LIPS TURN BLUE, formerly DDrive,
Sign Worldwide Record Deal
with MIG RECORDS.
New York rockers turn tragedy into triumph;
after the passing of legendary lead vocalist Phil Naro,
band releases brilliant debut album
and adds new singer/ musician, Iggy Marino.
THE ORIGINAL LINE- UP OF LIPS TURN BLUE: MIKE MULLANE (BASS); DON MANCUSO (GUITAR) PHIL NARO (LEAD VOCALS, GUITAR) ERIC BIEBER (KEYBOARDS) ROY STEIN (DRUMS)
LIPS TURN BLUE, formerly known in the Upstate New York region as the popular club act, DDRIVE, has regrouped and returned with a new name, a brilliant debut album, a world-wide record contract, and a new member in singer/musician Iggy Marino. The band (nicknamed LTB) which also includes guitarist Don Mancuso, keyboardist Eric Bieber, bassist Mike Mullane, and drummer Roy Stein are currently preparing for the release of its new album and some select concert dates.
The group’s first single, “Pray For Tomorrow,” an ode to the turbulent times much of the world is experiencing will be released on February 18th; with the album release
coming in April 2022.
When the band’s lead vocalist and co-songwriter Phil Naro sadly passed away after a valiant battle against cancer the group’s future was in doubt. Naro and the other band members had just secured a worldwide record deal with the European-based label, MIG RECORDS, and had put the finishing touches on the album when his illness returned, and tragedy struck.
As his illness progressed the band members assured Naro the record would be released, and they would continue to pursue his artistic vision for the material he felt was his best work as a songwriter and vocalist. Now, with the record deal signed, a release date set and a dynamic new vocalist in place, their promise to their fallen musical comrade can finally be fulfilled.
Iggy Marino came to the band after an extensive search for a new vocalist. He is a recent Nazareth College graduate whose instructors at the school included LTB drummer Roy Stein and its manager, Bruce Pilato, who both teach music-industry courses there.
“We feel we have a great singer and fellow musician in place that the music touches and motivates,” says Don Mancuso. “We want to get this amazing music out there. It needs to be played to as many music fans as possible. After our period of mourning Phil’s loss, we now have the drive and experience to take this music on the road and finish our next album, which is already well in the works.”
Adds Eric Bieber, who, in addition to his skill has a classically trained keyboardist and longtime professional performing musician, recently retired as a physician and hospital executive administrator. “Phil was passionate in his desire to have this music heard and performed. We are honored to be able to carry on his legacy by doing just that. Iggy Marino is a remarkable young musician who will take the band in yet another direction with some of the new material. He is also a fan of the existing album and will be faithful to Phil’s vision.”
“We believe this is one of the strongest debut albums we have heard in many years,” says Bernd Ramien, A&R & Director of Catalog Marketing for MIG (Made-In-Germany-Music GmbH), which signed the band soon after only hearing a few tracks from the debut album. “We had thought and hoped Phil would overcome his illness, but when he sadly left us, we were determined to make sure this album and band could carry on.”
At the moment, MIG has plans to release three singles by the time the full album is available this coming April. The group is currently booking tour dates to coincide with the album’s release. Based in Hannover, Germany but distributed worldwide, MIG Music has released albums by an extraordinary roster of acts that includes: Joe Jackson, Sheila E, Jack Bruce of Cream, Roger McGuinn, Ron Wood, Muddy Waters, Pee Wee Ellis, Maceo Parker, Weather Report, Nash Albert, Pat Travers Band, Vanilla Fudge, Richard Thompson, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, Public Image Ltd, and many others.
For All Things LIPS TURN BLUE, please visit: www.Lipsturnblue.com
LIPS TURN BLUE BIO
Don Mancuso- Guitars, backing vocals
Eric Bieber- Keyboards, backing vocals
Mike Mullane- Bass, backing vocals
Roy Stein- Drums & percussion
Iggy Marino- Lead & backing vocals; keyboards, guitar
Phil Naro (1958-2021)- Lead & backing vocals, guitars
Lips Turn Blue is a prime example of how the human spirit can always endure if it so desires. One might say the band which a growing number of industry insiders and music fans are recognizing as a brand new act with a very bright future, has a past that reaches nearly four decades. Rising from the ashes of a popular upstate New York band called DDrive during the Covid 19 Pandemic, the group transformed itself into LIPS TURN BLUE (LTB) with original songs that would eventually become its debut album.
Eighteen months later, the band had secured management and a worldwide record deal with a solid album of compelling new original songs. Its lead singer and co-songwriter, Phil Naro had gone through cancer treatments and was eventually declared cancer-free. Then, suddenly the disease returned and their friend Phil was taken from the world. After a period when many in the music industry mourned his passing, the band was left with trying to figure out if the record could even be released. Then a moment of pure serendipity intercepted. The band connected with a bright young singer-musician who has allowed LIPS TURN BLUE to keep moving forward creatively in the spirit of their lost musical comrade.
Featuring guitarist Don Mancuso, bassist Mike Mullane, keyboardist Eric Bieber,drummer Roy Stein, and newest member, singer / musician Iggy Marino, LIPS TURN BLUE is preparing for the release of its debut album, promoting and touring behind the record, and working on what will be the second album that will feature the current line-up.
“I was in band called Black Sheep with Lou Gramm, who later emerged as the singer/ songwriter in Foreigner,” says Mancuso. “Black Sheep was the first American act signed to Chrysalis Records in 1974 and later we signed to Capitol Records and we toured internationally before Lou left for Foreigner and we split up. When Lou started his solo career, he asked me to join his band. I have worked on and off with him ever since.” Mancuso played in a number of regional bands and with other national acts and during the late 1990s was a member of Linda Rutherford & Celtic Fire who were one of the acts at WOODSTOCK ’99. Mancuso also toured Europe in 2011 as guitarist with The Infamous Rock Meets Classic Tour that featured Lou Gramm, Dan McCafferty (of Nazareth) Les Holroyd (of Barclay James Harvest) and Ian Gillan (Deep Purple). He followed that with a tour in 2012 called The Jingle Bell Rock Tour which featured Eddie Money, Mickey Thomas of Starship and Lou Gramm.
Mancuso formed DDrive which he named after his second solo album. He had just completed playing on Phil Naro’s Glass Mountain album and was still on the road with Gramm. Both of these longtime friends and musical co-patriots, contributed to the writing, recording and release shows for the album. It was decided in 2005 by Phil and Don that the band name going forward would be DDrive.
“In the earlier days Phil inspired me as a uniquely talented and humble musician who wanted to keep growing,” says Mancuso. “The magic that happened between us when writing was amazing. We both had similar directions; we loved to write; and were always open to new things while focusing on a common direction.”
Phil Naro, also born and raised in Rochester, NY had been living for years in Toronto and had become a staple on the Canadian music scene. In the 1980s, he served as the lead singer for Talas, an international hard rock band which also featured bassist Billy Sheen later of Mr. BIG. Naro would also go on to front The Platinum Rock All Stars, a supergroup with Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge; Ozzy Osbourne; Rod Stewart; Jeff Beck) on drums; Gene Cornish (The Rascals) and Ron Bumblefoot Thal (Guns N Roses, ASIA, Sons of Apollo) on guitars; Rudy Sarzo (Whitesnake, Quiet Riot) on bass; and Geoff Downes (Yes, ASIA, Buggles) on keyboards.
By the time the 2015 had arrived, DDrive also featured Boston-native Mike Mullane on bass, and Eric Bieber, a classically trained keyboardist proficient in many musical genres´ as well as a physician and hospital executive administrator. Bieber credits the music he made with the band as the only way he could balance his hectic life with a very demanding career in health care. A number of different drummers worked on the album, including Mark Shulman (ex-Foreigner and current drummer for Pink). Before the album was finished, the group settled on Roy Stein, who had been in two popular New Wave bands, New Math and The Jet Black Berries that had been signed to Columbia Records.
“As soon as we began this record, we knew we had something special,” said Mullane. “We were all contributing to the vocals behind Phil’s amazing voice and the arrangements came together quickly. Phil, Don, and Eric did all the song writing, except for one track written with Don and Lou Gramm, and a cover we did of The Beatles’ classic ‘Hey Bulldog.’ Because DDrive had been known for playing older originals and some covers, we knew we had to create a whole new persona for the band and this record.” The band was re-named by its management as LIPS TURN BLUE from a line in a Bootsy Collins song. It has since also adopted the nickname: LTB.
The fact that the album even was made was a small miracle in itself. Working with Canadian-based producer Steve Major (Lauryn Hill, Amon Tobin, Islands), the record came together as its members remained isolated in their various homes and workplaces during the pandemic. Much of the album was recorded over the internet, but the power of the music and the close ties the band members have with each other make for a purely enjoyable and creatively inspired vision.
The debut album features a wide variety of musical styles and textures, all crafted around the powerhouse rhythms of LTB and the remarkable voice of Phil Naro. From hard rockers like “Build My Castle,” “Just Push” and “Better Than I Used To Be,” into the more progressive feel of “Blood Moon” and introspective tracks such as “Pray For Tomorrow,” “Crazy In Love,” and “Life’s Crazy Ride,” the record excels in its diversity and sonic landscapes.
The album even contained a remake of Black Sheep’s “Chain On Me,” which was written by Mancuso and Lou Gramm, as well as a Mancuso/ Naro original, “A Little Outside,” which features Gramm on lead vocals and Naro on backing vocals.
About halfway through the recording, Naro was diagnosed with cancer, which he had successfully been treated for in the past. Phil came back to Rochester where he began treatments and amazingly continued to work on the album.
Naro was able to finish the record and the band secured a worldwide deal with MIG RECORDS, based in Germany. By March of 2021, he was declared cancer free; videos were being planned and the band did a photo session for the album’s release. All seemed onward and upward.
The recovery, however, was not meant to be. In April, the cancer returned yet again, and Phil died soon after on May 2nd, 2021. Because of his work with Talas, and his other international projects, his death was felt throughout the music industry and with fans worldwide, especially in Canada and Upstate New York.
“Phil was a remarkable individual who was one of the most optimistic and positive people I have ever known,” Bieber remembers of Naro. “In spite of the many challenges, he and many of us had during the making of the album, he never got down. He was always forward looking. He often said this was his best work and how proud he was of how the album turned out. Two of the strongest tracks on the album, ‘Life’s Crazy Ride’ and ‘Pray For Tomorrow,’ are powerful messages about the turbulent times we have been in with hope for tomorrow.”
After his untimely passing, the band had to recover and put the pieces back in place. They held auditions for a number of singers and through drummer Roy Stein and manager Bruce Pilato, they were introduced to a recent college graduate that both Stein and Pilato had taught in their music industry classes at Nazareth College. Ignatius (AKA Iggy) Marino has proven to be an innovative and highly creative musician, who has a several-octave vocal range and is proficient on keyboards, guitar and sax. “
He’s remarkably adaptive and has the ability to fit into the many musical directions LTB moves in,” says Mancuso. “For his age, he is incredibly experienced in so many musical areas. We auditioned others but Iggy blew them all away and his ability on multiple instruments will enable us to reproduce the album live, the way Phil and the rest of us envisioned it. He comes to the band with the complete package.”
“Many of us have played together directly or indirectly over a number of years,” adds Bieber, who has retired from his career in medicine to focus on Lips Turn Blue and his music, in general. “In the case of Phil and Donnie, it’s over a number of decades. I profoundly appreciate the musicianship of the players in LTB as these are truly some of the most gifted players, I have been fortunate to perform with.”
Adds Mancuso: “ The line-up of musicians in Lips Turn Blue is a unique blend of some of the best and most versatile/open minded musicians I have ever worked with on my original compositions. We believe our new vocalist/instrumentalist, Iggy Marino, will add a fresh, cutting edge sound to what we have already built. The future will be different without Phil, but just as exciting.”
Pilato Entertainment Marketing & Media LLC
585-721-6029 • Bruce@pilato.com
A CONVERSATION WITH DON MANCUSO, ERIC BIEBER AND MIKE MULLANE OF LIPS TURN BLUE
The whole band comes from different areas and musical influences. Explain where each of you developed your individual talents….
Don Mancuso (DM): I was born and raised in Rochester, NY. I studied music at Hochstein & College Of Marin and had various guitar and voice teachers privately. I became a full time professional musician at age 16. I was in a band called BLACK SHEEP with Lou Gramm, who later emerged as the singer/ songwriter in FOREIGNER. Black Sheep was the first American act signed to Chrysalis Records in 1974. Later we signed to Capital Records and we toured internationally. The band split up when Lou joined Foreigner and I worked in a myriad of regional and semi-national acts. Lou and I reunited with his solo career and I have been his guitarist on and off since the mid-1980s. In the late 1990s I was in a Celtic-rock band called Linda Rutherford & Celtic Fire and we played at WOODSTOCK ’99, which was a big thrill. Over my career I have recorded on hundreds of indie releases as a solo artist and guest guitarist for other artists and bands.
Eric Bieber (EB): I was born and raised in rural Illinois. As a young adult I lived and schooled around Chicago. I began my musical training on classical piano at age 5 and played my first show at age 13 (well before I could drive). That was followed by years of gigging in the Chicago music scene with all sorts of styles and in all sorts of venues. I continued to play as I went to medical school and medical residency. I became a doctor and worked in the field of medicine and leading health systems until just recently, but during that time I was fortunate to play with some incredible musicians. I have to say, none better than the current line-up of Lips Turn Blue.
Mike Mullane (MM): I was born and raised in the Boston area. My parents loved music and sang around the house, but no one played an instrument. My dad was a classic Irish tenor. I definitely got my singing voice from him. I went to college as a voice major but left to play music full time on the cover band circuit. I’ve played in many bands since then, up and down the east coast playing both cover and original music. I also developed a career in computers, which has been helpful in my music life.
What music or musical events or musicians would you say gave you the greatest inspiration during your years of musical development?
DM: Like millions of others, it was seeing The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Later on it was the explosive rock of the 60s and 70s. Seeing Emerson, Lake & Palmer; The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Deep Purple and others who came through the Rochester market on their tours. There were also some great local acts like The High Pockets, Mark St. Miller, and others that fostered my musical education. Over the years it was all the albums and playing with friends!
MM: Hearing 2112 by RUSH when I was a freshman in high school was my ‘Beatles on Ed Sullivan’ moment. That absolutely inspired my becoming a life-long student of the bass guitar.
EB: My father and mother were both trained musicians and played in bands and were the source of significant inspiration. My father was an exceptional pianist and composer. Our family was surrounded by music from my earliest memories and they taught me a love of all types of music. I still remember watching Emerson Lake & Palmer close out The California Jam in 1974 with one of the greatest sets of all time.
How did playing in cover bands; or small clubs; or bands that never get a record deal- build your skills to be in an original band like Lips Turn Blue?
MM: When I was back in the old Boston music scene of the 70s and 80s, I had a couple of near misses. There were times where I almost got signed by labels. This was interspersed with working steadily in all kinds of bands with all kinds of people. I decided early on that what really matters to me was playing music I like with people I like and hopefully for people I like. Lips Turn Blue is the epitome of that. I’m making great music with guys that I both like and respect immensely.
EB: When we started out as DDRIVE, we played small venues, big venues and everything in between. It was always less about the number of people and the size of the venue than the ability to move people with the music. All those experiences have culminated in the creation of the new album. Many of us have played together directly or indirectly over a number of years. In the case of Phil and Donnie, it’s over a number of decades. I profoundly appreciate the musicianship of the players in LTB as these are truly some of the most gifted players I have ever been fortunate to perform with. More importantly, the character of each individual that makes up the band is remarkable. This was quite important as we tried to create something special in the midst of the pandemic when we were unable to sit in the studio and record together.
DM: It is all part of becoming a well-rounded musician. Covering versions of songs ranging from Rock, R&B, Reggae, Blues, Fusion, Jazz, Funk, Pop, Classical, Country/Celtic in the many projects I have played with I believe has made me a very experienced and versatile musician, both live and in the studio. Touring and recording internationally with Black Sheep and The Lou Gramm Band were amazing and valuable experiences. They expanded both my writing, studio and live experiences to enable me to play with amazingly talented musicians like the ones in LTB.
Donnie Mancuso and Phil Naro had DDrive for several years, with several other band members, including both Mike and Eric. What makes LIPS TURN BLUE with the line up on this album a different musical experience? Talk about the transition from DDrive to Lips Turn Blue and the music that became this album….
MM: I’ve been a Phil Naro fan for years. I was first exposed to Phil, as most people were, by his work in Talas, in my case on the album Live Speed on Ice. I’m both a bass player and a singer so the double whammy of bass and vocals on that album just floored me. When I replaced my LPs with CDs, I kept one piece of vinyl: that album. It meant that much to me. Years later I moved to Rochester and heard of this band DDRIVE. I listened to a few songs and immediately became a big fan. Donnie and Phil clearly had something really special going on. Subsequently, being invited to record and play with DDrive was a huge musical milestone for me and led to what we have now.
DM: The line-up of musicians in Lips Turn Blue is a unique blend of some of the best and most versatile/open minded musicians I have ever worked with on my original compositions. In the earlier days of DDrive the only writers were Phil and me. This has opened a few doors to a “different, or newer more open” type of sound. And we believe our new vocalist/instrumentalist, Iggy Marino, will be a younger more cutting edge sound to what we have already built. The future will be different without Phil, but just as exciting.
Explain how Phil inspired each of you as a musicians and the magic that was his musical talent…
DM: In the earlier days, Phil inspired me as a uniquely talented and humble musician who wanted to keep growing. The magic that happened between us when writing was amazing. We both had similar directions; we loved to write; and were always open to new things while focusing on a common direction.
MM: Phil had a voice and a sense of melody like no one else I’ve played with. He was also the most professional singer I’ve ever worked with. His work ethic was amazing. He was 100% about making the best music possible and he approached every performance the same way. At the same time, he was an incredibly nice, humble person.
How did Phil’s work ethic and willingness to keep working on this album after he was diagnosed with cancer inspire or impact you?
EB: Phil was a remarkable individual who was one of the most optimistic and positive people I have ever known. In spite of the many challenges, he and many of us had during the making of the album, he never got down. He was always forward looking. He often said this was his best work and how proud he was of how the album turned out.
DM: His work ethic and commitment was second to none. He was constantly creating and performing. For him, the work never stopped, and it kept him going.
MM: Honestly, I wasn’t surprised. It was who he was. The two things that mattered most to him were family and making music. He wasn’t going to let the diagnosis change that. His clarity of purpose never waivered. The picture of him in my studio/office at home serves as my reminder of that.
What are the songs on the album that you love the most and why?
EB: I never seem to get tired listening to all of the songs on the album. The variety of music is a reflection of where the songwriters and band are in their lives and represents much of what we were feeling during a remarkable time.
MM: That’s too hard to say! Each song has a life of its own. We love them all; it’s up to the public to pick their favorites.
DM: I Love them all; there are no favorites for me. The body of work we did and the terms we did it under were extremely different, which is why it has the character and emotional content it does. A lot of real life experiences are present on this record.
What songs do you think will deliver the most powerful lyrical message to the album’s listeners?
MM: “Life’s Crazy Ride” and “Better Than I Used To Be.” They’re such great examples of Phil’s outlook and optimism.
EB: “Life’s Crazy Ride” and “Pray For Tomorrow” are powerful messages about the crazy times we have been in with hope for tomorrow.
DM: They’re all meant to portray an element of fun, something interesting, sadness, or double meanings. “Life’s Crazy Ride” is probably the most moving due to the circumstances; it was Phil’s last song ever and probably best sums up his philosophy on life itself.
What are your expectations/ plans for LIPS TURN BLUE as a live performing act, now that you have lost Phil?
DM: I’m hoping for a hit that will immortalize my fallen friend, brother, co-writer and the amazingly talented musician that was Phil Naro. We also plan to produce more amazing original music as a musical collective to be shared with the world.
MM: We have settled on a new singer/ musician. Iggy Marino is younger and comes from a slightly different set of musical inspirations, but he is going to be great. He also plays several instruments. He has the same extensive vocal range as Phil. Phil wanted this music heard. We’re going to do everything we can to make that happen. We’re all agreed that we want to continue as a band and play these songs live.
EB: Phil was passionate in his desire to have this music heard and performed. We are honored to be able to carry on his legacy by doing just that. Iggy Marino is a remarkable musician who will take the band in yet another direction with some of the new material. He is also a fan of the existing album and will be faithful to Phil’s vision.
What will the future hold for LIPS TURN BLUE?
MM: You’ve got to move forward. We’re continuing to write and record, it’s what we do. Now, with our new singer we will build on what we’ve done so far.
EB: Portions of the second album have been recorded. We are looking forward to spending more time together and recording additional pieces in person this time.
DM: With Iggy as our new singer and fellow musician it’s important that we get this amazing music that touches and motivates out there. It needs to be played to as many music fans as possible. After our period of mourning Phil’s loss, we now have the drive and experience to take this music on the road and finish our next album, which is already well in the works.
For All Things LIPS TURN BLUE, please visit: www.Lipsturnblue.com