Monday, November 23, 2009

Q&A I did for a college kid majoring in music

Q&A I did for a college kid majoring in music

1. What do you like the most and the least, about what you do?
The most - I like to  achieve goals I make for myself
The least - When I come across self-centered people 

2.What about the Music Industry most appeals to you right now and why?
Potential - The biz can be what you make of it. It's full of opportunities. 
But you need to not only find, but create opprtunities.

3. Is your job a life-long career or a stepping stone to other paths?
After 25 years, I would have to say it's a life-long thing for me.

4.What difficulties do you run into with, the other band members abilities in scheduling gigs? - their vacations, work or family time....etc?
We have to make a pack that in the end this is OUR business and approaching it in lazy convenient way only hurts us all and
hurts the business. If you want a band to replace a day job, then the responsibilities associated with that must be respected as
if you had a day job. If you put more respect and time into a day job, then that's where you will be. If you will put more effort and respect
towards your business, then in time you should be able to create something. 

5. How do you resolve conflicts and keep the band together and focused?
Create goals and stick to the game plan. When someone isn't on the same page of something we agreed we would be
working towards, then everyone else will tell the person to get on the same page. Each year we discuss our goals for the year.
We make small, medium and large goals and how we will work towards those. We also make sure we have realistic goals.

6. How much practice time is required and how far out is it scheduled?
We practice in the winter more than the summer. We build up a catalog to choose from and then get into gig mode and execute.

7. Who would you consider is your biggest influence in music?
Hmm.. to me that's a multi-part question. 
In terms of music itself, I love Def Leppard (arena rock) and Rick Springfield (good pop songwriter)
In terms of music business I like Gene Simmons of Kiss on well he "brands" his band.
In terms of songwriting I like Diane Warren
In terms of Producing I like Mutt Lange
In terms of Business (not music, but business is related to music) I like Steve Jobs of Apple.

8. When did you know this was the career you wanted to pursue?
In 1984 when I was 14. But I admired music since I was 2 and wanted to play guitar since 7 or 8 years old. 

9. What do you think the biggest change your band has experienced and how that impacted it in a positive or negative way.
Learning how to grow the brand faster and faster. Sticking to a game plan has helped us thru rough times. 
Communication is critical to anything that has a group of people working for one common task. 

10. How do you deal with each band members commitment and each one doing "their fair share"? 
(Do some have more responsibilities than others and are they compensated appropriately?)
I handle all business for 7th heaven. I am a control freak, because I know how I want something done and I will
make the sacrifices that others would not make. All I ask of my band and crew is show up with a positive attitude and
do your job. Be on time. Know your parts. The band is only as good as it's weakest member.. so let's not have a weakness. 
A good team hides weakness's and exemplifies strengths. 

11. Did it take much trial and error, determining the instruments and equipment that worked out best for you and the band?
Not really. As a writer I like to write a lot of parts. I wish we could have 12-20 people on stage to play all the parts, but we can't.
We'll use a sequencer on songs that need more parts than we can humanly perform. (about 1/2 - 2/3 of our show)

12. How many hours a week, do you spend on all the related facets of your profession?
60-80 hours a week on average. More when we are doing a CD, video or booking.

13. What advice would you give to other bands starting out?
Make realistic goals. Don't be lazy. Put forth a effort. Understand no one will ever care more about your band/business
than you will, so don't wait around for the band ferry to come out and make your band/brand a product that people want
to buy into. Make friendships with people as you will need them to help you in various ways along your path.
Leave the ego at home. Be a team player in the business you are involved with.

Richie - 7th heaven

Thursday, October 22, 2009


So I have been crazy busy this past 2 weeks in the studio working on a bunch of new things.. I can't wait to get it al done and share it with the world.

Lenny & I met with a major promoter last week, hopefully something comes of that. Lenny works with me at NTD Records and NTD Management.

Did you buy Apple stock? It's over $205 now... and growing... I estimate it to hit 250 by Jan 2010.

I heard Grape Pop Tarts are coming back!!!! Vanilla Flavored Cookie Crisp is back and now Grape Pop Tarts.. I'm in 7th heaven...

Wait.. I really am in 7th heaven

Ok, back to work


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Buy Apple Stock

Buy Apple Stock... trust me on this
back in june i said to do this and it was $130
it closed today at $175
it is on track to get to $250
this stock is a solid buy

Sunday, September 13, 2009


So I didn't even watch this year MTV Music awards shows, a.k.a. "VMA's", but my inbox blew up over how rude Kanye West was to Taylor Swift. ( )
I can't believe how rude this guy is. Everyone has a opinion, but in this case Kanye needs to learn to keep his opinion to himself. This was Taylor Swfit's moment to take it all in and that jerk stole it from her to serve his overblown ego.

I think the same people who brought this guy up should take him back down to earth a little. Don't buy his CD's, don't support his music.

It's bad enough that we live in a world where leaders of countries go to war. Where people fight over religion. And we have a form of entertainment, which is suppose to give us a form of escapism and be a positive influence. When I see egos and greed enter the music business it makes me so angry. Would Kanye be this kind of jerk if he was homeless and broke trying to get someone to hear his demo tape? I bet not. So when you're rich and famous remember the frame of mind of being humble. There's no need for jealousy of others, or who others have voted their favorite.

Every major artists in the history of music has had their 15 mins. of fame. Some longer. But when it's someone else's moment, then leave it be.

Don't support jerks.
Congrats Taylor Swift, I don't know you, but I respect your professionalism.

Richie - 7th heaven

Monday, September 07, 2009

One of those nights.....

Thanks to all the great support you have shown us this summer! Each night we see more and more 7th heaven shirts in the crowd. We see more and more mouths singing with us OUR songs of our "U.S.A.-U.K." CD! Each night we share a great time with YOU! It is such a great thing... for all of us to share in a moment.. a song.. a feeling.. a expression... the power of music!

Tonight, at Schaumburg's fest, I felt a connection with 30,000+ people... the set was right.. the mix was right... the energy was right! Such a great thing to experience.

For those who saw us at Schaumburg's Septemberfest experienced with us "one of those nights"... one to be remembered!

Until the next show...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


As this summer is progressing, with show after show, it has been great to connect over and over with some of the same fans. As I had been absent for some time from the band's activities, seeing everyone again has been a real pleasure. For some who don't know me, I'm the guy walking around the stage with the cane. I'm Tony LaBarbera and I have been involved with 7th Heaven for every one of it's almost 25 years. I met Richie, and Mike when they were 14 and just stepping on stage for the first time at The Thirsty Whale. It's been one of the absolute joys of my life to see the band progress. I've know Nick for almost as long. I am getting more and more involved in the business side of things with Richie handling the promotions and personal management. It's not a picnic playing as many dates as we do and trying to keep personal relationships from fraying. 7th Heaven is really like a well oiled machine. There is a whole team around this band. While the members of the band who are on stage are the ones getting your adjulation, realize that there are another dozen our so people who are an equally important reason why the performance and presentaion are so enjoyable. So next time you are at a show, and you hear Keith say something like "take it away Dino", understand he means Dino Manzella the bands hard working sound engineer. Or if he says something about the great stage crew who just moved the bands equipment twice that day, and 7 times this week, give them the respect they deserve. Believe me, the band is the first to appreciate their efforts. Sometimes they don't actually say it enough, but Joe, John, and Ryan rock! If you are ever there for one of our night time shows, chances are that I will be behind the light board orchestrating the light show. Stop by and say Hi! There are so many new faces around that I haven't been able to meet everyone yet. If you are at the merch table say Hi to Lisa, Tina, Alan , or Mr. Hoffer who are as dedicated to this band as it gets.

I hope everyone saw the August issue of the Illinois Entertainer. The back cover was a first for the paper. 7th Heaven was front and center with their version of the back cover. Made to be a mock up of the front cover, complete with the Illinois Entertainer logo and everything, it's the first time in 34 years that something like that has been allowed. It's very cool, and we'll settle for this until we are on the front cover heralding or huge record setting recording contract, (one can only dream.)

As summer does wind down it will be a time for everyone to get a little rest, and then regroup. When we said Summer's Gonna Last Forever - we meant it, because "it 's gonna be the time of our lives." Hopefully we helped to make it be that way for you also.

Onward & Upward, Tony Shark

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sweet & Sour

Well this past weekend was interesting. In the middle of the show Thursday at Elk Grove I started to feel really tired and weak. This carried thru till Sunday. I briefly felt better on Saturday night at Brewfest, but it wasn't until today that I felt normal again. I have no clue what it was. I thought maybe a appendicitis, but any pains I had was on the wrong side. Then maybe a ulcer, but I guess not... then maybe the flu, but then again I never had the flu and I didn't have any symptoms other than tired and aches. So who knows what it was. I wonder if it was weather related.. for some reason the weather REALLY affects me... on sunny days I have the energy to stay awake and work extremely fast.. on rainy days I loose energy quickly.
So just in case you came to a show over the past weekend, thats what was going on with me.
I even tried to stay away from the band in case I was sick.. no need to take the whole gang down.

On a brighter side, General Mills FINALLY released Vanilla Flavored Cookie Crisp Cereal!!!! I have been asking them for 30 years now to re-release that. Do you know what it's like to wait 30 years for something and then get it?? It's amazing!!! Try that cereal... it's awesome!!!

Also - buy AAPL (apple stock)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

This Summers Gonna Last Forever - Some Radio Play

So, I just started to make a ATTEMPT to push this song to radio.. some markets have picked the song up.. check it out..:

Class X in Cinnci, Ohio

ARfm in the UK

call the Chicago stations and ask for it

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Behind the scenes this week

This week we made more changes to the new Pop Medley, took some songs out, added a few.. we should be playing the new version this weekend with the changes.. we are almost there with it. Once we have it set we'll finish it in the studio and get it out for people to listen to it.

I designed a bunch of new 7th heaven marketing pieces this past week.. new posters, business cards, flyers, ads in the Illinois Entertainer and our new 8-page newsletter.... stop by the merch table and check them out!!!

We just sent out over 500 shirts, hats, baby-dolls and hoodies to get printed and we should be getting them over the next week, so look for that as well.... we think we are going to start selling shirts online soon.

Check out the "press" page... all new stuff to check out and download...

Just added to our website is "iTunes" links from our ORIGINAL CD's... on the "store" page, click on any of our original CD's and look for the iTunes link to purchase our songs digitally.

We got a new drum head in this week as well.

More picks!!!!! More pick necklaces at the merch table.

On a side note, if you invest buy Apple stock (AAPL), you'll thank me later.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sound Engineer Blog - El Sombrero 05-09-2009

Tent gigs are always a challenge. The reason is because the tent itself accentuates high frequencies more than a normal. The snare drum is normally unbearable. The saving grace I have are people coming to the gig with big sweaters to suck up the high frequencies that are present naturally in the small confines of a tent.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the sound at this gig. I just wish that I was able to run it a little softer so that I don't leave with my ears ringing. What most people don't understand is that in order for me to have any real control of the mix, my volume has to exceed stage volume.

Sound Engineer Blog - Durty Nellies 05-08-2009

The sound at this Durty Nellies gig was better than the last time we played due to the fact that we now had a blown horn tweeter at this gig. Strange comment, but true. You see. the last time that we played there, this horn that would make a horrible distorted sound when it received a frequency between 3k and 8k (which was essential for defining the mix). However, this time the horn tweeter was no longer working - gone, dead. How absolutely wonderful that nobody had to endure the horrible painful cries of it's pending death.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

New Photos, Summer dates & Video

So we took some new photos last night before our Durty Nellies show. We'll be using some of them in our next newsletter. Our summer Schedule is just about wrapped up, we have a few more we are waiting on to confirm. This year we are on target to set a new festival record for one year by doing 75 festivals!!!

Have you shot YOUR music video for us yet? The video of YOU singing "This Summer's Gonna Last Forever"? Make sure you get this done soon!!!

Stay tuned on our website, things are gonna get crazy here in a few weeks!!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

HRH Interviews 7th Heaven’s Richie Hofherr

HRH Interviews 7th Heaven’s Richie Hofherr
• April 14, 2009

I was blown away by 7th Heaven’s USA/UK when it was released late 2008 so much so that it ended the year in my Top 15 list at #9 beating out a lot of better known bands for the spot. USA/UK is filled with 18 tracks of pop metal very reminescent of Def Leppard’s “Hysteria” era, not only do you get 18 tracks with USA/UK you also get 18 tracks in which every song could be released as a single as there is not a single filler song on the album. After a few scheduling mishaps on my part I was finally able to make contact with 7th Heaven’s producer/guitarist Richie Hofherr this past week for what turned out to be one of the best and most informative interviews we’ve had here at Hard Rock Hideout…Enjoy!

HRH: For readers that may not be familiar with 7th Heaven can you fill them in with a little history of 7th Heaven?
Richie: 7th heaven has been around since 1985. We are known to be one of the busiest band’s in the world. We play 250+ shows a year and have TONS of live experience. We have had greats highs and low lows. Our sound has been compared to a modern Def Leppard, which we are honored to be compared to. We are a AOR arena rock type of band. You can find a very detailed history of our band on our website under the “history” tab.

HRH: You released USA/UK in August of 08 what has the reaction been to the album so far?
Richie: Very good. It has already outsold our last release “Silver”, which did very well. We move most of our CD’s at our shows, and since we play so much our sales are consistent. We have placed a few songs in various media outlets. A few radio stations have picked up the CD and have us in heavy rotation, mainly
We also have been getting great reviews on the CD, like’s 93%

HRH: This is the band’s first album with Keith Semple singing how did the band find out about Keith and get him to join the band?
Richie: I actually was looking online for a new singer for the band and was searching for a certain type of quality that I thought would fit our band well. I also had to find someone who wanted to play a lot of shows. Keith had a myspace page and I emailed him and asked him what he was doing with music. Rather than respond to my email, he actually searched the band out and called and left me a message. Impressed with his desire, I made him the offer. After hiring Keith I then realized he won “Pop Stars” (the UK version of American Idol). Keith is a perfect fit for 7th heaven.

HRH: What led to the departure of previous singers Andrew Blake and Tony di Giulio?
Richie: The same thing that happens to all bands. Different visions or different agenda’s. 7th heaven is like a family, it always has been and always will be. Sometimes a member wants a break or wants to do their own thing. I don’t really take offense to that, in fact Tony and I still write together. 7th heaven is a very unique band. We run our business in a way that doesn’t really have a definitive path, add to that a style that isn’t the current trend, it makes for everyone to agree on business directions. In the end, we survive and hopefully the music we make is what really matters to people.

HRH: USA/UK has a very different sound compared to the last 2 7th Heaven albums, particularly “Faces Time Replace” was a conscious effort by the band or more because of the way Keith sings?
Richie: The way I like to produce is always surrounded by what I feel is the best direction of the voice. While that being said, all the singers that have been in 7th heaven have the ability to sing various styles. In terms of “Faces Time Replaces”, it was a reflection of the environments we were in at the time in terms of clubs we played. We have TONS of pop rock songs, but at the time if we played them they wouldn’t do well for us live. In fact our song “Right by your side” off “Silver” was actually a song we wrote in that “Faces..” era of writing, but it just didn’t fit. “War Machine” was from “Faces…”. Around 2002 we started getting festivals and they wouldn’t accept the heavy side of the band so we made a adjustment to the sound to keep the band busy.

HRH: USA/UK has gotten the band a lot of comparisons to “Hysteria” era Def Leppard not only as far as sound but production also is that a favorable comparison as far as the band is concerned?
Richie: I’m not sure how the band feels, but to me it’s one of the biggest honors I could ever get. I work for hours on mixes and try to polish my mixes. That’s the way I like to mix 7th heaven. But not all my mixes are that way. For example, when I produced Bill Beckett of “The Academy Is..” it was VERY different then 7th heaven. I grew up loving arena rock bands.. bands like Queen, Led Zep, Def Lep, Bon Jovi, Journey, Foreigner, AC/DC… they had a massive sound. So when I write songs and think about 7th heaven I think I want this band to sound like it belongs in a arena. The band can handle a arena stage. So I produce it that way.

HRH: There are 6 songs from Silver that were re-recorded for USA/UK with Keith is there a chance we could see some more of those songs re-recorded in the future? I would love to hear Keith’s vocals on Fall Into You, Invisible, and Everlasting Love among others.
Richie: The only reason why we recorded Keith on some of those songs was because when Keith got to America we were playing those songs (Cellophane, Gravity, etc.. ) in our set and new fans asked if they could get the song and then wanted it with Keith on it, so rather than re-record “Silver” with Keith I thought it was easier to add the tracks to a new CD, so to me that CD is a new CD os 12 songs with 6 bonus tracks.

HRH: When I compare the songs on “Silver” and “Faces Time Replace” to USA/UK. The songs on USA/UK seem like a more natural sound for the band would you agree?
Richie: Faces was for it’s time. Silver was my chance to make a record that I wanted to make and release various styles. and USA-UK is a methodical product for the band to sell in the environment we are within. The CD has a consistent sound on purpose and doesn’t sway too much away from that. We had a few very different tracks, but I wanted to work on them more and we needed a product to market ASAP. I think the CD is a good representation of where the band is today.

HRH: You guys have a reputation of being road warriors, how many shows has the band played since the release of USA/UK?
Richie: I think we are close to 500 shows with Keith. This year we should hit 260-275 shows. Our philosophy is that if a major
label or radio station won’t play us (or any rock for that matter) then we’ll bring our music to the people. I am blown away that the big wigs in the biz keep scratching their heads wondering why they are not making money in the business don’t open their eyes and see where the consumers are at. They are following ROCK acts… period. Look at the Pollstar ( and look to the right side at the top 50.. now look at the billboard ( see the disconnect. If I was a big wig, I would push all 50 of those artists and their products to people. The fans always dictate the success of a act. So because of this landscape, we survive by playing live shows.

HRH: Has there been any talk of the band playing any of the festivals like Rocklahoma or Rock Gone Wild this summer?
Richie: Rocklahoma would be cool, we have never been asked, mainly because the side stages are ran by indie labels and since we run our own label I’m not sure it will ever happen… Rock Gone Wild I am unaware of. All anyone has to do is ask us to play and we’ll be there. It’s not like we don’t like playing.. :)

HRH: What are the band’s summer tour plans?
Richie: We are booked for over 60 midwest festivals this summer. For June, July and August we play almost everyday, with many days with two to three shows. We have a solid summer booked.

HRH: When will the band start thinking about getting back in the studio to record the follow-up to USA/UK?
Richie: We’ll be working in the studio for various things over the next year. We have a HUGE surprise for 2010 when the band turns 25 years old. Something I don’t think that has ever been done before. Stay tuned.

HRH: 7th Heaven is also known for your 30 songs in 30 minutes medley how did that come about?
Richie: We were asked to play a family festival in 1991 and when we went there we played all originals for 90 minutes. The fest promoter said if we wanted to come back the next year we would have to play some covers so we went and made a 5 song medley. After that show we had a lot of people asking for it again. Then in 1993 I put a 80 song 120 minute long medley together to accomplish a few things; better my skills as a producer, work on arrangements and build our voices by having to learn all those different singers. We made a tape of that and it became very popular in the college markets, which then got us shows at colleges. So we cut the medley down to 25 minutes and started playing them in the clubs. We have made 11 different medleys and have played eight of them live. They make a great addition to our festival and college shows. We just created a new one that we are playing now.

HRH: Where can fans go to find out what is going on in 7th Heaven’s world?
we update our website weekly and just added a new blogger to the website that we all chime in at. There’s also a news page that updated every month and our email newsletters are the best ways to stay up to date with us.
You can sign up by clicking the “Mailing List” tab on the website.

One cool thing we have going on is this:
We are shooting new video and wants YOU in it! We are shooting a music video for the song This Summer’s Gonna Last Forever and they want to use video footage of different fans from around the world showing them in their country in the background… something unique to your country (example: like standing in front of the Great Wall Of China or the Eiffel tower) they want to show the world that rock music is still alive and doing well around the world…
We want a video of you lip syncing the song and then the video footage to the band and it will be edited into the video.
- Prefer a mini DV tape or a DVD if possible and would like the video back to us by the end of April if possible.
Send it to: 7th heaven, PO Box 66473, Chicago, Il 60666.
If you want to make it a digital file and upload it to a server, that would be fine as well but it has to be uncompressed at 720 x 480. E-mail the band at: for more info with the subject “music video”.
The song can be downloaded here:

HRH: Is there anything you would like to tell the fans and readers before we let you go?
Richie: We really appreciate all the fans and friends who have helped support our dream of creating and performing music.We will always strive to put 110% effort in everything we do! We are very accessible to our fans so get in touch with us. Thanks for all your support!!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

This Summers's Gonna Last Forever on TV

The Walter E Smithe / Chicago Cubs TV commercial that uses our song "This Summer's Gonna Last Forever" will be on TV in heavy rotation on these stations: ABC, NBC, CBS, WGN, FOX, CNN, FOX NEWS, MSNBC, CNBC, TLC, BRAVO, FOOD, AND LIFETIME. Look for us.

This is pretty cool for us to have our song be heard by so many people. The power of TV! Hopefully the song will stick in people's minds and they will check the band out.

Friday, April 03, 2009

New Pop Medley

Well we performed the new Pop Medley last weekend and finally got it out there. We pulled off the medley pretty good for the first 2 times. Since the medley is around 40 minutes right now, we already cut some of the songs shorter and will see how people like it over the next two weeks. After our famous freddies show we're gonna cut the songs out that we feel people are not connecting with. We should have it solid in the next few weeks and then we'll start working on recording it so we can get the cd in your hands ASAP.. hopefully by the summer... if you heard it already we'd like to get some feedback on what you like and don't like about it so we can consider that when we make adjustments to the final product... if you haven't heard it yet get out to a show soon and check it out.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Singing at the Chicago Bulls - L.A. Lakers Game

What a exciting day for us. We showed up to the United Center and were treated like royalty. Great parking. Keith, Nick and I were escorted to the seats on the floor directly behind the Chicago Bulls players (I miss Michael Jordan). Our guests were seated close by. About a hour before we sang the three of us were discussing whether we were nervous or not... I told them, well that guy (pointing to a Bulls player) plays basketball, that guy (pointing to a news guy) reports the news and we sing. Thats what our purpose is I guess... to sing to people and bring them music. So about 15 minutes before the game we were then brought out to the center court. They handed us 3 mics, they made the announcement and we sang. It was such a cool feeling to hear our voices echo thru a huge arena like that. It's a feeling like no other. I even looked at Keith and Nick and were proud of the job they did. Once we got done, our cell phones were going crazy with text messages from people around the world who saw us. What a cool feeling.. to reach a audience like that at one time!!! Amazing!
I hope we do that again!
Definitely a highlight for us!!!
Thanks for watching,

Monday, March 09, 2009

Welcome to the 7th heaven blogger

Welcome to the 7th heaven blogger.. This will be a be a new way for us to help keep you in the loop with all the things we have going on with the band and what things we are working on. We will now use this method to release band news as it happens. So check this site often for various things we'll be adding to the blogger. If you have any suggestions on things you would like to see, please let us know. We will still be sending out our monthly newsletters to your email address if you have signed for our free monthly newsletter. Just click the "Mailing List" tab on our website and we'll send you a monthly email on 7th heaven news and new shows.
Thanks for stopping by,
Richie - 7th heaven