Gary James' Interview With Darion Mancini Of
the Pat Benatar Tribute
Fire And Ice

Out of Long Island, New York is the Pat Benatar tribute group, Fire And Ice. Fire And Ice is the only Pat Benatar tribute group that actually has the blessing of Pat Benatar herself! How impressive is that? Fronted by Darion Mancini, Darion also has two solo CDs out. Darion spoke with us about Fire And Ice.

Q - Darion, how much work is there for an act like Fire And Ice?

A - Well, this is the interesting part. It wasn't about work at all. It was about just things happening the way they're supposed to happen. It had nothing to do with work. You do know that Pat supports the band, right?

Q - I do know that.

A - We do not have to put a disclosure on any of our websites that she does support us. She is quite wonderful and so is Neil. He is absolutely a doll. They see me a lot different than a lot of artists would see any of their tribute acts. I wasn't going out there to be Pat Benatar. I am still out there to be my own artist. I think when you go into this and you speak to celebrities and you have a certain relationship with certain celebrities in a way they're not accustomed to and they're kind of taken back like, "What do you mean you don't want to take a picture with me?" (laughs) They respect you. And that's kind of where we are to be honest with you. My band has transformed a few times throughout the years, at least the key players. We recently had a major transformation a year and three months ago when my guitar player and I decided it was time to split ways. He had many other projects he was in. He wanted to go and explore another avenue.

Q - Is there a band on the West Coast that has the blessing of Pat Benatar or are you the only band in the United States that has the blessing of Pat Benatar?

A - Well, in respect for the band on the West Coast that is much older than me that's called Heartbreaker. I'm just going to say there's one in existence, but that's all I'm going to say about that. Then I'm going to say there's one that you can make the judgement for yourself and there's us.

Q - What does it mean to have the blessing of Pat Benatar? Does she show up at one of your performances?

A - Her family has. They're just lovely. There has been one of our shows where the family has come front and center and Pat had called them on the way there and said, "Tell her I said hello." They are absolutely just wonderful people, her aunt and her niece. I'm not trying to be Pat Benatar. I have spent seventeen years of my life and thousands upon thousands of dollars and time to be myself, to be my own artist. We're not trying to be Neil and Pat. We respect them and love them very much and they know that and I think that's why they give us their blessing. I've told Pat straight out, I'm not trying to be you. I am just getting a lot of credit celebrating your music. She's like, "You're doing a good job kid." I met her years ago. She was playing at Westbury and we had just played Jones Beach as Fire And Ice. After we had played Jones Beach, it was amazing. There were 5,000 people there and I had gone to see Pat at Westbury. It was myself and my husband. We decided to hang around the back of Westbury where the trailers were. It was in August. I'll never forget it. I started to slip a note to one of the bodyguards saying, "Let Pat know I'm here. This is who I am. Maybe she's heard of us. I just want to meet her." And sure enough we were the last people to see her. All of a sudden a guy came out with a cane and said, "Are you the singer over there?" I said, "That would be me." He said, "You. C'mon let's go." So, it was just my husband and myself and Pat and Neil in a very tiny room at the Westbury Music Fair. I didn't bring a camera. I didn't want to take a picture and we just spoke. She said, "I saw your videos on Jones Beach. Good job." I said, "Wow! Thank-you so much." We just spoke for a little while and that was it.

Q - You're a little taller than Pat Benatar, but your face looks like her.

A - I'm not trying to look like her at all. I'm not trying to look like her one bit, not one little bit. I'm not trying to dress like her, be her, totally not at all. That's what stands us out from anybody that's attempting to be a Pat Benatar tribute band and that's why I think she respects us. I'm not trying to be her and I told her straight out. I'm my own person. I just happen to sound like her doing her things. What makes us very successful is that when the fans come out for us and for me, they don't come out because I sound like Pat Benatar. They come out for me 'cause I have two albums of original music because I could be my own artist. I'm not trying to be Pat. I love her. I think she's amazing. I would never try to entertain that I could be as wonderful as Pat. She's amazing. I respect her totally. I could just hope to be as good as she is and to do her music justice. That to me is a wonderful compliment. There's only one Pat Benatar. And when we saw her the second time and she saw that we had done even more things with the band, it was Neil that said, "Are we gonna take a picture this time?" He's the one that had us take that one and only picture of myself, Pat and Neil that we actually have. They are absolute dolls. They are just great people. They know I'm not trying to step on their toes. They know I'm not trying to be them. They know I'm my own artist and they see my own things and they know it just happens that people love the fact, what I'm told, that can sound like her. Do I go out there and all of a sudden try to become this ventriloquist that puts Pat Benatar through my body and shoots her out the other end? No. It just happen when I sing her songs it comes out the way people like to hear. I think that's what stands us out. I hope to God that stands us out from the other tribute acts.

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