Fortress formed as a band of friends—talented friends who had a vision of becoming one of the stars of the 80’s rock scene. Hard work brought them to a point where Fortress, consisting of Ted Heath, vocals; Chris Turbis, keyboards/vocals; Arthur Dominguez, bass/vocals; Chris Silva, drums; and Kevin Reyes, guitar); were regulars on the LA rock scene. They played all the Sunset Strip clubs including the Whisky A Go Go, The Roxy, The Troubadour and Gazzarri’s. Often times, they shared the bill with the top rockers of the day, including Poison, Warrant and Alcatrazz.
Fortress helped pack the clubs with fans and propel the popularity of ’80s style rock. Members of major groups such as Iron Maiden’s Adrian Smith and Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee often came to see them. Then, in the late ’80s, what they had worked for paid off—an imminent record deal. Fortress was ready to head to the top. Suddenly, though, rock changed—the blend of hard rock, progressive rock and a few catchy hooks thrown in that kept ’80s rock going changed practically overnight. Nirvana and other grunge bands pared down the music to its basics and virtually all the rock music world went with them. The clubs hired a different type of group to attract the new rock fans and the record execs tore up the contracts of every group that they were looking at that didn’t fit the new format. Radio stations changed and Fortress never got that chance at stardom.In 2017, after doing a one-night reunion at a local club, Christine Tsaprouni of iScream radio show heard Fortress and knew they were the real thing. Shortly thereafter, Sonic Age Records/Cult Metal Classics, a label specializing in record releases of bands from the glory days of metal, got wind of Fortress’ sound with her assistance. In 2020, agreements were made and in January 2021 Waiting for the Night was released.
The LA Beat sat down with Chris Turbis, Ted Heath and Arthur Dominguez of Fortress on Wednesday, March 3rd 2021 to talk about Fortress, rock and their music video When Will The Fighting End.
Q: So many music styles seem to resurrect themselves. Is this Fortress’ resurrection?
CT: Hey there LA Beat readers and thanks for having us! We did do a reunion 3 years ago after being dormant for more than 25 years, and it was pretty special seeing all the guys after all that time, but I’m not sure we had this in our plans. This literally came out of left field and we couldn’t be more pleased. I will say that the ’80s metal and the musical style in general is seeing quite a resurrection and I’m sure that played a major part of what’s going on with Fortress. As for what’s in the future for Fortress, we’re leaving everything wide open whether it’s recording a new record or doing a run in South America or Europe or wherever they may have us.
TH: Yes, absolutely. We knew we had something special back then (’80s), but for varying reasons, the band never got to put a record out. Finally releasing these songs after all these years is definitely a new beginning for us.
AD: I’d like to think so, Chris mentioned a reunion show played 2 -3 years ago and while it was fantastic playing our music 30 years later, one show was just wetting my whistle. The response has been absolutely great!! I do hope a resurrection of Fortress is in the works!!!
Q: When Will The Fighting End was written in the mid 80s, a relatively peaceful period compared to now. Did you imagine the song would gain massive relevance 35 or more years after you first played it?
CT: Ted wrote the majority of the lyrics and we were writing a lot of tunes in that time period. I believe Ted just felt that’s what the feel of the music was saying, and that’s pretty much the way we tried to write. For the most part, the musicians in the band kept to the music and Ted took care of the lyrics. Again for the most part, that’s the way we did things. I’m sure none of us hoped that global fighting became a way of life in the future, but here we are.
TH: Ya’ know, while it might be peaceful in one place, somebody’s fighting somewhere else. It’s a never ending cycle. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it is. In the past year though, we have seen a lot of unrest in the U.S., so it is very relevant right now. Timing is everything.
AD: Ted and Chris hit the nail answering the question , although I liked to add the editing people did a fantastic job with the video. So many people have identified and understand the work this world needs to have peace, love and understanding . [thanks Elvis C]
Q: Do you have a favorite story from the days when Fortress played on the same bill of the many Sunset Strip clubs – The Whiskey, The Roxy, The Troubadour, and Gazzarri’s – with heavies like Poison, Warrant, and Alcatrazz, among others? Or maybe one of the people like Ronnie Dio or Tommy Lee that used to be in the audience watching you?
CT: So many great and fun times and there is not enough ink to print them all. I do remember playing The Troubadour with Poison in maybe like 1986. We were on right before them and our final song was always our title anthem song aptly named Fortress. It was more of a chant anthem that always got the audience involved. The song ended and we rushed up the stairs while the audience was screaming for more and as we opened the door to the dressing room [where there was a grand piano], Brett from Poison was sitting there on the piano playing our song Fortress [which he had keenly figured out the 4 chord pattern to– He winked at us as we came through the door with his smiling grin face he always had and said “Nice song guys!”
When the show was over and everything was loaded up, both bands had reserved poolside bungalows at The Tropicana down the street and we proceeded to party until the sun came up over the Hollywood Hills. I’ll keep the details out of this interview to protect the innocent!
TH: When we played our first gig with Poison, they had just moved to L.A. We were at sound check at the Troubadour, and were talking with Brett Michaels and Bobby Dall, and I noticed they had fingernail polish, and some other glam stuff, and I was thinking “what the hell is going on here.” I had not seen guys doing the Glam thing before that time, and had no idea how famous those guys would end up being. We had a couple after parties with them at the Tropicana hotel down the street on Santa Monica Blvd., and had a blast. Brett was a very cool guy. Ronnie Dio was not only one of my biggest influences, but one of the most down to earth people ever. I got to meet him a few times, and he would say to me “Ted Heath, famous band leader!”
AD: My most memorable story involved the late Ronnie James Dio. Fortress was playing a show in San Pedro at The Waters Club. We were playing with Malice who was managed by Wendy Dio, [Ronnies’ wife]. Well over a thousand in attendance that night. Chris, myself and my brother Bobby were in front of the club and a white limo pulled up. It was no other than RJD stepping out of the limo. My brother and Chris ran to him in excitement as we were all huge fans of his work. His bodyguard tried to stop us, but Ronnie waved the bodyguard off and literally jumped up to give both my brother and Chris big hugs! Bobby’s night was made. The stories are true. Ronnie Dio cared very much for his fans!!
Q: What do you think of Waiting for the Night being released now? And playing with the guys again after so many years?
CT: For me, it completely validates our existence in the ’80s on the Sunset Strip. We were a great band and had a super following in a time period that was truly magical. We were unfortunately met by some roadblocks as 1990 came around, and the whole scene disappeared in a matter of months with the surge of grunge rock.
As I said earlier, the best part of the reunion we did in December of 2017 was getting to spend some time with each other. You know the saying “It’s like we never missed a beat.” Well it really seemed like it was yesterday, of course until we looked in the mirror!!
TH: It’s awesome that we got to do this after so many years. We had all moved on and have been in many different bands, but Fortress is where we got a taste of the big time by playing so many gigs on the Strip, and being part of that whole scene. Due to Covid, we haven’t been able to get together yet, but we are talking about writing some new material, and see where things go. The sky’s the limit!
AD: Great musicians make better friends. Having our music released to the world to absorb just shows that dreams do come true. We knew the music was ready, the work we all put into it was endless. We use to leave rehearsal early just to stand at the exits at Iron Maidens concerts or whomever was playing at the big arenas that night and pass out our truly awesome flyers.
Bottom line though was the music was our strength and we do hope Fortress gets another chance.
Thank you LA Beat!!
Thank you, Chris, Ted and Arthur. It’s obvious that Fortress, even though the band took a 30+ year hiatus, has always been in the back of the minds of these musicians. Powering through Waiting for the Night, there is still the catchiness to several of the tunes that makes you remember them long after you’ve heard them. Indeed, there are several memorable song on the album. And the relevance of When Will The Fighting End, 35 years later, is undeniable. Plus, the footage, shot live at the now defunct Gazzarri’s night club, give a view into the power that was Fortress in the 80’s. It is a video well worth watching and if you like ’80s rock, you just might enjoy that album. It is certainly a fresh, real look at what the ’80s were.