Pennsylvania power trio, On Top, has emerged with its debut CD, Top Heavy. The band formed in 2008 combines vocalist and bassist Jaron Gulino, guitarist Alex Kulick and drummer Danny Piselli. Top Heavy combines a full arsenal of 80s metal influence with a healthy dose of NWOBHM nuance. Think Dokken meets Raven backstage at a Motörhead show.
The album was recorded and mixed by Carson Slovak at Atrium Audio in August of 2011.
Band founder, Gulino makes no bones about his passion for old school glam metal bands. But his vocals lend themselves more to the aforementioned school of NWOBHM bands. The vibe is a bit punky as well.
The singer took time this week to give us the track by track background for Top Heavy.
TOP HEAVY – This intro track is pretty much our little version of Van Halen’s “Eruption” and Dokken’s “Without Warning”. We all came up with the arrangement. I feel it is a great way to kick off the album. I look at it as some sort of way to pay homage to my idols who inspired me to pursue music. Alex did the lead in a single take, we had goosebumps watching him track it!
INTO THE NIGHT – When I was in 8th grade my history teacher would always make comments about my Slayer and Yngwie Malmsteen t-shirts. One day he came in with a stack of burned CDs to give to me; Testament’s “Souls of Black” and “The New Order”, Sepultura’s “Arise” and “Chaos A.D.”, Nailbomb’s “Point Blank”, and Dokken’s “Back For The Attack”. I loved all the albums to death but Dokken really stood out to me with Lynch’s epic guitar work. That album definitely changed my life. Anyways, “Kiss of Death” is one of my all time favorites so I decided to try and write something similar. The result was “Into the Night”. The lyrics are a metaphor for drug addiction. I had a few close friends that lost their lives to heroin as well as others that were slowly headed down that path. Alex’s solo shines right on through in this song, my favorite solo on the album.
SLEEPLESS – This song pretty much explains itself. Women; cant live with them, cant live without them. The opening riff was heavily inspired by Badlands’ “High Wire”.
SICK AND TIRED – The lyric content on this one is pretty clear. We used to do this song in a previous line up of the band and the chorus went something like “Just so, you know, I go, out with all your friends”. Im really glad we reworked it for the album, haha. Danny hauls ass on this one.
ANOTHER NIGHT OF SLEAZE – This one was on our first demo and was also the first song I ever wrote on guitar. Always liked it but felt unhappy with some of the parts. After a little tweaking we settled on this version. Its about the uncontrollable desire for women and one night stands. Brian Davis (great friend, amazing musician, and huge inspiration) was the session guitarist that I asked to play on the demo and he came up with the killer solo melody. Thanks, man!
DIE HIGH – I wonder what this is about… haha. Aside from the obvious, it’s got the “going out on top”/“all or nothing” type of theme. Live it up while you can. Definitely kind of silly but has a fun feel to it. Dedicated to our buddy Speli.
FIRE DOWN BELOW – Won’t go into too much detail on this one, the lyrics are pretty upfront. I used to work at a restaurant where the boss would always joke with us about chicks. Rumors about one of the girls that worked there got pretty dirty and the boss told me to write a song about it called “Fire Down Below”. You wanted it, you got it! Recording the last vocal note on this one was a bitch. Been nailing it live pretty well though, it’s a work in progress, haha. Danny’s drum fills in the middle break are pretty wild. Alex nailed the guitar melodies as well.
HOT N WET – I’ve always been a sucker for blondes. This is one of my favorites to do live. Our old guitarist Quinn Dougherty helped write this one. Thanks, dude!
SUCCESS AND EXCESS – “Success and Excess” was the very first ON TOP song I wrote back in 2008. I grew up playing in thrash and death metal bands. After a while I started to get burnt out and decided I wanted to do something different. Despite being so deeply emerged in thrash and speed metal at the time, my favorite bands were bands like Van Halen, and Skid Row. L.A. Guns was another band I was really into. After playing along to the song “One More Reason” I found myself jamming some similar bass lines which would become “Success and Excess”. The lyrics are about a childhood friend of mine who fell deep into drugs. He came from a wealthy family and used it to his advantage to get into a ton of different substances. He had everything a kid could want, but after a year or so of hard drug abuse, he was a complete stranger to anyone who once knew him. Such a shame.
UP TO NO GOOD – This is one of the first tracks we wrote as the current lineup. I LOVE the way Alex phrases the riffs. Danny’s drumming in the pre-chorus is thunderous.. really great vibe on this one. The lyric theme is similar to the saying “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone”.
TOO MUCH – One of the most dynamic songs we have written so far. This is another drug themed song (Written before Stephen Pearcy released his song of the same title. Sorry man, not trying to step on any toes!). This is one of our favorites to do live. Alex does an exceptional job ripping the solo apart on this one, as usual. I wanted the middle solo/instrumental section to have the atmosphere of the before and after of drug use, starting slow and building up to the climax, and then the come down. My buddies used to tease me and say I played lead bass because of the way I played in my old bands, so I threw in the little bass break in their honor, haha. The band really rips on this one, one of my proudest moments on the album (Alex’s for sure).