June 6, 1988
VINNIE VINCENT INVASION "ALL SYSTEMS GO" (page 1 and page 19)
By Drew Masters
The scene was 1983 and Vinnie Vincent, an unknown entity, got the coveted job of replacing the legendary 'Space' Ace Frehley, in KISS. Two years, two albums, two images, and two tours later he was out of a gig, having come to loggerheads with the KISS camp. With the vengeance and desire running feverishly through his veins, Vinnie was determined to once again return to the concert stage, and invade the scene. Thus was born the Invasion, Vinnie's lifelong vissionary dream as to what his ultimate band should be.
So it came to pass that by 1986 Vinnie had penned a deal with Chrysalis Records for an eight album, eight year deal - an amazing feat considering he was, to all fans concerned, a replacement, a substitute - like, what could this dude do on his own? How could he even challenge the mighty KISS, let alone the metal scene? Would he be taken seriously?
The facts speak for themselves! His debut LP, Vinnie Vincent Invasion, originally released at 50,000 copies, has peaked in sales at just below the 500,000 gold level! An incredible aid to this fine feat was the acquisition of touring guest slots with Alice Cooper and Iron Maiden, and the airplay of his video/single for "Boyz Are Gonnna Rock". Now firmly established, the Invasion have just released their follow-up record, All Systems Go - an apt title, according to Vinnie.
"We're on a positive wave of good energy," declares Vinnie, "and it was a real happy occasion doing this record. I think the songs and mood reflect a no compromising, upwardly-positive trip. It's a more emotional album than the last LP. The whole view and perspective of the band has evolved - we're now all in the same frame of mind. We've caught the so¬phistication of the playing, the fun of the songs, the vibe of the band, and it all adds up to one positive energy which leads to the title."
Vinnie continues, " The record has a good balance of material - it takes a lot of twists. I feel it's captured our growth and maturity. It's got the right combination of our vibe and energy with which we want to hit our fans with like a fist in the face! "
This album marks the debut of singer Mark Slaughter, someone who almost missed the gig! " I got this tape a while ago," Vinnie reminisces, "and the guy's voice just blew me away! The tape had no return address, name, or phone num¬ber on it - but I wanted the guy so badly I used up $20,000 worth of phone calls to everywhere with no success. We had the studio time booked so I had to use someone, so I used Robert Fleichman for the first record. About a week after we'd done the shoots for the cover I got a second tape from Mark, this time with a retum address and phone number. Immediately I called him up, got him down, and he wasn't with us for a week before shooting our "Boyz Are Gonna Rock" video."
The first Invasion album was basically a solo effort, with Vinnie assembling the band from scratch to record the songs he had written. But now, after having been together for over a year, the Invasion has come into it's own!" It's more of a band album this time," Vinnie states, "and I think the material lends itself more to a
and effort. We sound like one big pumping machine. This time we've, caught the spiritualism of the band."
"I want more dimension to the sound this time so we worked in guitar harmonies, vocal harmonies, and the production is so much better ¬Dana (Strum- Invasion's basssist and producer) did a super job! We enjoy having a member of the band as our producer 'cause we retain our ideas and feelings- it works well for us."
"There was such a backlog of material for this record we could have written 3 LP's! It was really hard to choose 'cause we really wanted a balance on this record. It took 8 months to do but we paced ourselves and took our time.
Originally we wanted it to be out by September '87 but we didn't start recording until July 7th and we finished in December. We were ready to release it shortly after that but the record company wasn't."
And speaking of the record company, it seems that theirs, Chrysalis, is doing a massive push for this record.
"Chrysalis really feel that they've got it this time," an eager Vinnie states. "They've put themselves and their money fully behind our record, taking out ads everywhere! We're really fortunate to have a company behind what I and the band are doing and one who knows how to sell it. They initially shipped 250,000 copies of All Systems Go and have had to ship another 50,000 copies out after just the the first week! We may re-issue it with a different cover, 'cause the two look so similar, so the current one will become a collector's item. The record company decided on the cover 'cause it took so long to get together that they just wanted to get it out."
"The record currently on the market," injects Vinnie, "has the radio version of our first single "Ashes To Ashes" on it, but the next pressings will have a 1-1/2 minute guitar solo which is completely different from what's currently available. We're also gonna put some other guitar playing back on the record. The cassette version contains an extra track, "Star Spangled Banner", which is just guitar, and the CD version contains two extra tracks, one is a drum solo by Bobby (Rock) entitled "Meltdown", and the other is a four-minute guitar piece called 'Ya Know, I'm Pretty Shot".
By releasing a record with a radio-version track on it, does that mean that the Invasion is after the radio market, possibly alienating some of his more hardcore followers? Vinnie defends, " we feel that this record is accessible to radio yet credible enough to people who want tough, hard rock. We hope we break the radio market, but Invasion is more of a musician's band that has an appeal for everybody. People will see that we're still hard rockers once they see the video we're doing for "Ashes", and we'll be doing a second video for the one of our mellow tunes, possibly "Love Kills" or "That Time Of Year".
The largest change in the Invasion has been the evolution of their image. Vinnie's viewpoint goes as such - " when we started the makeup, 'glam' was big in LA - it was exciting to the fans and we wanted to be exciting too. The glam image was fun at the time - what we tried to do was combine looking outrageous with playing outrageous, but in the long run the two weren't compatible with each other. It got to be uncomfortable because it wasn't allowing us to be who we really are. I wanted to be more of who I was. By the end of the Iron Maiden tour we were totally different from the beginning! It's funny, I've gone through four different image changes makeup, no makeup, glam, no glam - I feel I'm back to being myself and I feel the most comfortable this way. The lesson I leamed is that the music is the first and foremost element of importance - and we hope to write songs for years to come that mean a lot to our fans! "