PHIL COLLEN – Most famous for his career with Def Leppard and the English Glam Metal band Girl, guitarist and vocalist Phil Collen has quietly carved out a legendary Hard Rock career for himself and he’s not about to slow down. Debuting his diverse Rock outfit Man Raze back in 2005, with lifetime friend and bassist Simon Laffy (Girl) and legendary (Hall Of Famer) Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook, Phil has fulfilled a lifelong dream of being in a three piece. The energy that Man Raze exhibits through their brand of Rock and Roll is stuff of old school and Phil Collen isn’t making any excuses about it.
With the sophomore release from Man Raze upon us, the excitement that Phil Collen speaks about “punkfunkrootsrock” is outright contagious. This second offering from Man Raze sets into motion that this is a band and not just a one-off project. With the Def Leppard engine still firing on all cylinders, Phil Collen is on the move and ready to Rock at a moments notice. Hard Rock Hideout was very fortunate recently, to catch Phil sitting down and willing to answer whatever question was thrown at him. Just as the music he’s played all through his stellar career, Phil was up-tempo and thoroughly genuine. Here is what Phil had to say:
HRH: Man Raze has a strong Punk Rock backbone, yet that isn’t everything about this band. How do the three of you agree on playing so many different styles of Rock?
PHIL: Agreeing on different styles is one of the things that has drawn the three of us together. We’re all around the same age, from the same town, listen to the same records and are inspired by them. We share this West London “thing” with the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Everyone in the band has that open channel to express themselves. When we got together and started playing, we expressed our influences. Paul (Cook) and I love Reggae, the Trojan Reggae stuff. It took thirty something years for natural inspiration to happen like this. I’ve felt a flash of inspiration like when you were a kid, it makes you feel like a child again, wanting to pick up a guitar and start playing!
HRH: Phil, you sound so excited about Man Raze and what you guys are creating here! Do you have a feeling of new found freedom with Man Raze?
PHIL: Always! The whole thing feels magical, it’s just there. It’s such an amazing thing, playing with Paul. I never thought it would happen, it’s a dream! Even lyrically, some songs reference things, it’s not obvious stuff, just enough to make an impression. Our song “Lies” references all the lies through history. We just tried to develop “that sound” with no restrictions, not genre specific and just really enjoy the multi-genre influences and let it all happen! I see so many artists my age that are jaded and can’t find where they are. Not us, we have this boatload of energy! To express art through words and music is so rewarding.
HRH: What can you tell the fans about this new and forthcoming Man Raze album?
PHIL: My wife had asked what’s it all about? So Paul said it kind of has some Punk, Funk and Rock. (laughs). So we named the album “punkfunkrootsrock”. It’s all one word! I’m totally pumped and excited about this new record! Some of the songs we’ve never played live together, so they are brand new to us too. This new album has Funk, Sixties and Seventies Rock and Soul inspired by Sly and the Family Stone, Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye.
HRH: That’s very diverse and downright cool, Phil!
PHIL: Making this new album has been a liberating experience! This new album is artistically a representation that I’m extremely proud of. As an artist, you can’t describe how good it feels to have no restrictions. Each song is different. That’s the great thing about it, when you write a song and it becomes it’s own. “All I Wanna Do” is a song on the album that reminds me of Hendrix and Otis Redding doing a song! That’s the vibe I get from it!
HRH: You guys can utilize improvisation.
PHIL: Yes we can! No one song ever ends the same when we are playing live!
HRH: Each time the Rock and Roll of Man Raze hits me, the vibes and feeling of “real” sets right in. How do you guys capture such a raw and real Rockin’ sound like you do?
PHIL: I approach it very differently than from, let’s say, Def Leppard. We do one take for start offs and put no restrictions on what we do. It’s Punk, Rock and Funk. When we do one or at most two takes, the energy is captured on the songs. If you’re too meticulous and precise and spend too much time on it, then you lose the realness of it. We get goose bumps and excited about what we play among the group. You know, it took us three years to record “Animal” for “Hysteria”.
HRH: Whoa! It took three years to record just “Animal”?
PHIL: This was a magical and best time while we recorded “Hysteria”. We had the great vocal, only “Mutt” Lange said the backing tracks did not sound good! So, Joe (Elliott) and I went back and re-recorded not only the backing tracks, we re-recorded the vocals too! (laughs).
HRH: (laughs). That’s a fun story to know Phil. So that energy I hear and feel from Man Raze is real after all!
PHIL: Totally! You know, Paul has the same cymbal as he used on that great Sex Pistols album! (laughs). I’m like, wow! (laughs).
HRH: That’s unreal and very cool! (laughs).
PHIL: “Mutt” (Lange) and I would talk about Paul Cook’s drumming and the sound of his cymbals when we recorded “Hysteria”. We wanted to capture Paul’s cymbal sound on the Hysteria album. I think we did.
HRH: “Surreal” is as dynamic and quality strewn as any debut album can be. How and what was your approach to creating the new album like?
PHIL: A very natural flow was the way it all went together. It reminds me of Iggy and the Stooges and Bowie, we just go with it! Like a production line, we never got stuck on anything, it really flowed. We had about twenty songs or parts of twenty songs to start. We have a record label, let’s scramble together! We recorded the album in two weeks in London. It was an enjoyable experience in the studio, plus we were budget minded about it.
HRH: When you guys are writing songs, do you aim for equality when it comes to representing respective styles or does it just flow and go?
PHIL: It absolutely flows and goes! These new songs are more closer to me than the last album we did. We maybe went too commercial and could not get it right. On this second record we have it right. Some things work out better the second time around. We just captured that flow and played these songs.
HRH: Your new single “Over My Dead Body” will be released on iTunes may 31, (2011), with both an electric and acoustic version. (Doubleheader). How difficult is it to choose the lead single for the forthcoming album?
PHIL: Everyone was involved in choosing the first track. “Over My Dead Body” is about death. It’s a cross between the Sex Pistols and The Rolling Stones. This song comes across very raw with loud vocals. There is a uniqueness to it, it’s very Rock and Roll. I’ve been waiting to hear something like that for years.
HRH: How rewarding is it to have your music of Man Raze included in the soundtrack for “I, Superbiker”?
PHIL: It’s such a compliment to us. Mark (Sloper) is a champion of the band and has a t.v. show in London. (Mark Sloper is the writer, director and producer of I, Superbiker). It’s a documentary movie on super biking, real guy stuff!
HRH: How often do the three of you agree to disagree?
PHIL: Actually, we don’t. All three of us have valid and amazing insight to stuff. We are three grown men with massive experience. There was one thing brought up. The Def Leppard backing vocals is not what we wanted to be incorporating into our music. In Def Leppard, the backing vocals are like an instrument. The guys say it gets away from the essence of what is us (Man Raze). Vivian (Campbell) and I can do so many things together in Def Leppard, I will say that.
HRH: Do you ever step back and marvel at the profound Rock sound that is created by a classic power trio such as Man Raze?
PHIL: I do actually. With all the experiences I’ve had, playing all around the world and being on t.v. and all that, being a lead guitarist and lead singer of a three piece is so liberating. With Def Leppard, it’s a totally different format with two guitarists. With Man Raze, we can end songs with different lengths. We never play a song twice the same. With other bands, we rehearse over everything and play the same bars. In Man Raze, we experiment and if it doesn’t work, you then take the song somewhere else. This all takes you on a journey, one I’ve never experienced until Man Raze. I’m bummed I never experienced this before.
HRH: It’s so great that Def Leppard and Journey are still around!
PHIL: It’s magic that makes it all happen after all these years. Journey, on stage they go off on a tangent and listen to each other!
HRH: There’s nothing like improvisation with Rock and Roll.
PHIL: Jazz musicians have always done this. Jimi Hendrix and Mitch Mitchell! Mitch would be going somewhere and Jimi would go somewhere with what Mitch was doing. Journey is a great band with that! They can take it to a different place, if they wanted to with their music.
HRH: What can fans expect from Def Leppard’s first live album “Mirrorball”, which releases this Summer?
PHIL: It’s such a long time coming! We’ve done the live DVD and all that. There’s twenty one tracks with three new studio tracks on “Mirrorball”. Rick, Joe and I wrote a song each. It was recorded during the last two tours. We record every show and I asked our producer to catch the audience reaction for this live album. I love all that kind of stuff! For thirty years Def Leppard was in a cycle of album, tour, album and tour. We never had that time set aside for doing a live album. We finally took our first year off in 2010, worked on “Mirrorball” and I got married!
HRH: You got married? Congratulations Phil!
HRH: Will Man Raze be playing some festivals this Summer?
PHIL: I’m not sure. In August, in the States, it would be just L.A.. It would be super cool to do some festivals though!
HRH: Going back to influences, anymore you want to share?
PHIL: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Nirvana and The Police. The Police being my favorite band ever! When I first heard Steve Jones (Sex Pistols guitarist) and Steve Stevens (Billy Idol and countless other recordings) I could not believe what I was hearing! The attitude and involvement with their playing just blew me away!
HRH: Is Man Raze a lifelong dream of yours that has come to pass?
PHIL: It is actually. I always wanted to be in a three piece band! I’ve known Simon (Laffy) all my life, we were in Girl together. Five years ago, my Dad was in the hospital, I was visiting him quite a bit. One day I saw Paul Cook literally on a London street. I asked him to check out my music, to see if he’s interested and what he thought.
HRH: That’s such an incredible story, how you just actually bumped into Paul Cook on a London street and exchanged an invitation to him like that!
PHIL: In the super big cities like New York, London and Paris, they each have a scene going on. You bump into people of all Rock genres. I knew Billy Idol back in the 70’s! (laughs). What I love about London is I can walk from my house to Paul Cooks house in ten minutes, with my guitar under my arm and a studio in-between. All these years I never realized Paul Cook lived so close by! I asked Paul Cook on that street one day to check out my music and to come down… and click!
RALF SCHEEPERS – It’s not inappropriate to call Ralf Scheepers a Heavy Metal tenor. His larger than life voice can rival the very best in the history of Heavy Metal. Just let your ears delve into the back catalog of albums that Ralf Scheepers has sung lead vocals on and you shall be convinced. As a founding member of Gamma Ray, alongside Kai Hansen, Ralf Scheepers was the lead vocalist on three of their studio albums, from 1989 to 1993. In 1997, Ralf and Mat Sinner founded Primal Fear, a formidable Heavy Metal band that has etched out a powerful legacy to this very day.
There are many famous lead vocalists in Heavy Metal and Ralf Scheepers is one. However, when it comes to Ralf Scheepers, there is much more to being just a “famous” front man for a world known Heavy Metal band like Primal Fear. I never received a micro-hint of ego from Ralf as we spoke, nor did it ever appear that Ralf has, will or ever rest on his laurels. Ralf values friendship, (in a tiered format which he explains) and likes to create music on his acoustic guitar in front of his fireplace.
No, your not going to read on about a spoiled and partied out Heavy Metal star here, instead you will find out that Ralf Scheepers puts more thought into compassion and staying in touch with family, than he does about any Sunset Strip shenanigans. His new solo album “Scheepers” accentuates his fondness for ballads, guest musicians and of course, Heavy Metal. After my interview with Ralf Scheepers ended, I had to quickly remind myself that he is the intimidating vocal and physical presence of Primal Fear, for he truly carried himself in such a relaxed, polite and accessible manner. Here is what Ralf Scheepers had to say:
HRH: How relieved and proud are you, now that your solo album is being heard and praised?
RALF: I’m very pleased about it. The reviews have been good so far. I hope the people who bought the album are having a good time with it.
HRH: Which song on “Scheepers” moves you the most on a personal level?
RALF: Definitely “The Pain Of The Accused”, it’s based on a personal situation that I went through years ago. Once I got the melody line in my head for this song, I couldn’t get it out of my head.
HRH: How was the idea of doing a song (“Remission Of Sin”) with Tim “Ripper” Owens born?
RALF: I actually got to know Tim five or six years ago. We have gotten to know each other personally and Tim is a very nice guy. We’ve kept in close contact over the years. We email and see each other often, getting together to have some beers. I sent Tim this song while he was between two tours and he recorded it! I’m very happy about the way it came out. Tim and I are just good buddies!
HRH: Am I out of line by calling “Saints Of The Rock” a Heavy Metal Anthem Classic?
RALF: Well, you know, this song was recorded back in 1996 originally. It’s been re-recorded with Matt (Sinner) on bass. I did the whole choir on this re-recording.
HRH: A “Cyberfreak” never existed back in the eighties. Were the eighties a better time for Heavy Metal and the world as well?
RALF: I don’t think so, there’s always many changes happening. You have to deal with progress, you know? I sent my first email fifteen years ago! It’s a better world now. I get to stay in touch with cousins in America through Facebook, where years ago I couldn’t as easily stay in touch from a long distance. Facebook is a great network to keep in touch with friends and family. I’m not trying to sound like a Facebook commercial here by promoting them either. (laughs) You can advertise your music better through the internet now, then again, you can also lose money from people illegally downloading your music too.
HRH: Many of your friends appear as guests on “Scheepers”. Where do you rank friendship on the scale of life?
RALF: That’s a good question. It all starts with Facebook right? (laughs) It’s the same in personal life as well. I have friends that are not as much close. Then I have friends in business and friends I exchange problems with on a more personal level.
HRH: What other musicians would you have liked to guest on your current solo album and perhaps on any future Primal Fear or solo album?
RALF: For a guitarist, Neal Schon is amazing. He had no time and was just too busy with touring and recording to appear on my record. I’m pretty sure there are many names I can’t think of right now. There are many out there, it’s not easy to name them all. Rob Halford still is an old time favorite of mine! Tim “Ripper” was great to sing together with!
HRH: What are the differences that you see, when it comes to Heavy Metal being marketed in Europe compared to the U.S.?
RALF: That’s a tough question. In the U.S. the market is huge, it’s the biggest. I’ve learned later in life (laughs) with Primal Fear, that you must go to the U.S. and play for the fans. You play for the kids in the U.S. to go out and buy your album. It’s the opposite in Europe, the kids buy your album first and then go to your concert.
HRH: Would you ever consider a singing role on Broadway, if the situation was right?
RALF: Never say never! I love the musicals in Germany. At the Musical Theater in Germany, they are really studying singing and stuff. I’m not quite aware of being able to do it though.
HRH: Why’s that Ralf?
RALF: You have to be very professional and deliver the goods more so than Heavy Metal. It is night in and night out on Broadway. It’s a job too, it can become boring in a way. Then again, Heavy Metal is an everyday job too! I’m sure there has to be different feelings you must have to perform on a Broadway stage as well.
HRH: Will there be a solo tour in the U.S.?
RALF: It would be great! Only, with the new Primal Fear album being recorded and released, combined with Primal Fear doing festivals and tours, it may not be. I also have to see what the market reaction is to my solo album. If the promoters want me to go out solo, I am the last one to say no!
HRH: Do you feel our world needs to exercise some more compassion right about now?
RALF: Yes. I mean, I had the idea for this song (“Compassion”) when the earthquake happened in Haiti. Now its Japan too. I had the chords and the melody in my head as I watched the news on that Haiti earthquake. We need to show people we have feelings and not only money, that people are there for them, to give them (earthquake survivors) feelings that someone is there for them. I remember writing this song on my acoustic. I’m the acoustic guitar guy in front of the fireplace.
HRH: What? Ralf Scheepers sits in front of the fireplace, with his acoustic guitar and writes songs? (laughs)
RALF: (laughs) I also like to shred with my acoustic too! (laughs) That doesn’t mean I’m a big softy or anything like that! I’m still the Heavy Metal guy!
HRH: (laughs) Don’t worry Ralf, you’ll always be the big Heavy Metal guy in my mind!
HRH: How is the new Primal Fear album coming along?
RALF: We have now, about ten songs. The guys are very busy. They’ve sent me playbacks and I’ve put my vocals and melodies on them. Then, we team up and rehearse the songs. It is very important to team up with the band and not rely solely on the internet when writing songs.
HRH: Good luck with the recording of the new Primal Fear album Ralf!
RALF: Thank you very much, it’s going to sound great! I’m already banging my head to these Primal Fear demos!
CLOWN – The musician, songwriter, music producer and artist known as Michael Shawn Crahan, aka Clown. He is comfortable with being called Clown for that is who he truly is, on or off the stage, whether performing with the legendary Slipknot or with his new macabre and Extreme band called The Black Dots Of Death. With his side projects To My Surprise and Dirty Little Rabbits in-between, there is only one Clown associated with them all. Clown is not your stereotypical “Rock Star”, instead he is an artist that delves deep into the human psyche, revealing what he finds along the way, while never being bashful to push the envelope.
There is much more to Clown than his being a founding member and percussionist for Slipknot. Oh, there’s so much more. All one needs to do, when a golden opportunity arises, is talk to Clown and find out for oneself just how unique, open minded, brutally honest and caring he unmistakably is. Hard Rock Hideout recently had the opportunity to talk with the legendary Clown… only Clown did the most talking. That’s the way it should be. When a man like Clown, who holds such hard earned status in today’s Heavy Metal climate and Rock Music history, coupled with his volumes of knowledge on life itself wants to speak… I’m going to listen. Here is what Clown had to say:
HRH: “Ever Since We Were Children” combines a mix of music styles that carries it’s dark themes in a maniacal sense of emotions. This album flows so well and it works for me. How do you pull this off? What’s the method to your madness?
CLOWN: Well, “what’s the method to your madness” is a good question! Anyone who spends a lot of time with me really knows me. When I was young, I used to think I wouldn’t make it to forty one years old! Now, I’m hoping to make it to sixty one! (laughs)
HRH: (laughs) Let’s hope!
CLOWN: I took a physical the other day and I filmed the nurse taking blood from my arm. I sent the video to my wife’s phone and said, “look what I’m doing today”! I filmed my parents cremation too. I was invited and asked by Paul Gray’s wife to film the birth of their child. I’m always searching for more truths and answers. In schools, they should be teaching us about death and preparing us for death. I have a friend who is suffering from a life changing and traumatic experience, I spoke to him two weeks ago. He said don’t take life for granted, live for the day because you can’t predict what will happen. You have to get as much done today because you don’t know if your gonna get killed in a car wreck tonight.
HRH: How true it is, Clown.
CLOWN: I’ve lost my Mom, Dad and now my best friend last year. My first best friend. It has all struck a chord with me, that life is fragile, life is random.
HRH: I couldn’t agree with you more, Clown.
CLOWN: This new album is something I’ve been working on for ten years now. The whole psychosis audio experience and dangerous thinking is happening on this album. I’m always opening my minds eye into different ways of thinking. I’m not wasting anymore time and not waiting for the next Slipknot album. I want to facilitate the art that’s inside of me and bundle it together. Just because I’m a percussionist, people don’t know I’m an all around artist. I play drums with The Black Dots Of Death, only you are getting more from me, a freedom of artistic expression and more than just a percussionist.
HRH: Which do you prefer to be addressed as, Shawn or Clown?
CLOWN: People who know me, know me as Clown and call me Clown. I’ve always been Clown and always will be Clown. It’s who I am, a reference in a sort of way. My real name is Michael Shawn Crahan. You can call me Shawn, still, calling me Clown is correct.
HRH: Okay, Clown it is! I thank you for clarifying that with me.
CLOWN: Not a problem.
HRH: Is it fair to think “Ever Since We Were Children” imitates aspects of life that no one wants to talk about?
CLOWN: Yes. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, through being a member of Slipknot and living a life of Rock and Roll, is I’ve received a Phd… a Doctorate in Rock and Roll. I could give a class on passports, different currencies, countries, pyrotechnics and drum lifts. I have a real sense on all that through experience. I tell a lot of people that my career in the old days was based on extreme danger and extreme violence. Now, I search for salvation through music. In my last twelve years, my feelings of salvation were brought on by being a member of Slipknot.
HRH: That’s really cool, Clown.
CLOWN: Twelve years later, I’m still searching through my feelings and applying them to The Black Dots Of Death. Two other bands I was in were based on how I was brought up in the seventies and the music I grew up on. Listening to my mother play guitar and the whole Monterey Pop Festival thing had an affect on me. This record is all stories and situations that a lot of people want to ignore and not talk about. It’s been a waiting game to reinvent my anger. I recently did an art show on my lifes work… no parents could attend and losing my best friend who couldn’t be there really hurt.
HRH: What comes first for you, an album’s theme or the song’s lyrics?
CLOWN: Basically, the music is written first. With “Lower Than Dirt” I remembered that I had the “fat kid” reference hit at me while growing up and it hurt, it made me feel “lower than dirt”. I wrote a song a day while writing this album, the experience was great with the producers and engineers. The songs on the new album are short stories, written for people like they’ve gone through them. I’m an only child, so the closest thing to a brother I’ve ever had in my life is my lead singer. He thinks a lot like I think. He is willing to fight to the death and not give a shit what other people think… with responsibility that is. There is responsibility in the way I act and the things I say, of course. He’s very ready to stand up to what he believes in. He builds his mindset around all his lyrics and he is the lead singer. I give my lead singer all these songs, then on a certain day and depending on how he feels is how he approaches the songs. Something will happen in “his” life and that is how he approaches writing songs.
HRH: The songs on “Ever Since We Were Children” are dark, melancholy and do make me feel nervous!
CLOWN: I’ll start my mindset around the sound of a song, combining both frequencies that are audible and inaudible. When you mix in audible with inaudible frequencies, it creates psychosis audio. Something is taking place there that truly affects people!
HRH: Whoa, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that before! (laughs)
CLOWN: I purposely do it, I’m diagnosed with severe depression and I go from one state of living to a next state of living. I like to get paranoia, stress and heart rates up with people! If someone tells me, Clown, I had to eventually turn off that Slipknot or Black Dots Of Death album because it made me very nervous, then that is the greatest compliment I can ever receive! You’ve listened to the first Slipknot album, I’m sure.
HRH: I certainly have!
CLOWN: There is a lot of psychosis audio happening on that first album.
HRH: I realize that now! (laughs)
CLOWN: I like to take music to the realm of insanity, it’s like, take me to that zone! Back then, when we made the first Slipknot album, you were dealing with nine guys who would cut their hands off and do anything to get somewhere in life and in this music business. I put all of my life experiences into my music and I have to write a song a day. I’m going in for minor surgery next week and I have anxiety over it. So, I incorporate this into my music. My wife celebrated this past Thanksgiving away from me, so I was invited over to a friends house for Thanksgiving dinner. Their food wasn’t my wife’s food, so I wrote the song “Thanks For Nothing”. It was the anxiety I experienced that day, from not having my wife’s food. All the riffs and the way this song was written reflects the way I felt that day.
HRH: Based on what is happening in the world today, is there any hope for mankind?
CLOWN: None. It’s very disturbing about how I and others feel about it. Let’s look at the facts. The end of the world has been written about and discussed since man has been able to write, paint and make music. Bigger, faster, quicker and cheaper is our downfall. I’ve watched the talking heads on television, each giving their reasons as to why the world is a mess. They say it’s economical aspects, a shortage of water and over population. I’ve turned to my wife and said, if you add up all nine ideas we’re listening to on television, then you have the recipe for disaster. We have beings in space studying micro gravity already. We’re already off this planet! To quote Radiohead, “dinosaurs already ruled the earth”, there was a T-Rex running around this planet, devouring this planet. Now, it’s us making a mess of it! We’re not doing very well when we have an oil spill in the ocean and it takes that long to cap it! That was an insult to our Earth and mankind.
HRH: Apocalyptic Nightmare.com has been launched. This should prove to be an excellent outlet for you to showcase and sell your art. Will you consistently add your art to this site?
CLOWN: It’s taken me a long time within the management family to get this site launched. If I had waited for management, my site would not be up as we’re speaking. I want things to fly around and get to the facts. Like my friend I mentioned earlier said, “get it done today”. About one eighth of this site is done. There are no videos or film uploaded just yet. I want my album covers, poetry, short stories and all my paintings up. Three bands I’ve produced are on it and I played drums and wrote songs for them too. There will be a remix section along with a photo and painting section. I had and have a certain way to get things done. There will be a link to get my book when it’s done. Contact information for signings, public speakings and slide shows of my life experiences as well. It’s going to take a lot of time, there are thousands of pictures I want to share and more merchandise to be sold with my artwork on it. It’s kinda like my tombstone and what my Mom always said, “I was a renaissance man”.
HRH: That’s going to be a fabulous site once it’s all complete Clown.
CLOWN: Once our website comes out, The Black Dots Of Death.com, everyone will know who our lead singer is. In the meantime, let everyone know we’re coming for them! The Black Dots Of Death is a dangerous band, with danger all around us!
HRH: Where do you draw inspiration from?
CLOWN: I work with Make-A-Wish Foundation. I get incredible strength from these kids. To be a part of this is an amazing and surreal feeling. It gives me a serious mindset, to speak with a kid that is terminal. I get disturbed by talking to a terminally ill kid who is way more positive than me, then they ask me, what’s wrong with you? I’ve seen kids who have had their arms and legs blown off at a children’s hospital. We get invited to go in and it’s so surreal, I’ve seen some crazy things, mind blowing things that I want to share with people. I’m funny sometimes, yet I’m really serious too.
HRH: That is just admirable Clown, your working with Make-A-Wish Foundation.
CLOWN: As kids get older and healed, they’ll have a family, find us and thank us for the time I spent with them. I like to be next to kids and sometimes I’m brought to tears by the questions they ask me. I’m good at public speaking and a lot has happened in my life, so I like to tell kids my experiences. I’ve met kids who cut themselves, they come to our show with their parents and they are embarrassed by being with their parents. I always say to them “you are lucky and very fortunate to have parents like this”. Management will always ask me the day before or night before a Make-A-Wish engagement. They know full well that it gives me anxiety thinking about the engagement, in the days leading up to it.
HRH: All requests go through management then?
CLOWN: Management is my direct connection for me to produce a band, do a remix, drum clinics and public speaking as well. I like speaking about going from a small town to a big band.
HRH: Will there ever be another new Slipknot studio album again?
CLOWN: In my heart of hearts and soul of souls, I think there would be another Slipknot record again. I would love another Slipknot record! Please, don’t print this and quote “Clown said there would definitely be another Slipknot album”. Nothing is in the works right now. I live for the day, one day at a time. It would be a special day for a new Slipknot record to come out. Still, there are no guarantees in life. I cannot predict the future, I’m not a fortune teller. Right now, I want to celebrate my bass player’s life, (Paul Gray), our love for him and love for our band.
MARK TREMONTI is a founding member and lead guitarist of both Creed and Alter Bridge. To be a part of two successful Rock bands that are embraced by fans worldwide is an accomplishment that most of us nine to fivers can only dream about. Mark Tremonti is certainly living this Rock ‘n’ Roll dream and he has done so throughout his career with the upmost dedication to his music and bands, with more than a touch of class. The songs Mark has written have become benchmarks for generations of aspiring Rock musicians, while the guitar he plays resonates his very own sound and style that is Creed and Alter Bridge.
With the release of AB III back on November 9th, 2010, the critics and fans have spoken with unparalleled approval. Achieving their first number one single with “Isolation”, AB III has been widely accepted as a tremendous album of Hard Rock from a group of musicians that have more than paid their dues. January 11th, 2011 saw the release of the highly anticipated: Alter Bridge “Live From Amsterdam” CD/DVD. With so many great things happening in the world of Alter Bridge, the timing could never be more perfect to interview Mark Tremonti. During his extremely busy schedule, Mark took the time to answer some questions that Hard Rock Hideout threw at him. Here is what Mark had to say:
HRH: Congratulations on your bands first #1 single! (Isolation had hit #1 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in the U.S.). How Satisfying does this feel?
MARK: Oh, it’s great! We’ve been working long and hard over these years. It’s hard to get a number one single. We’ve had a couple of number two singles in the past, so getting our first number one is really fun!
HRH: Who have you turned to throughout your career, for the most advice and support?
MARK: I would say my bandmates and managers. They are the only ones who know what we’re really going through. The guys I “look up to” I only speak with for a couple of hours now and again.
HRH: When you began writing songs for AB III, were there any pre-determined themes you wanted to cover or did the lyrical and writing process fall into place naturally?
MARK: It went the same way as our other records. Myles (Kennedy) and I always go back and forth with each other. It’s just like putting together pieces of a puzzle. We like to keep our songs open-ended while we both share in the process. This time around, with AB III, we wrote a darker and heavier record. I just did not want to consider radio or record sales this time around, with our new record. I just knew this time not to “play it safe”, it just hinders the entire writing process.
HRH: Did you ever perceive “Wonderful Life” (from AB III) to sound so moving once it was recorded?
MARK: That song really translated really well on record. When I heard Myles singing that tune on tour, I said I have to remember this song for our new record! I think this song is a shining moment vocally for Myles.
HRH: I’ll agree with you!
HRH: Was “Slip To The Void” (from AB III) written about anyone the band knows personally?
MARK: Myles has had his troubles, losing faith in recent years and not believing in the material world, so this was what Myles was going through personally.
HRH: Can you reveal the secret to Myles taking care of his amazing voice?
MARK: There’s no secret. Myles works hard and he has studied in L.A. with Ron Anderson. Myles warms up one and a half hours before a show and warms down afterwards. He doesn’t smoke or eat any foods high in sugar. Myles is very conscientious in taking care of himself.
HRH Note: Ron Anderson is a renowned vocal coach.
HRH: Being that Alter Bridge played their very first live show in Amsterdam, was there a special vibe you guys received from the fans there, while you recorded “Live From Amsterdam”?
MARK: Oh yeah! They were a great crowd! We’d do anything and the fans in Amsterdam would be all over it! I’m really glad we chose Amsterdam to record our live record.
HRH: Do you stockpile guitar parts you’ve written for future albums or do you take it as it comes?
MARK: No, I stockpile lots of stuff all the time. If I’m bored, I go through my guitar parts for new ideas. I label them for the part that it is, say, bridge, lead, solo, with 4/4 timing and so on. The sad truth is, most of my material, about seventy percent of it, I’ll never use.
HRH: Wow, Mark, that is a lot of parts that will never be heard.
MARK: That’s why I’m doing a solo record. I’m trying not to waste anything I’ve written over the years.
HRH: What does the schedule look like for your solo record?
MARK: I’ve revisited it in February and it will take a couple of years to finish. It will take downtime off touring to get the work done on this solo album. Then, family does keep me busy during downtime!
HRH: Brace yourself Mark, this is an important question coming. Do you watch American Idol?
MARK: I don’t. My wife is watching it though. After all these years, I’ve kind of lost track of it all. The first four seasons were good and it was advertised all over the place.
HRH: If you could travel back to the 70’s, what band would you want to try out for on guitar?
MARK: Oh gee, that’s a tough one. Maybe as a rhythm guitarist for Led Zeppelin. Black Sabbath too. Those are two great bands, you can’t get any better than that!
HRH: Do you have a message to share to your fans?
MARK: I really want to thank them for their support over the years.
For more information on Mark Tremonti & Alter Bridge, check out the Alter Bridge website at this link!
GEOFF TATE - When you delve your eardrums back into the eighties decade, midway through the nineties, Heavy Metal had it’s fair share of flamboyant front men. What set any front man from the pack then, as it does to this very moment, are the vocals. Smoke and mirrors will only take you so far in the vast world of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock. Geoff Tate has never tricked anyone with his vocals, instead he has left a generation or two in pure awe from his falsetto and vocal range. Of course, there is the entire Queensryche band behind Geoff Tate, a band which has distinguished themselves as innovators within the progressive realm of Heavy Music for three decades strong.
Whenever names of the greatest singers of the Heavy Metal era come up through conversations I have, with my peers or other musicians, Geoff Tate is at the top of the list. While interviewing Geoff, I realized he is focused on the present and not the past. Geoff is not only extremely polite, he is one to pause before answering a question, putting precise care into how he chooses his words. Geoff talks about the thirtieth anniversary of Queensryche, the twentieth anniversary of their “Empire” album, his thoughts about Grunge and his committed patriotism towards the U.S. Armed Forces. Here is what Geoff Tate had to say.
HRH: Queensryche are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of “Empire”. After two decades, what is it, that stands out the most about “Empire” for you?
GEOFF TATE: We never look back as a band. I never really listened to it again, maybe for reference purposes. It’s what we’re doing at the moment that I listen to. For the re-release, we found stuff sitting around in the closet to put on the record. “Empire” happened at a really good time in history, right after the “Mindcrime Tour”. “Empire” reflects us being home from a writing standpoint, how we felt towards relationships and the environments around us. I really like the record. It was a special time in Rock history, Rock music was everywhere, on MTV and radio. Now, Rock seems to be underground.
HRH: “Silent Lucidity” illuminates that “it” factor. This song became huge of course. How were you able to make “Silent Lucidity” coexist amongst the other songs on “Empire” so well?
GEOFF TATE: It was written like all our songs, as acoustic and voice. Our musical character went into it, there’s Classical and all different styles of music that makes up our signature sound. This song was written with the mentality of Queensryche in mind, usually a group has chemistry and Queensryche has always had that chemistry. The chord sequences and frequency patterns will emerge from a song, then you know it’s Queensryche, then you can identify the song to our band.
HRH: How is the next Queensryche album coming along?
GEOFF TATE: It’s coming along really good, we worked on it for the whole day today. We’re looking at a release for Spring of 2011, that’s our goal. We’re in the final stages of the album now, we need to do drum tracks on a few songs. After Thanksgiving we’ll get right back to it.
HRH: What young gun band or vocalist out there today, impresses you the most?
GEOFF TATE: Well, you know, being the age I am, the younger and newer bands just don’t speak to me artistically. Being an older guy, I’ve been through a lot. I’m pretty busy listening to the music that’s in my head.
HRH: The exemplary and patriotic “American Solider” album resonates your pride and respect for our U.S. Armed Forces. Would you ever consider a sequel to “American Soldier”?
GEOFF TATE: I could write a lot of albums based on that subject! I listened to so many wonderful stories and they were all amazing stories. So yes, I could write several albums on that subject.
HRH: Have you ever pondered making a documentary on “American Soldier”?
GEOFF TATE: On our Iraq and Kuwait trips, there was a lot of footage shot and I’m very pleased with how it came out. We did two weeks of shows for our troops over there in Iraq and Kuwait. It was inspirational and a great honor to play for our troops live.
HRH: It’s been reported that you will be performing along with Y&T and other Rock greats, at a New Years Eve benefit concert for Phil Kennemore. How far back do you go with Phil Kennemore?
GEOFF TATE: Let’s see, our first tour with Y&T goes back to the mid 80’s, around 1984 or something like that. I’m good friends with Mike Meniketti as well, my wife is friends with his wife too.
HARD ROCK HIDEOUT NOTE: Phil Kennemore has been the longtime bass guitarist for Y&T. Dave Meniketti is a founding member, vocalist and lead guitarist for Y&T. Phil Kennemore is currently and bravely battling metastatic cancer. This benefit concert for Phil Kennemore will take place on New Years Eve at The Avalon in Santa Clara, California.
HRH: The progressive style of Queensryche is what sets your band apart from ever being pigeonholed as just Heavy Metal. Do you agree that “Operation Mindcrime” set the standard for other Progressive Metal bands to follow?
GEOFF TATE: Well, I think it was a pivotal record for us. “Operation Mindcrime” broke new ground for us and other bands as well. That album was very inspirational to us and other bands. As musicians, we are inspired by other musicians, it affects the way we play.
HRH: What’s your most proud vocal performance, live and/or in studio?
GEOFF TATE: Probably what I’m working on now! This next Queensryche album is a personal journey. In terms of best or worst, it’s all about just getting the song out. We try to paint the best picture with the subject matter as musicians. We’re always experimenting musically. With me, it could be phrasing a song or experimenting with melody, experimenting with chord arrangements, playing around with different patterns and making it work.
HRH: Is there another solo album in the future for you?
GEOFF TATE: Yeah, I’ve been working on one. I have so many songs written, only I’ve been busy with Queensryche the last several years. Probably in the next couple of years I’ll have a new solo album out.
HRH: Do you stay in touch with Chris DeGarmo?
GEOFF TATE: Yeah, probably once every couple of months we have lunch together. We definitely stay in touch.
HARD ROCK HIDEOUT NOTE: Chris DeGarmo was a founding member for Queensryche. Chris was their lead and rhythm guitarist, as well as being a songwriter for the band. Back in 1997, Chris officially left Queensryche. In 2003, Chris did record on the Queensryche album “Tribe” and wrote and recorded on the song “Justified” for the 2007 Queensryche greatest hits album “Sign Of The Times”.
HRH: Having strong roots in Seattle, Washington, did you embrace Grunge, tolerate it or it never mattered?
GEOFF TATE: The term “Grunge” is not something the bands that get lumped into are very comfy with. They were and still are Rock bands to me. They were all right behind us. Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden, they all played gigs with us, they all opened for us and I know these guys well. I’m very good friends with Mike McCready and Jerry Cantrell.
HRH: Growing up as a young singer, musician and songwriter, how much were you influenced by Ronnie James Dio?
GEOFF TATE: Quite a bit in a lot of ways. Ronnie was a mentor for me and the band. Our first tour to Europe was with DIO. Ronnie showed us what to do and what not to do. Ronnie was a true gentleman, a great man and very kind. He always explained things to us. Ronnie had open ears and would listen to what you had to say. I definitely miss him very much.
HRH: When you released the first Queensryche EP, back in 1983, did you envision your band to reach such legendary status?
GEOFF TATE: No. I never really think about that. I always thought of the present day and still do. Queensryche’s Thirtieth Anniversary is coming up, with a big tour to follow in the Spring and Summer of 2011. It’s been thirty years already, it’s very sobering!
PHIL ANSELMO – Yes, Phil Anselmo… his name is of course synonymous with the ultra-legendary Pantera. The word Metal in and of itself can easily be Phil’s middle name. However, Phil Anselmo’s name is also engraved in the Extreme Metal and Hardcore genres as well. With a career in music that boasts fronting the 1990’s unbelievably dominant Pantera, Phil Anselmo has an overwhelmingly impressive Metal and multi-music genre resume, both as a musician and businessman.
With Phil Anselmo being a key member of Down, Superjoint Ritual, Christ Inversion and Arson Anthem, nothing seems to slow him down from being a consistent player in the Metal and Hardcore Music industry, going on three decades. In the midst of such a brilliant career in Heavy Music, Phil also found time to play guitar for Necrophagia as well. Owning, operating and signing bands to his successful record label Housecore Records, is yet another side to this man who obviously loves Heavy and Extreme Music. It appears as if Phil Anselmo is writing a new chapter in his life of Metal, as each day seems to pass.
Phil Anselmo is as passionate about his Metal past as he is with his Metal present and future. The word “complacent” is not in Phil’s vocabulary. Phil Anselmo’s contributions and legacy to the history of Metal and Hardcore Music is already impressive and legendary. What is downright scary is that Phil Anselmo is continuously building upon his legacy and not resting on any damn laurels. There are many reasons why I respect Phil Anselmo, this interview only solidified them all for me.
Trying to check off all of the musical ground that Phil Anselmo has covered over his amazing career is a ludicrous thought. What is uncovered in the following paragraphs, are insights into a vast world of music talent and perspective from a man who says and does it his way. Here is what Phil Anselmo had to say:
HRH: The 2oth Anniversary of “Cowboys From Hell” is upon us. Does it seem that long ago to you?
Phil: Not at all man. Twenty years just blew by.
HRH: Can you share what the craziest moment was for you, during Pantera’s relentless “Cowboys From Hell” tour?
Phil: It was getting up there on stage every night, in front of people who did not know a damn thing about us in the U.S. or all around the world. People in Europe fuckin’ hated us back then! Every night we had a chip on our shoulders, we had to impress everyone, night after night. We owned a regional area of Texas during that tour. It was just a matter of time for the rest of the world to know who Pantera was. Being the underdog made us work that much harder. We were always a gig band and we knew we had to play live and be visual. Being seen was most important.
HRH: I personally like “The Will To Survive” demo. What do you recall about this song?
Phil: You like it?
HRH: I sure do. Don’t mind me saying, your vocals sound a bit like Rob Halford on this song.
Phil: Rob Halford was a heck of an influence on me. That’s the closest next to any falsetto in my throat! I was singing my throat out on that song. There’s not much honestly, that I remember about this song. It was early when we did that song, I think it was when I first joined the band in ’87. I recall that song as a skeleton in parts. The chunks and riffs were already there, probably meant for the “Power Metal” era in ’88. That song did not fit the profile for “Power Metal” or “Cowboys From Hell”, otherwise it would have stood out like a sore thumb.
HRH: Why do you think Pantera fans are so loyal to the band to this very second?
Phil: I think it’s the camaraderie we always had with the audience. We did not want to have character as a band that was untouchable or inaccessible. I was always talking the shit to Dimebag between songs on stage. We wanted the kids on stage with us! Hell, I’d hand the kid who came up on stage the microphone and let him sing and scream into it! It never bothered us. Our interaction with the kids back then was an impressive sight. Damn, you can see it for yourself by just going to Youtube and looking up any live Pantera videos. The videos don’t lie and seeing is believing!
HRH: In the early days, who listened to the heaviest and most extreme music in Pantera?
Phil: Me, me, me, me! I am the horse and you heard it from his mouth.
HRH: What is your greatest memory of Dimebag the person, not the musician?
Phil: As a person there were so many of them. He and I were such creative forces that there would be this butting of the heads that would be healthy. I was this hot headed mother fucker who wanted the money riffs, wanted the music more loose and I wasn’t wild about guitar solos. Twenty years removed, little did I know that Dimebag was to become the hero he is today. The machine like tightness was a staple of Pantera. I was on this underground trip, with this trio of musicians who were the most talented I’ve ever been surrounded by. The versatility and tightness between Vince and Rex, Rex and Dime was like nothing I’ve seen before or since. When it came time to execute the vocals, we all got along.
HRH: Which Pantera album could you not live without?
Phil: I’ll make a case for “Vulgar Display Of Power”. As a second tier, “Far Beyond Driven”. To be cut and dry though, “Vulgar Display Of Power”. Which one could you not live without?
HRH: Man, Phil, that is a hard one, I agree with “Vulgar Display Of Power”. But really all of them.
Phil: I know what you mean, man.
HRH: What country had the most rabid fans for Pantera?
Phil: Everywhere we went it seemed. Brazil, Mexico and Puerto Rico were insane! The most rabid first show was in Puerto Rico, man, it was dangerous. There were gang members everywhere outside, it was chaotic. We saw guns and weapons everywhere out in the open. Europe, the U.K., even Russia were great. Man, that’s a tough question, everywhere we went the fans were so damn kind to us. No way can I discount the States or Canada! The most fun, memorable and insane place to play was and is New York City. New York City has always been fuckin’ out of the box! For a specific show, there was this one time in Chicago. It was fuckin’ nuts. Out in the streets kids were jumping on cars and it was just fuckin’ chaos.
HRH: In the early days of Pantera, was there a lot of head butting with the song writing?
Phil: Lyrically I felt kind of restrained. I wanted to collaborate to where everyone in the band could get one hundred per cent of where I’m from as a lyricist. Later on, the freedom came around “Vulgar Display Of Power”. That’s when I really started to say look, how much longer am I gonna be the new guy? Healthy head butting equaled to healthy music though.
HRH: Who has been your single greatest influence in music?
Phil: Judas Priest and Rob Halford. David Lee Roth was a hell of a front man. Paul Stanley too. I knew I was going to be a singer all my life. As a young boy, when I was around thirteen it was Black Sabbath, Ozzy and Ronnie James Dio. I cannot leave out Dio. Even Bono from U2 influenced me to a degree. All of them made Pantera special. It’s an imperative quality to have that well roundedness to go in any genre of music. Everyone was rounded out in Pantera in their own way. Dimebag would say he was into Nine Inch Nails and I would say really? Fuckin’ off during a soundcheck, we would go off on some Country Western stuff and it would sound authentic! It’s important to listen to a little of everything.
HRH: What peer bands has your back?
Phil: A majority of ‘em have my back. Any band after 1990. Dez Fafara and Devil Driver. I’m really tight with Dez, ever since he was with Coal Chamber. We still speak to this very day. Slayer, Biohazard, Sepultura, Prong, Anthrax, Agnostic Front, Sick Of It All, it goes so far. It goes so far. The New York City Hardcore scene is a fantastic meeting place. I know a lot of those guys and we come out to support each other.
HRH: Theater or Arena, what’s your preference to play at?
Phil: I like ‘em both man. After a six month arena tour though, there’s always a piece of me after I do that to get back into the intimate club thing and that’s great.
HRH: How about festivals?
Phil: I love ‘em the majority of the time. There are no negative points to make on festivals! Pantera and Down both have done great festivals. Superjoint Ritual at Ozzfest wasn’t that great of a time though. That band was more suitable for a smaller club feel.
HRH: What is missing in the Metal scene today?
Phil: What do you think is missing in the Metal scene today?
HRH: Just that true feeling that was in the air years ago.
Phil: Your right on, there are no scenes anymore. Years back it was fuckin’ magic, man. I’m not saying one time period is better or worse here, only bands are more visible on computers now than on stage. There are not many gigs. There are a lot of myspace pages where bands flaunt their stuff. If you want to hear a band’s music you have to visit their myspace page. Today’s teens and twenty year olds could only wish to experience that scene feel. Texas had a great fuckin’ scene! New Orleans too. You could just stop in one weekend, out of the blue, to matinee shows. There was a clique of people and it was familiar to us. The general consensus about music today, is that it’s lacking a bit of originality. It’s Pantera meets Alice In Chains and it’s the same formula being used in hundreds of bands. That’s why I started my own label, Housecore Records. I weeded out certain bands that are hitting those certain notes.
HRH: Housecore Records today is what Metal Blade Records was in the early ’80’s.
Phil: Yeah, exactly. Like Megaforce Records was doing as well. There are a lot of super talented bands out there and the end result doesn’t sound too far removed from something we already heard. I’ve seen a lot of bands come and go. I’m looking for the kids trying to make a difference. The first listen to some of these bands might be awkward and unpleasant but I don’t mind because whoa, sometimes they turn out to be favorite bands with longevity and growth. That’s what Housecore Records is all about, growing a band. Years ago, Metal Blade Records would give a band time to grow, release a few albums and build a fan base. Today, the big record labels want a new band to sell millions of records right away.
HRH: It’s the Old School way to grow a band.
Phil: You said it. There’s always a clique of musicians genre work being duplicated, like a Thrash band in the Thrash genre doing cut and paste Destruction riffs. I do have genre bands, I have a Thrash Metal band on Housecore Records, Warbeast, from Fort Worth Texas. About six months ago, they made a great Thrash Metal record called “Krush The Enemy”, it’s their “Cowboys From Hell”. All I see is potential in this band! Dual guitars, double bass and not cut and paste stuff. The vocalist for Warbeast is Bruce Corbitt, he was in Rigor Mortis.
HRH: Warbeast is a band that I’ll be definitely checking out!
Phil: Another Housecore Records band to check out is haarp. They did an epic crushing masterpiece, “The Filth” and it’s fuckin’ deadly. Shaun Emmons, the vocalist, is massive! I’ve seen that guy control a crowd without saying a word to them. The Sursiks are hittin’ crazy different notes and their on their own page! My band Arson Anthem is coming out with a full length on October 12th, called “Insecurity Notoriety”. I play guitar, Mike IX Williams is on vocals, Hank Williams III is on drums and Collin Yeo is on bass. This is vicious Hardcore, so trip out on this record!
HRH Note: You can purchase Arson Anthem, Warbeast “Krush The Enemy”, The Sursiks and both haarp EP’s by clicking here: HOUSECORE RECORDS
HRH: Anything new to report from the Down camp?
Phil: There’s nothing much from Down. We’ve messed around with the skeletons of two new songs recently. They are two songs from the last session. Kirk (Windstein) is cleaning up his life and that’s great.
HRH: Can you see yourself collaborating with Killjoy ever again?
Phil: I don’t man. I hope is doing really well, but no. I love to play guitar, it was fun to play for Necrophagia.
HRH Note: Phil Anselmo played guitar for Necrophagia’s 1998 studio album – “Holocausto de la Morte”. Phil played with Necrophagia under the alias Anton Crowley.
HRH: If a major motion picture was to be made about Phil Anselmo, what would the title be?
Phil: Let me think here, maybe something like, no wait, I’ll think of it. Give me a second. Damn, this is a tough question. How about, drag me to hell!
HRH: Alright, cool.
Phil: No, I’m kidding.
HRH: Okay. (laughs)
Phil: King Kong!
HRH: King Kong? What? (Laughs)
Phil: I’m just messin’ with ya! (Laughs)
Phil: I’m stumped on this one and I’m gettin’ hassled on the phone here! I don’t need this!
Phil: From shit to roses and from shit to roses again.
Phil: No, that’s terrible!
Phil: How to break your back and still sprint at 42! There, that’s the movie title!
HRH: Good one, Phil. (Laughs)
HRH: Do you have any commentary on the BP oil spill in the gulf?
Phil: It makes me examine mankind once again. By all rights, I can’t speak for anyone else but me. I’m just another ignorant man figuring my way through life. With all due respect to what other religions other people follow and what they consider to be their god, If I’m going to call anything god it’s this planet underneath our feet. When you stab god in the chest, like a human so much blood is in the body. There’s only so much oil in the Earth. I know people down in the Gulf, the locals, who have been living off the industry of fish for generations and they are hurtin’. Any food place around the world that imports from the Gulf are gonna be hurtin’. I think there’s a fact that people in America are not allowed a loud enough voice. If there was a reasoning here there would be pamphlets in the mailbox asking if it’s o.k. to drill a mile into the Gulf, into the Earth. You drill one mile into the Earth here and tell everyone it’s foolproof, who’s the fool when it breaks? We stabbed god in the heart and it makes me look at mankind like we are a conquering, vicious, breed of life on Earth. We need to take a step back and look at what we have done. We only have one planet. There should be a law of man, a law of mankind, to respect the Earth we live on.
HRH: Do you stay in touch with Vinnie Paul?
Phil: Wish I did.
JON OLIVA – has made quite the mark on the music industry. Since 1978, Jon Oliva has been involved in making music… after all, as you will later find out, Jon Oliva is a man of music. A founding member, along with his late brother Criss Oliva, of the influential and legendary Progressive Metal Band -Savatage. As Jon Oliva will elaborate, later in this interview, Savatage has since been transformed into the ultra world popular – Trans Siberian Orchestra, in which Jon Oliva is most personally proud of.
In the midst of of Jon Oliva’s music career, he has also founded and nurtured his Heavy Metal brainchild known as Jon Oliva’s Pain, with four studio albums released since 2004. Jon Oliva’s Pain has recently released a fourth studio album on AFM Records titled, “Festival”, this very same month on April 13th. Recently, Jon Oliva took the time from his busy schedule to talk to Hard Rock Hideout about his terrific new album and the music he has created and loves. Here’s what Jon Oliva had to say:
HRH: Jon, I can’t stop listening to “Festival”, I’m really hooked! An incredible album you made here!
Jon Oliva: Thank you, “Festival” really is an album that grows on you each time you listen to it.
HRH: As with all of the music you have created or helped to create, it’s always been a listening experience for me. “Festival” continues this trend. How did you prepare your thoughts and ideas for this new and amazing album?
Jon Oliva: There’s a lot of little things in the background. The last album, (“Global Warning”/AFM Records), was an experimental album and I pretty much got that out of my system. I wanted to play guitar, so when we were on tour in Europe, “Festival” was written. We had an amp and a 4-track riding around Europe! I wanted a darker, old school Savatage type album, a back to basics without losing any weird stuff that is heard in the songs.
HRH: “Festival” showcases your musical diversity, all the while maintaining a dark, hard and heavy style. Were there any last second double guessing happening while in the studio?
Jon Oliva: Not really, there was a plan. I was confident when we went in and prepared. “Festival” is different from the last three (John Oliva’s Pain) albums, every musical thing was written and ready to go. There was no searching for parts, no searching for keyboard parts, no stress. This was a very happy album to make.
HRH: The song “Now” has an uncanny Classic Rock feel to me, with a tad of ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) flavor and still it’s Jon Oliva’s Pain. Is that accurate for me to state?
Jon Oliva: Sure! A big influence on me is ELO, I love that band! Back when I was eighteen years old, my bother Criss and I wrote the chorus for this song in grandmas garage. After all those years, I pulled the tape out, wrote a new verse for it, inserted the chorus and this song, “Now”, is the result. “Now” was half written in 1978!
HRH: That’s really cool, the story behind “Now”.
HRH: “Death Rides A Black Horse” gives me goose bumps, such an epic power it delivers. How did this song come about?
Jon Oliva: From a nightmare. Lyrically based on nightmares are all my songs. I saw that guy with the long scythe, it was death coming through the clouds and he had fire in his eyes. What I remember from nightmares I elaborate on it, lyrically. I have nephews in the military and their slogan is this song title, so I thought it was a great name for a song! I wanted to do it for them, adding their slogan as the song title. “Now” and “Lies” are two songs not based on a dream or nightmare though. “Living On The Edge” is about being chased by something I cannot see, all I am seeing is blackness ahead of the lines in the road. The storyteller comes out in me through songs, I just improvise the ending of these nightmares I have.
HRH: It’s amazing and unique, these nightmares you have that eventually become songs.
Jon Oliva: Since I was a kid, I always have nightmares, every night. As a kid, I would watch “Creature Feature” (a Saturday morning/classic horror movie matinee on television) and my mom would warn me, “you’ll have nightmares if you watch this stuff!” My brain is having a party up there and this is what comes out in my sleep!
HRH: Each time I listen to “Festival” I get the perception that there is no slowing down Jon Oliva. How true is my perception?
Jon Oliva: Very true. There is a lot going on in my life. I am creating as much music as I can, while I can still do it. I’m not twenty one anymore and eventually it will all stop. I still have a lot of stuff on tape to pull out and work on. I like to get up and get out there! As I get older, I have acquired a sense of urgency. Trans Siberian Orchestra helps, I get lots of music through them that doesn’t suit John Oliva’s Pain, the Hard Rock and heavy side of Pain. The soft and more tender music I write suits Trans Siberian Orchestra.
HRH: Is there a North American tour on the horizon for Jon Oliva’s Pain?
Jon Oliva: I’m looking at a mid September to late September window, with a few dates in the Northeast and I’m working on setting this up. Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York would be the area for these dates. The economy is bad and the drinking age is twenty one. The club scene is killed with the drinking age of twenty one. The clubs lose fifty percent of their business with twenty one being the drinking age.
HRH: I always wonder, how much of a deterrent to alcohol this drinking age of twenty one really is.
Jon Oliva: It’s not a deterrent. When we were young, you would still gather somewhere to drink and play music.
HRH: Yeah, my buddies and I would set up in a remote field in the woods, crank up some Metal and let the keg beer flow!
Jon Oliva: Exactly! That’s what we did.
HRH: Who were your musical influences growing up and even now?
Jon Oliva: The Beatles and ELO. ELO’s music is so melodic. I saw ELO in concert in Florida, sometime in the late 70’s. ELO had this enormous spaceship on stage, it was like going to see Alice Cooper for the first time!
HRH: Was it the “Out Of The Blue” tour?
Jon Oliva: I believe it was. It was around 1977 and 1978.
Jon Oliva: Theater Rock is what I’ve always been into and inspired by. People get bored at a concert without entertainment on stage, you might as well stay home and listen to the album or CD instead. If you are really into ELO, Klaatu is a band you should look into. I’ve always loved this band’s music. They were a Canadian Progressive Rock band. Klaatu is named after a character in the science fiction movie “The Day The Earth Stood Still”.
HRH: Thanks Jon, I’ll have to definitely check out Klaatu.
HRH: Which instrument, that you play, gives you the most satisfaction?
Jon Oliva: The piano. There’s nothing like playing a real piano and singing. The guitar also, it’s a weird combination. I can get real emotion on the keyboards, yet it transposes better on guitar. Still, the touch and feel on a piano is something special.
HRH: Will Trans Siberian Orchestra return with a new Christmas theme in the future?
Jon Oliva: I’m not sure, it’s Paul O’Neill’s decision. Paul has lot’s of projects set up that he wants to get out.
HRH: Jon, you have seen and done it all in the world of music. What moment or moments in your career make you the most proud?
Jon Oliva: Becoming so successful with Trans Siberian Orchestra. Trans Siberian Orchestra is Savatage. We worked very long on Savatage and Trans Siberian Orchestra put a cap on Savatage, it’s all the same people. It was always as if we never could get over the hump, (with Savatage), where Savatage was a big name band, by changing the name to Trans Siberian Orchestra, it broadened the whole thing. Trans Siberian Orchestra was a natural progression to go to, there are no limitations, many musicians and singers are featured while the nucleus of Savatage is there. We have the same writers in Paul O’Neill and myself. The name and versatility of Savatage changed.
Living on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and trying to survive since 1980, we, (Savatage), would get beaten down and people would stomp on us! Then we got back up for another ten rounds with Mike Tyson and finally delivered that Buster Douglas punch with Trans Siberian Orchestra! Trans Siberian Orchestra is the biggest band, if not, one of the biggest bands in America today, two shows sell out a day! Currently, “Beethoven’s Last Night” is on tour.
HRH: Is music all about life or is life all about music?
Jon Oliva: Music is all about life! Music is personal experiences, desires, dreams, loves and losses. Music is life with a tune!
When you think of Thrash Metal legends, the first bands that come to mind are usually Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Exodus and Anthrax. Old School Metal fans know… there is another extremely key player in this legendary mix of Thrash Metal originators and it is – Overkill. Going on three decades, with 15 studio albums, an EP, a covers album and 2 live albums under their legendary Thrash Metal belts, Overkill is as Metal potent as ever. Setting out to embark on their Spring North American Tour in support of their 15th studio album – “Ironbound”, original member and vocalist Bobby “The Blitz” Ellsworth cordially took the time recently to talk to Hard Rock Hideout. Here is what Bobby had to say:
HRH: What were the thoughts of Overkill going in to record Ironbound?
Bobby: There was a newer energy within the band, we came in right off the road to assemble Ironbound. The unseen hand or the x-factor was the energy we felt in the studio. It was business as usual, still we were feeling something special while recording Ironbound, this afforded us the luxury of coming together so quickly as musicians and finishing this album.
HRH: Ironbound is on the E1 Music label, are you committed to a defined number of albums with them?
Bobby: Yeah, 100 albums! (laughs)
HRH: (laughs) You know Bobby, at the rate Overkill has been going over the years, that is not far fetched!
Bobby: Two more records with E1 Music here, with Nuclear Blast for the rest of the world.
HRH: I actually feel Ironbound is one of the best Overkill albums ever.
Bobby: Thanks, that’s quite a compliment! After 15 albums and over 25 years of Overkill, we are concentrating on today and this Ironbound album and tour. The beauty of Overkill is you know what to expect, yet it is different with each album. Ironbound has teeth, energy and the x-factor, there’s turns at every angle. Ironbound is rooted in what Overkill has been doing since we first became a band and what we are doing today. This album gives you the best of both worlds.
HRH: Where can we catch Overkill on tour this Spring, any updates?
Bobby: We begin our tour on April 1st, in Philadelphia at The Trocadero and on May 1st in New York City, (Nokia Theater in Times Square), it finishes. Coming out to see us live is to really experience Overkill!
Bobby: Not necessarily, I write abstractly. “Endless War” is a little bit more personal and abstract, yet it relates across the board. One man’s cross doesn’t outweigh another man’s cross. This song can apply to what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan and real life at home. I make comments socially and politically when I write. Ironbound screams louder in the dark, the angst and chaos is valid emotion on Ironbound. I have had over sixteen records to cleanse myself!
HRH: “The Goal Is Your Soul”, can the lyrical content here be representative of white collar crime on Wall Street?
Bobby: Not necessarily, it’s more of a comment on right wing and fanatic Christian and Muslim religions. Organized religion is dangerous, it creates an army in it’s own right. There is danger in the word organized. Organized religion is very follower based. You can also interpret it as the enemy is right here, every day with politics.
HRH: Overkill is arguably the most consistent Thrash Metal band in history, based on album releases and touring. Was an old school work ethic instilled in you at an early age?
Bobby: I think so, it’s my background as a person. DD, (bass guitarist and founding member), and I were raised as such, with a “you want then work for it” discipline. It’s the principals and values of Overkill from the very beginning that has led us here. Doing more and giving your all is the premise this band works on. We always tweak it up, year after year. Our strong work ethic, helps in getting us to go through the artistic torture of making albums for so long, being a band and touring.
HRH: Two words to throw at you, use a free style way to convey your thoughts about them please. Punk Rock.
Bobby: Unbridled energy. Punk Rock has always been the x-factor in Overkill. We started our band covering Punk Rock songs! The Dead Boys, Ramones and Sex Pistols are all influences. The Punk Rock influence is what gives Overkill that different angle that other bands don’t have.
HRH: From “Relix IV”, I love “Old School”, it has that Punk Rock sound and feel.
Bobby: It’s a great song, it’s been a live staple on our set list ever since we released Relix IV.
HRH: What peer band would Overkill take to battle with?
Bobby: There are plenty of us that are cut from the same cloth. Exodus. Overkill and Exodus hold a lot of the same principals. There’s still competition there, yet when we toured together it brought out the best in both bands on stage.
HRH: Are we experiencing a Thrash Metal revival or has Thrash Metal never gone away to begin with?
Bobby: It never went away! Overkill has been doing this straight since 1985. There is a resurgence in popularity with great young bands like Warbringer, Gamma Bomb and Bonded By Blood. Plus, Overkill is also recruiting younger fans with Ironbound in 2010.
HRH: Over the years, what moment truly defined Overkill as being resilient to outside forces?
Bobby: Overkill is special, we always have been able to put ourselves as people ahead of the band. I have known DD for thirty years, our friendship is amazing. In Overkill, “you” come first, not your writing. Overkill is a team, we are more so real about life, instead of business.
HRH: If you could have any famous musical guest on your next Overkill album, who would it be?
Bobby: I’d like to do a duet with Ronnie James Dio. That would be a lot of fun! Lemmy too, (Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead). Lemmy and I sang live together once onstage, it was a lot of fun.
HRH: “Coverkill” is a great tribute to many legendary bands and their songs. What are the chances of there ever being a Coverkill II?
Bobby: I’m not thinking in those terms now. There is a possibility, of course, that it could be done. Since Coverkill, we have covered some new and different songs, Eric Burdon and The Animals and Johnny Cash are just a couple of examples. Still, I think in terms of the day instead of the future, it’s more about the now.
HRH: “Promises” on “From The Underground And Below”, (1997 album), I really like. Is there another ballad in the future for Overkill?
Bobby: I don’t think so. This song was written due to the death of a very close friend. I was able to cleanse the soul through these lyrics. It was necessary for me to get rid of the sadness I was feeling because of this loss. It is real emotion that you hear on “Promises”, not contrived emotion. That song was not the norm for us, then again, it was not the norm for us to be in that situation to write that song either. It’s life, an opportunity to express that emotion I was feeling on a higher level. “Promises” is a testimonial to someone’s life is a way to explain it.
Bobby: They can handle alcohol! Really, the idea of alcohol is part of someone’s life at a younger age in Europe, not so in America. Shit can happen in the U.S., one hundred thousand people will create assaults in the U.S., there’s nothing like that over in Europe. I was at a festival right here in New Jersey last year, there were people arrested for assaulting a police officer! That’s pretty bad when the police start getting assaulted at Rock festivals here. The festivals in Europe are well organized, big beer sponsors are needed and Europe has them. Insurance costs for festivals can dictate why the U.S. doesn’t go for them too.
HRH: What is your favorite Overkill album and why?
Bobby: Horrorscope from ’91. It’s the first album DD and I wrote together. I can’t look at Ironbound as being my favorite because it is new, I need to let it sit with me for about a year.
HRH: One of my favorite Overkill albums too, I love “Frankenstein”.
Bobby: Yeah, that’s a good one! DD has a running joke that Frankenstein is the best song I’ve ever sung on! (laughs)
HRH Note: “Frankenstein” is an instrumental.
HRH: Throughout the years, what tour sticks in your mind the most?
Bobby: Motorhead 1988 and 2007. Growing up a Motorheadbanger, the excitement to meet and tour with a band that I looked up to was incredible. We covered their songs in cover bands and now we’re on tour with Motorhead! In Europe, on the 2007 tour with Motorhead, Lemmy asked me to sing onstage with him! That was just a positive experience! Here we were in 2007, nineteen years after the first tour together and Motorhead is just as nice a group of guys as they were when we first met them.
HRH: Is The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame useful or useless?
Bobby: Useful, I was able to carve my name into the bathroom stall wall there with my pocket knife! (laughs)
Bobby: It’s very cool. There are different things in Rock and Roll to be recognized. It’s an avant-garde answer to what music was in the 1950’s. It’s Rock and Roll history and it’s a necessity to bring forth this history to the public.
HRH: I feel Motorhead belongs in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Bobby: They will be someday.
Any Metalhead will attest, (from what we can recall), that they had a pretty darn good time back in the ’80’s, so did Ron Keel. This man has seen and done it all – musician, vocalist, song writer, lyricist, composer… and he is still writing his own legacy in 2010. Ron’s most famous band KEEL not only jumped on board the Heavy Metal explosion of those colorful ’80’s, the original lineup is back for another hard and heavy go round with their loyal fans… both old school and new. Ron Keel is a smitten guy these days and there is more to this Heavy Metal veteran, more to this man, once you take in what he has to say. Oh, Ron Keel does have a lot to say too, taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk to Hard Rock Hideout recently.
With the new KEEL album Streets of Rock & Roll, (released February 9, 2010), receiving it’s just praise from around the Heavy Metal and Hard Rock circles, concerts being aligned in support of this album and the KEEL NATION rising, Ron Keel is a man that is busy, happy and proud to be alive! Ron is excited about the present, reflects on the past, looks more to the future, holds friendship sacred, values his fans, respects and cares about the American troops both past and present, has a charitable heart, reveals his Heavy Metal and Hard Rock dreams and also has a message for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Walmart too… (phew), check it out:
HRH: So, Ron, how are you doing?
Ron Keel: I’m doing great! Keel is back! We just released Streets of Rock & Roll and I’ve never been a bigger fan of Keel in my entire life than right now!
HRH: You sound really happy Ron!
Ron Keel: I am! You know, back in the ’80’s, I used to want to go down in a blaze of glory. I used to think it would be cool to die young in a plane crash or something crazy like that. All those crazy thoughts go through your mind when your young. Now, I want to live! I’m 48 years old and I’ve seen and done it all and I’ve never felt better about life! I’m a husband, father and grandfather now, I want to make music, tour, do the things I love most in life and continue to Rock! I want to continue on with Keel and talk about this band and new album to everyone!
HRH: I’ll have to admit Ron, I really like this Streets of Rock & Roll album, it’s a great album. It Rocks hard.
Ron Keel: Thanks, I really appreciate that, I’m glad you enjoy it. It’s an album that I have in my truck right now, a great album to listen to while taking a long drive through the desert with the windows down. People are liking it, unfortunately Streets of Rock & Roll has been downloaded illegally already. There are ten thousand illegal downloads that were aware of in the first two weeks alone. It’s the other one million illegal downloads that we don’t know about!
HRH: That’s terrible Ron, it’s definitely not like the ’80’s anymore, where each album sold is accounted for.
Ron Keel: Sure, only back in the 80’s there were people out there buying chart positions. It gets real bad with how some albums got pushed up in the charts back then. It’s something I might want to touch on with my autobiography that I’m working on.
HRH: I’m sure I would be schooled on some of those stories.
Ron Keel: Keel was a young band back then, we were screwed out of money, we didn’t know any better back then. We probably sold a lot more albums than was being told to us, maybe a million more. It’s not like that anymore, I’m in charge now of everything.
HRH: Going in to record Streets of Rock & Roll, were there any pre-conceived ideas that were scrapped at the last minute?
Ron Keel: None. The cream always rises to the top, we just let it happen. Recording this album was a natural, easy, creative process. The entire album was written last year, after our (Keel) reunion and there was an excitement of working together again. There was no band meeting or anything like that. It was a six month creative process, it came to be where expressing two to three songs a day was happening and we recorded on June 18th of 2009. Streets of Rock & Roll was the greatest joy of my recording career.
HRH: Sounds like you are very proud of this new album.
Ron Keel: Definitely, it’s a reunion album, it was the right move and I have no regrets. Streets of Rock & Roll has all the great qualities of past Keel albums, the twin guitars of Marc Ferrari and Bryan Jay trading licks, big choruses, rhythmic duo voicings, power grooves, the lyrical content, strong attitude and fighting for what we believe in. Lot’s of power. Plus there are different tempos and key grooves, a whole different feel on this new album that takes you on a journey. The strong bond and friendship among Keel shows through these songs. Life felt very natural in the studio while recording Streets of Rock & Roll. This new album would not sound as great if not for Pat Regan, he is the best in the business, his state of the art recording techniques made this album happen!
HRH: Hold Steady, bravo for writing such a patriotic song! Are there loved one’s of yours serving or have served in the Armed Forces?
Ron Keel: Both of my parents served and I have many dear friends that have served or are serving. Back in ’98 and ’99 we toured military bases and that inspiration carries to this day! Everyday is a sacrifice for our service men and women. I have dedicated, to their honor, a free mp3 download of Hold Steady that is available on Keelnation.com. We appreciate and honor the service men and women, by giving them and the fans this song.
HRH: The song and the free download are commendable, Ron.
Ron Keel: Thank you. We really care about our veterans, I like to donate money when it’s available by taking it out of whatever comes through the office in earnings. I don’t care about having the extra money laying around, I’d rather donate it. Just recently, I wrote a check out for The Veteran’s Hospital in Las Vegas. My wife and I strongly support and endorse a special charity as well, it’s to pay for arts classes for kids with parents that have been either severely injured or passed away in war or service. Anyone can donate by visiting http://www.our militarykids.org., it means a great deal to us.
HRH: Again Ron, very commendable.
Ron Keel: Thank you. I have lived a good life and made my money. Donating is not going to hurt our bottom line.
HRH: Live, from Streets of Rock & Roll, is this a personal message from the heart? Sounds like it to me.
Ron Keel: Forty eight years of experience wrote the lyrics to this song. I thought of these lyrics while driving home from a gig one night. I never expected to live this long, I love my life and all of it’s blessings. I have also gone through a change in my personality. My thought is now… you get through the bad times to enjoy the good times. Live is a celebration of good stuff in my life. Let me just say, finding the music to fit the lyrics for Live was the challenge! The melody and lyrics came first, then the music. I’m used to writing or being handed the music first, then adding the lyrics.
HRH: Live came out just fine to me, it Rocks!
Ron Keel: Thank you, I appreciate that you like it.
HRH: I have read recently your statement, that you have some unfinished business to still take care of. What singer or musician do you wish to collaborate with as an unfinished business item?
Ron Keel: One band I want to open for is the Scorpions, on their farewell tour. Keel wants to play with the Scorpions! I am friends with Jon Bon Jovi, Keel opened for him on the Slippery When Wet Tour, so I would love to sit down with him and write some songs together. I also would want to write songs with Chris Daughtry, he is a special, strong and unique talent. I feel Chris Daughtry has bridged the gap between modern Hard Rock edge and old school mentality.
HRH: Those are some powerhouse choices of musicians and bands, Ron. Plus, I really hope the Scorpions read this and give you an opening slot on their tour! You just never know Ron.
Ron Keel: Thats it, plus it would be a dream to play with the Scorpions! I would want to sit down with both Jon Bon Jovi and Chris Daughtry, drink some beers and kick out some songs for an album. I think the three of us together, we would write some great Hard Rock songs!
HRH: (laughs) I would love to sit down with you guys and share a six pack while you write songs.
Ron Keel: (laughs) Oh yeah!
HRH: How come Streets of Rock & Roll is not at Walmart or Target?
Ron Keel: Hey, don’t go to Walmart to buy your music! I buy everything online, it’s all out there. Walmart has nothing for Hard Rock or Heavy Metal! Hey, if Walmart wants me to send them two million copies of Streets of Rock & Roll, no problem! Just ask me! The AC/DC Black Ice marketing campaign was incredible, what Walmart did with them was brilliant.
HRH: KISS Sonic Boom as well. They had the KISS kiosk.
Ron Keel: Yes, KISS Sonic Boom was huge at Walmart! I remember seeing that KISS kiosk.
HRH: You know what you need to get into Walmart besides CD’s, is a Keel kiosk! (laughs)
Ron Keel: (laughs) Yeah! A Keel kiosk! That sounds good to me!
HRH: Well, you know how it is Ron, I’m caught in Walmart, with the family, the CD aisle is a cool escape to hang out in.
Ron Keel: I understand, actually, I went into a Walmart recently and looked for the new Chris Daughtry deluxe edition CD. Walmart didn’t even have it!
HRH: What 1980’s moment in your career do you laugh most about now?
Ron Keel: The ’80’s were happy times, it was a non-stop grind with all of the arena shows. Everyday in the ’80’s was like the 4th of July, New Years Eve and Halloween all together! We had nothing but sold out shows in Japan. As far as remembering a moment where I can laugh about today… there were many crazy female moments.
HRH: Crazy female moments? Such as? Or do we use our imagination?
Ron Keel: (laughs) Yeah! Use our imagination! That’s a good way to put it! Actually, there was this one time, where a girl handcuffed herself to our tour bus door.
HRH: Gee, what happened to this girl?
Ron Keel: (laughs) Well, no one had the key to the handcuffs! I really don’t remember what happened to her! Honestly.
HRH: (laughs) That’s funny.
HRH: What band would you pay top dollar to see, past or present?
Ron Keel: Well, top dollar or no dollar, because I’m friends with many of the bands. I like to support my friend Bret Michaels on his solo tours as much as I can. Nickelback, only when they came to Vegas, I was out of town on tour. Chris Daughtry, AC/DC, and a Van Halen reunion. Bon Jovi just blows me away every night as a fan! Queensryche as well, as a fan!
HRH: What band or musician has been ignored too long by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Ron Keel: KISS! They are one of the five most iconic bands that ever lived! Don’t even get me started on this topic! I’ve expressed my disgust for that place many times in my past. Who votes in that place anyways? I’m not trying to throw The Who under the bus here, but, one hundred years from now, most people will say who is The Who? Not with KISS! One hundred years from now, people will know who KISS is and was! I’m not just saying this because Gene Simmons is a friend of mine either. Man, Gene Simmons’s kids will be running KISS, then the grandchildren will have the run of KISS! Their music, marketing and brand will never go away.
HRH: What song or album did you hear, that inspired you to become a musician?
Ron Keel: The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. I was two years old, it was February of 1963, I believe. The song was I Wanna Hold Your Hand. I remember looking at my parents and saying, this is what I want to do! I became so addicted and drawn to it at that moment. There were many milestone albums and songs, I devoured it all! KISS, Aerosmith, Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Bad Company and Led Zeppelin all inspired me. Later on, the edgier stuff like Black Sabbath I listened to. As a kid, it all goes back to the 45, those little records I would buy at K-mart. The top thirty songs on 45, I bought them all! Every week, if the top thirty changed too. I learned them and sung them all! My father used to play Country Music all around the house, that is where my Country exposure came from. The Van Halen 1 album changed the world when I was a junior in high school! When I first heard Van Halen, everyone was saying, who is this guy Eddie Van Halen? No one was around that sounded like Eddie Van Halen on guitar. No one sounded like Van Halen, it was great! Because of Van Halen’s overnight explosion, credit Heavy Metal in America because of them.
HRH: Those are really cool influences.
Ron Keel: The kids today, they already know about most of these bands because of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. These two games are exposing all of this great Hard Rock and Heavy Metal to new generations, our music will be kept live and fresh for decades to come.
HRH: If you could go back in time and rewrite a movie soundtrack, what movie would it be and why?
Ron Keel: I’m a music movie fan, I also like music biographies of famous people. I would not want to go into the past, I’d rather want to do something new. It’s interesting to consider, with all the t.v. and film work that I do. If I had to go back, it would be Spinal Tap. I would rewrite all the music and lyrics for that one! I wouldn’t mind contributing to a Rock movie as well. My favorites are Eddie and the Cruisers, Pure Country, Crossroads and Rock Star with Mark Wahlberg.
HRH: If you were to make just one more album, knowing it would be your last, what genre would it represent?
Ron Keel: An acoustic album by myself. I already released an acoustic album called Alone At Last. It was the biggest and most personal music achievement of my career. I sang the best of my career on Alone At Last. I want my next generation to listen to it and know that grandpa gave this to them, to know that I am at my happiest when by myself with a guitar and song. Alone At Last was the single most demanding project that I have ever done in my life. My fingers literally bled while making that album. Alone At Last is driving at night songs, through the desert. You can find it on CDBaby.com. Sabre Tiger is the heaviest music I have ever done, progressive too. Country maybe… it would be another acoustic album.
HRH: What is the common thread that has kept Ron Keel, Marc Ferrari, Bryan Jay and Dwain Miller together from the very start?
Ron Keel: Friendship. We never let anything get in the way of friendship, not money, women, drugs, nothing. We became Rock stars together, sharing the best times of our life together. Now we get to do it again! This Keel reunion is not about money, together we have already pumped so much money back into the business. At the end of the day, we settle our differences. We raise our glass to each other, brothers in blood is what we are!
HRH: Just like the song on Streets of Rock & Roll.
Ron Keel: Just like that.
HRH: Any message you want to say to the fans?
Ron Keel: Listen to this new record and enjoy it! It’s special. Fans of commercial Heavy Metal and Hard Rock will enjoy it. Fans can stay in touch with us by visiting online at Keelnation.com. The Keel fans are the people that helped me, helped us, to live a dream life and I cannot forget that. Twenty years from now, I hope the fans still listen to Streets of Rock & Roll!
Its not every day when you get the chance to talk to the former Metal Queen Lita Ford, but we were happy to have the opportunity at HardRockHideout.com. After a long absence from the music scene, Lita Ford is coming back strong in 2009 with a new CD, Wicked Wonderland on October 6th, a new comic, and a role in an up and coming major video game release, and of course, a tour with Queensryche.
HRH: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do an interview with us today. It has been fourteen long years since your last album Black, and we are damn glad you are back.
Lita Ford: Thank you very much!
HRH: What have you been up to in your long break in between Black and Wicked Wonderland?
Lita Ford: Been living on an island with my husband and 2 boys. I focused on my family. Had tons of crazy wild sex with Jim – not much else to do on our island at night!
HRH: Your return to the music scene seemed to start with your duet with Dee Snider on Twisted Sister’s Twisted Christmas CD. Did this give you the itch to start playing live again?
Lita Ford: I’ve always had the itch! I was just waiting for our kids to grow up. I wasn’t going to drag them all over the world as babies! Now they’re a little older and they LOVE it as much as I do! We’re having a blast out there!
HRH: The songs on Wicked Wonderland are a bit of a departure from your sound in the late eighties and early nineties. “Crave” is a pretty cool rocker, and “Wicked Wonderland” almost has a club like vibe to it. That has to be one of the coolest Lita Ford songs in years.
Lita Ford: Thanks very much. I wanted to come back heavier than ever and I did! I wasn’t going to come back with sandals and hairy armpit music – I wanna ROCK!
HRH: How have the fans reacted to your new songs so far?
Lita Ford: It’s been incredible! Crave debuted at #2 in the USA at metal radio! All the emails, posts, etc have been overwhelming – I’ve been blown away by the support of my fans.
HRH: What was the song writing process like for the new album?
Lita Ford: Me, Jim, and Greg Hampton wrote all the songs. When it came time to write lyrics, Jim and I would crack open a bottle of champagne and let it go.We unintentionally ended up writing pretty much the entire album about our crazy sex life! Hahaha?
HRH: What is the inspiration behind the new songs?
Lita Ford: My marriage with Jim – after 15 years we’re more in love, more in lust, and have an incredible love life. Jim’s the only man that’s ever sexually satisfied me. We’re soul mates that just happen to have a taste for kink! Sex Sex and Rock n Roll!
HRH: Back in ’95, you and Jim were working on a new project called Rumble Tribe. Did any of these songs from that project turn up on Wicked Wonderland?
Lita Ford: No that was a different animal. Great stuff back then – maybe we’ll release some of it one of these days. Wicked Wonderland is all brand new. We wrote all of it within the last year.
HRH: The artwork inside your booklet for Wicked Wonderland is pretty incredible. What can can you tell me about that?
Lita Ford: Piggy D and his girlfriend Carin did an AWESOME job for us! We absolutely LOVE the artwork! We wanted to go old school and make the artwork an important part of the package. We gave Piggy the lyrics and told him to go for it.
HRH: Bumblefoot from Guns N’ Roses, and PJ Farley from Trixter and Ra played in your band at Rocklahoma earlier this year. Who will be going on the road with you when you tour with Queensryche on the American Soldier Tour?
Lita Ford: Queensryche is my backing band!!!!How awesome is that?!?!?
Lita Ford: We’ll I’m playing a few songs in the middle of their set. Geoff is going to sing Close My Eyes with me and then I’ll do a few new songs. I can’t wait to get out there!
HRH: You are playing a bunch of cities that haven’t seen you in years. Are you excited about hitting the road?
HRH: You have always been knows to play BC Rich guitars in your career. Have you added any new guitars to your arsenal?
Lita Ford: Oh yeah! Bernie Rico Jr. is making me some incredible new guitars. Bernie’s father started BC Rich! He passed away and Bernie is keeping the family craft alive! Can’t wait for you to see some of the new guitars.
HRH: We are big fans of the Playstation 3 at HRH, and are pretty excited about the up and coming game Brutal Legend that you are featured in. What can you tell us about the game?
Lita Ford: Well Jack Black is the male lead and I’m the Queen!
Ozzy’s in it along with Lemmy, Rob Halford…It’s good to be the Queen!
HRH: You also have a new comic coming out called “The Gillettes”: Family Business. What can you tell us about that?
Lita Ford: Very excited about that too! We get to kick a lot of zombie ass!
HRH: What are some of your fondest memories of your music career so far?
Lita Ford: Being nominated for a Grammy was pretty cool – BOTH times!
Having a platinum record….Those were pretty high on the list!
HRH: In closing, is there anything you would like to tell your fans?
Lita Ford: Thank you so much! You’ve been with me a LONG time and I hope you guys will be as blessed as you’ve made me! You’ve always been so good to me and now to my family!
It means so much to me.
What do you get when you take four hot, wild, crazy ladies, thrown in some influences of Kiss, AC/DC, Motorhead, and Judas Priest, mix it up with some great songwriting and playing? Your answer would be L.A.’s Cockpit. If you think Cockpit is just another girl band you really need to pull your head out of the sand because these ladies are on a “Mission To Rock”, kicking ass and taking names along the way.
Skin basher Rachael Rine recently took the time to talk with Hard Rock Hideout about all things Cockpit.
HRH: For the readers that may not be familiar with Cockpit, who makes up the band?
Rachael Rine: Rachael Rine here and I beat the hell out of the drums for you. Alicia Blu is our shredding lead guitarist. Linda Lou is on pipes and rhythm guitar. Terrii Kiing is our wicked bass player holding down the low end.
HRH: Cockpit has been together since late 2003, how did the band get started?
Rachael Rine: I wasn’t finding any projects in Hollywood that I could really sink my teeth into. So I started rolling through girls as a cover band to see who fit. Linda moved here from Philly to join me and we immediately started writing songs. Shortly there after we found Terry on Craigslist. Over the next few years we went through a dozen lead guitarists who weren’t a perfect fit until we met our match…Alicia Blu. It was like playing with a kick ass muscle car in your garage for a few years and finally finding the ignition key. Time to let the machine out of its cage!
HRH: Judas Priest, Motorhead, Kiss, AC/DC are all influences of Cockpit, what are some other influences of the band?
Rachael Rine: We are highly influenced by fists pounding in the air in unison, screaming fans, and cruising down the freeway with the pedal to the metal. While at top speed you might catch us listening to Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Slade or the Stones. We just like good rock n’roll all eras all speeds.
HRH: You have a kick ass E.P. available right now called “Mission To Rock” , but for the people that are hard up for Cockpit when might we see a full album?
Rachael Rine: We are currently stowed away at a secret location writing and getting ready to record some new tunes. I’m not sure when it will be done. There might be some touring in between recording sessions. Once we have an idea as to when it will be released you will definitely hear from us!
HRH: Four ladies in a band…Do you have a hard time with people taking Cockpit seriously, especially being in a hard rock band?
Rachael Rine: It’s really not a problem for us. We are a far cry from a lot of the all girl novelty acts that are out there. Sometimes people are skeptical, but once they hear the tunes and see us play it’s pretty obvious we are a real rock band. Just like the boys, but we smell better on tour. People come out of curiosity and go home singing our songs, wearing our T-shirt, and telling all their friends about their new favorite band.
HRH: How long does it usually take to make people believers?
Rachael Rine: I’m not really sure, I’d guess one chorus? I do know that every show we play, we pick up a ton of new fans. The bottom line is that Cockpit fans are the best in the land! We love you all to pieces!
HRH: Every time I get a tweet or a message from you four, it seems like you’re in Hollywood raising hell on Sunset Strip. Everyone has heard the stories of Sunset back in the 80’s, but what is the music scene like there now?
Rachael Rine: We were wee babies in the ‘80s so we can’t really compare our experience to that. The strip definitely still has its moments. Wherever we are whether it’s Hollywood or Mankato, we make sure we are having a blast. Everyone around us is always invited to join in. If you’re going to buy the ticket, you may as well enjoy the ride!
HRH: What are some bands from L.A. you think we should be keeping our ears open for?
Rachael Rine: Cockpit haha! No one immediately comes to mind that you already don’t know about from LA. However, you should check out The Last Vegas from Chicago. We toured with them recently and let me tell you, those boys put on one hell of a rock ‘n’ roll show night after night.
HRH: Cockpit has the chance to open for any band active today, but only one. Who would the four of you pick?
Rachael Rine: That’s a tough one. There are so many bands we all love and would sound great with. We’ve also been lucky enough to play with a lot of our idols already. If forced to choose, and if they keep it together, I’d have to say Aerosmith. It’s kind of a rite of passage thing. So many great bands learned the ropes from Aerosmith or Ozzy.
HRH: So you got to tell us where we can find Cockpit online?
Bonus Question: Do you think Cockpit would make a good house band at Fangtasia?
Rachael Rine: Funny you should ask, we’ve headlined there a couple times! It’s filmed at a bar here in California that we have blown the roof off of. However, “Cockpit- The house band at Fangtasia” has a nice ring to it. I hope the Vamps could handle us!! They’d have their hands full! So, when do we start?
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Big Cock guitarist Dave Henzerling not only about the future of Big Cock, but his past time in such bands as King Kobra, Keel, & Lizzy Borden, touring vs not touring, and a little bit about his days on Sunset Strip
HRH: I guess the first question should be with Robert Mason now the front man for Warrant when are we going to see a new record from Big Cock and will Robert be involved with the album?
Dave: BC is very much alive and well. Robert had a great opportunity to go play shows with Warrant and I think he totally kicks ass! Robert’s professionalism is something Warrant has really needed for a long time and I wish them the best. Like anything else, though, we each have our individual schedules and responsibilities to contend with, so we juggle all our musical projects the best we can. I have a bunch of new Big Cock material so it will have to rear its ugly head eventually. Not before next year, though, at the soonest.
HRH: Big Cock has released 3 albums so far but never really toured off any of them. Will there be any plans for a full fledged tour after the album is released?
Dave: Touring is just not economically feasible at this time. It’s a different story for legacy acts like Warrant, Ratt, etc. who can get booked because of their pedigree, but a new act just can’t make the money that would allow traditional touring. Even the acts I just mentioned do better just cherry-picking good-paying dates here and there rather than keeping an entire crew and support package out on the road. The per diem costs are astronomical and there would need to be supplemental support. This used to come from record companies, but doesn’t exist anymore. We are able to play when dates either justify the expense or we can afford to make the trip. How’s that for the brutally frank answer…?
HRH: How did Big Cock come together?
Dave: Did you just say “come together”…? Well, Big Cock “came together” out of the desire for a few old friends to make some music and have fun. The band happened really naturally and easy. Once you decide to call your band Big Cock, you definitely have an identifiable, focused theme with which to work from.
HRH: Do you guys have a hard time getting support from radio and others in the music business because of the band’s name?
Dave: My stock answer is that it’s been no more, no less. Traditional radio and record industry wasn’t going to play us or take us seriously anyway, even if we would have called ourselves “Knightwing”. The flip side is that the music and vibe has resonated with rock fans that look beyond traditional media for their rock fix. In that regard, we have been very successful selling CDs, merchandise, being played on Internet Radio and have had amazing word-of-mouth. Our YouTube video plays are in the hundreds-of-thousands, far more views than many, more mainstream bands. More visibility than King Kobra had, and we were on a major record label with a huge promotional budget.
HRH: You’ve had a pretty varied career playing Keel, Lizzy Borden, and of course King Kobra. Both Keel and Lizzy Borden played Rocklahoma. Did you get a chance to see them play or hangout with anyone from the bands?
Dave: I’ve stayed friends with or have been reconnected with all those bands in the last few years and have been fortunate to have made so many great friends. I saw Ron Keel this year at Rocklhoma, bump into Lizzy with some frequency and usually talk to Carmine a few times a year. We’re all thrilled to have played together and still have so much fun doing what we do. We take the time to catch up here and there and it’s always great seeing everybody.
HRH: How old you were when you first started playing guitar? How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a musician as a career?
Dave: My dad bought me my first electric guitar when I was 15. Yeesh, you’d think I would have been a better player by now…
I’ve always needed an outlet for creative release: when I was in grade school I used to want to be a comic book artist and so I drew all the time, making my own heroes and stories and distributing my own comics. When I got a little older and started playing guitar, I put down the pencil and never looked back.
HRH: You are one of the first people I’ve had the chance to talk to that was on Sunset Strip during its heyday in the 80’s. Was it as wild and crazy as people say?
Dave: Actually, yes – but it didn’t seem so at the time. It was so fun to see thousands of people out on the street on a Friday and Saturday night. The roads were littered with flyers from all the young bands out promoting their next Gazzari’s or Whiskey-a-go-go gigs. I even met my wife in the parking lot of the Roxy Theatre and we’ve been married 17 years. Who says you can’t find love in Hollywood…
HRH: How did you get involved with King Kobra?
Dave: I moved out to L.A. (from Arizona) to join Keel and when I got there, Ron told us he was auditioning to be the new lead singer of Black Sabbath so we might have to find another gig. I sent a tape to Carmine and got the job in King Kobra. Ron never ended up joining Sabbath, so he soldiered on with Keel.
HRH: Carmen Appice and yourself are the only members of King Kobra to play on all 5 albums the band released. Do you still keep in touch with Carmen Appice?
Dave: I still talk to Carmine a few times a year. In fact, we performed a benefit here in Phoenix together a few years ago and it was great playing with Carmine again. He’s such a great musician and drummer.
HRH: Have you had a chance to see his SLAMM project?
Dave: I have not seen it.
HRH: Do you keep in touch with any of the other members?
Dave: Coincidentally, I just talked to Johnny Rod last week after 18 years. He’s alive and well and living in St. Louis. Same with Mick Sweda. Mark Free, not so much.
HRH: Has there been any talks of a King Kobra reunion for any of the summer festivals?
HRH: As I mentioned earlier you were at Rocklahoma this year and played two different sets one with Big Cock and one with Icon. How long have you been playing with Icon or was it a one off gig?
Dave: Rocklahoma was like a high-school reunion – lot’s of fun hangin’ with old friends. The Icon thing is a funny story. Way back in the early 80’s, Icon used to be called “The Schoolboys” and consisted of original singer Steve Clifford, bassist Tracy Wallach, guitarists Dan Wexler and myself, along with drummer John Covington (also the drummer in Big Cock). After I left to move to L.A. and join Keel, John Aqulino took my place on guitar, and Pat Dixon replaced John Covington on drums. They changed their name to Icon after they were signed to Capitol Records. Ironically, when I joined King Kobra after Keel, both bands ended up being label-mates at Capitol with the same A&R guy! Dan Wexler and John Aquilino reformed Icon last year and since we’ve always been good friends (all the way back to high school here in Arizona) I said I’d help out as a bass player while they were getting things back together. The chemistry was great and we just decided to keep on playing…
HRH: You played bass for Icon’s set is it hard switching back n forth between guitar and bass?
Dave: I love playing bass. It’s only got 4 strings, so how hard could it be?
HRH: Former Adler’s Appetite singer Sheldon Tarsha is now in Icon and sounded great. How did he end up in the band?
Dave: I saw Tarsha at an Adler’s gig in L.A. earlier this year and said to Danny and John – this is the guy. Icon’s high-register vocal style is incredibly challenging (a lost art, really) and it was surprising to see a young guy like Tarsha kick it old-school. He’s really a stellar vocalist and super nice guy.
HRH: You live in AZ so you are used to the heat, but the heat was pretty stifling in Pryor this year. You had to be glad you played night sets and not mid day sets.
Dave: Try living here where it’s over 110 degrees for weeks on end. Oklahoma was a piece of cake.
HRH: You were at Comic Con this year, was this for business or fun?
Dave: Definitely fun. As I said before, I’m a big comic book geek, but the Con is so much more now. It’s really a celebration of popular culture, with movies, graphic arts, games, and of course, comics. I got to meet a lot of my Twitter friends for the first time at the Con.
HRH: I’ve noticed that you and I like a lot of the same bands, one band in particular are the Poodles. What do you think of all 80’s inspired hard rock bands coming out of Sweden and Europe?
Dave: I think The Poodles are one of the better bands doing that sort of thing – very polished and professional. I hate to be a critic, but a lot of the 80’s-inspired bands these days are not doing anything different than their legacy counterparts, except the new bands aren’t doing it as well and lack originality and creativity. It’s one thing to dress up like Motley Crue, Poison or Gun’s ‘n Roses, but none seem to be able to play or write songs anywhere near as good as the bands they’re trying to copy. We need something to come along that’s reminiscent, but not overtly derivative.
HRH: What are some of the new bands out right now that you like?
Dave: I like a lot of different stuff from modern to classic. The new Halestorm CD is great, The Poodles, of course, AC/DC still kicks major ass, Slipknot, etc. I like the rock stuff.
HRH: Have you and your brother Dan (former Gin Blossoms drummer) ever played in a band together professionally or ever talked about putting a project together?
Dave: He doesn’t play much any more, but I have played with him a few times in the past when he had the band Gas Giants with Robin Wilson from the Gin Blossoms. Of course, when we were kids, we had a band that played nothing but Kiss songs.
HRH: You seem like a pretty busy man are there any other projects you want to tell us about?
Dave: I am currently busy finishing up a new project with Scott Hammons, the former Icon singer before Tarsha. I’m really excited about how it’s turning out. Scott has a great old-school, bluesy voice, very similar to Robert Mason’s (Big Cock, Warrant) but with more rasp. The music has a classic late-70’s, early-80’s hard rock feel that combines all the elements of the music I grew up on and always loved – Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Van Halen, Montrose, Crue, and Def Lep. I can’t wait for you to hear it…
HRH: I know you are pretty active online with myspace and twitter but for everyone else where can they find you online?
HRH: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Is there anything you would like to say before we let you go?
Dave: It’s been a pleasure to rattle on, Brian. Thanks to Hard Rock Hideout for the opportunity to talk and keep the rock-torch burning.
Tune in to Hard Rock Nights for 3 hours of fantastic hard rock!
Paul Shortino, former Rough Cutt and Quiet Riot singer, is our guest. We’ve got new music from him, as well as classics from Alice Cooper, Motley Crue, and Aerosmith; deep cuts from Izzy Stradlin, Black Sabbath, and Ace Frehley; new stuff from Black Robot, Jennifer Batten, and The Spider Rockets. Don’t miss a second of it!
For those who have not heard the Poodles, you have no idea what an amazing band you are missing out on. The band has released two stellar albums in Europe “Metal Will Stand Tall” and “Sweet Trade”. With the release of their amazing new album “Clash of the Elements” the band hopes to finally break into the American music scene and once they do I think the sky is the limit for these Swedes. I recently had the opportunity to talk to bassist Pontus Egberg to tell me all about “the Poodles”.
HRH: For people that may not be familiar with the Poodles could you give us a brief history of the band?
Pontus: The band was formed in late 2005 when we had the opportunity to perform in the Swedish leg of the Eurovision Song Contest. For those of you who are not familiar with the Eurovision it is a contest for new music all over Europe, it’s a very big thing back home in Sweden, something like half the population of Sweden sit and watch the final on TV.
After the appearance in this contest the wheels started moving quite rapidly for The Poodles and in the spring of 2006 we released of debut album “Metal Will Stand Tall”. The rest of that year we basically spent on the roads in Sweden and in January of 2007 “Metal Will Stand Tall” was released all over Europe and we headed out on tour together with Hammerfall and Krokus, a trip that took us all over Europe with something like 31 shows in 35 days.
Back from that journey we started recording our sophomore album and with some touring back home in Sweden coming in between the album “Sweet Trade” was released in September of 2007. Right after the release we headed out on another journey through Europe, this time together with Swiss rockers Gotthard. During the spring of 2008 we hit the roads of Europe once again and this time as the headline act. The tour carried on through the summer back home in Sweden and after that we started the preparations for recording our third album.
“Clash Of The Elements” was released on the Swedish market May 20th of 2009, the early fall will see the European release and we really hope we will be able to officially release the album, or all of our albums, in the states really soon.
HRH: The new album is titled “Clash of the Elements” is there a story behind the title?
Pontus: No, not really, it actually came up when we were discussing the album cover design. Someone had the idea to use the old symbols for the four different elements, earth, water, fire and air, and to do something with that. Then the title “Clash Of The Elements” came up and it fits really well with everything we do. First of all we’re four musicians and when we clash together sweet music comes out and we’ve always liked to mix different styles and to use elements in our music may not be typical for our style of music so that can also be a clash of the elements that ends up in something great, hopefully.
HRH: This is the first album with Henrik Bergqvist and his playing is amazing. What was it like going into the studio with a new guitarist?
Pontus: It’s always a bit nerve wrecking, of course. We’d done two albums with our former guitar player and we weren’t sure what thing were going to sound like with Henrik but as you say yourself, his playing is simply amazing, he did a really good job. We weren’t that worried though, I must say, we had done quite a few live shows with Henrik and he had already blended in to the band in a fantastic way so we were pretty sure it was going to turn out great.
HRH: Was the band surprised when Pontus Norgren announced he was leaving the band to join Hammerfall?
Pontus: Yeah, we were all taken a bit by surprise I guess but now, a little more than a year later, when Henrik has found his place in the band we’re all really happy. Henrik fills the spot of guitar player in The Poodles in the best possible way and I talk regularly to Pontus and it seems like he’s really happy in his new band.
HRH: When it came time to find a replacement for Pontus did the band already have Henrik in mind or was there an audition process? If so how many guitarists did you audition before deciding on Henrik?
Pontus: Yes and yes. Henrik was one of the first names that came up but we had quite a few applicants for the spot so we sorted out the top four names, Henrik was one of them, and held auditions. After a day in the rehearsal studio playing with the different guys it was pretty clear that our first hunch had been right and Henrik was asked if he wanted the job and he accepted.
HRH: When I compare “Sweet Trade” to “Clash of the Elements” I can here a big difference and growth in the songwriting. What was the songwriting process like for the band with the new album?
Pontus: The song writing process actually looked pretty much the same as on our previous albums. We’ve always liked to work with different songwriters in order to try to get the best possible song on our albums. We all contribute and I guess you could say Jakob is the common denominator to all of it because he’s involved in most of the songs in one way or the other. Then we sit with a whole bunch of songs and are having trouble choosing the top songs for the album. It usually works out pretty well though, no big fights or anything like that.
HRH: Was Henrik involved in the writing process for “Clash of the Elements”?
Pontus: Yes, Henrik and I wrote a few songs together that we put in to the pile of music and one of them, Don’t Rescue Me, ended up on the album.
HRH: When I listen to “Clash of the Elements” as well as “Sweet Trade” and “Metal Will Stand Tall” I hear Queen and Gotthard influence. Are they influences of the band? What are some of the other bands that have influenced the Poodles music?
Pontus: We’re all pretty much brought up on the classic Hard Rock and Heavy Metal of the ‘70s and ‘80s so I guess involuntarily we have a lot of influences from that style of music, bands like AC/DC, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, and many, many more. Queen is definitely one of those bands. Gotthard though I had personally never heard before we toured with them in 2007. It’s a fantastic band so I don’t mind if there seems to be some of them in our music but that’s definitely unintentional. Apart from that, as I mentioned earlier, we really like and listen to and take influences from a lot of different styles of music, pop, classical, anything.
HRH: I love every song on “Clash of the Elements” but “No Tomorrow”, “Don’t Rescue Me”, “Give Me A Sign”, and “Dream To Follow” are my favorites. What is your favorite song off the new album? What is your favorite song overall to play live?
Pontus: Thank you! I think you made some very good choices there. I guess I could add “I Rule The Night”, “Heart Of Gold” and “Too Much Of Everything”. Favorite song to play live varies a bit from one night to the other but I would say, personally, that my favorite is probably “Thunderball”.
HRH: What are the tour plans in supporting the new album? Is there any chance your fans in the U.S. will get to see you live?
Pontus: We are currently on tour back home in Sweden all through the summer and a tour of Europe is currently being put together and that is planed to start in October and will probably be a going on for a month or so. About the US, we would definitely like to come over and play for you guys and we are looking in to different options on how get our music properly released over there. If that falls in to place the way we want, who knows. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
HRH: How many songs off “Clash of the Elements” will the band try to fit into the live set this time around?
Pontus: We currently play five songs from the new album in our live set, “Too Much Of Everything”, “Caroline”, “Like No Tomorrow”, “One Out Of Ten” and “I Rule The Night”. During the European tour this fall we will probably add one or two more songs from “Clash Of The Elements”
HRH: When I wrote my review for “Clash of the Elements” I mentioned there was not an American A&R rep smart enough to sign the Poodles to an American recording contract. Has the band had any talks with U.S. record companies about getting your albums released here in the states?
Pontus: First of all let me say I really like that comment and yes, we’ve had talks and talks are still going on, right now as a matter a fact, and we really hope to get something together for the US this time around.
HRH: “Metal Will Stand Tall” and “Sweet Trade” are both available for download from I-Tunes and “Metal Will Stand Tall” is available as a digital download on Amazon. Any idea when “Clash of the Elements” will be available for download on I-Tunes or Amazon?
Pontus: No, actually I don’t. Real soon I hope.
HRH: Over the last few years the Swedish hard rock scene has just exploded to the point that it seems like there is a new Swedish hard rock band releasing an album practically every week. What do you think is the reason for the popularity of Swedish hard rock bands?
Pontus: I actually have no idea what the reason for this is but I love it, it’s a great thing and I think the popularity of this style of music is growing, not only in Sweden, but in a lot of other places as well and that is a really good thing for anyone who plays or just enjoys this kind of music.
HRH: Is there a lot of competition between the different bands or is there camaraderie between the bands?
Pontus: A bit of competition is just a healthy thing I think but mostly I would say everyone is supportive; basically we all have the same goal and the same mission. We all work hard to reach out with our music.
HRH: Did you know “Clash of the Elements” is the first and only album I have ever given a 10 guitar review for?
Pontus: No, I didn’t know this. Thanks a lot, I read the review and I’m still blushing. It’s really great to know that there are people on your side of the Atlantic who enjoy our music and it makes us want to come over there and play even more.
HRH: Is there anything else you would like to say to Poodle fans before we let you go?
Pontus: I would like to encourage you, if you like our music, to help us spread the word, talk to your local radio station or what ever and help us get The Poodles’ music out there. Then maybe some A&R rep will see things clearly and offer The Poodles a proper record deal in the States and we can come over and play for you all. We are certainly up for it.
HRH: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, we really appreciate it.
Pontus: It’s been a pleasure and thanks for the support!!!
Helena Cos, vocalist for the Spider Rockets, and Nigel Dupree, frontman of the Nigel Dupree Band, will both appear on Hard Rock Nights tonight on ClassX! We’ll play some music from both bands, along with classic cuts from Judas Priest, Warrant, and Guns N’ Roses, seldom-heard headbangers from Sleeze Beez, Mötley Crüe, and Pretty Boy Floyd. We’ve also got new rock from Black Robot, Coldspell, Heaven and Hell, Milan Polak, and you’ll just have to listen to find out what else!
Hard Rock Nights airs every Saturday night at 9pm EDT on classxradio.com!
The M3 Festival in Columbia, MD was a fun and very cool experience. Their was a ton of great music all day, and one of my favorite acts of the day was Jetboy. I have only been able to catch Jetboy live one other time. When the opportunity came up to see the band play again, and also to interview the band in the same day, I could not pass it up. The following interview is the conversation that I had with Jetboy guitarists Fernie Rod and Billy Rowe at M3. Enjoy!
Fernie Rod: A lot of people say we deserve certain things, we should be here, we should be there, and that is not reality. I agree. We are a band that is always going to work hard to get to, where we want to get to.
Since the last time you seen us we have eleven killer new tracks, we played three of them today. One of them “Going Down, Above the Clouds” is going to be our single. We have been writing, the magic between Billy and Mickey and myself is there and really is as good as it has ever been, if not better. We had a great crowd today, and we are making headway to get to the point were we be playing, and doing this feasibly a lot. Our idea is to be on the road 200 – 225 shows per year, that is the goal and we are getting there.
Rob Rockitt: That is good news, you don’t get to the east coast often enough!
Fernie Rod: I know!
Rob Rockitt: Have you been to the east coast since the 2007?
Billy Rowe: No not since the last time we saw you.
Fernie Rod: We still have to work out a lot of things. It is not easy. There are promoters that have heard of Jetboy, but it is not like promoters will give us three grand to play wherever we want.
Rob Rockitt: You have to work at getting your name back out there again.
Billy Rowe: Oh yeah, exactly.
Rob Rockitt: A lot of music fans here today are not familiar with Jetboy.
Billy Rowe: That is a good place for us to be actually. There is a fine line where we can move forward and be relevant at the same time.
Rob Rockitt: You have been together for over 25 years. Most bands that have been together as long as Jetboy start going through the motions and start releasing subpar material. Based on the new songs I heard today, you are writing the best songs of your career right now.
Billy Rowe: We picked up where we left off. We got cut short. We were on hiatus for a while.
Rob Rockitt: Was that due to the stuff with MCA?
Billy Rowe: Pretty much, yeah. It was the contract really. We were living off of the money. All of a sudden you have no money, and you have to go to work.
Fernie Rod: It is a tough life. If a band is fortunate enough early on their career to get a hit single where the record company, like Guns N Roses, Warrant, and Poison. If you can get that early shot where you can get that mass exposure, then you got a great chance to keep doing what their doing, year in and year out. There are a million other stories out there of bands…We know of so many bands that we love, that no one has ever heard of. It could be hit or miss. The good thing is, moral of the story is we are picking up where we left off. We are not a jaded band from the 80’s. The band is on fire, like you said and is writing the best songs ever. Now there is a new window of opportunity to get out there and get exposure. We have a manager and a publicist. When they hear the new songs the momentum is going to roll. The last time you saw us we didn’t have anything new yet, so we were still trying to push the older material.
Billy Rowe: We just decided to be a band again. We didn’t have a manager at that point. We didn’t have anything. We decided we would hop on the tour and lets go do it.
Fernie Rod: Now we have a ripping manager and a great publicist and seeing that the ball is rolling. All I can say is, we are aware of it, and all we can do is try. If the rock gods open the avenues and doors for us, we are going to walk through it. Now we can walk through it confidently. I would like to think at the end of 2009, 2010, 2011 you are going to see this momentum, there is the record, and then you will be seeing more and more stuff.
Rob Rockitt: When do you think the new CD will be done?
Fernie Rod: The goal is in July. With the music industry and the way things are now, we are still trying to decide what the best thing is to do. I have a feeling what we are going to do is release through the internet through ITunes and the website and what not. We are going to do this the best we can ourselves in the since that we are going to record three songs first. Release what we feel is a strong single “Going Down Above the Clouds” and then build off that. But still recording for the eventual album release. Its not that cheap to do a record these days. You can do a record, but if you want it sound good there has to be a little money back there behind that. We want to do good quality work. Its a juggling act. We are trying to do the best that we can. All of that is a very complex process, if you have a limited budget to work with. I think considering that we are doing the best we can. We are seeing the progress. Goal #1 get some new songs. We have surpassed that goal. We have eleven rippers!
Rob Rockitt: So you have eleven songs that are done?
Fernie Rod: We have about five or six that are completely arranged and ready to go. The others need to be condensed and fixed up. Essentially, we have eleven ready to go.
Rob Rockitt: What was the first new song that you played today?
Billy Rowe: Perfectly Wrong
Rob Rockitt: That song was a ripping track. It was unbelievable!
Fernie Rod: That is good. The response has been that way.
Billy Rowe: It has been really good.
Fernie Rod: This time around we recorded everything on a cassette player like the old days. Billy and I had a ton of song ideas, and we went down the mix together. If we could make it sound good on acoustic, it is going to translate on electric guitar five to ten times or more better. Everything you heard was done on acoustic guitars first. We recorded everything, we jammed everything, we did the vocals, we arranged everything on the acoustic, then we sat down with the rest of the boys and then put it through the electric and it came out a lot more intense. Our goal was to do it the old school way and do it that way. If it sounds good on piano or acoustic guitar, I am telling you what the great bands did. AC/DC and Aerosmith, a lot of those bands wrote on the acoustic and piano. If it felt right then, it gets magnified when it is electrified. So that is what we did.
Rob Rockitt: Looking back do you regret signing with MCA?
Fernie Rod: No, You know a lot of bands break up over those situations. We were very hurt. We felt like we got screwed over, but when we went through the history of bands, we saw it everywhere. There have been thousands of bands that have been dropped or had albums shelved, and screwed over and worse. There have been bands that have made a lot of money, but the band got zero.
Rob Rockitt: Kix is a perfect example of that.
Fernie Rod: I wasn’t going to say it, but exactly. That is even more painful. That is a jab in the heart. So fact that there still playing should tell you and everybody, they are not bitter. They were resilitant and here they are now. Otherwise if they were bitter and angry, there would be no band.
Billy Rowe: What are you going to?
Rob Rockitt: You have to move on.
Fernie Rod: You really, really do.
Rob Rockitt: Your first two CD’s Feel the Shake and Damned Nation, do you own the rights to those? Are you able to re-release those some how?
Billy Rowe: laughs
Fernie Rod: There are only a handful of bands in the world that own their publishing. That is not a common thing. The labels when they sign you, they give you the money, and will get you out there. We own the publishing and give you a percentage of it. There are only certain bands out there who own their songs. I think Motley Crue is one of the them, Barbara Streisand is another. It is not common. If you are interested in this material, come to the JetboyRocks site.
Billy Rowe: You can thank Ray Charles. The one guy that made a difference with that. Owning your own recordings.
Rob Rockitt: A lot of bands are trying to do things on their own now and trying to cut the labels out.
Fernie Rod: It is good and it is bad. The music industry is not unlike the car industry. After all these years, they are all about gone. The car industry is filing for bankruptcy. The business model of music, in the 70’s and 60’s and 50’s, unless you have incredible people behind you, the bands got ripped off. To this day, James Brown, Little Richard, The King of Rock and Roll, for years would get on interviews, “I got ripped off, I wan’t my money, GIVE me my money”. Everbody.. Aerosmith..everybody..got ripped off. All of that karma and that whole industry has almost fallen by the wayside. Now there is a give and take, now you can control what is outputting, but to get it out the mass public, the internet is one option, it is a combination of the internet and promotion and distribution. You know, TV is important if you can get your song into movies.
Rob Rockitt: You had a song in “The Burbs” a few years ago.
Fernie Rod: “The Burbs” and She’s Out of Control”.
Rob Rockitt: I forgot about that one.
Billy Rowe: We still get money off of that.
Fernie Rod: We are still signed to BMI, so anytime they show that movie on video, or TV anywhere in the world. BMI and ASCAP keeps track of that. Bands like Avril Lavigne and Ben Folds Seven (Billy laughs). A lot of their songs broke in video games. Kids are playing video games 100 hours a week or whatever. They are hearing those songs over and over and over again and getting a lot of mass exposure.
Rob Rockitt: With the fact that you have new songs coming out, have you talked to anybody about getting your songs into Guitar Hero or Rock Band? These games are huge for music right now.
Fernie Rod: We want to look into that. Its not like we can knock on the door and say hi were Jetboy, can we get a song into that. It is way more involved than that.
Billy Rowe: Its the same kind of thing. Be careful of what you sign. Little Richard did get ripped off. He didn’t read the paper. He didn’t read the fine print. None of us did. That is why we got fucked in a lot of ways. We didn’t read it.
Rob Rockitt: If you are a young band, and a label offers to send you all over the world, you are probably going to sign.
Fernie Rod: You are going to sign, and there are promises. If the labels would have been a little more diligent, we probably would have broke eventually with one of those songs. The label says sorry we are done, we are moving on. Grunge and hip hop are taking over. That has happened in the 70’s with the progressive bands and a lot of bands in the 70’s once disco hit. It is part of the business. If you happen to fall in the right spot at the right time, and all the stars align, you can make things happen. Guns N’ Roses and Poison for example. We were all signed at the same time. Frankly, I am about sick and tired of it of how many people have come up to me and said you guys should have been just as big. Yeah we should have but things happened that blocked it for us in certain areas. What are going to do?
Rob Rockitt: I would rather support a band like Jetboy who is wanting to create new music, instead of a band like Poison were Bret Michaels is spending more time on Rock of Love than writing new music. He is making a joke out of himself.
Fernie Rod: It is true. It is not easy to do. If you are not on top of your game, you can’t write material that is going to be good. Otherwise everyone could do it. It is not an easy thing to do. We live in an world now that there are artists and musicians, and if you are not careful, you become a celebrity. That is what Bret is. I am not putting him down or being angry.
Rob Rockitt: He has reinvented himself with that show, but I don’t think that is what he needs to do.
Fernie Rod: Not as a rock and roll musician. Like Slash, I read a couple of days ago, there is no Guns N’ Roses anywmore, so he needs to find something to do. He played guitar for that guy on American Idol.
Rob Rockitt: Speaking of Slash, I recently finished his book.
Fernie Rod: He got it all wrong.
Rob Rockitt: What do you guys think about what Slash said about Todd ( Crews, Jetboy’s former drummer)?
Fernie Rod: Guns N’ Roses and Jetboy were good friends. We hung out together, we did a lot of things together. He claimed they were really close friends. The reality, unfortunately, he got it all wrong. The bottom line was this we were all good friends, and part of the glam scene. He said in the book we don’t like that stuff, we had nothing to do with it. Jetboy is this and Jetboy is that. I remember us all sitting around and writing songs, jamming, supporting each other. Because Jetboy was thinking about our career we had to let Todd go. At the age of 23, he was already a drunk mess. If we would have kept him the band, we would have gotten dropped. We probably wouldn’t have been able to make a record. We had to let him go. Guns N’ Roses never forgave Jetboy. I still hear the phone call in my mind from Axl and Slash told me, what you guys did was wrong, we are all a family. We would never do that in our band to anyone. What did they end up doing?
Rob Rockitt: They did the same thing to Stephen Adler.
Fernie Rod: They never forgave us, and held hatred and a grudge toward us because of that to this day. They would have to go back on their word and save face. In that book Slash was trying to excercise his guilt. There was a lot of guilt. Todd didn’t die with us. He died in their presense with them. Slash may have been his friend, but he wasn’t a true friend. He was his friend, but they were dysfunctional. Drug addicts don’t make good friends.
Rob Rockitt: Tell me about your new drummer.
Fernie Rod: Doug Hovan was a friend and fan for the last 25 years. He used to play in some of the bands that opened for Jetboy back in the day. In the earlier days, when we played at the Mabuhay, the Stone, the On Broadway when we used to rule the roost back then. He was part of the scene and in different bands that used to play with us. We decided that we needed to part ways with Jeff (Moscone). We needed someone with a different mindset. He became available. He stepped into the role, and he is a beautiful guy. He expresses himself on the drums perfectly. We love him. He is ideal.
Rob Rockitt: You have a bunch of new pictures up on myspace. Your new pictures and design looks great.
Fernie Rod: A gentleman named Noel. He is a friend of Billy’s. He is helping us do all of our websites. Danny Valdez is a friend of ours, when the band first got back together went on the road with us and takes pictures for us. He has developed into a great photographer.
Rob Rockitt: You would expect pictures like these from a brand new band.
Fernie Rod: We are a brand new band. I think if we emphasize that, we are a brand new band. We are an old school, brand new band. Danny has a great camera and a great eye. He knows how to shoot the band. That was simple, that was easy. I wish everything was that easy.
Rob Rockitt: Thank you guys for the interview. It has been an honor!
We are honored to have on the program this evening one of the greatest metal guitarists, K. K. Downing of the legendary Judas Priest. His riffs are instantly recognizable, and with Glenn Tipton he comprises one of the most devastating tandems in hard rock! We’ll be playing plenty of Priest music tonight, both studio and live material, as we talk to Downing about the band’s upcoming British Steel tour, the new disc which will be released in July, and more!
Of course, we’ll play your favorite songs from other hard rock legends as well, from Mötley Crüe to Black Sabbath to Quiet Riot to Bon Jovi. We’ve also got plenty of new stuff from Joetown, Coldspell, Black Robot, Milan Polak and Jennifer Batten. You don’t want to miss tonight’s episode!
Hard Rock Nights airs every Saturday night at 9 pm EDT on WMWX-FM in Cincinnati, which is simulcast on classxradio.com globally. Listen in for our interview with Downing and a ton of killer music!
Tonight on Hard Rock Nights we’ll be jamming through some great classics from Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith, Jackyl, and Cinderella, some lost and forgotten cuts from Quiet Riot, Poison, KISS, and Anvil, and new stuff from Billy Sheehan, Heaven and Hell, Jørn, and Freakshow. Joining us on the program is Nigel Rojas, frontman for the awesome reggae-infused hard rock band Orange Sky. We’ll check out several cuts from the new Orange Sky record, Dat Is Voodoo, as we chat about the band’s history, sound, and where they are going in the future.
Don’t miss Hard Rock Nights tonight and every Saturday night, exclusively on classxradio.com beginning at 9 p.m. EDT!
Boldly going where very few radio programs are willing to go, Hard Rock Nights is back for another edition of hard-hitting heavy music tonight! From the classics (Deep Purple, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith) to the new breed (DC4, Coldspell, Nigel Dupree, Sixx:A.M.), along with some deep cuts from your favorite artists that you won’t hear anywhere else (Izzy Stradlin, Quiet Riot, Suicidal Tendencies)! In addition to all that, Rob Thorne from Sacred Oath will give us a call to chat about his new record and his experiences in the band.
Hard Rock Nights airs every Saturday night from 9-11 pm EDT on classxradio.com and WMWX-FM in Cincinnati. Tune in and rock out!
Joetown is the special guest on this week’s edition of Hard Rock Nights, heard only on WMWX in Cincinnati and classxradio.com globally! Joe will talk about his latest release, Pills And Ammo, a high-energy rocker that will have heavy metal freaks bangin’ their heads all over the world. We’ll play a few tracks from the disc, along with some classics from your favorite hard rock acts Van Halen, Black Sabbath, Living Colour, Judas Priest, and Deep Purple. Along with all that we’ve got some deep cuts from Hericane Alice, Edan, Keel, and Vince Neil, and we’re even gonna throw in an M.O.D. song as well (that’s right…Methods of Destruction, baby). And some new stuff from Fraze Gang, Billy Sheehan, Motörhead, and Sacred Oath. It’s all on Hard Rock Nights tonight, 9 pm EDT, on classxradio.com!
How would you like a free CD from San Francisco’s Sacred Oath? How would you like that CD to be signed? We’ve got five copies we’re giving away over at the Hard Rock Nights blog. Click on over and sign up to win right now!
Jack Russell joins JT on Hard Rock Nights tonight in preparation for the release of the new Great White CD, Rising, in stores April 21 in the USA! Jack will talk about the new record, his bandmates, the new bass player, and a little bit of Great White history! We’ll also check out several tracks from the new disc as well as some classic cuts from Great White. In addition to that, you can expect to hear classics from XYZ, Poison, Mötley Crüe, Billy Squier, Black Sabbath and more! And we’ve also got new stuff from Coldspell, Alice Cooper, Joetown, and Sacred Oath on tap!
Speaking of Sacred Oath, how would you like a signed copy of their forthcoming release? Visit the Hard Rock Nights blog for details on how you can win one!
You can listen to Hard Rock Nights every Saturday night at 9 PM EDT on classxradio.com!
Tonight on Hard Rock Nights we are pleased to have Joey Allen scheduled to chat with us. Joey is one of the guitarists for Warrant, and he’ll talk to us about the band and their new singer Robert Mason.
In addition to that, we’ve got plenty of Warrant songs to play, as well as some classics from Guns N’ Roses, L.A. Guns, and Ted Nugent, forgotten tracks from Judas Priest, Skid Row, and Gary Hoey, and new stuff from Queensrÿche, Joetown, Souls of We, Whitesnake, and Chickenfoot!
Don’t miss Hard Rock Nights, every Saturday night from 9-11 pm EDT on classxradio.com!
Tonight on Hard Rock Nights we are joined by the amazing Billy Sheehan! Billy is best known for his work with Mr. Big and David Lee Roth and has just released a new album, Holy Cow! featuring guest appearances by Paul Gilbert, Billy Gibbons, and Dug Pinnick. We’ll be spinning plenty of Sheehan solo stuff, and some Mr. Big and David Lee Roth to boot! And of course, your favorite classic bands and new stuff from Joetown and Queensrÿche! Tune in from 9-11 pm EDT at classxradio.com, and check out our new daily blog feature, “Hard Rock History,” at the official HRN blog!
Tonight, guitarist George Lynch joins us on Hard Rock Nights to talk about Souls Of We, the future of Lynch Mob, and a possible reunion with Dokken! We’ve also got plenty of music from your favorite headbangers like Poison, Ozzy Osbourne, and AC/DC, lost tracks from Ted Nugent and Twisted Sister, and new rockers from Coldspell and Grerat White. Don’t miss Hard Rock Nights with special guest George Lynch tonight! You can tune in from 9-11 pm EDT every Saturday night on classxradio.com.
Tonight on Hard Rock Nights we will be joined by Ron Keel from the band Keel! Ron will chat with us about the reunion, the new album, and the band’s tour plans. We’ve also got a ton of classic hard rock planned from Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Def Leppard, Poison, Dio, Twisted Sister and more! We also have new tracks from Babylon Bombs, Krokus, Yngwie Malmsteen and Coldspell! Be sure to tune in to Hard Rock Nights on classxradio.com from 9-11 pm EDT!
Tonight on Hard Rock Nights, we will be joined by T.Y.R. Tonight You Rock frontman Joel Valentine while we play the greatest hard rock ever made…Iron Maiden, AC/DC, L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat, Keel, and more! We’ll also sneak in a few new tracks from Guns N’ Roses, Alice Cooper, M.O.B, Black Stone Cherry, and Danger along the way. You can listen to Hard Rock Nights on classxradio.com from anywhere in the world every Saturday night from 9-11 pm eastern.
It isn’t every day when you get to talk to a guitar legend like Yngwie Malmsteen. I have listened to his music since I was a teenager, and never imagined that I would one day get the honor to talk to him. I have heard lots of unpleasant things about Yngwie over the years, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I interviewed him. What I found was a person who was very easy to talk to, and at times quite humorous. He was a total class act during our interview session. We talked about his new album “Perpetual Flame”, his history and influences, and his opinion on music today.
HRH: How did you start working with Ripper Owens?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Well, what happened was I did this album a little different than normal. Normally you have like a cycle where you make a record, you go on tour for that record, then you come home and start writing songs for a record and do another tour. This time around I was just writing songs as I was touring for the last album. I eventually had enough music to cut real songs. I went in recorded like 30 songs. Then I went back on tour and so forth. The songs all sounded different when I came back. Everytime I came back I wrote some guitars, I wrote some bass, I wrote some lyrics. Eventually the songs started taking shape so much that they had names and they were finished. Songs like Death Dealer and Live to Fight (Another Day) and so forth. I realized that the singer that I had at the time (Doogie White) he would not fit the new songs, so Tim’s name came up. I invited him down to Miami. I said hey do you want to come down and sing with me a bit. He came down, I showed him a couple of songs, and that was it.
HRH: You worked with him once before on the Bat Head Soup CD right?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Yeah, but that was different. I was in one studio and he was in another one.
HRH: Ripper’s voice really seems to compliment your style of playing. “Death Dealer” and “Red Devil” are two of the coolest songs I have heard by you in quite some time. What was the recording process like for Perpetual Flame?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Thank you. It was a little different because I needed drums. I went on tour. I came back, I had guitars and bass recorded and lots of lyrics. I came back again added keyboards. I had my Pro tools on my laptop and I was hanging out with a guy who had a string section who put some strings on it. All of the recording was done and Tim came in and just sang the lyrics I had written, and that was it. It was pretty simple. It was done in sections.
HRH: How does Ripper compare to past singers that you have worked with?
Yngwie Malmsteen: His voice really fits in with almost exactly what I hear in my head. When I write songs like “Death Dealer” and “Damnation Game” I know what I am looking for. That is why I decided Doogie wasn’t going to cut it. I feel that Tim fits right in.
HRH: This album is a lot heavier than the last couple of discs you have put out. Was that your intention when you were writing the music?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Not in the beginning, but the songs started coming together, and I knew that is what we were going with. In the beginning, I was kind of letting it flow . That was one of the reasons why I changed singers too, because the songs were starting to get so heavy, that there was no way that Doogie would have fit in.
HRH: You have a pretty large collection of guitars. Which guitars did you use while recording Perpetual Flame?
Yngwie Malmsteen: I used a lot of different ones. Fender Strats, and different bases of course and two Marshalls. The Fender guitars I used on this album from the late 60’s and the Marshall amps are also very old.
HRH: What are your Tour plans for the new album?
Yngwie Malmsteen: We have done Europe in the summer, not so much for the album, but we just toured. We did five weeks in America, by no long shot was this complete tour but it was good. We will be going to South America, Japan, Australia, America and Europe again. It is going to be a big tour.
HRH: There are quite a few festivals popping up in the United States. Do you see yourself performing at one of the new musical festivals like Rock Gone Wild, Rocklahoma or Rock the Bayou?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Yeah, sure why not, that is always cool.
HRH: The number of guitarists that cite you as an influence is pretty much endless. Who inspired you to pick up the guitar and make music such a huge part of your life?
Yngwie Malmsteen: I grew up in a very musical family. My older brother and sister they were very good musicians. I was the youngest. I got my first guitar when I was five years old. On the news they showed the day that Jimi Hendrix died. They showed him setting his guitar on fire at Monterey Pop. I saw him burn his guitar and I knew that is what I wanted to do. I started playing the guitar the same day. A year later or so I got a record from sister. She gave me the Deep Purple Fireball album. I thought it was very cool. When I grew up in Sweden there was nothing there. It was completely empty from rock and roll and music or anything like that. There was classical and Jazz, but nothing like what it was here. The impact of hearing Purple was very big on me. I really like that. The biggest influence on my music are Bach, Vivaldi and Niccolò Paganini. If you listen to my stuff you will hear it.
HRH: If you could give advice to any young guitar players out there, what would you tell them?
Yngwie Malmsteen: It all depends on what they want to achieve. If they want to achieve greatness and be like something that is out of the ordinary. It is a lot of hardwork. There are no shortcuts to that. Obviously, if they wanted to learn how to play, they can learn bits and things and carry on. It all depends on what they want to do. If they want to be serious, there is a lot of hard work involved.
HRH: There have been a lot of classic hard rock and metal acts reunite over the last few years. Ron Keel has recently announced the reunion of KEEL for several live shows next year. Can you see yourself doing a Steeler or Alcatrazz reunion in the near future?
Yngwie Malmsteen: I have been contacted a lot about that. I don’t know. I will never say never.
HRH: What is your opinion on the current guitarists of today?
Yngwie Malmsteen: I haven’t really kept track of them. I am so extremely busy with what I am doing myself. When I am not playing music I am usually doing other things. Playing around with my Ferraris and playing Tennis and things like that. What I understand there is a new group of kids that are very serious about playing which is great, I think that is a good thing.
HRH: Are you still a big Ferrari Fan?
Yngwie Malmsteen: (Passionately) Ohh Yeah!
HRH: Have you seen the new Spider Model that has just been released?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Yeah, but I am more into the vintage Ferarris.
HRH:Why do you think hard rock/metal was able to maintain it’s popularity in Europe and Asia but not here in the states?
Yngwie Malmsteen: I am not even sure about that. What I do know is Rock and roll and metal never goes away ever. It took the back seat in America in the 90’s. In Japan and South America it was still really big. I never followed trends so I don’t know the exact function of them. I think there must be somebody in league to changing things. When the glam metal thing of the late 80’s became to glammy, then instead of having two bottles of hair spray in your hair, it became better not to wash your hair at all. To me its all trend stuff. I don’t follow that stuff. I just do what I feel is the right thing. I don’t know what the reason is for that. Its not fashion.
HRH: Did your involvement in the G3 Tour with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai help get your music back out there in the U.S.?
Yngwie Malmsteen: It had some impact, sure, yeah. I think that it helped all three of us, but I think the most important thing now, that you can see nowadays are kids are being introduced to this music through video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero. This seems to be a big influence on kids. Its a new thing to them.
HRH: What do you think about the new generation of music fans being introduced to hard rock and metal through games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band?
Yngwie Malmsteen: When we were younger it was Radio and MTV. It is just a different way of getting it. If they have a game that has rock and roll in it, that is going to introduce the kids to the music. That is good. It is cool.
HRH: Are their any plans for your songs to be added in future editions of the games?
Yngwie Malmsteen: I think so yeah. I am pretty sure that is happening right now. (A few days after our interview, it was announced that some of the songs from Perpetual Flame would be available for download in the game Rockband.)
HRH: Your son Antonio is 10 now right? Has he taken on your passion for music yet?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Yeah, Not in the same way that I did. When I grew up there was no TV, nothing. The guitar could be my whole life. The kids today have internet and TV and games and all that stuff. When he does pick up the guitar, he is a natural for sure. For sure he is going to play. I was so extreme, I was playing 24/7 all my life. That was bizarre anyway, kind of like a (laughs) a circus freak you know.
HRH: There is a new line of Yngwie Malsteen Play Loud tribute guitars from Fender coming out next week. What you can you tell us about those?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Fender had made my guitars for 20 years now. The model has been improved on and updated. It is just fantastic, that is why I love to play it. This is a special series of just 100 pieces that is an exact replica of the guitar that I brought with me from Sweden when I was a teenager. It has the exact same rust particle scratch, feels the same, smells the same. It is amazing. I have never seen anything like it my life. It is scary, it is frightening. It is limited to 100 pieces.
HRH: I saw how the even mimicked your bite marks on the guitar, and wondered how they did that.
Yngwie Malmsteen: I wondered if they had some witchcraft going on there. (laughs)
HRH: You were recently inducted to Guitar Center’s Rockwalk in Hollywood, what was that experience like?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Very Bizarre (laughs). I have time to reflect on it now. Apparently it is in the street already. The next time I go there I will see it. I remember walking those streets as teenager. Its amazing. I don’t know what else to say. Thank you, I am honored.
HRH: Is there anything you would like to tell your fans in closing?
Yngwie Malmsteen: I would like to say thank you. I would like everyone to check out my new record Perpetual Flame. If they have heard my stuff before they will dig it. If they haven’t I hope they will dig it. Thank you for the support for twenty years. God Bless You All! God Bless America!
I don’t make it a secret that Buckcherry is one of my favorite bands out there so of course I jumped at the chance for the opportunity to interview guitarist Keith Nelson. I thought it was a great interview, there were a lot of questions I didn’t get to ask because there wasn’t enough time but that is ok I will save them for the next time. Here is what he had to say, Enjoy!
HRH: Buckcherry recently wrapped up the inaugural Cruefest, how did you think the tour went
Keith Nelson: I thought it was phenomenal, a lot of fun
HRH: What were some of the other bands on the bill that you watched when you had a chance?
Keith Nelson: Papa Roach they are a great live band and of course the Crue they were just over the top.
HRH: Do you think Buckcherry will go out with Cruefest next year?
Keith Nelson: Definitely if we get the chance.
HRH: Buckcherry did over 300 shows in support of 15 are you looking at the same kind of tour for “Black Butterfly”?
Keith Nelson: We were thinking of maybe 600 or 700. Just kidding, Yeah you know we are a live band and that is what we do so going out on the road and living out on the pirate strip as they call it and making rock-n-roll 6 nights a week is kinda what we do.
HRH: 15 was recorded in 15 days how long did it take to record “Black Butterfly”?
Keith Nelson: 21 days on this record
HRH: When it comes to writing is everyone involved or is it you and Josh?
Keith Nelson: Everyone is involved, every song ultimately ends up in the room with all 5 guys weighing in regardless of where it starts. A lot of times Josh and I will come up something, get it pretty much completed, take it in and start rehearsing it. I want to hear what the other guys in my band think of it and see if they have any ideas.
HRH: Is there a story behind the title “Black Butterfly”?
Keith Nelson: Not really, well I guess the only story is there was a song called “Black Butterfly” that we all loved but ultimately didn’t make the record. Not because it was inferior to anything else but in the big picture of the record that piece just didn’t seem to fit, we loved it and certainly it will see the light of day at some point. But when we were coming up with concepts for the cover the image of the Black Butterfly was kind of stuck in my head so I proposed that as the title of the record and everyone seemed to like it.
HRH: So far there are 3 songs available for the fans to hear with, Too Drunk, Rescue Me, and Don’t Go Away, what are some of the other songs you like off the album?
Keith Nelson: Well there is a song called “Cream” that ends the record that is a pretty special song. It was written and rewritten and left for dead and then rewritten again and that is one of my favorite songs on the record. There is a song called “Imminent Bailout” which I think is probably one of the best rock songs I’ve ever written as far as sheer rock-n-roll intensity. There are so many songs, there is a song called “Rose” that I think is a great stretch for us as far as sonically in our approach to songwriting. Man there is a lot of great songs on the record.
HRH: Was the band surprised by the reaction of “Too Drunk” when it was leaked?
Keith Nelson: You know it is crazy how that all went down cause we actually finished mixing the record on a Sunday and 3 or 4 days later we left to start Cruefest, while that was all kind of going on while we were out of the road. Obviously it is in our best interest to present our record in a very structured, you know thought out way and with all the songs being passed around to different people for mastering, remixing, and what not unfortunately that song leaked. In this day and age we just kind of make the best of what we got so once the song was out there we just kind of had to follow it but it wasn’t our first choice for what the single was going to be.
HRH: You always have extra songs on the singles and imports, has there ever been any talk of putting out a B-sides album?
Keith Nelson: Yeah, I mean there hasn’t actually been any talk but it’s funny because early on the B-sides were very much, well you could tell why those songs weren’t on the record and now the left over tracks are as good as anything on the record but you can only put so many songs on a record. You never know I’m sure at some point after we have more of a discography behind us there will be some more special stuff.
HRH: After “Time Bomb” Buckcherry went on hiatus and you and Josh end up recording some songs with the guys from Velvet Revolver. The story goes there were 10 or so songs recorded is there a chance they will ever be made available to the public?
Keith Nelson: Well what happened with those songs is they were actually live recordings that we would make in a rehearsal room, they were multi-tracked. We didn’t make a record but we did do a very detailed recording of them in a live situation. They do exist, I do have them but they will never see the light of day.
HRH: In the past you played with Huck Johns and now he is playing with JB, Devon, and Yogi in a project called Black Robot. Is that something you helped put together?
Keith Nelson: I have no knowledge of that and know nothing about it.
HRH: Legend has it that you and Josh started Buckcherry because you both love AC/DC. Have you had a chance to hear their new single yet?
Keith Nelson: No but I am so excited about the new AC/DC record you have no idea.
HRH: With Cruefest finished and “Black Butterfly” tour starting up who are some of the bands you are looking at opening for you?
Keith Nelson: Well we start this next leg of the tour in a few days with Avenged Sevenfold, Shinedown, and Saving Abel, which are all great bands that is going to be a fun, fun tour. Airbourne is awesome, I would love to have Airbourne and we are actually going to do some dates with those guys in Japan.
HRH: If you could put together a Cherryfest and you could have any 5 bands past or present on the bill who would it be?
Keith Nelson: Well we would have AC/DC close the show for us and we would go on right before them. Right before us or maybe flip flopping every night we would have Stone Temple Pilots and Rage Against the Machine and I would probably get Muddy Waters to start things off.
And with that we wrapped the interview up, like I said earlier I think it was a great interview, very relaxed and laid back Keith was extremely easy to talk too. I definitely look forward to talking to him again if and when I get the chance.