Johnny Bacolas / Photo: Natalia Nikkola
|Birth name||Yiannis Sotiris Bacolas|
|Born||March 3, 1969|
|Genres||Hard rock, grunge, electronica, world music|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, producer, songwriter, audio engineer, director, videographer, editor|
|Instruments||Bass guitar, guitar, Greek bouzouki|
|Labels||Capitol, Timestyle Music, Red Rocket, Electric Head Records|
|Associated acts||Sleze, Alice N' Chains, Second Coming, Darin Isaacs
The Crying Spell, Lotus Crush, Yianni Bacolas, Owin' Soul
Johnny Bacolas (Greek: Γιάννης Μπάkολας; classical transcription Yiannis Bacolas) born March 3, 1969, in Seattle, Washington, is a composer, musician, producer, music video director, and videographer. He is best known for his work with the post-grunge band Second Coming. He was also a founding member of the band Sleze, which was later renamed Alice N' Chains (a precursor to Alice in Chains that also featured vocalist Layne Staley), The Crying Spell, and Lotus Crush.
Johnny Bacolas is a first-generation American born to Greek parents in Seattle, Washington. His father was a restaurateur, and leased jukeboxes that played in his cocktail lounges. The jukeboxes played 45 RMP vinyl records, which he rotated from month to month. Bacolas approached music through these records that his father brought home whenever he changed the jukeboxes. His earliest influences were The Beatles, Elton John, and old Motown. Some of his later influences were hard rock and heavy metal bands such as Kiss, Black Sabbath, Motley Crue, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden; he was also influenced by Greek music and house music. As a child and teen, he spent the majority of his summers in Greece. Bacolas met his future bandmate James Bergstrom when they were both five years old on their first day of kindergarten. He then began playing the electric guitar at the age of 12.
Sleze and Alice N' Chains (1984–1987)
In 1984, Bacolas started a garage band called Sleze along with James Bergstrom and two other Shorewood High students, Zoli Semanate and Byron Hansen. At the suggestion of Bergstrom's friend Ken Elmer, they recruited Elmer's stepbrother Layne Staley, who back then also went by the surname Elmer, as vocalist. In 1985, Sleze began performing live at various high schools with Bacolas on guitar. They mostly played Slayer and Armored Saint covers. Sleze went through several lineup changes before they eventually changed their name to Alice N' Chains. At one point, Bacolas briefly left the group to jam with another band called Ascendant, where he took up playing bass guitar. By the time he rejoined Sleze, the band had already written what would eventually be recorded on the two demos they put out under the moniker Alice N' Chains. The group continued to tour throughout the Seattle area before they broke up around 1987, which was the year that Bacolas graduated from Shorewood High.
A few months after Alice N' Chains broke up, Layne Staley joined the Hair Metal band that eventually took the name Alice in Chains, which Bacolas later claimed was the name that the two of them along with the other members of Sleze had initially flirted with. Throughout the rest of his career, Staley continued to stay in touch with Bacolas and the two of them shared an apartment during the mid-1990s.
Second Coming (1991–2008)
Meanwhile, Bacolas continued working with James Bergstrom in another band called Second Coming. In 1994, they independently released their debut album L.O.V.Evil, which features a guest appearance by Layne Staley on the track "It's Coming After". In 1996 Bacolas and Bergstrom replaced the vocalist/guitarist of the group. In the subsequent months, the new members of Second Coming wrote, produced, and financed an 8-song demo (which was produced by Kelly Gray and Dudley Taft). The band performed cover songs on the outskirts of Seattle under the moniker, F.T.A. to finance the demo. Once the recording was finished, the band dropped their cover act, and began performing solely as Second Coming. The band subsequently generated a massive buzz in the Seattle area performing their original songs. On May 9, 1998, Second Coming signed an exclusive recording agreement with Capitol Records Inc. and released their eponymous second album Second Coming. Second Coming had three singles chart in Billboard's active-rock chart ("Soft" #9, "Vintage Eyes" #10, and "The Unknown Rider" #11). The band had one of its songs "The Unknown Rider" featured in the 1999 blockbuster Bruce Willis film The Sixth Sense. The band toured extensively throughout the US supporting and performing with acts such as Van Halen, Candlebox, Monster Magnet, Kid Rock, Lenny Kravitz, Fuel, Sponge, Sammy Hagar, and The Goo Goo Dolls. The band split from Capitol Records in 2002 after the departure of Gary Gersh, the president who signed them to the label. Following the split, they independently released an EP titled Acoustic and third studio album 13. Second Coming were purportedly working on a fourth album that was due to be released in 2007, however, the band has since broken up.
Other projects (2009–2014)
From 2004–2007, Bacolas focused on his production skills by apprenticing as a producer and audio engineer for multi-platinum producer/engineer Kelly Gray. During this time, in 2006, Bacolas helped start another band called The Crying Spell, which played "Man in the Box" with Live vocalist Ed Kowalczyk at the 2009 Layne Staley Tribute Concert.
In early 2008, Bacolas partnered with electronica producer, Andrea Martini (Emotive Sounds, Copenhagen, Denmark) to produce Trance and House remixes, primarily of songs he had prior song-writing and/or production involvement with.
Bacolas left The Crying Spell early in 2010 to focus on his songwriting, music and video productions, and other endeavors with other recording artists. He started his production company, Johnny Bacolas Productions, in January 2010.
In 2010 Bacolas performed several shows as the bassist for the group Lotus Crush. The group features vocalist Terry McDermott, who was made famous on the third season of NBC's The Voice (2012) as the 2nd runner-up. Lotus Crush also features guitarist Peter Klett and drummer Scott Mercado from the multi-platinum group Candlebox.
In December 2011, Bacolas released a video for the Greek classic 'To Agalma' of which he produced and engineered the music and co-directed and produced the video. The song was originally recorded in the late sixties by Greek singer Giannis Poulopoulos and written by the highly respected songwriters, Lefteris Papadopoulos & Mimis Plessas. Bacolas is also credited as the bassist and keyboardist on the track. The project was an international collaboration, featuring several artists from Bacolas' hometown of Seattle, and well as well-known Greek vocalist Giorgos Sarris (formerly lead vocalist for Greek group Zigk Zagk) from Athens, Greece, and guitarist Josh Sulfaro, from Los Angeles, CA. To film the shots of vocalist, Giorgos Sarris in Athens, Greece, Bacolas partnered-up with Greek director Sherif francis.
In June 2011, Bacolas produced a track titled "Ophelia" by the Alexandroupolis, Greece-based group, INK. Bacolas makes a cameo appearance in the official music video.
In 2013, Bacolas spent seven weeks in his ancestral home Greece to shoot and direct a video for his song "The Sin" and collaborate with other artists in Athens. As of 2014, he is putting together a new group to perform live and record new music.
Bacolas has admitted to using cannabis back in the mid-1990s. In August 2006, he checked into a holistic treatment center in Malibu, California to address his on-off addiction to the prescription drug Xanax, which had initially been prescribed to help him cope with his anxiety from flying that he developed while touring with Second Coming. James Bergstrom and another friend drove Bacolas all the way from Seattle to Malibu, which took them approximately two days, where he then checked-in for a 30-day treatment program.
- Second Coming
- Darin Isaacs
|2007||Here with Me Now
- The Crying Spell
|2008||Through Hell to Heaven
- Lotus Crush
|2011||Half Light Morning
- Owin' Soul
|2012||Warm August Day
- Tiger Budbill
- "Johnny Bacolas Overview at Allmusic". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- Gargano, Paul. "Second Coming Maximum Ink". Maximum Ink. Retrieved October 1, 2012.
- Stav, Steve The Second Coming of Second Coming, "Intermittent Signals" September 1, 2001. Retrieved on June 8, 2011.
- David de Sola (April 5, 2012). "How Alice in Chains Found the Most Memorable Voice in Grunge". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2012-04-16.
- "Lotus Crush at Reverbnation". Reverbnation.com. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
- Prato, Greg. "Grunge is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music." p. 214. April 2009.
- ‘Hair Metal’ by Alice ‘N Chains member Johnny Bacolas
- Prato, Greg (April 2009). Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music. pp. 215–216.
- Prato, Greg. "Grunge is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music." p. 406. April 2009.
- Official website
- Allmusic Guide / Johnny Bacolas