By: Dennis M. Kelly
DK: I know Hot Rocks has been a band I’ve heard around for some time, but, how long has Hot Rocks been a band?
Hot Rocks: Since Oct. 1, 1994 – will be 11 years this Oct. 1, 2005
DK: How did Hot Rocks come together?
Hot Rocks: Joe Wejman, the original manager and drummer for Hot Rocks, was at Eddie Bloom’s birthday party and heard Eddie singing a Stones song, thought Eddie sounded like Mick and had the ‘look’. Joe then contacted the rest of the musicians he wanted, got everyone together for a few practice sessions to see if it would work. That was the beginning of Hot Rocks.
DK: When faced with the choice of being an all original band or cover band, what factors came into play when you decided to become a Rolling Stones cover band?
Hot Rocks: A huge choice of music, a built-in fan base, the theatrical performance aspect and each of the musician’s liked the Rolling Stones music.
DK: What are the pros and cons (to you) of being a cover band?
Hot Rocks: Pros: Tried and true music, built-in fan base, the band enjoys performing the music and the audience enjoys the show. With all the different Stones songs thru 40 years of performances, it will never get boring. Performing the music and the person of a well-known rock band as best as you can is also challenging. The audience gets to experience a live rendition of their favorite band in a more intimate setting and more often at a much lower price.
Cons: No chance of a record deal, will never be as famous as an original band that has made it. Although, you have to remember that even the Rolling Stones started out as a cover band and even many of their hit songs were taken from old blues and rock tunes.
DK: When you started Hot Rocks, were you able to build a following pretty much instantly? Or did it take a little while for your fan base to build?
Hot Rocks: It took quite a while to build our fan base where it is today. You have to keep promoting the shows so people know you are out there.
DK: How many shows were you doing in the earlier days as opposed to how many shows you are doing now (a month)?
Hot Rocks: In the earlier days we were lucky to get 1 to 2 shows a month. Now we are doing as many as 4 to 6 shows a month (most of our musician’s have day jobs and families). A total of approximately 45 shows a year. So, more than that is really not feasible.
DK: Could you perform any Rolling Stones song on a moments notice?
Hot Rocks: Well, not any, there are about 500 Rolling Stones songs – the well-known songs are part of Hot Rocks repertoire and can be performed on a moments notice (as well as a few obscure tunes). Originally the band worked on the songs from the Hot Rocks album, thereby the name Hot Rocks, and works at adding new material and keeping it fresh. Since the Rolling Stones are still creating music, Hot Rocks has a long way to go.
DK: How close to a Rolling Stones performance would you say you’ve been able to achieve?
Hot Rocks: If comments from our audience mean anything, “I feel like I’ve been to a Stones concert”. We hear this all the time. Or, we’ve heard from people driving by when we do outdoor events, “I thought I heard the Stones”.
DK: Has Hot Rocks always had the same members through the years? Or have there been any line-up changes?
Hot Rocks: There are 2 original members, Eddie Bloom –‘Mick’ and Paul Mally – ‘Stu’ (keys). The rest of the band, Chris Minardi – ‘Keith’ since 1996; Bobby Koll – ‘Brian/Ronnie’ since Jan. 2000; Gary Cremieux – ‘Charlie’ since March 2000; Carmie Zac – ‘Bill Wyman’ since March 2000. Each of the band members likes what they are doing and enjoy getting together. Many of our former bandmates will sit-in if needed.
DK: What have some of the highlights of your career been?
Hot Rocks: The special shows – such as being asked to perform at Abbey Road on the River (Beatles Fest) in Cleveland as the only non-Beatles act; the British Invasion Show at Chicago’s Excalibur Night Club; Aurora Downtown Alive with audiences close to 10,000; Lake Zurich Fest; Comiskey Park in Chicago (now Cellular Field), one week before the Stones concert there; Batavia Fest & block party with the Hollywood lights and over 3,000 in the audience; the British Invasion extravaganza at The Pickwick Theatre, appearances on WGNTV, Chicago’s Green Tie Ball, Chicago’s Green Ribbon Motorcycle Rally, Catfish Bend Casino in Iowa and so many of the outdoor fests, clubs, private parties, corporate events and weddings. Most of our shows are lots of fun, the audience really gets into it and is very appreciative. Seeing the enjoyment the audience gets from the act, feeds right into each band member and the energy created goes back and forth. It’s always a party with Hot Rocks!
DK: You do corporate shows also, right?
Hot Rocks: Yes, many.
DK: How often do you perform for corporations?
Hot Rocks: It varies, more each year.
DK: I see you also have two albums under your belt, have you sold them at any stores? Or do you only sell them on your site and at your show?
Hot Rocks: We have one audio cd – and 1 video – mostly for promotional purposes.
DK: What is on the horizon for Hot Rocks in the next 6-12 months?
Hot Rocks: This weekend Oct. 1st we will be at Grundy County Corn Fest in Morris, IL, then at some local suburban clubs, some Chicago clubs, a few private events, plus a show in Indiana. Check our website for the schedule: www.hotrocksband.com
DK: Well, I would like to thank you for your time today and good luck toward the future!
Hot Rocks: We appreciate you taking the time to learn more about Hot Rocks. We thank the Rolling Stones for the great music and our audience for helping us continue to create a live Stones experience and thank you for the interview.
Ed Bloom as ‘Mick’
Chris Minardi as ‘Keith”
Bobby Koll as ‘Brian/Ronnie’
Carmie Zac as ‘Bill’
Pail Mally as ‘Stu’
Joe Wejman as ‘Charlie’
Hot Rocks has rocked many clubs, private parties, corporate events and festivals. Well-known in the Chicago area and throughout the midwest, recently featured on WGNTV, The Chicago Tribune, with performances at Chicago’s famous HOB and the well known Excalibur Nightclub, only non-Beatles band at Cleveland’s Abbey Road on the River Fest, chosen to perform one week before “The Stones” at Comiskey Park/Cellular Field, these are just a few highlights from many performances. Every show is a party from intimate audiences of 100 or less to concerts with audiences of 10,000 or more! See you at the next show!