Bonham guitarist talks on 25 years of the Mad Hatter album
BY THE TIME Jason Bonham, Ian Hatton, John Smithson, and Daniel MacMaster began writing and recording their second album, Mad Hatter, they were riding a wave of success. Their 1989 debut album, The Disregard of Timekeeping, resulted in the hit singles “Wait for You” and “Guilty,” and was certified gold in 1990. The band spent two years touring the album. Rock and roll, in all its “hair band” glory, was still going strong, and the group went into the new project confident and optimistic.
Unfortunately, the outcome was not what they expected. A lyrical and sonic departure from its predecessor, Mad Hatter received little support from the record label or radio, ultimately leading to the band’s dissolution. Bonham, Smithson, and Hatton regrouped with vocalist Marti Frederiksen as Motherland and released one album, 1994’s Peace 4 Me, before parting ways. Bonham and Smithson went on to other music projects. Frederiksen is an award-winning songwriter, producer, and musician. MacMaster released a solo album in 2005, and was working with a new band in 2008, when he passed away at age 39 from a streptococcal infection.
Ian Hatton, whose resume includes Paul Rodgers & Company, Robert Plant’s Honeydrippers, and Sarah Brightman, moved to New York in 1996, and began a successful career as a session guitarist, songwriter, composer, producer, and engineer. His scores include television programs for PBS, and films such as Sunset Edge, The Fence, West of Thunder, and Bard In The Backcountry, for which he received a 2016 Emmy nomination. He also spent five years as a consultant for Bose, where he wrote and produced 5.1/7.1 surround sound projects.
Twenty-five years later, Hatton looked back at the making of Mad Hatter.
GEARPHORIA: In an interview from years back you said, “On the first album we hadn’t played live together. All we’d done was write in the studio. Since then we’ve done nearly 300 shows, so it’s turned four people into a good, strong band.”
IAN: Obviously, we came out of it much more of a band. Myself and John and Jason had been playing together for a while before we got Danny. When it came time to do Mad Hatter, even though some of it was done the same way as the first album, we spent six months in Spain working on material as a band, so it was a different writing process. We got to set up and play, basically.
Check out the rest of our chat with Ian Hatton here
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