Vintage Hard Rock and Heavy Metal


September 4, 2013

Hard rock vocalist Paul Shortino lives in the positive

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Written by: Patrick Prince
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Vocalist Paul Shortino loves collaborating with other musicians, whether it be fronting the new King Kobra lineup [drummer Carmine Appice, guitarist David Michael-Phillips, guitarist Mick Sweda, and bassist Johnny Rod], or being a regular part of the popular 2013 Vegas musical Raiding the Rock Vault.

The new King Kobra album, King Kobra II, is a contemporary take on ’70s/’80s power rock, and Shortino’s deep, rich vocals shine on it. Shortino is known for his hard rock range but he can really conquer any style.

Read Powerline’s review of King Kobra II

Shortino spoke to Powerline about all the above and some insight into the power of positive thinking.

Were you a fan of King Kobra before joining?
Paul Shortino: I’ve always been a fan of Carmine [Appice]. Everything that Carmine has ever done. This lineup of King Kobra is totally different than where they used to be. Carmine wanted to do another King Kobra record and this one’s called II because it’s with a whole new lineup, with a whole new direction. And Mark [Free] has a great voice but Mark just didn’t want to do this kind of music. And I’m just very fortunate to be a part of a great project. I’m hoping we’re gonna tour. We’re talking about it.

It sounds like its own thing — there is a difference between the two lineups.
Shortino: Yeah, totally. Same way with the Quiet Riot record I did. It was totally different and we probably should have called that something else, actually. Because Kevin [Dubrow] was really that band and he has some really big shoes to fill.

The current lineup of King Kobra in 2010. L-R: Mick Sweda, David Michael-Philips, Carmine Appice, Paul Shortino and Johnny Rod.

The current lineup of King Kobra. L-R: Mick Sweda, David Michael-Philips, Carmine Appice, Paul Shortino, and Johnny Rod.

And being in this band — Mark (Free), another great singer with big shoes to fill. This second record, it just took us on a direction of us knowing each other a little bit better and David [Michael-Phillips] is a really good songwriter and so is Carmine, and Mick [Sweda] and Johnny [Rod]. Everyone participated on this record. I’m loving every minute of it.

It was interesting how this record came about as far as recording because we did the drums and everything in Las Vegas at a friend of mine’s studio called Hit Track and it was tracked on drums — the drums only, on tape — and then I did a lot of my stuff, editing, here in my studio in my home, and David did a lot of work out of his studio in his home, and Mick did his parts and Johnny came back and tracked his bass at my house. But the record has a feeling like we were all right there cutting it together.

You get production credit on this record.
Shortino: Yeah, we all were in on the production on this. David went the extra mile. They’ve done a lot of stuff together — Carmine and David. David really wanted to get a little bit credit where he didn’t really get it in the past. He really worked hard on this record, like we all did, but I thought he should get a little more credit.

Do you think it takes you awhile to feel comfortable in an already-established band?
Shortino: Yeah, I was just being myself. You now what I mean? Like I’m in a show here in Las Vegas with John Payne from Asia and it’s called Raiding the Rock Vault, it’s a story and history of rock ‘n’ roll from the ’60s to 1989. The earth’s been hit by an asteroid and 1,000 years later these guys come to a Mayan Temple and we’re performing this show, (really) in the theater where Elvis used to perform at the Hilton — called the LVH now. It’s with Howard Leese on guitars, Tracii Guns, Michael T. Ross, Jay Schellen on drums, Robin McAuley on vocals, Andrew Freeman from The Offspring, George Lynch. John Payne put this thing together and it’s quite a journey. It’s a history lesson for youngins and at the show it can be anywhere from eight to 80. We’re here for another year.

As a singer, when you sing a classic song, you kind of make it your own, no?
Shortino: Yeah, yeah. You want to do that. I do “Light My Fire” in the show. And then I do “Honky Tonk Women” and I go into my Tina Turner, as I call it, version of that.

I was reviewing an album by BlancaWhite and it had a few songs on there sung by you.
Shortino: And I’m doing another thing for those guys right now. I did something for an Italian band, too. And also a French band where I sung a track on. I’m always trying to do something whether it’s rock-related or in another direction, like I want to record a version of “At Last” that Etta James had made a hit.

You have such a soulful voice, that makes sense.
Shortino: I just did a version of “Love Hurts” that just came out. I did a tour just recently in Spain with this guy named Javier Vargas. And we rescued a dog. His name’s Dio and he’s a pedanco and what they do with these dogs is, the hunters train them to hunt by scent and sight for small animals. The horrific thing about this is, in Spain there are no animal rights. When I was over there touring this time I went to this rescue where they had over 800 dogs and all these animals. So I am just trying to be a voice for some of these animals. We did a remake of “Love Hurts” and Carmine is playing on it.

Seems like you really enjoy doing a lot of projects for other musicians?
Shortino: Oh, absolutely. I like to keep active. I feel kind of grateful that I didn’t get stuck in a rut with just the ’80s songs. I would just hate to do the same songs over and over again.

What has been your favorite collaboration? Was it Hear N’ Aid?
Shortino: That was an experience. It was a mind blowing experience to be around that many people and just seeing all those people sharing. I was blessed and grateful enough to sing a line in that song ["Stars"] among all of the great singers that were on that. That was a moment in my lifetime that I will never forget. That was incredible. I actually just heard the full version of that song on XM radio coming back from LA. Amazing how Ronnie [James Dio] got all the solos with all of the singing parts because we all sang the whole song, and they all played their solos throughout the whole song. What a talented and incredible artist and producer Ronnie was, God bless his soul.

This record King Kobra II captures the ’80s but it also captures what was really good about hard rock in the ’70s.
Shortino: Oh yeah, there’s some ’70 vibe there. “Have a Good Time” is like the “Hot Legs” of the record.

It’s like Foghat, too. They made a lot of those type of songs.
Shortino: Absolutely. One of my great favorite bands, too.

There are not a lot of bands like that out there anymore.
Shortino: No. And I’m sure down the road we’ll put some Foghat into the Raiding the Rock Vault show, too. This project can just go on forever. Everybody is dying to be in this show or sub for someone. It’s such a great gig, you know. You just sing maybe five or six songs. I also do Robert Palmer. A little Whitesnake. I do “Here I go Again” in the show. It’s great and with this King Kobra record … it’s the year of the snake for me, in Chinese astrology, so what a great year for Whitesnake and hopefully King Kobra, you know. Because I am affiliated with it and I’m very lucky this year on everything that I’m doing. And I owe a lot of that to some of the books that I’ve been reading. I saw a DVD called The Secret and there’s a book out called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and it’s all about law of attraction and she wrote other books, one is called The Power, and the power in our lives is love. The Beatles had it — the more love we give, the more love we get back. And everything is made with love and when you start looking at everything that way it’s amazing how your life changes. And The Magic in life — which is the third book [Byrne] has written — it’s gratitude and being grateful for everything we have and everything we have in life. Every day’s a new adventure and we can’t change what yesterday was all about. We can’t even see what the future’s gonna bring. We just live the day out to the fullest.

KING.KOBRA_.II_And even in time’s of turmoil you can’t hang on the negative, right?
Shortino: No, you got to hang in the positive. It’s funny because we were doing the Raiding the Rock Vault in Los Angeles when we did the sizzle for it and we were rehearsing in a rehearsal hall and we didn’t know exactly the idea of the production of it. There are lasers and screens … we were just like a bunch of old guys in a rehearsal hall learning cover songs, you know. There’s a whole story to this. Then we get to the Mayan Theater in Downtown L.A. where we filmed this and put this thing together to begin with. I was staying in Newhall [California] which is easily 30 minutes with no traffic and an hour and a half with traffic. And my mother was having surgery. She was going in for the third time at that point and I was reading The Power and all about love, and I was sitting in the car and it was bumper to bumper traffic and I’m going ‘I love this car. It’s a cadillac. I’m driving, I love the road even though there’s holes in it. I’m loving the traffic. I’m loving everybody. I’m loving the gridlock. I’m loving all the people around me. I’m loving California because I haven’t been here in a while.’ And I was there five minutes before I was supposed to be there. I couldn’t believe it. But everything started moving. Everything. And it tells you to take negative things out of your vocabulary and replace it with fantastic and wonderful and that’s what you attract. We’re a magnet and a sponge and whatever we put out is what we get back, so in the last couple of years, reading this and getting into this, this type of law of attraction is amazing because when I first read the beginning of The Power I wrote down what I wanted to manifest on a board. The book said you should write down what you want and believe it and ask the universe for it. And I did. I asked for a show here in Vegas. My face is on buses. It’s on 21 tables. It’s hanging on billboards. It’s unbelievable. It’s a dream come true. It’s amazing. It’s unbelievable how the law of attraction works. So I put out that I wanted this record [King Kobra II] to do incredible and I don’t see it doing anything other that that because I think it’s some really good music and I’m really proud of it.

And positive thinking can influence your songwriting, too.
Shortino: Absolutely. It changes your whole life and everything you do. I think everybody’s seeing what positive energy can do. It’s like the power of prayer. If we all got on the same wavelength of love, we wouldn’t need any armies. We wouldn’t need anything. You wouldn’t want to hurt anybody you love. You don’t want to steal from somebody you love. And you wouldn’t want to see anybody suffer that you love. You want to help them. It’s so interesting because I was doing a show the other night and every day I try to sit down and say I’m thankful and grateful for my feet, my legs and why I’m grateful for them. Because without them I couldn’t get along. And walk or dance or do what I do. And my hands and my arms. .. and all my body parts I’m grateful for. And one night [with] Raiding the Rock Vault there was a lady in the front row with no arms and I was like ‘Wow.’ It was just like a flash in my face. I just got done saying how grateful I was.

Something you should be grateful for is your voice.
Shortino: Oh, I say that every day. My voice. Still having my hair. And being in good health. My voice is in tip-top shape. I’m physically in the best shape I’ve ever been, And I’m ready to rock ‘n’ roll.

And that can happen on a tour with King Kobra.
Shortino: Well, I’m doing a re-get together with Rough Cutt on the Monsters of Rock cruise next year [March 29th – April 2, 2014]. And I think King Kobra’s gonna be on there so I’ll be doing double duty. Frontier [Records] wants to put (King Kobra) out with some other acts. So we’ll see. It would really be cool to go out with Black Sabbath. Carmine deserves that kind of a tour. Moreso than the rest of us because he’s been there and done that. I’m just really grateful to be playing and doing a record with these guys because they’re really great talent. And great guys.




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