JAM Magazine Main Features

Johnny Solinger

Dallas Rockers On A Roll

Stand back and grab a hold of something. Those irreverent guys we know as Solinger are back with a vengeance. But they never went away, really. They were just holed-up in a recording studio putting finishing touches on their recently released, self-titled CD.

The idea is simple enough. Establish yourself as somewhat pretentious musicians, become a staple to the region al rock clubs, then lay low for a while. Later, comeback with a well-produced, well written, great sounding compilation, and… Voila! They're not only back, they're on the right track.

Solinger consists of lead guitarist Kirk Carlson; vocalist (and the band's namesake) Johnny Solinger; along with a rhythm section composed of bassist Gray Wear, drummer Andre A ve lar and guitarist John Mott. Entering their fourth year as a band, these Dallas-based musicians have paid their dues in acts cover­ing everything from the Beach Boys to Iron Maiden.

"We've mixed together sounds we were all used to playing, and come up with the rock & roll you hear on the disc," related their frontman, lyricist, and publicist-from-hell, Johnny Solinger.

It stands to reason, then, that LA is their next big step? Nope.

"We've played LA," Solinger answered in a voice that, if you read between the lines, didn't speak very highly of la-la land. "Dallas is ... where we wanna be. We usually play the area every six weeks, then we'll do something in clubs in Louisiana or Oklahoma, but still stay within the region. California is just overrun. But we are planning on playing some of that Sunset Strip scene, although not without proper publicity."

The material on the CD is a mixture of both the old and new.

It has a distinct feel to it, in that Solinger's blues-tinged rock sound is formula-free — with no added frills — and (thankfully) no heavy metal screamers.

"Texas blues is what I like, and mixed with a little bit of hard rock, it'll work. I'm not a screamer, I'm a crooner," was Solinger's defense. 'The song "Booze City" is a fairly new song," he explained. "It came about just because we were doing so much playing around town a couple of years ago — it was almost overkill — Kirk and I really got caught up in it, and we were drinkin' way too much! The song came from the pits, you know; Booze City, don't go."

“Continuing to elaborate on the history behind some of the other songs on the new release,” Solinger added. “The only old song is "Tell Sandy" and we’re-recorded it simply because the audio on the video was not up to par."

The video for "Sandy" — although it hasn't been in rotation locally — is distributed by Spectra-Vision and shown between "soft porn" films in the pay-per-view market, both nationally and internationally.

'"'Pretty Strange’ is a completely new song," he continued. "It's about 'strange', meaning — that's what a guy calls a woman that's not his own ­ kind of a play on words.”

"Do I detect something of a reputation here? Not Solinger?! Surely there are no club owners in the area who might have a story to tell, and I'm certain there are no more than just a few "bouncers" who remember "that night some of the guys in the band ...," well, never mind.

That balls-to-the-wall, party­til-you-puke persona seems to be behind them now, dubious as it seems. Within reason, any­how.

Those of you familiar with Z-Rock and Madd Maxx's “Back-Rockwards" segments have, no doubt, often heard Solinger (the man) aiding Maxx as guest deejay. Appearances such as these help to promote the band's name, and "cuts" off their new CD are often played on the station's "Pick of the Week," as well.

"I've known those guys for years," Solinger said of his relationship with the radio station, "long before Z-Rock was even here. Sometimes the radio shows get a little stale, a little mundane, and I'm a comic relief, someone they can mess with on the air! Face it, you either like me or you don't!"

I wouldn't touch that.

"We do get a lot of airplay on the station," he went on to add, "and one of the reasons is because we're getting call-backs. They play a lot of other local bands, too, but we keep getting calls."

So, what's Solinger's image now?

"Street rock," he said with a gleam in his eye. "We're not glam, we don't get up there and pose, and there's no spandex. We're talkin' denim and leather."

Obviously, there's nothing obscure about them, either. I observed Solinger in action recently when they provided the opening slot for L. A. Guns at Dallas City Limits, and what a pleasant transformation it was from years (and performances) in the past. They took over the stage tossing out their new CD's to the audience, and opened the set with a cover of Queen's "Tie Your Mother Down." But the highlight of the performance came with "Precious Time" and "If I Knew How," both of which are on the new release, and feature the overall musicianship of the band ­ especially Kirk Carlson — who is one of the most proficient guitarists around.

I have to hand it to this guy Solinger, he's been nothing but straightforward and honest. In spite of that reputation acquired during the band's growing phase, it looks like they're settling in to their own niche. Go figure that one out.

So —just the question he was waiting for— in one sentence, describe Solinger, the band.

"Arrogant, cocky, with attitude!" Doesn't mince words, does he? Pretty strange!



Southside Ballroom