Friday, May 31, 2013

6th Member Interview

Mark Reale The Official Web Site - The Ultimate Network Site
Hey Gang,

I had the privilege to do an interview with PEDRO ALONSO over at They wanted some information about my years with Mark and his band RIOT, so I was very happy to answerer what I could.

                                                            by PEDRO ALONSO

February 3, 2013

How did you know Mark Reale? Do you remember the first time you talked with him?

Sure I remember. I met Mark May 1988 before we started the Thundersteel tour at rehearsal. I got the gig of drum tech, driving the rider truck and checking the lighting. Lighting is my forte but I’m a jack of all trades. We stayed in a apartment (more like a box) in the city, it was hot that year with no ac but come on, remember I was 20 years old, in the big city of New York with RIOT, what could be better then that?

Were you a Riot fan before working with the band?

I must confess, no I was into bands like Scorpions, Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Ac/Dc, Dio along with other styles of music. I played trumpet in middle and high school. I can also read and write music….so I do listen to classical music too…music is in my blood and family! My first concert was Neil Diamond; Mark always loved when I was on stage checking the monitors. I would “try” to sing some of Neil’s songs just goofing around. I could hear him laughing (like it was yesterday) along with the rest of the band. They say I sound like Neil…ok? I loved joking around with the band and the fans. After I found out about my big gig, I was a hooked and part of the crew, WOW!

How did you start working with Riot? Could you explain what has been your job during the last 25 years as the 6th member?

6th Member is a nickname the fans gave me years ago. You see I got connected with RIOT in 1988 after doing a show in San Antonio the year before with two of the members from the Thundersteel line up Bobby and Don. They did a show at the legendary Cameo Theater in San Antonio, the very same Cameo Theater where Metallica performed in 1987. John Grel from WINTERKAT ( on guitar and vocalist Gilbert “Buster” Grant Guzman ( along with Bobby and Don performed a great show for the local crowed. I was doing the lighting and pyro for the band that night, afterwards I gave my number to Don and Bobby and told them I would love to hit the road with them. Three months later they gave me the call to tour for the new RIOT album Thundersteel…..I was 20 at that time in my life and my mother had passed in 1986. I was so ready to tour with a big band after working for free in a well known night club in San Antonio called Sneakers for 6 months.

We toured in 1988 for the next three months around the US performing in many cities; it was a great time in my life. After the tour was over, the band was writing new tones that became RIOT’s 7th album The Privilege of Power. Then in 1989 I got a call from the band asking me to get my passport because RIOT was going over to Japan for the very first time and wanted me to be the lighting director and Bobby’s drum tech for this tour. I can’t explain how this made me feel but one thing was for sure, I was going to do my best! We did a 10 day tour that included 5 shows and with so many fans, it was so crazy! Japan, the best!! Then in 1990 the band released The Privilege of Power and in just seven months we were back in Japan again touring, but this time it was a 20 day tour that included 10 shows throughout Japan. It was the time of my life; I can’t thank Mark enough for giving me a chance to shine. But that’s how Mark was, always giving others a chance to shine.

My job titles have changed over the years with Mark and the band. In 1994 the band went over to Japan with a new singer Mike Dimeo along with Mark, Pete, Bobby and Flyntz for the release of NightBreaker. Things went ok but they didn’t have any crew guys from the Thundersteel line up attend that tour. For some reason I must have made a great impression on Mark and the rest of the guys because I got a call from Mark asking if I could help out with things, after that I was there until the end for my friend!

My job titles for RIOT includes: Lighting Director, Production Manger, Tour Manager, Booking Agent, Travel Agent, Guitar tech, Drum Tech, Bass Tech, Merchandise Designer, truck and van driver and helped with interviews. I also host, designed and maintained beginning in 1999 two web sites that fans and the press get information from like RIOTSWEB.COM and MARKREALE.COM the official web sites that are still up today. You name it I did for the band. Never took a dime when it came to many of my tasked, only when we all made money is when I got paid. I did it for the love of music, fans and to make sure my friend and the rest of the band had a safe journey.

What have been your highlights during these years?

I would have to say, Japan, Spain and Greece have been the best for me. I’m a history buff and loved seeing some of the places that I read about in school. I’m so thankful that GOD blessed me and allowed me to have a safe and fun journey for so many years. I thank my friend Mark for allowing me to take care of some many tasks for him and having trust in me. I will never forget what I have seen and the places I have been, thanks to Mark Reale and RIOT!

How was Mark Reale outside the music business? What were his passions, hobbies…?

Mark loved to run; guy would put on a trash bag then his jacket and head out for a jog around the block in 30 degree weather. We were in Montreux, Switzerland, Mark looks at me and said, you know where were at? Not thinking, I told him sure…..were in Switzerland. We had just got off the train and checked into a nice European hotel. He looks at me shaking his head…I’m like what? He then starts to enlighten me about Deep Purple’s famous ‘Smoke On The Water’ story that I had heard and read about not realizing we were in the very same town. Anybody that knows Mark knows he loved Deep Purple. Again the man puts on a trash bag then his jacket and headed out for a jog around and yes it was cold out. I was still trying to work on things at the hotel for the rest of the band, they were on the bus. This was the same trip where I took Mark off the bus when he got sick. You see I knew about the Eurorail train pass and told Mark that the pass was good for ten days and in nine countries we could travel freely. Well he didn’t won’t to waste it along with my pass too so decided to do the rest of the tour via train. It was the best I must confess! I somehow think he knew where he was going on his jog that day in Switzerland.

Mark loved classic movies; he actually made a few home movies when he was a kid. With all of the great tunes that came from that man’s mind, I wonder sometimes what it would have been like if he was a writer and producer of movies. Mark love getting together with other musicians….like Tony Harnell from TnT and Bruno Ravel from Danger Danger…..what a great project WestWorld was. Music was Mark’s passion, he lived and breathed it. He loved the bible, carried it everywhere he went!  I saw him reading several times; we talked a lot about faith many times on the road and at his home, was good to be with my brother!

He loved Texas, loved visiting the warm Climate. He was going to move down here with his father, he really had passion for outdoors and Texas is a great place for that. Cooking was also his passion, boy would cook up a storm, and his dad loved the BBQ’s they would do on a nice sunny day. All in all, Mark was just as average as the rest of us when it came to passions, totally dedicated to them.

When did Mark discover he suffered Crohn’s disease and how did it affect Mark’s life?

Mark contracted Crohn’s disease sometime around 1984 to 1985, he arrived back from a stay in Texas in 1986 when doctors revealed to him that he had the disease after sugary for it…..his father tells me. When I meet Mark in 1988, his diet was important to him and he would always run…so for the most part Mark adapted pretty good. Now were all human and fall to our desires sometimes as did Mark, he knew what he could not eat and one of those things was rice. It expands in the gastrointestinal tract and that is really bad for someone who suffers from Crohn’s disease. Mark LOVED Chinese food, I remember sitting in Amsterdam with him eating some really good Chinese food, I must say it’s one of my fav’s too…but I knew what was in store for him and me the next few days…was not fun! Mark loved food so giving things up for the rest of your life is a hard thing to do, what amazing strength he had!

Why his condition worsened in 2012 and how did he enter in coma? Did the doctors expect this?

Well Crohn’s disease is very hard on the human body; I’m not a doctor so I couldn’t tell you why Mark’s condition got worse. Mark took vitamins and he ran a lot, he watched his diet for the most part but would have a few things that would upset his stomach. I remember taking him off the bus in Europe and placed him in a hotel for the next few days while the band travelled to Belgium and performed without him because he was just too sick. Luckily we had a few days off and I had brought some soups and other things from the US in my trunk…even brought a 220 single flat burner that I got online just encase I needed it. After a few days of a strict diet and helping my friend get back on his feet. The man was back and performing the rest of the tour like nothing, totally amazing how he loved his music and gave so much! On the flip side, the rest of the band was about to kill me because I wasn’t there for load in…they had no production manager to help them with all that comes with that title. But my main focus was Mark at that time and they knew it.

Mark was really ill to record Immortal Soul album. How did you handle this difficult situation?

I was not a part of the “Thundersteel Reunion” nor the recording of Immortal Soul. Mark didn’t want to make any drama with the others and I didn’t want to get in Mark’s way or make stress with anyone. 

So I stepped aside and let everything play out. Mark and I were in contact throughout the recording but I did not see him until he went into a coma on 11th of January after suffering a subarachnoid hemorrhage (a form of a stroke). I had seen Dimeo in San Antonio a few months before and he did tell me that Mark didn’t look well. I never know it was that bad… Mark just didn’t want to inconvenience anyone with his illness, even me. But that’s how Mark was!

Mark’s death has been terrible for his father. Are you and the rest of the members in the band in contact with him?

Oh yes, I’m in contact with Mr. Reale on a regular basis. I’m thinking of flying up in the spring to help with the yard work. Flyntz had Mr. Reale over for dinner this past holiday and is in contact with him too. Dimeo call’s Mr. Reale and has taken him to the doctor’s office a few times. We all are helping Mr. Reale anyway we can, he’s a strong man and his faith keeps him grounded! How strong you may ask, so much so he was outside sawing branches down (at 84 years old) from his roof when the Sandy hurricane blew through New York! He’s got a great spirit, just like somebody I know (Mark)….I see where my friend gets it from, what great dad to have in your life.

Mark’s a great friend and those who knew Mark can say the same! I often think how lucky I am! Not many get a chance to be a “rock star” assistants, lighting director, production manager, travel agent, booking agent and everything in between. I travel the world like a star, thanks to my friend Mark Reale! I only lost a power supply to his pedal board, not bad for 20 years of hard work. That’s how much Mark meant to me, I miss him! He was my big brother and I miss our deep talks, I always did my best to keep him safe on our journey here, I look forward to our next one. 

Shine On Mark and thank you!
6th Member



more coming soon!