This story originally appeared in the Vaughan Citizen.
From as early as he can remember, Steve Mastroianni recalls getting in trouble for doing what he loves most. It’s not sex. It’s not drugs.
It’s rock and roll.
Mr. Mastroianni, 25, better known to his fans as VØID, is lead guitarist of The Envy. The band formed in 2009 and was recently signed by legendary rocker Gene Simmons, best known as the tongue-wagging, fire-breathing frontman of 70s band KISS.
The former Vaughan resident and longtime musician inspired his first critic at the ripe age of 11.
“I taught myself to play the drums on pillows,” he said. “It still made too much noise because I was stomping on the floor. I remember my sister getting mad at me for playing a pillow drum set too loud.”
From drummer to guitarist to songwriter, Mr. Mastroianni’s popularity has slowly skyrocketed.
The band has toured Canada and has more than 50,000 friends on MySpace and about 5,000 fans on Facebook.
So far, The Envy has performed in major Canadian cities such as Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.
For Mr. Mastroianni, who lived in Woodbridge for more than 20 years, the experience has been nothing less than enlightening.
“When you’re touring all over, it’s like the band becomes your home so when you go anywhere else it’s really weird,” he said. “Going to Vaughan and sitting down at your grandmother’s place is such a different vibe, it gives you a lot of perspective.”
He said traveling across the country and living a hectic life of recording and performing has made him appreciate the simple things in life, such as family.
Mr. Mastroianni compares the band’s style to U2 or Coldplay and said they are aiming for a larger-than-life persona.
The band originally set up a showcase with Universal Records Canada while attending the Juno Awards in Vancouver. Their demo was sent to Mr. Simmons by Universal Records A&R agent Mark Spicoluk.
Mr. Simmons loved their music and soon flew to Toronto to see The Envy live. Two weeks later, the newly formed band had a deal with Simmons Records, a subsidiary of Universal Records, one of the largest music labels in the world.
“When (Mr. Simmons) pulled the trigger two weeks later and said we want to sign you guys to our label, it was unbelievable,” Mr. Mastroianni said.
Not long after, the band flew to Los Angeles to work with well-known songwriters such as Desmond Child, who helped launch the careers of popular artists Aerosmith and Bon Jovi. Since then, they’ve performed in the United States, been mentioned on Entertainment Tonight and are in the process of booking TV appearances.
“It’s endless with Gene,” he said. “We’re really excited to work with somebody who has been in the industry for so many years and has so many contacts.”
Mr. Simmons, in an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight, said that he has big plans for the band.
“Our mandate, self-imposed, is to take the next generation of Canadian stars and make them into world superstars,” he said. “Here’s our first, The Envy. You’ll be hearing a lot about them.”
Working with Mr. Simmons has not been what Mr. Mastroianni expected. Naturally, the band jumped at the opportunity to work with the superstar, but expected he would make major tweaks to the band’s style and image.
“I thought he was gonna be kind of a jerk, like a bit of a dictator. That’s absolutely not what it’s like,” Mr. Mastroianni said. “He’s not a phony person at all, he’s one of the most sincere people I’ve ever met.”
He says Mr. Simmons did not want to make any big changes and compared it more to refining their sound. Mr. Mastroianni describes his personal style as catchy and very melody driven.
“The guitar riffs that I come up with have to be singable,” he said. “It has to digest easily so that a lot of people can get into it.”
He cites the Edge from U2 and John Mayer as some of his biggest influences. As for the stage name, he said Desmond Child dubbed him VØID to match with his somewhat dark, mysterious personality (Steve Mastroianni was also a mouthful for those not from Woodbridge).
And although he had to sacrifice a normal life and time with friends and family, Mr. Mastroianni is more than ready to rock and roll as his career unfolds.
“What you put into it is what you get out of it,” he said. “I put my whole life into it, and the adventure is just starting now.”
The band is working on its first single to be released sometime in May or June.
To follow The Envy’s progress, check out their website at http://www.theenvymusic.com, or visit their Facebook fan page under “The Envy”.