Jerome Mazza best known as vocalist with Pinnacle Point and his solo material expands on his singing career and what the future holds with regard to new music and live gigs.
Who were your influences in the early days and have you always wanted to be a singer?
Well, I will answer that this way. I was a guitar player first and never really thought about being a singer. My earliest influences were Glenn Campbell and Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad) because I loved how they both played guitar and wanted to play the guitar because of them. I loved watching the Glenn Campbell Good Time Hour because at the end of the show he would always do a jam with his banjo player, Larry (who never said a word). To me it was the coolest thing that the two of them would just jam. I also thought Glenn’s hair was really cool and his Ovation guitar was as well. My brother had the “On Time” and “Closer To Home” albums of Grand Funk when I was around 10 years old. I loved Grand Funk and I loved how Mark Farner played the guitar. So, my dad bought me a guitar and I started to teach myself how to play from just listening to those two albums, learning chords and picking out Mark Farner rifts. Shortly after that, I realized how great his voice was. But still, at that time, I never thought about being a singer. During my high school years I would get together with other guitar players in my neighbourhood and we would have jam sessions in my garage. We would open up the garage door and we would jam while a bunch of our friends were out on the driveway listening to us play. It was cool. Still no singing, just jamming.
A few years later when I was about 18, I had an 8-track of Kansas’ “Two For The Show” and I started to try to sing like Steve Walsh in my car. That was the only singing I had done…in my car. The following year I was called by a local band that wanted me to come out and audition for guitar player in a Top-40 band. This band got my name from one of the guys that I used to jam with in Pittsburgh. So, I go to the audition, they want to hire me as the guitar player but said you must be able to sing lead vocals and backing vocals. I was shocked because I had never sung in public before and the guy that recommended me to this band must have told them that I could sing. So, as I am trying to come up with some song that I could possibly sing and the song I came up with on the spot was Grand Funk’s “Closer To Home” track. As we started the song, I couldn’t get the first note out because I had never sung in front of anyone. So they had to restart the song 3 times (lol). Finally, I just went for it and I spat it out. Their faces lit up and said, “you’re in”. True story. The band leader’s name is Michael Sadecky and the name of the band was Dynasty. So, bottom line…I never thought about being a singer and all of a sudden, I had to become one (lol).
Have you ever auditioned for the vocal spot in any notable bands?
When I first moved out to Los Angeles I received a call from Peter Criss, the original drummer from KISS, who had heard me from a demo tape. I don’t remember how he heard my tape, but I got a call from his management company who said they wanted to audition me for an album with Warner Bros and a tour. I auditioned at Peter Criss’s house and I sang a song that he wrote for his other named “Blue Moon Over Brooklyn”. He actually cried and said, “you’re in”. I turned that gig down due to scheduling conflicts with his tour and a lot of studio work and commercial work I had already signed on for.
I also auditioned for Angelica and was the singer for their 2nd album, “Walkin’ In Faith”.
You have appeared on a number of albums. Do you have a favourite and why?
My very first album is my favourite. It is a self-titled album released in 2016. I produced it myself, mixed it, had total control. It was in the style of Josh Groban. A lot of good songs for movie sound tracks or television movies.
Do you still get the same buzz out of singing live as you did in the past?
I’ve always enjoyed playing live. I have done an awful lot of recording over the last several years and I do miss playing live.
Some vocalists are on strict dietary regimes or gargle with special liquids. How have you kept your voice in tip top shape all these years?
In a word…rest. When I was recording I did a lot of singing and practicing at the same time and it was important to just get away from it for a while to rest. No gargling, none of that, rest is my answer. Practice, but rest, that’s what works for me.
Are there any musicians that you have not worked with, but would like to in the future?
First of all, I’ve worked with a lot of great people through the years but I wouldn’t have been able to work with some of those great names if it were not for Khalil Turk, Escape Music label, who I have recorded 3 albums for. I’ve been fortunate to work with the great Steve Walsh of Kansas, Tommy Denander, Steve Overland and many others. I was also band mates with Reb Beach of Winger and Whitesnake in my high school years.
Is there any unreleased recorded material from your days in the bands you’ve been involved with that could be released?
Oh, I have demos from the 80’s that I wrote that could be used today, sure. Very rough demos.
Do you have any plans to release another solo album?
It is possible. I have things in the works right now that could delay a solo album, but it is very possible.
With the live circuit opening up again, is there a possibility that we could see you performing some live shows in the UK?
I would love to perform in the UK, but need financial backing to put that show together.
Would you be interested in doing some production work for other bands?
It’s quite possible depending on the situation.
Do you have anything in the pipeline at the moment that you would like to share?
I do have things in the pipeline but can’t share at this time.
Is there anything else you would like to talk about?
There was a lot of highlights over the past few years. Of course, working with Steve Walsh and the very talented people that I have met. One of the highlights is that I got to jam with Billy Greer, bass player of Kansas, who invited me to his house for his wife’s birthday party a couple of years ago. Billy had a big stage set up at his house in the back court yard. The stand-in drummer for Kansas, Eric Holmquist, was playing drums. I got to jam and sing with Billy that night. Billy Greer is one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet. I met a bunch of guys that night such as Moses Mo from “Mother’s Finest”, a couple of guys from the Kansas crew, Georgia Satellite players, and others. It was a very fun night that I won’t forget.
Interview by Stuart Dryden