Although Titan Force's debut album was released as late as 1987, the band originally formed way back in 1983. It is a very common misconception that the mighty Titan Force were “Harry Conklin's band”. In reality, guitarist Mario Flores was the driving force behind one of the most legendary US Metal bands of all time.
The band's self-titled debut album was originally issued to critical acclaim via the German label U.S. Metal Records in 1989. Today it's hailed as a late classic of the original American Metal invasion. The follow-up album called »Winner/Loser«, however, released two years later once more on U.S. Metal Records is every bit as good as the debut. Unfortunately, people tend to forget this.
Mario Flores elaborates on what happened with Titan Force after the release of the first album: “We were amazed at the European press response for our debut album. We thought it was pretty good but you never know how other people will feel about it. It really put a lot of wind in our sails and raised our expectations of what might lie ahead for us as a band. We played local shows in Colorado as much as we could and were rehearsing six nights a week, every week. We continued to shop our album to US based labels, hoping to get a deal. We got some opening slots for some well known bands at the time: Lita Ford, Faster Pussycat, Bad English. I think most of us thought we at least had a chance to land a US record deal on a larger label, if not a major label. Our hopes were high. A year went by with no other label interest and U.S. Metal/Shark started telling us they wanted another album per our contract. So we started writing the songs that became the »Winner/Loser« album.”
A lot of people say that »Winner/Loser« was every inch as good as the first album. In retrospect, how would Mario Flores compare the debut to »Winner/Loser«?
“I like »Winner/Loser« a lot,” he states. “It was much different in mood, in my opinion. I felt a lot of pressure to write the first album again, to try and equal it. It was impossible of course, and it led to writer's block for me. It was a very difficult album for me to write musically. But eventually my frustration gave way to the songs on the album. There are some songs that I think are among the best we have ever done and others that I wish we could do over. But it is a true reflection of our musical mindset at that time. We were a little disillusioned at the time and I think that was reflected in the darker tone of the album.”
As with the first album, press reactions were once again really good. Especially in Germany, where Rock Hard printed a gleaming review...
“I don't remember that specific review but I do recall that it was fairly well received in Europe. But here's the thing - we were all hoping for some sort of success in the US. And no one paid any attention to us in our home country (other that people that we knew and a few others). And at that time, the underground scene in Europe did not exist like it is today. So I was really questioning if we were doing something that mattered to anyone but us.”
Did record sales increase with »Winner/Loser«? Mario Flores: “You would have to ask Shark Records about that. Justified or not, we didn't trust the information we were getting from the label at that time. So, I don't know about sales figures.”
Titan Force did tour in Germany with Anvil on the “Power Metal Gods Tour” in 1993. Mario Flores recalls this trip very well: “We had such a great time on that tour. It was one of the highest points of our time as a band. It was a great and well organized tour with tour buses and food and beer paid for ... we felt spoiled! And grateful. It wasn't driving a van from gig to gig: we had a road crew!!! It was awesome! And the best part was finally playing for our true fans. People who really loved the music! It was such a contrast to playing in the US. One of the best times of my life.”
In 1994 Titan Force did record a new demo including the songs “Darkness”, “Only The Strong”, Bright Red” and “Wrong Side In”. Were those four songs shipped around various companies? Did the band receive any offers at all? “Yes, we did shop those songs,” confirms Mario Flores. “And we did get an offer, but I can't remember the label. And yes, those songs were the beginnings of what would have been our third album. Harry was still with us at that time. We have always and will always consider him a full member of Titan Force. Without him, there really would be no Titan Force as most know us. Just as without Stefan or myself. The three of us are necessary for there to be a Titan Force. Otherwise it would likely have to be called something else.”
But, according to the Titan Force guitarist, there came a time when Harry Conklin was not with Titan Force anymore: “We all kind of went our separate ways musically. Some joined cover bands In many ways, it felt like Titan Force, despite doing some really cool things, was overall a failure. We had high expectations and never reached them fully. I felt responsible. I felt I had let my band mates and myself down by not being more successful. I just kind of retreated into my day job, got married and bought my first home and dabbled in my home studio, but didn't do anything significant musically. There were many factors in the demise of Titan Force at that time. But ultimately, we just couldn't keep it going the way we were. The fire was gone.”
Would Mario consider publishing a brand new Titan Force album in the near future under any circumstances? “I have been asked this question so many times over the years,” he sighs. “The short answer is yes. But I cannot give any indication of when because if I do, then it won't happen. So I guess the new album will come when it comes...”