When Texas-based drummer Lowell Parker couldn’t find a local band to join, he thought he’d ask the musicians on some of his favorite albums if they’d record with him remotely from their personal studios. And so CRUEL JUNO was born, featuring Gandolfo Ferro (HEIMDALL), Luca Princiotta (DORO, BLAZE), Fabio Lione (RHAPSODY, ETERNAL IDOL, ANGRA), Oliver Palotai (KAMELOT, EPICA), Gian-Andrea Costa (DREAMSHADE), and more!
About The Band:
For any of our readers who are unfamiliar with yourself / yourselves tell us a little bit about your band / project.
After moving back to Texas, I couldn’t find any bands to join. I’d been listening to a lot of European metal and had met a few musicians from those bands when they were in the US. The thought struck me, “What if I could talk these guys into recording with me remotely when they’re not on tour?” I reached out to Luca Princiotta (DORO, BLAZE) and Gandolfo Ferro (HEIMDALL) first – who listened to my crazy plan and thought it was a good idea. So we recorded our first single “Swallow My Medicine,” and with that in hand, I began inviting other great musicians I love to listen to, such as Fabio Lione (RHAPSODY, ETERNAL IDOL, ANGRA), Oliver Palotai (KAMELOT, EPICA), Gian-Andrea Costa (DREAMSCAPE), and more. It’s been a wild ride! Our first EP, “Playing With Monsters” has just been released!
What was your earliest memory of music that peaked your interest?
SWEET’s “Fox On The Run” came on the radio when I was a kid, and I remember being absolutely captivated by it! Still to this day, if it starts playing in a store or on the radio, I stop whatever I’m doing and listen!
Who was the first album / single you purchased?
I think I had the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” single on 45 first. But the Go-Go’s “Beauty And The Beat” would have been one of my earlist albums I bought myself. I recently revisited that album, and it’s incredibly good. The drums are really well done and tastefully played. The girls actually thought they were making a punk album, but the producer and engineer mixed it to be much more pop and wholesome sounding. The Go-Go’s cried when they first heard it. If you listen closely, you can hear the punk and surf influenced album they thought they made – it just needs a different mix. But I love it as it is!
When did you first pick up your respective instrument / or start singing?
I was probably about 14, and bored. There wasn’t much to do in my town, but there was a drum kit set up at our church. I was able to get a key and spend evenings after school teaching myself to play. I’d put on Judas Priest albums and try to play along. Yes, I probably have some explaining to do on Judgement Day!
What route did you take with your music / instrument / lessons / music school / self-taught and any fond memories of that journey?
I am largely self-taught, playing along to Judas Priest records as I mentioned. I did attempt drum lessons occasionally, but it was never structured. One guy might help me work on Queensryche covers – and another might try to show me a ZZ Top shuffle. But there was never a real order to it that would help me improve overall. These days, technology has made learning drums so much better!
Who were your hero’s as a young musician that inspired and pushed you to want to be a musician too?
Obviously, I could name my favorite bands. I wanted to be like those guys. But a much more realistic hero was my band teacher. I was playing trumpet in school – not drums – but I would show him what I was teaching myself. I really wanted to impress him.
Is there one particular album or song that gave you a “Eureka” moment from your youth that made you want to be a musician?
For me, particular albums are more goals to achieve. I remember hearing “Ballroom Blitz” and wishing I could play that – but it seemed impossibly difficult at the time. A few years ago, I decided to try learning it, and was pleased with myself when I was able to play through it well. It’s always great with the impossible becomes possible.
What was the best gig you’ve ever attended?
Someone else’s? Queensryche’s Empire tour, when they first got to play all of Operation Mindcrime as a headliner. It was flawless.
Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
Accordion music. Give me some Tejano, Russian, Gypsy, anything. Just put an accordion in it!
So any new music in the works currently or just released?
We’ve just released our first EP – CRUEL JUNO “Playing With Monsters!” – And new music is in the works. I’ve been doing a very special collaboration with Jasio Kulakowski (KOBRA AND THE LOTUS) – we’ve been co-writing a song, and I am expecting the final mastered file. Any. Minute. Now. LOL. Also – the first new CRUEL JUNO track is underway, which will feature Fabio Lione on vocals, along with Oliver Palotai and Luca Princiotta (and me on drums, of course)!
Where and when did you record it?
Our EP was recorded remotely from our personal studios over the course of 2019. We do one song at a time, working them into our available schedules (and my available funds)!
How does the song writing process generally work for you?
Originally, I was writing the songs and creating sequenced demos which I would provide to the guys. They’d then record and embellish their parts. I’m open to any ideas for improvement they might have. But as things have progressed, so has the level of collaboration. Gandolfo Ferro and I wrote “Wound Too Tight” together – he wrote the music and melody, and I provided the lyrics. Fabio Lione and I are now doing the same process on our new song. He’s working on the melody, and I’ll put words to it. Luca Princiotta wrote the music and provided the demo. And those things are getting much more involved than when I first started.
What route have you taken to build up and establish a fan base locally & beyond your local area?
For this project, there is no local area. We are worldwide and exist only online. Our fanbase lives on Facebook. Brazil, Italy, and Eastern Europe seem to be our biggest audience. I sometimes try to make posts in all those languages – Portuguese, Serbian, Russian, Italian, etc. I don’t know if they care about those posts, but hopefully they appreciate the effort. The major downside with Facebook, is that it doesn’t like me to link to YouTube. And so my Facebook videos are getting good traffic, but YouTube has hardly any views. I just haven’t figured out how to successfully drive traffic there.
What is the music scene like locally to you and where do you fit in?
Our sound is straight-up full throttle hard rock. But I think we fit in well with the European metal scene. I’m mostly a single-bass player, so you won’t hear the driving double-bass like on many of the modern metal albums – but that’s on purpose. Despite the differences, I think we’d fit in if we came together and played live.
What would you like to see ideally to help hard working bands / artists get better exposure and opportunities to make a living from their craft?
There needs to be better tools to connect bands to their audience. There are a lot of people who would like our music if they knew it existed. Fabio Lione’s fans would listen to the single we did with him – “A Little Punctuation” – if they knew about it.
What is the best piece of advice you have received on your journey thus far?
Don’t quit your day job. It’s also the worst advice I’ve received so far. I listened to it though, and have learned to live with the decision.
What would you say has been the biggest lesson you have learnt on your journey to date?
There are different ways to make money playing music, if that’s what you’re after. You may find that playing in a tribute band on the weekends while keeping a day job actually gets you a lot more money than quitting your job and joining a touring band. You have to decide what’s most important for you, and weigh the cost.
With the music industry always constantly changing – how have you had to adapt to the ever-changing landscape?
I don’t rely on music for my primary income, which makes things easier. But even then, I do have several gigs that help with income – I’m in a classic rock band, and also have been hired to play at a church. With these gigs combined, music becomes a reliable source of income and allows me to continue this CRUEL JUNO project.
Does the introduction of New Technology / Digital Age / Social Media etc enhance your life as a musician or do you feel it can be more of a hindrance?
It’s the only way this project can even exist.
So moving forward what’s next for you?
More music! More fun!
How do you see the evolution of the band / yourself as an artist?
I’m getting better at producing, playing, and recorded. If you listen to the EP, for the most part you’re hearing the tracks in order from newest to oldest… and so with each song, the quality slightly decreases (in my mind). “Wound Too Tight” is certainly the best, production-wise, and is the newest song we recorded. Hopefully the music we’re working on now will sound ever better!
Do you have any short-term or long-term goals in mind?
To not screw up! Working with such great musicians is a bit scary, because I am keenly aware that I am the weakest link in the chain. When I look at who Luca has played with, I think, “Wow, I am the worst drummer he has ever played with. LOL!” So my goal is always to make a respectable showing, and to be professional. And to not be an ass. A big part of what makes this project successful is that there is no drama, no arguments, and no deadlines. A song is done when it’s done. No pressure.
If you could tour with any band or artists who would that be?
DORO. Luca plays for her, which is how I met him, and I was able to spend a full day with her band. They’re great guys, and I’d love to tour with them because of it. KOBRA AND THE LOTUS are also good people, and I’d love to tour with them. The important thing for me isn’t about how big the band is – it’s about what the people are like. These are good people.
“Wound Too Tight” – https://youtu.be/9p8JXWTxpCI
“A Little Punctuation (feat. Fabio Lione)” – https://youtu.be/yfe8yadMo8I
“Full Metal Frankenstein” – https://youtu.be/FQZbNFnDS-Y
“Swallow My Medicine” – https://youtu.be/OHoH2ryCalo