CITIES – Intencities
Metal Forces, Issue 16 (1986)
“The problem we have in New York is that all the heavy metal A&R people come from Los Angeles, which is why all the LA bands are getting signed. These guys take a totally different approach, as New York bands are a lot heavier. New York companies are used to working with pop bands that sell records, and they don’t have the money to give out to bands to establish themselves. That’s why bands like ourselves have to do it on our own, and the only way to get major label attention is to have a successful indie release. Iron Maiden did it. Twisted Sister did it. And hopefully we’ll be there too.”
Thus spoke Sal Mayne, bass player with probably the crunchiest, classiest New York band around. We were speaking of the problems New York bands have in attracting major label interest, which is a shame ’cos as you know New York has some real killer bands. Cities have, after a long time in trying, released a six-track mini album on a London based indie label called Metal Masters. The record is titled Annihilation Absolute and it’s one of my favourite records of the year, without a doubt. What I wanted to know is, why the band’s best track, ‘Deceiver’, was left off the record? “Well, the reason why is because we don’t wanna use up all our best stuff at once. For instance, a lot of people wanted to see ‘Cruel Sea’ on the record, the song where Ronnie (Angell – vocalist) screams ‘Attack!’ on, but we want to save some of these songs for further records. In the beginning we only wanted to do a four-song EP, but Metal Masters asked us to put two more on there to make it a six-track mini-album. So that’s why ‘Burn Forever’ and ‘Fight For Your Life’ are included. I’ve gotta tell you that we did that record on a very tight budget and we didn’t have as much time as we would’ve liked, but hopefully we’ll be able to put out a much better produced album next time.”
Despite the record not being quite as good as Cities would’ve liked, it’s still a mighty powerful piece of product. I just can’t understand why it’s taken so long for somebody to wake up to the talent Cities have. The record has been a long time coming. “Oh yeah, it sure has,” says Mayne. “One of the problems has been with drummers. We’ve been through something like 16 drummers since the band began, but we’ve always lost them for some reason or another, or we’ve had drummers who’ve never been into the same vein musically as we have. We take a great deal of pride in our work. Hopefully our new drummer, Scott DuBoys, and this record will put us on the road to bigger things.”
One of your former drummers was A.J. Pero of Twisted Sister, wasn’t it? “Yeah, A.J. is a really great guy. In fact, we played some shows with him on drums a couple of months back. When A.J. joined us he told us that he had auditioned for Twisted Sister and that if he was accepted he’d join them. So he got accepted…”
And look where he is now. Yeah, A.J. Pero is one helluva drummer. In fact, the entire Twisted Sister outfit are fine musicians, but I’ve always had the impression that their studio work is nowhere near as good as what they can do live, and they also went through that commercial phase. A recent demo I’d heard from Cities had me worried, because it sounded like Cities were getting a bit towards radio material, as it were! Seriously, the demo included a couple of tracks, ‘No Good For Me’ and ‘No Turnin’ Back’, that were a touch lighter than what I expect from the band.
Mayne explains: “Yeah, I guess there was a bit of a commercial approach to that demo, but that was a tape we wanted for record companies to listen to and you have to play to a kind of radio format. We don’t really write that way, but then again we gave those songs just as much effort as anything else we’ve done. There’s a lot more playing involved in our songs, but we don’t just wanna thrash through a song. We like to write songs that get an audience singing them well after they’ve seen us at a show. We think it’s important to write classic heavy metal tunes.”
Yeah, and Cities have them by the bucket load. If you’re only familiar with the Annihilation Absolute album then wait until you hear ‘Cruel Sea’, ‘Death Of A King’, ‘Shades Of Black’ or ‘Deceiver’, which is introduced by some awesome guitar playing by Steve Mironovich who has every right to join Ace Frehley, Carlo Fragnito and Vito Bratta on New York’s guitarists hall of fame.
The Cities show is also something worth waiting for when the band hit your area. “We’re hoping 1986 will be a good year for us, ’cos 1985 was pretty rough because we were constantly rehearsing and writing. We did get to do a lot of support shows to most of the major bands who played at L’Amour, such as Y&T, Talas, Anvil and Queensrÿche, and also some shows with Twisted Sister. But we’ve never really had the chance to break out of New York. However, our record is selling out over here and the distributors can’t keep up with the orders, so that’s good for the band.” Bear in mind, that like the Blacklace albums, the White Lion album and the debut Twisted Sister album, Annihilation Absolute is only available in the US as an import.
“We have been talking about a European tour. We share the same management as Grim Reaper, so perhaps we might be able to come over with them. The UK is definitely the first place to come for us on tour, and Los Angeles will be the second trip. Then we want to get down to Texas.” But like all good plans, nothing is definite at this stage. Still, I expect Cities to visit all of those places sometime during the year, just hang on in there.
When you do get to feast your eyes on Cities live, then expect a pretty hot show. Mayne: “Our stage set is based around a wall that looks as if we’ve smashed our way through it. The drums are actually behind the wall, as you can see in the photos on the back of our album cover. We also have a backdrop similar to the front cover art with the ruined city and nuclear mushroom cloud on it.”
That sounds slightly similar to the Kiss Destroyer set of ten years ago? “Yeah, I guess so. I used to go to see Kiss a lot when they first started out… that’s when they were good. I saw them play at Madison Square Garden a couple of weeks ago with Black ’N Blue as support. Kiss are just not the same band anymore without the elaborate effects. It’s really a shame.”
One band Mayne does seem to be impressed by, are the all-girl band Poison Dollys. “Yeah, the girl who plays bass (Mef Manning) is a phenomenal player!” And you thought Kelv Hellrazer was dreaming again eh? Yeah, there’s so much untapped talent emanating from New York these days that just keeps on appearing. Metal Forces will try to keep in tune with what’s happening there as much as we will everywhere else in the US, and the rest of the world for that matter.
As for Cities – let’s have the roll call again: Ron Angell (vocals), Steve Mironovich (guitar), Sal Mayne (bass) and Scott DuBoys (drums) – well, their debut release might be called Annihilation Absolute, but it’s just the beginning for this band and definitely not the end!
Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 16 (1986)
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