Best viewed in Internet Explorer

Hurricane Guitarist
Robert Sarzo

FIB MUSIC:  Did you guys self-finance your first release, "Take What You Want"?

Robert:  Yeah. We self-financed it. We had friends, backers, everybody. (laughs) Everybody pitched in. We all had regular jobs and we recorded at night, teaching, doing what we had to do. Weekends we rehearsed; we didn't go out and party. We just worked, worked, worked.

FIB MUSIC:  Any idea how much it cost to record?

Robert:  UHHHH. I don't really remember because we did it in so many studios. It wasn't much at all. Kevin Beamish came in at the end and helped out made sure that everything was falling in place....not even all the songs, he just made sure everything was falling into its proper place.

FIB MUSIC:  Ok, so Kevin wasn't there the entire time.

Robert:  No, from the beginnning we were doing our own preproduction. Not until the second album, when Bob Ezrin came in and we worked with him and co-wrote songs with him and did preproduction with him. He was there from the early stages.

FIB MUSIC:  How long did it take to record, "Take What You Want"?

Robert:  It took about four months because we did it in different studios. We were getting different deals.....five thousand here, two thousand there and so on. Demos turning into final cuts.

FIB MUSIC:  So when you say you didn't spend much, you guys still spent at least 25 to 30 grand recording it, right?

Robert:  Oh yeah, or more. It wasn't like today with Pro Tools. You had to spend a lot more money back then. I do mastering also and you can get great sounding high fidelity recordings for low cost. That's why there is no excuse for someone with talent and discipline nowadays, you can do it. People can cry about not having the traditional studio, but on the other hand, you don't have to have these studios ripping you off. If you have the ability, you can create it and it will come to you, or you can put it on the internet. All thumbs up for digital. I'm very excited about releasing these recordings I have.....they were mixed by Garth Richardson.

FIB MUSIC:  Do you still do session work?

Robert:  I try not to (laughs), unless I'm just really into it. I don't want to do it just for the money; I want to do it for the thrill of it. But yes I do.

FIB MUSIC:  Do you still have any of your old gear from back in the day?

Robert:  Well new and old. Oh yeah, I still have a storage place with all the musical gear in there. Good stuff. I have an acoustic guitar that I used on "Over the Edge". Guns n Roses, Slash to do the acoustic work on "Patience" and all those songs. They record really well. They liked the way the recorded on "Over the Edge", so he asked me if he could use them for it. I still have those, plus I keep a nice collection if I do studio work.

FIB MUSIC:  Any memories stand out from the "Take What You Want" recording sessions?

Robert:   I remember recording things in the middle of the night. There was one really nice studio. I remember taking a nap and then going in and recording "La Luna", the instrumental I composed. That came about when I was teaching and it's amazing how people learn from their students. One of my students says, "hey Robert, why don't you do an instrumental" and I'm like, I haven't even thought of it. I was taking classical music at the time. I went in at three in the morning and left when it was done, you know it takes awhile to set up the mics and everything, so I probably left at about six in the morning. There's two versions of "La Luna", one with an effect and one without and effect. I kind of like the one without the effect. Whoever mixed the one with the effect mixed in a flanger and some sort of delay. I was not too thrilled about that. They re-released it on something else and it was just normal with no effects. I don't play with a pick when I play classical / flamenco; I play with all my fingers. Being Cuban, I studied with someone who studied under Segovia.

FIB MUSIC:  When you were recording "Take What You Want" did you just use the house engineer, or did you have your own?

Robert:  Sometimes, or we brought in our own guy. Of course, Kevin Beamish was brought in afterwards. We did the pre-production ourselves. When we did the first album, I had already worked with Jimmy Iovine, who was one of the top producers and Shelly Yakus, who was one of the top engineers in the country....was responsible for Roy Buchanan's guitar sound. I had also been doing sessions in New York City and I had done all the work I did with my brother when we were playing in bands. By the time Hurricane comes together, I had a vision of what I wanted to do....the kind of singer, melodies, style. You know what they say, you become what you think about and that's pretty much what I did.

(L-R) Robert Sarzo, Kelly Hansen, Tony Cavazo, Jay Schellen

FIB MUSIC:  How do you guys end up signing with Enigma Records?

Robert:  We were shopping and shopping and shopping "Take What You Want". I didn't want to pay to play, so I thought let's do an album. We'll do an album and generate some airplay. I already had endorsements, with Ibanez, even before the record deal. I was surprised they asked me to endorse the guitars because, up to that point, they were known for their jazz guitars. So I started working with them and I designed a guitar called the Phoenix. The inlay, which they are still using to this day, looks like a shark tooth. If you look at the fretboard on the Ibanez, it looks like a almost looks like lightning.....that was my drawing; I came up with that. You could take the body apart and change up the design of the guitar....that was my design. I still have that guitar, the prototype. I also worked very closely with them and helped them design their whammy bars. Their whammy bars would never stay in tune, so I helped with that also. I would take them out on the road and beat the hell out of them and make sure they would stay in tune. I have always been into inventing things; I used to make my own guitars. When I was young, I couldn't afford to buy my own guitar, so I made them. It wasn't until after I had played awhile and my dad saw that I was serious about it that he took me down to Ace Music in Miami and bought me my first Les Paul and it was terrific.

FIB MUSIC:  Why weren't you having any luck with the other record labels?

Robert:  At the time, we were considered too melodic. Kelly wasn't one of those screaming singers, you could understand all his pronunciation, he could sing. But that is what I wanted, it should be more melodic.....more Beatles style, melodies with vocal harmonies and all that. So we were being turned down by all the companies......and then the owner's (Enigma) wife actually saw us and really loved our style. So she told her husband to come check us out and when he came, he was like, "I want to sign you guys". We knew it was EMI / Enigma and we knew they would do us justice. Actually, we already had a six song EP out on our own label, through Greenworld. Greenworld distributed it. Motley Crue did the same thing too. That's how we managed to not have to pay to play. We already had a record out, on our own label, with distribution. We were getting airplay and even went out on the road with Rick Derringer and some other people and did a University circuit.

FIB MUSIC:  That's where the two different covers for "Take What You Want" come in, right?

Robert:  That is correct. One came out on Greenworld, which is really hard to find and the other one came out on Enigma. The record was already done and Enigma just put a different cover on it and re-released it.

FIB MUSIC:  How was your experience with Enigma?

Robert:  It was fine. They gave us a lot of artistic freedom, which is what we wanted. The only problem we had was when we had gone out on tour and we were starting to make a lot of noise. We had gone out with Stryper, then later with Iron Maiden and we were doing some big arenas. We would get to the stores and people were wanting our albums, but they weren't in the stores. So I don't know who's fault that was, I don't know if it was Enigma, or Capitol, but I have heard all the bands went through the same thing too. But you have to cash in on the momentum. It's not like now where you can download it and put it on your iPod. That was really disturbing because here we were playing over 200 dates and there was no product out there. When we were doing it on our own, there was always product out there. Even on "Over the Edge" we experienced the same thing. Either they were not shipping out too many records initially and they were being sold so quickly that there was no product out there. There was a demand for it, but it wasn't pre-planned well enough. I guess they didn't know what kind of noise we were going to make and they were trying to play it very safe, but we were selling out like crazy. Our t-shirts were selling out at our concerts. We were selling as many t-shirts as the headliners that we were out supporting.

FIB MUSIC:  I found my copy in the store, when I was a kid. I remember loving "Take What Your Want".

Robert:  It was a really fun album. It has a lot of energy and and edge to it.

FIB MUSIC:  What I also liked was the fact that you guys didn't sound like anyone else.

Robert:  Yeah. On that first record, "Take What You Want", there are no keyboards, I did all those sounds with my guitar and effects. All of the orchestrations, I did with the violin bow on my guitar. "It's Only Heaven", that's all guitars. I listen to it now and go wow, that was really fun. I remember doing it and I could still do it. It took a lot of pedalboards, but all the effects were recorded live.....all the guitars were recorded live. That way the producer couldn't fuck with it (laughs). They had to put it out exactly how I did it. It's not like they could go in and change the effects later. The whole album was done that way. Everything was recorded live and everything we used were first and second takes. That's why everything sounds so energized.

FIB MUSIC:  That's interesting. A lot of people and bands who say they recorded their albums quickly, it later turns out to be some of their best stuff.

Robert:  Oh yeah. I've done recordings at home and then I will try to redo it in the studio and it doesn't capture the same vibe. It's that energy. Whatever you were feeling that moment.

FIB MUSIC:  So you guys toured with Iron Maiden and who else?

Robert:  Ummmm. Cheap Trick, Iron Maiden, we did a lot of stuff with Stryper because we were on the same label.

FIB MUSIC:  This was before Poison signed with Enigma right?

Robert:  Yeah. What happened was we were the last band to sign with Enigma, where Enigma said ok, we get to keep these guys. In the past, Enigma would build up these bands and since they were owned by Capitol Records, once they got big enough, Capitol would just take them. Enigma would still make a percentage, but Capitol would handle the band from then on. Basically, Enigma was just a developing company....sort of....they were still their own label. I think Great White was also a part of the label. I know Poison was....and Stryper. So we were the only ones on Enigma that they were able to keep.

FIB MUSIC:  Isn't there a tour-story about a Cadillac being destroyed?

Robert:  Oh man. Let me Pittsburgh.....after the show, in a big arena.....all the fans were backstage. Our manager had all these pictures, of the band, that had been printed up. People kept asking for autographs, our manager finally went and grabbed a big stack of our pictures and just throws them up in the air and all the fans that could not get in.....they ran and crushed this Cadillac that was parked next to us. They were all jumping on the car....this poor guys car. Crushed it. The guy is screaming "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!". Then they start rocking our van like they were trying to get into it. (laughs)

FIB MUSIC:  Why does it take so long to release your next album, "Over the Edge"?

Robert:   Actually it didn't really take that long. What happened was....we were touring for so long, we kept getting asked to do different tours and we just kept playing and playing and playing.

FIB MUSIC:  How long did you tour?

Robert:  We were doing 300 shows per year. We were always on the road....constantly. I was never home. When I did come home, I would do laundry and leave.

FIB MUSIC:  So you guys were touring the entire time, nearly three years?

Robert:  Yeah, the whole time. Then I dragged my recording gear on the road with me and was writing for the second album. By the time we got home, we had already been doing pre-production on the road and we just jumped right into it. Like the next one (Over the Edge), when we started working with Bob Ezrin, we already had a lot of ideas.

FIB MUSIC:  You also worked with Mike Clink on "Over the Edge", right?

Robert:  Yes, Mike Clink worked on it, but Mike Clink comes from more of the engineer background. Bob Ezrin's more of a musical background. They did worked together. Bob did all the pre-production with us in the studio. We were working on tempos and arrangements. He got pretty creative with us and we got to know him pretty well.

FIB MUSIC:  But Mike Clink had just produced "Appetite for Destruction".

Robert:  Yeah, he had just done that album.

FIB MUSIC:  That's a question I was going to ask. You guys must have been the first band in line to work with Mike, after he produced the Guns n Roses debut.

Robert:  Yeah, we were. He and Bob were working with us together. It took about ten days to get drum sounds. After that, we were kind of rushed to finished the album on a deadline. I do remember that Bob Ezrin had just got through working on the Pink Floyd album (Momentary Lapse of Reason) and Mike Clink had just finished working on "Appetite for Destruction". I actually used the Gallien-Krueger that David Gilmour used on that album; I used it on some of the tracks for overdubs.

FIB MUSIC:  When you guys were working on the album, Guns n Roses hadn't even blown up yet, right?

Robert:  No. Actually, "Appetite for Destruction" didn't even take off until about nine months after it was released. You know, sometimes it just depends on the right tour, or the right airplay. If it isn't playing on the radio, or MTV you are kind of stuck.

FIB MUSIC:  What was it like working with Mike Clink?

Robert:  It was very precise; he knew what he wanted to hear. He was very humble and patient when getting certain moods or vibes. It got to the point where it took like ten days just to get the drum sounds. Then when Jay (Schellen) was recording his part, we had to play with him over and over and over again. I had done it that way before when I worked with Jimmy Iovine, with either Tommy Price, or the guy from the Young Rascals that we did sessions with back in New York, or Mike Beard, who would pretty much nail in on by the second take. I don't really know what was going on, but after we got through recording the drums, I felt like I needed a vacation. (laughs) I needed some time off. Then we did the seemed like it took a long time to record "Over the Edge".

FIB MUSIC:  How long did it take to record it?

Robert:  It felt like it took a year, but I know that it didn't take that long because we didn't have the time to do it; we had to go out on tour. It probably took three to four months, not including pre-production. That's what I think.....time can be tricky and I didn't keep a diary or anything back then. But it really seemed to have taken a long time. But when I was working on my guitars, doing my solos and overdubs, sometimes I was just working with Garth Richardson, the engineer......, or I would work with Garth and Mike Clink. What happened was Kelly (Hansen) had to do his vocal tracks at another studio because we fell behind on time. He was doing vocal tracks at one studio and I was doing my parts at another with Garth Richardson. I would be there all night with the producer, or the engineer and I would just turn the lights off and burn candles to get the vibe. I don't like producers to be watching tv in the control room and you're in there recording your part.

FIB MUSIC:  What was it like working with Bob Ezrin?

Robert:  Very creative, very experimental, he would like to try different things out. He knew what he wanted, it was great, it was great working with Mike Clink and Bob Ezrin. They come from different backgrounds, obviously. Bob did some keyboard work on "Over the Edge". Very precise.

FIB MUSIC:  Was Bob sober at the time?

Robert:  Uhhhh. He seemed to be. Maybe he was hiding it and I didn't see anything. I think all that happened afterward because I read about it later, but, at the time, I was not aware of it. You know how some people hide things where even their spouse doesn't know. (laughs)

FIB MUSIC:  What kind of work are you doing now?

Robert:  I own a company and we do marketing; we do business with companies worldwide. I also have the production company, in the one building. We're right here in Topanga Canyon and Woodland Hills.

Hurricane - "I'm Onto You"
Live in Japan 1988

FIB MUSIC:  What kind of production?

Robert:  Writing production. I am working with Vida Guerra, she was on the cover of Playboy. She's a Cuban model. She's always on TMZ. She does hip hop stuff. Kind of funky, hip hop stuff. and I am writing the material with her.

FIB MUSIC:  Wow. So you're a rap star now.

Robert:  I worked with several rap artists, writing production and other credits. It's just music. I got into it about nine years ago, but I still do both...the heavy metal stuff, the rock.......jeez, Jimmy Iovine opened up Interscope Records and he's had Eminem and everybody else, so why not? (laughs)

FIB MUSIC:  Who did you guys tour with on "Over the Edge"?

Robert:   Ummmm. Let's go back.......Stryper, Gary Moore, Rick Derringer. Enigma wanted us to take advantage of the momentum by putting out the record and hitting the road immediately. We had toured so long for "Take What You Want", then came home and recorded the album and immediately hit the road again. And they got it on a movie soundtrack......some good songs on there......a lot of great stuff.

FIB MUSIC:  Were you not pleased with "Over the Edge" or something?

Robert:   Uhhhhhhhhhh. Sometimes I feel that it's just a little too safe..........yeah. I like being more radical.......on the edge.

FIB MUSIC:  Over the edge.

Robert:   That is funny because I thought of the title "Over the Edge". (laughs)

FIB MUSIC:  So less predictable.

Robert:   Yeah. I like things to be in your face. Not so predictable; I sometimes think that it may be too polished, that's just my opinion.

FIB MUSIC:  Where was "Over the Edge" recorded?

Robert:   That was recorded in North Hollywood. It used to be the old Warner studio and it was the same studio where Van Halen recorded their first album, then it was bought out by someone else. (Sunset Sound Recorders) Somebody just sent me a vinyl copy of "Over the Edge". I'm holding it right now. I don't want to open it; it's still sealed. Original pressing. One of those left over ones. I got them both here.

FIB MUSIC:  Nice find.

Robert:   You can still get them on Ebay.

FIB MUSIC:  Have you ever bought any Hurricane cd's on Ebay?

Robert:   No. I refused to pay those prices. (laughs) I wanted them for free dammit!

FIB MUSIC:  Do you have copies of the new remastered versions?

Robert:   Oh yeah. They sent me a few of them. Sounds great....sounds very good. It was mastered very well. I like what they did with it. I'm glad because people can finally get it and not have to pay those high prices.

FIB MUSIC:  Why do you leave the band after "Over the Edge"?

Robert:   Actually I never left the band......uummmm, they actually fired me.

FIB MUSIC:  What happened?

Robert:   Well.....ummmm....I guess Kelly didn't want me around....and everybody else went along with it. To this day, we haven't talked about it.

FIB MUSIC:  Did you guys not get along?

Robert:   I thought we did, but things were going on behind my back. I found that out later. Before we were family......I put this whole thing together from scratch and I gave everybody an equal share. A quarter of the profits....of everything. I came up with the name; I registered the name. I got the drummer an endorsement with Tama because Tama was a part of Ibanez, so whoever was the next drummer got a ten thousand dollar drumkit. The manager was fired first and then I was fired. They were auditioning people behind my back. Some of the people they asked I knew. I was told later by some of them.

FIB MUSIC:  They never gave a reason?

Robert:   Right. Never apologized, or never gave a reason.

FIB MUSIC:  How did you find out?

Robert:   I just went in one day and.....I don't really remember.....we're replacing you, or something like that. The drummer wasn't even there. It was just really weird. They kept a lot of my gear also. I was just left out on the street.

FIB MUSIC:  You haven't talked to any of them since then?

Robert:   No. As in talking, no. I've said hi, you know, at the NAMM show or something. It was just a lot of immature stuff going on, stuff that I don't even want to get into. Silly stuff. It happens to every band. Unnecessary egos. It's a business.....a business that you love doing.

FIB MUSIC:  I read somewhere that you were going to reform Hurricane?

Robert:   I was putting a new Hurricane was Hurricane 2. I explored it and had some different players, but it just hasn't felt right yet. I had new songs and I just decided to put it on the back burner and release these other songs first. The new stuff is going to have a lot of low end; it's going to have a lot of balls.

FIB MUSIC:  What do you do after you leave Hurricane?

Robert:   I put a new band together and it was going to be called Sarzo. Enigma picked up the option; they wanted to release the album. I was doing all the pre-production and I started to notice some strange things happening at the label. I had them buy me out of the contract and then right after that the label folded. The timing was just right. (laughs) Then after that, BMG wanted to release it. We were going to release it to Latin America and then bring it in as an import and also do it in English because we had recorded it in Spanish and English. I was going to do the laser shows with African dancers, candles on stage. Like an African, Cuban, Voodoo opera. I was shopping it and it was around that time that my wife came down with cancer. So I just gave it a break. Around the same time, I started studying more of the engineering and the production of rap music.

FIB MUSIC:  Rudy is playing with Dio now?

Robert:   Yeah, he's playing with Dio. He's out on tour right now.

FIB MUSIC:  Any chance of a Sarzo brothers release?

Robert:   Yeah. I think it would be a smart move. He's got a lot of writing ideas and so do I. We've talked about it.

FIB MUSIC:  How would you describe Rudy Sarzo?

Robert:   As a brother, he's a good brother, dependable, he's always there if you want to talk to him. He's very loyal to my parents. Creative. Very solid. He's the kind of guy that does what he says. If he says he'll be there, he'll be there. Musically, I think he is one of the best bass players. As a showman and as a player; he tries his best and he's very creative. We always had a blast jamming together. We did a lot of crazy stuff together. Off stage and on stage.

FIB MUSIC:  Have you heard Foreigner with Kelly Hansen on vocals?

Robert:   Yeah. I heard a little bit during a Christmas show. When I met Kelly, he was doing those songs in a top 40 band. When I heard Foreigner, I thought, oh yeah, he can do those songs.

FIB MUSIC:  He sounds great. I never really thought of him as that kind of singer, back in the day, but when I heard it, it sounded like Kelly Hansen, but also sounds perfect in Foreigner......and a lot like Lou Gramm.

Robert:   Yeah, well that's his style. That melodic style.

FIB MUSIC:  Aren't you into collecting cars now.

Robert:   Oh yeah. I love cars; that's my hobby. I have had Jaguar's and Maserati's. Right now I own a Fleetwood Luxury Coach. It looks like a tour buy. It's all Italian leather inside. It's got a flat screen in rear and front, satellite, everything is electric. I also have a 2007 Escalade.....the real long one, with the grill.....all the bling. I also have an '07 Lotus. It does 0 to 60 in 4.0. It only weighs 1700 pounds. It sits lower than a Lamborghini. The Lotus always gets first place, it looks really cool. When you do a 100 mph or more the it the body sucks down to the ground, so you can take corners very well. It's an English car, the Lotus.

FIB MUSIC:  Who doesn't remember the James Bond movies?

Robert:   Yeah, exactly, but the new ones look really crazy. This one is only a two seater.

FIB MUSIC:  What do those run?

Robert:   About 85 grand and then I dumped another 15 grand into it because you can't see the rear, so you have to put in little cameras so you can see. It also has a navigation system. I souped-up the engine and it also has a cold air intake. The exhaust was upgraded to get more horsepower. It weighs nothing.....and do you know what's crazy Adam? I'm getting 36 miles to the gallon.

FIB MUSIC:  How are you getting that?

Robert:   It's only a 4 cylinder.

FIB MUSIC:  Robert Sarzo is transported back to the year 1984 and must do one thing differently. What would that be?

Robert:   I would have said that we credit the songs correctly and whoever is working on the songs is going to get the writing credit. I would not share everything equally, if they did not participate. I would have had more control over the organization. I was very nice and very eager to share my ideas and creativity and reasearch with everybody else. I would even tell kids doing it now, if you wrote it, keep it because later on it might bite you in the ass. If you create something, keep control of it and make sure you at least keep 51%. I should have never gone through what I went through; it was unnecessary. If we would have kept it together we all would have done very well.


FIB MUSIC:  What is your most disgusting habit?

Robert:  Drinking coffee.

FIB MUSIC:  What is the most feminine thing you do?

Robert:  Let my hair grow; put makeup on stage.

FIB MUSIC:  If there is a God, what is the first question you would ask God when you arrive?

Robert:  Where are we going?

FIB MUSIC:  Greatest Rock band of all time?

Robert:  Led Zeppelin.

FIB MUSIC:  What were you doing 40 minutes before you sat down to do this interview?

Robert:  I was paying bills.

READ PART I with Robert Sarzo
If you found this interview first, make sure to read the first part of our
interview with guitarist Robert Sarzo.

Hurricane Cd's on Sale at Full in Bloom

Search Fibits for Hurricane items
Want to know when we post a new interview?
Join our Mailing List.

Click here to view our interview page.

New Releases




Cd Store

Music NEWS FORUM Directory HOME
(to post comments you must login or register)