FROM THE HEAVENS
METAL SLUDGE EXCLUSIVE: Angel singer Frank DiMino readies for rare Whisky concert
The Angel singer returns to the iconic group’s adopted home in California on Friday, Oct. 21 at the Whisky on Sunset Boulevard, and a capacity crowd is expected for an evening scheduled to feature a hearty selection of Angel songs from the 1970s — for sure, we’ll get “The Tower” and “Don’t Leave Me Lonely” — plus some offerings from DiMino’s new Frontiers CD, “Old Habits Die Hard.”
DiMino, now living in Las Vegas, has assembled a world-class band. Tickets can be purchased HERE.
Mr. DiMino and I actually have some history. Though I’m a bit too young to have seen Angel in their prime, though I’ve been writing for three decades about how great the band was. At one point in the 1990s, I helped form a new version of Angel with DiMino and fellow original Barry Brandt on drums. What came out of it was an awesome demo tape, but alas, finding permanent replacements for luminaries Punky Meadows on guitar and Gregg Giuffria on keys proved impossible, and to this day Angel still has never formally gotten back together.
This DiMino concert is about as close as we are going to get for now. In fact, that’s Frank on the phone right now.
FRANK DIMINO: Gerry G, what’s happening?
METAL SLUDGE: You are! Today’s your birthday (Oct. 15).
DIMINO: Ya (laughs)
I can’t believe they scheduled this interview on your birthday. I’ll try to make it worth it to you.
DIMINO: OK (laughs)
I had to go through like three people to get to you. It started with Stevie Rachelle, then your publicist, Dave Tedder, then your manager, Peter Kalish. I never told any of ’em that we used to hang out like every day for two years!
DIMINO: I know! (more laughter)
You have a show coming up at the Whisky on Friday, Oct. 21. Except for a small club appearance with Angel with Barry like ten years ago — I don’t think it was even adverised and hardly anyone even knew you were playing that night — this is your first time playing in L.A. in a really long time. I know you have a new solo album, but is it going to feel good to play these Angel songs again?
DIMINO: Yeah, it does feel good, but I’ve been doing ’em with a local band out here (in Las Vegas), Vinyl Tattoo, with (guitarist) Oz Fox. Jeff Duncan fills in for Oz when’s Oz is not there, and Jeff is actually playing the show at the Whisky. And (drummer) Scot Coogan, he plays with Ace Frehley, and (keyboardist) Michael Ross.
Michael Ross is the Gregg Giuffria, right?
DIMINO: Yeah, right. Yeah (laughs)
You’ve got Jeff Duncan, you have some really good guys. You have taken no shortcuts as far as getting good guys up there with you. Am I right?
DIMINO: Great guys, yeah. We’re in rehearsal right now, just going through all the stuff, picking and choosing what we’re going to do and stuff.
How many Angel songs are you going to be performing? At least five, right? Please, you’ve got to do at least five.
DIMINO: Yeah, yeah, at least five. Yeah.
Your new album, that’s heavy, man. That’s a heavy, aggressive album you’ve done for Frontiers. Am I right?
Where are all the ballads, dude?
DIMINO: There’s a ballad that’s on there that’s the one that Barry and I wrote. That was actually written a while ago, and that’s actually the first song I sent to (Frontiers), but i wanted to write all new material after I sent them that, to show them what direction I was going.
So Punky Meadows, we just did a story with him. He had a great idea — just have Gregg Giuffria bankroll a few huge Angel shows with all the effects and costumes everything.
DIMINO: (laughs) It’s a nice idea. Now the problem is getting Gregg to actually do it.
Well, we’re halfway there. He’s got the money, right?
And how much are you looking forward to playing at the Whisky?
DIMINO: I’m looking forward to it very much. Very much so, because now I finally have a reason to put all these songs together, you know, and it’s great playing with all these guys. So yeah, I’m really looking forward to it.
If you look at the old Angel pictures, you guys were so good-looking with such nice hair. Did it take a lot back then for a girl to be better looking than the guys in your band?
Because the average girl was not as good-looking as Punky Meadows or Gregg Giuffria, do you know what I mean?
DIMINO: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But you know, the weird part about it is, we had a lot of guy fans. For as many girl fans that we had, there was just as many guy fans — which was interesting, yeah.
Punky said the girls would scream like it was the Beatles. Did you enjoy playing live in those days when Angel was all new?
DIMINO: Yeah, it was great, but the screaming, that’s what it was like in Japan. Back then, Japan was really crazy for us. In the states, it was more of a rock audience.
OK, give me a little comment about each of your old Angel band mates, starting with the late Mickey Jones.
DIMINO: Mickey was great at putting the band together, putting guys together, sizing up guys. He put together some good bands, and I was in a couple of them that he put together, and Angel was the ultimate one.
What about Felix Robinson?
DIMINO: When we got Felix, he really brought the band together musically. We really needed someone on the low end to play with Barry Brandt and hold that rhythm section together, and Felix fit in perfectly.
He co-wrote “Don’t Leave Me Lonely” with you, and almost any Angel fan will agree that is one of your best songs, for sure.
DIMINO: He had the basic idea for the song, and I worked on it with him a little bit on the piano and re-arranged the chorus a little bit, and with the lyrics, I just took it and ran with it. Barry and I also wrote “Waiting a Long Time” and a few others.
What about Gregg Giuffria?
DIMINO: Gregg is like the businessman. He was always the businessman in our group. And it turned out he knew what he was talking about because he’s made a lot of money doing what he’s doing now.
Punky says he still wears eye-liner whenever he steps outside the house. Did you expect that at this age?
DIMINO: Yeah, of course (laughs)
Was he the coolest looking rock star ever, do you think?
DIMINO: Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s funny because Punky is actually pretty down to earth. I still always talk to Punky. Other than Barry, he’s the one I talk to the most. We’ve always kept in touch with each other.
He has put out a pretty good CD, by the way. Are you impressed with Punky’s solo CD?
DIMINO: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. He played on my record, too, so I’m sure he enjoyed playing on it, and he did a video with me, too.
Was the Angel song “L.A. Lady” written about a particular girl? And if so, what was her name?
DIMINO: No, it’s not written about a particular girl. The only one that was really written about someone particular where I really honed in on someone was “Don’t Leave Me Lonely,” and it was like a Goldie Hawn-type of thing back then.
DIMINO: Yeah, I do. Of course I do. I loved living in L.A. It was fun, but things change.
I guess we saw each other for the first time in a long time a few years back at the Playboy mansion for that Steven Tyler, remember?
Do you think any or those 23-year-olds playmates has ever even heard of Angel?
DIMINO: (laughs) I’m not sure.
You have shoes older than some of those girls.
DIMINO: (laughs) Oh shit.
Speaking of shoes, are you going to wear the white boots at the Whisky?
DIMINO: No, no, I’m saving those, though.
Well are you wearing white? You have to wear some white, no?
DIMINO: No, no, I’m not going to wear white. If it was the five of us, that might be different. But I do want to play those songs so Angel fans can hear them again — and the new stuff, as well.
Gerry Gittelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org