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  • ARTIST: Tommi Gunn
  • LABEL: Eonian Records
  • UPC: 798576288990
  • GENRE: Hard Rock
  • RELEASE DATE: 3/29/2024


    It was in the summer of ’85 in Chicago, Illinois that Tommi Gunn locked and loaded into place, the War Cry duo of guitarists Steven Ahlers and Marty Kelley, and singer Vinnie Kelley teaming up with bassist Patrick Ryan and drummer Joe Iaccino to form the band’s inaugural line-up.

    With future Life Sex & Death drummer Brian Horak taking up residence behind the kit, Tommi Gunn wasted little time in making their presence felt on the Chicago hard rock scene. Regulars in the local music publications such as The Chicago Rocker and Windy City Rocks, the quintet quickly began selling out the local hot spot, The Thirsty Whale, and other venues in and around their home city, while also making an impact as far afield as Wisconsin.

    Buoyed by their success, Tommi Gunn teamed up later the same year to record a selection of their best songs with renowned Chicago Producer & Engineer Bob Pucci, who had worked with Defcon, Ravage and on the now highly collectable Chicago Metal Works compilation series. Not content with that, the band’s second set of songs attracted the attention of Survivor legends Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan who took on the role of producers for the next studio sessions, this time at the Chicago Recording Company.

    Impressive though these songs were, Tommi Gunn knew that if they really wanted to make the step up into the big time, the only place to be was West Hollywood and more specifically The Sunset Strip. With Brian Horak unable to make the move, future Beautiful Creatures guitarist Anthony Focx, who had decamped to LA from Chicago just a couple of months before, was drafted into the newly vacated drum spot and with that, the classic line-up of the band came into being.

    Having grown up listening to hard rock and metal acts like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Scorpions, KISS and Iron Maiden, the guys in the band were inspired to spend hours scouring the import section of Rolling Stone Records and subsequently soaking up the attitude of the more underground UK acts of the time such as Motörhead, Tygers of Pan Tang and Angel Witch. However, with glam metal dominating The Strip and propelling several of its regular acts into mainstream consciousness, Tommi Gunn took those influences and wrapped them in an attack perfect for the times.

    Selling out their debut headline LA show, which was booked by Eddie Van Halen’s wife Janie Liszewski, the band took no time in transferring their hometown success to the vibrant Hollywood scene. Also selling out their debut headline show at the legendary Whisky A Go Go, Tommi Gunn would go on to achieve the accolade of being invited back to top the bill at the venue’s New Year’s Eve show, which was historically seen as their biggest night of the year.

    Ruling the roost at other Strip mainstays, Doug Weston’s Troubadour, Gazzarri’s and The Roxy Theatre, the five-piece would also frequent the stage at Chuck Landis’ Country Club in Resada, the Marquee in Westminster and The Celebrity Theater in Anaheim, as well as remaining major players on the Chicago circuit when they ventured home. The next logical step, of course, was for Tommi Gunn to hit the studio to record some new demos in the hope of snagging that ever-elusive record deal.

    With strong support from influential music publications LA Weekly, Rock City News, Music Connection and Screamer Magazine backing up the band’s fearsome live reputation, Tommi Gunn caught the eye of Bill Aucoin, the man responsible for steering the careers of both KISS and Billy Idol to international success. With Howie Hubberman, who both managed Poison and financed Guns N’ Roses in their early years, also part of the team, the band found themselves in Paramount Studios in Hollywood recording five songs with Toby Wright in September 1988.

    So impressive were the recordings put together with the producer & engineer who would go on to work with heavyweights such as Alice in Chains, Metallica, Sevendust, and Korn, Tommi Gunn used them to convince MCA Records to hand them an $8,000 demo deal.As was the way back then, MCA were, however, hedging their bets, casting their eye over not just Tommi Gunn but also hot young hopefuls Pretty Boy Floyd. With only one spot on MCA’s roster available, the label’s executives were seduced by the latter’s more provocatively visual style and their interest in Tommi Gunn petered out. In truth, the musical times were changing and suddenly the mainstream began to overflow with more alternative acts and a certain thing called “Grunge.” As it did for so many outstanding, underappreciated bands, the music media’s infatuation with this old sound dressed in new, dowdy clothing signaled the end of the journey for Tommi Gunn… but what a journey it had been.

    From handing out gig flyers on the sidewalks of West Hollywood to sharing stages with the likes of Warrant, Tuff and many more... And from headlining the most prestigious venues The Sunset Strip has to offer to working with rock legends both in and outside of the studio, Tommi Gunn did everything they could to give their music the chance it truly deserved. It may have taken more than three decades, but finally those songs, taken from the original half-inch master tapes, are seeing the light of day. Let the tales of what could and from this evidence, should have been, begin.

Tommi Gunn - Talk Of The Town (CD) (2024) (Eonian Records)

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