When I arrived at Ram's Head Live in downtown Baltimore, I was greeted by the Bulleyboy’s tour manager Thor who's a super nice guy...I couldn't resist in asking why they called him "Thor" & he later told me the story of how he used to be a cop, that he got struck by lightning when he was rescuing a drunk driver from a terrible accident...I won't go into the full details of the story, BUT, the story was definitely touching! Thor took me into the bands dressing room & all 4 of the guys were hanging out, eating dinner, watching TV together, hanging out, & Marq pointed out to me at one point that the current line up of Bullet Boys were all family & that the "original" members never really were like family.
I asked Marq about the bands new record, "10 Cent Billionaire" & he said:
"It is a full hard rock record, there are no fillers on this record, it is a 10 song, flat out album, the first record that we've done together in quite some time as far as being in the studio, cutting an album, I worked very, very hard on it, I took my time with it, it's coming from a re-invention place more than a borrowing from the old & just doing the same thing over & over again...we've worked very hard as a unit for the past 5 years to re-invent the band, to get the band where we are at right now...it's been nothing but a blessing, God has his hand on this band, I devoted my life & made a pact with God, I told him basically that I was dedicating this record to him & we, as a unit, are not a religious band, but we are men of Faith & it's a whole different thing...once we decided to do that, there's alot of things that have come into this band, we're in a brand new 2009 Prevo, we are out with Faster Pussycat who are one of our closest friends in the world...(Taime Downe)has been my hero before I was even in the Bullet Boys, who is just such an amazing friend & a person that always backed me up no matter what with my music & really believed in me, so this is the first time we've toured together & it's been just f**king beautiful & brilliant. Going back to the CD though, me & Rich (drummer) were sitting in Florida & we had the whole record written & I came & said, "It's not finished!", I'd wrote 4 new songs & I came in & he goes, "What are you talking about...it's done!" & I said, "No man, we have to lay these songs down!" Something was telling me we needed something a little bit more well rounded, so we came down & one song made it onto the record & a few more that are GOING to be on the record on the 2nd pressing, so we worked really hard...there are NO fillers on this record, every song is a story & basically like a little event.
The Bullet Boys were known for always including a cover song on every record, but Marq informed me that this was the first Bullet Boys record with NO covers!
Marq said that the band plans on doing several shows where they ONLY play songs off the new "10 Cent Billionaire" & NO classic material, it will be shows where the new record is played in it's entirety! Marq went on to say that:
"My vision & OUR vision for this band is NOT to be rehashing the old...we fall from the past to live in the now to look for the future. That is the way our band is, I've been ridiculed through the press because of my vision, my faith & things that I believe in, & people think that I'm crazy, BUT, me & Rich speak on this all the time, & if you don't have vision, & if you don't have a place that you can go to, where people are coming in with their negative influences, you can't listen to the negative influences at all....constructive criticism is constructive criticism...but negativity for negativity's sake...it doesn't have any relevance to me or to the band because we have been re-inventing this thing for 5 years...me & Rich started in a truck, driving around in the snow, on a CB, we called friends, after friends, after friends, no one would help us...no one would have us on their f**king bill & I just got to the point, I went through a really horrible divorce & it really changed me as a person...I think it made me a person that holds more empathy for people, because, in the past, when we were really big with the other original guys (Jimmy, Lonnie, Mick), I led with my mouth & didn't lead with my heart & I was wrong & I make sure to apologize & to make amends for the things that I've done in the past that were not maybe the best things to say, but, it's not getting older..it's getting smarter! I just started realizing I had to change, because if I didn't change & I didn't try to implement something in my personality then I would have kept on carrying on like that."
When talk of the past members came up, Marq was very blunt, very honest & told it from his side:
"The best thing about this current band is, the original members of this band were never close to me...I was always the odd man out & the 3 of them were always together & I don't know why it went down like that, because I love them very much now unconditionally, we wrote some amazing music together, but, I didn't want to be in a band like that anymore, I wanted to be in a band where people treated me in the same way....someone could come up & scream & get pissed at me, they can tell me when I'm not doing the things I'm supposed to be doing, someone who doesn't have the fear to come up to me as a friend & as a brother & say, look, we really need to talk to you, or to say, f**k, what you said the other day was brilliant, this is great! I didn't get that with the other 3 guys...I got alot of jealousy, I got alot of reprimanding, I got alot of being told not to say these things, don't say this, don't say when you write a song, say that all 4 of us wrote it..."yeah, but I wrote it!", "No you didn't, all 4 of us wrote it!" & I got to the point where I was like, wow, why do I wanna play with these guys? I love them, but my time with that had passed, it was time to re-invent, it was time to get guys in this band that had the spirit of Bullet Boys, the spirit of Bullet Boys is fun loving criminals, man, just, people that lead with their heart, that are willing to do something for our fans before they do something for themselves, we are looking to become better humanitarians & looking to be better musicians & I think that has to do first of all with being a better person! It was always them against me....I used to get pulled into meetings sometimes & I know they are gonna read this interview & they are probably gonna be pissed off about it, sorry guys, but I'm a really truthful person now, but they used to make me cry bro, I used to be so sad because I couldn't be close with those guys & it destroyed the band...granted, I was a part of it, I made the mistakes, I was doing the drugs, I was drinking, I was sometimes completely out of control, & that was my fault, BUT, at some point, we should have been close enough to say, you know what, when I put myself into rehab, I was getting letters that were condemning me, Oh, you can't handle your drugs, all your pussy f**king, blah, blah, blah, back when it wasn't cool to be in rehab, I put myself in because I knew I was going down the path to a f**king casket & if I didn't change & didn't change my life & learn why I was doing these drugs & drinking, then I wouldn't be here talking to you right now & I don't think those guys understood how jacked up I was & they thought I was trying to sabotage their record or sabotage all of our careers...it wasn't, I was sick, I needed help, I needed to go find out why I was doing these things, so then when I went in & found out why I was doing these things, it became alot more apparent & easier to stop it...I did fall off the wagon many times, but I put my foot in that stirrup, cranked my foot over that f**kin' saddle & put it right back on again & said, I am NOT gonna do this, I can't do this because I am gonna die if I do this...I've got to continue on writing great music, having love for everybody on this planet, & doing more for other people than I do for myself...when I lead that way, good things happen, when I don't lead that way, bad things happen!
I could resist asking about Lonnie though, because he stuck with Marq after the band split & on that matter Marq replied:
"We had Lonnie out, but....god bless him, he just....he has other things on his agenda that we can't control."
Drummer Rich chimed in, "He started the tour with us in February, it was a 26 day tour & he was gone by the 2nd day, so, if that says anything. When Lonnie was in the band he wanted to be exactly like the Bullet Boys of 20 years ago..."Hey, Let's rock this part how we used to do it." & it's like, dude, we are NOT that band, he couldn't get over that fact...we don't want be that (band from 20 years ago) & we knew that was going to happen."
Then Marq added, "I think that he (Lonnie) is in a position where, he is in his full disease right now...it encompasses everything, including the drugs, but, I love him unconditionally, but he is not the person for this band...Steven Allen is the person for this band, Steven Allen is one of the most amazing bass players I've ever played with in my life! Honesty is very important in this band...when I met Tori (guitarist), he was in a band called Enuff Znuff & I didn't feel like they were treating him very well & as the musician that he really is, I saw brilliance, I said to him, come & play in my band & be part of my family, don't be part of this if it's not family, you need to be treated like the person & the musician that you are, treated with love, kindness, respect, to have accolades for the musician that you are, this guy is the best guitar player that I've EVER played with & I've played with some great guitar players. Mick Sweda, great guitar player, he did some great things, this guy (points to Tori), BETTER guitar player..better, because he brings more to the table with his ability & he's an amazing recorder/engineer, writer, plays in his own band as well as Bullet Boys, he's also a wonderful singer, & he adds to what we are doing, it gives me the opportunity to do what I have to do so I don't have to worry...alot of musicians say, "We're not rockstars, we're musicians that are in a rock n roll band." & when you become that rockstar thing, it gets very ugly & very diabolical & I won't have that in this band, I won't accept it from myself, I am not a diva, I am not that type of person, I possibly was back in the day, but you can't teach an old dog new tricks & I just feel that if I can lead with love & empathy & everything that I've been through in my life, I can expand & add chats to peoples lives & say what I'm trying to do...if you wanna come to the party then please come, if you don't, stay out of our way.
In regards to what Marq's future plans for the Bullet Boy are:
"My vision is to leave this genre & to take it to playing with Hinder, playing with Switchfoot, playing with our friends from the Foo Fighters, or maybe doing 3 or 4 shows with AC/DC, but this is where we all 4 are collectively looking to take the band, people might say, "ahh ha ha ha, yeah, right, Bullet Boys were never that great or big or anything." & that's fine...listen to our new record!"
This led me to the next question, it was a totally new line up, totally new sound, totally new look, so why not change the bands name & try to start new & fresh? Rich said:
"Actually, 10 Cent Billionaire, this record, started being written in 2006, so the Bullet Boys thing was actually put to rest & the band was going to be 10 Cent Billionaire & we figured a whole new audience & stuff...
Marq added: "Yeah, Me & Rich were on it every day, T.C.B., it's done, done deal, then he calls me up & says, I've been thinking about this, it was like...wait a second, hold on bro...." Rich added: "It was like, we were either going to get a fair shake or not...& when you hear the record, there is some stuff that's gonna be very Bullet Boy-ish as far as Marq goes, because he was the main writer 20 years ago, so of course it's gonna have it's similarities, & when we had the opportunity to sign with Bill/Chavis Records, I think a collaboration of 4 or 5 people putting their heads together figured that this was the best way to go & that we would go out all this year, we would support that & just see where it goes...we're screwed if we do & we're screwed if we don't, not only by the fans....if we try to write a classic Bullet Boys record everyone is going to go, Oh, you're trying to copy the original guys & the only way we could ever get a real record is to go in there & feel it out.
Then the conversation turned to the past recordings by the original Bullet Boys line up & Marq said:
"The original guys wanted me to write for the style of Bullet Boys, this style that they had in their mind & I never got over the fact that Bullet Boys were always, always compared to Van Halen..that bugged the crap out of me as an artist, I couldn't handle it! Do you know why people are still coming to Bullet Boys shows? Do you know why we have a buzz right now? Because we re-invented the thing, we came out with a new record, we haven't listened to anybody, F*CK MOTLEY (CRUE), F*CK GUNS N ROSES, F*CK ALL THESE GUYS, THEY ARE NOT DOING ANYTHING FOR US! F*CK POISON, They've never f**kin been nice to us or decent, My goal is to become HUGE, to take all of the bands from the Autumn of the Misfit Toys & to have a HUGE, HUGE, freakin' tour...Faster (Pussycat), LA Guns, Bullet Boys, All these bands...(Bang) Tango, All these bands that were at Rocklahoma...we played infront of 35,000 people at 1 PM...Bullet Boys do that, it was the first Rocklahoma, at the 2nd Rocklahoma everybody got big heads that worked for the thing, Bullet Boys got sent to a tent & what did we do? We played in a tent infront of 5 to 6,000 people with this guy that just got up there & was a fan who was so furious that Queensryche wouldn't allow us to play the mainstage, because all the fans wanted us to, so this guy started a chant with 5,000 people while Queensryche were playing, "F*CK QUEENSRYCHE!" & we were in the back, we had no idea what was going on, all of a sudden 8 bikers come out of nowhere, "We're gonna f**king kill you mother f**kers, you f**ker!" & I said, "Why..what did I do?" & the biker goes, "You started saying f**k Queensryche!" & I go, "Dude, I don't know this guy that's onstage, I don't even know where my guitar case was", so it was a bad scene, our fans are little Metallica fans...they do NOT take any shit from anybody! When the Bullet Boys are on, it's like, "The F**KIN' BULLET BOYS!", dude, our fans are scary & like Metallica fans & that's just how I like them! Out of all the bands...I've been waiting for Poison's new record, we waited for Guns N Roses new record, because I LOVE Axl, that guy is my hero...Slash, Duff, Izzy...everyone...Axl is my friend, he is a rock god to me, when I heard the new Guns record I knew I had to step up my game & now that we've lost the greatest entertainer in the business, Michael Jackson, now, as a musician, as a persona, as a humanitarian, everybody in this band, we are gonna take our game to another level! It has to be that way...we have to learn from our predacesors, the people that have passed on, to teach us musicians & artists what we should be doing...Michael Jackson had the way to go...lead with love, infection, be there for other people more than you are for yourself."
When Marq mentioned Guns N Roses, I could resist asking him if he'd auditioned for the spot vacated by Scott Weiland & Marq quiped:
"The word on the street here is that I'm supposed to be singing for Velvet Revolver, but that's not gonna be happening, I ....have a band is better than Velvet Revolver, we have a better record, I love Velvet Revolver, Slash is my hero, all those guys, I have nothing but highest praise in the world for, but me, I'm from a lower totem pole of musician, I've never sold the records that they've sold, BUT, I have more hutzva in my soul than I think alot of people do & my band backs me up & I'm going out there to throw the kitchen sink at people EVERY NIGHT!
The last question I asked for this interview was very simple, What does 2010 hold for the Bullet Boys? At this point we were joined by Bill, owner of Chavis Records & Bill stated that the band were going more mainstream in 2010, doing larger tours & that they would be returning to the Maryland based M3 Festival in 2010 & this time around they would be playing the main stage headlining!! Marq ended with the following comment:
"I promise you, you will be seeing Bullet Boys on the Today Show, you'll have a cup of coffee & you'll spit your coffee out & go, "Put on the Today Show, Marq, that Son of a Bitch is on TV..I can't f**king believe he did it!"
The interesting thing is, I had originally planned on doing a fast, to the point, 10 minute interview, & 35 minutes later we were still chatting it up...if the bands schedule wasn't so tight it probably would have continued for a while longer....The Bullet Boys are back, they have a game plan, they have a new record, "10 Cent Billionaire", they are on tour, they are primed to take over the rock world & before I left the bands dressing room, Marq was telling me that Hot Topic has been after the band to sell their t-shirts in their retail stores & that the guys in My Chemical Romance were praising the Bullet Boys & were big fans of the band & even mentioned they'd love to have had the Bullet Boys play a show with them!