Legendary JOHNNY O’NEIL have teamed up with Metal Shock Finland to premiere exclusively their third music video ‘Red Suns In The Sky‘, taken from his debut solo album, “Truth Or Dare“.
Watch “Red Suns In The Sky” Official Music Video here:
Furthermore, Metalshock Finland had a pleasure to interview Johnny O’Neil, talking about the new video, debut album and more. Please read below.
- Hello Johnny O’Neil and welcome to Metal Shock Finland. Today we’ve a pleasure to premiere worldwide your new video ‘Red Suns In The Sky’, taken from your debut solo album “Truth Or Dare”. Please tell us more about the song and its story and the video.
Hello, Metal Shock Finland! It is my pleasure to meet you, and thank you so much for hosting the premiere of my newest video for ‘Red Suns In The Sky,’ the third single from my debut solo album, “Truth or Dare.” The song goes back some years, and was a tune I wrote after the initial run of “Dare Force,” (the band I co-founded with Brian Bart) ended in the late 1980s. As such, it had never been recorded before, but has always been in the back of my mind to “bring it to life,” so to speak. The lyrics are influenced by one of my favorite rock poets, Jim Morrison, and the music has a bit of a “Blue Oyster Cult” edge. This is the most ‘cinematic’ video we have filmed thus far. We really wanted the video to tell the song’s story, which is essentially about the joy, freedom, and exploring of the human experience, crossing all boundaries. It is also the most involved video we have filmed by far, with a number of different location shots, a cameo appearance by a ’67 Cutlass Convertible, as well as two splendid actors with wonderful energy and presence, Abbey Wright, and Wes Mager (and believe it or not, they had never met before the shoot!).
- Speaking of the past and how it all began, you started playing lead guitar in Twin Cities nightclubs at the tender age of 14, what are your best memories and musical highlights, so far?
I formed “Dare Force” with my childhood friend and “Blood Brother,” Brian Bart when we were 18 years old. I have known Brian for most of my life, and we initially became friends and bandmates when his family moved in across the street from mine while we were in elementary school.
Dare Force was a legendary hard rock/heavy metal band that was based in Minneapolis. Dare Force released three albums in the 1980s, and performed in concert with numerous national acts such as KISS, Ted Nugent, Triumph, Kansas, UFO, the Joe Perry Project, and Ratt, as well as headlining in venues throughout the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. Dare Force also had several songs that received heavy airplay on rock radio stations throughout the midwestern US in the 1980s.
One of the most wonderful aspects of “Truth or Dare” has been the chance for me to work in the studio once again with Brian Bart, who engineered, recorded, mixed, mastered, and co-produced the album with me (call us the Twin Cities version of the Glimmer Twins!).
- Now, let’s talk about your band mates, each of you are legends in the music business already from the ’70s and early ’80s, how did you get together?
Dare Force released its third CD, ‘Firepower,’ with a reformed version of the band in 1989. The original lineup performed occasional reunion gigs after the long run of the original band ended in 1987, but the original version of Dare Force stopped performing live altogether after their last reunion show in 2002. Dare Force reformed yet again with a return to a four-piece lineup in 2017, and released its fourth CD, ‘Callin’ Your Name,’ in 2018. However, as in all things in life, people, relationships, events, and bands must pass. So, too, it was with the latest lineup of Dare Force….
But as every door closes, another one opens, and this life chapter is no exception! After the demise of Dare Force, I decided to released my debut solo album, entitled “Truth or Dare.” In addition to writing all but one of the tunes on the album, I am singing all lead vocals, and playing all guitars (lead, slide, acoustic, and bass) on the album. However, I also enlisted a “secret weapon,” percussion powerhouse Joachim Baecker on drums. Joachim has quite a track record himself, including playing drums in Rattlin’ Bones and Funhouse with former members of Obsession and Flipp, as well as having worked in the studio with the legendary producer Jack Douglas, and the late, great Mick Ronson, former guitarist for David Bowie. Joachim and I had never played together before, but I certainly knew of him through the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul) music scene. I recruited him to record on my album through a phone call. Although I released “Truth or Dare” with the advent of my career as a solo artist, I always intended to perform live shows with a full band. After the album was released I asked Joachim if he wanted to stay on as the drummer in my band. To my good fortune, he said, “yes.”
Along with Joachim on drums, my band features my new partner in six-string crime, the one and only John Funk on lead guitar and backing vocals! John is also a veteran of the Twin Cities music scene, and is well-known for his high energy stage presence and blistering fretwork! Again, while John and I had never played together before, I had heard about him for years, and recruited him for my band through yet another phone call. That left one missing link, a bass guitarist. Benny Craig, too, is a veteran of the Twin Cities music scene, and was an original member of the band, “Paradox.” While I also had never played with Benny before, I had known him for years, as Dare Force and Paradox were active in the Twin Cities (and beyond) around the same time. After one “audition” with Benny, the lineup of my band was complete!
- Your debut solo album “Truth Or Dare” is out worldwide. What can you tell us about the songs, songwriting process and topics they are telling about?
“Truth or Dare” is my debut solo album release. It represents a musical chronology of my songwriting, ranging from an acoustic song I wrote when I was sixteen years old, through tunes I had written and played in my former band, Dare Force (but never recorded), up to brand new songs I had yet to perform onstage. It truly is a “solo album,” in that I am singing all lead and harmony vocals, and playing all guitars, including lead, slide, acoustic and bass. I also wrote eight out of the nine songs on the album, the lone exception being a remake of The Beatles iconic classic, ‘Revolution.’
The inspiration behind the album was the breakup of the band I started when I was eighteen years old, Dare Force. After a number of incarnations of the band over many years, I found myself playing with three other musicians whose worldviews diverged quite widely from mine. Between the political rancor in America and the global upheaval of the Covid-19 pandemic, I increasingly found myself at odds with the other three members of the band, and as the lone liberal in the group, it became an untenable situation. You could say that “the virus killed The Force.” I had thought for many years of recording a solo album, and took the pain of the demise of Dare Force as a challenge to see if I could create something entirely of my own making that would equal (if not surpass) the work I had done with my former band. I believe I succeeded. The inspiration behind the songs was the many life experiences and changes I have transitioned through during my time on this little blue marble in space thus far.
- How would you describe your musical sound today?
I am at heart a hard rock/heavy metal musician, and have always loved bands based around dual-lead guitarists. Thus, my “musical sound today” is no exception. However, I have also tried to expand my musical palette beyond traditional two-guitar rock ‘n’ roll by incorporating acoustic guitar, keyboards (‘Truth or Dare’ also features a very special guest artist, Danny Peyronel, the original keyboardist for UFO, contributing his stellar keyboard skills to three of the tracks on the album!), and string arrangements, in order to have a wider variety of dynamics and aural landscapes. I want to take listeners on a “sonic journey,” if you will.
- We all know how Covid has changed our daily lives over the past 2 years, but is there anything we may have learned of this weird world situation?
That is quite a broad question, and I could attempt to respond to it on many diverse levels – philosophical, geopolitical, psychological, artistic, and on and on. For the sake of parsimony, let me just say that I think (and hope!) we have learned that human relationships and experience are much more important than just working and keeping one’s nose to the grindstone. And of course, there is nothing that can replicate the beauty and energy of live music, and live artistic performance in general.
- As we don’t yet know when the proper shows and tours will be really happening again, without restrictions, how will you support the album in the meantime?
We actually have begun playing live shows, albeit on a limited scale. In the meantime, we are promoting and supporting the album through online musical platforms, social media, videos, and interviews.
- What about your future plans, what will happen next in the Johnny O’Neil -camp?
In addition to playing our first live shows and releasing our third single and video with ‘Red Suns In The Sky,’ we have already begun writing new material for the next “Johnny O’Neil” album. We will be going back into the studio to begin recording a new album later this year, but this time with my full band performing on the album, and ultimately secure some type of label deal!
- Now the word is yours, what is your message to our readers and your fans?
I, Johnny O’Neil, speak on behalf of not only myself, but my former band members in thanking all of you for your unwavering support through all of the changes Dare Force has gone through over the past 40-some years, ever since my Blood Brother, Brian Bart and I started the band as a couple of upstart 18-year-olds all those years ago. I decided after the demise of Dare Force that it was time for me to take the reigns as a solo artist and assume the role of a “benevolent dictator.” However, I have played in bands since I was nine years old, and have always loved the camaraderie and inspiration of being in a band. I knew all along that I wanted to form a full band to do live shows after the record was released, and have been extremely fortunate to recruit some of the finest musicians with whom I have ever had the privilege to play. While the four of us are a band in the truest sense of the world, in the end I am calling the shots, albeit with major input from my band mates, all of whom I greatly respect both musically and as human beings.
Thanks again so much to all of you! Your support means the world to me, and I NEVER will take it for granted! In the meantime, stay safe, and be well! Peace and love to everyone!!
Best always to all,
“Truth or Dare” is the blazing new solo debut from guitarist Johnny O’Neil, co-founder and mainstay of the Minnesota legendary hard rock band, Dare Force. It’s muscular, guitar-driven rock with a powerful foundation supplied by drummer Joachim Baecker, as well as a guest appearance by UFO’s original keyboardist, Danny Peyronel. Both O’Neil and Baecker are no strangers to the Midwest music scene, and have finally joined forces to lay down a new set of refreshing rock & roll. Engineer and co-producer Brian Bart (a Midwest legend in his own right, and co-founder of Dare Force along with O’Neil) has delivered a crisp, clean recording that fully captures O’Neil’s blistering guitar work. “Truth or Dare” features nine songs, including the first single from the album, “Snake in the Grass,” the symphonic rocker “Temple,” the driving instrumental “World Run Amuck,” and a rollicking remake of The Beatles’ classic, “Revolution.”
“Truth Or Dare” can be purchased or streamed at: http://smarturl.it/johnnyoneil
ARTIST: Johnny O’Neil
ALBUM: Truth or Dare
- Snake In the Grass 4:17
- Comin’ for You 5:28
- TellMeWhatYouThinkYouKnow 4:10
- Down and Round 4:46
- Ode to Mark 2:42
- Temple 5:37
- Red Suns in the Sky 4:27
- Revolution 3:29
- World Run Amuck 4:08
JOHNNY O’NEIL: All Lead and Harmony Vocals, All Guitars (Lead, Slide, Acoustic, Bass)
JOACHIM BAECKER: Drums and Percussion
DANNY PEYRONEL: Hammond B-3 Organ and Piano (“Down and Round,” Temple,” “Revolution”)
MARK MILLER: Drums (“Tell Me What You Think You Know”)
Produced by: The Blood Brothers
JOHNNY O’NEIL & BRIAN BART
Engineered and recorded by BRIAN BART
Logic Recording Studio, Minneapolis
Drum Tracking at Winterland Studios, Minneapolis
Mixed and mastered by BRIAN BART Logic Recording Studio, Minneapolis