue product, is the co-owner in the company. The reviews have been spectacular.
AAM: How long have you been in Sweet and how did you originally connect with them?
RO: Stuart Smith, whom is been my partner in the group “Heaven & Earth,” did a Hurricane Katrina benefit concert back in 2001. That night I was pretty much the drummer for all the artists and acts, which included Slash, Steve Lukather, and Keith Emerson. Steve Priest, the original bass player for “The Sweet,” came up and we did “Fox on the Run” and several other Sweet hits. It was like magic and years later when Steve got the itch to rock again it was a no brainer to work with one another.
AAM: Very cool. Sweet also has a brand new album in the works, with a scheduled release date of March 2012. Are you on that CD? And if so, what can you tell us about it?
RO: Actually we released a live record a few months ago- Check it out. www.thesweetband.com I think you’ll like it!
AAM: Oops! I thought I saw that somewhere. I will definitely check it out. How does it compare to previous releases from Sweet?
RO: What I’ve heard from all the reviews so far is it’s being touted as the real deal. I must say we rock hard live! As far as a new record get ready for a new “Heaven & Earth” record it’s monumental. After that I hope to be creating a new “Sweet” record with the boys.
AAM: Let’s talk about your background, and the direction that you have been taking in recent years. You are most known as a Drummer, and in recent years you have worked as a Vocalist, Songwriter, and even played several different instruments. What inspired you to explore these other avenues?
RO: I needed to express myself fronting a band plus I’m a ham and I’m sick of all my band mates being out in front while I’m trapped in the back. Just kidding…Kind of.
AAM: (Laughs) Do you see yourself leaning in a certain direction at this point, or favoring one instrument over another, aside from drums?
RO: No. I love it all.
AAM: Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our Readers?
RO: Be prepared to rock and I really want to have all you guys come to my shows. It’s important that you all support live music and most important, mine. Just kidding,…kind of. See you at NAMM.
AAM: Thank you so much for your time Richie. It’s been an honor doing this interview. Hopefully I get the chance to meet you at NAMM.
For more information on Richie Onori, please check out the links below: