The music industry is full of stories about bands that could have or should have make it big but for a variety of reasons they never reached a wider, mainstream audience thus retaining only a cult fan base status. Nevertheless, the quality of music is not appreciated by the cold logic of numbers and sales (after all, this was a characteristic of the not so long past) but what really counts is the sheer quality of the songs themselves, the production, the band’s performance in the studio etc. And trust me when I am saying that PREVIEW is an exemplar case; an outfit that has come up with a great debut album and…the end! By Sakis Nikas
All things seemed hopeful and ideal in the beginning as the great John Kalodner was really impressed of PREVIEW and their shows in the clubs of the New York area. Kalodner’s interest was later accompanied by a bunch of offers by record labels with Epic and Geffen battling for this new band with the latter winning in the end. Of notice is the fact that Epic’s offer came together with a production slot by non-other than Bruce Fairbairn while Geffen would employ the mighty Keith Olsen.
Olsen’s production aimed by Ernie Gold’s (and Alan Pasqua’s) inspired compositions and of course by Jon Fiore’s sensational voice thus bringing forward an amazing debut record which created a buzz…at least in the very beginning. As a matter of fact the first couple of singles (“Red Lights”, “All Night”) could have been huge hits if they were released by bands like Foreigner, Y&T or even Michael Bolton. But the harsh reality is drastically different and after a few struggling years PREVIEW disbanded.
But we are lucky because the one and only album by PREVIEW is a fantastic East Coast AOR album and I truly believe that it’s criminally underrated as such songs as “Open your heart”, “So blind”, “Never hold back” and the aforementioned singles are brilliant. Do yourself a favor and listen to this album; go out and buy the reissue by Rock Candy. Trust me…you won’t regret it!
Trivia #1: The first demos were recorded at Kingdom Sound Studios where bands like Blue Oyster Cult, The Ramones, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts spent quite some time there.
Trivia #2: Jon Fiore became the singer of PREVIEW by following the good, old road: he answered an ad in the legendary Village Voice newspaper.
Trivia #3: “Red Lights” was released in a limited 12’’ single which came out as a…you guessed it…red vinyl record!
And now, let’s turn over the spotlight to Jon Fiore for more details about the album…
Rockpages.gr: Jon, you were in Staten Island when you saw the Village Voice ad from the Gold brothers. Let’s set the timeline straight…was it in 1981 or 1982?
Jon Fiore: Probably in the late 70s is when I answered the ad that the Gold Bros had put in the newspaper. Because we worked several years very hard recording and going through different kinds of material before we settled on the material for the PREVIEW album.
Rockpages.gr: Before PREVIEW, did you have any professional experience as a singer?
Jon Fiore: Before PREVIEW I was singing for many many years; I went through all kinds of different ways of learning how to sing. I was singing in town contest, I was singing up in the Catskill Mountains…I was in various bands and making a living and learning how to be a great performer and a great singer.
Rockpages.gr: What do you remember from your first meeting with Danny and Ernie Gold? Correct me, if I’m wrong but I guess that Ed Bettinelli came later on in the band…
Jon Fiore: I remember when I met Danny and Ernie that they were quite professional and they had a vision of what they were looking to do. They just needed the right singer/songwriter to complete their vision. I was looking exactly for guys like them. They had a recording studio in the basement and they had material and they were very talented. And yes Eddie came in later. Eddie was the last piece that we put in and he was a fabulous choice. Great guy, great drummer. They had already worked with Skip Parker who is the bass player for years.
Rockpages.gr: PREVIEW played all over the New York State area before getting signed. Describe to us that whole period and was there ever a time when you thought that things weren’t getting anywhere back then?
Jon Fiore: Yes, we played for years all over the New York area getting different gigs opening up for different bands we started playing some more like pop punk type of music trying to find ourselves in. Eventually we found the right sound which led to the PREVIEW album which is more of a pop rock sounds. We actually sounded a lot more heavier live and on our own demos than the finished PREVIEW ALBUM. Yes they were many times when we thought things just weren’t going the right way but we stayed firm, focused & strong. We knew we had something special. We persevered & in the end we secured many recording deals from other labels including Geffen.
Rockpages.gr: You recorded the first proper demo in Kingdom Sound Studios in Syosset, NY. There you laid the foundation for the whole album. Were you satisfied with the final result?
Jon Fiore: Yes, we were satisfied with the final result and like I said it was a much more heavier sounding preview album.
Rockpages.gr: John Kalodner is a legendary man in the music business and definitely an essential part of the whole PREVIEW saga. Did he give you any special advice and how was the whole experience with him?
Jon Fiore: John was very instrumental in getting us signed; he really loved us and he saw the potential of succeeding but as far as I’m concerned he didn’t stay on the whole Geffen project like he should have. He should’ve been listening to the album every day every week making sure he was getting what he thought would be the best result. He found Keith Olsen for us and told us he would be great. I also thought Keith would be great.
Rockpages.gr: The album was released in 1983. Please, let us know how was the feedback back then? Did Geffen promote the album accordingly and were you happy with how the press and the fans embraced it?
Jon Fiore: Absolutely not! You see that was the whole debacle of the PREVIEW album. They didn’t even want to put the record out when they received it. They thought it was too late and that they decided to remix it with a guy named David Serena. Like I said before John Kalodner should’ve stayed on the record. I remember being in David Geffen’s office because we were having some issues as a band we thought things weren’t going right because they were using studio musicians to play for some of the bandmembers but David Geffen told me and the other guys to just let Keith Olsen do whatever he wants to do because you will become stars. So our hands are really tied. When the fans heard the music they loved it but there was no promotion at all. They wanted to shelve the record and record new material for a second record of which they never did. We were very frustrated after putting in many many years of hard work and time so our manager decided to get us out on some tours including opening up for Pat Benatar, ASIA. The Tubes and various other bands. They never picked up the second option for the second album so PREVIEW was pretty much done at that point. Back in those days everything was MTV so we knew without any video or any promotion we were just dead on arrival.
Rockpages.gr: The cover sleeve is really interesting and eye-catching. Who had the idea for it and what do you remember from that photo session?
Jon Fiore: Yes, I thought the cover was quite interesting. The idea behind it came from a Warner Bros guy. I forget his name but it’s on the album. It was a fun time; it was in California on the rooftops of a downtown business building. I think some of the guys had a little bit of jealousy because I was the one they picked to be on the front cover. But I was the frontman/singer and one of the major reasons why we were signed. At least that’s what Keith Olsen told me. Great Songs, Great Singer & we all looked good.
Rockpages.gr: You left the band in 1985. What have you been doing after that? Did you work with other bands?
Jon Fiore: Yes, I was very fortunate. After the tours were over and they didn’t wanna pick up our second album I went back to New York City and I found myself doing all kinds of session work. I was singing commercials jingles, on various albums Michael Bolton, Cher and other artists. I went on to write and co-write songs for George Benson and some other artists. I also did several albums in 1999 and 2000 released all over Europe, Japan as the name FIORE. I was also signed again as Jon Fiore (1996) to Atlantic Records by Jason Flom. I wrote the songs that got me signed in again I only had a few of the songs so I spent the next year trying to write the album with various people in California New York and came very close to securing David Foster to produce one or two of the songs but in the end they pulled the plug on the album and we were never releasing it. I remember working with some great songwriters one of them is Keith Diamond who wrote Caribbean Queen and we wrote some really good songs I worked with another guy named Joshua Thompson who has written many R&B hits but in the end the label and I just didn’t see it the guy who was running the out the label was Doug Morris and he just for some reason didn’t believe in me and in this business if you don’t have someone pushing all the buttons You are dead on arrival.
Rockpages.gr: Have you kept in touch with the Gold brothers? Was there ever any thought or talk about a possible second album?
Jon Fiore: Unfortunately I never kept in touch with them although I think we parted ways that were amicable but we both went on to become successful in our own way. And like I said before they didn’t want to do the second album. To this day I still perform and I am also an actor so I’ve done several movies this year that will be coming out which is new for me. But I started studying the art of acting several years ago because there was only so many places you could sing. I still love singing and I love to act.