Jimmy Kay and Perrin Wolfson of Canada’s The Metal Voice spoke to guitar virtuoso Chris Impellitteri of Impellitteri under lock down at his home in California on April 11 2020.
Impellitteri spoke about possibly touring North America, being asked by Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne to join the band in the 80’s and his guest appearance on the new studio Alcatrazz album (featuring Graham Bonnet) plus a whole lot more.
Some excerpts from the 60 minute chat
Have you even been asked to join an established band in your career?
“Yes I have been offered multiple times to join big bands, I am not going to say who they are, cause some of the guitar players still exist in those bands. If I was to join an established band I have to recognize that I would need to be happy playing covers because really that is what you are doing is playing someone else’s creations. There is nothing wrong with that but for me I like to be able to express myself as an artist.”
Tell us about the time you were in discussions to join Ozzy’s band
“This was long time ago even before Zakk Wylde. Forgive me if I get my years confused cause it was so long ago, maybe it was 1986-87 and I think Jake E Lee was still in the band. I was living in Hollywood and one of my roommate said you have to listen to this message on the answering machine. I played the message and it was Sharon Osbourne. Sharon basically said her and Ozzy were checking me out and wanted to know if I was interested in playing guitar for Ozzy. I remember thinking about it and at the time we had signed to Relativity Records and Sony to do the album ‘Stand In Line’ ( with Graham Bonnet). I wanted to do join Ozzy because Randy Rhoads was such a hero of mine. I remember they called me a few more times, I probably talked to them five or six times but I knew that legally speaking I had a deal with Relativity Records so I couldn’t go much further with it and that was the end of it. The reality is who knows how serious they really were because after 5-6 conversations it didn’t go anywhere and the Jake E Lee thing kept going. I don’t want to exaggerate the story too much let’s just say they had an interest in me. I think the whole thing was initiated by some A and R guy on Atlantic records who was friends with the Osbournes, who turned them onto me. As a guitar player I am flattered to have even been called and obviously they saw something and there was intent but I don’t know how serious it was.”
Would you join Ozzy today if you were asked
“I guess the answer would be yes but I would want to do a record like Diary of a Madman but would the Osbournes allow it? I listened to Ozzy’s newest record, Ozzy sounds great, a lot of the record sounds pro tooled. I listen to the album as a guitar player and I’m sorry it doesn’t do a lot for me. It’s good music don’t get me wrong . With someone like me I’m hard headed. Let’s pretend Ozzy called me again and if he would allow me to do another record like Diary of a Madman or Blizzard I would join in a heartbeat.”
Can you tell us about writing and performing on the new Alcatrazz album with Graham Bonnet
“Graham Bonnet and Jimmy Waldo asked me if I would be interested in writing a song or two on their new Alcatrazz record, I said sure I love those guys. I owe so much to Graham he took us from cult status in Japan to what we have become today. I wrote a song, recorded the whole thing then Graham took the song to his studio and they basically built their parts around it and then they sent it to me and I heard it and it’s a cool track. The song is called ‘Born Innocent’ and it’s the title track of the new Alcatrazz album.”
What has been the bands success like in Japan over the years?
“We have definitely done really well in Japan, the records have sold well over 2 million over there. We have sold a lot of records there and have done a lot of tours. We go over there and we are on the cover of their magazines, we do their T.V. shows, it’s pretty surreal. Over there we compete with much bigger bands like Metallica, Ozzy whereas in the USA we are pretty much nobody, But in Japan we have been embraced and we have a very strong loyal following. But It’s not just Japan it’s Asia also that has really embraced the band. ”
When can we expect a North American tour?
” We have to do it, people tell us we are at our best live. Obviously we want to play for as many people as we can possibly can reach. In the North America I have a feeling we have a lot of people who want to see the band and I do want to bring Impellitteri to all the places in the US and Canada. Recently I got an offers to do a full North American tour and I did the math with our accountant and realized by the time I was done with the tour I would probably lose $50,000 dollars a month. I do want to play for all the supporters in North America and it will happen, we will figure this out.”
IMPELLITTERI’s latest album, “The Nature Of The Beast”, which was released in October 2018 via Frontiers Music Srl.
“The Nature Of The Beast” track listing:
03. Run For Your Life
04. Phantom Of The Opera
05. Gates Of Hell
06. Wonder World
07. Man Of War
08. Symptom Of The Universe (BLACK SABBATH cover)
09. Do You Think I’m Mad
10. Fire It Up
11. Kill The Beast
12. Shine On