An Interview with Giancarlo Floridia, Songwriter for Frontiers Records

An Interview with Giancarlo Florida

Photo by Joe Schaeffer

If you’ve been keeping tabs on the nostalgia rock scene, aka bands from the ’70s and ’80s, go, Frontiers Records has it on lock. Acts like George Lynch, L.A. Guns, Heavens Edge, Michael Sweet, Marty Friedman, and dozens more are pouring records into the hard rock and heavy metal scene via Frontiers.

So, like it, love it, or hate it, Frontiers is here to stay. Moreover, in many ways, they’ve been vital to reviving so many careers that had gone dormant. And at the heart of it all is Giancarlo Floridia, a longtime musician and lover of all things rock, behind many of the songs we know and love that are pumping like rushes of blood from the heart of the Fronters factory.

Sure, it can be disheartening to learn that not all the songs on your favorite band’s latest record weren’t written by the artists themselves. And many fans and pundits like to point that out, too. But truthfully, bands have been turning to songwriters for ages, right? Fellas like Desmond Child, for example, made a career out of writing songs for others, some of which are the biggest and baddest in rock.

To that end, as far as Fronters and its stable goes, Giancarlo Floridia is the man with the plan. More importantly, today, he’s here with ClassicRockHistory.com to peel back on the onion on where he began, how he got here, and where he’s heading in the future.

What inspired you to become a musician, and what keeps you inspired?

I started singing at a young age, pretty much going back as far as I can remember. I got inspired by that whole MTV era when I was a kid. It was just a really fun time to be alive, and so I started playing guitar, I think, around when I was seven. I got this cool guitar that looked like a Hair metal guitar from service merchandise. It had a speaker built into the body of it.

I broke the strings, and I was too afraid to ask my parents to replace them because I thought it would be expensive. I found out a few years later that it was just a few dollars, so I started playing again when I was 12. I started songwriting immediately when I was 12, but I’ve always been a singer, no matter what, and I’ve never stopped. I find inspiration through my children and fans who have received all the new albums I’ve written/co-written over the past few years; it keeps me going.

Tell me about where you grew up. What was the scene like?

I grew up in the 1980s in the Torrance, California/Redondo Beach South Bay area. It was the greatest time ever, I tell my kids. It was like heaven on earth. Music was everywhere. Maybe a mile from where I was living, there were five music stores. It was just a different era, and it was super exciting. Then grunge came in when I was about 12 years old, and suddenly, everything changed, and everybody was depressed.

As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know what depression was until the grunge scene came in. I’ve never been a fan of All that and never will be. So, a lot of my writing has a lot of that energetic old-school stuff before the scene changed, but I try to keep the lyrics up to date.

What were some of your favorite spots to take in shows as a kid?

I didn’t get to go out much growing up; I was kind of bound to my house due to the religious elements of my family. It was really horrible, so I decided to run away from home at 14 to work on my skills and my music more. I remember practicing all of George Lynch’s guitar parts when I moved out of California to Florida every day and go figure; all these years later, I ended up writing two albums with George in one year alone. Some things are just meant to be. But unfortunately, I didn’t go to many shows.

Did any local musicians inspire you as you were coming up? 

My uncle, John Prestia, was living in Florida when I ran away from home, and I went to visit him. He was like my hero. He ended up with the Allman Brothers, and he always inspired me to keep pushing no matter what. I believe that, at this point, he’s been a part of Tim McGraw’s band for over 20 years.

So, definitely, he’s my main inspiration. In terms of people that I knew personally, I got to spend some time with him in Nashville last year. He’s over 70 years old and still plays every single week, and he looks amazing.

How did you pick up songwriting, and what was your first song? 

Singing and songwriting were just a way for me to process the pain that I was going through living in my home environment. It was my escape. And I remember in Torrance, I had a singing machine in the front room of our house, and sometimes people would come over and say that they were really impressed.

They really liked it, so I kept singing, and I thought it was the right route to go. I had the ability to make people happy through my talents. The first song I wrote was called “Gena,” which was about some girl I had the hotspot in middle school. But growing up, I would write my own little funny songs in the neighborhood and sing them to myself.

How did you get hooked up with Frontiers?

I was planning on making a fifth Faithsedge album, and I reached out to Alessandro Del Vecchio about doing another. He knew I had wanted to be with the label since Faithsedge began. He said, “Why don’t you try writing for the label?” He said to go ahead and put a song together and show the label what I could possibly present.

So, I’ll never forget going home and thinking about it and then hopping on the Internet and seeing that Jani Lane’s wife Kim had passed away in a car accident. She was my good friend after Jani had passed and I helped her get through a lot of it. When I was a teenager, Jani called me on the phone and helped me get motivated, so I was devastated that they were both gone. Within 24 hours, I wrote a song called “The Pain of Goodbye.”

Alessandro loved it and brought me on with it and another song for the Cleanbreak debut album, which cracked the Billboard charts. Technically, the songs I wrote about Jani and Kim opened all these doors for me because Michael Sweet heard that song, which also opened our writing relationship.

Of your older work, what albums mean the most, and why? 

I like the final album we made for Faithsedge. All the pieces came together after learning the good and bad from the first three albums. I’m extremely proud of every song on the album. I always tell people to check it out. I also like the debut album a lot because I was really hungry to get my foot in the door at the time and get my music going internationally.

These days, where are you pulling from in terms of songwriting?

As much as I’m a huge fan of the ’80s scene, whether it’s pop or metal, I have no intention of copying it in terms of lyricism or concept. Everything I’m doing lyrically comes from personal experience or situations in my soul. I think it’s the best way to go because I want to write songs that people can connect to. So, I’m giving a nod to my past sound-wise, but I’m talking about my life today.

For example, with Lynch Mob’s “How You Fall,” I remember hearing it and thinking when George sent me the guitars, but I wanted to bring it into today’s world, where people are going through abuse or abusive situations and breaking out of them. I want to help. So, the best way to go about it is to write real lyrics about real-life stuff.

What does the process look like between you and the artists you work with?

It depends. Sometimes, in its entirety, it’ll be finished and approved by the label. For example, with the new Cleanbreak coming this year, I just wrote the stuff that was approved. A few tweaks were made here and there, but in general, it was good to go, and it just needed to be relearned. I’m brought onto an album, and I go with what the artist wants or have conversations with the artist, and we take it from there.

Which Frontiers songs and albums mean the most to you, and why?

There are so many now, but of course, The Pain of Goodbye from the Cleanbreak debut is my favorite because of the song’s meaning and how it started all the great things happening to me now. I also like “Spinning Wheel” on the Michael Sweet SoleDriver album, “Erase” off the Lynch Mob Babylon album, and, of course, “Leaving It All Behind” from the Sweet & Lynch Heart & Sacrifice album.

Those three albums mean so much to me because of how quickly I was able to work with them and get the albums done. They have so many great songs and, of course, work with my heroes. It’s such a big deal to me. And, of course, the reception was great, so that meant so much that I could write for Frontiers, which has always been my favorite label.

How do you view the way you write today versus the past? What has changed most? 

I’m more confident now. Before, I was kind of unsure if it was meant to be or not, but once your main inspirations for playing start reaching out to you about working on albums with them, it’s hard to deny that this was meant to be. So, when I go to write, it helps me a lot knowing that it’s going to help so many people, and I gotta work with people who inspired me to play. I’m in a better headspace moving forward with writing.

What’s one thing about you as a musician and songwriter that you’d like people to understand?

I would maybe think I would just rather tell people not to give up on themselves more than anything. It was a freaking crazy road to get here. I have stories that maybe I’ll talk about at a later time in my life in the music industry, so I made quite a comeback.

But mainly, I want people to know that I write music and stuff to make their lives a better place, and I hope I can do that. Life is super difficult, especially nowadays, so if I can help anybody in any shape or form, it’s the reason I’m alive. Basically, I would like them to know I’m doing this for them also when I’m writing.

How do you measure the impact of Frontiers on rock music and reviving older bands’ careers?

I think it’s we’ve had fun also working on the music videos with artists, so it’s cool to see new music videos and be a part of them, whether that’s doing scriptwriting or seeing my daughter, Faith, music videos for L.A. Guns, Black Swan, Cleanbreak, etc. So, it’s great seeing the fans getting the music, but it’s also been a lot of fun working with the guys from that era. You gotta leave it to us to keep this stuff going [laughs]?

And for your part, you’re soundtracking an era of music. That must be gratifying and interesting. 

It really is because I just love it so much. It was such an important part of my life growing up, and it still is. So, I really live and breathe that era. And in a way, due to my childhood being pretty harsh, it’s making it all worth it.

Everything I went through back then and my struggle to get up the ladder was completely worth it. Whatever you have to go through to achieve your dreams. There’s a song on Sweet & Lynch’s Heart & Sacrifice called “Where I Have to Go,” which is a really great summary of all of this.

What are your short and long-term goals? How will you achieve them?

I definitely want to keep writing because it’s doing so well, and there will be some more stuff coming this year. As most people know, Alessandro is no longer A&R at Frontiers. But I am still working with them, so let’s see what the future holds.

A lot of people also want me to get back into singing for bands. Maybe that will happen in the future, too, but for now, I will focus on writing. So, the long-term and short-term goal is to never give up, keep writing, keep singing, and just keep going until I drop.

An Interview with Giancarlo Floridia, Songwriter for Frontiers Records article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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