|Hard Rock Hideout Feature Interview : Sophia Ramos|
Sophia is one of the most power female singers that I have heard in years. She has the right look, attitude and most importantly, the talent that should take
her far in the music business.
In fact, Sophia has won the VH1’s best unsigned artist award, and still hasn’t earned the success she so right fully deserves.
Judging by the great sounds of her last disc, Her Majesty, Sophia’s amazing vocal talent isn’t going to allow her to stay undiscovered for long.
Sophia took some time out of her busy schedule for an Interview at the Hard Rock Hideout!
Rob Rockitt: Hi Sophia, How are you doing today?
Sophia Ramos: I am pretty swamped with work. I have been finishing up a bunch of interviews. Princess Tai Poe has been keeping me pretty busy.
Rob Rockitt: I would like to expose you and your music to the readers at the Hard Rock Hideout. I think your music is a great fit for that 70’s and 80’s Hard Rock sound that I keep my readers informed about.
Sophia Ramos: I take it as a compliment that people who like 80’s hard rock would even dig what I do. I think my stuff is more in line with 70’s hard rock. The tone of it is a lot warmer. I grew up on all that stuff, like Van Halen and the great music from the 80’s but my main influences came from Aerosmith, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.
Rob Rockitt: I can hear some Janis Joplin style in your music.
Sophia Ramos: Most definitely. I think if you are a chick in Rock and Roll, and you want to perform with the big boys, Janis Joplin is your bible, or your starting point as a woman. To really see how a woman can get all blood guts and glory in her music. You have to give kudos to Janis.
Rob Rockitt: At what age did you start singing and recording music?
Sophia Ramos: I have been singing all my life. I discovered I could sing when I was 8 years old. I used to sing in church. I left home at 16 and
started doing gigs, and I first recorded when I was 17. It has been a lot of
Rob Rockitt: What drew you to Rock and Roll Music?
Sophia Ramos: I am just naturally rebellious and irreverent. Rock and Roll is the soundtrack for that type of personality. For someone who can see the hilarity in humanity and the sarcasm, but also the beauty and the rage. When you hear that guitar riff and the band is just thumping, and and you throw your hands in the air, and it just grabs your soul. That is what rock music has always done to me.
Rob Rockitt: I have been listening to your CD, Her Majesty, and have been enjoying it quite a bit. This CD rocks hard! I especially like the guitar riffs on Black Madonna and Esperanza. I think people will be blown away by the great tunes on your CD!
Sophia Ramos: I have been very lucky that I have had very positive reviews for Her Majesty. That powerful guitar riff was written by my producer and co-writer Billy White, who also had a stint in Don Dokken’s solo band.
Rob Rockitt: What kind of music are you listening to today?
Sophia Ramos: I listen to a lot of different stuff. Surprisingly, even though my music is hard rock, I like anything that is good. There haven’t really been a whole lot of new singers that made me go “Holy Shit”. I am listening to this R&B chick, Amy Winehouse, I love the quality of her voice. I am listening to this black rock band called The Family Stand, that is a mix between Bad Brains and Prince and Sly and the Family Stone. They are really great. There is this chick that has this incredible voice, that is a Country Western singer, Brandi Carlile that I have also been listening to.
Rob Rockitt: You were on tour with a bunch of rock bands on the 1996 Lalapalooza Tour. What was that experience like?
Sophia Ramos: My first instinct was I was going to have a sexual liberating experience but that didn’t happen. Rock stars are really shy, and not really as outrageous as they appear. I met all the guys from Soundgarden. I made friends with Joey Ramone and the Ramones. I made friends with Jason Newsted from Metallica, and the guys from Rancid and the Screaming Trees. I met Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age. My favorite was meeting Rage Against the Machine. I have never seen that kind of audience response, in all the years I have gone to see concerts. I have never seen such a hypnotic response by a crowd. That was amazing!
Rob Rockitt: You recorded some songs with Jason Newsted on one of his projects.
Sophia Ramos: I love him. He is an incredible human being, a great musician and is very professional. When we met on the Lalapalooza tour and became friends. He invited me to jam in his studio in San Francisco. I went up there and we jammed and started writing on new stuff and co-existing stuff that he put down but didnt have any vocals on. He had some lyric ideas and I had some lyric ideas. We started recording some stuff, and next thing you know it became a 2 year project. We recorded about 10 – 12 songs. We had some interest from Elektra records. That all fizzled out because Jason had to get back on the road with Metallica. We are still friends. I hope one day he will still release it.
Rob Rockitt: Your band Sophia’s Toy was once signed to Sony’s Epic Records. What happened there?
Sophia Ramos: I almost don’t want to tell this story, because I don’t want to show myself in a negative image, that I don’t feel part of anymore. I don’t(Laughs) I got signed and it was a big deal, and all this hype. I did this really kick ass record. Before the record could come out, my A & R guy took me to breakfast and said they were not releasing the record. The marketing people felt that it was be too costly to market my record because I am a woman of color. We don’t think kids in Iowa will get who you are. I had to sit with that for a few years and it that was kind of devastating to me. I do realize that experience taught me a lot about the issues in this country that we still need to deal with. Nobody wants to talk about them. People get uncomfortable. I really do understand. I don’t feel like I subscribe to any of that. I do my music. I don’t care what my color is. The guys in my band don’t care what I look like. The audience doesn’t care what I look like. They care about the musical content. In the music industry in America and probably the world, your looks are what really defines you and not what you are saying or your content. That is kind of sad.
Rob Rockitt: Were you able to reuse any of that material that you recorded with Sony on Her Majesty?
Sophia Ramos: No, Her Majesty is all new material that I wrote with Billy White. I do have re-recording rights for the disc I did with Sony. You might really dig that. It was pretty heavy stuff mixed with some fusion.
Rob Rockitt: Do you have any intentions of re-recording that disc some day?
Sophia Ramos: No, but I have been in contact with Beau Hill who was the producer within the last month. We might have to see about releasing that material.
Rob Rockitt: What are some of your favorite songs off of Her Majesty?
Sophia Ramos: Oh Man, I really dig Kill Your Pain. It has one of the funkiest drum grooves, and the bridge is so rockin’. And then I love Torn Down. It such arena rock and roll. Black Madonna, because of the story that it tells. I like the last tune (Stay Here With You) because it is a very personal kind of song. I really put my heart into it when I was singing it.
Rob Rockitt: What is a typical day for you now?
Sophia Ramos: I am currently in Arizona doing this Love Janis show. It is a theater production of the life of Janis Joplin. It was all written by Janis Joplin by her and letters that she has written. I have one show left and will be going home to New York soon.
Rob Rockitt: What are you currently working on?
Sophia Ramos: I wanted to make another rocking album. I have gotten together with Billy White and recorded the album in Austin, TX. We wrote a bunch of songs together. It is a bit of departure from Her Majesty. There are some rocking heavy guitar based songs. We kind of went a little bit in another place, because we were just having fun. It was laid back, and we didn’t have the hectic New York City vibe that we usually have when we record. I noticed when I was writing and recording that there was a theme and the songs were tying together. The songs are about what was happening politically now in the world, what it is like to live in the modern age with the Internet, and Internet dating, and what it is like to live in a world that is not homogeneous to live in a society with all these different cultures. The second album is called Revelator. I don’t want to give away too much, but I hope you dig it.
Rob Rockitt: When do you expect Revelator to be released?
Sophia Ramos: It is 95% complete. I go back to New York next week to do some tweaking and remixing and master it. I don’t have the artwork and stuff ready. I am working with a great rock and roll artist, Justin Hampton We are trying to create something very unique for the record’s visuals. I am hoping by September that we can release it.
Rob Rockitt: On your new record, do you have any special guests?
Sophia Ramos: Me and Billy White recorded the tunes in Austin, and used some local Austin guys. My drummer wasn’t available. He is drumming on the new Chris Cornell record. We wanted to go kind of low-fi on this record. We wanted to get away from that bombastic sound. It is still hard driving rock and roll. There is more of an organic feel on this record. There is a vibe to this record that is really great. I do have a special guest, Kate Russo, she is the baddest rock and roll violin player out there. She kicks ass.
Rob Rockitt: Do you have plans to tour for Revelator?
Sophia Ramos: (Laughs) If I make any money! If there is a budget for it, for sure. I will let you know!
Rob Rockitt: Sophia, Thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to me today!
Sophia Ramos: Thank you for supporting me and my music!
Judging from the quality and great sound of her Independent release, Her Majesty, Sophia Ramos’ long term success is only a short time away.
Her Majesty is a release full of big guitar riffs, and the amazing, powerful vocals of Sophia Ramos. The songs are written with passion and fire, and absolutely rock!
The first four songs on Her Majesty have found repeated plays on my play list.
Black Madonna has a very upbeat sound with a great story. What I Do Know has a guitar sound that brings the band Soundgarden to mind.
The guitar riff on Esperanza is crazy good. I love this track.
(You can listen to Black Madonna and Esperanza in the video below.)
Sophia’s voice soars to new levels on Kill Your Pain. This is another exceptional heavy track on Her Majesty.
Sophia shows off her tremendous voice on Deep in Your Bones. This is a low to mid tempo number that impresses me more with every listen.
Torn Down is one of my favorite songs on Her Majesty. The rhythm on this song will pull you in, and the guitar sound is very infectious. The range of Sophia Ramos’ voice really jumps out at me on this song.
Girlfriend’s Ghost is a kick ass song that is full of fire, and blood pumping rhythm. This song has a Garbage/ Gwen Stefani feel to it, but is much heavier than either of those.
The melody of Shining Still is very cool. It is great to hear Sophia’s voice hitting some higher notes on this song. This track has some electronic effects mixed with the music, that gives it a very cool sound.
Jon’s Song is a low to mid tempo number that could easily be played on mainstream rock radio. The guitars are toned down on this song, giving it a more modern feel.
Sophia pours her heart into Stay Here With You. I can hear her strong Joplin influence on this song.
Her Majesty is an outstanding rock CD! The production and extras on this disc, make you feel like you just picked up a big studio disc. Get on board and check out Sophia Ramos! Big things are certain to happen for her in the future! You can find out more information on Her Majesty at Sophia’s myspace page here, and here website Sophia Ramos.com! You can also listen to and purchase Her Majesty, at CDBaby.com here.
Rating: Out of 10
- Black Madonna
- What I Do Know
- Kill Your Pain
- Deep in my Bones
- Torn Down
- Girlfriend’s Ghost
- Shining Still
- Jon’s Song
- Stay Here With You
According to MelodicRock.com, former ACCEPT/BANGALORE CHOIR singer David Reece has joined the Swedish hard rock band GYPSY ROSE. David will fly to Gothenburg, Sweden on Thursday, May 31 to begin laying down vocals for the band’s new album, due later in the year. He will also join GYPSY ROSE on stage for their appearance at the Sweden Rock Festival on June 10.
Nuno Bettencourt writing new songs with Steve Perry!
Former EXTREME and current SATELLITE PARTY guitarist Nuno Bettencourt has told The Boston Herald that he is writing material with legendary JOURNEY frontman Steve Perry. No further information is currently available.
In other news, the original lineup of EXTREME — Gary Cherone (vocals, ex-VAN HALEN), Nuno Bettencourt (guitar), Paul Geary (drums), and Pat Badger (bass) — reunited for a benefit concert and auction in New York City in honor of music manager Steven Hoffman. Hoffman, who worked with RUSH, VAN HALEN and EXTREME, died of lung cancer in 2003. The event took place on May 18 at the 450-capacity Canal. A live and silent auction was also held to raise money for lung cancer research. Some of the items to be auctioned off included an autographed Nuno Bettencourt Washburn guitar, an autographed Geddy Lee bass and other great and rare rock n’ roll memorabilia.
EXTREME surprised members of the audience at the METAL SKOOL concert on April 9, 2007 when they climbed up on stage and performed a cover of LED ZEPPELIN‘s “Communication Breakdown” in Hollywood, California. Check out pictures from WENN.
Black Rain hits the top 3!
OZZY OSBOURNE‘s “Black Rain” sold 152,000 copies in the United States during its first week of release to debut at No. 3 on The Billboard 200 chart. This number is in line with the 153,000 first-week tally registered by 2001’s “Down to Earth”, which entered the Billboard chart at No. 4.
As previously reported, “Black Rain” has entered the Norwegian album chart at position No. 2. View the chart at this location.
New Steelheart on the way!
The official STEELHEART website has been updated with the following:
“Hello everyone. We are happy to announce the album has been completed and it is exactly as Mili (leader Miljenko Matijevic) said it would be. A piece of the past, present and the future. This is truly an incredible album.
At the moment we are working on the release date. We will keep you posted as soon as we have more information.
The band will be performing in Lincoln, Nebraska at Coyote Willys on July 13th and at the Rocklahoma Festival on July 15th.
We are also happy to welcome Rev Jones as the new bass thumper to the lineup. Rev has been performing with acts such as MICHAEL SCHENKER, FUEL, BLACK SYMPHONY to name a few.
We are also working on a full US tour for the summer and fall.
We appreciate your support please keep checking the site for more info to come.”
Rocklahoma Becomes Worldwide Phenomena
According to Easier.com, ticket sales around the world are making the Rocklahoma music festival one of the most successful events of Oklahoma’s Centennial Celebration as ‘80’s rock fans will converge on the state from locations as far away as Japan, Australia and South Africa.
“The eyes of the world are on Rocklahoma,” said Mark Nuessle, General Manager of Catch the Fever Music Festivals. “Rocklahoma has struck a chord that has reverberated around the globe. We have sold tickets to ‘80’s rock fans in all 50 states and across six continents. Rocklahoma has literally become one of the largest music festivals in the world.”
Twenty-three bands are scheduled to play during the three-day festival, making Rocklahoma the largest ‘80’s rock festival of its kind to be organized. Two weeks ago, when Twisted Sister was announced as Rocklahoma’s headliner, word spread like wildfire via satellite radio and the World Wide Web. Rocklahoma’s draw is most likely a combination of the bands’ talents and the sheer number of bands playing at the event, said Dave Giencke, Director of Operations for Catch the Fever Music Festivals.
“The worldwide ticket sales we are seeing with Rocklahoma show the power these bands have held on to over all these years. One of these bands would sell-out an arena in the ‘80’s. They left their fans wanting more. Now those fans are lining up to be a part of history when, for the first time, all these bands are coming together to play in one setting,” Giencke said.
Rocklahoma’s three-day line-up includes:
Friday, July 13: POISON, RATT (NOT full reunion), QUIET RIOT, SLAUGHTER,Y&T, WHITE LION
Saturday, July 14,: VINCE NEIL, DOKKEN, WINGER, SKID ROW, WARRANT, FIREHOUSE, ENUFF Z NUFF, FASTER PUSSYCAT, BULLETBOYS, BANG TANGO
Sunday, July 15: TWISTED SISTER, W.A.S.P., JACKYL, GREAT WHITE, LA GUNS, BRITNY FOX
Rocklahoma will be held July 13-15, at the Catch the Fever Festival Grounds four miles north of Pryor, OK just off highway 69.
Tickets to Rocklahoma are currently on sale and available by calling toll free (866) 310-2288 or online at http://www.rockfeverfest.com. Tickets are:
One Day General Admission: $ 40.00 plus handling fees and tax
Three Days General Admission: $90.00 plus handling fees and tax
VIP Tickets: $275.00 plus handling fees and tax (good all three days, reserved seating, and all the beer and food you can eat).
Welcome to the new semi weekly feature at the Hard Rock Hideout, Fore and Aft!
In Fore and Aft, I will be picking a different musical artist each week, and will review something old and something new by this artist. Each week it will be someone different. It could be a singer, a guitar player or a drummer. I hope to give you sound / Youtube clips for each review so you can listen to some songs from each disc.
Hopefully, each week you will discover some lost classics or some brand new discs worth picking up.
As always, your comments and opinions are welcome! Let me know what you think about this new feature and the music being reviewed.
Chapter Two is a three part segment, with a new review daily featuring singer Danny Vaughn.
Stop back each day this week and discover some lost classics and some brand new music by Danny Vaughn.
Chapter Three is a three part segment featuring lead singer, Robert Mason.
Robert Mason has been in a few bands over the years, but gained the majority of his fame through his time in Lynch Mob. Chapter Three will feature 3 of the lesser known discs from Robert Mason’s discography.
Chapter Four of Fore & Aft will feature Guitarist Paul Lidel.
You can read Paul Lidel’s profile here.
Part 1 features Dirty Looks’ 1988 release Cool From the Wire.
Part 2 features Dangerous Toys 1994 release Pissed.
Part 3 features the 2002 release, Guilty Pleasure by Broken Teeth.
Part 4 features the 2007 debut by, Adrenaline Factor.
Chapter Five of Fore & Aft is a 2 part spotlight on Carlos Cavazo. You can read Carlos’ profile here.
Part 1 features the Quiet Riot Release – Condition Critical
Part 2 features the 2006 debut of 3 Legged Dogg – Frozen Summer.
This band features the talent of Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath) on drums, Jimmy Bain (DIO) on bass, Chaz West (Bonham) on vocals and Brian Young (David Lee Roth) on guitars. This disc also features 4 tracks produced by former Dokken bass player Jeff Pilson.
Frozen Summer may be short (only 8 songs, 33 minutes), but it does not lack punch. This may be some of the heaviest music you have ever heard Carlos Cavazo perform on to date. This music is riff and bass heavy. The Black Sabbath influence is very easy to pick up on. Chaz West sings his ass off. I don’t remember him sounding this good with Bonham.
XM41, the Boneyard broke out Frozen Summer a few months ago. I heard this track once, and started looking for this disc. This is a heavy track and very killer stuff!
The band recently released a video for Give and Take Away. I like this track more and more with every listen. The Sabbath style heaviness shows itself well on this track.
Rain on My Parade is a low tempo number where Chaz West’s voice really shines. You have to crank this one up to fully appreciate it.
One Good Reason is one of those excellent metal tracks that ignites your soul and makes you want to throw your fists in the air, with your mano cornuta’s extended for the world to see.
Wasted Life has a little bit of blues fused into the music with Chaz West playing the harmonica. No, this doesn’t sound like a Dave Matthews song. This is some classic metal fused with a little bit of blues. The end result is another whiplash-creating, head-banging tune.
The rhythm section of Appice and Bain really shine on the song, Long Way Back From Hell. This is a mid tempo number that really sounds great.
Man oh mercy, the music on Left for Dead is so good, it is crazy. There are great vocals by Chaz West, and the whole band sounds amazing.
Bring the Hammer Down is the only song on Frozen Summer that I couldn’t really get into.
With Frozen Summer you get quality over quantity. I am a big Black Sabbath fan, and I loved hearing the Sabbath influence in these tunes. I can only hope that these guys get together and do a longer disc at some time in the future. 3 Legged Dogg’s debut totally rocks, and has only left me wanting more. For more info on 3 Legged Dogg, check out the band’s myspace page here.
Rating: Out of 10
1. Frozen Summer
2. Give and Take Away
3. Rain on My Parade
4. One Good Reason
5. Wasted Life
6. Long Way Back from Hell
7. Left for Dead
8. Bring the Hammer Down
3 Legged Dogg is:
Chaz West – Vocals
Vinny Appice – Drums
Jimmy Bain – Bass
Carlos Cavazo – Guitars