As told by Joey Fiamingo.
Xenon began in 1983, much like any other band in New Jersey, playing covers of NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal---I always loved that term!) bands. We played three sets of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Ozzy, and the like.
In 1985, I began working at a recording studio, and eventually bartered my weekly unpaid salary (which had now become monthly) for studio time. This eventually became Xenon's first release, entitled "Cry in the Night". The three song cassette caught the attention of local college radio. The tape sold over two thousand copies and developed the core of Xenon's fan base.
In 1987, Xenon signed a management deal with AMI Productions, who were fresh off the success of John Waite's "Missing You" single and the lucrative split of New Edition. Under AMI's direction, Xenon showcased before such record industry notables as Geffen's John Kalodner, CBS's John Mrvos, and Atlantic's Jason Flomm.
The showcases were approached from a "music first---image last" standpoint (no stage clothes, makeup, blow dryers allowed)...bad move. Bands like Poison, Brittany Fox, and Cinderella were getting signed and we weren't. We continued to showcase for labels, steadfast in the opinion that good music was all that mattered. In retrospect, it seems the opposite was true (see Poison, Brittany Fox, and Cinderella).
Incidentally, in 1987, John Kalodner said I had the worst haircut in rock-and-roll. I did. But, have you seen Kalodner?
We were also told that if we "kicked out the girl" we could have our record deal. We refused emphatically.
Sick of major label ignorance, in 1989 we decided to record and release "America's New Design". The self-financed full-length CD and cassette sold over 20,000 units, even though it was sold in just 20 stores and at out live shows. We saw this as definitive proof that Xenon was and is, a viable, sellable product even though we didn't compromise our disdain for bleached hair and lipstick.
We were visited be Columbia's Dave Novick at a gig one night and he was impressed enough to give us seed money to record three more songs ("China Sky", "After Tonight", and "Perfect"). He loved them. They set up a private showcase for ten execs at New York City's Marquee Club, then at New Jersey's Club Bene. More love. There's talk of marketing strategies, publishing interests, and career goals---a happy ending?
Nope. Novick was fired and disappeared for two years. Many people have speculated why the deal didn't fly. This is the music biz...speculation is depressing.
In 1991, "the girl" left the group. I got disgusted and quit music. I didn't even listen to the radio for more than six months. Still, songs kept coming, phrases kept sticking, melodies still ran effluent throughout the river of my subconsious (I'll spare you the poetry).
After about 18 months, I contacted the band and invited them to listen to some recent demos I'd written. We listened, we jammed, we wrote---and we re-kindled a partnership for ourselves---for melody, for harmony. We finally came to the realization that, when people create art, they initially create it for themselves. What happens beyond that is perhaps a matter of fate...good lawyers and publicists?
But that's just speculation...
In 1995, Xenon penned a European liscensing deal for "America's New Design" with German indie, Long Island Records. Our last accounting statement stated we sold 46 records in all of Europe. This is why American bands should be selective in their choice for overseas deals...
In the fall of 1995, Xenon released "Simple", the EP version of the demos that brought the band back together. The critics around the world have proclaimed that if there is indeed a resurgence of Hard Rock, Xenon should very well be in the forefront of that movement. The reviews that followed have echoed that sentiment. Kerrang 4K's, Frontiers 10/10, Hard Rocks 10/10, Burrn! 85/100.
Xenon spent a good part of 1996 playing gigs around the New Jersey Club Circuit, and working dilligently in the studio to finish the final songs for the full length version of "Simple" which was released as "Defying Gravity". The following is growing with every gig and the new material is a natural progression towards more interesting songwriting and arrangements. This has introduced yet another facet of the band's appeal.
Xenon continues to receive countless awards from magazines both on the internet and on paper. In January 1996, Xenon received the "Most Promising Unsigned Act" award from UK based magazine Frontiers. SFK on-line magazine has named "China Sky" the "Best AOR Ballad of All Time". Xenon continues to record and play out to their fans.