Gary James' Interview With Tommy Curiale Of
Tommy Curiale has played drums for some of the biggest names in Rock, including Rick Derringer, Johnny Winter, Pat Travers, James Cotton and Gary Hoey to name just a few. These days he's part of the Southern Rock group, Two Wolf.
Q - Tommy, you've got quite a resume, but I have to admit I've never heard of Two Wolf. What is Two Wolf all about? Is that a touring, recording band? Is it a cover band?
A - It's a brand new original band. I don't know if you're familiar with Greg T. Walker, the original bassist from Blackfoot. Do you remember them?
Q - I remember the name.
A - He's the original bassist. He's an original founding member of Blackfoot. He actually played on a couple of early Skynyrd records too. But he's a buddy of mine. He called me up and he heard Johnny (Winter) passed away. I wasn't working and he was looking to put a band together. He said, "I'm looking to do something. I can't do Blackfoot because Ricky Medlocke has the name. He put a bunch of guys together and called 'em Blackfoot." He was trying to figure out what to do. I said, "Shoot, I got a great guitar player down here in Florida near me. We should put together an original Southern Rock project." We got started on it and recruited the last member, Lance Lopez, from Texas. He's a phenomenal guitar player and singer. We're working on putting out or debut CD now. It'll be a national recording act.
Q - Are you putting this CD out yourselves or do you have a record deal?
A - We've actually had a couple people looking at us, but we're not going to wait. We're going to try and raise the funds and to it ourselves.
Q - That way you can make more money.
A - Well yeah. The days of the record label giving you a $300,000 advance are about over. Nowadays you can get as much done yourself as they'll do, unless there's some kind of big budget behind you. We got the CD out and we've already had an awful lot of interest in our 'live' shows. So, we want to get out playing and want to have a CD to push. So, that's what we've doing now, putting that whole thing together.
Q - You've been on the road the last twenty-eight years. You don't mean continually, do you? There had to be breaks.
A - Yeah. I played in cover bands in the late '80s and early '90s. I worked for Pat Travers for a couple of years as his drum tech and lighting guy. That was like in '91, '92 or '93. Then I got an offer from Rick Derringer. I ended up going out and working for Rick Derringer for about six months as a tour manager. His mother, the drummer's mother had gotten sick and he had to come off the road to take care of her. I gave Rick a DVD of me playing with Pat Travers. I filled in on a few shows for Aynsley Dunbar with him. "Here's a video of me playing with Pat." He said, "You got a job. See you in California." I started playing drums for Rick. Then I was on the road continually with Rick for about eighteen years, '94 to 2012. We'd go out and maybe do a week on, come home for a week and go back out. So it wasn't continuously on the road. A lot of fly-ins. Then I got the offer to go out with Johnny Winter, the last two years of his life. I was on the road quite a bit there.
Q - So, it's pretty much word of mouth has worked for you, hasn't it?
A - Yeah. That's kind of how it goes. People ask me all the time "How do I get in a national band?" Well, they don't usually run ads in the paper. It's a matter of knowing somebody. When a position pops up they ask the guys in the band and their friends who they know. So, it's kind of good to be in that circle, you know? That's what I was doing in the "A" circuit playing in cover bands and I wasn't getting anywhere. A friend offered me a job as a drum tech with (Pat) Travers and I said maybe I'll get there this way and that's what I did. I ended up teching for him for awhile. He left and I was Aynsley Dunbar's drum tech for about a year. So, it kind of led to those places from there.
Q - What was the cover band circle like in Florida for you?
A - Back then it was called the "A" circuit. Bands would go from club to club. You'd play a week. You'd play six to seven days and then you'd travel on to the next town. It was all through the whole Southeast. We did that. We stayed on the road quite a bit that way.
Q - These "A" circuit clubs held a lot of people, did they?
A - Yeah. They were pretty much Rock 'n' Roll clubs in the South. You had Brassy's. You had the Button South, the Brewery. They were big, huge Rock 'n' Roll clubs. The bands would come in and they'd have their own truck full of P.A. and lighting and put on a whole show. It was pretty cool. The whole thing kind of went away around '91 when Nirvana came out. Everything disappeared. (laughs)
Q - That Grunge movement out of Seattle changed everything.
A - Yeah. It was amazing. I was in a band that did six weeks in St. Thomas, the Virgin Islands. Beautiful house gig. Incredible. It was like October of '91. We finished our six weeks down there, came back to the States and all the places we were supposed to be booked to play had all gone out of business. It was like there was nowhere to play. We broke up. That was the end of the band. It was a weird, weird time. Everything for a reason I guess. I got lucky and ended up playing with Johnny Winter for the last two years of his life. That was an amazing experience. I got to play on his last album which won a Grammy for Best Blues album of the year.
Q - That is unique because not all 'live' musicians get to go into the studio and record with the name artist they're performing with.
A - It was his whole 'live' band. We were all on that record. That was really cool. I played on three of Derringer's albums. I felt real honored to be asked to play on Johnny's album. And lo and behold I just got my Grammy certificate this week as a matter of fact. I'm still pinching myself.
Q - Where did the name of this group come from?
A - That was Greg T. He's full-blooded Indian. He lives on sixty acres up in Northern Florida. It's been in his family since the early 1800s. His Indian name was Two Wolf. He came up with the name. I said that's kind of cool. I like it. After I explained it to everybody they kind of love it. Everybody in the band has a little bit of Indian in them. I'm part Cherokee. I know Brad is quarter Indian and so is Lance. If you've ever seen Blackfoot, Greg has always got all this Indian garb on. He always looks cool. It's gonna be a neat look and cool songs. I know one of 'em is actually something Brad had written. It's got a real cool Indian chant in it. There's gonna be some neat stuff.
Q - It's a catchy name.
A - Thanks! It's kind of easy to remember. I'm excited about it. We all get along really well. We have a blast playing.
Q - That's a great start right there!
A - Yeah. It's going to be a lot of fun. You're gonna feel like everybody's brother. No fighting. No politics. We just want to get out and rock people's faces off.
Q - What's the club scene like in Daytona Beach?
A - Just about every place around here wants to hire a single guitar player with tracks or maybe a duo. Nobody wants to pay for a band. It's really gone backwards. It's pretty sad. Here in Daytona they have a band show right on the beach. Every summer they do shows there, free shows. They used to bring in a lot of diverse acts. This year they just released their line-up and every band on there is a tribute band. It's like, "You're kidding me! A tribute to kids." That's the big thing here, headlining tribute act. I don't get it.
Q - For the people who weren't around to see the original KISS or Beatles or Stones, it's a way for them to go back in time.
A - Yeah. For the big ones that's cool. It just blew my mind that the whole concert series, we're talking about twelve shows, everyone is a tribute show. If you got the good Beatles or AC/DC that's cool, or KISS. But it's just everything. All I could think is there's some really good original acts out there with CDs out that you could book. The whole music business has gotten kind of weird, at least in Florida.
Find Two Wolf on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/twowolftheband