MELODY LANE had a touching, heartwarming and honest interview with the legendary JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY, founder, frontman and guitarist of the GLAM / PUNK trio 'SCREAM IDOL', (formerly known as STAR STAR).
Don't miss SCREAM IDOL' s new single “Teenage Doom Disciple”,  taken from the forthcoming album MOVIE MARY "The soundtrack of a sin-steeped RnR story set to a Sunset Strip beat"!!!

MELODY LANE:  Let's start with the news that took everyone by surprise: your band name's change ... What can you tell us about it?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: Man, you know…it was with a lot of pain that we changed the name but, it just felt like it was a different band; the STAR STAR album, THE LOVE DRAG YEARS, that whole era…it’s very different now, it’s just that we felt like a different band that way we are now. We talked about it with our manager and we had to painfully agree that it was time to start anew. There’s no big philosophy behind the name change or anything like that, we just felt that it was time to change. STAR STAR was that band, with those people, in that era…while SCREAM IDOL is what we do now…

MELODY LANE: So, let's start talking about your first album which will be released under the name SCREAM IDOL: MOVIE MARY ... What can you tell us about this title?JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: MOVIE MARY is one of the songs on the album…Basically, it’s a theme album… the story about somebody that went to Hollywood and had their heart broken, about all the adventures that they had in Hollywood. Every song is a little story from that experience.

MELODY LANE: When will it be released?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: The physical album, the cd and the vinyl, will be probably out this summer while the digital release will be probably available sooner, a little sooner.

MELODY LANE: Is it confirmed that you will perform as a trio or will you have another guitarist on stage with you?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: Yes, it’s confirmed… we’ve been playing as a trio for over 15 years… but we have two girls singing (The Trashettes). Two more voices and one less guitar than in the past… I love my guitar loud ah ah ah…

MELODY LANE: Talking about your band mates… WEEDS, the original STAR STAR’s bass player, is as always by your side right?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY:  … Yes, of course. WEEDS and I have been friends since we were eleven. We grew up together. Besides the band we've the bond of having grown up together.

MELODY LANE:  …But we don't know much about your drummer JACK KENNEDY ... Can you tell us something about him?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY:  When we first got to Greece we met him by chance at some club. He had the coolest image in the club, we made friends with him and he turned out to be a drummer. He had the kind of personality that we had, and the chemistry between us was really good from the start. We all had our own personal things, but we did understand each other, we did communicate with each other and that was what brought us together and kept it all going. In addition to this…creatively, we really liked where he was coming from as a drummer, he was more from the alternative gothic darkwave scene; that really inspired us and it just helped the evolution of the band.

MELODY LANE: Will the album be released under a label or will it be self-produced?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: Yes, it’s all us. It’s gonna be self-produced. Actually we talked with different labels. But we just feel that there’s no reason to go with a label anymore. We have our own production services, we have our own production company where we record and do our videos, so you know…there are no more magazines, there’s no more MTV or anything like that…things you needed a label for. Just think that an album like THE LOVE DRAG YEARS, at the time, cost almost a quarter of a million dollars, considering the recordings and all the related expenses ...But today…We just don’t need them anymore. And they ask for crazy amounts of money, especially since we produce our own videos, we record and mix in our own studio, so… about a month ago, we just decided to do everything by ourselves. Today, bands have a lot of more power in promoting and distributing their music than in the past. I remember we used to make demo tapes, to hand out cassettes…How many cassettes do you think a band can hand out and get anything going? Now you release something and, all of a sudden, thousands of kids can hear it man. But I think things are going to change… One thing that I think is alarming is that the labels are gonna’ start buying the digital distribution companies and that will increase their power again. If the labels buy digital distributors it will be the same again, because of course you will still be able to distribute your music but the bands that people will see when they go to these digital stores will be the bands that the labels want  ... do you know what I mean?

MELODY LANE: In fact, speaking of digital and physical format ... the big problem for the bands is not only not being able to go on tour in this period, but also being forced to give up the income deriving from the sale of vinyls, CDs and t-shirts ... After the concerts, fans often they are eager to buy physical copies of the albums, maybe just to have them signed...
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: Ah man…I know, lots of bands do that but we‘ve never done it. We are a mess…You know…The last thing on my  mind after a show is standing at a table trying to sell a bunch of cds or t-shirts… I’ve seen a lot of my friends doing that and I know they make money that way but …I don’t know…to be honest with you man, I don’t even like to have somebody else doing that for me… we are not so business inclined. Growing up in the New York City scene, with Johnny Thunders and stuff like that, that… it wasn’t something that was inherent in our rock culture ... D’ you know what I mean?...I’m in a club, after a gig I want to drink, to party and to have fun, that’s what I live for, that’s the whole thing, that’s what makes me wanna be a musician; I didn’t become a musician to make money or to sell our cds and t-shirts man…I became a musician because I love  the club scene, the night life and all that…

MELODY LANE:  Given all the problems created by the pandemic ... do you think it might have been better to wait a little longer before releasing MOVIE MARY ?... Do you already have any scheduled shows to promote the album?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: Certainly I would have preferred to put it out in the time we could play shows, but we couldn’t wait anymore. During the pandemic year we were working on the album, and that kept us busy and creatively active. As for the live shows… we don’t have any dates scheduled.  I don't know, we have seen that bands like GUNS'N'ROSES and JUDAS PRIEST are postponing their shows to 2022, a year from now, it’s a bit discouraging, but we’ll see what happens.

MELODY LANE: Let’s talk about your writing process and your working method… How do your songs take shape?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: I usually start by spending a lot of time sitting on the couch just playing and thinking it out for hours and hours… and then I play with WEEDS, and we work on the ideas…and it all comes together. We don’t write songs at the rehearsals or anything like that. I always start with the vocals, that’s what I hear when I’m thinking of a song,  and then the songs are built around the vocal melody. I rarely start with a riff or anything like that, I can’t remember if I‘ve ever started with a riff, I’ve always started with the vocals and an acoustic guitar, and then we go electric at rehearsals. Many times, there’s another thing I like to do,  I call WEEDS and I sing him the song, and I let him work and do whatever from those vocals and then, when he comes over, he shows me what he got from my vocals and we kind of build up from there… It's a cool way to have two different perspectives of the original idea.

MELODY LANE: One thing that has always intrigued me is knowing why you moved to Greece ... If I think about the current rock scene and the type of music you play maybe it would have been better for you to move to Scandinavia or the UK ... Why did you choose Greece ...?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: After the United States we didn’t know what exactly do…so we ended up here because I had family here, and what happened was that I had an uncle here that I grew up with and was very close to, like a father, and he got very sick. So I decided to come and spend whatever time he had left with him… and that’s the true story; maybe it’s not a Rock’n’Roll story but that’s the real story. We came to Europe to rock and do other things but we ended up in Greece for that reason. But I’ll tell you this: we played much bigger shows here in Greece than we did in London or Hamburg or in other places. We‘ve always had a lot of fun doing the shows here, kids do come out! The thing that I like about it here is that young kids are still rocking, in the United States young kids don’t know what Rock’n’ Roll is man. They grew up with a radio that doesn’t play any Rock’n’ Roll…We don’t realize it here in Europe because here you can still hear Rock’n’Roll on the radio, and there are lots of magazines and stuff like that… in the United States it’s not like that for young kids growing up.

MELODY LANE: For a band like yours, that is launching a new album and looking to expand its fan base, perhaps the best thing would be to open for or play in support of great bands that can attract huge crowds ... what do you think about that?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: Well…a few years ago we opened up for GUNS ‘N’ ROSES and ALICE COOPER and a bunch of other high profile acts and it was great, so… yes… something that could grow our audience would be great but, off the top of my head what I would really prefer to do, it is to go on a big club tour with bands like THE HELLACOPTERS and BACKYARD BABIES and fucking do 60 shows in a row:  that’s what I would love!  We have played a lot of really big shows here, open air, but they were never the same as playing in a fucking club you know… So, yes, heavy rock bands like THE HELLACOPTERS and BACKYARD BABIES, bands like that would be really cool to go on tour with.

MELODY LANE: Back to the past. Let's talk a little about the history of your band STAR STAR ... MICHAEL MONROE appeared and played a part in the video of your song SCIENCE FICTION BOY ... How the collaboration was born? Were you friends?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: For what I can remember… Roadrunner Records made it happen. MICHAEL MONROE was in New York in that time and Roadrunner Records label suggested that we could get in touch with him… and then I think somebody called him and told him about us and what kind of band we were and asked him if he wanted to play a part in our video…and he accepted. So that’s how we kinda’ became friends. I didn’t know him before that. I remember one night, he came backstage with JOAN JETT and TOMMY PRICE, BILLY IDOL’s drummer.  

MELODY LANE: Shortly afterwards your guitarist JAY HENING, tragically passed away in 1997, joined DEMOLITION23, the project that MICHAEL MONROE had founded in NEW YORK together with his former bandmate in HANOI ROCKS bassist SAMI YAFFA ... What can you tell us about it . .. How did the story go?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: I don’t really wanna get into what happened between them, but whatever happened… it was short-lived. We were all in New York at that time, we were recording for a new album as he joined DEMOLITION23 and he just didn't want to pass up playing with Michael Monroe, but in reality he never left Star Star. We spent time together like we always did during that time. We were still a family and we all expected to do another album and shows together.

MELODY LANE: And then what happened…?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: Well…after DEMOLITION23, we wrote some stuff together before he went to his hometown, in Virginia. I insisted that he go home to his parents’ house because I thought it would have been safer for him than to be in New York City alone without the band, d’you know what I mean?...Because, at that point, WEEDS and I we were about to move to Europe. We agreed that he would have joined us here in Athens. I was gonna get us a big apartment, and I told him that I would sent him a ticket as soon as everything was ready. He was excited about making a new start here in Europe. Before I left I called him at his parents' house to go over the plan. Every time we spoke he kept saying that "change is good" and that "life is full of changes". He needed a big change. That’s why I was very surprised when I got the phone call  that he had killed himself. I knew he didn’t like being back in his hometown with his parents. I knew he didn’t like leaving New York to go back to Virginia, but he had to stay there and wait for a short period of time. But as he was waiting, I got into a big car accident and I almost killed myself. Perhaps if I didn't have the automobile accident, which delayed bringing him to Athens, things would have been different. Three or four weeks before he died I spoke to him and we talked about my broken leg and the accident and he was still happy about the new beginning, he was excited for a new start of the band.

MELODY LANE: There has always been an aura of uncertainty surrounding JAY HENING's story and his sad and premature death. There was a car accident and then there was talk of drug use and then the suicide ... What a sad ending for such a talented musician ...
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: STAR STAR was one of those bands that, you know ... we all had our little demons and JAY definitely had his also. But we all really understood each other, we kind of really helped each other and JAY ... yeah ... he had his addiction ... but his death wasn't something a drug overdose or anything like that. He shot himself. When he returned to his hometown, I guess…I don’t know… I don’t know what he felt…but he wasn’t happy. After his time with Michael Monroe…touring and playing and doing the DEMOLITION 23 album, you know, maybe the fact that we were far away…I don’t know, maybe he couldn’t wait, he didn’t believe that it was gonna’ happen or I don’t know…I don’t know what made him feel like he had no hope. I was really very surprised when I got the phone call that he’d killed himself. And yes, he committed suicide with a gun: it wasn’t drugs.

MELODY LANE: How did you get in touch with JAY, how did you become friends?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: We found JAY HENING from an ad. He was probably the most talented guitarist I’ve ever met. I remember when I met JAY, I gave him the tape with our songs and the next morning he called me and said he was ready. It was nothing to him. I’ve hung out with many great guitar players, but Jay had something extra, something you’re born with. The guitar was a natural extension of his body. I had never ever seen that before. He communicated through his guitar as easily and naturally as you and I communicate through speaking. If I may namedrop a little, I remember one night Zakk Wylde was at the apartment I shared with Ryan Roxie and Weeds in L.A., and I had just bought a new GK amp. Zakk wanted to try it out and started playing some crazy stuff man. I mean seriously kicking ass. Roxie is also one of the hottest players I’ve known. He’s played some of the tastiest, hottest guitar parts and solos I’ve ever heard… but, Jay had something different… something extra, something that you can’t teach or learn. He was in a class of his own. His few recordings only give you a glimpse of his greatness.

MELODY LANE: A little while ago you said:  "... we all had our little demons ...", do you think this did somehow create problems for you also with the label Roadrunner Records at that time?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: Well …maybe…  but the main problem that we had with the label was that it was the wrong label for us. They thought we were another of POISON band or stuff like that…They didn’t know what kind of band we were, they really thought we were some kind of L.A. hair metal band or something...That’s how their staff saw us. They didn’t understand that we were never that kind of band.

MELODY LANE: Didn't they support you as you expected? ... And what happened next?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: It took about a little over two years, more or less to get out of that deal. We didn’t want to do another album with Roadrunner because they didn’t know what kind of band we were. They were more into Heavy Metal and, to be honest with you, most of their staff… didn’t even like the band. The only person who honestly liked the band was Monte Conner, at that time the main A&R guy at Roadrunner. He’s the guy who signed us. Obviously it’s a big problem when the staff doesn’t like the band. It’s hard for them to promote you when their heart isn’t in it. I think that THE LOVE DRAG YEARS was a good album and it was never really promoted the way it was supposed to.

MELODY LANE: …And did you tour to promote the album?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: Yes we toured, maybe not a lot, but we toured . We did several shows in New York too, mostly headlining shows, but the main problem was that the scene was dying; there were no more bands coming out of Los Angeles or New York. There were less places to play: things were changing, so we decided to leave for Europe.

MELODY LANE:  Do you have a 'big regret' about your career? Maybe something that in hindsight you wish you had done differently? Something that maybe could have changed things about your band or your career ...?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: Yes, I think the biggest mistake that I made was not being able to get focused when I needed to…and just being a drunken fucked-up fool when I should have been more focused on the band and keeping it all together. The way we were living was really rough, especially rough when you’re touring and you’re trying to do a show every other night. It was too much for me, and instead of focusing and really cleaning up my head  I just had the wrong attitude living the way I lived. If I’d got my head together things would have been different, maybe also for JAY, because it all started from me. I had the responsibility for it. It was my fault, that’s the damn truth man. I was just weak… a stupid drunken fucked-up fool. 

MELODY LANE: Which musicians or bands are your main influences and which are your favorites?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: Oh man…well,  NEW YORK DOLLS, SWEET, MOOT THE HOOPLE, THE PLASMATICS but two of my absolute favorites are JUDAS PRIEST and JOHNNY THUNDERS ... I've seen them both live dozens of times ... JOHNNY THUNDERS influenced me a lot, but I think it's unavoidable, I grew up with his music ...

MELODY LANE: Johnnie we are almost at the end of the interview, I would like to ask you something about your relationship with the rock scene in Greece. How did you build your name, you have a hard core of fans who follow you? ... The shows ... ? So how are things for you in a country that is generally more inclined to listen to traditional Heavy Metal or Extreme Metal ?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: Oh man…It's always a packed house wherever we play here. Not from the beginning, but over time they found out about us, and, you know, we are one of  those bands that have always played anywhere under any circumstances and we did the same in L.A. and in New York. What I loved, about coming here man, was starting again in a new city. Hanging out, fighting to get people to the shows, talking with people…those are the best years of being in a band, your blood is boiling. We lived that all again here. We took any show under any circumstance, any little bar or we played for free, anything man...and after the very first period, very soon, we started headlining our shows, and then, after a while we started getting calls to open for bands like ALICE COOPER or GUNS'N'ROSES...... We have often been called to open for heavy metal bands. You can’t imagine how many metal shows we turned down.

MELODY LANE: …And about future…?
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: I am very confident. We worked hard on the new album and I'm happy with the result, MOVIE MARY has a sound that I like even more than THE LOVE DRAG YEARS ... We are very focused now, I’m  a lot more professional then I was back then, I know how and what I'm gonna do this time.  

MELODY LANE: …Thank  you for your time Johnnie… just a message to MELODY LANE’s readers and followers…
JOHNNIE HOLLIDAY: Thanks guys, stay safe and hope to see you on tour soon!