- The Washington Times - Monday, May 28, 2001

Raspy and road-weary, but definitely revved, is how SR-71 vocalist Mitch Allan sounded on the phone. Sure, he was two hours late for our scheduled interview, but when he sheepishly explained the circumstances — a 16-hour bus trip from Denver to Dallas — forgiveness was instant.

Life is a little crazy at the moment for this Baltimore-bred band. After scoring a pair of cheeky radio hits ("Right Now" and "Politically Incorrect") and selling more than half a million copies of its CD, SR-71 was tapped as the opening act for Bon Jovi´s current American arena tour.

"The tour is sold out all across America. There´s not an empty seat in the house," Mr. Allan says.

SR-71 — named after the fastest U.S. military plane ever built — and new pals Bon Jovi shared the stage at Cleveland´s Gund Arena on a recent Saturday night. And, yes, the show was sold out.

Q: So what´s it like touring with Bon Jovi?

A: Pretty amazing, I´ve got to tell you. The band couldn´t be any nicer or more generous to us. The first time we met them, we went to a bar and talked for two hours, just swapping stories. We´re basically from the same part of the country — we´re from Baltimore, they´re from Jersey — so we´ve got that East Coast mentality. Jon is full of knowledge, and he´s definitely out to help us. We´re picking his brain every chance we get. I mean, this guy is an icon. He sells out stadiums in Europe.

Q: Are the Bon Jovi fans responsive to your music?

A: We go over great. They are a very different audience for us, but they´re music fans, and they´re loyal. These people have stuck with Jon for 20 years. We come out and play modern rock, and we yell and scream at ´em until we´re all worked up into a frenzy. (Chuckles)

Q: I have to ask: Have you seen Heather Locklear [wife of Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora] yet?

A: Oh yeah. My God. Is she near perfect or what? I wouldn´t dare approach her, though. We´ll have to be introduced.

Q: I love that you guys are keeping the power-pop tradition alive.

A: Thank you. People often ask us what type of music do we play, and we tell them we´re like a modern-day Cheap Trick. Or we say we´re like the Beatles meets AC/DC. People get that one.

Q: Where do you guys fit in, exactly? So much of popular music right now is either teen-pop, rap-metal or hip-hop.

A: That all is about to end. Heavy music is eating itself alive, and the kids are finally getting over boy bands. You´re about to see a huge change in music. The next wave is bands that want to rock but write melodies and have guys who can sing.

Q: Were you a popular band in Baltimore?

A: We had a huge following in Baltimore. We were called Honor Among Thieves. We had to play three hours a night, so we did a lot of cover tunes. We toured up and down the East Coast, and we sold 7,000 copies of our indie CD out of the back of a van. We learned how to move a crowd. We had to.

Q: Do you feel your album captures the sound of the band?

A: People tell us the band is a lot harder live and more energetic. The next one will be more about our live sound. Basically, we put out this record, it went gold, and now we´re setting ourselves up for the next one.

We´ve begun writing, and we have a lot of different ideas. The goal is to put out a second record that´s bulletproof.

Q: So you´re enjoying all this, huh?

A: We´re having a blast. We´re trying to figure out how you do this for 20 years without killing yourself.

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