On Top – No Rest for the Wicked

Thursday, 7th September 2017

Dead Rhetoric: Do you have a preference between the studio or the stage?

Gulino: Stage, always. I love the studio, because it’s where the magic gets put down, all the ideas you can finally hear what you’ve been hearing in your head for so long. Like most musicians, you start thinking about what you would do differently once it’s out, changing the lyrics or the way certain things are said. You’ll hear it live, there are some songs from the catalog that when I’m playing them, I never realize the physical emotion of it and the way that I sing doesn’t translate as well- so I moved things around a bit with phrasing. The stage, I live for the stage. That’s why I didn’t cancel this gig tonight- we haven’t practiced in two months but let’s just go out and kill it, we are all pros.

Dead Rhetoric: As you talked about, you’ve just come off tour with the rock band Tantric- how do you get these opportunities to be able to go from band to band and still keep things going with your own acts?

Gulino: Just being persistent. When somebody asks you, and gives you an opportunity, then you go and figure out the rest later. I had a killer day job in sales making a bunch of money. I had a friend from Australia call me, in this band Dellacoma. He had a month-long summer tour booked and some studio time, the whole band left him and he had just the singer left. He had a couple of gigs he didn’t want to burn the bridges on with the promoters, (asked me) to fill in on bass. He ends up getting the rest of the band hooked up- Chris Green from Tyketto, Troy Patrick Farrell from White Lion and Bulletboys, how could I pass that up? It was a week run in Wisconsin, a Summerfest out there. I got home from a tour in July, I was sitting home- I got up one day, and I was so sick of being at home, there’s nothing better than being on the road. That was when Troy called the next day, Tantric needed me tomorrow, can you leave in 24 hours and learn this set? Rather than say ‘how am I going to do this?’ I said yes, and figured the rest out. I’ve been out for 30 days, home for 9 days and 5 are gig days or rehearsal days with three other projects and then I’m back out with Tantric for the next two months. No rest for the wicked.

Dead Rhetoric: What are some of the takeaways and lessons you are learning being on the road with Tantric that you are going to be able to apply to On Top and your other bands?

Gulino: Marketing, merch, confidence. Sometimes when you have a lot of local things for a long time you lose that larger than life feel. When you are going to see a band or a concert, half the time if it’s a national you are like ‘oh man, this is killer, this guy is legendary.’ And you’ve got to realize that people are spending their hard-earned money, and their night off, and that might be their one night of the month to go out and see entertainment, and you are the entertainer. I tend to lose that if I stay at home for too long. Or I’m working my day job. Being out with Tantric, when you are on the road 30 days and people want to party with you because it’s Tantric, it’s the band they listened to for 15 years. I try to translate that to my own music, just put on a show. If I’m not sweating by the second song I’ll give you your money back for sure.

Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel about social media and the internet, especially with the promotional aspects? It can be a double-edged sword to get the word out quickly about your activities, but then people seem to want everything relating to the music for free…

Gulino: In terms of the money, nowadays there is no money in selling music, that’s just the way it’s become. Honestly, if I like a CD I’ll buy it- I’ll get it digitally and I’ll but a copy because I want to see it, I want to hold it. If people want my music for free, by all means – take it. Come to the show. I’d rather you dig a band and tell somebody about it, whether you bought the music or not. Word of mouth is the best, that’s how social media is the greatest. You don’t have to look at the newspaper anymore to see what bands are coming to the state theater this month. You can post a thing on Facebook and it’s better than advertising.

But it can be oversaturated- if you are playing out all the time, people can get tired of seeing things… all they have to do is click unfollow, and you are forgotten. It makes it really easy for both positive and negatives to happen. I just try to stay positive with everything I do.

Dead Rhetoric: What have been some of your favorite records of all-time, as well as favorite concert memories?

Gulino: Good question. One of my favorite records of all-time, Lynch Mob- Wicked Sensation. It’s heavy, it has the bluesy aspect. I got four Lynch Mob t-shirts on this last tour. They are my favorite band out there. Every show is something special. As far as shows, I like things that are unique. I saw Maiden when people are throwing beers off the balcony and frying the soundboard half way through the set, the show was cancelled so they came out and did something acoustic. I was at the Anthrax show where they filmed the DVD for the reunion, that was the roughest show I’ve ever been to where I felt my neck snapped pretty much. Things like that- I saw Sodom at B.B King’s in New York City. I’m a guitar guy- I love Glenn Hughes, he’s my number one singer guy. Just seeing him on his last club tour, close to close, being feet away- right in front of you, it was chilling. The Iommi-Hughes albums, are some of my favorites. I like performance- the show aspect is great, you have lights, you have screens – that’s cool. I go to watch people who can play their instruments.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten regarding music?

Gulino: Say yes. I got that recently. Chris from Tyketto told me this. I didn’t think I would be a good fit for the Tantric run, he said just say yes, because you never know what will come from it. We’ve done amazing things. If you are kind of interested in doing it, just do it.

Dead Rhetoric: What are the goals for On Top?

Gulino: Right now, we are just re-branding. We have Ric in the band, he’s hungry and he wants to get out and do this for a living. He plays in cover bands and original bands. Danny and I play in four or five bands. With Tantric being so busy, any offers we have, I am booking. Whether it’s Mach22 or On Top, it’s on. I feel like I owe On Top a little more focus because we spent so much time and money doing it. I believe in it, I don’t even like singing, it just has to happen. If I had a lead singer, it would be way easier for me.

Dead Rhetoric: You became the singer by default?

Gulino: Exactly. I wanted somebody like a Sebastian Bach, someone who could just wail but sing really well too. I couldn’t find anyone, and I can’t sing like that- but it’s become the standard for the band. Every person who reviews our CD’s or sees the band live, they all say there is no other band doing what you do. It’s 80’s oriented in the music, or groove oriented, but then the vocals come in… Rage Against the Machine. And I never really heard that until people started telling me that, it’s just by coincidence. Each album is getting a little further, bigger choruses, bigger hooks. I try to do something a little different on every record and push things a little further than I have before.

Dead Rhetoric: Are there advantages to being a power trio?

Gulino: Yes. We did have two guitar players at one point, that’s great. You can do a lot with that, but in a trio you can really vibe. I am a big fan of the wall of amps, I like people in their positions. When you see Eddie Van Halen, you want to go to his position, and then when you see D.D. Verni, you would go there. In this band, I wish I could bring the drums to be right up front and in the middle, one-two-three across. We all sing, everybody is going for broke themselves. Danny is ripping across his kit, there’s no weak points in the band. Everybody is their own character and that’s what makes this band so special.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s the Philly scene like for your style?

Gulino: It’s hard. Our other band Mach22 does really well. The metal scene- you are either really metal, or you are really rock. We could go either way, we play with both sides of the spectrum. We live in the shadow of one or the other. We are working on that. We come out to CT, NY, NJ, people eat it up. If we went to Europe- that’s some of our largest fanbase, and we haven’t even been there. Metal does better over there in all shapes and sizes. I can tell you after being out on the road with all these other bands, sometimes your hometown is the smallest scene for what you do. The Midwest, rock and roll is alive and well. But in Los Angeles, or Philadelphia, unless you are an established, platinum act, the crowds aren’t always great.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s on tap for On Top over the next year?

Gulino: We are going to do another record for sure. I’ve been thinking about that for the last month while on the road, I’ve been writing lyrics down and I’ve been going through a lot in my life where I have the material. We are going to try to do the next record with Chris out in Hollywood. Maybe another EP or full-length. I like EP’s because the idea originally was to do a couple EP’s per year. With things going on in life, it didn’t come out that way. As you can see, our lineup changes a lot so that does play a role in things. It’s like chapters, I really like that aspect.

Keep supporting music and getting everything going. If there’s ever a dark time in your life, turn to music instead of substances or anything negative. There’s always a positive side to everything, use music to get through it.

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