Gregg Fulkerson (2003)

Gregg Fulkerson: A new name, a new band, same classy attitude.


Gregg Fulkerson talks to me about Attraction 65, his passion for music, life after Blue Tears and the long road inbetween. I think you will agree that Gregg's one of the nice guys of rock n roll. Read on...




So Gregg, most folks will know you (and Mike) from Blue Tears. Starting at that point, how did you enjoy the ride that was Blue Tears?
We enjoyed it immensely, that was a long ride as well. Starting when I was in high school and to tell you the truth, we've just gotten back on with ATTRACTION 65 for all practical purposes, we are literally picking up where we left off even down to using the last song I wrote during that era, "Strong", on the new album but I'll get to all that somewhere in this interview I'm sure.

Let's go straight to the new record - the debut Attraction 65 album. When did you start work on this album?
About a year ago as far as the recording as far as the writing of the new songs which is the majority of the record it was written over the last couple of years

And where does the band name come from?
Ah that's a big secret you know. Ok…actually it's from a sign on the interstate.
Attraction 65 is the Franklin, Tennessee exit on the interstate. There are different "attractions" around our state and they are numbered so it' could have been attraction anything, but that is actually the one that we take nearly every day and what a great "attraction" it is…the coolest city around here, that's for sure.

The album has a far more contemporary sound than Blue Tears did – at least you haven't stepped backwards. Are you aiming at the same audience, a new fan base, or neither - just pleasing yourself? Was there ever a thought to make a new Blue Tears record?
The only thing that is different about the Blue Tears record and this one is the name and the drummer. The songs come from the same place, same singer, same core band.
I quite honestly just didn't want people to hear Blue Tears and think oh, that "80's" band (even though we came out in '90).
Actually, Blue Tears was about as "contemporary" as you could get when it came out, but is obviously very dated now. This could have been called Blue Tears and been the official "follow-up" record.
Believe me, I was torn but in the end we decided that with the new guys on board we would become a new band…sort of rising from the ashes of what once was Blue Tears (that sounded dramatic, didn't it?).
Much, much better than we were before in my opinion it's not even in the same league as far as a "fanbase".
I'll tell you who I think this record might be aimed at. This record has a thread of hope that you can hear in each song even in "Rise Above", "Believe", "Stand".
I went through some very dark years and I know there are people out there that are lost, broken-hearted, that need something to believe in…hopefully this music can bring someone hope or drive someone on.
There were records that did that for me throughout my life and I am by no means comparing our record to these people because these are my hero's.
And I don't pretend to be in the same league as them but for example, The Joshua Tree, The River (Springsteen) and the Mellencamp records…Bon Jovi records...these people gave us something to think about - a way out - a way to look at certain things and I pray that we can do that for people as well.
I know we'll never be able to live up to those guys…any of them...but why not try???

I think you have done a fine job Gregg. There's a lot of positive messages in these songs.
You have just spoke of them, but I wanted to ask about the varied style of delivery within the album. I heard Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and even Nickelback within the record. Are you a fan of those artists, or any others that inspired the sound of the album?

Yeah I'm a huge fan of Bruce, Bono and U2 Bon Jovi. I love Creed...great lyrics and every musician in that band is just unbelievable. It kills me when I read someone who is just too cool for Creed.
I don't get that…maybe they sell too many records? Especially all of you melodic rock fans, this is where your Bon Jovi/Aerosmith/U2 of today is – Creed, Fuel...ok, so I know Carl from Fuel pretty well but I'm still a huge fan of the band!! These guys write songs they don't just jam they write serious songs.

What inspired the use of a choir on Stand? Wonderful effect?
I think just the overall gospel feel of the song. My part came way before the choir parts. Strong has it as well and Prisoner at this point, not sure where Prisoner is going to fall on the record I think it's going to be a mystery track or a hidden track? Not sure have to ask Magnus about that.

Jumping in on that point - how did you come to work with Magnus and Atenzia and why did you pick them above any other candidates?
To tell you the truth...because of the way this thing came together, there weren't any other candidates. Magnus and I had been talking for several years...literally.....he had been interested in another Blue Tears record for a long time, but I did not want to come back out as Blue Tears....wasn't even interested in recording at first...this was
several years ago that this started.
Finally...a couple of years ago, he had the Atenzia thing come together...he told me he would like to sign me to do a modern do what I am doing now...not a
throwback to the 80's. I'm not interested in that stuff at we signed a deal...and Magnus and I have become good really....Magnus was a big factor in my coming back to the music business. His faith in me was very inspiring...I will always be
indebted to him for guys...if you ever get a call from Magnus...or find out Magnus is interested in your music...go for it...he's a pleasure to work with.

Awesome…back to the album - I think tracks like Eden, In Another Life and Train, even Swept Away and Roll On could all hold their own on classic or modern rock radio - is there any chance of this happening at all?
Well, I can only hope and pray that this could happen! I feel pretty confident about the songs on this record. In Another Life or Train can pretty much hold their own with any of these guys I think.

Any US release plans at this stage?
We are talking to various managers already. We have our booking agent lined up and everything has been centralized out of Europe at this point, only because or the chain of events leading up to this. We haven't pursued anything in the States at all yet as crazy as that sounds but it's coming.

Can you tell us more about the guys you chose to involve in Attraction 65?
Absolutely....the band is....myself...on lead vocals and guitars, some keyboards....Michael Spears on bass (from Blue Tears)....Paul Zegelien on guitar....Ludo Baccherini on drums....and Robert Streets on acoustic guitars and backup vocals.
I'll tell you a little about each guy....pretty interesting I think. When I decided to do
this again....I wanted to have a band...not a touring band...or a put together band...but a band of brothers...if you will.
My favorite groups were the real Bruce and the E Street Band...U2......Bon know every guy in the band...each one is important in their way and it would pretty drastically change the group if even one guy changed.

I think I have the best band I could have....all best friends...we all go back several years...some back to child hood even....for example...Michael Spears. Mike and I met at camp when we were kids...literally used to play acoustic guitars together at camp...Mike
and I started what would later become Blue Tears when he was a freshman
in college and I was a senior in high school. So we have all those years wrapped up in our music. When I first decided I wanted to make a new record...and hit this hard...I called Michael first.....when he decided to come back…I knew we would have a killer band no matter what. Mike is an artist himself...a brilliant writer...singer...and
producer...on top of his bass playing. Mike has recently produced tracks for Billy Falcon...and also for Billy's daughter Rose Falcon...I have to be honest here...eventually Mike is going to be a big star all on his's inevitable...he already has people
looking at him for that...labels....and a lot of his material he and Billy Falcon wrote together.
I support Mike in whatever he does...he will always be like a brother to me regardless of what happens...I pray that he stays with us forever...but someday it will become
impossible...until that day we'll have the most fun we can and make the best music we can. If we can work it out for him to stay on...then hallelujah...if not.....then I'm happy for jealousy here...I want him to succeed...and he will.

Ludo Baccherini plays a lead singer in his own rite as well. He plays exactly what I hear in my head...when I think or hear drums...I'm hearing him in my head....he's just great....finds that back beat...plays just behind the beat...which gives everything a really big sound....also like a brother to me....I'll stop saying that..because
all four of these guys are that to
Ludo was really the next guy on board for the band....after's hard to say
which came first in this group because Mike and I had been talking about
it for so long...but Ludo is a huge part of the sound of the band...on this record.......he played things that most people would use loops on Roll On....or loops...just Ludo....I can see him going down in history like a Max Weinberg or Tico
Torres....Kenny Aronoff....he feels it...doesn't just play it. Not sure how to get that point across...but a lot of this stuff on the record Ludo recorded to an acoustic guitar...that's it....then the band would fill in around his feel became the overall feel of the song...big, big part of our sound.

Paul Zegelien plays electric guitar....on the record he played a lot of rhythyms...but live he'll probably handle some of the lead parts as well....Paul and I got together because of our similar love for music. We like a lot of the same bands...used to have these long
conversations about songs… before he joined
up with the band. Paul is also a great singer...he actually taught high school chorus at one point...a music teacher...very cool.......he's just an all around great person who puts on no airs...just what you see is what you get...very genuine. Also one of my very best friends in the world...we will sound huge out on the road with me and Paul on electric
guitars...Robert on the acoustic guitar....5 strong vocals (no fake sampled vocals for us, I hate that )....Paul is also my fishing that goes a long way…ha ha.

Last but not least we have Robert Streets....Robert was a front man for his own band for incredible singer....his voice is the perfect compliment for mine...he is doing the majority of the solo type background vocals on our record...the Bruce/Little Steven or Jon/Ritchie type vocal stuff.
He was probably in the studio with me more than anyone else making this much so that I gave him an "assistant producer" credit....he'd come in after I'd been working on vocals or guitar parts for hours...I'd be totally burnt out...and he'd
basically be my listening board...tell me....that's great sound killer...or...that's pretty rough can do better than that....brutally honest....and I needed that....had a lot of great ideas about arrangements as well...thus his credit.
Robert and I go back about 13 years at this point....we've always done music
together...written together...etc....mostly for fun.
He came in to do backup vocals on a few songs on this record in the beginning... I had
about half of the record done at that point....and he kept coming back.....finally...he and I talked one night...I said…man, it would be a dream come true for me if you would join this band...stand right up there every night on stage with me and blast out these all these acoustic guitar parts from the record......we would be
unstoppable!! He was a big decision for him to join someone else's band..always had his own groups.....but the way I see's OUR band....all five of us.....

That's probably more information than you really wanted about the band...but that's how we got together...I'm obviously very excited to have this group now....I'll be on the road with my 4 best friends...having the time of our lives....doing what we love to do
most...playing in a rock and roll band.




Let's go back a little…Blue Tears came out in 1990 - how did you find working/playing in the prime era of stadium rock?
To tell you the truth, I think when Blue Tears was actually released on MCA that era was ending we came out right before Nirvana hit.
I enjoyed the years leading up to it more than the time after it was released. A very "innocent" time.
Some of my favorite musical moments came from playing in a band called Stealin' Horses on Arista, that was right before Blue Tears was signed - we did a tour opening for the Smithereens and the Stray Cats - what a blast. Great musicians, great songwriting. Loved that band.
Blue Tears was a group whose nucleus - myself, Michael Spears and Bryan Hall had been together since I was in High School. We used to practice nearly every night, played covers mostly until after college when we started writing original material.
But the feeling was always the same. Attraction 65 is really chapter 2 of Blue Tears - just a different name. My writing has matured a lot since then those were more "innocent" times for sure.

I was watching the video for Rocking With The Radio - that's a great fun clip. What do you put the fans enduring passion for Blue Tears down to?
Well, assuming there really are fans out there with an enduring passion for the music we made then - I think it was the innocence, the honesty.
We really were from this small town, music really was our one way out and we were going for it. We had nothing to lose and the whole world laid out before us. No one wrote songs for us, we wrote them ourselves…and they were very real.
The song you mentioned Rockin' with the Radio, I actually wrote that driving around my hometown, just checking out all the old haunts and then I had an hour or so drive to Memphis where we cut the song the same day (the demo).
I don't think that was a great song by any means, but the ideas in it were very real and hopefully that comes across.

How did the ride end? Why wasn't there ever a second album?
That is a very good question and one I really don't enjoy talking about, but I'll go ahead and get this out of the way so we can get on to brighter things.
Let me just say that MCA didn't just decide to drop us one day, it wasn't like that. Blue Tears never officially went in the studio to cut the second record.
A lot of songs were written for it, some very, very good material…some of which is on the new ATTRACTION 65 record. We were all set.
BUT, I was not watching my back...and I got taken pretty badly. I'm not going into who, what where none of that and I never will.
I LEGALLY could not do anything I could not make a record. That's all I'm really going to say about it. My hands were tied.
By the time the smoke cleared I had lost every dime I had. I had lost my house, my wife, my band - everything. Had nothing. I was so burnt by what had happened to us that I took about 4-5 years and just tried to forget it had happened at all.
A lot of people that knew me during this period didn't even know I played guitar, much less knew about the band. But I came out of all that much stronger than before. Fresh with a serious story to tell.
I have lived through a lot of things that most people don't have to go through in their lives, thank God.
So when I say: "You say your life is goin' nowhere and you feel like givin' in? Take it from someone who's been there feeling lonely ain't no sin…you sit and wonder why everything passes you by maybe it's time to roll on "
Man, I know what I'm talking about .

Wow, I had no idea Gregg. Do you still see the other 2 guys? What are they doing these days?
No, actually, I don't. I'll be seeing Bryan for the first time in about 5 years tomorrow night; his daughter has a band Vista. I'm sure they are killer. Will probably be huge!
If they have any of Bryan's talent they will be...anyway. I'm excited about that.
I haven't seen Charlie in many, many years. I liked Charlie a lot, but was never close to him like I was Bryan and Michael. Just didn't click the same.
These guys were like my brothers - Mike is in Attraction 65, of course I know Bryan does a lot of music. Just an incredible all around musician singer/songwriter...a huge talent.
I wish him the best. I have no idea what Charlie is up to, but I'm sure he plays a lot of drums and I wish him the best as well.

As you know, there is a big cult following of Blue Tears and some unreleased tunes are traded like gold!
Most of the time they are passed of as the second unreleased Blue Tears album. But can you tell us the truth behind these tracks and where they came from?

That's an easy one - the only "official" Blue Tears releases were on the Blue Tears album. Everything else you may have heard or can download off the net are just 8 track demo's - some done before the record some after.
I'm going to make a lot of that available on! Just to stop these guys who are actually selling it!
I don't like the way a lot of it sounds, doesn't sound like me. A lot of it was very experimental for me…some came out great like "Storm In My Heart", "Call My Name" or "Strong". Those were gems that were never recorded for a record so I pulled them out for the ATTRACTION 65 album and they kick.
There are some like "Loud Guitars, Fast Cars and Wild, Wild Women". Mike and I wrote that in about 10 minutes as a joke. Then realized it was kind of good in a corny sort of way. Our management gave it to Contraband for their record and it ended up doing very well for us. I normally would never even claim it don't like it at all but it was fun doing the Motley Crue thing.
I love Motley Crue...really love that band. Always have, but there is only one Motley Crue and we sure weren't it! ha ha!

Is there any chance you might package any of the unreleased tracks for a official or indie CD release? Some of the songs being traded are horrible quality!
NO but there is a very big chance that I will give you a big library of these songs and you can do with them what you will as long as it's free!
I wouldn't charge anyone for my demo's!!! How desperate is that? Nah if you want to hear them it's an honor for me to put them on the site.
I can't hardly listen to a lot of it because my voice has changed a lot over the years.
I actually learned how to sing! But let's just say here and now that I'll pass on a lot of that music to you Andrew and you can put what you want on the site how's that?

Couldn't ask for more Gregg, I'm sure a lot of folk will be pretty excited about that!
Three tracks you have spoken of made it to the new Attraction 65 album. Can you tell us why those tracks stood out in your mind to come to life in 2003?

We included "Storm In My Heart", "Strong" and "Call My Name" on the new record because quite simply, they were 3 of my best songs ever and no one had heard them other than on those bad demos that were being passed around.
I have always felt that those were my 3 best songs of all time to be honest with you and they weren't on the Blue Tears record. I had “Call My Name” for that record, but the producer didn't want to use it.
If I could play one song on an acoustic guitar to anyone and only had a chance to play that one song to show them what I do - it would be one of those 3 hmmm…then again maybe “Eden”…hard to say…let's say it would be one of those 4.

Would you mind making a comment on each song on the album for me?

Ahhh…the big rocker to blow your face off. Have to have a kicker right at the beginning. For those of you losing your religion, losing your grip… believe and no, it's not a contemporary Christian song...ha ha

Roll On
Very serious song. Let's just say it deals with addiction. That's my take on it anyway...could be a lot of things. We all see them - people side tracked in life, afraid to move forward, just pulled over on the road of life…medicating themselves senseless just to get through the day. This song is just a song of encouragement. Everyone reaches a crossroads and everyone's got choose.

In Another Life
Very, very cool song…kind of an alternate universe idea. Have you ever met someone and felt this huge connection to them - almost like you know them, or were meant to know them. And you have that moment when your eyes meet and the two of you just kind of know it, your life sort of flashes before your eyes. You smile and say "yeah, right…in another life”. And then head for soccer practice…

This is a big one…this is major. A "companion" song to Roll On. How many of us are sitting there waiting for that train to come rolling around the bend to take us where? Love, Happiness…it's all coming right? It's going to come to me one of these days just waiting and then one day 20 years later, you realize you've been waiting your whole life and that dream has passed you by. It's too late. Don't waste your life away, waiting on that train.

Stand is one that changed drastically during the making of the record....was a full on rocker from the start at one point....just didn't have the same soul it has has such a strong message of hope and encouragement...and it just wasn't coming across that way by banging everyone over the head with it.
After I cut out all the drums and loud guitars on the let the song breathe...Ii re-sang the whole thing in a couple of takes...and was really pleased with it.

Call My Name
This is the closest I ever came to religion in my music. whose perspective is this song written from? You tell me...sometimes it's "him" sometimes it's me…sometimes it's a man/woman thing. Depends on the mood I'm in.

This is probably my favorite of the new songs…very, very difficult to write a song about perfection…heaven. A woman that puts you in heaven…in Eden?

Just the truest love song I ever wrote…meant every word.

Rise Above
Rise above the pain and the sorrow…rise above those fools that you follow. A song of empowerment!

Storm In My Heart
This song was written at the saddest time of my life about the saddest event possible. A song about dealing with a great loss.

Swept Away
Swept Away is that guy in Roll On who doesn't get his act together. It's that guy lying awake at night thinking he may not make it until the morning.

You also made a record with Michael Sweet of Stryper. That remains his best album, with strong fan support. How was that experience?
That was a wonderful experience - Michael is a great guy.
I had so much fun working on that record and that's saying a lot, because it came during that period where my career was basically being held prisoner and I was going through a very painful divorce, but still had a blast.
Michael is a great guy, super talented singer, writer and my God what a guitar player!
I learned a lot from him on that project. I'm not sure I'd call that his best solo record, though he did some really good work after that. Another person involved in that record was Doug Beiden. I don't think he got the credit he deserved on that record. He was the engineer, but had a lot of co-production on the record as well in my opinion.
Also very talented, and a genuinely great guy.
That record started off as a secular record…I don't do Christian music never have...and didn't for Michael's record. I think after it was all said and done, some of the songs were kind of altered to have a dual meaning to them. I'm not sure it was not a Christian record in the beginning - just a positive record…I think the label maybe spun it that way.
But who cares? It was a good record. Michael deserves to be a star in my opinion. If you ever have a conversation with him, you'll get that - especially if it's in person. He's very charismatic and to top that off he's genuine.

Are there any plans for Attraction 65 to get out on the road and tour as a band?
Absolutely! We are with "The Agency Group" - huge touring agency, we are so ready to go ready to meet the people head on!

Where did the other guys in A65 come from?
They are quite truly my 4 best friends in the world - every one of them.
I wanted the best I could find for each instrument. Some are there for one reason or another, but each guy is very important to the group. I've known them all for several years.

Could a record like Attraction 65 get made today if it wasn't for your home studio?
Yeah - if you had A LOT of money at your disposal.

How do you find working in the industry now in 2003? As challenging as it ever was?
I don't know ask me that next year.

You have been a pleasure to deal with - what keeps you down to earth and aware of the realities of working in the music business?
Hmmm not sure how to answer that my mama raised me right? I don't know - maybe it's a southern thing.

Who have been the best people you have dealt with over the years and the worst?
Well, the best have been all the folks from the Blue Tears band and Attraction 65 of course. Stealin' Horses - that's Kiya Heartwood, Kopana Terry and Jon Durno.
A very influential person for me was Jon Hornyak - he was my manager in the early days and a great friend.
He now works for the Grammy association out of Memphis, very down to earth intelligent all around good guy. I won't mention the bad guys…you know who you are.

You live in Nashville these days - when did you move there?
I live in Franklin, Tn, about 20 minutes out of Nashville.
I've lived in the Nashville area off and on since 1986...lived in L.A. for a short while…Jackson, Tn for a short while, but always came home to Nashville.

You speak highly of it - tell us why it's a great place to live?
Well, it sure isn't the music ha ha.
I love Franklin, Tn, it's kind of like Mayberry except it's about 25,000 people. Still looks like a small town, like 'American Grafitti', but with all the modern things you could want love it.

A little different than LA then?
Yeah just a little. I lived right outside of Hollywood just over the freeway in Burbank right next to Universal studios, so yeah it's pretty different.

And now this album is complete and about to be released - what comes next?
Tour...can't wait.

Anything you would like to say to the Blue Tears and Gregg Fulkerson fans out there?
Just thank you so much for listening. It means everything to me. This record is the best I could possibly do. I didn't cut any corners of any sort. I worked on it until I was finished and had nothing else to say and I'm very proud of it. I hope you like it.

Did you ever sort out that Gregg Fulkerson imposter that got us talking in the first place??
Trying to forget all about that…in denial about it!!!

Have I missed anything Gregg?
Thanks Andrew you are the best. I appreciate you more than you know. You helped influence me to try to break back into this and I think we are seriously on the right track.
Take care my friend…talk to you soon.








Gary Hughes (2003)

Gary Hughes: 3 years of work comes to fruition.


Gary Hughes talks in detail about the origins behind Once And Future King, and the research and planning needed to bring such a big project to completion.

Hi Gary, Congratulations on the new album/project. When did you decide that you just had to write an epic tale based around the legend of King Arthur?
It's something that I've always wanted to do and it's something that I began years and years ago. With regard to the subject matter it's something that I was into as a child.
It was very much a part of British history in school.
What I liked about it is that so much of it is grey area. As a Legend, so much is down to interpretation and I liked the idea of something that I could add a little bit of myself into. The flexibility of interpretation.
Obviously there are certain historical facts and timescales that you have to deal with but there is so much grey area that leaves scope for your own version. I researched it for at least three to four years. I was reading nothing else in my spare time.
I honed as much as I could from various sources such as the Mallory Poem and the Geoffrey of Monmouth version of the Arthurian legends which is probably the earliest. Various other documentation from various authors, things like the Bernard Cornwell novels Excalibur, Winter King, Enemy of God and various things like that which I thought were probably as close to my interpretation as I could get.
I tried to avoid the Hollywood-isms and tried to concentrate on Arthur the battle lord trying to unite the tribes which is what it was all about. I'm pretty pleased with the way it came out. One thing that was really worrying me was that I didn't want to do this one thing and look back on it and think that I could have done it better.
If you do this type of subject matter you never return to it again, so if you're going to do it, lets do it as best as we can and the most concise. You can't ignore how Arthur was born and the legend was conceived, you can't ignore the preceding information so I had to do that in the booklet really which is something that the listener can read before the first track kicks in. Musically the concept starts at Arthur's Kingmaking after excepting Excalibur at Dragon Island, the Druids haven. I had to really narrow it down because it could have been eight albums long.

Why does this story lend itself so well to being portrayed in a rock opera?
Because it is universal and understandable around the world. It has been said that the Arthurian Myth is "a quintessentially English myth." I don't fully agree with this statement. The myths themselves are not "English" at all but are British in origin with many later additions. Certainly the tales may have become quintessentially English (i.e. slightly eccentric, tea on the lawn, cricket on the green etc). Every culture has it s own hero tales that seem to have sprung from a spark of truth, and Arthur's story, like a Christmas tree, seems to have had various baubles hung upon it over time until it has become the whimsical Hollywood favourite it is today.
The Once & Future King title was chosen for a number of reasons it is a familiar part of the legend, it is used in a great number of the tellings and retellings of the story, and at least one source tells us that it is quoted on Arthur's tomb Hic Iacet Arturus Rex Quondam Rexque Futuris (Here lies Arthur The Once & Future King).
Overall though, its grandeur makes it perfect foil for rock opera. The version of my telling does not show Arthur as the Christian hero in shining plate armour with wistful damsels and horses in coloured decoration.
Arthur in my tale is the Arthur that the majority of experts now agree he was a post Roman pagan war band leader, in the Dark Ages, pledged to save his beloved country from invasion and injustice. The shining plat is stiffened leather, canvas and wood; the knights in shining armour are well disciplined, but rough professional warriors of a British war band the gleaming spires of Camelot are the ramparts of hill forts and the crumbling remains of a Britain slowly descending into the Dark Ages after the exodus of the Roman legions. I am not positioning against the other versions, indeed, a number of the more magical / mythical elements have been retained from a story telling position (it's entertainment after all!) just that I have gone with the latest factual information available and embroidered it a little. You will find most of your favourite characters remain in the tale, though perhaps not in the traditional way irrelevant lists of many knights and various players in sub plots have been omitted to tell Arthur s story. Had I included everyone, we'd have needed a very large boxed set and a lot more time!

When planning such a big project - where do you start?
With a blank notepad and a large bottle of whiskey!
I sat with a friend of mine Lee Brimilow, who is somewhat of an authority on Arthuriana,
and patched together what we felt were the truths behind the legend.
The historical timeframes etc… Characters and where they were pivotal to the plot.
Then it was the songs and for me the music comes first always.

And that's how it develops?
Melody on chord… After that each lyric had to tell a small part of the story.
Several bottles of whiskey and three years later you have yourself a rock opera.
I read specific books any and all specific books/films/places/music that have stood out amongst the Arthurian texts available. These helped to inspire my perception of the myth.
Books: Morte D Arthur, TH White - "Once & Future King"; Alastair Moffat "Arthur & The Lost Kingdoms"; Bernard Cornwell Warlord Trilogy; Stephen Lawhead Pendragon Cycle; Marion Zimmer Bradley "Mists Of Avalon"; Paul White "King Arthur, Man Or Myth?"; Adrian Gilbert "The Holy Kingdom" an as yet unfinished work by my friend Lee Brimilow and many more.
Films: "Excalibur", "Mists Of Avalon", Arthur Of The Britains documentary.
Places: too many to quote them all, but Tintagel, Pendragon Castle (Cumbria), Glastonbury Tor, various stone circles, Cadbury Hill fort, ancient Bath.




You have a lot of great vocalists on the two albums - some obvious choices, some not. How did you decide who you wanted to involve and did anyone help this process?
I tried wherever possible, to go for different sounding textural voices for the different characters. I tried to make it so that no two characters sounded alike, basically because with so much information circulating round, the last thing I wanted was for people to have to have the booklet in front of them to know when a different character was entering & so it was important that they were all different as well.
When you do something like that with ten different singers, the scheduling is a nightmare. Some people could come and sing, some couldn't; some could sing but they had to do it now, and they had to do it in their own country because they couldn't afford the time to fly over. So I was mailing tapes to some people, slotting some people in, I was doing some stuff here in Arena (my own studio), trying to be as omnipresent as possible, but when you re only one person, you can't be in two places at the same time.
As far as the choice of singers goes, I have a lot to thank Mark and Bruce for at Now And Then in that department.
I got them both over really early on to hear the roughs for the project and we chewed it over between us who would be good for each part. Occasionally when a singer didn't work out they were always helpful with new suggestions.
My friend Arjen Lucassen was also invaluable to me in that department. He introduced me to Irene, Lana and Damien.

Just how difficult is shaping lyrics around a pre-existing story?
It's actually much easier than when your creating the story from scratch.
You know what each character has to say and the point in the story where they have to say it.
I believe that the Arthurian tales have held their places in peoples hearts because they are, after all else, tales of the great achievements of ordinary men they are tales of a man and his vision of a fine place to live, of bravery, glory and defeat, of high achievement and betrayal, of love, honour, grief and loss.
All these things are contemporary, and the hero tales of Arthur show us that, though we may not live in his times, or have his goals, enemies and trials, we all undergo the same trials in our daily lives to a degree. These trials and emotions will be relevant until the end of time. From that point of view, what the lyrics had to say was pretty much mapped out.


I really love the way the album flows, but found that it was easy to listen to any given song on its own. Was this a conscious decision on your behalf?
I'm very pleased you picked up on that.
It was a very conscious effort to make each song `stand alone' in its own right.
From a radio or performance standpoint where you might only play selected tracks it is imperative that the songs make sense when extracted from the albums.

I think it's actually a very commercial slice of melodic hard rock - not the sometimes difficult to access kind of concept album. Again, was this a conscious decision and are you happy with the results?
Yes it was a very conscious decision.
I had to try to make it as universally acceptable as possible.
In effect, you alienate a large percentage of the listening public if you make it inaccessible to them whether it be because you make it too extreme or just simply build too much of a pre conception about what they think it might be like, even before they've listened to a note of it.

Do you have a favourite track or vocal performance by one of the guests?
I would have to say that one of the most outstanding things about the whole album is the performance of newcomer Irene Jansen. Her performance on the song "Shapeshifter" from the first CD is nothing short of breathtaking. However, all the vocalists performed fantastically and did incredible justice to the songs.

I have to say that I think your duet with Lana Lane is great and I think the Danny Vaughn sung Avalon is a melodic masterpiece!
Thank you very much. I am particularly proud of our duet. It is a beautiful melody and Lana has an incredible warmth to her voice.
Danny sang the backside off Avalon and is the nicest guy you could wish to meet.
His performance takes me back to his Tyketto days. Pure commercial rock.
He has one of the strongest voices in the business and harmonizes really well over himself on the song.
I am very pleased with the way the songs worked out.

Do you have a list of favourite rock opera's/concept albums that you used as a measuring stick to how you would like to do this?
Not really. My only pre-conception was that I wanted the singers to be tonally and texturally different.
I wanted it to be obvious that we were listening to another character even without the booklet or sleeve notes in front of us.
I really liked `Operation Mindcrime', `The Wall', `War of The Worlds' but I think in latter years some concept type rock operas have been guilty of including too many similar sounding voices to my taste.
It can all become a blur. Almost like fifty minutes of the same song.
It's just my humble opinion but I think that some potentially good ideas have been spoilt through this.

You obvious decided it would be better to release the albums as individual releases, in two parts - what prompted that decision?
I felt that a high priced double album would be too expensive for the fans in one installment. Some fans struggle to raise the money for one album at a time, let alone two or a double.
I felt it was fairer to spread the releases out a little to give people breathing space. Also it is a complex subject matter to digest. Two single albums also allows them to fully understand Part One before being presented with Part Two.

I must also add that the artwork and overall packaging is wonderful. Tell us about how that came to be...
I have known [artist] Chris Achilleos for about five years now, since Ten approached him for a potential cover for Spellbound. We have, over the years, become great friends and he is a great historian himself who loves this subject matter. I was amazed when he offered to do the artworks. He had a bad experience after his Lovehunter cover and for years he has had a policy of not working with bands anymore.
He did it as a friend. The man after all is an illustrative God. He has surpassed even my greatest expectations with these two covers.
He is a true gentleman and surely one of the world's greatest exponents of fantasy artwork. All Chris's originals are large scale.
It is amazing to know that although we are looking at small CD sleeves, the original artworks are close to eight feet wide and five feet tall! The detail and colour are truly something to behold.

Sean Harris is also sounding fabulous. As with the debut (and now classic) Hugo album, why are you able to bring out such vocal performances in people? Are you a fussy bugger in the studio?
Extremely fussy.
But it has to be said that in Sean's case, he really did his own thing.
He came in to the studio and sang all day until it was done.
He lived with some rough mixes with my guide vocals on there for a few weeks.
I can only guess, but I would say by the way he sang in the studio, he probably put more preparation into his performances than anyone else.
He is a true professional and a thoroughly nice guy.

I have heard whispers of a desire to play the rock opera live - do you think that could be a possibility and how would that work? Any great desires for the story to be performed?
I think that Once And Future King is made for the stage, however, the practicalities of putting on a full blown show is another matter entirely.
I'd like to think it might be possible, but the only thing that could prevent it being put on would be the cost & another question mark is whether we'd get the original cast all together schedule wise at the same time.
If somebody was prepared to film it and make a DVD, then there's a good chance that the actual money would be accrued, but it would have to be thought out very carefully I think.
I'm certainly not ruling it out though, I would quite like to see it performed on stage, but in the current climate it's quite hard to even contemplate something like that when it would be so costly to put on.

There always seems to be something going on with Gary Hughes, so what's currently underway? A new Ten album?
Yes indeed. Next up is the new Ten studio album. We are in the middle of recording pre-production for it as we speak. We built up a great camaraderie in the band touring last year and everyone is looking forward to making this new album. If the material is anything to go by I recon that the next Ten album could be the strongest to date.
It will also be the first Ten album to feature Chris (Francis).
He is a mind-blowing player as is evident on the Once and Future King albums and the musical potential for the band is now limitless.
He has integrated exceptionally well into his role, creating his own space and in turn giving John Halliwell more freedom and a more integral role in the bands sound, live and in the studio.
After that it will be editing our live DVD/CD. Containing footage from the Gods appearance last year and our open air Summer rocks performance in Budapest.
There will hopefully be bonus footage from our shows with Asia and our last tour of Japan. Lots of backstage and interview footage edited in as well.
After that it will be a Japanese and European tour in support of the new studio album.

Might there be another rock ballad style Gary Hughes solo album sometime?
I hope so.
I would like to take the time to do another one and I am accumulating material of that type all the time.
I was looking round recently, thinking of possibly getting involved with another project in the same way I did with the Bob Catley solo albums, but maybe I'll just put more time into another Precious Ones type of album. I'm not entirely sure yet. One thing is for sure, whatever I decide to do I'll give it my 100%.

What CDs are currently on your playlist?
Evanescence, Metalica, Busted & Invertigo!

Anything you would like to add Gary?
I have enjoyed making these two albums. I sincerely hope that everyone enjoys them and enjoys them for what they are.
We are living in the PS2 computer age. To my mind if someone is going to buy a CD rather than the new Tomb Raider game, the CD has to be more thought provoking and inspiring than just twelve songs on a silver disc. Something, somewhere has to stir the embers of the imagination.
In any event I hope that I have gone some way to achieving this.
I can promise that a new Ten studio album will be completed this year for release early next year, and a live DVD/CD, complete with a more extensive promotional tour in Europe should see the light of day at some point in the foreseeable future. New albums. More cities. More shows. See you there.

And will there be a future concept album from the pen of Gary Hughes?
I should think there will have to be at some point.
I enjoyed this one immensely and although there were times when I could have gladly burned the master tapes, I am very proud of the finished product.

Thanks for taking the time to chat Gary!
Totally my pleasure as always Andrew. Take care…







Brian McDonald (2003)

Brian McDonald: Completing an epic Voyage.


Brian Mc talks about his new solo album Voyage and the efforts that go into creating such an epic pomp rock release. Also check out Brain's excellent Track By Track interview.

Wind It Up was the last album - were you happy with the way that turned out and how about the sales?
Looking back now three years later at that release, I accomplished what I set out to do. The main point at that time was to release some of the rock tunes I'd written on the side while focusing on classical music in the '90's and also to write a few new tunes as well. There are a couple of strong songs on Wind It Up, but they are nowhere near the quality of the writing on Voyage. On the question of sales in 2000, we didn't sell as many as we wanted to, but I think we did alright.

Voyage sees a change of direction there - a more adventurous sound for sure. What were your set goals before setting out on the writing process and then the recording process?
A couple of conscious decisions were made before I started writing the songs for this one. The first was to head back in time to listen again to some earlier influences and take note of the writers, producers, and artists that created so much great music in the 1960's and '70's. So, while these things may or may not seem evident upon first listen, the parallels exist in the music. For example, the first song written for this release was “Out Of Time” - along with the lyrics that look at the subject of someone who wakes up after being out of it for many years, musically the song has 60's melodic themes running through it and a Wurlitzer piano sound that was typical on 70's rock albums. “Where You Are, Where I Am” is another example of this leaning toward reflection, bringing in melodic concepts from Motown writers, The Beatles, Beach Boys, and others. The second conscious decision I made before writing was based on a similar stream of thought that had to do with the subject of time as an integral part of all the song subjects on the album; a theme that runs through almost every song. As I kept this thread going, the songwriting process began to lean toward storytelling, which I think brought in a new perspective and new set of choices to make in the music.
As for some of the other processes, I set out from the start to adapt the music to the vocals at all costs. Because several of the songs tell stories, some of which are very detailed, the form and structure of the music became somewhat more complex to provide the right setting for the lyric content. The production and recording processes, particularly in the instrumentation choices and ways they were recorded had to mirror this form and structure. For example, the track “Legend” has two distinct bridge sections and an extended outro; and “Normandy” has an introductory section over a minute long before it kicks into the main body of the song. In the treatment of these, it became important not just during the writing of the music and parts but also in the recording process as well, to make sure the music set up the lyrics in a way that would draw the listener into and through the song. So, these are some of the things I was thinking about before moving into the recording stage for many of the tracks.

What did you hope to achieve for yourself with this album?
It always centers around making the best of each of the songs. I don't think I've ever had a target or measure for success more important than satisfaction with the results of the tracks themselves and that they each achieve the meaning and purpose of the original ideas. Also, along the way, like every songwriter I've ever worked with or met, I hope that listeners get something back from the music as well – that makes the experience of creating and getting the music out there more rewarding.

I certainly think it's a monster of a record - I compared the sound to Kansas, Styx, Chicago and even ELO and Def Leppard. Do these bands inspire you and are there any others that inspire?
These bands and others have made an impact on me, there's no doubt. When you're fortunate enough to come across music that really moves you, it becomes part of your language whether you admit to it or not. For the Beatles, it was 1950's rock and roll; you know, you can hear that throughout almost all of their writing. In the classical world, in Beethoven's first two symphonies, there were the melodies and structures of Hadyn coursing through the music, no mistake; for Stravinsky it was Rimsky Korsakov, and so on . . . and this is the same in any genre. So, this leads to the thought that for every writer, the influences that shape or affect their musical language become embedded in almost all of their choices and approaches to making music. For me, Led Zeppelin was a mover to me as Jimmy Page would bring exotic orchestral-like parts into their music with his guitar work and the band did this in a more obvious way with their instrumentation choices in songs like "Kashmir." And the progressive rock of Yes and the bands that followed them resonated in a big way with my Classical background. While ELO wasn't a big influence for me, there were songs and orchestral treatments that were very cool and struck me as unique for their time. And the work of Mutt Lange and his work with Def Leppard in the 1980's and also David Foster's work with the band Chicago represented different and unique types of producing, arranging, and writing that to me had roots in both classical and rock genres. Other major influences I would add are some of the Motown artists and writers from the 1960's, the Beatles, Beach Boys, the list goes on and on . . .

You are more or less a one man band! How do you organize yourself to record the album's individual parts and what comes first?
In contrast to the previous albums, making Voyage seemed to require more work along the lines of process – it was more than just coming up with song ideas and then making a decision to record them. On the other albums, for example, I would lay down many rough ideas to tape or disc, then use these ideas as the basis for new songs or construct songs directly from these ideas. But for Voyage, the process was more like writing an orchestral piece. I carried the ideas around and edited sounds and forms in my head for the most part. This incubation period lasted days, sometimes a week or longer, whatever it took to make the song whole and get to the place it needed to be for to give off the "feel” that it was ready.
Some of the songs you hear on Voyage took weeks to get to this place, and only a few came very quickly, like the tracks “Where You Are, Where I Am”, “Out Of Time”, and the title track, “Voyage” which seems to have written itself in less than half an hour. After a song would get to this stage, and I started to think about the best way to go about recording it, here would be the next set of decision points. In some cases I started with a scratch guitar or piano and guide vocal. For the more demanding uptempo tracks, I played the drums to create a guide track or used a click track, usually with modified tempi throughout the song, paying particular attention to transition sections and breaks/bridges until things felt as they did when playing the song through with just a piano or guitar. On the songs where a guitar or piano track were used as a guide and I either played drums or programmed them using samples I recorded previously, I could move quickly to the next steps which were relatively simple because the instrumentation had already been worked out in my head. Bass and keyboards would come next, then rhythm guitars, then backing vocals. When the track was feeling good and about 80% there, I'd record the lead vocals. If the track wasn't there as it should have been, I'd put it aside and move to working on another song.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the vocal performances for each song and it was a quick process to get either the vocal performance I wanted or make a decision to file the song away and come at it another day with a new approach. With the lead vocal track down, more often than not additional instrumentation and solos would be added, depending on the nature of the song. And all of this would be much more difficult without the luxury of having the means to record and not being worried about studio rates and session fees; and the technology gives you a hand here as well - the advent of non-linear editing and mix automation provides the freedom to change things even right up through the late stages of mixing as well as allowing control over the fine points of a mix and arrangement in ways that provide great flexibility in the later recording stages.

You do take your time recording albums - how long did the various parts of this record take to complete?
I recorded over twenty songs this time out, and narrowed those to thirteen for the European release, and fifteen tracks for the release in Japan. I also wrote many other songs and some instrumental pieces during this time period. In addition, there are other things I've done to make a living so far; making music doesn't seem to pay all the bills, no matter how much work I put into it! If I were just to concentrate on making rock albums alone, I might be able to release one every seven or eight months, but as things stand, I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to write and release the albums I've done so far, and I'll continue to write and record as much as I can, as time allows.
To answer the question directly, I'd give a rough estimate of a few days on average to cut the basic tracks for each song, one day per song to cut the lead vocals, a day for each background vocal session. Each additional instrument could take anywhere from a few hours to a day depending on the complexity. And additive instrumentation or additional harmonies might take a day. In between the actual creation of the songs and the recording sessions themselves, I was involved in other projects as well, so I was in and out of working on about twenty or so songs constantly. So, considering the number of tracks recording in a single song on Voyage and the time put into making the song right before getting down to the recording process, you could definitely say I take my time going at it!

You have a few different moods on the album. Was that intentional?
Not intentional, but I like that aspect of this release. After finishing “Wind It Up” in 2000, I had this feeling that had been catching up to me during the recording of that album; a feeling that I was locking myself into constraints that held back the development of lyrics and freer flowing musical ideas. So, letting go of all of that and just writing led to the different moods and experiments with forms and melodies.

I see high-tech pop/rock then a more adventurous progressive element in the last few tracks?
The music is definitely touching that space in some of the songs and the next release will be more along those lines throughout I'm thinking. I was very satisfied with the sound of the instrumental break sections and outros of songs like “Shadows Of Angels” and “Legend” and the instrumentation choices in those and some of the others. That's the ground I'll start to build upon for the follow-up to Voyage – you know, to bring these elements out more than just in the breaks and instrumental sections and incorporate a few more surprises.

How about the addition of strings, brass and bagpipes! How do those instruments get into the plan of the album and are there any logistical problems getting those recorded?
Those instrumentation ideas came along with the first concepts of the songs for almost every track on Voyage. So there was no getting around the fact that I had to go out and get the players to do it. Recording strings is always a challenge, but easier when you have great players willing to experiment with you, on this the Mozart Force ensemble was great. Brass was easier as you can be very flexible; for example, recording many passes of a couple of instruments at a time to get the sound and feel you need for each part, then mixing these later. Recording of the bagpipes for the song "Unfinished Bridges" started with giving Liam McKenzie the parts, then recording them in several passes. As you probably realize, this instrument is a challenge to play, and this degree of difficulty can be compounded when you have someone like me who knows so little about the instrument demanding that certain lines and phrases be played a certain way. So to compensate for my lack of knowledge of the instrument, I rewrote many of the original melodic lines of the bagpipe solo so they could be played, and where I wouldn't compromise, I grabbed a bit of phrase here and there and edited it into the track where I wanted it to go.

Is everything recorded at your home studio?
Everything was done at my place, with the exception of Reb Beach's guitars and a few of the more exotic instruments (harpsichord and bagpipes, for example) Reb has his own studio and his tracks were recorded there.

How much do you think the album would have cost in a hired pro-studio?!
I can't imagine what it would cost, but I know that there no way a record company would pay for that many hours in a major studio! At that point, you might as well build your own place anyway. How's that for a circular argument?

I love the two big ballads - Night You Said Goodbye and between Heaven And Heart. Have you always been a fan of big ballads and where do you draw musical inspiration for these two tracks?
Thanks for that. Influences for writing ballads come from so many places. If I lined them up, I'd say inspiration comes from songs like Paul McCartney's “Yesterday”, which is probably the perfect ballad, to those classic pop ballads of Chicago in the 1970's and '80's. After I wrote “Heaven and Heart”, I thought it might be somewhat of a departure from the usual form, but as for “The Night You Said Goodbye” I had written that tune in the '90's and would consider it typical rock ballad form and changes. It was Magnus Söderkvist (A&R, Atenzia Records) who suggested I re-record that one for this release. It seems to get along with the other songs on the album.

I still think those tracks could be eaten alive at radio - have you thought of trying to get the songs placed in soundtracks? Or is the process of placement and radio play just too complicated/hard these days?
Several years ago, artists would depend on the record label or managers to plug in to these types of opportunities. These days, it takes more to get you there. Without a strong push for radio play in the U.S., it comes down to who you know and the luck of timing. There are a couple of tracks on Voyage that I'm sending out to producers in the chance that one might be the right fit for a particular movie or film project, but as always, being there in the right place at the right time rules the ability to make it happen. As far as Europe and Japan, I'm completely depending on Atenzia and King Records to make it happen as best they can. If the songs are able to make it on to radio playlists, I think there's a good chance for success with this one.

Do you have plans to market the record in the USA?
The last two records have been targeted for the most part at Europe and Japan, and marketing in the U.S. has been secondary. It would be great to get that chance, but as you know, strong sales and radio play in a non-U.S. geography doesn't necessarily mean you'll get the knock on the door to release on a major in the States. The market here is a strange beast right now, and I think a lot of folks are trying to understand the logic behind what's going on. I think for the most part it's become almost completely a reactive industry in the U.S. and as has moved about as far away from developing artists as it can go at this point. But despite the music business side of things, to my ears anyway, along with all of the things I don't like, some great music is being released here. And it would be something to hear Voyage get radio attention in the States, because I think these songs would stand out as something completely different from the current field playing today on rock radio. Until then, for people in the U.S., Voyage will only be available online or as an import in the major music retail shops.

We did a great Track By Track for the album, but aside from those comments, do you have personal favourite tracks from the album?
My favorite songs are “Where You Are, Where I Am” and “In The Shadows Of Angels”. Lyrically these two have some personal meaning, and also, no matter how you sing them or which instruments they are played on, they feel like songs that are easy to understand and relate to as a listener. Also, the ballad “It's Only You I Need”, which is only on the Japan release of Voyage, is one of my favorites as well.

Did you get a buzz to see the debut B.McD LP re-issues on CD last year?
Yeah, that was something. It seems a lot more people than I had originally thought were really into that album when it came out. I got this huge dose of email for many months after the re-release of that album on CD which really surprised me. I know we saw some sales in the U.S. for the original release, but I had no idea of the number of people in Europe that were into it and that still had the LP or tape in their collection years later!

Where do you go from here then Brian? What's first up on your to do list and what else lies in the future?
I'll get back to some instrumental pieces that I've been wanting to get to for awhile, and next month I'll start the new course into writing for the next album. As you mentioned earlier, it takes me a long time to do one of these so I might as well get started. And if the opportunities arise, it will be great to get the band together and play the music from Voyage live.

Would you like the opportunity to play live more, or do you prefer studio work?
I like both recording and playing out; any time you get a chance to play your music for people who want to listen – that means a lot. Whether it's to a single listener, a small group of people, or a concert hall, it's the same feeling. The studio work is also another extension of writing – it's something you do to reach as many people as you can with music, so I'll always be in there recording something. In the balance of things, I'm looking forward to more opportunities to get out there and play having just spent so much time recently in the studio.

What else musically do you get up to between making these great albums?
I write instrumental pieces, play a lot of piano, do some session work, vocals and keyboards primarily, and work on other projects to pay the bills. And this summer, I'm thinking of learning to play the violin. I've always wanted to do that.

And what do you do to relax?
I write and listen to music, believe it or not. Another thing is to spend summer days anywhere near the water, sailing or windsurfing.

What is Brian McDonald listening to in his CD player currently?
I've got a rotation going this week in the multichanger: The Beatles “Abbey Road”, Matchbox 20 “More Than You Think You Are”, Joni Mitchell's “Court And Spark”, and Gabriel Faure's Fantasie for Piano and Orchestra in G major – the Faure CD has been in there now for several months, I can't seem to put it back on the shelf.

Anything else you would like to add Brian?
Just a bit about – As a listener, I really appreciate your efforts in providing a view into music that would otherwise not be made available or brought forward in the press. It's been a great resource to many people, so thanks.

Too kind Brian, I'm just doing what I love. Thanks for taking the time out to do this interview!!



Glenn Hughes (2003)

Glenn Hughes: The voice of rock is finally comfortable with his with his role in the rock music world and is delivering some of the best work of his career.
Hi Glenn, now's okay to talk for a few minutes?
Oh, yeah. I just got home in time.

Fantastic mate, thank you for that. How is HTP II coming then?
Well, I'm really excited by it because I wanted to make another record that was similar to the first one. It's probably more melodic than the first one and I wanted to keep it in the box of what the first one was, but this one has probably more music in it.

When I say more music, it's got more harmonic thread. Obviously you'll have to hear it, you'll hear it soon. It's a good follow up, Andrew. It's a strong follow-up.

I love the first one.
Yeah, the first one is the blueprint and I didn't want to go too far out of the box on this one, so it's got moments from the first one and it's got the big musical harmonies and its got the classic sound. We're really, really happy with it.

You've got your own solo album, which I've been listening to - I can't tell you how much I love it. It's just fantastic.
Andrew, I've got to tell ya… we know each other pretty well and the thing is for me over the last 10 years of making solo albums again, I'm trying to find... You know the curse, should I do this, can I do all these things, and I finally realized, like a told you a couple of years ago, I come from Deep Purple, and I finally realized that I've been around the world a couple of times since we spoke and everywhere I go, every single… whether it's the Far East or South America or Europe, I've got this big name from Deep Purple and the long hair and the California Jam and I finally realized, I'm not going to fight it anymore, I finally realized… If I'm going to have Glenn Hughes on an album, the name Glenn Hughes, it's going to have to be a rock formula that people will identify.

I've been listening to a lot of my older work from the '70s and I've been going, okay, if I'm going to make music in this era, I've got to make music, let's just say, I left Deep Purple and I'm going to make music I should've made when I left. It's actually carrying on from there.
In a way, but you see, the trouble is with me Andrew, I've go so many musical things going on in my head…

That's it's like I don't want to do inappropriate things in music that might confuse people, because the average listener is probably not going to hear where I'm going because I've probably advanced a lot as a songwriter. What I've been doing with HTP, and especially with Songs in the Key of Rock, is really making focused records, you know, for the listener who enjoys classic and melodic rock.

Well, you are an enormously talented singer as far as variation.
Thank you, bro.

I've always appreciated the fact that you can and do change style and are always quick to follow-up with something different again.
I've got to tell you something, I have been lately, the last 2 years, the most prolific as far as creativity goes with writing, I have a tap running in my musical vein that will not stop.

What do you attribute that to?
Opening myself to music in a way that I stopped… I've always been a fan of music, and all kinds of music, but I realized that I wanted to tap into something that was more melodic… I really wanted to go back into more harmony. It's all about the singing voice and what can I do with the voice and what can I produce with the voice. I've been trying since HTP, the first one, and with Songs in the Key of Rock to make a statement with the voice that I don't think many singers are doing anymore. I'm not saying good or bad, I'm just trying to use my voice in a way, and I've been trying to write songs in a way, that will enhance my voice rather than making the average rock track. I think I've been really pursuing songwriting more than ever. I've actually realized that that's what I do for a living and I really enjoy that process.

Now I don't have the credits for Songs in the Key, but you've obviously written all the tracks, but…
I wrote about like 80% of all of it. And that probably goes with HTP and HTP II. I'd say 70-80% and that's attributed to Joe, that he really entrusted me with the content. Like I say, all of a sudden I've started to write more. Because, I think, every artist goes through a period in their life of low self esteem, 'Am I good, am I this, am I that' and I finally broke through a barrier a couple of years ago and said, “I'm going to go for it, I'm going to write more songs.” I've always thought that I was a good singer, but I was always on the shelf, “Can I write songs, can I write great songs,” and I finally realized, you know something Glenn, you're a good songwriter, you should write more songs.

You're a damn good songwriter, and I must say…
I'm just saying… I can't really say, you can tell me that… I think what we're doing from Songs in the Key of Rock to HTP is not afraid of going into some harmonic things that we're doing that other people aren't doing in rock anymore. Remember in the late '70s we had the Queen thing going on, with all the big voices, and then Yes before that, and then of course, The Beatles before that. What I'm trying to do now is use the voices of me and Joe, or just me alone, that will bring listeners in and say, “This is good melody. We can actually listen to this.”

Fantastic. I've just been writing a review for the album actually and that is something that I've commented on, that your voice is… I mean, you've got hooks as far as songwriting, but your voice is an additional hook on every verse and every chorus, because you flow the melody through your voice.
I told Jeff Kollman, my co-producer, before we started on Songs in the Key of Rock, I said, “This album” … we've already written the songs and we're in pre-production, I said, “Listen, I'm really geared up to sing on this record,” and I said, “I really know what I want to do, so just let me go with it.” And just like I always do, it took a couple of days to sing it, that's all, it was really done quickly, he said, “How do you do that?” and I said, “I pretty much, I just let it go, it's all pretty much first take.”

Most artists that I know, Paul Rodgers and people, these guys are all pretty much straight in there and doing it. And Joe's the same way. Andrew, I've got to tell you. These are good, exciting times.

Excellent. I'm really pleased to hear that because quite often I get, more so these days, I get artists that are not as excited.
I'm excited by… here's the deal with me, I'm excited about what the future holds for me as a songwriter. As you know, we live in a society where in classic rock and melodic rock it's all old artists or what have you, or even some of the younger artists, we're not like the Flavor of the Month, but what I'm trying to do in this genre, I want to stay true to it, I want to bring some, HOPEFULLY, bring some quality into what we're doing. It's not just your 4 or 5 piece band with a lead singer out there. It's basically trying to get the right arrangements, the right instrumentation, and it's all vintage by the way, vintage sounds, not so much digital, it's also sort of analog instruments from the past, and trying to go for something… it's almost like, gosh, I hate to say this, but I think I might've said this to you last year, I think, with HTP especially, I think we're making the record that Deep Purple aren't making.

Yeah, well Deep Purple are under a bit of pressure to come up with a record aren't they?

Songs in the Key of Rock sounds like it could've been recorded in 1978 or something.
Yeah, you know, Andrew, I'm glad… well, I've said that to people and I was very clear on what I wanted as far as tones, vintage tones, with the drums and the guitar.

Yeah, with the Hammond organ going…
There's some vocals… there's probably a little more vocals on the record than the one before and I wanted to add another voice, Alex Ligertwood is an incredible singer.

Yeah, I noticed it had some good harmony to it.
He's great; he was with Santana for a long time. He's one of my best friends. I was very excited about the song content of Songs in the Key of Rock. I think there seems to be a bit of an upward thing going right now. You never know what's going around the corner in this industry, you just never know. All I can say to you as a friend, I feel like I'm going through a creative surge right now, and I'm actually flowing with it.

No connection to Deep Purple, but there's a saying about falling into good form – a Purple Patch - I think you're right in the middle of your own Purple Patch, which is obviously a very relevant saying when referring to yourself!
Andrew, I've been sober for quite some time now and I've been working sort of crazy for the last 10 years, but for the last 6 months since Songs in the Key of Rock, I haven't stopped. I haven't stopped writing/producing for other people. It just seems to be for me right now my period where I'm going through this vacuum of moving really fast. I'm pretty focused and I'm prepared for the next step, whatever it is. I think we've all got a twist of fate in our lives where God deals you certain cards, whatever they are. All I know, is I've gone through some periods in my life where there were some dark times, you know that, and now I'm coming through this period where I've been doing a lot of good for myself in the last 10 or 11 years and I think I'm going through a period where I'm living through a few promises where I feel in a spiritual place, in a pretty good place actually.

So, I think that's probably what's coming through the music.

Yeah, it's a very positive album. It's a feel-good album, I think.
I think it's a great start to probably a turning point in my writing and producing of records.

Wow, okay.
Like I said to you before, if I'm going to have the name Glenn Hughes on the front cover of a record, it's got to be from this point Songs in the Key of Rock and even Building the Machine, it's got to be classic rock, melodic rock, it's got to be defined for the listener that they know what they're going to get.

Great stuff.
Don't get me wrong because I love the funky Glenn, I love the R&B Glenn. It cannot be confusing to the listener anymore. It's got to be… and this is kind of in a business way as well, I have to be very careful.

Yeah, someone actually posted on my message board today about 2 hours ago and said they were looking forward to the album, they always love buying a Glenn Hughes album because they never quite know what they're going to get.
You never know. And that's partly because I didn't quite understand why I wasn't allowed to participate in the writing of all these genres, but people have rammed it down my throat around the globe, you're Glenn Hughes from Deep Purple we love you for that, we idolize you for that, and I'm going, “You know something, it's very artistic of me to try and rebel against that, but I can't do that right now.” I'm in a point in my life where people really look up to me to deliver that classic rock element.
So I decided they want me to rock, they want me to look rock. When I was going through that period where I had short hair, I was wearing the loafers and stuff, they were going “You can't do that,” and I said, “Yes, I can,” but now I understand. It's almost like you've got to suit up and look and be that. You know what I'm saying?

Even the gear you've got on the front cover… good to see the hair back…
It's long, man. It's getting really long.

You look like it could've come off the back of Stormbringer or something.
Isn't it wild?!

It's great!
And you know, like I say, I'm in a good place spiritually, we're half way through HTP II, which is just going to be a monumental piece of work.

I can't wait to hear it.
We're half way through the vocals, and we'll be done on Saturday.

Really? Wow.
Yeah, that's going to come out the end of September, you probably know that.
Andrew, while I've got you on the blower…

You're reviewing the one with “Secret Life” on aren't you?

No. I'll do the European review so…
Well “Secret Life” is on the digipack, it's the extra bonus track. It's got the song “Change”, like I wrote to you, “Change”. That's the Japanese bonus track.

So “Secret Life” will be on the European…
Have you heard that one yet?

Yes, I'm a big fan of that.
I love it. It's kind of funky and it's definitely got that blues… you know, I wrote “Lost in the Zone” for Paul to sing with me.
We were going to do a duet on this particular record but he went off to Mexico and split for a while.

As big a fan as I am of Paul Rodgers, I'm really glad it's only you on that song because I think that's my favorite track off the album.
Personally, I'm in love with that track.

I think it defines you as a singer. If I wanted to play someone a Glenn Hughes track, I think I'd be getting out “Lost in the Zone”.
You know something Andrew, for me, and coming from you, because I respect you…

Thank you Sir!
This means a lot to me because this personally is one of my favorites.

Great. Pleased to hear that. I can just tell… I like “Gasoline”, I like “In My Blood”, I like “Standing On The Rock”; it's just completely over the top.
You know, it could be that as the artist, I'm so close to these records I'm making, but when I was making Songs in the Key of Rock and working on the cover and the title, somebody said to me last week, “It's a great album title for this record”.

It is.
I could've told you a year ago what the album title was going to be because I always know the album title a good year before I make a record.
So I said, I want to make this record a statement and I better be on the money at least.

Yes. You nailed it, I think.
Let's look back; let's take, for instance, Ronnie Dio, another good friend of mine. When you look at Dio, like he's never really gone off course has he?

He's always been never the Flavor of the Month, but he's always been that hardcore, down the middle, sort of metal thing, and for Glenn Hughes, I've always loved making the different styles of music in the early '90s.

Well I love Feel as an album…
I do too, but I said to you earlier in the interview, I now realize, years later, that I've got now a focus and I really do, of where I am now and where I was last year, and I'm going to continue in this style because if I stay in one format and don't try and go out of the box, and it really is important now, I think there's going to be more success, or whatever you want to call it, I think I'll probably get more people coming to see me.

Yeah, I think so, yeah.
And on the other side of it, the artist, rebellious, crazy guy always wants to stretch out and go a little out of the box, and I can do that in other things like I can have a side project or I can guest with somebody.

But if I'm going to have Glenn Hughes or the Hughes Turner Project, it's got to be in a window where you and all the people that love me from the old period will dig it, you know?
And it's not saying that you don't dig Free, or you don't dig this or… it's all kind of cool.

Yeah. And From Now On… is still my favorite record. I think I tell you that every time I talk to you <laughs>!
For a while, I wasn't agreeing with you, but I started going back and listening to it 2 years ago, and my God, it's a good piece of work.

It's a great album. I still love it. I still play it regularly. I think Songs From the Key of Rock might slip in just behind that.
Well, for me I'm excited, I think every artist is excited with a new album; they're not going to tell you it sucks. I think you and like people that are in Burrn! magazine are going to give it a big, big review and all those at Frontiers are really freakin' out. I think a lot of people are expecting good things from this, Andrew.

Yes. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the press on it and stuff.
Oh, me too.
Man, I've got to tell you, I was speaking to Neal Schon about you last year.
You've been important for me… hey, man, there's a lot of people on the site, so when you're telling me that you dig my record, it's beautiful, and you'd tell me if you didn't dig it.

Thanks Glenn….very cool!
I think Andrew in this piece of work you can hear that I've gone to an extra length to get a focus and to get a songwriting and to produce it in a way… I went a little bit longer than I normally make a record. I was in the songwriting process a little longer and you can tell that I took more time on this.
And I think it's important for me now to… it's not really about a budget any more, although it is, I think it's important to get it better every time.
So the good news is, the songwriting hasn't stopped.

There are some moments on HTP II that are just going to blow your mind.

I can't wait to hear it.
There are moments like “On The Ledge” last time, there are moments on the record this time that are just going to blow your mind.
You know what we've got to do bro? Once again, we tried this 5 years ago. I've got to get over there man.

That's something I wanted to talk about. I've got a couple of people that might actually be a bit more advanced than just all hot air and talk about doing some shows.
Andrew, what most artists do nowadays, you've probably heard about some people, most artists, like a singer like myself or some other person, would probably go to Australia and play with a great band that was already there. And they would rehearse my songs appropriately.
I understand how the cost of getting 10 guys over from the U.S. is just astronomical, especially with no record company support. I think for me to get an underground swell going in your country, would mean me coming over 2 or 3 times.
And in that format of getting shit up and over there, and just working it in a way that we can work it.

Let me work on that because I'm determined to make an effort.
In Trapeze, when I was very young, the only way I got to join Deep Purple and the only way we were playing 5000 seaters, was word-of-mouth. And even to this day, people keep coming back because they've heard it from a friend.
Because we don't get the best press. We don't get a lot of promotion, so when I play it's always a friend brings a friend from before. It's always been like that. Once again, I'm very happy where I'm at.

You should be. You should be. How's Shape 68 coming along?
You know, Shape 68 is on hold. We haven't heard anything about that, there's no music going out to people. What it is Andrew, I'm trying to… what am I trying to say? Shape 68 is a project where I can be really loose and free with, where it's not really featuring me, although it is vocally. I'm not using my name out front and I've written some songs that aren't, let's just say, classic rock. I'd say they're more modern American rock.
Big on vocal, big on melody. Not big on heavy guitars, no solos. It's all pretty much the format of more popular music, without me saying it's pop; it's not. When I say radio, I don't want to freak you out, I'm not trying to get on the radio by making 3-minute songs. I'm just trying to make some kind of music that isn't something that I need to do. It's something that I put out for more artistically. It's on hold right now because I decided that the first 5 or 6 songs that I wrote probably wouldn't get a deal because they're too… if you know anything about American radio right now, it's so not right.
You've either got the Sum 41, these college bands that all sound like Green Day and then you've got the… it's like there's no room for the music I'm making.

It's much the same down here. There doesn't appear to be room for much. There's no variety on the radio is there?
No, because the music… it's more male Sheryl Crow-ish than… it's not Glenn doing Stevie Wonder, it's more American songwriter stuff. If you can strip it down to acoustic guitar and voice, it's not really anything other than just the songs. And my God, there's nothing on the radio like that.

No. It seems to be really hard for a male to cut a song anywhere on the radio.
It's very difficult.
I've written a song for Aretha Franklin in the last month, and over here we have this show American Idol, you probably have it in Australia.

We don't, but I know of it.
So it's probably coming, but I'm writing for one of the gals, one of the winners last year.

So I'm actually writing for like 20 year old kids and I'm writing for Aretha Franklin, so…

There's got to be some money in that.
It could be worse!

It could be worse couldn't it? I got some news yesterday and I'm glad I got it in time because I would've been mad if I couldn't have covered it with you. I'm a huge Mr. Big fan, and I'm completely flipped that you're singing 2 songs on that album.
Well, I've done “Alive and Kickin'”.

I just love that. It's one of my favorite Mr. Big songs.
And they made me do “Price You Gotta Pay” because they thought it would be good for me to do that. And I don't know if you know, but Paul has requested for me to sing a Mr. Big duet with him.
I got a call from his manager like 2 months ago to say that Paul only wants to do it with me and I said I'd love to sing it, but I haven't done it yet. I don't know if that's actually going to happen or not. It might, but they wanted… Paul has requested me to sing that song with him.

I heard he was doing that song, so I hope…
I thought he was going to sing the whole thing, but he wants to do a duet with me. I think it's very cool. I'd love to sing with him anyway, but we'll see. For sure those 2 tracks are done.

You've used the same band a few times in a row now; you've got a pretty tight outfit.
You know, I want to give JJ Marsh a mention. He's been with me since Addiction, so he's been with me for like 7 years and it's like the guy… look if I've used the guy for 7 years, then obviously I've got a thing going with him. He's really, really, really understands my writing and singing and we have a great connection together.

Does he play the majority of the guitar on this album? I know you've got Jeff on there as well.
We can talk about that. “Stoned” featuring Chad Smith, that's Jeff, “Standing on the Rock” is Jeff, and… there's one more bloody song… “Higher Places”, that's Jeff. All the rest is JJ.

Wow. Please give my very big compliments to JJ because he sounds like he's really on fire.
It could've been Free. It's like he really went back… I made him listen to Free. I made him listen to more of my influences because he's a huge Blackmore fan, as you know, and I made him go back and listen to more Free stuff and Traffic and stuff I liked. So we've got this guy that really understands the Blackmore, MKIII vibe and when we play live we do “Seventh Star” the Sabbath song and he nails that as well. He's really good at copying that shit.

Yeah. I love the riff on “Lost in the Zone”.
Oh, he's amazing.

It's just some really nice melodic playing isn't it?
What about that solo on “Written All Over Your Face”?

Isn't it great?

Yeah. The whole album is real quality and the playing…
When I think about that particular song; that's one helluva song.

It's a big song. What are we looking at, 8 minutes or something?
Yeah, 7 or 8 minutes. It's really hard for me to tell you this, but when I sang that song, the end of the song when I do that thing, I got so caught in the moment I was like almost bawling, I was like whoo. Sometimes when I'm singing I just totally lose control of my feelings, I get really lost in it and you can tell in that song, it was just a moment.

It comes through in that song, you can really….
Andrew, the best high in the world – is singing. I gotta tell ya.

I wish I could.
It's unbelievable, man.

That's great, Glenn. Anything else going on, if that's not enough?
I'm asked to do various projects from time to time and I'm having to pass on a few things because I'm just too busy and I'm trying to keep the reigns on my career. I'll do something sometime if it's appropriate. I've been told… it's really difficult for me because I love the… for the longest period I wasn't working much in the '80s, and all of the sudden I get all these calls to work and I'd like to play, you know. I like to play. It's like Neal Schon. We're the same. He's the same guy. We just love to play.

He's busy too isn't he?
I saw Paul about 9 months ago, and Neal got up and played with Paul and I'll tell you… Neal Schon, and you can tell him I told you this, he… it's like God walked Neal on stage and said play. I've heard every guitar player under the sun and I've known Neal for 20 years. He played one song with Paul, and he just freaked me out. When Neal Schon is on his game, there's nobody better.

What about you two guys doing an album then?
Well, I told him, “Hey, we should do something,” and he said, “You mean it”? And I said, “Yeah, just remind me about it,” and he said, “I will.”

I know he's trying to get something together with Sammy Hagar, which would be good.
Send him a copy of the record, because I can't do that, because I would just never do that, but send him a copy of the record.

Songs in the Key?
Yeah, I think he'd love it. You know, Steve Vai is playing on HTP tomorrow.

Oh, I was going to ask you if there were any guests on it.
He's playing… Chad played on a song I wrote called “Losing My Head”, which is another like Zeppelin meets The Beatles thing and Chad played drums and Steve plays guitar on the track. So I can have a promotional sticker saying “Featuring Chad Smith and Steve Vai on the track 'Losing My Head'”. The Japanese will love that.

Yeah, absolutely. Any other guests?
No. I'm going to keep it to those two.

The last time you had John Sykes on there, which was great.
I'm trying… the manager disagrees, but I'm trying to now make it more of a band than having all these guests.

I think the band idea is a good idea, actually.
Yeah, JJ's just totally blowing everybody away on this new record and I just asked Steve to come play one track for me.

It's a pleasure, Glenn. I've been a fan since the Blues album. I was actually a late comer, I wasn't around in the '70s, but I've gone backwards since and I've got every record you've done since and I think I've got every tribute album you've sung on.
You know what's important for me though? You really got on board with HTP. You really loved that record.

Yes I did.
And I think that Songs in the Key of Rock it probably gave me a lot of confidence with HTP to come out of the box a bit with a great record like Songs, and for you to get behind this record like you did with HTP is really good for us, you know?

Well, I don't say nice things about records that aren't good. I'm not just saying it. I really do think it's a great record and it's always a great pleasure to talk to you.
And you, Andrew.

So we'll hear another solo album early next year?
I'm going to do another one next year, sure.
You know me. I'm crazy!

Thanks for the chat and your time.
God bless you, mate. Say hey to your wife.

I will. I'll do that.
Okay, brother.

Thanks Glenn
Bye, Andrew

The Insider Interview

The Insider Interview: The Record Industry Exposed


Who is the insider?
He is a long time site regular who works in Los Angeles for in a high profile position for one of the big four major record labels.
When sent a whole range of questions regarding business practices of the major labels and how different aspects of the record industry work, he was only to happy to spend some time writing some in depth and thought provoking replies.
What is included below may sometimes be controversial to some, but none of it is fabricated. It's how things work.
Naturally the identity of the author cannot be revealed because of fear of reprisal from his employer. While they are one person's take on the scene, his views are an interesting read...

As a record label executive, how do you feel about the Internet?
Unlike most of my peers, I see an untapped potential rather than a threat. Unfortunately, most people at record labels see the internet as a threat to the current business model. In a way, maybe it is. Then again, maybe it's time to shake things up a little.

What most label people don't tell you is how they're the ones making the money. The artists are in all reality short-changed most of the time. While the label and the execs are swimming in cash, the artists often see little in the way of real net dollars on album sales.
The internet is a threat to the current way of doing business. While I personally think the labels should embrace the net and use it in a way that benefits everyone, we have a lot of "old blood" that doesn't like change. We still have guys here who think giving an artist a decent "crib" and a couple of nice cars entitles them to keep the artists' royalties.

You'd be amazed at how little money artists actually see. For every million dollars an artist makes, they see less than a hundred grand of it. That's if they have a good deal, and most deals aren't good -- unless you see things from a label point of view.

In short, labels need to learn to use the net rather than fight it. If the labels don't change the way they approach this, they'll soon find out that the web is bigger than they are.

I also believe that certain songs actually should be available, even by the label itself, for free download. After all, many people bought 8-tracks or vinyl albums only to see the formats change to CD.
They already bought the song, so they should be entitled to a free download. If I bought "Abbey Road" on vinyl for the home, 8-track for the car, cassette for the next car - shouldn't I be allowed to download a copy to put on CD? After all, I already bought the
album three times.

But the labels don't see it that way. As we speak, the next format is already in the works. In another ten or fifteen years we'll be replacing our CD's too! Easy money!

The $64,000 question is - does file sharing hurt sales?
The evidence, the sheer statistics prove otherwise.
However, there is no conclusive evidence either way. The labels have spent a lot of time and money fighting file sharing and actually won that battle in many ways. Yet while
file sharing was at its peak, so were sales. File sharing has dropped substantially, and with it so have sales.
I don't think this is a coincidence.
I believe too many people bought too many albums loaded with one or two quality songs and a bunch of filler material. If that's the kind of album you're releasing, then yes, file sharing will hurt.
But if you're releasing a strong album, then I firmly believe file sharing helps.

The biggest beneficiaries of file sharing are the lesser known acts or indie artists. Any artist without the benefit of a strong label backing or high budget PR campaign certainly has a lot to gain from internet file sharing.
Bottom line is that you could prove that downloading doesn't hurt and the labels would still be against it.
Not many label people are progressive thinking or actually really know the internet very well. Label people assume that every time a download is made or a CDR is burned - a sale is lost. This obviously isn't true, but it's what they believe to be true.

What's the worst culprit – CDR trading, advance copies leaking out or just MP3 downloading?
Actually, the labels tend to be their own worst enemy here. I'll use the Journey "Arrival" album as an example here. Journey fans were told of a release date as far back as the fall of 1999. No album. Spring 2000? It came and went, still no album. Fall 2000? Still not there.
Then the album was released in Japan before a stateside release.
Normally, this isn't a problem. Normally, it's only a one or two week lapse before the U.S.
release. In this case, however, it was several months before the album hit the shelves here in the states. By then, the fans had bought the CD as an import.
It was widely available for download as well. As a result, the album faired poorly in domestic sales. It wouldn't have mattered who fronted the band, Steve Perry or Steve Augeri. It was handled very poorly. It's easy to blame the net for it though.

I believe CDR's may impact sales slightly, but no more than tape recording did years ago. The labels shouldn't gripe about CDR's either, as they get a percentage of all CDR's sold, even if they're being used strictly for data.
Same goes for audio cassettes. Hell, even CD burners are slapped with a $2.00 surcharge that goes right to the RIAA.

Record labels are seemingly going to stupid lengths to stop Net trading. Is any measure going to work?
Simply put - No! Does that stop the labels from trying? No.
There will always be someone to take over where another left off.
The labels killed Napster. Did that solve anything? No. It only made the labels look
mean-spirited and greedy. Now there are several other Napster-like sites out
there and file sharing goes right on along. There will always be legal loopholes and inventive minds. The labels can't stop it. Yet they refuse to embrace it and make a system that benefits everyone.
If you enjoyed almost exclusive power and profited immensely from the labor
and creative powers of others, you wouldn't want to give it up either.

One label - Sony - spent a lot on an CD anti-piracy measure that could be overcome with a .99c marker pen. What did you think about that?
As I said before, there will always be those with creative and inventive minds who will find a way around anything. Hell, some 17 year old kid a few years back found out how to defeat DVD anti-piracy techniques and literally invented the DVD recorder long before any such product existed.
If a 17 year old can take a DVD which is piracy proofed and burn it on a CD, can any label really win this game?

This was an example of how a label will spend a fortune to fight rather than very little money to try to find a win-win situation.
No matter how much time and money you spend trying to stop piracy, it won't be long before someone defeats your attempt at a fraction of the cost and time you put into it.

And just this week - news that advance copies of the Pearl Jam album were sent to press in CD players glued shut! Is this the silliest idea yet?
I ask that, as I have an advance CDR of the album and it didn't come from Sony!

Who thinks of this stuff?!
The thing here is that the labels don't see just how silly they look. If anything, you have a
handful of guys patting each others' backs and talking about how smart they are at their latest anti-piracy attempt.

How does a label get advance press in the future without giving up control of where the music ends up?
Good question. Right now, the trend seems to be on limiting how many promo copies go out and when they go out.
There are some ideas in the works, but I can't really divulge them right now.
The bottom line, however, is that once you release a promo copy, you can't control what happens to it. Unfortunately, some people with promo copies do things they shouldn't, like list the CD on E-Bay or upload MP3 files for everyone to grab.

I am aware of the problems the labels are trying to deal with, but as a webmaster, I have to speak up and say why is the Internet written off as all bad, when sites like mine are genuinely interested in promoting music, but can't get a major label to respond?
Your Kalodner interview shows what the vast majority of people at all labels think of the web. They truly believe there is nothing positive about it. Their view of it is that everyone online wants everything for free. They think people feel they are entitled to music without
paying for it.

Again, it's all about power and money. Label execs are truly feeling threatened by the net. They see the whole system as being vulnerable, and think that change - any change - is bad. The fact is, however, that the web is too big to ignore or win a fight against. Sooner or later, something will give. Oh - and it won't be the internet!

Your comment about wanting to promote music is telling the labels you actually want to share it for free. Ideally, it would be nice to form a mutually beneficial partnership wherein the label gets you a promo CD. You upload files of say 30-45 second long clips of each song. People visit your site, hear the clips, like what they hear, and buy the
CD. Good idea, right?
Well, the labels see even that as getting something for nothing.
I say if the album is good, and you hear the clips, you'll buy it. If it sucks, you deserve to keep your hard earned money.

What the labels don't admit to is that with just about anything you buy, be it food, curtains, clothing, whatever - if you buy it and don't like it, you can return it. But with CD's? Sorry! You bought it, you keep it. Doesn't matter if it sucks. Doesn't matter if that one hit they reeled you in with is the only decent song.

The labels also won't tell you how they prevented low priced CD singles from becoming a reality. We all remember the 99 cent 45 RPM single. Many people would buy 45's instead of LP's until they heard several hits. If the album was crap, but had that one radio friendly single, it would sell poorly even though the single would go gold or platinum. In the CD world, you don't have this option. You plunk down 15 bucks for a CD that cost the label maybe two bucks, and it's yours. No refunds here!

Moving to another issue – radio and airply - the radio industry is now deregulated, yet it is harder than ever to get a new song on the air without substantial financial backing. Can you explain what the whole Payola or Pay For Play concept is and how it works?
The old fashioned version of payola is illegal. Once a few people got busted for it, the idea of payola had to be re-invented.
Instead of the labels handing out cash and gifts to stations, they now have added a go-between to do it more discretely. People like Kalodner are essentially middlemen hired by the label. These guys will pay millions of dollars every year to get songs played on
the radio. The radio stations receive what are called "promotional payments", often getting hundreds of thousands of dollars each. Once the song is in heavy rotation, the label sends the person who made the arrangement a check for his services.

Your local radio disc jockey never picks what he wants to play. That's decided for him. The music industry is a multi-billion dollar goliath. Top 40 stations in nearly every city have self-appointed geniuses watching over everything they play. The stations win
because they get huge payouts. The payola guy wins because the label sends him huge paychecks for a job well done. The listener loses because he hears what someone else wants him to hear.
Ironically, it was the deregulation of the early 90s that paved the way to this new breed of payola. It actually made things much worse.

What kind of sums of money are being exchanged? For minor coverage? For blanket coverage?
Each song on each station is worth a minimum of $1,000.00. Some songs can net up to $10,000.00. That's each song added to each station. Consider there are about 10,000 top 40 pop stations in the U.S. alone.
Each station adds about three songs a week to their playlist. Three songs at say $2,000.00 each over 10,000 stations -- do the math. It adds up to 60 million dollars a week in cash changing hands. That's three billion benjamins a year, my friend!
How would you like Kalodner's job now?

The RIAA is trying to stamp out Internet Radio Stations by making them pay
royalties also. Is this a smart or a stupid move?

Artists deserve their royalties for any public broadcast. However, internet stations are still a new and not yet profitable industry that is still in its infancy. I think a good, fair, comprehensive plan needs to be put in place that will serve everyone's best interests.

I think a grace period of a few years to see where things are going is the best course of action. The RIAA is there to serve the interests of the labels though, and like the labels, they haven't shown a lot of good judgment when it comes to the internet.

Just this week I sent a DJ (who is a site regular) a request to play a few new tunes if I sent them to him...
His reply was this:
“I would've said "Hell Yeah!" about five years ago, but the corporate powers
that be just cut our playlist by 200 songs...Now the idea is to squeeze out our competition, since we also own the oldies station in town, who is updating their playlist. This is supposed to make it harder for the crosstown rival to hang on to their share of the market. Nice idea, but in the meantime, the listeners who like that kind of narrow
programming are the only ones who are listening.”

What do you make of that?!!
That's how the radio business is nowadays, my friend. I think I explained it all.

How about promoting these releases. Can you explain what decisions are made at high levels as far as what artists will be supported and why?
It's not art the label wants, it's your ability to sell albums and make money. Those who have that right blend of looks and willingness to do whatever it takes are the chosen few. Play the game right and you're on the "A" list.

A recent example is the excellent but ignored Def Leppard album, Vs the ok, but media overkilled Bon Jovi album!
Who's the prettier band?

In all seriousness, I think Lep hurt themselves by trying to be more contemporary and not being true to their true selves. "X" is like "Slang". It's not what Lep is all about. Young people aren't interested in an old classic rock band trying to be "hip". That's not
to say it's a bad album. It isn't. It just isn't the kind of album the traditional Lep fan wants, and the younger crowd isn't interested either.
Bon Jovi is doing the right things at the right time, and the label is helping them make it happen. It's just the nature of the beast, Andrew.

How much money goes into promotion of a big album?
Millions. Millions of dollars.

Where does that money go?
Payola. Videos. Promotional items. The band. In that order!

How much is legitimate expenses and how much of it is payoff's or favors?
It all depends on how you define "legitimate". How do define "payoffs"? To the industry, the current system of payola is perfectly legitimate. I gave you the numbers earlier. I'll let you decide.

Manipulating the media seems a fine art – with special appearances on certain programs etc. How much work goes into making that happen?
You do what will get you more album sales.
It doesn't matter if it's Britney stripping at the MTV video awards, or Aerosmith working with producers they hate on songs they hate, or Rob Thomas dieting and working out so he can look good at some appearance on some show, or any of a number of artists doing early morning radio promotions when they'd rather be sleeping.
You do what is expected of you to sell just a few more albums. Keep in mind that 99% of what you see is planned in advance. The offbeat antics of Eminem is all a planned thing to generate sales.

Moving on again…As far as the recording of some of these actual releases go…How about the practice of having bands/artists substituted in the studio
with professional session guys?

This happens a lot more than people think.
Sometimes it's to get that "one perfect" take. Other times your guitarist is too drunk or a no-show.
Sometimes, your guitarist just can't seem to do what you want. Can you say Creed? Nickleback? Can't do that guitar part? We'll bring someone in who can.
This revelation will probably piss a few people off, Andrew! I can hear and smell the shit hitting the fan already!
Most of these appearances by others go uncredited. You think Creed wants to admit they brought someone in to do leads?
Some bands have entire albums packed with work done by other drummers, bassists, guitarists, whoever and whatever. It's so common in the business that it's really not a big deal.
Most fans have no clue that this happens though.

I have heard examples where the entire band have been replaced for the all important debut album. Is this correct? Have you heard of such instances?
Like I said, it happens a lot more than people think.
Yes, I have heard of this and am fully aware that it happens a lot. Artists tend to have a lot more control after the first album. Pink, a pop star all over the radio today, is a prime example of this. They dictated everything on her debut. She was able to have far more control on her latest album.

How often is a good looking artist being sold to the millions actually not behind the bulk of the music they are fronting?
When it comes to song writing, it's quite common. In fact, the labels usually decide what songs will be recorded, who will write them, and what the songs will sound like.
A pretty face and nice body can sell a lot of albums. Can you say J Lo? This woman knows nothing about music, yet she has a pretty face and a decent voice and an ass that gets a lot of attention.
What does she need to know? A pretty face and nice body is more important than real talent in today's pop music world. Let's not forget that of the over 12 billion dollars a year the industry makes, the bulk of it is from the top 40 pop market.

What are your thoughts on record labels not supporting artists for any period of time as they used to?
The whole business has changed. The way things are done has changed dramatically since the 1970's. These days, it's all about the benjamins, my friend. It used to be the old saying "here today, gone tomorrow" for most pop stars. Now it's like "here today, gone later today".

Labels today want an immediate return. Outside of Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Gwen Stefani and Moby, practically no one is in the 30's or older. Youth is more important now than it's ever been. Therefore, you don't have the years you used to have to develop an artist. Today's kids want people in their 20's, if not their teens. How good can you look on MTV?

Why not try and work a band as it used to be, with maybe the band breaking through on their 2nd or 3rd album, rather than going for instant payoffs these days?
Welcome to the MTV generation. You need to be young and good looking. Also, labels want a return on investment right away. Money talks.

As you know, I recently interviewed John Kalodner, who said Sony were not interested in working bands that were only going to sell 100,000 units of a release. Isn't that a fair and reasonable number of units sold though?
Not for a major label. That may be fine on the small labels, but for a biggie you better at least go gold. You better at least make some money for the label. Major labels are interested in putting out CD's that will sell millions of copies.
The result is inevitably a focus on the artists who the label believes is capable of producing multi-platinum discs. That overwhelming desire to sell millions of records
and get a big return on their investment makes the label unwilling to produce a second album for an artist whose debut album yielded disappointing sales.

I read a great book recently - It basically blows the lid on some industry
practices. One comment was interesting - it said having a major label record deal was like having a Credit Card with 500% interest. Thoughts?

Every single penny of the money spent recording an album, making a video, whatever - is money that the label has loaned, not given, to the artist. If you got an advance of a half million bucks, which by today's standards is rather paltry, your album has to go gold just to hit the break even mark.
Today's advances are upwards of two million dollars. Even with a good contract you need to go double platinum to break even.
Most artists use only a part of that money on the actual business itself. Most take a big chunk of that cash and buy a few fancy cars, live in a big fancy house in Beverly Hills, and show themselves off on MTV Cribs.
While they're showing off all this stuff, they are in all actuality not only broke, but owe the label big money unless and until the album sells enough to repay the advance. If the advance isn't recovered, they lose those cars, the big house, and never see any
They look cool on MTV Cribs, but a few years later most of them are working in manual labor jobs making minimum wage, and the label is taking every single penny in royalties. It's not like they have any real marketable skills.
Keep in mind that industry is in the business of making money and lots of it. The welfare of the artists is never a concern.

A store sells a CD for $X. Where does the money go - how is it broken up?
On average, the label makes about $6.50 for each CD.
Of that, about a dollar goes to the artist. A couple of bucks goes to the manufacturing and distribution process, a part of which the label often takes from the artist.
The rest is for the label. A platinum album will net the label roughly two and a half million bucks. That doesn't include the money made by the distributors, who are generally owned by the labels anyway. The artist will make around 700k before expenses get deducted on a platinum album.
Most albums never go platinum though. Also, there's that little footnote to add here -- the advance. On a million dollar advance, with a platinum album, you still owe the label about 300 thousand bucks. On an advance of a couple of mil, with an album that hits
platinum you're still 1.3 million bucks in debt!
Record stores' earnings are substantial. They earn everything over the wholesale price, and can at any time return product that doesn't sell. They also get a little extra to put up big displays to feature an artist.
Everyone makes a lot of money except the artist himself!

How important is a publishing deal in the scheme of how an artist signs a

When it comes to income and livelihood, it's the single most important thing in an artist's life.
Publishing is the money you receive for writing the song. Publishing money comes from the copyright of the song itself, i.e. the words and the music, not from the actual recorded version of the song. The song writers own this copyright and receive publishing
money from that ownership. The owner of the songs is entitled to some exclusive rights. Only the copyright owner can do things with his song, unless people pay him or her to use it. Think of television commercials as the big example here. When people are willing to pay the copyright owner, the owner will grant a license for someone to use that song.
Publishing is also how artists receive airplay royalties. No one can play your song publicly (as in radio) without you granting them a license. Every time your music is played on the radio, you are entitled to performance license money. Unfortunately, many artists sign these rights away.
Other forms of income from publishing rights include print licenses and mechanical rights. All boring stuff for the purposes of this interview.

How vital is a good record producer / engineer and what do they cost an
artist to have involved?

A well known producer can command almost whatever he wants.
Let's say you're in "Our Kickass Band". You try to get Mutt Lange to produce your album. You see he wants 100 thousand bucks upfront and and six points. Too rich for your blood. Let's try Bruce Fairbairn. He's available for $30k plus three points [at least he was available…RIP].
You keep looking and find someone else. He only wants three points. In other words, you're giving up a percentage of your money on all future sales of the album to the
A good producer is vital. Bands also should work with producers who share their vision of what the album is to sound like. Ultimately, it's the producer, not the band, that makes the album sound like it does.

I see time an time again and artist who moves on from a record label but doesn't hold the rights to the music they recorded for that label. What follows is countless compilations by that original label that the artist has no control over. How and why does this work?
When a band records a song in the studio, there are two copyrights involved. One is for the words and music of the song. The other is for the recorded version of the song. If a song is recorded a second time, the copyright in the words and music don't change, but you would have a new copyright in the actual recorded song.

Whoever pays for the studio time owns the copyright for the sound recording. Keep in mind that artists use the advance money, a loan, the label's money, to pay for studio time. Therefore, the label owns the copyright to the recorded version of the song.
The songwriters still own the copyright to the words and music, but the label owns the recording. This is why the label can put your song on compilation albums whether you like it or not. Bear in mind, however, that the writers of the song are entitled to

What's the worst deal you have ever seen?
Robbie Williams. You'd have to know the European pop music scene to know just how bad this deal was. Mariah Carey is a close second though.

What is the most outright corrupt transaction you have witnessed?
Not a transaction per se, but a major label head ordered a manufacturing hold on a #1 hit single for one artist, which had held his then partner's single at #2. The result was that song becoming an artificial #1 hit because the original #1 track slipped in sales and
a little down the charts.

How rigged are the Top 50/100/200 charts?
Until the early 90s, they were very well rigged. Not by any single entity in particular, but a
combination of them. New measures put into place have made the charts far more accurate in representing what the chart positions should be. Really though, they are
just manipulated in a new way. Can you say payola?

How are they set up?
These days, Billboard relies mainly on Sound Scan data. They also use radio airplay to chart the songs not actually released as "singles". It's mainly sales and airplay for the singles chart and Sound Scan sales for the album chart.

How about distribution deals. Getting the CDs into stores etc? What's involved generally?
The major labels control more than 3/4ths of all commercially released recordings. Distribution is handled by major distributors who are wholesalers that take the records manufactured by the labels and coordinate getting them into retail stores.
The distributors are generally affiliates of the labels themselves. Ultimately, the retail outlet will only accept what they think they can sell though. The majors have a huge advantage here because they can manufacture and distribute a lot of CD's in a short
amount of time.

What kind of "things" go on to get a chain store to support a title? Wine and dine the buyers for that chain? Any kind of deals?
Pre-release hype is very important. As I said before, stores only take what they think they can sell. A little extra cash for setting up a big cardboard display is always a good incentive. A little cash for putting this CD in a prominent location also helps. There are a ton of little tricks.

So with all of the above in mind, do you have any tips for new artists out

The first thing a band should do is get a business license. This makes it formal that you are doing business using the name "Our Kickass Band". You will need to fill out an application and pay a fee. Legal requirements vary in different places. Find out what
your locale requires.
After that, it's a good idea to get a tax identification number. I'm speaking here of the U.S. legal method. The band will need to file an IRS from SS-4. You can get this form in the U.S. by calling 1-800-829-3676.
Then get a lawyer on retainer and insure your personal property. Do everything in writing and trust no one.

What is the best way a band starting up today can break into the industry
without a lot of money? Can it be done?

Less than 1/10th of 1% of all bands get that nice label deal. You'll need to shop your tape around. If someone offers to shop your tape for you, be very cautious. This is where a lawyer's advice is important. In short, pay no money upfront and allow no more than 10% of future royalties as compensation IF that person lands you a deal.
Never, ever allow anyone exclusive rights to shop your demo. Lastly, do everything in writing!

And THANKS again for the commitment to do this. Very much appreciated.
You're welcome.






Unruly Child (2002)


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Unruly Child: A fresh start with a new voice.

Unruly Child are back with 2 new releases - a demos/unreleased compilation and a brand new studio album featuring singer # 3 for the band - but the guys are happy and are set to continue as a band, using this release as their fresh start.
I caught up with Bruce and Guy online for a different way of conducting an interview, chatting away using AOL's Instant Messenger.

Andrew: G'Day Bruce and Guy!
Guy: Hello Andrew good to finally chat!
Bruce: Hey Andrew
Andrew: Thanks for taking the time out for this interview.
Bruce: How do you want to start?
Guy: How 'bout a beer first?!
Bruce: Ok
Andrew: I just had breakfast, so I'll pass on the beer for now! So you guys have 2 albums out in 2 months...that's not a bad way to go!
Guy: That was kinda an accident really...
Andrew: The Basement Demos is a cool idea for a release. How did it come about?
Guy: There's this guy named Dan Friml who designed and maintains the Unruly Child Website...I asked him a year ago to find out if the fans would like to hear some of the old demos...
Bruce: Then Frontiers called me to do a project, and Guy and I wanted to do another Unruly Child Record.
Guy: So we concentrated on the album first with the thought in mind that it would also be nice to release the demos around the same time.
Andrew: You timed it was like, here's something classic for you fans, now let's introduce something new with the new album, with the UC ball already rolling.
Guy: The new album was actually finished before we even put together the old masters.
Andrew: Ok, cool....I was surprised at the high quality of these old masters...for a "demos" release, they sound amazing!
Guy: Thank you!
Bruce: We did them in my kitchen.
Andrew: Originally recorded them you mean?
Guy: These are not bad for the level of technology and expertise at the time ;-) The only thing that is new is the Re-Mastering
Andrew: Wow...came up sounding a million many tracks were from the debut - or intended for the debut, and how many for the follow up that didn't happen?
Bruce: On The Rise, Long Hair Woman, Is It Over, Talk About Love, Take Me Down Nasty, Lay Down Your Arms…
Guy: Everything that we recorded in the beginning was a possibility for us, but you tend to record newer things and some songs just get pushed aside.
Even though "Down The Road" was an early recording, we had a feeling that it wasn't exactly right for the project at that time.

Andrew: track. As is Still Believe - should have been a hit single! There were a couple of tracks I wasn't familiar with - Live Without Love and True Love - when were they recorded?
Bruce: Let's Talk About Love was the first song we recorded.
Guy: "True Love" was an early one - I think that "Live Without Love" was for 12 Pound Sledge.
Andrew: I am a long time fan of Mark Free - which lead me to buy UC debut and become a fan of all you guys - I was surprised just how different these demos were - rawer, heavier....
Bruce: I thought we should have produced our records - always.
Andrew: Did Beau Hill gloss over it? UC was a super high-tech hard rock album...not many like it out there....
Guy: He did what he does, and it might have been different if it was left only to us. As it is, we called a lot of the shots in studio anyway...we were basically trying to redo the demos in a high priced studio.
Bruce: I hate the drum sound.
Andrew: Really?
Guy: I always wanted to hear the vocals louder...but that's another story.
Bruce: It's too processed!

Andrew: Yeah, I noticed that the demos CD features a mark Free I hadn't heard before....quite raw...
Guy: That was what we sounded like back then...that what we wanted to hear, that's what Bruce and I do!
Andrew: How many tracks recorded for the 12 Pound Sledge album?
Bruce: Maybe 8-10 songs and ideas.
Andrew: How about the DVD footage - what a great extra! Who's idea was that and how much footage did you have? And why was it recorded in the first place? A bigger plan, or just personal footage?
Guy: I walked around with a old video camera during the album, being a real pain in the ass! I used to document things back then a lot! Anyway I found the old footage a year ago and called Bruce to say " You should see this old stuff, what should we do with it"
Bruce: Then we thought it would be nice for the fans, to see us perform, since we never went on tour.
Guy: I couldn't believe we actually had live footage, very lucky!
Bruce: I was surprised to see how good we were.
Guy: There were great moments there so I thought that it would be cool to put together a small scale DVD just for Bruce and I, we liked it so much that we sent it to Frontiers
They liked the format and decided to print copies for distribution...

Andrew: I loved it...a unique insight if you will.
Guy: We thought it also be a great opportunity to set the record straight with the interview between Bruce and myself.
Andrew: You had one of the best rock singers in the difficult was it to lose such a frontman?
Bruce: I will always say that Mark Free is one of the best singers ever; it's a shame…meaning me and Mark drifted apart.
Guy: Yeah it was a drag to let it go...Mark's one of the best for sure!
Andrew: Yeah, I still swap e-mails with Marcie.....she did wish you guys all the best, when she saw the news of the demos release.
Bruce: Well we wish her well too!
Andrew: Was it all over for UC by the time Mark made the lifestyle change?
Bruce: Yeah
Guy: This lifestyle change wasn't all of a sudden really.
Bruce: It all go too much.
Andrew: So it was several years between albums and Waiting For The Sun came along....What prompted you to do a new album together at that stage?
Bruce: At that time I was working with Kelly & Jay and MTM offered a deal.
Guy: When Bruce was offered to do the new UC album I was on the road a lot, so I couldn't participate except on a songwriting level...We're always writing together and a lot of the material that I co-wrote was already there from another time.
Andrew: Kelly did a good job on vocals for the WFTS record...although it wasn't was it working with a new singer?
Bruce: Kelly's great and fun, for the time, now were at a new point. It always makes it exciting.
Guy: We're really lucky in that every singer that been part of the UC Legacy has delivered great performances. Phillip is no exception, one of the best I think! At the end of the day..what we realize is that as long as Bruce and I are creative forces together on an Unruly Child album it's going to be a lot of fun and a great sound!
Bruce: Yeah.
Andrew: Let's jump to the new record - how did Phillip come to your attention? I think he sounds great - a hybrid of Kelly's performance and Mark's - closer to Mark's voice....great job.
Bruce: I was producing his solo record. And we all meet - Guy Philip and I, and we wrote some great material.
Andrew: Great singer....diverse...I think UC3 is a very strong album and a fitting start to a new chapter
Bruce: I think so too!
Guy: When we got together we acknowledged that it would have to pick up where we left off, and Phillip was going have to sing "Balls to the wall"!
Bruce: Now that Guy and I have better studios, it's at a new level.
Andrew: You guys obviously invested in your own studio set has that helped you?
Bruce: Yeah on a creative level yes.
Guy: If you want to write music it's the only way to go! Bruce has been amazing me with his production chops over the years...he just keeps getting better...right honey?
Bruce: How much do I owe you?!
Andrew: LOL. Better than hiring a studio and rushing an album thru in 2 weeks, as that's all you can afford!
Guy: yeah, it really let's you get creative too.
Bruce: We spent about 3 months to do it, in the old days that would be about $50,000
Guy: Maybe $100,000
Bruce: Maybe $150,000
Guy: When you factor the time it used to take just to roll joints...
Bruce: I love that!! haha
Andrew: When were the tracks for this album written, mostly new tracks I see....I don't have writer credits yet...
Guy: We did just about all the writing in 10 days! Give or take...
Andrew: So you guys also handled all the musical parts - drums you still talk to Jay? Was there a chance he would play on this?
Bruce: Jay is working with Kelly they have a partnership like Guy and I. Hurricane I mean
Andrew: Of course....
Guy: He was very busy doing his we had to fend for ourselves.
Andrew: So not so long between albums next time then?
Guy: We actually would like to do more of this, now we're back on a roll!
Bruce: We're already talking about a new record.
Guy: I get to play all the guitars though, right Bruce...Bruce?
Bruce: I played all the keys and bass and drums!!! LOL
Guy: I did the hair and makeup, though.
Bruce: :-)
Andrew: Well, I hope I am enjoying UC3 a lot and you guys have a great chemistry.
Guy: The world's oldest living 12 year olds!
Bruce: We do have fun which it's important.
Andrew: Any other projects on the go?
Bruce: I also produced and band Marcus Eaton and The Lobby coming out on Universal.
Andrew: What style of music there?
Bruce: Dave Mathews meets Phish.
Andrew: Ok...modern rock stuff then...
Guy: I'm working for the CIA right now and can't really talk about it...very hush, hush you know :-)
Andrew: CIA, very cool...LOL Anything you would change about the past - looking back now?
Bruce: I wouldn't have spent all my money.
Guy: What money! We've been asked about the current Heavy/Pop/Metal scene...and we don't know what to say...cause we're kinda out of the loop there.
Guy: You got money!?

Bruce: That's right.
Guy: Mmm…maybe release the UC1 album 2 years earlier!?
Andrew: Yep...5x many did it sell anyway?
Guy: That might have made a dif... huh Bruce?!
Bruce: And I wished that we had a chance to produce our own music back when.
Guy: I think it went Paper…We never really found out about that.
Andrew: Sounds familiar...
Bruce: Things are meant to be.
Guy: To tell you the truth we were amazed with this cult following, didn't expect that at all!!!
Andrew: Any chance you might ever work with Marcie? I hear she has been setting up her own home studio....for what I don't know...but...
Guy: We would love to, actually asked her before the new album...
Andrew: Really?
Guy: Oh yeah, I called and had a good chat with her about it!
Bruce: Guy and I have talked maybe a final record with Marcie - UCIV
Guy: He means next not final...;-)
Andrew: Good clarification :-)
Bruce: Honestly we love the new record too, what if this is the best UC
Andrew: Yes, don't get me wrong, I definitely want to hear a second UC album with Phillip up front...I just want to hear more records from you guys :-) And you are right, there is a cult following that also want more...
Bruce: With the budgets getting so low, we may have to put out our own records…It's just getting harder. Hopefully we'll make more records with Frontiers.
Guy: We're in a good place!
Andrew: I'm sure they will treat you well, as you are a good artist to have on board! That's about it I think guys....anything you would like to add?
Bruce: Thank You
Guy: We really want to see how this does, it's really exciting to know that there's people out there who like what we do!
Bruce: Take care.
Guy: Thank you very much Andrew.
Andrew: Great talking (typing) at you!
Guy: Bye!



Jeff Scott Soto (2002)

Jeff Scott Soto: The ultimate melodic rock vocalist tries it solo.

Jeff Scott Soto has a resume a mile long and a career that's larger than life. But with over 15 years of rocking hard behind him, Prism is only his second solo album. Read why now is the time Jeff has decided to concentrate on himself.
E-Mail interviews are normally kept for that section, but I've spoken to Jeff on many occasions and this interview is more than detailed enough to call it a full feature interview.

Ok Jeff, let's start with the new album! Prism adheres to a more melodic 80's rock sound - something that you lived on in the early part of your career. Was it your intention to go back to that sound?
In a way yes, & in a way no. I never usually have much 'intention' with
anything I do until I'm doing it.
Mostly what u get at the end is by chance or experimentation, even in the most commercial pretense. Some of the songs were written years ago during my run with certain bands or projects so you'll hear obvious comparisons, maybe even be able 2 tell when the tune was written. But overall, this album showcases my voice more than the
experimentation of myself I've done on previous recordings.
I wanted 2 do an album that gave u strong songs as well as vehicles 4 me 2 blow my pipes out without battling the spotlight with the guitarists' riffs.....or bassists' 4
that matter!

It's hard to believe - that for so many years singing - this is only your second solo album!
I've never really had much of a reason....or time, 2 do more than this. I finally feel with every piece of music I've already left behind, the small fan base I've acquired know what I'm capable of & the time is right 2 give it 2 them.
This solo album is more a vehicle 4 me 2 truly branch out & spread my wings alone as I'm curious 2 see if I'd be accepted on MY terms. If it fails, I have only me 2 blame.

You have a great band working with you – Alex, Gary and did you hook up with the guys?
I've known Gary Schutt 4 years & have respected his talent so much that when he was told the only way his debut album would be released back in '94 is if I sang on it, I didn't think twice about helping unleash this ridiculously talented man into the music world.
I'm sure he would have eventually done it on his own, but I know 1st hand (& still deal with it 2 this day!) the trials & tribulations of getting heard out there.
His guitar playing is so phenomenal, I'm embarrassed asking him 2 play bass in my band, but there are 2 reasons 4 that as well. Gary is not 1 of the neo-metal noodlers that came from the 'Yngwie school of shred' so he's not very comfortable having 2 recreate that kind of playing live & 2nd, I need a bass player who thinks like a guitar player 2 get us through some of that early Yngwie stuff & most of the Talisman material, which brings me 2 Howie Simon.
I've known Howie 4 about 10 years now, but never really knew how good he was until he picked up a guitar last year at my annual Christmas party I throw & as intoxicated as he was (which is most of the time!), made my jaw drop at how good he was.
It's amazing how u can know someone so long & not know what they're capable of.
I asked him originally play a solo or 2 on Prism but somewhere along the way, he ended up doing quite a bit on it. Also, I felt sorry 4 him & asked him 2 join my band full time!
Alex Papa I met & know through the Boogie Knights organisation, which he plays drums 4 in 1 of the disco bands we have in Florida with Gary.
It was only by chance that I did a few stand in gigs with them that not only did I bond with whom eventually became like a brother 2 me, but someone I also felt was 2 talented 2 be stuck donning a wig & playing 'I Will Survive' 4ever.
His enthusiasm 2 play in any situation of mine I threw at him made him an obvious choice over the many drummers I knew or could choose from 2 don the stool...that sounds wrong, doesn't it?

How long did the writing process take for this album?
1st, I went into my archives of songs I always loved but for 1 reason or another, were never recorded properly or released.
I've written some songs that were very close & personal 2 me that I hoped someday I would get the chance 2 resurrect. 'Eyes Of Love' & 'How Long' were the last songs written on it & both were written within 15 minutes of each other....taking approximately 15 minutes each 2 write. I didn't think 2 much on it, I just let it flow & the vibe of what kind of album I was making fell into itself.

Did the style come naturally - is this what you were aiming for?
Like I said, I didn't plan it 4 the 1st time ever, it came about on it's own.
It's not the ultimate JSS album, I don't think I'd ever be able 2 get away that 1 because it would sound like a hybrid of Prince/Queen/Terence Trent D'arby/Linkin Park which I think I would only sell 2 copies of!
I am very happy overall with the commercial appeal it has & hopefully will showcase me more as a more rounded singer/ songwriter than a hard rock/heavy metal figure.

It's a very melodic album - a rock ballad vibe if you like. How do you compare singing and performing this type of rock, as opposed to heavier Talisman style material?
It's harder & more demanding 2 control the voice in this environment.
In the past, u'll get 1 or 2 slower numbers on an album while the others rip your head off. This time I turned the pages a bit allowing the listener 2 enjoy the best of both worlds. I'm all about challenges & quite frankly, I'd get just as bored doing the same ol' same-ol' even if each album sold 10 million copies. If u want the heavier Talisman or Axel style, u can already hear me doing that on those albums.

Production duties - Produced and Arranged by one Jeff Scott Soto. Do you enjoy the pressure of having to perform and produce at the same time?
I love the pressure, challenge & rush of that responsibility.
I've learned so much from my past experiences, it's a natural progressions 2 hold down the fort every once in a while. I'm far from a control freak, but it does feel good 2 be able 2 get what u want on a song or performance the way u hear it in your head. I know & worked with amazing talents on this album & I hail them all 4 their contributions. Ah, who am I kidding (sound of whip cracking) 'back 2 work peasants!!'.

The album has a very even mix and lots of layers - are you happy
with the result?

Yes, Yes, Yes!!! I think once I come down from the hype of the release, the nausea of having heard so many times from it's inception 2 mix, the touring & focus of it all, it'll be an able in years 2 come I'll look back at as a trophy of pride, regardless of how many copies it sells.

I love the extra harmony vocals - they seem to be everywhere. It gives the album even more hooks to hold on to. Did the other guys contribute there, or is it layers of your vocals?
It's all me except 'I Wanna Take You Higher' which I had Howie throw in some vocals 4 that huge textured crowd vocal the way I used 2 do on so many albums in the past. He paid me 2 be on that 1 so he could tell his friends he sings
on the same track Glenn Hughes sings on!
I don't overdo it anymore with the stacking & layering of vox as I think it could sound 2 dated. Actually, on most recent recordings, including this 1 (with exception 2 a few tracks), I only layer each harmony twice, 2 takes of each note panned left & right, when I do my backgrounds nowadays. I've found a way 2 make my voice emulate tons of vocal overdubs when all you're really hearing are 6....kinda cool.

How'd you hook up with Glenn Hughes? That track suits you both and although
different in style, fits the album well.

We are both respectively, soul singers wearing rock suits! What else could I say about Glenn that already hasn't been said in this man's talent?
He's the Voice Of Rock 4 Christ's sake, & I get 2 share the mic with him. We'd spoken
about collaborating 4 years & since he hasn't asked me 2 sing on 1 of his albums yet, I had 2 bring him in on mine. I couldn't, let me rephrase, wouldn't have done this song without him....the whole idea of covering this Sly Stone classic was based on Glenn's availability & interest 2 do it with me, end of story. I'm over the moon on how cool it came out, even though I'm outshined on my own solo album by the master himself!

Special mention - I love the almost accappela track 'By Your Side'! Great job...
Thanks, it's 1 I can sing at a campfire or, let's hope it doesn't come 2 the latter anytime soon!

Did you pick 'Holding On' as the single? Tough choice?
No, I have a completely different view as 2 where the singles lie, but hell, Frontiers didn't meddle in my creation of the album, so they gotta have some say as 2 what they choose 2 gamble on since they're fronting the bill!
Actually, I'm so close 2 everything on this album, they could pick the most unlikely song 4 a single & I would say 'fine'....that's 1 responsibility I freely hand over 2 them.

The EP is great value - when did you re-do the Journey cover? Your live acoustic version has always been so popular.
Funny enough, the live version was originally supposed 2 be the version re-released, but since I screwed up the lyric in the 1st verse, I insisted if it were 2 be released, I'd redo it the right way!
As well, the guitars were a bit out of tune & there was never a studio recording of it we could fix or remix...that was a live 2 stereo mix. It was the last song recorded 4 the album after the idea was thrown at me about releasing it. The production, my performance & singing the right lyrics made me happy I did it.

And the 2 live tracks - a taste of what's to come?!! How's the mixing for the CD and DVD live release coming along?
This is almost more exciting than the
Prism release because it shows the
other side of me going out alone, yet chronicling so many aspects of my past.
The Gods experience was more than the honor of sharing the stage with some of my respective colleagues, but it made me realise just how many people knew who I was! I've always been hesitant in going at it alone, but this 1 show injected a fire in me that makes it all the more exciting now.
The CD audio is mixed, I'm just waiting 2 get the video portion discussed on how we will author it. I'm also hoping 2 release the high quality versions of the videos available on the Prism CD & Holding On EP as well as bonus backstage footage.
I'm all about giving more bang 4 your buck!

And right now you are flying home from mixing the Talisman album!! How's that sounding?
Yes, I'm doing this interview on the plane. It's cliché 2 say 'it's the best shit ever, dude' or 'it's gonna rock your socks off, man' but what else am I gonna say? In some respects, it's classic Talisman, in others, it delivers the diversity & versatility many fans have come 2 expect, but more importantly, this time around ladies & gentlemen, NO COVERS!!!



What can we expect from it compared to past Talisman releases?
I think it's very well rounded instead of the scattered messes that have occurred the past 2 releases. Having Frederik Akesson back on guitar has made us closer than ever, as we already have history 2gether, but overall, u can hear the 'band' is back in full swing again. We did the new album at a studio in a small Italian wine village called Acqui Terme, which gave us the space & elbow room 2 concentrate on recording, but more so capturing the renewed bond between brothers. Some very funny memories were made on this trip.

You are a hard working bloke - it's great to see you working on a solo name
With your first solo record - the very funky and Prince like Love Parade - why the choice to be as diverse as it was?

Love Parade was more so a cry 4 escapism...escapism from my past as a 'metal singer'. I hate that more than anything, especially when it comes 2 the media because the 'label' is so stereotypical. I've never wanted 2 be categorized as a singer, but how can 1 not be having their 1st major gig be that of with Yngwie Malmsteen? U don't sing 'I'm A Viking' & expect the same crowds as NSYNC!
In the same Glenn Hughes has always tried 2 inch his soul roots on his fans &/or others who didn't know of his past, I tried 2 do the same with releasing the funkier side of JSS.
Needless 2 say, it wasn't a commercial reinvention, but it made me happy at the time. I'm sure a lot of people were disappointed I took that route in doing a 'solo' album, but on the same token, I've met quite a few people who love that 1 as much as I do.
It ain't 4 everyone but it was a postcard of my life I captured the way I wanted.
My favourite albums of all time are from artists who took risks & made music from their hearts, not their wallets.

You can basically sing anything - metal, funk, AOR - what's closest to your heart?
Your guess is as good as mine...depends on what mood I'm in.

Tell us about the Boogie Knights project - you were telling me that working so hard on that really strained your voice....
In the 5 years I was with those guys, I sang on average, 4 nights a week, 3 45 minute sets a night with only 2 weeks off a year....u show me someone who can endure that without straining their voice, I'd love 2 meet him/her.
Most singers, even the huge artists, tour anywhere from 3 -12 months, but with weeks off in between tour legs....this was like 1 long, 5 year tour.
I joined these guys just after we put Talisman on ice in '96 just 2 pass the time away & have some fun.
We ended up becoming so popular at what we were doing & earning some serious dough, it was hard 2 leave after all the commitments & contracts ahead of us.
We were doing movies, MTV appearances, private high profile events, etc., that we were almost considered as bona fide as the bigger bands out there.
But I knew if I didn't want my career 2 end as a disco singer at a Vegas lounge, I had 2 get back 2 business.

You have sung on a whole range of Tribute Albums (Van Halen, Aerosmith, Queen). Speaking to you it is clear that it's for the love of it - paying tribute to the artist, rather than for any possible payment. What tribute track has been your favourite?
It's a toss-up between the Van Halen & Queen tributes.
Queen are closer 2 my heart in reference 2 influence, Van Halen were my ultimate fun, party band. 4 the Queen 1, I sang the song as a tribute 2 1 of my favourite singers.
With the Van Halen 1, I just had fun & pretended I was at a keg party doing my best David Lee Roth impersonation 4 all my buddies...great fun!

Jeff, there is also a killer CDR floating around (I have one here) that compiles a lot of your cover tunes - any thought of ever doing an all covers album?
With enough covers floating around that I've already done, there's no need...just take 'em all & compile 'em on a cd-r....there's your compilation.





I made the remark once that an all acoustic covers album would be a great

Yes, u did....maybe 1 day.

There has also been several rumors of your involvement somehow with Van Halen or Eddie VH. Have you ever been approached by anyone in the Van Halen camp?
I love rumours, so cool, u get put in situations u only dream of...I WISH Eddie had approached me! The 2 bands I would reel in fronting would be Van Halen & Queen. I've never even met Eddie b4 so unfortunately I don't even have a story here. Would love 2 know where it started though, I'd shake his
hand 4 the publicity I got off that 1.

Yngwie or Axel Rudi Pell? How do you compare both looking back now?
NO comparisons. Both terrible musicians!!!!
As guitarists, 2 completely different human beings, 2 completely different worlds. Still great friends & I hope 2 keep it that way as long as we're around.

The Humanimal project was an awesome album - no chance of it being repeated?
Not at the moment. As I've said in the past, Humanimal was a project started Pontus & Marcel which later involved me. There was a slight falling out between those 2 that I backed away from, but being that Talisman is back on the map, I can't foresee doing a flood of albums like back in the mid 90's where there was a JSS product coming out every few months.
I have 2 be smart about what I'm doing from now on if I want my plan of world domination 2 follow through.

How about your other projects over the years - Takara and Human Clay?
Favourite moments from those albums?

There weren't really 'moments' involved with those recordings, it was pretty much work as usual. Human Clay was never really a band, just an outlet 4 Marcel & I 2 keep working 2gether until we appraised what was next.
Takara was an ongoing commitment without the commitment. I felt as much as my involvement with them helped, it also hindered because they didn't have a committed front man....hopefully the guy they have won't be 'committed anytime soon.

There seems no chance that I could ask questions of your whole resume, but here's a couple anyway! Biker Mice From Mars - how did you get hooked into that project?!!
I was hired by the producer of 2 sing a couple of the songs 4 this new cartoon that was 2 rival the whole Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle thing going on at the time.
It was supposed 2 be a huge push & from what I remember, Vince Neil, Billy Idol & others were supposed 2 appear on the album as well.
I guess somewhere along the way, the campaign got scaled down, but since I'd already done the few songs I was hired 4 & the producer loved my work, they brought me in 2 finish up the rest of the soundtrack.
I remember my son was only 5 or 6 & loved the free BMFM toys & video games he got, but unfortunately the cartoon never took off. I personally liked it.

Skrapp Mettle - again, how did that project start and was it always only going to be a one-off album?
I met the producer of that just after I did some publishing demos 4 Vinnie Vincent.
I was strapped 4 cash at the time & when he offered 2 pay me 4 some 'off colour' songs he was working on, I took it without knowing what I was getting into. At 1st, I was concerned about the content & was promised my identity would be concealed under a tight lid....great promise!
But it was a blast doing it, great guys/musicians was all tongue in cheek, not 2 be taken seriously or 2 offend anyone, which I'm sure it did somewhere
along the way.

And Eyes - killer debut album on a major label - what went wrong? It should have been huge!!
Tell me about it.
We put our heart & soul into that stuff, but we threw the dice by signing with the only label who didn't turn us down...a country/western label who wanted 2 expand into pop, rap & heavy rock.
What a catastrophe! They spent shitloads of money the wrong way. Everything they did taught me how NOT 2 promote & market an album...a lesson I carry with me 2 this day which make 4 my current work tactics. Sometimes I piss off the staff at Frontiers with my 'advice' as I've been through 1 too many 'mistakes' in my life.

Your most recent venture with a major label was the Rock Star movie. How was
it working on that?

An absolute blast! I'd worked with (producer) Tom Werman 4 years in the 90's doing background vocals on every band he produced from Stryper onward.
I always wanted 2 work with him in an environment I'd be doing lead vocals & lucky 4 me, he, Jeff Pilson & Zakk pulled me into the project when they needed their lead character's voice. I'd love 2 have done the more prominent role's voice (Mark Wahlberg's), but ironically I'm the voice of the main singer, the head honcho, instead of the guy from the cover band.....the 'Boogie Knights' type guy!

I hear that Mark was over stepping the credits with what he sung for the movie. Does that crap make you laugh or get you frustrated?
Not at all, especially since I didn't sing 4 his character. I think he meant he sang some things himself in the movie where there were certain parts he actually was.

Wasn't there also a project for the Queen Of The Damned movie? You were going to be the featured vocalist were you not?
Yes, that's a frustrating story in itself.
I met Richard Gibbs, 1 of the composers of the score with Jonathan Davis of Korn, at a Korn concert 2 years ago briefly. When it was realized Jonathan's voice could not legally remain on the songs 4 the album soundtrack (his voice is in the movie 4 the lead character, the same as mine was provided 4 Rock Star), they began their search 4 someone who could recreate the vocals as identical 2 Jonathan's as possible.
Originally, the soundtrack was supposed 2 be released on Aaliyah's record label since she was also 1 of the stars of the movie. With her possibly including some unreleased tracks on the soundtrack, there was no concern about hiring a singer who didn't have a 'current' track record here in the US & I was brought onboard.
The unfortunate incident of Aaliyah's untimely death led 2 the doors of her label closing & the soundtrack needing a new home.
Warner Bros. picked it up, but realized without her involvement, the album had no weight 2 sell 2 a contemporary audience, so my 5 track were redone by singers from Linkin Park, Static X, Orgy, Disturbed & Marilyn Manson...I can't really blame them, they made a corporate decision based on business. It had nothing 2 do with my performance, which was actually damn cool if I might say so myself. Yet another challenge I put forth 2 myself, having 2 sing very heavy, Goth-type songs. I had a blast working with Jon & Richard despite the outcome.

So Jeff, in summary - you should be a HUGE fucking star - no doubt about it.
Can you find a reason why you haven't sold 30 million albums?

Thanks man, if I knew the answer I'd be typing this interview on my private leer jet.
U know, I recently counted the amount of albums I've sung lead on....about 40+ album, more than the Rolling Stones!!! It's amazing that somehow the pattern of bad labels & wrong timing seem 2 follow me throughout my career. Someday when I do grow up & become a rock star, there are gonna be a lot of people cashing in a shitload of my past.

I say that last question with the utmost respect, as you do have a huge following out here you know! You are obviously and rightfully very positive about things right now? Where to next?
I'm gonna be a rock star dammit!!! I think I'll give it another 5 years then
I'm gonna try my hand at being a superhero!

Anything you would like to add Jeff?
Only that of all the interviews I've done, this 1 is probably the most important 1 I could do, as not only have u & been a pivotal key 2 helping keep my name & career in the public's attention, u provide a service 2 many artists out there who may not necessarily get the attention in today's major music sources, but also 2 the fans who are devoted 2 this genre & will at all costs keep it alive. I, sir, stand & salute your endeavours 4 this labour of love & thank u from all the artists & fans alike...u know I
aint brown-nosing u either Andrew, I've told u in the past how I feel about your influence & importance 2 my music.

Thanks Jeff, that's some totally too kind comments. It's easy when I am working with such great music as from the JSS catalogue.
Finally - what CDs are you listening to right now?

Nothing much really, I've been so wrapped up with work lately since Humanimal, I haven't had a chance 2 listen 2 much more than the things I'm working on. I'm digging the new Eminem & Korn stuff...I have a 14 year old son who keeps me current.

Top stuff, thanks for your time Jeff!






Tony Harnell (2002)

Tony Harnell: From Cyberdreamer to TNT

Singer Tony Harnell worked harder than ever to make the new Westworld a very melodic album and the results have paid off handsomely. It's easily their best album to date and the following interview dissects the album and Tony's thoughts on it.

Tony, there are not too many bands these days that get to album No 3 so you must be pleased at that?
It was a lot of work getting this one together and getting all the labels sorted out. We were sort of under the guise or whatever you want to call it of this guy in New York for the first two records. It was this character Jeff Allen who manages Riot He had started this little record company and he had friends, Kase Wessel was one of his good friends from Roadrunner so he put that whole thing together and basically hired all of us.
We got fees. I thought the guy was kind of a jerk, I mean he's ok he put up the money and everything but I just kinda decided it would be so much better if we could gain control. Even if it meant taking a bit less money but in the long run it would pay off.
So far so good. We've managed to launch a little record company so we could release this new album 'Cyber dreams' in the States without having to wait for a label to sign us so we can get the release almost the same time as everywhere else.

Fantastic. That is absolutely one of the most asked things I get is “Andrew is this going to get released in the States?”
Yeah exactly and we actually got great distribution. We got ABA WEA which is a pretty good distribution.
We're going to do direct sales obviously too from the web site so it'll be available in the stores and on the web site so we're covering all the bases here. I think we'll do a lot better than if we go and try and get a deal cause that's what happened with Skin. We got so screwed up with Skin.
First of all we had this guy managing us Jim Lewis and he's an old friend but that got bad cause he told me he was shopping the album and he wasn't. So nothing happened and we kind of lost our timing and then all the imports came in and then no one wanted the album. Dave Tedder from Dreamscape then decided to do it but then his money guy had lost someone in the Trade Center bombing so the money kind of put off for a whole year. Skin just came out here in July and now we're already going to put this one out here in the States. It's kind of funny you know.

I think a lot of people I mean don't mind going for the imports if they know they can get it. However there's no substitute for being able to buy it in a store is there?
No and I'm trying to encourage our fans here on our web site to not buy the Japanese import but to buy it from us instead and we will put up an MP3 of the bonus track up on our web site. I don't think it's in our contract that we can't put up an MP3. First of all the quality is definitely not as good as the CD. So they can buy 'Cyberdreams' and then burn a copy of the bonus track if they want.

If you can't run it I certainly will for you.
Well maybe we'll both do it. I mean I don't want to piss them off too much. I'll fell it out and see how they feel about it over there.

Did you have as much fun making this record as the other two?
What does it sound like?

It sounds like you've had a lot of fun making it to be honest.
That's good cause I really didn't. No, it was fun but it just took a long time. It took a lot longer than the first two and then maybe that's a good thing. I still hear things that I wish we had done differently but I think it's going to be like that till the day I die you know. It was a bit of a labor of love/hate.

How long did it take?
Well the thing is we actually started writing a few songs in the November and December last year then we put it aside for awhile because Mark had to finish up on the Riot album. He was working on that thing for like a year or a year and a half or something. It was like the album that wouldn't die. They kept going and going and we were supposed to start Westworld full time in January and then that got pushed to January and then to March. By the time we finally got started it was mid March or early April.
So we went in and wrote a bunch more songs but we didn't actually start recording till April. So then it was April and we had to go do the Xerox thing, which took out a couple of weeks. We came back and kept going and didn't really finish till the 2nd or 3rd week of August. So it wasn't horrible.
Compared to say Def Leppard it was a breeze. Of course they sold 10 million copies so it's ok if you take 2,3 years to make a record. It was ok. Bruno was pretty hard on everyone. Not me so much but in general. He had a certain way he wanted to do it and I think at the end it turned out great. Obviously he had a vision all the way through. I just think that it's difficult that when you're doing everything yourself in a home studio he definitely had his hands full.

The production sounds great. It's a very clean sound.
Yeah he did a great job.

It was great to listen to.
Yeah I think production wise I think it's definitely the best produced 'Westworld' album without a doubt.

The style on 'Cyber Dreams' is consistent from Track 1 to Track 10 where as on the last two you were fairly diverse weren't you.
You're talking about style not production.

Yeah that's pretty much what I got at the end. You know what we did was interesting and I think Bruno was really helpful on that cause we had a lot of different songs that Mark and I came to Bruno's studio with.
We started playing through everything and I love versatility so we came to the table and Bruno would say you know that's a great song but I don't know if it's going to fit on this record. So we thought that's not a bad idea to try and make the record a little bit more focused. We kind of threw stuff away and wrote brand new songs even after we had everything written to try and make it more concise.
So I guess we succeeded more this time.

Absolutely. There's definitely a more consistent sound there. I noticed there's a more commercial sound too.
Well you know it's kind of funny because you would think that Bruno had a lot to do with that but in actuality I think I was aware when I was writing the songs that Bruno was going to be producing this album. So I think I went out of my way to try and make the album a little more hooky. I knew that he would like that.
I think that in the end he feels pretty good about the record. I mean Bruno comes from a fairly pop background and even the stuff he produces outside of the hard rock genre is pretty pop orientated. I mean god I love pop more than anybody does but I have never played it as part of my career.
Although I do a lot of pop in other parts of my career but in the career the melodic rock people know I've never delved into it. I mean TNT had some pop songs there's no doubt about that, '10,000 Lovers', 'Tonight I'm Falling' and 'Everyone's a Star' I mean those are relatively poppy.

That's a great song. I just got a video clip of that the other day.
Which one?

'Everyone's a Star'
Isn't that a great video? Especially for that time period. We had done some really bad videos and I went to Polygram before we did that video and said can you let us do what we want to with this one and not make it so scripted and let us just go and have a good time. We put a couple of things in there like a convertible car and we shot it in London and it was a lot of fun to do. Back to my point I think my background probably compared to Danger Danger thought of to be more of a classically metal kind of background. I think me coming from that direction and Bruno from his I think we tried to meet some place in the middle. I think that's how this thing came together so well.

The thing I love about 'Westworld' and this goes for the other two albums but more so the new one is the melodies are very intricately woven into the songs. Some are first listen hooks and then some hooks are 2nd, 3rd even 4th listen.
Oh thanks. That's really nice to hear cause I'm so close to the albums that it take a while for me to kind of tell what's good and what works really well. I think what was nice about us getting to play live a lot last year was I sort of got to feel what songs were the better songs from singing them live.
There was a few that just stood out every single night like 'Black Shadow Symphony' and 'Uneasy'. I think the most immediate song on this album to me is 'How good it Feels'. It just pops right out. I mean the chorus the first time you hear is immediate but I think songs like that have the potential to become tiring faster.

Whereas other songs have more depth?

I think 'Righteous One' is a fantastic track.
Thank you I like that one a lot too.

'What If'?
Yeah I think 'What If' is kind of becoming everyone's favourite song. A lot of people also seem to like 'Cyberdreamer'.

I've had a good response from that one so far.
Have you? Not so much on the message board though?

No, via emails, which is normally a good indication. I mean I have put up songs before and had no response.
Now let's go through the tracks.

That was one of the last songs we wrote. We sort of decided we needed something big, heavy and epic sounding. They funny thing about it is every once and a while on an album I write a riff and Mark seems to like every riff I write so maybe I should write more riffs but I sort of came up with that chorus riff. When we first played it in the rehearsal studio I thought it sounded like Accept for some reason. It had that marching German thing, something off 'Balls to the Walls' or something.
We got into the recording and laid everything down and had put that song off to last. What I do is put all the melodies together and I work it out with the guys and what I am usually working on the lyrics after I get all the basic music tracks back to really hear what the songs are sounding like. I kept putting this one off because I didn't have any ideas.
Usually I write the melodies with the song when I'm writing with Mark but with that one the music all sort of came out and I had no clue what I was going to melody wise. So finally I had recorded all the vocals for the whole album and that was the only one left and I hadn't written anything for it. So my girlfriend was here visiting me and I said I've got to write this song and she's a really talented singer songwriter so she sat down and I put the album cover up and I said I want the song to have something to do with this album cover. It all just started to come together and the story was developing and she wrote the 2nd verse. It all came together in about half an hour.
We just sat back and went hey that's pretty good. I think I went into the studio the next day and recorded it. I think that's interesting because I'd never written a song of an image before. I kept looking at that cover and came up with a weird abstract idea of like a futuristic world where there's a almost like a mechanical, spiritual goddess some way out place on a space station. This whole idea of trying to make it a place where love is really important. I was just really getting frustrated with all this war shit. I think you can get that through the whole record. A lot of positivity this time around.

'When I Come Home'
Again one of the last songs that we wrote for the record and Bruno had a hand in the writing of that one.
We just said we need something up tempo. So that one just kind of popped out. I think I came up first with that verse riff thing and then we wrote it in the studio. Lyrically I think it's a another song that's about a guy trying to basically get back to himself, get back to who he really is. In the chorus I'm saying looking out from where I stand on the edge of where I'll be. It's kind of a searching song.

'How Good It Feels'
Nothing but love songs baby. I think that song is basically without any doubt an ode to my lady from my heart. Starting with the 'Westworld' debut I was just about to find that my wife and I were about to get divorced. So you start to hear songs like 'Heartsong' and there's this feeling that something's about to happen. I went from that album into Transistor and that's when I knew we were going to get divorced. So you get a lot of stuff on there like 'Free Again' which is the Japanese bonus track and there's a lot of other references on there I'll put it that way.
Part of the songs were me letting it go and then part of the songs were me wanting it back. Then you get to Skin and I'm really pissed off. I'm all done now and I've got a great new girl and a whole new attitude that goes with it.

'Million Miles'
I really love this song. It's probably one of my most favourite songs on the album. To me it almost sounds Journeyish or something. I can't really put my finger on it. There's something about the verse melody that's very haunting and then you get to the chorus and it's almost like a happy melody but the lyrics are saying this is not how it should be. It's kind of an interesting rubbing of ideas. I really have no clue what that song's about. I think sometimes things just come out on certain days. To me it's a mystery to what these things are about.

'What If'
Again when I sit down to write lyrics I don't think too much about what I'm writing I just let it go. I think when I listen to the whole album it could almost be a concept album. There's a theme that runs through the whole thing and I think it's let's get this shit together on this planet cause we're really fucking things up here.
I for one am extremely unhappy not only the events of Sept 11 but the events after Sept 11 and how certain responses have been handled. I don't want to get into a big political thing but I just think an eye for an eye and all that crap there's got to be a better way. I will fight for it through my music, as much as I can as I'm all for handling things in a peaceful manner.
The premise of this song is, is it naïve to think that we can actually turn this crap around. Basically it's a call to not just other people but it's a call to myself when I say can you open minds, start revolutions and break new grounds. Can we do it, can I do it, can you do it can we all change the way we think about things and not be quite so aggressive.

'Look To See' - Track 6 and we just hitting the first and only ballad.
I know that's right. 'What if' is almost like a heavy ballad you know.
Yeah it's a piano ballad. Yeah I really love that song a lot and I'm always a sucker for a ballad. I like to sing them. I think the song is pretty self-explanatory. Sometimes when I'm feeling down myself I like to write songs like that and they're almost directed at someone else but they're really for me.
Eventually I might be singing them every night.
It's interesting how that works because it ends up sounding like it's a song for someone else but it might just be a song for me trying to get out of a bad mood or something. That song actually started off as a guitar song and Mark had a guitar riff but we just decided let's do something with piano. Josh has become a full member of the band now and we just decided to really utilize that, the piano skills that he has.

'Righteous One' - What a hook!
Thank you. I got pissed off on the song; it's my one angry song. I can't really say who it's about but it's about someone really close to me. It's not my current girl or ex. It's just a person in my life and they'll get the message. I don't even remember how that song came together musically. Mark was coming up with all these really cool 70's retro riffs. You kind of get that with this song. It's got that old fashioned I don't even know say Aerosmith meets Zeppelin.

'Misery Loves Company'
Lyrically it's about not going along with the crowd here to find my way out of whatever hellish situation I am in or the world is in. It is a lot about me, a lot of lyrics I definitely write from the heart. I'm not really a storywriter per se. I think 'Cyber Dreamer' is about the closest I've done to a story. It's just however I was feeling the day I wrote that song.

It's got a good message to it that song, a positive edge to it.
We can all change any time. There's a great line in 'Vanilla Sky' Penelope says to Tom that every moment is a new opportunity to change your entire life. I just love that so much because when you're really fucking feeling like shit and things are falling apart you can say wow in this next moment of time I can do something to actually cause it to turn around. I don't have to do the same things that I've been doing and I don't have to have the same patterns. I think people sell themselves too short and don't feel that they are in control of their own lives. Look at you, you created a web site 5 years ago and now you've got a full time job with that. It shows you the power of having a good idea when there's an opening for it and you've created like a whole life for yourself. Who would have thought, you probably wouldn't have thought?

Not me, that's for sure…
The idea of the song is if you listen to other people enough you'll do nothing. You need to create your own space and your own environment and sometimes not even tell other people about it. I say in the song keep it to yourself until it's real. Just do your thing and don't tell anybody and if you want to make a change in any way, shape or form and don't fucking listen to other people.

'I Can't Run'
That's a pretty obvious message there. When you are facing your own demons you can either succumb and completely go all the way to the bottom into the gutter and feel like shit and fall apart.
The idea behind the song is that you can't run from yourself. I think it's a real realization for some people when they come to terms to the fact that they can't blame other people for their own problems. In the song I say can't run from the things I can't hide there's no way I'm ever going to lose this fight. On one hand I'm saying I can't run from this I have to deal with this but on the same there's no way I'm going to let this fucking get me down.
I'm going to overcome my own demons. I think a lot of people can relate to that.
I actually wrote that song. It's almost entirely my song, Mark cleaned up a little bit here and there but I pretty much brought that to the table.

'Neon Nights'
What do you think of that one?

I think it rocks, it's great. It's probably the only song on the album that has a bit of a different style.
Yeah, For some reason 'Westworld' always seems to be a mid tempo band. We decided that we wanted to do a cover. We tossed around a lot of different ideas and it was kind of hard to get everybody to agree. Finally we agreed on that one. I really don't know how or why that came about but I do know we were getting tired of arguing about it. I love Dio so I thought it would be fun to sing it.

On the last album you did 'Invited' which was a fantastic version.
I'm a huge Alanis Morrisette fan, I actually saw her twice this year in concert. She has an amazingly devastating voice live. She's a very under rated vocalist I think a lot of people make fun of her with the way she sings. She's got a very strong and beautiful voice.

How about you guys getting out and playing live this year?
We're going to be doing a record release party here in N.Y around the time the record is released. I'm going to be going back and forth from here to Norway over the next 6 to 8 months working on TNT material. I have no idea what that's going to sound like. It's going to be very interesting. We have been working on songs and we're getting a lot of pressure from all the record companies to be very retro, very classic sounding. I know we're going to do our best to do that but from the material we've been working on so far it's nothing like 'Transistor' and it's nothing like 'Firefly'. It's not like 'Intuition' or 'Tell No Tales' either.
We're only a couple of songs into the whole thing really.

I'll be looking forward to hearing the results.
You've seen me on the boards enough to see my opinions on all that, It's really hard to go back and recreate something. It's not that you can't. I think what I'm doing now both lyrically, melodically and vocally to me is much better than what I did before. I felt that way about 'Skin' and 'Transistor'. I even felt that way about a couple of songs on 'Firefly'. It's progression forward.

Thanks Tony, that's a great note to end on.
Thanks Andrew!






A&R Guru John Kalodner (2002)

Interviewed September 2002 by Andrew J McNeice

A&R Guru John Kalodner started out in the music business with Atlantic in 1974. He started as photographer and the writer of artist bios and the company newsletter. After moving to His first signing was a then unknown act by the name of Foreigner.

What does an A&R guy do?

Over the years John has worked with Atlantic, Geffen and Sony Music. His job as an A&R guy became so blurred, a new title was invented by one of the artists John was working with. John Kalodner's job became being John Kalodner.
So check the jacket of any artist John has worked with - the credits will read - John Kalodner: John Kalodner
In the 80's, during his stint with Geffen Records, John is credited with bringing life and record sales back to Cher, Sammy Hagar and of course Aerosmith. He was also behind Whitesnake's big break into the US market in 1987.
In the 90's he was behind the scenes bringing Journey back to life with Steve Perry back at the helm, and resigned Aerosmtih to his new home (and their old home) at Sony.
But that's just on the surface - dig a little deeper and read through his extensive resume of artists and you will see a record unparalled by anyone. John has worked with such great melodic rock artists as: Nelson, Tyketto, Survivor, Asia, Genesis, Black & Blue, Blue Murder, Thunder, Coverdale/Page, Cinderella, Damn Yankees, Bon Jovi, Toto, Jackyl and many more.
Check out John Kalodner's Discography:
and his website:

It was a great honor to interview John and is went like this:

Good afternoon John! How are you?
I'm very well thank you.

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, I really appreciate it.
I haven't done an interview in a long time.

That's what I thought. I did some research and the last interview I could come up with was the early 90's.
I stopped doing it because a lot of times I was misquoted or things weren't put in the context of what I really said so it sort of really pissed me off.

I can understand that, something I'll try not to do. So hopefully we won't have that problem.
I mean if there's a comment you should put it in its entirety. A lot of times I'll say something that's a little complicated and people just edit or round out what I have to say.

It's not what you said then is it?
No it's not what I said.

Exactly. The interview I did find had an introduction asking you how you felt being in the industry for 20 years but now it's 30 years. What do you put the longevity down to - obviously some very intelligent moves?
It's probably what you would think, working with the right artists who have a lot of talent and who are stars. That's probably what the longevity is. I'm not the one who's talented - they are. It's probably being able to pick the people who have a lot of talent, who then become stars.

Absolutely. I think you're selling yourself a bit short though because I think you've done a lot of great things for a lot of great bands over the years.
I appreciate it. I think I have too but it essentially stems from their musical ability. I guess that's what I mean.

I was reading an early bio and it sort of sounded familiar to something that I felt. Being so into the music and wanting to do something. Was there ever a time where you thought you'd play an instrument or actually be in a band yourself?
No. I'm one of those people who were always an avid listener and I wanted to do that from that point of view - meaning really what my job is, still is, that I'm the fan who gets to hear their music first.

I get the same buzz from that I must admit.
I've got so many questions here and if I ask something that you can't say much about please say so and I'll move on.

Ok. There's certain things I can't and won't say anything about.

I presumed so. There's some industry stuff I'd like to ask you and also some of the stuff about the bands you've worked with. I'll start with the bands I think. Looking through the resume on your web site is almost looking through my own record collection.
Looking back on everything that you've worked with is there an immense feeling of pride?

I'm so proud of all the stuff I've done and I think about it from time to time.
In fact, I was visiting a couple of my friends in Dallas. It's an interesting story. Two women actually wanted to go to a strip club.
One woman who was actually a good friend of mine who's very normal and for some reason just wanted to go to a strip club. I went there - which I ordinarily don't frequent because I don't really like that - and they played 11 songs in a row that I had worked on, from the bands Whitesnake, Bon Jovi and Aerosmith.
I thought wow that's really cool. I'm really proud that kind of music has that kind of life. I'm proud all the time about all the stuff that I've done.

That's extraordinary.
Absolutely. I hear that on the radio a lot of times where they play many songs in a row that I've done but it was interesting in such a bizarre place to hear the same thing. That's a comment that no one else would tell you, that they went to a strip club with a girl just for socializing and not to see dancers and they hear their songs in a strip club.

Pay more attention to the music than the dancers!

You are very well respected within the industry.
Yes, that's a great thing; it's what I always wanted.

Would you prefer a more public recognition of the work you've done? Would you prefer a bigger legacy on that side of things?
No. I always wanted to have the legacy within the music business. I appreciate it when the public knows I do things, but the public tends to be a little more unreasonable.... meaning that my web site gets a lot of negative mail that I ruined Aerosmith or… I mean Miss Storm [Site web-mistress] gets a lot of negative mail because obviously they can't get to Aerosmith or Steve Perry or Journey.
They're not available to them so they take their frustrations out on me.
I'm not sure how much I'd want to be known to the public. I prefer it within the record business. I don't really enjoy a lot of the beating I take from a lot of the public who for instance take out a lot of things on me that aren't necessarily related to me.

I understand. You're only one person caught in the middle…
It's not the thing. I mean for instance, I get a lot of negative things about that I ruined Aerosmith. Well if people knew Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, first of all no one tells them what to do. You know they do the music that they want to do. They wanted to make commercial music, their lives have changed since they wrote 'Sweet Emotion' and 'Walk This Way' and that's just sort of how it goes.
I constantly get hate mail about that and there's nothing I can do about it. I'm supposed to make the best record that Aerosmith can at that particular time. That's all.

Let's talk about Aerosmith. You brought them back from absolute obscurity didn't you?
Yes that's right.

I mean 'Permanent Vacation' was the tip of the iceberg and then 'Pump'…
We had made a record that wasn't very good 'Done With Mirrors' when I first signed them and I finally figured out the way to deal with them. I had to be very involved. Obviously a great producer like Bruce Fairbairn who I got them to use was significant and I got them to write with different people, which meant a lot. That's what I mean about the talent. Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and people like Desmond Child and Taylor Rhodes are where the talent is but I come up with the ideas.



John & Steven Tyler

The direction that they need.
The direction yes, they're the ones that create the music.

I know a lot of bands have spent years doing nothing when they really need somebody behind them kicking them in the ass all the time.
Yes, but bands don't want that and they do resent that. Even the famous bands but you just have to do your best. You're really not the artists' friend; you're their A&R person.

You had the toughest decision of all with Aerosmith didn't you. You had to tell them to start over at one point didn't you?
Yes on the 'Get A Grip' record, that is correct.

How far gone were they with the record?
It wasn't that far-gone. They had recorded for about three months and I just listened to it and I didn't think it was good enough following 'Pump' which was one of the greatest records ever made. I knew they could do better. I just told them they had to go work on more songs and I didn't think the environment of Los Angeles was correct to record in. They had recorded with Bruce Fairbairn in Vancouver and I felt they had to go back to Vancouver even though they didn't really want to. So yes, it was a very difficult decision and very difficult to do that with anybody let alone superstars like Aerosmith.

What kind of language did they use at you at the time?!
Well it's never direct when that happens. Anxiety like that comes out over the weeks and months.

But 'Get A Grip' was another wonderful record again.
Yes, it sold 15 million copies.

Yeah well they've got to be happy with that.
I don't really know the answer to that you know you'd have to ask them. It was a very good record. It was very artistic and commercial.

Do you think they've done a record as good as that since?
No. I think they've done some songs maybe better than that as individual songs, but as a whole album I don't think their albums have been as good as 'Get A Grip' of 'Pump'. 'Jaded' I think is one of the finest songs they've ever written ever.

Ok. It's a cool song.
So that's why I mean when I say I don't do interviews. Interviewers will say I don't think they've made as good as record as 'Get A Grip' or 'Pump' but then they'll leave out the things where individual songs I happen to really like on selected albums.
I really like 'Pink'. I mean some of the songs on 'Nine Lives' and 'Just Push Play' are pretty spectacular.

Yeah but the thing that makes a great album is the Track 1 to Track 12.
I'm not sure this is really a true thing and it's an important comment to this. I'm not sure that any band or single artist makes an album like that anymore. I'm not aware of any anyway.
If you think about it I can't say since 1993 when 'Get A Grip' came out that there's a record except maybe Alanis Morrissette or Hootie and The Blowfish where almost every song is good. Maybe even Matchbox 20. For instance 'Jaded' making my 2nd or 3rd Aerosmith song of all time so there are definitely moments of brilliance no matter what it is.

Absolutely and I hope they continue to do that.
When I compiled the greatest hits it just came out when I was listening to all the songs. I have to say that I probably listened to 'Jaded' and 'The Other Side' the most from all the songs.

'The Other Side' from 'Pump'?

I think Aerosmith were amazing in that they could tap into the youth, be trendy to the youth…
Right now they are about to embark on a sold out tour, a bigger tour than ever. That's amazing, because they tapped into an audience from 12 to 50 years old now.

I think there's only one other band that does that at the moment and I think you're working with them a little bit and that's Bon Jovi.
I've always A&R'd their records. Yes that's true. This record that's coming up is spectacular.

I thought 'Crush' was just ok.
This is a way better record than 'Crush'. It's more like what we were talking about, many good songs on this record.

I thought 'Crush' was a little bit safe.
I think the thing is Jon Bon Jovi was very focused on the songs for this record. Jon and Ritchie were very focused on the songs.

I'm looking forward to hearing it.
I think you will really like it.

Great. Another band that you've championed through your career is of course Journey and if there's any band that generates more hate mail I'd like to see it.
I've never seen such craziness as what goes on with Journey fans.
The greatest thing to me would be a tour with the original band, with Steve Perry.
God knows I've tried everything I know for the last 6 or 7 years and I don't know what else I could do. I'm sick of people writing to me about this because there's nobody who want Steve Perry to sing with Journey more than me. So I don't know what else to do.

Is Steve just not interested in touring?
I think that's what it is. That's exactly my opinion. He's not interested in touring. Maybe one day he will be.
Probably one of the greatest singers in history.
So I talk to him a lot and there's no thing I've said that motivates him. I don't know what else to do about it. I'm sick of these people writing to me.

I understand. I've had a fair few emails sent to me over the years.
Well Kevin Shirley had to change his AOL account because he got so much hate mail from those people.

They're a dedicated bunch aren't they?
I mean that's great being dedicated to music, you know how I feel about that. That's what makes the music business great is the fans.



Journey (and Hagar) manager Irving Azoff, Kalodner and Jonathan Cain.

Is Steve working on anything for himself?
I don't know, I think he is but I don't know if it'll ever get done. I know he looks great.

As much as I'm a huge Journey/Perry fan, personally I do love Steve Augeri. Was he the best man to fill Steve's shoes?
I thought so, I thought he was the best man to replace Steve Perry but you know what? He's not Steve Perry.

Yes absolutely. I think I've heard that on this new EP that they're trying to get away from that a little bit.
Yes maybe…but I don't care what they do Journey is Journey and so that's it. That's my opinion.

Yeah I understand.
I mean the thing is if Steve Perry wasn't going to sing, wasn't going to tour obviously somebody should go and sing the songs because 10,000 people come see them a night want to hear those songs. There's an obvious desire for that. Steve Augeri, I like him and he's one of the nicer guys in the music business, really cool, nice to be around with good vibes and I think the shows are pretty good but he isn't Steve Perry.

Perry was one in a million.
One in a million, absolutely.

Are you sorry to see the band leave Sony?

Any chance you might draw them back?
I don't really know. It'll be interesting to see what happens. I can't imagine that they would be brought back with Steve Augeri. That's just a guess.
The Steve Perry thing, that might be another story. I just don't know.

What killed 'Arrival' sales wise? Was it the leak to the Internet, file sharing or lack of promotion? It was a great record I thought.
I don't know the answer to that. I can tell you that file sharing really hurts records. I can guarantee you that.
There are probably other factors but I don't know them. File sharing is deadly to those kinds of records. Those kinds of records that are right on the edge that sell 250,000 or whatever. This is the one with Augeri right?

It was right on the edge of doing well and then that 40% or 50% of music that gets stolen by file sharing is a significantly damaging amount. That definitely hurt that record.

That was out in advance in Japan, which didn't help matters with people getting files. What about the Bon Jovi record, which has a 1-month lead in Japan, isn't that going to hurt or are they that big?
If that is the truth and I don't know that to be the truth - but if it is the truth that's very damaging. I don't even know what to say about that. If that's the truth that it's coming out, the whole album 1-month before hand it's going to be severely pirated.

That's what I thought. I even said something to the same effect on my web site on the news. The Jovi web site has September 11th for Japan and 9th October for the USA. [Accurate release dates]
I don't really know what to say about that.

It really flies in the face of everything doesn't it?
Yes. We're having severe problems with that.

I actually said on my site that I think the date will change. [It hasn't]
I hope so.

Another band that I know you've been a long time fan of this guy and I just love him to death and that's Sammy Hagar.
Love Sammy Hagar.

He's one of the most charismatic front men.
He's one of the greatest ever. He's great in his show, that whole tour I've seen it, it's great. Hopefully, I know that he and Dave want to run with Van Halen again with some summer tour so I hope that happens.

Do you think it's realistic for both of them to do a show?
I know that it is. I don't think that - it is. They will definitely do it. It's really funny you have an exclusive on that. I spoke to Sammy and Irving Azoff the manager and I think under the right conditions they would definitely do it.

It's just convincing one Eddie Van Halen?
Oh I think its convincing Alex Van Halen.

Oh really?
I think to some extent. I hope it happens, it would be awesome. Those brothers are awesome. I love them. They are one of the greatest music bands ever. Sammy and Dave would do it.

What about all this press between Sam & Dave, is it just bullshit to hype up the competition angle?
Well there is severe competition between the two of them absolutely.





Kalodner & Sammy Hagar, August 2002.

Sometimes that kind of atmosphere breeds greatness.
I think so; I think it breeds greatness. There was one leg and now they're doing a second leg right so how bad could it be.

It can't be that bad. That would be awesome if they did a tour next summer or the one after.

I'd fly to the States to see that.
Yes you would definitely want to for that.

I saw them with Sammy in '93 and I saw them with Gary in '98.
It's funny Sammy Hagar has told me for many years that he always wanted to do a tour with David Lee Roth. Yes he really did, I have to give him credit. He told me that for 6 or 7 years. Yes that's true he's always wanted to do one tour with Dave.

What a greatest hit set that would be.
Yep. I think so. This is what he's always told me but I can't account for how it would happen.

I think nothing would bring the fans together more than that.
He's all for it.

In your opinion do you think they would record an album that way?
I don't know the answer to that.
I think a lot of the bands, if the touring is good or if there is an MTV unplugged for VH1. I guess if they enjoy the experience they might do it. The live business is so much more important than the recorded business. I think the tour would be the focus.

A lot of money to be made there.
A lot of money.

Were you involved at all with the band and the pseudo reunion with David a couple of years back that never got off the ground?
No I wasn't actually and I'm sort of glad I wasn't at the time.
That was bizarre. No I was not. I mean I love David Lee Roth and I really like the brothers, it's just one of those things I hope it happens. I mean I've only had good experiences with all of them.

Fantastic. I'm really pleased to hear that.
Yeah anything I could do I would try to do it.

The Planet Us project is an interesting angle.
Yeah I think so, but it's a whole different thing than having David in Van Halen. The Planet Us is a real cool thing. That's a whole different story that's an artistic thing. I'd like to do it, I'm interested in the music but it's just not like having Van Halen.

It'll just be a project?

Will they record an album or do a tour?
I don't know yet. I guess I'll talk to him [Sammy] when he gets off the tour. I hope so.

Another band that you've had numerous dealings with on and off - and I'm wondering if it's back on – is the awesome David Coverdale?
Well David and I have been really close all these years. I really haven't had that much of a working relationship with him lately.
Any time he needed me I would work with him. I love the guy, I loved his music and it was great working with him. When you think about it, it was 11 or 12 years already.
If he ever wants to do anything, I would.
He is Whitesnake but I believe there should be a band Whitesnake. I also believe he should work with John Sykes. I've told him this for years.

I interviewed him and asked him the same thing but he thankfully didn't hang up on me.
He's so great.

Yeah once again I think he's one of the greatest vocalists ever.
Right. He's one of those Top 10 greatest vocalists, along with Robert Plant, Steven Tyler, Roger Daltrey and Steve Perry.

For me Whitesnake '1987' is in my Top 5 favorite albums.
Yeah that's right, for me too. I'd always work with him.

Another person who I think is a great singer, an even better songwriter and an all-round good guy is Jack Blades.
Yes. He's actually a good friend of mine. A great songwriter and a really great singer,
he really needs to be in a band or should really think about a new band for next year. He should have a brand new band.
Again I'll talk to him about it.

I talk to him now and again and he's always saying, “What should he do next?”
He should have a brand new band with another singer just like Damn Yankees was.

Just not Damn Yankees?
No not them but like Damn Yankees was.

I didn't get into 'Don't Tread' as much but I think the first Damn Yankees record is another in my Top 10 of all time.
Yeah that's a great record. I don't think 'Don't Tread' was as good.

You are working with Toto a little bit?
I don't work with them very much I mostly really pay attention and oversee their catalogue reissues and re-mastering of various formats of their classic records. I don't work with them day to day.
I just love their music.

So do I. I must admit I just got an advance copy of their covers album and I wasn't that impressed.
I didn't do that.

I heard that Steve Lukather had been producing an album with Jeff Beck?
He was years ago. I haven't actually stayed in touch with that. Jeff Beck was very frustrating for me to work with so I sort of forgot about it. I would always do anything with Steve Lukather. He's another guy who is supremely talented. He 'd probably know more about that than I do.

Is there any band that you've worked with before that you'd really like to work with again at the moment?
That's a really good question.
I'd still want to work with Cinderella. It just hasn't seemed to work out. I think they're amazing. I'd love to work with the Goo Goo Dolls actually. I'd really like to A&R a Genesis reunion. You get all the exclusives. I love Genesis; I'd love to work with Peter Gabriel, Phil, Mike and Tony. It's on my wish list.

Is it possible?
I don't know. I could tell you more when I research it in the next few months.
There's another artist that I'd really like to make a record with and that's Billy Joel. I love Billy Joel.

I was really disappointed when he said he wasn't going to write new pop music anymore.
That may not be true, we'll see. Maybe that's not going to stick.

There are a lot of records for a hundred different reasons that have never been released. The public knows of some of it but how much stuff is sitting in record company vaults around the world?
I don't really know the answer to that. Some records don't get released for various reasons.

The last Damn Yankees album didn't get released.
I didn't think it was quite good enough and at the time with 80's style rock you'd have to come up with something pretty spectacular. I was disappointed in the record mostly because of Tommy Shaw's non-participation. I say that was probably the greatest problem. Tommy was totally an integral part of it. He was busy with Styx and it was sort of my mistake because I just couldn't control him. It's one of those projects that I failed on.

It's interesting to hear you say that.
I mean the buck stops here. It lacked the input of Tommy Shaw.

Would you consider any other of the projects you've worked on as a failure?
I mean you've had so many hits it's just incredible.

So many hits. Let's see. I can't think off hand but that's one of them, a real good example. I was focused on that record and I love the band and it shows you that an A&R person can't do everything. The lack of one of the stars of the band was the undoing of that record. That's a prefect example. No one has ever asked me that before. You can fail. Sometimes you just can't get it right.

Well that's perfectly reasonable if you look at your catalogue of records and releases.
That's true. I couldn't substitute Tommy Shaw.

Any other records that you've worked on that haven't been released?
Not really, very unusual for me. I don't hide many of them. I didn't get a chance to make a Cinderella album. I think there are a few in the 80's when I was at Geffen. I think there were a few mis-starts that I had. I'd really have to search my memory for what they are.

Do you consider your Geffen years a highlight, the best part?
Absolutely, without question.

That was a big era for rock 'n roll wasn't it?
Also the way the time was in the 80s working for David Geffen who let me do exactly what I wanted. Yes that was the highlight of my career.

You may not be able to go here but what's happening with Portrait in the future?
Really nothing's happening with Portrait. I mean they'll be some bands on it like Union Underground and I'll be making a record with them. It's totally owned by the Sony Corporation and its part of Columbia Records. I don't really have to worry what's happening with Portrait. Iron Maiden will be on Portrait.
It's sort of a simple but true answer. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to do as many 80's records as possible because most of the major companies, including Sony didn't really want to be in that business. It's just that simple. I don't think there's anything more complicated than that. I don't think they wanted to be in that business of selling 50,000 or 100,000 records.

It's a shame because I think some of the smaller labels if you told them a record would sell 100,000 records they would be spectacularly happy.
I agree. On the other hand they [Sony] are very interested in Iron Maiden and Union Underground.

That's positive. I'll ask you a couple of industry type questions now.
First off - on the label thing have you ever considered your own label?

No never, I never would. Not interested.

Too much grief?
Too much everything. I make records I don't run companies.

So we talked about file sharing being a problem on the Internet but are their good things on the Internet? Do record companies understand the promotional capabilities?
I have no idea. In my opinion there's no good thing about the Internet.

Really? Just a bunch of pirates?
I don't know. You notice I have a web site. I don't rely on that for my income. If I did I would be poor.
I'm sorry the Internet ever came along. It's important for you to say that I have a web site and it's important to me, I pay attention to it and I spend a lot of time with Miss Storm on it but if I could turn back time I wouldn't want the Internet.
I don't think it's a positive thing for creative people especially musicians and possibly movies. I don't think it's going to have a positive effect on music.

Well at least it has certainly complicated things hasn't it?
Yes it's certainly complicated and it's going to be very negative for the record companies and the artists.

What about bigger issues such as Payola and Pay for Play on radio?
Luckily I know nothing about that, thank God.

Do you think labels abandon bands too early these days and they don't let them grow over 2 or 3 records and hope that say their 4th is a hit record?
Sometimes. I'm not really going to get into that, it's open too much for interpretation and dangerous to comment on.

What young bands out there at the moment do you think are going to be around in 10 years?
Nickelback with that guy Chad Kroeger. Creed probably. They'd be the two off the top of my head.

I think the Goo Goo Dolls.
I think they'll be around. I think they're super talented.

I think the bass player Robbie has to stop singing.
Yes. Well I'll tell them when I see them next.

I think Johnny's got such a great voice.
Yes. I think he's the one who should sing all the time.

Do you ever get sent some of these records made by some of the smaller European melodic labels?
Sometimes I listen to those things. It's just that a lot of times the music is very orientated towards the 80's and there's really nothing I can do. If I couldn't do anything about Cinderella, what could I do with some of these other things? I listen to a lot of the European stuff only because it tends to be better than so much other stuff I listen to. In terms of signing new bands I have to tell you that younger bands really have the edge over anybody else now. I'm sorry to say but it's true.

A couple of these labels have released stuff by artists that have been wise enough to have their own home studios and it's major label quality, some of the CDs.
I'm wondering if you've heard of a band called 'Harem Scarem'?

I'll try to check it out. Definitely the way to go. For younger bands especially if they want to play melodic rock is to do it in their home studio. The more control the better for the band. I would encourage that really.
I hope that music is being made that was similar to music being made in the 80's but by bands that are 19.

I think bands like SR-71 have that sort of edge.
I think so too. I saw them open for Bon Jovi. Really on the other hand it's all about the songs. If you listen to 'Hero' by Chad Kroeger, Jon Bon Jovi could have sung that song.
The talent of the songwriter with a good voice is still the thing that's most important.





Kalodner & Goo Goo's Johnny.

And that that.






Jack Russell (2002)


So Jack, are you happy with the response to 'For You' so far?
Yeah, you know I really am. Some of the reviews I've got have just blown my mind especially coming from some of these really heavy hard rock magazines in Europe. I was expecting them not to understand the direction of the music and they loved it. So they loved it and the fans loved it. The bottom line is it's a record that I'm really proud of and that's what I've always set out to do when I make albums. Hopefully the public will like them but if not at least you have something that you can play on your own stereo and feel good about it. That's my main goal I like to make music that I enjoy listening to and if somebody else has a sense of what's good then maybe they'll buy it and enjoy it too. If not at least you can go broke with some integrity you know.

I couldn't agree more. I don't think you'll go broke though. It's a fantastic sounding record.
Thank you. For me it's just the most well realized album I've ever worked on. I mean over the years you work with producers and you have a certain idea of songs in your head when you're writing how it's going to sound like. A lot of times unfortunately when it's finally done and all mixed and everything and everybody's had their hands in the pie it doesn't quite come out the way you envisioned it. Well this one here for me every song came out as good as I wanted it too and then some. So I was very happy with it all.

Was that because there was fewer people working on it? A band versus a solo artist?
I think that as well. Once we started the project you know I kinda had a definite idea of where I wanted to go and the producers Bob [Kulick] and Billy [Sherwood], that also played on the record new exactly what I wanted to do and they were of the same mind. So it wasn't like I had to sit there every 5 minutes and sit there while they were recording to make sure they were doing it right. I would leave the studio and then come back and they'd have some guitars done for one song and I'd come down and listen to them and go that's great. I didn't have to be there looking over their shoulders which is really nice.

They've got a great track record those two.
Oh yeah. The thing was they were really into the project. The writing was so easy. I have been writing with the same people for 20 odd years. Stepping outside to write with someone else I thought it was going to be a more painful experience. When Billy, Bob and I started working on the songs it was just so easy. The chemistry was just instant so it made it really fun and obviously rewarding for me.

You've previously sung on a few of Bob's tribute records haven't you?
Right. That's where Bob and I first hooked up. I just really liked the guy. His studio was close to where I was living at the time. So when I thought about doing some demos for this project I thought I'd call these guys up and use their studio. I brought done a song I was working on and they were like hey this is great let's try this to it and what about this and I'm going ok well let's try that out. That's when I decided these were the guys I wanted to write the songs with because they understood where I was coming from.

So what is it that's so good about this record? Is it just great songs?
For me yeah. The big thing also is it's a very honest record. Every record I've done I've tried to make it more or less a snap shot of where I was at the time spiritually and emotionally. This one was more defined, I was more honest about where I was at and what I was going through and people will either grab it or they won't. The bottom line is I'm not trying to say anything that hasn't been said before I'm just trying to say it in my own way.

Your first solo record for Japan wasn't too far removed from the Great White sound - but this one is really on the other side of it…
This is more where I wanted to be. The first record I didn't really know what I wanted to do. It was a lot more eclectic than this one there was like heavy metal songs and pop ballads. When I decided to put a fork in Great White I didn't feel at this time in my life at 41 I wanted to be trying to write teen anthems. I wanted to do something mellower and a little more musical. Also more diverse for my vocals. The thing about Great White as diverse as the band was it was still a certain area we were in musically. You couldn't really go too far out of it because people wouldn't understand. It was more of a rock band than anything else.
This was something I wanted to do that wasn't so much rock but it wasn't totally wimpy either. I really wanted to have something that was snappy and musical but I wanted to try some different things with my voice.

I think it sounds a million bucks.
Thank you, I was really happy when it came out.
Having the year we took to make it really enabled us to sit and trim the fat. We didn't have to have songs on there because we were under the gun to finish the album when you throw a bunch of filler songs in. It wasn't like we had to sit down and write all the songs in a month. I just took my time. If I had a idea I would come down to the studio and demo it. When we had four or five songs we would call the guys down and start recording those. Then we'd start writing the next batch.

Have you done many solo dates for it yet?
Yeah we have actually I've got another one tomorrow night. Then we're heading up to Northern California.
And then we'll do the West Coast and later the East Coast. We still have a lot of other things going on right now, a lot of press, radio and TV stuff. It's nice at this point in my life that I can be excited about this again. I was with Great White for 23 years and it got to the point where it wasn't a labor of love anymore. I've always said that when this isn't fun anymore that I want to try to find something else to do. It was not fun the last year or two. It wasn't' anybody's fault it was just we were fighting an uphill battle. That kind of music was not in vogue anymore. You got a bunch of guys that are older and don't want to be on the road and constantly complaining about "this sucks, the bus sucks, the gig sucks"

Haha…I was going to ask you what lead to the demise of Great White.
We had another album that we were supposed to do for Columbia. We were working on the songs for it and when it came time to figure out whether we wanted to do this record or not we sat down with John Kalodner and played him some of the songs. We said what do you think and he said what do you think? I said honestly that I think the magic is gone. I think you had a bunch of guys that are doing this just for the money and it's not in their heart anymore. It's was sad for me to say that because I started the band but I didn't want to go out and make a record just to make money to put in my pocket and sacrifice the music. I want Great White to be remembered for having some good songs not like oh wasn't the last record a pile of shit. I don't know if anyone else has turned down a major record deal but I just didn't think it was appropriate.

I just did an interview with John Kalodner actually.
He's a really good guy and he was nice enough to let me out the contract. He's always been there for me and I really appreciate it. He understood that maybe it was time to pack it in. I don't want to do music to make money, if I make money that's great. I do music because I love it and I respect the artistry of the craft.
I think if more people felt that way you'd have a lot better music now.

The solo album is out with Paul at Knight Records. How do you know Paul and are you happy with that set up?
Love it. The best thing about it is I don't have the major labels spending $50,000 on the coversheet for on the inside cover of your CD and then not pumping the promotion of your album. There were just so many things that went on that I was scratching my head wondering why are they spending the money on that? Promote the frigging record!!
I decided I didn't want to be doing that way anymore, doing pennies on the dollar. I wanted to have more of a hands on thing. Paul is my manager and I met him in Europe when Great White was touring over there. He was the agent that booked us. We just hit it off. I brought him back to the States with me to work with Great White as tour manager. One thing led to another and we started talking about what I wanted to do solo wise and he had some great ideas. We sat down and brainstormed and pretty much put the whole thing together.

I've enjoyed dealing with him and he seems to have a good plan.
He does and he's got a passion for it too. He believes in the record. There are so many labels out there that grip and grin and tell you how great you are but your stuff is product. We're ready to go the long haul. With the major labels if you don't sell X amount of records in a month is like sorry maybe next time. I don't want to do that again and be lied to.

How much pressure was Great White under during the Capitol years?
Not much. During the Capitol Years we were pretty much oblivious to what was going on anyway.
We were definitely living the rock 'n roll lifestyle. In one aspect it was great but in another it was like where did all the money go? I don't know!
We were just young and dumb and we didn't care. It was fun.
The great thing about Great White was we had control of our music. We never had our label people come down to the studio until we'd finished the record. We never let them have any input and it felt good to us at the time.

You were always fairly consistent.
It was a fun band and we didn't take ourselves too seriously. It was like Mick Jagger said it's only rock 'n roll but I like it.

What are the other guys doing now?
I really don't know. I know Ken is working on some stuff for some movies. Michael is up North with Jack Blades recording his son's album. The other guys I'm really not sure what they're doing. We haven't all started missing each other yet. We were together for 23 years so I can go a year without seeing someone.

You might get some desire to do a reunion gig in a few years time.
Yeah you never know. The door is always open for that. Although at this point in my life I can't even imagine that. If we did it for me it would just be for fun. I wouldn't want to continue a career out of it.
We've had our day and as hard as it was to come to terms with that I have to look back and realize that Great White did everything we set out to do.

It was a long career.
Absolutely and we made like 15 albums, Grammy nominations and we sold millions of records and hell I can't complain it was a hell of a ride. Sometimes it's time to get off the roller coaster and get on something else.

What ever happened to the project that you and Jack Blades might have been teaming up to do?
Columbia just decided that they didn't want to do it. They paid us some money to begin with and then I think it was at the point that Portrait was really falling apart. John had the support of the people higher up and I think they gave him the label as kind of a token but I don't think they really wanted him to succeed with it because they kept telling us that this is going out of style. John kept fighting it but when you're one man and fighting against an army of bureaucrats it just doesn't work. We got the plug pulled out and didn't even get started.

You didn't get to the recording stage?
No we started writing but at least we got some money. Here's a chunk of change but we don't want you to do anything! It would have been a hell of a lot of fun though.

You'll go straight into another solo album then?
Yes that's my plan. I can't see my ambitions or goals changing. I'm really focused and loving what I'm doing. I'm really enjoying playing the music live. I got people in my band that are younger and that are excited about touring. The excitement is contagious. It's an adventure again.

What else is going on, are you looking forward to other stuff?
No that's all I'm doing. I've got a lovely woman in my life that's my best friend and my life is really good and full right now. People always say that you're younger years are your glory days but every year my life just gets better and better. I'm so happy and content.

What is your favorite Great White record over the years looking back?
My favorite one is the last one 'You Can't Get There From Here'.

Yep. There were some great songs written over the years but my favourite song for song album was that one. I just love that record. It was fun to make and there was a lot less pressure making that record.

I'm a big fan of 'Once Bitten' and 'Twice Shy'.
Those were good records too. That was a time too when everything was brand new. We finished recording 'Rock Me' and I looked at Mark Kendall and said dude this could be something really cool. It could be a big song and it was.

Absolutely. That's it from me – thanks for your time Jack.
I appreciate your time.












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