Storming his way into the ’70s with humble beginnings and a natural ability to shred, Marchiano grew up listening to all the greats growing up, from Jimmy Page to Eric Clapton and KISS being just a few. Playing packed venues at a young age in a KISS cover band, Marchiano knew his position in life and music.
Much like many other artists of ’80s hard rock and metal, Marchiano saw his way to the famous 1.6 miles of mayhem, the Sunset Strip, to start Angora, managed by KISS legend Gene Simmons himself. Playing sold-out shows in sleazy bars and venues and then eventually finding his way back home to Philly, Marchiano further cemented himself into the music scene back in Philly to further his stance in the explosive North East music scene in the early ’90s with another cover band, this time for London’s very own Led Zeppelin, Heaven’s Edge.
The recent pandemic hit everyone hard; music acts, especially with road crews being out of work as venues shut down and artists confined to playing virtual shows in their homes, Marchiano took this time to leave the Led Zeppelin tribute band and start new projects. In this interview, we cover all this and more.
What first got you interested in guitar?
I’ve always wanted to play the guitar as far back as I can remember. So, my parents bought my first guitar on my seventh birthday. My father was a singer and made some recordings, so that could be why it’s in my blood. My brother Joey [Marchiano] also plays the drums. We would practice in our bedroom every day just to be as good as possible. Neither of us took lessons. We just learned by listening to the records.
Who were some of your biggest influences growing up?
I started listening to Eric Clapton first. Then I was turned on to Jimmy Page. But I will never forget the day Eddie Van Halen came out. We were all blown away and had never heard anything like that before. But there are so many influences of mine, just to name a few. Ace Frehley of KISS greatly influenced my style and stage performance. I’ve also loved listening to Angus Young’s AC/DC. They had the best guitar tones. And there are so many more.
You’ve been in quite a few bands. Can you take us through your timeline and roles for each one? I’m aware of Black-Eyed Susan, Heaven’s Edge, and your two current projects, The Electric Boa and EarCandy.
Around age 14, a few friends and I dressed up as KISS and performed shows in the neighborhood. Every show was packed. Then at 15 years old, I joined a cover band called Kashmir and played the club circuit for a few years. Fast forward to 2001, I recorded the Love Saves the Day (Superstar) CD with Dean Davidson (Britny Fox) on Bodyguard Records with producer/engineer John Rollo.
Tell me about Angora, which you formed with John Corabi, right?
In 1985 I moved to Los Angeles with Singer/songwriter John Corabi (Mötley Crüe/The Scream) to start the band Angora. We played every venue in Hollywood and definitely made some noise. The band quickly gained the interest of labels and producers. We got to work with producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day/Goo Goo Dolls) on our first demo at Rock Steady Studios in Hollywood. And also worked with Gene Simmons of KISS.
What was working with Gene Simmons like?
Gene Simmons took on Angora and started working with us. I couldn’t believe it because I loved KISS growing up. Gene Simmons is extremely intelligent and so funny. He gave us a lot of advice, took us out to lunch a few times, and came to some rehearsals. He had some of the best stories.
How did Angora give way to you joining Heavens Edge?
It was tough at that time, and Angora just couldn’t get where we wanted to be. So, around 1989, John Corabi joined The Scream (Hollywood Records). I moved back to Philly and joined the band Lecompt with singer/songwriter Michael Lecompt (Tangier). After a year of playing with Lecompt, I was searching for an original band and joined Heaven’s Edge (Columbia records).
We toured the tri-state area for six months in a van, which was a blast! Not only were the guys in the band so cool, but I got to play side-by-side with Reggie Wu. He is an amazing guitarist. I would watch him play when I was younger at the Galaxy in New Jersey with his band Warrior.
How did you end up with Dean Davidson’s Black-Eyed Susan?
In 1991, singer/songwriter Dean Davidson of Britny Fox invited me to join Black Eyed Susan, who at the time had a deal with Mercury/PolyGram Records. They had just come out with an album and needed a guitarist. I loved the music, and it was a great opportunity. So, I decided to leave Heaven’s Edge and join the band. That was my first bus tour. I really enjoyed playing the songs in Black Eyed Susan. I always loved playing songs from all of the original bands I’ve played in as well.
Let’s talk about gear. What was your first guitar, and what do you use now?
My first guitar was a $15 Sears acoustic guitar. Then my first electric was a Telco Delroy. Once I save up enough money, I bought my first Gibson Les Paul. As for amplifiers, I first used a Peavey Classic. Then eventually bought my first Marshall JCM 800 and loved it. I still use Gibson Les Paul’s, but I’m also very into the Fender Telecaster. I try to use live what I’ve used in the studio. But there were times when you’re recording a record, you wind up using what’s in the studio, especially if the producer asks you to try different instruments. Sometimes you go with what works for that recording—the same thing for amplifiers.
What are some of your favorite places that your music has taken you?
I’ve played hundreds of amazing venues. It’s hard to pick my favorite because they were all great. I did get to perform at Red Rocks in Colorado six times with Get the Led Out. That was a great experience. The only time out of the US was in Canada. I also had a blast sharing the stage with Gun N’ Roses back in the day; that was memorable for sure.
You’ve been playing with Get the Led out, right? What made that a good fit for you?
Playing with Get the Led Out was great because I worked with excellent musicians. I also got to perform at some amazing venues. We built the band together and tried to create the album version of the songs. That’s the reason we needed six musicians. It took a good 15 years to build the band where it is today. I’ve always enjoyed playing Led Zeppelin, so it was right up my alley, even though I feel no one could sound exactly like Jimmy Page because he’s so original and different.
What are some of your other passions outside of music?
If I’m not playing music, I enjoy hanging out with my family. Music is really all I’ve ever known, and I hope to continue doing it for the rest of my life.
Jimmy Marchiano: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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