Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
This origin story begins in late 80’s Boston, where three musicians – guitarist and vocalist Paul DiBartolo (aka Salvadore Poe), drummer Tommi Gallo, and bassist and vocalist Rob De Luca – were playing in a band named Bang* with Michael McGovern.
Di Bartolo, eager to feel out the music scene in New York City, traveled there in 1989, then soon met singer Ray West. He was more than impressed with West’s voice and abilities, telling De Luca and Gallo this when he contacted them, convincing them to also come to New York. They did and not long after their arrival, the trio started a new band with Ray, one that takes the name SPREAD EAGLE.
*(Not the famed 70’s band BANG!)
The band was soon writing music and rehearsing in an East Village basement, prepared to play their first gig while some talk about the band was beginning to build. Somehow that talk got back to record industry insiders; sparking interest from several of them to sign the fledgling act. Eventually, MCA/Universal Records closed the deal. Before the ink on the contract had dried, the label whisked SPREAD EAGLE into the legendary Record Plant Studios to record an album.
It isn’t clear whether the label was aware that the band only had a couple of songs written and completed at the time, but the quartet went along with the plan. Working with producer Charlie Gambetta, SPREAD EAGLE wrote most of the songs they would record on the spot, a credit to their true talent and raw creativity. In 1990, the band released their self-titled, début album, ‘Spread Eagle‘, a very guitar-driven outing possessing bluesy, wailing vocals – as evidenced on songs like “Switchblade Serenade“, “Broken City“, and “Scratch Like A Cat“. The latter song, “Scratch Like A Cat“, received an official video treatment by the band… no, really BY the band (and close friends) who financed its making, after the label failed to properly promote the album or SPREAD EAGLE.
In spite of that misstep, the album quickly took off, resonating well with fans and critics alike, as it garnered the band some worldwide acclaim. SPREAD EAGLE would work their asses off to maintain it though, as they spent most of the next three years touring and promoting the record and themselves. Members gradually began to burn out and 1992 saw the first departure, as drummer Tommi Gallo left the band right before they began recording a second album. Kirke Blankenship was brought in as his replacement, but he was temporary it seems, playing drums on one track (“High Horses“) before he too left.
Recording continued as SPREAD EAGLE utilized TNT’s John Macaluso and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts’ Thommy Price as session drummers for the remainder of the time in the studio. With Charlie Gambetta at the helm once again, the sophomore outing ‘Open To The Public‘ was released in 1993. SPREAD EAGLE toured for the album with live drummer Dave Femia, but despite it being a rather solid piece of work, the music scene itself was changing. With the rise of grunge and the misidentifying of some hard rock bands as “glam” or “hair bands”, SPREAD EAGLE‘s presence began to wane, resulting in their disbanding in 1995.
The members of SPREAD EAGLE continued to pursue music and play in other bands or projects. Singer Ray West resurfaced in the band Weapons Of Anew after initially turning his back on music altogether. Guitarist Paul DiBartolo changed his name to Salvadore Poe and began writing and recording songs with his wife at the time, Swedish singer Lisa Ekdahl. Drummer Tommi Gallo turned up in Iron Rage, while also a talented artist that created the artwork for the self-titled ‘Spread Eagle‘ album cover. Bassist Rob De Luca started new bands Ouijipig and OF EARTH.
Over the years, De Luca has maintained a steady presence in music, as a studio recording and touring bassist with several bands, including UFO, Sebastian Bach, Painmuseum, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Helmet, George Lynch, and Vinnie Moore.
Just this week we learned the story of SPREAD EAGLE is far from over and that a contemporary version of the band has arrived. Joining original members Ray West and Rob De Luca are guitarist Ziv Shalev and drummer Rik De Luca, and they are bringing a new album with them.
‘Subway To The Stars‘ is set to release August 9th from Frontiers Music Srl., and is the first new SPREAD EAGLE album in 26 years. It gets better too, for fans can check out the album artwork and tracklisting here today, along with the first single and official video, “Sound Of Speed“.
In an instance of history repeating itself, songs for the new album were fleshed out in NYC’s Music Building, the exact same place where the songs for the band’s début album were rehearsed and written all those years ago. Recording took place at Studio E in Brooklyn, NY, with Grammy Award-winning engineer Tom Camuso and mastering handled by another Grammy Award-winning engineer, Howie Weinberg.
You just cannot keep a great hard rock band down! Stream the new single, as well as pre-order ‘Subway To The Stars‘, at this LINK. There are a limited amount of signed copies of the new album available for pre-order HERE.
01. Subway To The Stars
02. 29th Of February
03. Sound Of Speed
04. Dead Air
05. Grand Scam
06. More Wolf Than Lamb
07. Cut Through
08. Little Serpentina
09. Antisocial Butterfly
10. Gutter Rhymes For Valentines