FIB MUSIC:  Any cool, sucked, brilliant moments stand out from the "Violation" recording sessions?
Richie: Yeah, when we were recording, Jack Douglas, our producer, would tell us to be quiet before the song started and right when it ended. He kind of got mad once because I made a noise. Back in those days, you had 2 inch tape and it was hard edit sounds that were close to the beginning or end of a song. So, just for that I went up to the snare drum microphone and yelled "Subway Terror". When the take was done, I knew it was the 'one' so I ran over again and just let out a scream. Dube picked up on it right away and yelled with me. Jack could only laugh and figured out a way of putting a flanger on our voices and used them on the final mix.
FIB MUSIC: Where was it recorded and how long did it take to finish it?
Richie: Record Plant, NY. I think we recorded and mixed it in about 6 weeks, tops.
FIB MUSIC: Who were some of the bands that you toured with to support that album?
We did about 8 weeks with Bob Seger and then sporadic dates with Aerosmith, Nugent, Rush, BOC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Styx and REO Speedwagon. I think we
did about 3 weeks with REO and 2 more with Styx.
FIB MUSIC: Any particular moments stand out when reflecting on that tour?
Richie: Just one city after another, really. It all kind of blends together.
FIB MUSIC: The VIOLATION album cover was brilliant! Who was responsible for that?
Richie: The art department at Aucoin Management - Dennis Woloch, more specifically. He had an actual silver metallic 3-dimensional Starz logo built and photographed. He told me that he had it in his possession until about 10 years ago when he gave it to a girl who he was seeing.
FIB MUSIC: VIOLATION was a 'concept' album start to finish, correct?
Richie: Sort of - it didn't really start out that way.
FIB MUSIC: Being another relatively new idea for bands to do back then, it was about a boy being released from a mental-correctional institution of some kind?
Richie: It was about the future and the future of rock n' roll. In the future, R n R was banned. A kid walks into a thrift shop and finds a dusty old 45 of Walk This Way and rock starts up again. But, they put him into an institution in Buffalo, NY to "Steady" him up. S.T.E.A.D.Y. stands for Steps Towards the Eventual Acceptance of A Disciplined Youth - hence, Streetlight or the Moon - when the kid gets out, he can't even tell if he's looking at a streetlight or the moon.
FIB MUSIC: This all seems to be a throwback to Stanley Kubrick's
film "A CLOCKWORK ORANGE". Was MICHAEL LEE SMITH influenced by this film?
Richie: I don't know that he was. I would imagine. I know that I was. He came up with the concept on his own when he was putting lyrics together. That's why I said it's 'sort of a concept album' because Cool One and All Night Long were previously written.
(L-R) Richie Ranno, Joe X. Dube, Michael Lee Smith, Brenden Harkin, Pete Swevel
FIB MUSIC: In the song "Rock Six Times", STARZ pays tribute to AEROSMITH and the song "WALK THIS WAY"- How did that come about?
Richie: It was Michael's idea totally.
FIB MUSIC: When 'Rock Six Times' was written, technology wasn't readily available to the general population to produce what MICHAEL LEE SMITH referred to as a 'Vide-ereo' (Video/Stereo), today we have Stereo Video (VHS) systems- Was Michael 'forward-projecting' into the future?
Richie: Ah, the Michael Lee Smith prophecies
FIB MUSIC: STARZ frontman, Michael Lee Smith, seemed a true visionary. What inspired the classic "Subway Terror'? How about 'Violation'?
Richie: Subway Terror was a headline in the NY newspapers about a gang that was robbing people on the subway. I brought the headline in and taped it on the wall when we were writing songs. Michael put it to use. Violation was part of the idea that the band had committed some type of crime on the 1st album with Pull the Plug. We actually wanted to call the Violation album, Second Offense.
FIB MUSIC: If ever a song was born for top-ten airplay, it certainly was "Sing it, Shout it", a brilliantly arranged, sing-along ditty?Tell us about that song.
Richie: Well, musically, a lot of people had shown me parts - like Sean Delaney, Jon Parrot (bassist in a former band of mine, Bungi), plus I had a couple of parts. So, I strung them all together and made a musical piece out of it. Michael came up with the brilliant vocal and lyrics on his own. Should have been top 10 but, at that time, Capitol Records couldn't get out of their own way.
FIB MUSIC: Tell us about "S.T.E.A.D.Y.", and what did it stand for? / Who was "Dr. Kline", Was it GENE SIMMONS?
Richie: I mentioned that earlier and no, it had nothing to do with Gene. But, the background vocal on Violation was meant to sound like Gene singing. Michael wrote it and wanted me to sing it because I used to always, jokingly, do a Gene singing voice. If you listen close, it kind of sounds like Gene singing, "No, that's a Violation".
FIB MUSIC: Who was responsible for the orchestral arrangements of "Streetlight", and why were there no credits for it? What's with the 'angry elephant' (ascending/descending slide), effects of the French Horns?
Richie: I don't know why there are no credits. Ron Frangiapone (don't know about the spelling there) did the string arrangement.
FIB MUSIC: Is there any video available of STARZ during the first two albums' tours?
Richie: Some - we sell it on the website -
FIB MUSIC: Would Starz ever record new material?
FIB MUSIC: Any unreleased Starz material in the vault?
Richie: Just a great live radio broadcast from Rochester, NY in 1977. We only recently found it and it's the best live performance of Starz captured on tape. We will release it at some point.
FIB MUSIC: Anything else you want to add?
We always like to thank everyone out there who is still
there for us & still into the music that we created. We love playing together and hope to do some
more live shows in the near future. We really want to come over to Europe so if anyone knows a
British or European promoter who is a pro, please send them our way. You can see some of our
videos by going
Keep Rockin' Everybody! Richie Ranno