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Articles Home » Interviews » Dakota - 2000 Interview with Jerry Hludzik
Dakota - 2000 Interview with Jerry Hludzik
INTERVIEW: Dakota (Apr 2000)
Jerry Hludzik talks to us about Dakota's 'Little Victories'.

In the Spotlight - Dakota
Interview with: Jerry Hludzik
Written by: Gdazegod (April 2000)

This is the 'In The Spotlight' page. The spotlight this time falls on one of AOR's most legendary outfits Dakota. Once considered to be a rare jewel among the melodic rock fraternity during the 1980's, thanks in part to a couple of great albums including the wonderful 'Runaway'. As time rolls on, and as the Internet gradually breathes life back into some of these yesteryear heroes, we have a brief chat to one of Dakota's stalwarts, guitarist, bassist and vocalist Jerry Hludzik. Their new album 'Little Victories' has been out for a few weeks now. Also, the band has released a 20th anniversary live album called 'Three Live Times Ago'. Both albums are reviewed elsewhere on this site. In fact Dakota currently hold the record for most reviews of a band on G-DAZE, so that's saying something. Dakota's current lineup is:

Jerry Hludzik - bass, vocals; Jon Lorance - guitars; Rick Manwiller - keyboards; Eli Hludzik - drums

G-DAZE's Gdazegod catches up with Jerry Hludzik and life on the range with Dakota.

Twenty or more years is a long time being in the rock and roll game Jerry. What keeps you guys motivated?
Well it's just something that is such a big part of my life and as long as I feel I have something to offer I will. I do admit its getting harder to find an audience for music of days gone by but I'll keep my eyes and ears open.

Who influenced you all those years ago, enough to want to make a career out of music?
Without a doubt those 4 guys from Liverpool --- they changed me forever.

Well, we're in the 21st century now, but would it surprise you then that Dakota's earlier albums, in particular 'Runaway' is still held in high regard by certain elements of the rock community?
I just think it's one of the best compliments an artist can get that years later one or more of the works have been held near and dear to many. It was one of my fun times making that particular record.

Dakota - Runaway (1984, MCA Records)

And ironically enough, still to see the light as an official CD release. What were those earlier years like? They must seem literally like a lifetime ago now.
Actually three lifetimes ago.. There was a lot of learning, growing and discovery. When I look back now it's even hard for me to believe I lived through it. A lot of life's lessons passed my way. Some unfortunately only now do I understand and still a few that are yet to be learned. I have no regrets and I will just keep moving forward.

There was quite a big break between official album releases (1984 and 1996). Were you still involved in the music industry during that time after the Runaway album?
The band called it quits in 1986 and we went our separate ways. Rick Manwiller and myself formed a trio and then after not having any luck shopping our demo, Rick and I took a drastic turn and signed a publishing deal with MCA of Nashville, and then we were writing country music. We got lucky with two cuts on two separate LPs from a band called The Oak Ridge Boys. Then Jon Lorance joined forces with Rick and I through to about 1991, then Rick left to go solo and Jon and I did an acoustic act to pay the bills of which we still do in-between CD's.

Dakota has two albums in the works right now. 'Little Victories' and 'Three Live Times Ago'. It seems fairly unusual to have two albums released simultaneously. Was this planned or a fortunate coincidence?
Well the live CD was supposed to come out last September (1999) but there were some thoughts as to which should go out first, 'Little Victories' or the 'Live' album. We decided to wait and just put them out at the same time. It is now twenty years since the live recording. I thought that was reason enough to wait until 2000!

'Little Victories' your new studio album is two years on from 'Last Standing Man'. Where do you think are the main areas in which Dakota have progressed since 1997?
I think the 'Little Victories' CD is a lot more band sounding than 'Last Standing Man'. We were a lot more comfortable with each other after the process of the 'Last Standing Man' album. Everyone knew what was expected of them and knew that everyone could just be themselves; play, and have fun with it. And that we did!!!

There is this debate going on within the music industry about Record Labels, the presence of the Internet, promotion of artists now taking place at the coalface. If you were still with MCA for instance, do you think Dakota would be getting more exposure, than say through your own website?
Well, with a major and their promotional dollars, if you're the flavour of the month so to speak, yes most definitely. But if you can get your fan base together you can really cut out the middle man; and it's they that seem to (well in the first few years of a bands career at least) bleed you to a slow death.

You guys are fairly big in Japan. If someone put up the cash, would there be any chance of a tour there?
You get the cash we will be there!!!

The Northern Hemisphere summer is just around the corner. Does the band have any upcoming gigs say on the East Coast?
Jon and I play as an acoustic duo, but to saddle up the entire road show without tour support is just not possible because of the travelling costs of today.

How does it feel having your son Eli bash the drums for the band? He'd be fairly familiar with a lot of the older material too no doubt?
He is a joy to have around as a son and as a great player. I'm very proud as a father and have much respect for him as a band-mate. He really is in tune with my style of writing and with his jazz background brings a nice flavour to the table. And yes he knows ALL the older DAKOTA stuff!!!

Melodic rock is hardly flavour of the month in the US. Do you feel at times you might be up against it considering where the rock scene is at present?
Oh most definitely. Not sure if it will ever come back but I'm just very glad that I went so far and that we will have in the future, an outlet for creating the music and style that is very important to who I am. And as long as the band have an outlet there will be new Dakota CD's.

Of course most older Dakota fans will remember that the band were primarily you and Bill Kelly. Where is Bill these days and is he aware of the ongoing presence of Dakota?
Bill now lives in Tennessee we don't speak much these days but I wish him well in all aspects of his life and career. He's still entertaining as far as I know but in the country music end of things. He knows of the 'Last Standing Man' album but I'm not sure about the new stuff.

Finally Jerry,are there any words you'd like to put out to the Readers regarding Dakota and in particular your new albums?
Not really other than thanking them for their support, past, present and future and we will always try to bring the listener the highest quality of product we can because we do care and take much pride in our work even after all these years!

Thanks very much for your time Jerry!
And also thanks to you George and HEART of the ROCK for the support !!!



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