The following interview was conducted via email in November 2006.
Interviewed by Ronny
Q1 – HOW WAS THE BAND FORMED AND IN WHAT WAY DOES THE NAME HOWLING DIABLOS BEST DESCRIBE THE GROUP?
TINO: It’s really great to be invited to do an interview on Extreme Kid Rock…whattup music fans. The Diablos were formed at least a dozen years ago in Detroit by myself and Johnny Evans. Gary Grimshaw, the legendary rock poster artist was doin’ an art exhibit of his work and invited us to put a band together and play the event….that was actually the first gig. One show led to another and we just kept rollin’….here we are today. The present line-up is: Tino (vocals) Johnny Evans (sax/harp) Mo Hollis (bass) Mike Smith (guitar) and the legendary Johnny Bee (drums).
The name Howling Diablos just seemed to fit us…and it sounded cool, you know like Rolling Stones or Grateful Dead…very powerful.
Q2 – WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE ALBUM THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO RELEASED ON TOP DOG RECORDS BACK IN 96?
TINO: Actually we did an indie release on Top Dog with Kid Rock back in ’96 called Howling Diablos “LIVE”. The record was recorded live at the infamous White Room Studios. Bob [Kid Rock] was runnin’ Top Dog out of his basement. It is regarded as one of the best and funkiest LIVE albums ever and still sells great after many pressings. Kid Rock and Joe C. can be heard yellin’ and screamin’ on it. The record you are probably thinkin of is the one that was supposed to come out on Lava/Atlantic in ’99-2000. Ahmet Ertegun, the founder of Atlantic wanted to come to Detroit and personally produce us…then Bob wanted to do it, but they totally dropped the ball on the whole thing. The main guy runnin’ Lava at the time (since been fired) didn’t really understand the Diablos…he didn’t get the concept of real musicians that can actually play. This was the same guy who didn’t get “Only God Knows Why” or “Picture” either… It was one of those things…but you live and learn…that which don’t kill ya only makes you stronger, so we are cool with it and rockin’ better than ever.
Q3 – CONSIDERING HOW DIFFICULT GETTING EXPOSURE WAS BACK THEN, CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU GUYS HAD TO FACE IN ORDER TO FIND RECOGNITION?
TINO: The challenge for the Diablos has always been we are a little ahead of the curve and very unique…we have our own sound and never copied anyone. Imitation has never really interested the Howling Diablos so you have to stick to your guns and make people come to you, which we did. Our live shows are so good that we can’t be denied….people always dig a Diablos show cuz it’s off tha hook!
Q4 – WHO WERE YOUR INFLUENCES GROWING UP THAT PURSUED YOU INTO THE JAM/BLUES STYLE OF MUSIC?
TINO: We are fans of so much music…but I’d have to say anything that sounds real and authentic. The blues is the seed where it all comes from. If you can get right with the blues you’ll never have a problem…but coming out of Detroit you get the deep soul influence and the funk. I always liked artists that could tell a story and you believed it.
Q5 – HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE A HOWLING DIABLOS SHOW TO SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER SEEN YOU PERFORM?
TINO: Wow…I’d have to say that a Diablos show is like going to an old school revivalist tent show and finding out that music can change the world. Music has a deep power that can heal you, make ya feel good, and even get you some lovin’…ha …you wouldn’t believe how many people have told me they hooked up with their husband, wife, or some freak at a Diablos show. Seriously …it’s all about the energy and the groove…it’ll move mountains.
Q6 – HOW DID YOU FIRST MEET KID ROCK AND HOW DID TALK BEGIN INTO RECORDING THE HIT SONG “WINE SPO DEE O DEE”?
TINO: Johnny and I first ran into Bob at a Sponge show backstage at the State Theatre in Detroit back in the early ’90s. He was real cool and we became good pals. He gave me a few pointers on hip-hop and I schooled his young-ass on the blues. He would cart his turntables to our Sunday gigs at the Bear’s Den in Berkley and scratch with us all damn night. We started hooking up at the White Room and recording, and Bob and I wrote some really cool songs together like “Detroit Thang” and “Early Morning Stoned Pimp”. The whole “Wine Spo Dee O Dee” thing came out of our association with Ahmet Ertegun. Ahmet is the last of the record guys that had class and integrity…there aren’t any left. He loves the Diablos…we gave him the idea to do the Sun Records Tribute “Good Rockin Tonight” from our re-make of “Wine” which was the first hit Atlantic had back in 1948 and then blew up again on Sun for Jerry Lee Lewis. So Ahmet put the Diablos on the album and in the documentary. It was his idea to have Kid Rock rap on it and it really turned out great…Bob schooled it. Ahmet sent us a great letter afterward which I have on the wall in the studio….very exciting shit.
Q7 – WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS ON KID ROCK’S BRAND NEW TIMELESS ROCK N’ ROLL RECORD THAT’S CURRENTLY IN THE WORKS?
TINO: Man it sounds like it’s gonna be another dope Kid Rock record…can’t wait to hear that stuff…I might even give him a song..
Q8 – ARE THERE ANY UNRELEASED MATERIAL OF OTHER SONGS THAT KID ROCK HAS COLLABORATED WITH DURING YOUR TIME TOGETHER THAT YOU MAY RELEASE ONE DAY?
TINO: There are lots of things in the can from the White Room, 54 Sound, etc. and also a real good track from the Diablos live at St. Andrews Hall where we do many Diablos classics with Kid Rock, Kenny Olson, and Eddie Harsch from the Black Crowes. I gotta get that out soon. Kid Rock fans should go and buy the CD I produced for blues great RL Burnside, called “A Bothered Mind” on Fat Possum Records. Bob raps on a track called “My Name Is Robert Too”. Jimmie Bones is also all over this record with Kenny O. and the Diablos. It’s available at: www.fatpossum.com and Itunes.
Q9 – WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR HOBBIES YOU AND THE BAND ENJOY DOING DURING YOUR TIME OFF?
TINO: Hobbies are sippin’ beer, hangin’ out, fishing , playing guitars and talkin’ about things like sports, or current events. Just like guys takin’ it easy at the Barber Shoppe. Johnny likes golf and Mo digs baggin’ groceries.
Q10 – FINALLY, DO YOU HAVE ANY CURRENT PROJECTS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO MENTION TO OUR FANS?
TINO: Our latest CD “Car Wash”, has received tons of college airplay and people are feelin’ it all over the world. We signed to a cool label called Alive/Bomp, they are to punk rock what Def Jam is to hip hop. We are getting’ ready to drop another album first of the year. “Car Wash” is available at our web-site:
www.howlingdiablos.com or at:
Music fans around the world …the Diablos are blessed to get to keep our cool jobs playing music. It’s been a pleasure and we hope to see all of you soon at a Howling Diablos show.