On a post on both his Instagram and Facebook accounts, Croatia’s Junior Eurovision 2003 winner Dino Jelusick announced that his hard rock project Animal Drive has been ended.
“With great regret we have to inform you that band Animal Drive no longer exists,” wrote Jelusick.
Jelusick continued, “A few unpleasant and unforeseen circumstances, such as the multiple unduly postponement of our 2nd album release, cancellation of cooperation with our booking agent, incoherent threats and one-sided communication breakdown from our record label Frontiers Records Srl led us to decide that Animal Drive has no future and each of us will continue his career on separate paths.”
According to Jelusick, Frontiers Records SRL have taken Jelusick and Animal Drive to court, though the lawsuit specifics were not outlined. “Nevertheless, we are fighting in the court for our rights as our label has filled a lawsuit against us.”
Animal Drive was initially a solo rock project conceived in 2012 by Jelusick, but in 2015 he added guitarist Ivan Keller, bassist Roko Nikolic, and drummer Zvonimir Mihaljevic.
Animal Drive were signed to Frontiers Records SRL on the recommendation of rock singer Jeff Scott Soto, the former frontman for Yngwie Malmsteen and Journey. Soto is also the main vocalist for Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the progressive rock band that also utilizes Jelusick as a touring vocalist every November and December.
Part of Frontiers’ “New Breed” of bands – Frontiers is famous for new releases by classic rock acts such as Stryper, Toto, Survivor and Styx – Animal Drive released their debut album “Bite!” in 2018.
The album received mostly critical praise, especially for Jelusick’s vocals. A covers EP titled “Back to the Roots” was released a year later, which included a well-received hard rock version of Roxette’s “The Look” with Rosa Laricchiuta as a guest vocalist.
Jelusick’s rise up the hard rock ranks has been unusual. He won Junior Eurovision 2003, the inaugural contest, for Croatia with “Ti si moja prva ljubav” (“You are my first love”).
His younger sister Lorena came in 12th for Croatia at Junior Eurovision 2005 with “Rock Baby.”
As Jelusick entered his teens and lost his ability to hit the high notes, he became interested in rock, particularly the more progressive rock type of bands such as Toto, King’s X, and Whitesnake.
Jelusick released a rock album in 2011 called “Living my own life,” but shortly thereafter required surgery due to issues with his vocal cords. The surgery was a success and he underwent vocal training, and then released “Prošao sam sve” (“I went through everything”) in 2014, he first album where he was also the main songwriter. Jelusick had also learned bass and keyboards.
Jelusick, on top of Animal Drive, also became a hired gun for several high profile rock acts, including the renowned Trans-Siberian Orchestra, who still sell out arenas to this day with their Christmas shows in the United States.
Jelusick also sang two songs on Tony Hernando’s “Restless Spirits” album, and also collaborated with George Lynch on a project called Dirty Shirley.
During COVID, Jelusick achieved broad fame in the rock world with covers with the likes of legendary drummer Mike Portnoy and famed guitarist Joel Hoekstra. Covers of Jefferson Starship’s “Jane” and Boston’s “Foreplay / Long Time” were well-received and had generated a lot of buzz and new fans.
Despite today’s Animal Drive announcement, Jelusick promises more music is forthcoming from members of the band, and based on Jelusick’s work ethic and past output, it is a claim that will be followed through on.
Jelusick signed off today’s Instagram post with the following promise: “New music from the ex band members will be released soon so we invite you to keep following. Thank you for your generous support throughout the years. We respect and love all of you.”
Are #YOU sad to see Animal Drive disband, and will #YOU keep an eye out for the promised new music? Have #YOU been following Dino Jelusick’s rock career? Let us know in the comments below, on our social media, or in our forums.