Ricky Phillips (2003)

Ricky Phillips: A new man joins the Styx club.


Ricky Phillips taks about his new rols as Styx bass player and what's ahead for him and how it feels to be part of a band once again after a long time in the studio.

So Ricky, I must thank you for taking to time to chat and offer some comments on joining Styx! Congratulations! I'm a long time fan of the band, but even more so a fan of Glen Burtnik and Lawrence Gowan, who I thought were great choices to join the band.
Yeah, I'm just the opposite...a huge STYX fan who is now a Lawrence and Glen fan.. Lawrence Gowan is the most amazing keyboardist. He can jump from rock to ragtime to classical like the flip of a switch...and scary good. He's also hysterically funny... I didn't know too much about Glen Burtnik. I had heard his name but he's East Coast and I'm West so our paths hadn't crossed. When I first got the call for the gig I went to a show in Orange County with Tommy, Todd and the tour manager George Packer. When we
got there I asked someone to introduce me to him. He and his wife were both very sweet. They couldn't have been nicer. I started talking to him and he said he did some gigs with [John] Waite and I said wow, small world.
...Tommy and I figure we've known each other for over 20 years…

Are you serious? I was wondering how you got the gig!
Well you'd have to ask them that but I do remember saying I'm honored and flattered, but why me? I guess Todd said they put a list together of who would compliment the
band's style and I'm sure other various considerations and somehow I ended
up at the top.

Yeah, they did their homework checking me out, they called [John] Kalodner
and other people who knew me and had worked with me.
But I was really surprised. The biggest contention ... the biggest hurdle...
JY said to me "We're not even going to get into the bass playing end of it,
that's a done deal." But what he was concerned with was that... well, Styx
has this identifiable vocal sound - you throw in one voice that doesn't fit
and it can sound completely different.
Good bad or ugly you don't know what that's going to do or sound like until
you do it...and I knew JY was Right.
So they did their last shows in Orange County with Glen and the following night was in Pomona that was the last show. They had the trucks still loaded with all the gear and stuff and we got a soundstage in Burbank, went in and blew down the first 4 song opener and a 14 song medley that they do in the show. Then, Lawrence and I started doing the Beatles thing...and Tommy throws on his 12 string and starts going up to the mike doing his thing, then Todd jumps in it was brilliant. Then we blew through the back
side of Abbey Road...ya know...Golden Slumbers on out it was unbelievably
It was just like a bunch of guys hanging out like we'd been doing this for years.

They started firing new songs at me, as they are going to change the set around. They haven't been doing "Snowblind" and I dig that song...we're going to do that and they are going to revisit some cool songs they haven't been doing for a while. I toured with Styx when it was all the original members and I somehow have a feeling it is going to get back to that sound... with the addition of their new CD.
When I first heard the Cyclorama CD I was blown away with how good it sounded...a very clever fusion of styles. My 1st take...Definitely a modern sounding Styx with retro visits...Yes, 10cc,Zep The Beatles and some new territory.

For Styx fans that are interested, I think you are a very intricate player - Frederiksen Phillips and Coverdale Page for example.
Yeah, when I moved to LA, the first band I was in 'Dulaine' was like Genesis meets Yes meets ELP with Beatle harmonies. And there were only 4 of us in the band. His songs (Timmy Dulaine) were the hardest I've ever had to learn in my life.
That gig was in a round about way the reason I got the gig with The Babys. (Explains.....)
The point of that story is that I was doing really intricate sort of music back then and The Babys was an offshoot of Free, The Faces, Humble Pie and even the very first Led Zeppelin album. Real rootsy English stuff. I loved those bands. I like going from intricate stuff and still appreciating simple rootsy rock n' roll...not overstating the obvious by overplaying...I like all that. The best of both rock worlds.

Styx fans are very obsessed and they can be pretty intense.
Yeah, I've already got a lot of e-mails!

I bet you have…haha…so you see yourself as more of a traditional member?
I'm not sure what you mean. I don't know what I am. I have been writing stuff with no avenue for it. When Tommy said let's go to the beach house and write, I was going shit man, maybe this is why I've been writing all this music. He and I have had conversations about...things that appear on the path were probably meant to be...and..."be careful what you wish for". It started when I said to Tommy, "Did you ever think 20 some years ago, when the Babys opened for STYX that we'd be talkin' about this"...me joining STYX.
Anyway, I have CDs and idea tapes of all this music...but I'm not even sure if its in a STYX direction...maybe. At one point I thought, ok I'll do another Frederiksen/Phillips record. I'm ready now. But now I have other things on my mind......
Neal Schon got on the phone a few days ago, and he says “..."Is this Mr. Roboto?"

Ha ha...that's cool.
Yeah, he and Deen both called me, they were supportive and excited for me.
It was a great phone call. They were telling me what a great organization Styx have and what great guys they are. Neal was saying this is the perfect band for me, how I can stretch out and do some cool things.

I saw the show in LA in May. I came around your place but you had to head out.
Oh yeah, I was I in the studio with Montrose that day.

Yes, you were. How's that going?
Great. Ronnie has asked me to produce the CD with him. Hagar's doing a track, Eric Martin is doing a track, Edgar Winter, Greg Rollie, Terry Reid, Mark Farner, and a few more surprises. We're having the singers write the songs with us. We've got the basic tracks done, but we're going to finish the tracks with the singers, so they can
have a little piece of themselves in each track.
The basic tracks though are absolutely fantastic. No click tracks, recorded as real live rock n roll. We recorded it on the same machine that recorded The Wall.

Good to see Sammy on there.
Yeah, Sammy and Ronnie are good friends again, so that's great, they did
those shows together with the original Montrose line up.

Joining Styx is a really big deal - you haven't been in a band for a while

Yeah, The Styx guys are great guys. Tommy and I have been friends for ever.
And Todd Sucherman - When we first worked together I told him he was the
best drummer I'd played with since Deen Castronovo and now Deen is a huge
fan of his.
Todd is a-mazing, we are having so much fun. We did this record together
that never got released a couple years ago called Forrest Blackburn. And
we've had this mutual admiration since.

We'll I think it's great for you. I gather you are in for the long haul, not
just this tour?

This was one of the conditions. Tommy said, "We are going to tour until me and JY drop... we want to do that. Is that what you want?" I like these guys...besides being great musicians they are good people. I'm really digging playing live again. I love producing and writing songs, but that was never supposed to replace performing live. Sometimes you have to know when to put your boots back on.
Styx carries a full crew just like they always did. They care enough about the show to carry and keep employed a full crew like in the old days, even a carpenter. They insist on delivering a quality show.

It looked like it too…
I respect them for that.

How did the first shows with the band go?
The first shows have been really very good but each one seems to get exceedingly better. We're havin' us some fun up there!

How were the fans and the band's reaction to the shows?
The fans are amazing...they send presents and cards backstage...and some things I can't mention. They've held banners saying Welcome Ricky and a little kid handed me a button with a picture of me on stage from the night before with "WELCOME TO STYX WORLD RICKY" printed on it. Sweet stuff.

And have you discussed any other plans with the band as yet, or just the
immediate touring future?

Yes, we plan to rock your world.

Well, I can't wait to hear the next Styx record!
Haha me too buddy! I'll be doing what I can.

Good to talk to you Ricky.
Oh, thanks very much for your interest in calling me, it's always good to
hear form you. Anything you need, let me know.

Thanks, same goes. Bye for now.
Take care.

Check out www.rickyphillips.com for more on Ricky and www.styxworld.com for more Styx.



Duran Duran (2003)


Duran Duran: Back to business in a new place and time.

Duran guitarist Andy Taylor talks about the band's return to work and what that entails - dealing with the music industry, record labels and life on the road in 2003. Andy was also gracious to allow some talk of his solo, songwriting and production career. We had 30 minutes of scheduled interview time to cram in as much as possible. I think we did pretty well!

At the peak of their popularity Duran Duran were the number one band on the planet. In a few short years, they went from unknowns releasing their debut album, to five celebrated stars, whose pictures adorned bedroom walls worldwide.
The band's original and most celebrated line-up only ever recorded three studio and one live album – all done within a seemingly impossible time frame by today's standards.
While the band lived life to excess and became ever more stalked as celebrities, pressure on singer Simon LeBon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, guitarist Andy Taylor, bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor intensified. As their fame increased, things began to change and the band started to splinter.

By 1985, a mere 5 years since that debut album, the band had decided on a break. It was a break some members wouldn't return from.
Andy and John Taylor joined the hard rock project Power Station with singer Robert Palmer, Chic drummer Tony Thompson and famed producer Bernard Edwards. Sadly aside from the Taylor's, the remaining members of Power Station have all now passed away.
LeBon and Rhodes formed their own side project, the more pop styled Arcadia.
When Duran got back to business for the Notorious album, things had changed. Andy Taylor played guitar on only three tracks and continued on his own path as a solo artist and sought after producer, while drummer Roger Taylor had retired from public life altogether.
Duran continued on with LeBon, Rhodes and John Taylor as the backbone of the band for another 10 years, with Taylor eventually leaving in 1996.
The albums that were released never reached the fan base of the original line-up and in 2001 LeBon decided it was time to try and piece the original band back together.
One of the first on board was Andy Taylor, who I spoke with from New York, preparing for the band's latest stint on the road, a 7 week trek that will take them through select US dates and here to Australia, supporting Robbie Williams, while also taking in a few solo shows.


It was full circle for the band with a rather complicated history - ”…to put in mildly!” says Taylor.
The band has already played a range of shows that have met with wild scenes bringing back memories of the glory days. They even have new teenage groupies.
Andy Taylor says the whole band are really honored to be receiving such a reception.
“We went out in July and did some shows in Japan and a few shows in the States and it just went kinda crazy. We thought, ok, let's do some more! We just kept putting shows together, it's been incredible. We did a show in London a few weeks ago – that was the first show we'd done in the UK for 20 years.”
That UK show saw over 200,000 applications arrive for only 2000 available seats.
“It was mind-blowing. It was a small place with 2000 standing up tickets. The smiles on our faces – it's great to have your band back and working and playing again, people have been so generous.”

So just what was the catalyst for the guys reuniting? Fears of an 80's revival cash-in are quickly allayed. “We've never actually stopped talking.” says Taylor, “We all saw each other – there wasn't any great divide. There were no big walls or barriers to get over other than why are we doing this?
We sat down and within a short amount of time it was fairly evident that nobody wanted to do this as a one-off thing. It's too big a part of our life to do it quickly and dispose of it and kinda run out and make some cash.”

That sentiment is supported by the fact the guys have been together now since 2001, writing and recording a brand new studio album, which is due for release in 2004.
“The first thing we decided we wanted to do was we wanted to get back together and write. We spent the last year and a half or two years before we got back on the road just writing and putting that thing back together.
When you have such a huge past, a big background as we have – you can play off that – a lot of people do. But we felt that we wouldn't have a legitimate future unless we put something new together and actually took it to people and said this is us now, this is where we are at.
Most of [the album] is recorded. We have about a month of work to finish it off, to touch it up - it's really like making your first album.
You get together and everyone has all these different ideas, so it's been a very creative thing.”

The band resisted jumping out on the road initially, preferring to get some new material behind them first. Unlike several other acts on the road, Duran don't want to ride the coattails of their past.
“We didn't just want to go out and do that whole greatest hits thing. Obviously we play those songs, no one goes away from a show disappointed, but we felt if we didn't have new material in us and we didn't have a real reason to exist, then we probably wouldn't have done an 80's revival thing. We are very conscious about the fact that's what we are as a bunch of people. To passively get up and play a bunch of old songs wouldn't have really motivated us.
So we are bringing the new material into the set and it goes down really well and it works well with the old material. It's doing what we wanted to do.”

If the band has any fears about the future, Andy doesn't let it show.
“We had a huge audience, we sold truck loads of albums, so if we do something that's cool, people will listen to it. If we don't, then we would be selling people short.
The five of us don't know how to exist in any other way. We are an ambitious bunch I guess.”
And five very different people, “Everyone has a different angle, we mix it up in the middle and somehow it works.”




Duran have already released some concert CDs from the first set of dates the band played in Japan and the USA, through online company TheMusic.com; it was another decision by the band to help them reconnect with old fans and introduce new material to those that couldn't make the shows.
“We did some straight off the board CDs from the shows. It was one of those things where we thought we may as well do it and make them good. You always get bootlegged and they sound crap.
When you get back out again like we are, you want to get as many people as possible back in touch with what you are doing.
The great thing about the Internet and what that drives is that it allows people to find and consume music and we wanted to get everyone back focused on the fact we are playing live again and it really does sound great.
We recorded a bunch of the shows because they were the first shows we'd done back together - we wanted to have a memento of them.
The very first date was one of the most amazing dates in all our lives. There we were about to walk on in front of 8000 people and it was like fuck, we're actually doing this!
Now it's on record and everyone can share that. When you don't have a record label [yet] and you have been on your own as we have, you can look at all these other ways you can get in touch with other people and get music out there again.





Duran were famous for their signature hook lines within their songs. Their musical theme was feel good pop anthems, with big budget videos shot in various exotic locations further serving to help fans escape their own realities. 2003 sees the pop scene in a very different mood, but Andy suggests that Duran will continue to do what comes naturally.
“I always thought it would be weird if Duran Duran came back but didn't have a great song the whole world could sing. That's one of the things that drives us - melodic songs that people can relate to has always been our thing. I was a Beatles fan as a kid - that song sensibility where you have to get a perfect 4 minutes out of things.
In this fucking dark gloomy world…It's something I have noticed with audiences in America. You might have a lot of grey days at the moment, but we're a sunny day. Music is escapism, its entertainment.”

Before recent events, it was 18 years since the original Duran line-up played their last live show – the Live Aid benefit in 1985. It's been 20 years since their last world tour – one comprised of groupies, living the high life, private jets and no expense spared at any turn.
Now with wives and families in tow, the guys will tackle touring in 2003 a little differently. Andy Taylor included!
“You can't do some of the things you used to do….haha. I suppose you have to go at a gentler pace. I mean, God help us, you can't sit at home being a Vicar or anything. When you are younger, you are running on that pure naive adrenalin, you don't have any real responsibility aside from making sure you get there and play. And there's usually someone there to help you do that!
But yes, everyone has their own responsibilities now and that does make you easier on yourself.
You have to be! We play a long show and you can't beat yourself up too much over it as physically you just kill yourself. It was always good fun on the road and it still is.”





As for hitting Australia, Andy and the band were last here in 1983, on tour and also recording parts of their smash-hit "Seven & The Ragged Tiger" album in Sydney.
“I haven't been since the band, so it's been 20 years. We are really looking forward to it. We have nothing but good memories…haha….most which I'll keep to myself!!
I am so happy we can come back, do some shows and some big shows with Robbie also. It's going to be great fun.
It's just the 5 of us. No side men, just the five of us on stage. We have stripped it right back down to just the band playing. You don't have to worry about how it sounds…there are very few guys you meet in your life that you can work with, but the 5 of us just know what the other guys are thinking and where we fit.”

The good news for fans is that Andy and the rest of the band intend on being back for the long haul. When asked about continuing to tour, one of Andy's favourite acts, The Rolling Stones comes under discussion.
“What they have done I really admire. They have extended the longevity of rock n roll for guys like us. I don't know if I'd like to look like Keith, but I wouldn't mind his bank account. They have always inspired me, The Stones. They know how to get fucked up, but they also know how to make money!
All those guys have stayed right through until their late 50's, early 60's.
I mean, if you were looking at where you would like your career to go, then you would have to cherry pick The Stones. There is no finer example of where a rock n roll band should be and end up. People just love coming to see them as they have so many great songs. They are it, they are the most definitive rock n roll band ever.”

Dealing with the record industry in 2003 and finding a new recording home for the band is another challenge that the band has faced. It's something they have spent their time together analyzing.
“This is a very screwed up business. We are just about to put the ink in the pen - very close and very excited and very cool. It's one of those things we didn't want to rush into it. Record labels don't sign a lot of bands these days too. Whoever we signed to – that's it. We just want to find a home and stay there and make records and do our thing and not have to look over our shoulder and have stability, which is something you don't have when you are younger.
We've kinda been watching the business fall apart and have been wondering how to take care of our business and make sure it doesn't get affected in the same kinda way.
It's interesting times out there….when you are alive and kicking, like we are, we have been in the fortunate position where we can sit back and hold off until the right scenario is there for us to do our work and get on with it.
You want to have stability in the commercial aspect of your operation, if you like.
But we sound powerful, and we love playing with each other…er….hahaha. It really works. Very soon we'll announce the label,” and get the new record released, “the first half of next year, because we've got to get out and play! Arrghh, there's a deadline!”

All the members of Duran have kept busy over the years, with LeBon and Rhodes continuing on in Duran and releasing their last album together as recently as 2000.
John Taylor went on to record his own solo album and release a one-off album Neurotic Outsiders with former Sex Pistol Steve Jones, Duff McKagan of Guns N' Roses, and Matt Sorum of the Cult and Guns N' Roses.
Andy spent the latter part of the 80's and early 90's as a successful solo artist, coincidently writing and recording his debut solo album “Thunder” with Steve Jones in Los Angeles.
The 1987 album gained a cult following and is still highly regarded today, and indeed, is hard to find. It's a time Andy has better perspective about today.
“It's funny…I suppose whatever you do musically, even if you don't understand it at the time, it is a reflection of where you are at.
When I look at the early Duran stuff you can hear the early club vibe from it, you can hear where we were at as people.
That “Thunder” album I did as the whole band was falling apart. Some of the songs like “Don't Let Me Die Young” were actually about that. When I look back it was quite scary…there was so much shit going on at the time. I guess that's why I went off in a more 'fuck you, this is me' guitar kind of direction.
It was trying to find your own identity away from what the cocoon of being involved in Duran Duran was. It was like 'hello, there is an individual in here'. At the time you aren't conscious of it, but when I look at it now – even my wife says, 'you don't realize how deep that record is'.
It's one of those things – you don't recognize the person that did it, but it was you.”
A re-release of the album is being discussed for the future, “We thought we might do that at some point, but I'm not sure yet, how complicated things are, with labels and masters and that.” When encouraged to do so, Andy adds “Well, the thing about Duran…that gives you the ability to bring all that opportunity (to re-release) back into your life.
I may get it out one day.”






Andy Taylor wanted to be a solo artist. His first break on his own came with the hit “Take It Easy” from the film American Anthem, a soundtrack which he also contributed another two tracks to.
“I did that all in America and after I did it, I discovered that it was a lonely world being a solo artist. Then I started working with another solo artist – Rod Stewart – and he used to tell me how lonely he was! It was funny…it was such a different existence for me.
It did ok, but it was a great way to express myself, communicate in a way people didn't know you would do.”
That work with Rod Stewart was in the form of Stewart's “Out Of Order” album, a kick-ass rock album that won acclaim as one of Stewart's best albums in years.
But recording the album took so long; outside help in the form of Taylor's Power Station buddy Bernard Edwards was needed. It seems the duo was having more fun drinking than recording and needed a guiding hand to help complete the sessions.
Yeah, we needed a little help at the end…haha….not with the drinking though. Yeah, those were the days you know. Rod and I – it's an English thing, as soon as it's gets to 6pm of an evening; you have to go and have a drink. It's just the way it is and we used to stick to that religiously. And the thing with Rod is that he pretends he's drinking, but he throws it away - he's a bit of lightweight.…haha.”






Taylor's standing as a solo artist and producer received another boost when he recorded and self-produced an album of classic rock cover tunes, titled “Dangerous”. The highly energetic, good fun hard rock album saw Taylor and band really hammer the originals to within an inch of their life.
“Yeah, sometimes I think I did go too far with those…”
Strangely, it seemed the project fell into Andy's lap, “It sort of one of those happy accidents. Somebody…a very well known band had this idea to do that and they wanted me to produce the album for them, doing this selection of their favourite covers.
At the very last minute they pulled out. And I said to the label – A&M – I could do that.
The guys that managed me at the time went into overdrive – 'you can do fucking do that as well, because you know how much money they are going to pay you to do it?!'
I thought, great, this is something everyone wants to do – an album of their favourite covers.
The reason things are so raw, was that within 3 days we were in the studio recording this thing and it was done in that sort of 'ok, let's rehearse them and beat the shit out of them and play them and move on and just play them as you would do if you were in high school playing a bunch of covers!'
It was done in that very short space of time and raw, upfront way. We had a blast doing it!”

When questioned about the development of his voice and vocal chords on the “Dangerous” album, the always humble Andy again plays it down.
“I think I just drank a little more when I sung them! Some of those songs, you really have to bite them. It's going another place where people didn't think you could go.
You challenge yourself, you challenge the audience, you do something different. People weren't expecting it.
That's the thing about music. The thing that gets taken away from you when you get pigeon holed doing a certain thing is one of the things that destroys people's souls in this business. Right from doing Power Station, it was like, it's the same guys, but it doesn't sound like them. When we were in Duran, al the labels and management wanted off us was more Duran stuff, so they could sell it. Put you in a corner and pigeonhole you. I like to do a lot of different music.
Rock n roll is what I would die for, but I love music and I love exploring, doing different things and taking the challenge of playing, writing or singing on it…or producing it.
You are trying to achieve something.
It's no different from being a chef. You have to invent new dishes. You can't keep on serving the same old fucking crap up.
We were very young in Duran and to get pushed in a corner can be very difficult to get out of and all those things were a way of breaking away from a mold and the preconception of what people think you are.”






Further production work followed. There was two albums with Then Jerico and singer Mark Shaw, an album for US hard rock outfit Skin & Bones and another for UK metal group The Almighty, which Taylor described as, “…going to work with the Hell's Angels!”
His biggest production credit was with UK melodic rockers Thunder. The band had just been signed to a huge contract and Taylor was given the task of recording and producing their debut album “Backstreet Symphony”, which again met with great critical acclaim. He worked with the band on the follow up album “Laughing On Judgment Day” and continues a working friendship with guitarist/songwriter Luke Morley to this day.
An album of unreleased material the pair recorded exists, as well as an independently released 4 track Taylor/Morley EP titled The Spanish Sessions. But Taylor isn't upset the material hasn't yet been released.
“I don't think you need a record deal to write songs. You don't need any other reason than you want to do it and that's what we did.
There was a load of stuff we wrote, the reason we did it was because we wanted to create music. It's a far cry from why some people do music today – they make it to order, which is pretty horrible.
I've got about 2 more albums of material [unreleased]…I have an absolute ton. My old friend Dave Ambrose – who signed us to EMI in the beginning – said don't worry Andy, everyone always has their wilderness years!
So out in the Wilderness somewhere there are a couple of albums.”

One can only hope these songs don't remain in the wilderness for too long and that the successful return of Duran Duran on stage and on record with help open the vaults for eagerly waiting fans.
Andy Taylor remains a down to earth English bloke that never takes himself too seriously, but takes his craft very seriously. Not the fame, the money, nor the acclaim have affected his thinking. He's very much just one of the lads, but it's clear from talking to him he is happiest as one of 5 lads that make up Duran Duran.

Duran Duran Hits DVD is out now, their concert CDs are available via TheMusic.com and the new studio album will be released early to mid 2004.




Pride Of Lions (2003)

Pride Of Lions: Classic AOR, classic influences, classic music.

Jim Peterik and new vocalist Toby Hitchcock talk about the debut Pride Of Lions album and what fans of classic AOR and Survivor can look forward to on the debut album.


Andrew:          Hello, Jim!

Jim:                  Good morning.  Top of the morning to ya!


Andrew:          Top of the morning... bloody hell <laughing>

Jim:                  Toby, say hello to Andrew McNeice

Toby:               How ya doin', mate?


Andrew:          Toby.  How are you doing, mate?

Toby:               I'm great.  Crickey! [Nice use of Aussie lingo…]


Andrew:          Very good <laughs>

Jim:                  He asked me, "Do you really think I could do that with Andrew?", and I said, "Andrew is crazy; you've got to do it".


Andrew:          You gotta do it.  Absolutely.  I'll do my really bad Southern accent now.

Jim:                  There he goes.  I was telling Toby that you're my evil twin or evil son, I don't know which.


Andrew:          Absolutely, evil twin I think I like.

Jim:                  We had a ball in England at The Gods festival about two and a half years ago.


Andrew:          That was fun wasn't it?

Jim:                  We had a few pints here and there. Went to Liverpool together and saw The Cavern, you know.  It was great.


Andrew:          That was a good trip, wasn't it?

Jim:                  A great trip.


Andrew:          Sitting next to Gary Moon on the way back.

Jim:                  What about Gary?!!


Andrew:          That was just... take you life in your own hands don’t you?

Jim:                  Oh, God yeah. 


Andrew:          You must be pretty excited?

Jim:                  We are.  We are.  We just spent... upstairs we were just doing background vocals.  We're closing in on this thing.  Of course, you know, we're trying to deliver it as close to the contract... the contract says June 30.



Andrew:          Oh, really?  Okay.

Jim:                  Yeah, we might not quite make that but October 20 is definitely the release date.


Andrew:          Yeah, great.

Jim:                  I don't know if you know the story, we went to visit a mastering studio yesterday.  So, yeah.  We're very excited.  Toby... well, I'll let him speak for himself. 


Andrew:          You look fairly young, Toby, how old are you?

Toby:               I'm twenty-five years old.


Andrew:          Is that right?

Toby:               Yep.  But not too young.


Andrew:          Yeah <laughs>.  So how did you get into melodic rock or why is your heart and vibe there?

Toby:               It's kind of a funny story.  I actually met... I've been singing all of my life and I met Jim's niece and she sang... we sang in a band together, just a gigging band, just going around to parties and things like that, and people would hire us.  And she told me that her uncle was Jim Peterik of Survivor and Ides of March.  And I was pretty much like "No kidding?".


Andrew:          Yeah, like your average uncle isn't really that famous.

Toby:               Right, not your average uncle.


Andrew:          Or that handsome [Jim doesn’t hear this, so the compliment goes uncollected]

Toby:               So he brought me in one day to the studio, and I was all excited.  I remember when I first met Jim, I put in these fake buck teeth... all nasty fake teeth.  They call them Bubba Teeth here.


Andrew:          Right.

Toby:               I'm kind of a jokester and I was hoping that Jim would think that I really looked like that but I started laughing and I had to take them out.  But anyway, he heard me sing and I guess he really loved my voice and approached me with the idea of doing this album and, of course, I was all for it.  It was a great opportunity to be able to work with somebody like him.


Jim:                  It's interesting though that I think maybe what your question was alluding to also was that Toby really wasn't singing melodic '80s rock prior to this.


Andrew:          I wondered what other sort of material you have been singing...

Jim:                  And maybe you could talk a little about your influences and your experiences with the '80s genre prior to this, Toby.


Toby:               Well, one of the... of course, I was born in '77 and my Dad, he's a minister, a preacher, and so I wasn't really able to listen to a lot of the stuff; it's wasn't like a normal part of everyday life, but there were some songs that my Dad loved, and one of those songs was "Roseanna" by Toto.  He loved Toto and just, I don't know... REO Speedwagon, and all the big '80s bands, big rocker bands.


Jim:                  Foreigner.

Toby:               Yeah, Foreigner was a big one.  All those songs... and I still love all those songs.  I have CD's specifically created for listening purposes of those songs, I just love it to death... the big ballads like that.  As far as my influences go, I would have to say...well, I've got so many, it's hard to define one person... I love... I think what helps a lot in big power notes and stuff like that... I love Brian McNight and Mariah Carey...


Andrew:          Really?

Jim:                  He looks a little like Mariah

Toby:               Yeah.


Andrew:          <laughs>

Toby:               I only wish.  I'd never leave the house.

Jim:                  You'd never leave your... you couldn't keep your hands off yourself.


Andrew:          <laughs>

Toby:               When I was growing up, those were some of my favorite artists, and I tried to mimic them.  Boys to Men was another one.  A lot more R&B groups.


Andrew:          Wow.

Toby:               My Dad, however, as I got older I realized I had a bigger voice and was able to do things with my voice that wasn't normal for a white boy from Indiana.


Andrew:          Yes.

Toby:               I don't know, I just started singing and singing and singing and sang in the shower and the car and everywhere I was and, I don't know, I kinda got good at it, I guess.


Andrew:          Yeah, wonderful.

Jim:                  The first time I heard him, I knew that this was really special and personally, I've been blessed to sing, to actually work with some of the greatest singers in rock, mainly, Dave Bickler, Jimi Jamison, and of course, Don Barnes and Sammy Hagar.



Andrew:          Yeah.

Jim:                  So I've worked with some great guys and with World Stage I got to work with many, many great singers but this is my chance to really go back to my '80s influences, my '80s roots and I really was looking for the right singer.  There's a lot of singers, but not a lot with the range and the tone that you're really looking for, and I heard Toby and I'm going, "Hmm".


Andrew:          Yeah, yeah.

Jim:                  Very interesting.  The first time I heard him it was like the tip of the iceberg.  I had no idea the range, I mean, he's hitting like E's and even F's above High C.


Andrew:          Really?

Jim:                  Full voice.  The high note of "Eye of the Tiger" for instance is the High C, he goes above that a fifth, okay?


Andrew:          Right.

Jim:                  That's pretty scary.  And what's great about it is that as a songwriter... I've always considered myself... that's my passion; I love to perform but I think songwriting is my real, real passion.


Andrew:          Yeah.

Jim:                  As a songwriter, if you have a singer that can sing any note, then you have free reign with your range and the melodies.  When I was working with Jimi Jamison as a member of Survivor, I remember when Frankie and I wrote "The Search is Over" I knew that Jimi could sing that song.  If we had a lesser singer, then I knew that I would've had to change that melody.


Andrew:          Right.

Jim:                  And it wouldn't have been the song it was, so the gloves are off.  Since I started working with Toby, my writing has actually improved, I feel.


Andrew:          Wow.

Jim:                  Because I know this guy can take it and just rip into it and do it.


Andrew:          That's a scary prospect.

Jim:                  Yeah.  It's been a lot of fun for me and everyday that we work on this album... we've been working on it now off and on for about 6 months, has been nothing but really fun.  I don't know if you feel the same way, Toby?

Toby:               Absolutely.  I've never been able to... the thing for me is, a lot of singers go and they try to get into record companies and they try to get in with somebody who is an accomplished writer or arranger or producer or whatever.  They try to get in and they just keep on getting turned down, turned down, turned down.  Well my first shot, you know, which wasn't really, I wasn't really thinking about doing an album... I mean I always wanted to do my own album, but I always thought it was going to be a small thing, you know what I'm saying.  But it's really cool because my first shot, I got offered an album without even asking.  I didn't have to go, "I really want to do an album", you know.  I mean, it was just like, "Hey, do you want to do an album with me?" and I'm like, "Holy crap!" you know.


Andrew:          <laughs>

Toby:               I can't believe this guy is asking me, you know, somebody like Jim who... now I'll be honest, I didn't know the name Jim Peterik, but I knew the songs.  That's how people know Jim is through songs.

And I don't know, I've been really blessed to meet him and his entire family.  They're so... I didn't know there were people like this left in the world that are so giving and honest and sincere, and that's how I was raised so I think Jim and I have a lot of chemistry when it comes to just our personalities.


Andrew:          Yeah.

Jim:                  We can talk about things that are bothering each other or that we're happy about or upset about and trust that we're going to shoot straight without getting offended, and whatever.  He can say anything to me and I know he's not going to disrespect me in what he’s saying, he's saying it to help or encourage, that's what makes working with Jim so great.


Andrew:          I've got to say that Jim is one of my highlights.  If everyone was as accommodating and as caring as Jim, my job would be a lot easier.

Toby:               Right.

Jim:                  Well, thanks.  I think the thing I love about Pride of Lions is... it's the young cub, Toby, coming up and learning the ropes... I mean, the first time he ever sang in front of a microphone was in my studio, I mean professionally, and first of all he's improved... I knew he was great in the beginning, but the more he sang the stronger he got and then you've got me, you know, 52 years old, I've been in this business since I was 15.  That's why we call it Pride of Lions, it's because in the jungle there's this whole order of family, the father lion and the cub and it's just everybody has their own role.  I could never sing the notes that Toby sings, but luckily I have the experience to guide it all and hopefully that's a great combination.

Toby:               I can't sing the notes that I sing.


Andrew:          <laughs>

Toby:               I honestly... I'm surprised when I hear myself back, I'm surprised that I can hit those notes, I'll be honest with you.


Andrew:          I cannot believe the "Sound of Home".

Jim:                  Oh, "Sound of Home", you like that?


Andrew:          Oh, my God.  I just keep playing it and playing it and playing it.

Toby:               Keep on playing it, man!

Jim:                  The time is right.  The sound of the '80s, and of course, we've updated it...


Andrew:          It sounded fantastic.  It really did sound like classic sort of except with a new edge.

Jim:                  It's not like it's a cliché like, "Oh my God", it actually sounds pretty fresh to me.

Toby:               Well they have the equipment they didn't have back in the '80s... a lot of effects and cool things you can do nowadays, you couldn't do back then and I think that's what kind of updates it.


Andrew:          Yeah.

Toby:               But the sound, the feeling of the '80s is still there, which I love.


Andrew:          Exactly.

Toby:               That's when music was so emotional. 

Jim:                  What I go for, and I don't have to tell you, is music that really touches your heart in one way or another.  Either it uplifts you... we have a song on there called "Unbreakable" it's really an ode to the human spirit, you know.  I am unbreakable; no matter what hits me; I will survive.  That's been a message in my songs for a long time.  But there's also songs about... bittersweet songs about potential breakups like "Love Is On The Rocks" where two people are struggling to find that thing they had in the beginning.  There's another song called "First Time Around the Sun" which is about making everyday a fresh start.  I just think a lot of people need to hear that, you know?


Andrew:          Yeah.

Jim:                  But every song has meaning.  Toby... oh, by the way, I want to tell him about that song we wrote, Toby.

Toby:               Yeah.

Jim:                  Toby just started to sit down at the piano one day at the studio and started to play this incredible piano riff.  I said, "What's that?" and he said, "I wrote it."  I said, "Really!  When?" and he said, "Oh, man, I've had this thing around for a while."  And I said, "Play that again," and I let the tape recorder roll and I started to sing this scant melody and before you know it we had a song called "Stand By You".  It's really powerful.  By the way, Toby, I don't know if you know it but we put the strings on it today.  Oh, you were there at the end, right?

Toby:               Yeah.


Andrew:          Strings... fantastic.

Jim:                  It's incredible.

Toby:               That's a wedding song


Andrew:          You know how much I love Mecca, and I think this is going to be even better.

Jim:                  Well, I don't want to say, because I love Mecca, but of course, I feel very strongly about this project.


Andrew:          That's great.  I just wanted to touch base and I'm really glad Toby was there.  Toby, I really want to get this on-line and let people get to know you.

                        Thanks Jim and Toby for the chat. Jim, I’ve got a couple of things to run past you, so I’m going to hit the stop button now….








Harem Scarem (2003)

Harem Scarem: Classic Harem keeps taking melodic rock higher.
The voice of Harem Scarem, Harry Hess, talks about the new album Higher, all things to do with the band and other stuff like producing and screaming on new tracks for Jack Frost.

Hi Harry, good to talk to you as usual. Thanks for sending me a preview of the Jack Frost track.
He was in a band called Sabotage or Savatage, I guess, for a while. He was the guitar player. He's done a bunch of different projects. I think one is called Seven Witches or something like that.

That's right…
He's from New Jersey. He's a guitar player and he called me up and asked me if I'd do two songs on his solo record with him, so I'm doing that.
It's kind of funny. It's metal, and I'm yelling. It's hilarious. I thought, "Well that would be funny; I haven't done anything like that in like 20 fuckin' years." So I thought that would be entertaining and it sure is.

Not since Blind Vengeance!
That's right, exactly. I haven't yelled like this in a long time.

I love your comment on the track rundown you did for me for Higher.
Oh, right.

You said you were about to explode or something like that if you went any higher.
Yeah. It's getting higher and higher every day.

Fantastic. Speaking of…did Blind Vengeance ever come out on CD?
Yeah, it did. Some guy bought the rights to it here in Canada. I don't know what he did with it, to tell you the truth. I just heard that he did.

I've never heard it...
It's awful.

Is it? <laughs>
It's really bad. It really is.

Even more reason for me to track it down!
That's right. Track it down.

You've had a little bit of time to live with the new album now. What do you think?
You know what? I haven't listened to it in a while. I heard it after we mastered it. I thought the mastering job was okay. I didn't love it.

Yeah. It's a little bit bright in the high end, a little bit harsh sounding compared to the masters we had, but for the most part I'm pretty pleased with it. We were loving it when we were mixing it, you know. I can't remember making a record where we liked so many songs on it, especially while we were working on it. So I don't know. If that's any indication, I mean, we really enjoyed working on it from beginning to end. Usually by the end of it we're pretty sick of it and don't have a whole lot of perspective, but this one, we never really got sick of the songs. I don't know.

I think it's a bit of... you always do something a little different and there's a few tracks on here that are a little different again….but there's a little bit of everything of you on there isn't it?
Yeah. Oh, for sure.

A little bit of Mood Swings. A little bit of the debut, a lot of the debut. A little bit of Voice of Reason. A little bit of Weight of the World.
Yeah, I think this record is actually pretty simple, but very melodic and I guess if you could go back and compare it to anything, the closest I can... I found the first record like that, you know? There wasn't really a whole lot of outrageous guitar playing or anything like that. They were just straight ahead rock songs and treated a certain way and I at least kinda felt this way with this, but when things do go off on a tangent, like things like "Reach" and some other songs, that's just because of where we've come from all these years and influences, and our influences like Mood Swings and Voice of Reason and stuff. Those types of elements, they always crop up in songs or parts of songs at least.

Yeah. Stuff like "Lies" and "Lost" and "Waited" are very much like the debut aren't they?
Yep. Very true.

I really like what you did with "Waited".
Oh, yeah?

I think that's my favorite track on the album.
Yeah, I really like it too, I mean, a lot of people that have heard it think it's actually quite modern in the sense that it could be on American radio right now too. And same with "Torn Right Out". For me that's a good accomplishment because, you never want to just be, you know, doing... rehashing what we did 10, 12 years ago and stuff.
It's nice to stay current and stay fresh and not have it sound like a total '80s rock production, with still having all the elements that our fans like about what we do and enjoying it ourselves and at least feeling we're always moving forward and doing the types of productions that are contemporary and I guess worthy of what's going on today.

Yeah. In fact my favorite albums in the last--my tastes have sort of changed a little bit--my favorite albums in the last 12 months have been albums that have updated their sound... but stayed true to what the band were, or are, what they do best.

And there's definitely some modern production and songwriting on Higher. Is there any hope in hell of you finally getting a U.S. deal and this stuff getting on the radio? It's so wrong that it isn't.
We just don't have a real outlet for it. We're kind of in a position now where everybody knows us as that hard rock, heavy metal band from 10 years ago and it's really, really tough to get anybody to pay attention to what we're doing and most of the A&R guys out there, they're just looking to sign something fresh and new and get it out, you know.
You see what happens with Nickelback when someone takes a chance on it, you know?

I know. And again, we might be a little bit guilty of not pursuing it to the fullest extent either. We just kind of go, well that's our situation and there you go. Because we tried so many times in the past and it's just one of those weird things with us now and we really haven't bothered in the last few years to tell you the truth. We've got a little Canadian Indie deal here in Canada for Weight of the World and he's just about to put it out now; it's taken him so long to get to it.

Is that not out already?
Yeah. There's a little bit of debauchery there with all that stuff, but…

How many other bands are out there have 8 or 9 studio albums behind them?!
I know. That's like this Jack Frost guy. He's... I guess that Savatage band were signed to Atlantic for a while and now he's doing records for Sanctuary, and he says the same thing. He says, "Look, everybody that... here's this stuff and I can't believe it never came out in America." And I say, "Well, you've got to remember, we were trying at a time when hard rock was just, I mean, you couldn't even tell anyone that you were in a hard rock band, like when we first started because it was all grunge and that's what we were dealing with.” And major labels, as you know, all they're interested in is what's happening right now. Not what happened two years ago, so fuck, it's really no surprise to me looking back that we never got a U.S. release, but at the same time, with our whole catalogue now and a bit of a resurgence in hard rock again, and when bands like Nickelback and Creed can go out and sell millions and millions of records, I think there's a place for us somewhere in the middle, you know?

Yeah, there's got to be. Not everybody... I sort of started off liking pop/rock and then started looking for something that was a little bit more of a harder edge, something with a little bit more impact, that'll blow you right through. There's got to be a lot of other people out there that want something between Avril Lavigne and Creed, you know?
Yeah, for sure.

Any dates or promotions you'll be doing in Japan or just phone interviews?
There's nothing solidified yet. We're talking to some promoters about an actual tour and that's just kind of ongoing right now. So we'll see what happens with that. And the European release is almost a month later.

Did you go to Japan for Weight of the World?
Oh, yeah. We've toured on every record there except for the first two.

Right. Okay. It's a good little market, isn't it?
Yeah, it's been great for us.

Yeah, great for a lot of people. The European release... any dates in Europe?
Yeah. It's always been really, really tough and, you know, it's just a financial thing, it's not for the lack of not wanting to go, we'd love to go.
We'd love to go everywhere and play, but it's just the reality of how much it costs to fly 4 or 5 people around and deal with hotels and cars and all that crap while we're there and it's just so expensive that unless you're selling records, and a promoter is willing to take a chance and give you some money to come over and do it, it's really next to impossible, so we just pick and choose the opportunities that come up and make the most sense and try to get everybody on board to help us out and get down there.
So that's kind of the situation. It's very tough.

Absolutely. I get a lot of questions... a lot of people asking about Canadian dates. Do you ever play live in Canada any more?
Very rarely. The last time we played was when the Rubber albums came out and it was actually received very well and we did a lot of dates and it went great, but we literally haven't put anything out since the first Rubber album in Canada because there's been no reason to. Even this last one, Weight of the World, it hasn't come out yet, so if it does, who knows, we might do some warm-up shows here in Canada, like before a Japanese tour or a European thing.

Yeah, I do get some emails from guys who say, “Look, I live 15 minutes from these guys and I can't get their records here.” It's complicated isn't it?
Yeah. It's very, very odd.

How do you move on from here, where do you go from here? You've been busy - with Weight of the World, you've had the live album, the archive release. Any idea where you'd like to go from here?
Well, I don't know. I think, you know, even what I'm doing here tonight, like doing something a little bit different, you know, and as far as side projects go I'd like to do things that take me in a little bit of a different direction because I don't want to do the same thing over and over again.


But the Harem Scarem records, they're actually a lot of fun to make now because there's really... it's not like there's a lot of pressure on us when we're making them. It's just pretty much Pete and I doing what we do and then the guys come in and do their stuff and we've kind of got it down as far as what we want to do and what we're going to do when we make a Harem Scarem record. It is just a matter of sitting down and writing the songs and actually taking the time to do it. It's just become 2nd nature and a real pleasure to do, so as long as people want us to do them, we'll do them because it's actually quite fun and easy these days.

So you pretty much see yourself sitting down once a year to do that?
Yeah. I think so, yeah.

That's awesome.
Unless people say stop.

Haha…I don't think you'll get that just yet. What about solo records?
I wouldn't do what I did again in the sense that... trying to do something on my own. Like I said, like doing what I'm doing tonight just maybe collaborating with more musicians. It's a lot more fun and to get more feedback working with other people. I just would like to broaden my horizons rather than just repeat doing what I do and just kind of staying in my own little bubble and only going with what I know, so I kind of would be interested in kind of expanding my horizons a little bit more and working on different material.


That's cool. You did that with the Once and Future King track, didn't you?
Yeah. I actually just sang background on an Eric Martin track for his next record too.

Did you really?
Yeah, which is awesome. Really, really cool.

I love Eric…
He's a great, great singer.

Isn't he just. I've been a fan of his since like his debut solo album in the early '80s.
Yeah, he's such a nice guy too. Real down to earth and he's just really, really cool; I like him a lot.

Fantastic. I look forward to hearing that. Anything else sort of in the pipeline?
I've been doing a lot of mixing for bands around here. What else? That's really it. It's been pretty crazy since we came off the Weight of the World album. We did a little bit of a tour and then I came back and did the solo record, and right after the solo record started the Higher record and here we are now. So really, like the last 2 years it's been every day going non-stop, and lots of mixing projects in the middle and recording stuff here at the studio. There's lots of records being done in my place too when I'm not in here that have done really well. There's a band from Canada called Three Days Grace; it's a young band and they're doing real well. They've got a U.S. deal, and then there's another band called Billy Talent that was done here, which got a deal with Atlantic in America. So lots of great things have been happening. It's all been good. No complaints.

I looked up your site and saw the resume on there. It's quite an impressive resume there now, isn't it? Especially yourself. You've produced a lot of stuff, haven't you?

I really enjoyed the Crush album.
Oh, yeah. Me too. I think it's very cool. I've got to remember to send that out to some people because I don't think they ever got that record released beyond Canada.
They did a new record now, which is great as well. I'm a big fan of those guys. They're great.

Again, stuff that just should be all over the radio.
Yep. Yep.

You've still got a lot of unreleased stuff. Do you think you might do an Archive Vol. 2?
Yeah, you know what. It's possible. We do have a lot of stuff. I don't know specifically how many tracks and the quality of it. That would be something I'd have to sit down and check out and see if it's worth putting together.

How about a boxed set?
Yeah. I never thought of that, actually.

Just get a FedEx package, stick all the tracks into it, send it to me and I'll put it together for you!!!
That'd be awesome.

I'll save you the time <laughs>.
Yeah, yeah.

I'll start bootlegging it, start sending them over the net without you even knowing about it.
Yeah <laughs>. Sure. Why not.

$995 for the Harem Scarem CD.
Yeah, I tell that story in every interview.

It's great stuff, isn't it?

If only I had a box full of that.
Fuck. I know. Crazy.

Good stuff. The Early Years turned out well.
Yeah, it did turn out pretty good. It's a funny little package. I love the pictures and stuff. It's hilarious. It's funny to see.

I actually got a copy of the Japanese… of the video you put out. It's out in Japan on DVD now.
Oh, yeah.

Yeah, your first 6 or 7 videos.
They put it out on DVD, eh? Was it Warner that did that?

Yeah. Absolutely.

There were about 8 clips on there, after the Believe or something like that.
They didn't even tell us.

Didn't they? <laughs>
No. I didn't know that.

I'll e-mail you the cover sleeve.
Yeah, maybe they'll send me a copy one day.

Yeah, that would be nice wouldn't it?
Yeah, very nice of them.

There's some big hair on there isn't there?
Oh, yeah. I had the real rock hairdo.

Pete was guilty too. Actually, Pete just sent me... he's producing a band called, One Short. Do you keep up with what he's doing?
Who? Pete?

Oh, One Short. Who sent you that?

The guys in the band.
Oh, cool.

Yeah, they did a couple of Harem... a couple of your songs, didn't they?
They did. They did. A crazy version or two.

What do you think of that?
You know. I thought it was pretty cool. They're a good little band. Real nice guys. They're really young. I think they're like 17 or 18 years old.

Is that right?
Yeah. Real young guys and they're good, you know? I don't know how much luck they're having with it, getting it out there, but they're a good little band.

I'm going to feature them on the site and do whatever I can.
Oh, cool.

Give them a bit of PR. I enjoy them. You can't substitute the originals though.

Anything you'd like to add, Harry? I think we've covered it all…
Yeah. No, that's cool. That's great. Great talking. Thanks and take care.

Cheers Harry!

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 record...to do what I am doing now...not a
throwback to the 80's. I'm not interested in that stuff at all...so we signed a deal...and Magnus and I have become good friends....so 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 that...so 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 bands...like Bruce and the E Street Band...U2......Bon Jovi...you 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 own...it'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 him...no jealousy here...I want him to succeed...and he will.

Ludo Baccherini plays drums....is 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 me.....family.
Ludo was really the next guy on board for the band....after Mike....it'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 for...like on Roll On....or Believe.....no 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 him.....so 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…bands...guitars...etc...long 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 buddy....so 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 years...an 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 record...so 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 Gregg...you sound killer...or...that's pretty rough Gregg...you 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 harmonies...play all these acoustic guitar parts from the record......we would be
unstoppable!! He agreed.....it was a big decision for him to join someone else's band..always had his own groups.....but the way I see it...it'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 melodicrock.com! 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 now....it 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 beginning...it 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 melodicrock.com – 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

Johnny Lima (2003)

Johnny Lima: A Californian boy!

Johnny Lima talks about the frustrations of life within the melodic rock scene in 2003 and in detail about his new album Made In California.

So Johnny, all this time we've been mates and I've been plugging away for you on the site, but this is our first interview?!! Thanks for pointing that out by the way...make me feel bad and all!!
Yeah, I was beginning to think you didn't like me. HAHA!

So Made In California is done, complete, finished and on the verge of a release. Can you believe that?
I won't believe it until I have the finished product in my hand. I keep checking my mailbox, but nothing's arrived yet.

Even better - can you believe you and Danny Danzi have album's released in the same month???
You mean to tell me Danny's album is out and that little bastard hasn't sent me one yet?!!!

Not yet, but it's out in Japan December 17. Made In California is a great album - you must be very pleased with the results, but how do you view it now, looking back over the last few years and past albums?
I still think it's a great album, and definitely the best one I've done so far. I've lived with this album for quite a while. More than anyone else and I still get a rise when listening to it. There are a lot of great moments on this album, and it's definitely something I'm very proud of. I really believe this album is a huge leap forward from the other two albums. Everything about it is better. The songs, the production, the performances. Everything!

To me, it sounds like a natural continuation from Shine On. Is that how you view it and what you had intended?
Yeah, I guess so. I always keep my current fan base in my mind when I'm making an album. No matter how much I want to get away from the classic melodic hard rock sound, something keeps bringing me back. I'd love to make a power-pop album, or a "nu-breed" album, but something tells me that it wouldn't go over very well with my fan base. That's not saying that I let them dictate what I write and record, it's just me taking them into consideration when I'm making an album. That's why you still hear that classic sound, with a few modern twists. That way I can keep the fans happy, and myself happy at the same time. It's a win win situation. I don't think I have the balls to completely alienate the fans that have been with me for so long.
Maybe I'll come up with something totally modern, but I won't call it Johnny Lima.

In the future then?
Definitely. Craig and I are talking about doing something together. More like Rob Zombie but with huge melodies and vocals. So sort of like Melodic Hard Rock/Metal with Trance music mixed in. Jason and I also talked about doing something together, but he moved to Sacramento, and it's a little hard to get together and write. So who knows if anything will come out of that.



When you started out on writing and recording of the album, did you have any idea it would take so bloody long to finish?
No not at all. Just like I didn't know I was going to be married or have a son, or buy a house. The only thing you can be sure of is your next breath, and there's still no guarantee that's going to happen either. I hope it never takes me this long to make an album again. If it does, let me apologize ahead of time. HAHA!!

Ok, so now's your chance to explain just what went into the recording of the album and why it took as long as it did...start at the beginning!!
I started writing for the new album in the end of 1999. I had about 5-6 songs written by the time I started recording in January of 2001. By the end of 2001 I finished recording 7 songs and then my son was born. I didn't write or record for a few months after that. So then I started mixing those 7 songs because I didn't have any others written at that time. I must have mixed each of those songs a hundred times. So by the time I recorded the rest of the album, we were already halfway through 2002. Time flies when you're stressing out!

How many tracks were written / recorded to give you the final 11 tracks that make up the album?
13 songs were recorded, and Mark Ashton only wanted 11 on the album. I'm not sure as to why he only wanted 11, but I'm not going to argue with him about it. This album is short and sweet.

Where you still writing while recording? I'm wondering if you added any tracks at the last minute, as you preferred them over another track?
I was writing, but none of the new songs were for this album. The songs I was writing were going to be for Ted Poley's solo album that never happened. Maybe I'll include those songs on the re-release of the debut, or just put them on my website for anyone to download for free.

So, you must have some favourite tracks from the album - let's here some thoughts on the tracks if you don't mind:
· Made In California

This was a pretty heavy riff that I had and was going to use to pitch to Anatomic. However, after I finished writing it, I decided to include it on the album. This isn't really the type of song that I'm into. I think I'm pretty much done with crotch rock these days.

· Best Night Of My Life
This was the first song I wrote for "Made In California". I wrote this at the end of 1999 after I got back from England. I was totally pumped up from the show, and I just had to write a song about it. The crowd made a huge impression on me, and I will hold that night in my heart for the rest of my life. Thanks England!!

· Chosen One
This was the last song written and recorded for the album. I was totally burnt out and couldn't think of anything to write. So I asked Ted if he can write the lyrics. I gave him the concept and he took it from there. Had the song finished within a week. Ted's a total pro and I hope him and I have more opportunities to write together.

· Go On, Go Away
This was one of the first three songs I wrote for this album. I don't remember where the inspiration came from since it was almost 4 years ago. Damn, time flies by!

· We've Got Tonight
This was another one from the early writing sessions. I wrote it for my wife at a time when everyone around us seemed like they were getting rich from stocks, and we basically had nothing. So it's a song about appreciating what you have and not giving a shit about what you don't have.

· Another Girl
The chorus to this song was written back when I recorded "Shine On" but it wasn't finished until the end of the MIC sessions. This happens to be one of my favorite songs off the album.

· Help
This is my favorite Beatles songs, and it's funny because almost all of the reviewers so far have said this song has been done to death. I've not heard it done once by anyone other than the Beatles. No kidding! Anyway, it was a very fun song to record and it's another one of my faves off the new album.

· Love Ain't Enough
Brent De Leo, someone I've worked with for many years, came up with the chorus to this song. This one just sort of wrote itself. I think I finished the lyrics and music to this in a day or so. I think these lyrics are probably the best I've written.

· Something About You
This one has H.I.T. written all over it, if I say so myself. This is another one of those songs that I don't know where the inspiration came from, or how the riff came along. It just happened. Sort of like divine intervention or something.

· Where Are You Now?
Another one of my faves. I just love how this song is arranged. The concept behind it is really cool too. Not saying that spousal abuse is cool, just that it's cool that I didn't write another boring love song. HAHAHAHAHA!

· Welcome to My Paradise
By the time I finished this song, I pretty much thought it was going to be a Jap bonus track or something. It's my least favorite song. It was Mark Ashton's idea to include it on the album. I would've much rather had one of the other two songs that didn't make the album. But I'm sure glad this one was included, because it seems like a favorite to a lot of people.

I have to ask about the inspiration behind Another Girl!! What a classic!
HAHA! Thanks! I'm glad you like it. This song just shows what a sense of humor I have. I didn't want to write a boring story about "boy gets girl, boy gets sick of girl, boy dumps girl, and then finds another girl". I thought that "Boy wants girl, boy can't have girl, because girl prefers tacos over hot dogs" was much more interesting. This wasn't a personal song though. In case you were wondering.

And the inclusion of The Beatles cover. Why that song and why chose that over a J. Lima original?
Plain and simple. I think it's a great song. Some people are going to love my version, and some people are going to hate it. I didn't have anymore original songs to include on this album. I was completely burnt out by the end and the last thing I wanted to do was write another song. Besides, I've always recorded a cover song for my albums. It's just that "Help" was the only cover that actually made it on an album. The other cover songs I've recorded in the past were "Blue Tears" and "I Love Rock 'N Roll". Please don't ask for a copy because they were never completely finished. That's why they never made it on an album.

If there was any justice, “We've Got Tonight” would be all over radio. Is there anything you can do as an American based indie artist to help your chances of this happening?
I agree with you, but I know nothing's going to happen here in the U.S. I'm sure it would help if I put a band together and played in every hell-hole that I can to promote the new album. There's no license deal here in the U.S., there's no distribution.

Ok, moving on! You play most of the instruments yourself - how hard is it to co-ordinate various pieces of the recording puzzle and out them all together into a great sounding package?
The only hard part is keeping myself on track. If I'm on track, then it's pretty easy for me to work that way.





Where did the guests featured on your album come from?
I've known Craig Takeshita for almost 10 years. He's the one that introduced me to my wife. I've always loved his guitar playing. He's one of those virtuoso types, but knows how to play for the song. He doesn't play all that Yngwie "Turkey Gobble" shit that so many guitar players used to play. He could if he wanted to, but he doesn't. Now that's a guitar player. I've known Brent De Leo since the old Cheshire Cat and Attitude days. He was the keyboardist and co-songwriter in those bands. He produced and played keyboards on my debut album. Great guy, and very talented. Too bad he lives in Pennsylvania now. Jason Granucci and I met through a mutual friend of ours. Jason is another great guitar player. Not as clean as Craig, but Jason can write the killer riff. I call him the RIFF MASTER.

Tell us about the cover art? No half naked chicks I see?
Yeah, my idea got thrown in the toilet. Al Barrow did the artwork for it. I really wish we would've started throwing ideas around sooner than we did. The album was already finished and mastered by the time we started working on the concept for the artwork. I think Al did a fantastic job especially under intense pressure to get it done.

When are you and Danny Danzi going to record an album together?
Good question. I'd love to make an album with Danny. He's an awesome guitarist and singer. I think him and I would make a great album together. Who knows, maybe now that our albums are finished we'll have time to work on something. You'll be the first to know Andrew.

You are mid/semi way through re-recording your debut album. Why do that? What is the idea behind that and why not just re-release the original?
The reason I don't want to re-release the original is simple. The original sounds like complete shit. [too funny Johnny…]
The production is horrible. The recording is horrible. My vocals sound like shit. I know so many people like the album as is, but it's my name that has to go on it. I'm a much better singer now, I'm a much better producer now, and I'm a much better songwriter now. It won't cost me a dime to re-record it, so I'm going re-record the whole thing, and make it something I'd be very proud of. After people listen to it, I'm sure they're not going to say they prefer the original. It's not like I'm going to take the old songs and turn them into pop punk or something. It's still going to be Melodic Rock. The only difference is it's going to be recorded better, and there's going to be some edits in the arrangements. Some of the songs are just way too long.

You are very vocal about various issues concerning artists/labels/the music business/the Internet and I thank you for sharing your input via the site's Noticeboard.
As you see it - from your own position - how hard is it surviving in this game circa 2003 and the music business as such?

I think so many people are disillusioned by the music industry. I know I used to be. It's a lot harder that before. So far I'm really impressed with their performance.

And the Internet? Friend or mortal enemy filled with nothing but thieving music pirates?
Definite friend. I'm not going to bitch and complain about people stealing my music over the internet. I'm sure there are more people that discovered my music through the internet and bought the album, than there are people that downloaded it for free and forgot to send me a check. Besides, if you download my album and don't like it enough to buy the real thing, then shame on me for putting out a shitty album.

What else is on your plate mate? What else do you have planned/lined up/in development?
I've been working at the studio recording local artists as well as working on my next album. I've also been working with Amanda Shelby who's being produced by Rene Moore (Janet Jackson, Jennifer Holliday). I might be writing some songs for her as well. I'm also planning on producing and recording a female artist by the name of Briana Hales. So I'm trying to do all this and still spend a lot of quality time with my wife and son.

How's the home studio going?
It's no longer at home. Hasn't been home since the son was born. I merged my studio with Suspect Studios, which was the place I recorded my first two albums at. Dave was looking to upgrade his studio to Pro Tools. Since I had it, and know how to use it like the back of my hand, it was a perfect match. He has a ton of outboard gear and an awesome mic collection. I'd say we're one of the best studios to record at in the South Bay Area right now. Not many studios have the kind of equipment we do. Shit, now I'm starting to sound like a commercial

Let's finish with a few favourites - fav's websites? Fav musicians and current classic albums?
Fave Websites

www.melodicrock.com of course! [just as well….]

Current Classic Albums
Evanescence - Fallen
Avril Lavigne - Let Go
The Tories - Upside Of Down

Favorite Musicians
Bryan Adams
Mike Tramp
Jon Bon Jovi
Def Leppard
Danny Danzi
Pete Lesperance & Harry Hess
and many more

Anything you would like to add?
No I think we've covered all the bases.

Thanks Johnny, for doing our first interview together!
Thank you Andrew!

Log in to Johnny's world at www.johnnylima.com






Last Tribe (2003)

Last Tribe: 3rd album = 3rd must have metal release.

Guitarist and songwriter Magnus Karlsson talks about Sweden's Last Tribe - a very intelligent progressive melodic metal band.

Congratulations on the success so far of the band. You are up to your third album already! When was the band formed and where are you all from?
Thanks! It started as a solo project 2001. I had actually plans on doing an instrumental guitar album. It didn't turn out that way and I was busy to write songs for Midnight Sun. But then I heard a demo with Rickard and I just thought that he had an awesome voice that would suit perfectly to the music I wanted to create. We all live in South Sweden but in different towns so it's not the easiest thing when we want to rehearse.

How long have you known some of the guys from the band?
I have known Jaime a long time, we played together in Midnight Sun but the other guys I've only known since 2001.

For those that may be discovering you for the first time - how would you describe the band and your style?
I think that “melodic metal with progressive elements” are a fair description. I've noticed that people from both the progressive and die hard metal and aor genres can appreciate our music.

What challenges did you face from the time you got started to getting the first album released?
I didn't have a clue what I should expect and it was a strange but great feeling when so many showed interest in Last tribe. I knew that I couldn't blame anything on someone else. Last Tribe was my responsibility from the beginning to the end.

Are you pleased with the reviews the first two albums received?
I am more than pleased. It's still hard for me to understand that people from all over the world are writing so nice thing about my music.

When did you start writing material for this album and how long did the recording process take you?
I've started somewhere in the summer 2002 so it took about a year to write the songs. I like to have many breaks during the song writing so I can keep a distance to the songs and listen with better ears. The recording process took about two months at Roasting House studio here in my hometown Malmö.

The band has always had a unique sound - from the very first album to this one, it is a powerful sound. What are the band's musical influences?
I have always loved the NWOBHM era and still listen a lot to bands like Judas, Maiden and Dio. They are the reason that I've started to play guitar at all. I also listen to jazz, fusion and folk music there is actually no limits as long as it's good music.

And following on from that - what did you guys have in mind when forming Last Tribe? What sound did you want to deliver to fans and do you think you have achieved that?
It was the songs that where in focus and the sound was formed after them. I wanted people that grew up listening to Iron Maiden and that stuff to be familiar with the sound but at the same time hear something new and fresh in the sound. When I read reviews and mails I believe that we have achieved a little bit of that goal.

I love the guitar shred featured in the songs and the intense rhythm section, but I admire the band's ability to add a catchy chorus with most of the songs. Was that an important thing for you to do?
I have always believed that a good melody is the key to make good music. It doesn't matter what kind of music. It's a fine spice to add some shred but if I would shred a whole album I think that no one would like to listen to it (including me). Sometimes I think that some melodies are almost too “nice” and that's why I turn up the intensity in the rhythm section so I won't lose the metal feeling.

You co-produced the album, so you must take come credit for the great sound. How is working with Anders Theander, he has a great reputation?
After three albums Anders understands exactly what I want Last Tribe to sound like and he's a real pro so it feels really great to work with him.

Do any of the songs from the current album really hold a special meaning for you?
I worked very hard with the arrangement on “The Chosen One” so every time I listen to that one it's hard to relax. I think that “Sacrifice” is the best song I ever written so that one is really special to me.

Where does your/the band's inspiration for writing songs come from?
Everything from listen to good music or watch a good movie to have a really bad day and the only way to change it to a great day is to sit down with my guitar.

Do you get the chance to play live much and are their any plans for the near future/in promotion of this album?
We haven't played so much live but now were gone change that.
We have a new booking agency. So we can't wait to play more
live. I really hope were gone do a lot of festivals this summer. All the dates will come up on our site www.lasttribe.net

What are your favourite 5 classic metal albums of all time?
Queensryche ­ Operation Mindcrime
Dio ­ Holy Diver
Iron Maiden ­ Piece of Mind
Helloween - Keeper of the Seventh Keys part 1 and 2
Judas Priest ­ British Steel

Any plans for any musical project outside the boundaries of Last Tribe?
Were gonna record an album with the Irish folk music band “Green House” and Frontiers have talked to me about another project but nothing is finished yet.

What direction will Last Tribe head in for their next album? Anything different?
It's hard to say but right now it feels like it will be even more progressive. I have already started to write songs for the next one and it feels really good.

Anything you would like to add Magnus?
I want to give a big thank you to all the people who are mailing me with encouraging and kind words about Last Tribe. You are really warming my heart. Thank you!!

Thanks for taking the time out to do this interview!
Thank you very much!


Dreamtide (2003)

Dreamtide: The guys get daring on album number 2.

Helge Engelke and Olaf Senkbeil talk about the brand new Dreamtide album and the songs that make up the new opus.

Interview with Dreamtide guitarist and mastermind Helge Engelke.

I really like the style of the new album - you seem to be closer to a Fair Warning style sound. Was that a deliberate move?
Oops, right the very first one is a question I didn't expect at all. But first of all, thank you.
Having been in Fair Warning for more than 10 years I would have estimated that 80% of the songs on this record NEVER would have been on any FW record.
Maybe I am wrong but that would mean that the tastes of my ex-fellow members have changed drastically.
To answer the question more straight ahead: There was no intention at all, not even a single thought about it, to get closer to FW.

What did you have in mind when you started to write the new songs?
I'm a simple mind, so most of the time there is not much going on there. I wouldn't even say that I write songs. I would call it 'discovering' what - for reasons unknown to me - grew in silence and at a certain point of time wants to be unveiled. For me there is a clear separation between song and arrangement. The song is the melody and the chords. The rest is arrangement. When it comes to arranging songs the mind is
involved. Here the goal was to achieve something which could prove the
compatibility of melody and energy.

These are complex songs - there is a lot going on within each track - is
that your natural writing style?

I didn't think the songs to be too complex. But if you say so, it might be because I get bored easily and I like to add things to make it more colourful.

Is there a theme - a running story between the songs on Dreams For The

None that I know of, but maybe there is.

It's quite a long record - did you record all the songs you wrote for the

I wrote about 19 songs for the album and we picked 13.

I must be honest and say that I thought the production quality of the first album was better, even though I like the songs on the new album way better.
Sorry, but I can't follow here. The way the album sounds is intentional. The goal was to achieve maximum energy. I call it ' tsunami-sound'. The following is not meant as arrogantly as it may sound, but it would have been very, very, very, (did I mention very?) easy to let it sound like the first album.
It was simply not what I wanted. This album was not mixed to match (dated ) standards given by others. Dreams are free.
Somebody sent me the review of “Dreams for the Daring” on your website and I read about the complaining about the sound. The first thing which came to my mind was my grandmother, who (with a smile) kept telling me the story of how it was when the first railways were build in our area: All the farmers where concerned about the milk getting sour when the trains were passing by at such high speed.
Well, as we know now the milk didn't get spoiled, transportation just got quicker.

Fair comment Helge, thanks. Is it hard to complete these projects on the small budgets that bands have to work with or is it another issue?
No, nobody else but me is to blame.

You have included 3 re-mixes, with three tracks given a rather different - more modern - mix. What was the reasoning behind that idea?
These so called remixes are the original versions of the songs. When we played the first demos to our record companies, they had some objections to some of the sounds used on these versions. After some discussion we agreed to release both versions.

Were you happy with the results and who will you aim these tracks at?
Well, as I said, these versions were the original versions and therefore there are no reasons to be unhappy with them.
The second part of the question is not so easy to answer. I hope I got what you mean.
I don't think, play or write in categories like “melodic rock”, “Metal”, or “Slayyourmotherdeathtripledistortionmetal”.
The only category, which I think in, is music and songs. Whenever I find sounds or ideas for arrangements I like, I use them. These can be things from the past, from different cultures or things completely alien to the (so called) style of music people might think Dreamtide is supposed to play. This sometimes means consciously breaking the rules and limits of what is thought of as “melodic rock”.
If songs are written and arranged considering a narrow style or label of music, it necessarily means death of inspiration, creativity, and after all, death of music.

Can you tell us a little about each track on the album?
To describe music in writing does not come to me easily, but I'll give
my very best.

Dream Real
An effort to combine high energy with nice melodies. Lyrics are about turning dreams into reality and on whom to count on or not while doing this.

Live And Let Live
Up-tempo, guitar based, without neglecting the vocal ­ lines. Lyrics deal with some bad experiences I made with false friends.

I'll Be Moving On
Quiet beginning then getting more powerful. Hopefully a successful effort to blend a major-key song with power. Lyrics about the necessity of change.

All Of My Dreams
Starting out as a ballad, then getting more complex. Some more or less hidden musical quotes in there.

I'm Not With You
Complex arrangement, still heavy guitars. Lyrics address to people who try to sell you war as some kind of computer-game.

Man On A Mission
rhythm-orientated and heavy at the same time. Again some hidden quotes.
Quite German issue in the lyrics: The eternal quest for truth and the
possible danger of going astray on this quest.

Very heavy guitars, blending with Arabian influences. Lyrics deal with the situation in the Middle East.

Land Without Justice
Dealing with what I've been taught about right and wrong and finding out that neither government nor laws can guarantee justice.
Blend of some 'modern' and some 'old-fashioned' guitar-sounds, adding some keyboards here and there.

Out There
Going from an all-keyboard theme to heavy guitars.

Dreams Are Free
Based on a 70's funk- like riff 'translated' to heavy guitars, once the guitars kick in there's not much left of the funk-influence. Funnily, the lyrics are anticipating problems people who expect pure 'melodic rock' from Dreamtide might have with music or sound of 'Dreams for the Daring'.

Sweet Babylon
Again a song of necessary change in live and music. Leaving undesirable things unchanged can sometimes be more comfortable (sweet) than taking the necessary steps. Musically; I don't know.

You Can't Burn My Heart Out
Maybe a ballad. No, not really. Calm and heavy parts. Oh, come on listen.

What is next for Dreamtide - touring? Another album off in the distance

Hopefully touring will be next for Dreamtide. Finishing this album was somewhat strange because there were some songs left unfinished and unrecorded. But people said 'How many songs do you want to put on one album?' Basically that was the reason to stop writing and recording and for entering the mixing/finishing state. There is certainly more to come.

Are you working on anything else you can tell us about?
A simple'no'.

Is there any contact between you and Tommy now - a few years down the

We never lost contact and we never had any trouble. Even the very day Tommy announced his leaving of FW we were on the telephone. It was clear that our tastes drifted apart, nothing personal.

Anything you would like to add Helge?
No matter what kind of rock you prefer. Dreamtide is meant to reflect a broad variety of rock. Have a listen yourselves and decide if you like it or not.

Thanks for taking the time out to answer these questions!
Thank you for giving us a forum.
Best Regards!

Interview with Dreamtide vocalist Olaf Senkbeil.

How are you enjoying your role in the band?
I am very happy that Helge gave me the chance to sing for a worldwide audience. Here in Germany I have only been a singer in a cover band and also for some studio work. That is o.k. for earning your survival money but it is not desirable for the rest of your life.
Because of that I sometimes lost my joy in making music and even in singing. The time of the Blind Guardian choir session on nightfall in middle earth and also when Helge rang me up because of the searching for a singer for his new band made me really happy. He is a very very talented and well educated guy...in music!! So for me it is a pleasure because I am able to learn a lot in producing and songwriting. Also I do hope that my English is going to become better because of Dreamtide and things like giving interviews.
Short version: I do enjoy my role a lot!!!

Your English is fine Olaf! Dreams For The daring is the second album for the band and you as singer - how do you think this album varies from the debut?
The album is a heavier one because when Helge wrote the stuff for the first album he didn't know what kind of band his new one would be - he was not knowing who would be the band members.
That has changed and now he knows how my voice is sounding and for instance the range where my voice is fitting the song material best. - (We hope that we know that ....*lol*)

Did you do anything different vocally on this album?
Not really. The recording sessions have been a bit faster because I also think that I do find my way back to Hard-Rock-Music more and more --- Lost my love in music because of covering too much --- and I think when Helge is writing a song I do know how he feels it and I try to give my best in expression and sound.

At what point do you record your vocals - and how is this process undertaken in the studio?
We did the recordings at Helge's studio near Hanover. He got some soundscape-units and we used the Brauner Valve. I got examples of the songs (Yes Helge should also be a well known singer *smile*) and I sang the verse and also the refrains in a row.
Helge was the controlling guy. It is always good if you have an interested listener (producer) and when we recorded some material we decided which one of the takes would be the one with the best expression.

How would you describe the sound of Dreamtide to someone that is not familiar with the band?
Hard powerful music with good melodies. Classical songwriting well produced sometimes with modern sounds.

Do you have any personal favourites from this new album?
Not a very special one because it changes everyday but "Live And Let Lie" is good catchy one, also I really do love the "Land of Justice" hard aggressive music and actual lyrics.

Tell us about other projects you have sung on over the years...
Well there have been a lot of various things. I started in the eighties with singing in some bands, blues and also German rock music, but the first thing I am really a bit proud of was the band Jacks Hammer (http://www.jacks-hammer.com). We did some nice rockin stuff and have had a lot of fun at that time.
After the death of my father I have had to earn money for my mother and my brother so I started to sing in a cove rband and I also started to sing some studio stuff. Therefore I sang on the "Jamaica-Soundsystem - Every Breath You Take", musical stuff (Stella musical), commercials. I even sang a Greek cover version of the song "Opa Opa".
Nothing what I haven't sung at that time even on the German "superstars" Daniel Kübelböck and Alexander *lol* I sang some choir passages --- good work and good professional team - greetings to Billy.
But I also did some serious stuff like the choir sessions for Blind-Guardian, Helloween, Grave Digger, Freedom Call, Lacrimosa and so on - therefore I do have to say: Thank you Mr Rolf Köhler for inviting me as a choir singer.
Another thing where I am a bit proud of is the CD Bittersweet from another band of mine.
The band named Morphshop (http://www.morphshop.com). That is no hard rock music but also one of my favourites. If you can manage it take a look on the homepage.

Do you have a list of other vocalists or bands that have been your influence and inspiration over the years?
Yes a lot of..... It started with Lennon/McCartney "Oh Darling", Ian Gillan especially the orchestral record 1973 Royal Albert Hall, Coverdale, Dio, Bob Catley, Gordon Summers, John Farnham, Joe Cocker.....and there is no end because there are a lot of good and inspired singing girls and boys throughout the whole world
So I would say the feeling and the inspirited singing of everyone could be an inspiration for myself.

I see you posted some replies on my Noticeboard a few weeks back - do you enjoy the online interaction with fans?
Yes it is so directly and those messages have been really a big fun for me because I talked to guys who really don't like my way of singing. But in the end we had a lot of fun and it was a good talk *lol*!!!

Does the Internet have its disadvantages?
For sure there are always more than only one side.
If you talk about some pornographic sites and also the "illegal" downloading of mp3-Files.
It is good for a band to be able to be known worldwide but you are not going to earn money. Therefore you have to work in different professions for paying your rent and so on.
Maybe this could also be a chance for more life-music and selling CDs without industry like record-companies. Than it will be maybe only necessary to have a good promoter. But as you see this is a theme for hours and hours to talk about and I don't want to bother you.

What CDs are you listening to right now?
Dreams for the Daring *lol* -- but yes I do really, Dead can Dance, Clannad, Stoppock, Zuccero, Helloween and Masterplan

Anything you would like to add Olaf?
Just let me say thank you for your interest in our band
Hope that we will be able to play some concerts in 2004
Best regards and thanks (hope you'll understand my broken English but that's it...)



Perfect World (2003)

Perfect World: Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi and Kelly Hansen unite for a perfect union.

Kelly Hansen - The Hurricane and former Unruly Child vocalist talks about what drew him into the idea of recording an album of cover tunes, not to mention what's in the future for Hurricane.

Hi Kelly, It's been a good few years for you - albums with Unruly Child and Hurricane both in stores and producing the Ramos album.
First up - how did you get involved in the Ramos project in the first place?

I got a call from Michael Robinson who was doing some work for Frontiers. We had worked together on the Robert Fleishman Project.

Do you enjoy the production side of things over performing?
They are just two sides of the same coin, I like them both.

In your opinion, can an artist do both and remain objective?
Of course, but the artist has to be at least smart enough to know he has to pay attention to the danger of losing perspective.

With Perfect World, you have teamed up with Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi - he comes with an excellent reputation - how did you enjoy working with him?
We had a good time but we did most of our work remotely. He would send stuff to me, I would work on it, and then I would send it back.

How about the team behind Fabrizio - did you work with the making of the album from the start, or add vocals after the fact?
Serafino from Frontiers came to me with the songs and put me in touch with Fabrizio, we worked out the keys of the songs, they are all cover songs, then we did the back and forth that I mentioned earlier.

I will happily let you know I think the album is great and continues the high quality output we expect from you! What was the concept behind making the album?
Well, Serafino asked me to do a record of cover songs, and after I listened to the songs, I though it would be fun to do. But contrary to what I've seen written, I wouldn't call it a "Solo Record" because I didn't pick or write any of the songs.

The album is still classic melodic hard rock but has a slightly modern touch - musically and production wise - is this where you are as an artist in 2003, or were you trying to do something a little different?
I was just fulfilling this concept that Serafino brought to me. He wanted to do an album of cover tunes with me singing.

Fabrizio seems very good at adding subtle modern touches here and there without throwing the listener into some place unfamiliar. Do you agree?
I thought he did a great job and he was easy to work with.

Can you tell us where the songs came from and when they were written?
All of the songs are cover songs, some of the original artists are: Natalie Imbruglia, Liane Rhimes & Jennifer Page.

It really is a fine album - how do you keep you voice in such good condition?
Fortunately, I have the luxury to sing on a particular day or not. If my voice feels a little rougher than another day, I can choose to sing on a song that might benefit from that tone. Over time you learn a myriad of things that keep the voice in shape, but I like my voice to have a little more mucus rather than to be too dry, so I don't worry about eating dairy etc. As a rule, I don't like some of the traditional "rules" that some singers & vocal instructors think are so important.

You have included one well known cover - an interesting choice and a great result - Just Like A Pill by Pink - it suits your voice perfectly. What inspired you to tackle that song?
Actually, we had an arrangement of a song that wasn't working, so we "Just Like A Pill" as a last minute replacement.

What are you personal song favourites from the album?
I have to say that this really was Serafino's idea of a group of songs that he thought would sound great redone in a different way and I agreed, I enjoyed singing all of them, but I wouldn't choose a favorite.

What's in the future for Hurricane? There was talk of a release of a archive live album. Is that still happening?
Well, we're still trying to negotiate terms, but sometime these things drag on. But we're trying to make it happen.

And how about a new studio album? Liquifury seemed to be very well received, can you see another album happening?
That is a possibility, if it all comes together.

And are you personally working on any other projects you can talk about?
I'm in negotiations for some movie music productions, and doing some co-writing and co-producing some artists here in L.A.

How did you enjoy singing on the Styx and Journey tribute albums? Best performances on the albums I thought.
Nothing else lined up as far as tribute albums are concerned, but I liked doing those and I tried to be faithful to the spirit of the originals.

How's the music business in LA 2003 compared with LA 1983 and also 1993?
'83 was a time of great growth and experimentation, '93 brought the previous era to a halt with the introduction of Grunge and the beginning of the end of the "free Radio" era. Now the music scene is in a difficult time with downloading causing an uproar in the traditional music industry. Time will tell if fresh minds can create new concepts to enable artists and labels to still make money without sacrificing quality.
Thanks Andrew!


Newman (2003)

Newman: Modern times, classic sounds.

Steve Newman talks about his latest Newman album and the Butterfly Tattoo material and gives some advice to new bands and AOR fans out there!

Hi Steve….our first ever interview – thanks for taking the time! What are you up to right now?
I am currently in the studio going through the Butterfly Tattoo material. I'm not sure who this is going to be released through, obviously Escape will have first choice on this. I'll let you know what happens.

Congrats on the new album - sounding as good, if not better, than ever.
Thank you Andrew.

There's been a 3 year delay between albums this time around, but you haven't been sitting around the whole time.
You recorded a set of songs under the title Butterfly Tattoo. What happened to those songs and why weren't they released?

Yes, that's right, I was involved in doing something a little different with regards to Butterfly Tattoo. I got together two other musicians, a bass player, and a drummer and we spent around 2 months in the studio writing songs with the intention that this was to become the next Newman album. We started to actively write together and could see almost immediately that this was going to be nothing like any other Newman album! After the songs were more or less completed I presented them to Khalil, and we both came to the conclusion that this was too different to be released under the Newman name. I am currently in the studio re-recording some of the parts from the sessions and hopefully this will be released in the very near future.

How far could the style really be from what you are best known for?
Everything I do will have an element of me in it, there was a lot more involvement from the other guys and this is really what took it in a different direction. It is very different from Newman, so I've been told by the few people that have heard some of the songs.

So you decided to start over with a new set of songs - a set that sets a new high standard for you! What did you have in mind after deciding to start over?
Well, I finished the Butterfly Tattoo material and then went through a re-location to another part of the South Coast of England. I spent around 6 months or so setting up my new studio, so when it came to sitting down and writing for the new album I had a few ideas buzzing around in my head.

Are you happy with the results?
Yes, I am, I was glad that I could spend the time in my own studio recording the guitar, keys, and vocal parts. I always felt that, particularly with the vocals, I needed more time to concentrate on getting them right. The previous albums have been pretty tough schedule wise. 3 days to sing 12 songs with backing vocals too, is a tall order!! So I think the vocal has benefited most.

Tracks like Last Known Survivors and Save Me Tonight are prime examples of British AOR. Who are your musical influences - now and as you grew up?
I started listening to my brother's record collection when I was growing up, bands like Led Zeppelin, and Free. Later I really got into the American bands such as Dokken, Ratt, and obviously Bon Jovi. I first saw Strangeways when they supported Europe in England, they became a very big influence, as did other bands such as Night Ranger and FM. I think that my approach to song writing changed when I heard Jeff Paris, and personally I don't think that anyone has come close to him as a songwriter.
My influences now are quite varied. I have been listening to the Foo Fighters, Good Charlotte, and Hundred Reasons recently. Although I still think that there are a lot of good melodic rock bands such as Urban Tale, Pride and Grand Illusion.

The sound of the new album is a little tougher - the guitar plays a more prominent and direct role in the music. Was that a conscious decision by yourself?
Not really, I think that in each album, the guitar seems to have been gradually becoming louder !! hahaha.
I always try to look at the guitar parts fairly carefully, and if it is required then it gets recorded. I would agree that over the course of the past 4 albums things have got heavier!!

You also use a new band line-up on this record, while playing many of the instruments yourself. I think this was a great idea and the benefits can be heard on the record. What was behind that decision?
I felt that after "One Step Closer" and "Dance In The Fire" I wanted to have a little more control over the Drums and Bass. On the previous two albums these had been recorded over in Canada and I particularly wanted to keep this in the UK this time around. To have Pete Jupp play drums on the album was a great thrill as FM was one of the bands I used to be really into. Both Pete, and Mike Brooks (Bass) put down some great rhythm tracks for the new album.

It was also produced by you with Pete Coleman. How did he influence the sound of the record and did you enjoy the more hands on experience?
It was great to meet up with Pete, and I think he done a great job engineering the material. I always love being in and around studios, in the passed few years I've tended to get quite involved in the technological side of the recording process, so it's always nice to see how someone like Pete works.

You've recorded 3 albums now for Escape Music - but I wasn't even aware you had a forth - a debut album for Point Music. Can you still get that anywhere, I need a copy?!!
hahaha, I think they're probably giving them away somewhere!! No, seriously, I think the album is still available from Point Music in Germany.

Are you happy with the musical development the Newman albums have made? Anything you would like to change or do differently?
Yes, when ever you have finished recording an album there are always things you wish you could have done better, but that is the learning curve. I think that every artist improves with each album. Sure, there are many things that, looking back, I wished I'd done differently, but then again these albums are really snapshots of a particular time in my life, the process I went through to record them, and the emotions I was feeling at the time.

With what happened to Butterfly Tattoo in mind - what next for Steve Newman? What will you do for the next studio album, presumably next year some time?
Well, as I've said, the Butterfly Tattoo material should be released sometime soon hopefully when it is all completed.
I travelled out to Sweden about a month ago to work with Anders Rydholm of Grand Illusion, that was a very productive visit, and hopefully the songs we wrote together should be appearing on an album at some stage.
I will start working the next Newman album towards the end of this year hopefully. I promise it won't be as long coming as the last one!!! hahaa

Any chance we might see Newman playing a few gigs this or next year?
Yes, I would really like to do some shows in 2004, we'll have to see.

Do you see any one band or artist really doing a great job out there promoting themselves, making great music that inspires you?
At the moment I think it is very difficult without the funding of a major company. I think that websites like yours, and the internet is the way to go with regards to promotion on a wide scale. This is certainly true in the UK at the moment as there is no real avenue, certainly for melodic rock bands, to tour or become successful in that way.

Can you tell us a little about the artwork for the new CD? What is it about? LOL...I personally think it's very cool, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Ok, I was looking at imagery for the new album, I already had the title in mind. I saw this image and thought that it fitted the lyrics in the title track really well. It's really someone stopping and saying "hey, everything is moving too fast, it's time to stop, and take a look around, and give something back" I think that as the world moves faster it is becoming less emotional, we see it in our music particularly, manufactured bands, similar to fast food really!!

Where does the subject matter for your songs come from?
Many different places, I tend to write what I feel at the time. If I am moved by a certain event, or story, then I usually write about it.

How do you go about writing songs in general? What's your modus operandi?
It really depends, it can start form a vocal melody idea, or maybe a guitar riff. I don't really have any set way of writing, although I use Cakewalk software to construct the song as an aid to developing the idea.

What would you really like to see happen to the melodic rock scene in the UK and in general worldwide?
It would be great to see it all came back to the scale that it was in the eighties. I think it will, but it will be packaged differently, probably in the form of a boy band!! haha.
There are already bands coming through, here in the UK, that have a certain AOR quality about them, only time will tell.
Even within the AOR fraternity I would like to see people start accepting some of the newer bands, I think the artists that were around in the eighties, playing this kind of music sometimes get treated a little too God like. I'm not saying any more!! haha

Anything you can recommend to new artists coming through and looking for a break?
I think if you are a melodic rock band, especially in the UK, then you could approach someone like Now and Then or Escape Music. The web is always a good place to start promoting the band as well. It's very difficult to tour and become known through that these days, and finding places to play is a nightmare. I would always say that with any band, make sure you all want the same thing, and get the best possible musicians. Just write what you feel, and try not to be like anyone else, people will always compare you to someone anyway, and you'll probably find that their influence has come out in your music.

Thanks for your time Steve, anything you would like to add?
Thanks Andrew, and thanks to all your readers and fans that have bought the previous albums. Good luck with the continuing success of melodicrock.com!

Thanks Steve, appreciate your time.


Rush Of Ushers (2003)

Rush Of Ushers: A new name to some familiar faces.

Daniel O'Breien talks about his new Rush Of Ushers project and writing music for film and TV..

Hi Daniel, thanks for doing this short Q&A with me!
You have worked with Magnus @ Atenzia previously with MTM Music and your solo album Beautiful Disaster. How do you rate that album looking back?
When I look back at "Brilliant New Disaster", I still feel very good about it. I think there are some powerful songs that still stand up, and lyrically, it was a very good time for me. Songs like "Medicate", and "Powder", contain some of my favorite lyrics.

I always rated it a very good modern pop/rock album which still sounds fresh. Were you disappointed it didn't get a wider release / wider recognition?
Yes, very much so! I believe there are some hits on the record, and I wish that there would have been more coverage of the album, but oh well, life moves on. I'm hoping that my new release will generate some positive results. It's very rewarding when people are moved by your music.

Maybe it was a few years before it's time?
I don't think I can be the judge of that! I'm much too close to it, but if someone were to think that, as an artist, that would be an amazing compliment.

You've had a ton of experience in the business - far less talented people have become superstars - does this frustrate you, or do you think your time will come?
That's a very interesting question. I've had to go through many different transitions in my musical career. I think several years ago, it was an utmost priority for me to become a star. The more you do this though, the more you realize that your music has about 50% to do with your success, and the rest is all luck and fate. I've been on many roller coaster rides through the record business, and I have come out the other end feeling different now. I'm in a place where I write and record my music for me. I get personal satisfaction if I produce something I think is compelling, moving. Whatever the universe has in mind for me, I'll just have to see!

Why did you choose a band over another solo project?
Really I just chose it for the hell of it! I have been writing and producing all of the music with my partner Jeff Hull, (a.k.a. "wheel") and we thought it would be cool to approach this project as a band, an entity. Either way works, we just like the band aspect.

How has the reaction for ROU been for you to date?
Fantastic so far! People seem to love the new songs, and I think it is an album that will surely grow on people the more they listen. I am also getting a lot of interest from film and television companies to feature some of the songs in their projects.

Any other interest or movement in the US for you?
We are just spreading the word here now, and are getting some initial great reactions. I wanted to wait until it was closer to release time in Europe before approaching majors in the US.

How did you meet and teamed up with ROU partner Jeff Hull - was it seriously over a girl?
Well, I have to say YES to that. Girls certainly make the world go 'round don't they? A previous guitar play of mine was going out with a girl who I ended up becoming great friends with, then they broke up, she somehow ended up being introduced to Jeff, and then we met as a result of that.

How would you describe the sound of Rush Of Ushers?
I think I would describe it as a collection of my moods and experiences. An array of different colors and sounds. Dark, light, quirky, dramatic.

What and who have been your influences as a singer and songwriter over the years?
I am truly a product of 60s and 70s rock and roll. My life was shaped by bands such as "The Who", "Beatles", Led Zeppelin", "Yes", "Grand Funk Railroad", "Pink Floyd", "David Bowie" , and I could go on. I think I can also say that I have been very influenced by Bono from the band "U2" as a singer and a poet. Absolute brilliance in his writing and performing.

Tell us about your TV/Film business and how that works?
Well it's really just that I make a concerted effort to try to get my music placed in films and TV shows. I have an agency that represents my music here in the US, and they are constantly working to try to get these placements. It's just more good exposure!

I noticed some great song placements in your bio - Terri Nunn, Daryl Braithwaite and Heart. How does one get songs placed with such high profile acts? How does that work?
Networking, networking, pure accident, luck, fate!

I also noticed you have co-written with John Waite. What tracks and how did that go?
John and I had done some writing a while back, a couple of cool songs that got demoed, but never used, sorry to say. It was great fun working with him. He's quite a character, and still has one of the classic "radio friendly" voices out there.

What will you be working on next - more film/tv work?
I am always writing new material, some for future albums, some specifically geared towards a film or show. My real hope is that the new album "Delightfully" will explode in Europe, and we can come over and do some performing!

Are you happy with Atenzia's openness towards modern rock music and trying to break new artists?
I must say, I am overall, very impressed by the attitudes of companies like Atenzia, as well as the people in countries like Sweden. They seem to truly love great music, and are dedicated to getting it out there to the people. Much different attitudes than many of the American record companies, I'm afraid to say!

If you would write/work with any one artists - who would that be and why?
Believe it or not, I would love to work with Sheryl Crow. I feel like she is the female version of me, and that I can completely relate to her thinking. Of course I would like to sleep with her too, but I guess we can save that for later!

What are you listening to currently?
Coldplay, Pink, White Stripes, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Britny Spears (JUST KIDDING)

Anything you would like to add Daniel?
Thanks much for the interview. I look forward to the release of the album, and hope I will be over there soon to perform for anyone who will listen. Please pick up your copy of Rush of Ushers "Delightfully"!! Bye for now!

Thanks for taking the time out to chat!

Shugaazer (2003)

Shugaazer: A new name, but a familiar voice.

Paul Laine talks about his new band Shugaazer and his role and future in Danger Danger.

Shugaazer has been a while in the making - I know you have been working on songs for some time now. Just how long did the writing process take and then the recording?
The idea of forming this band started many years ago....I had always been writing songs for Shugaazer (the band that never was) and every time I had to do a D2 record, Steve and Bruno would choose some of that material, and that's what would end up on their album's.
This album in particular was about a year in the making-8 months writing it and about 4 months recording it.

How many songs were written and/or recorded for the project that has resulted in the 10 tracks included on the final album?
Probably somewhere around 30 songs were written to various stages before Chris and I decided on the 10 that made the record....When I set out to do this, there was no deal on the table...I thought to myself, I am going to make the record that I want to make, sing about what I want to sing about, and if the only people that are interested in this record are my friends...so be it. I never really expected for everybody to like it as much as they do.

At what point did you decide to go for a new band name over a Paul Laine solo album?
I never wanted to be a solo artist when I got signed to Elektra...I didn't even want to be the singer....I didn't feel that I was good enough back then. I thought I was better suited to the songwriter/guitar player role...It was the label's idea that I be the solo artist, and of course that meant I also had to be the singer.

Shugaazer is a tidy four piece - tell us about the other three guys - what they do, where they came from?
The writing core of this band is Chris Matheson and myself...I met Chris while I was working on a demo for his band in my studio...I thought, this guy is the first guy I have met around here that has the same kind of ear for music as I do...plus he is an incredible guitar player...very natural and fluid. He has great songwriting chops and never lets his ego get in the way when we write together...it's always about the song. Shane Demers came next on bass...he had played in various other acts locally and abroad and we all just really liked him...his playing and his personality...I think it is so important if you are a group to have a great relationship outside the band....it makes it that much better when you have to work together....Roland Churchill came last...We recorded the Album with Pat Steward, who drummed for Bryan Adams, the Odds, Jimmy Barnes, Matt Good ect...He had also worked with me before, as you know, on the "Stick It In Your Ear" album...He highly recommended Roland, and that was enough for me.



How do you describe the more modern approach of the band? Where does that musical inspiration/influence come from?
I have always just written the kind of songs that I would like to listen to...nothing more...If you think it's modern...great...if you think it's dated - I don't really care. Perhaps this isn't the best attitude to go though the business with, but songwriting is such a personal thing, and I have to like it before you do.
As far as influences go, the older you get, the more you have to draw on inspiration-wise...I love everything that is good. From Abba to Zappa, I'll listen to it all.

Danger Danger are a classic melodic hard rock band, yet Gildersleeves featured some modern production effects and a more updated sound. Was that your influence and is that continued on in Shugaazer?
I have nothing to do with how a D2 record turns out...that is all Steve and Bruno's decision...I don't write with them, I don't record with them...I send in my songs, they write theirs. They send me the tapes to sing on at my studio, I meet them in N.Y. when I have to go on tour...I don't think that I have influenced them at all, and I think that my contribution has been minimal.
When it comes to working on their material, I sing the songs exactly how they told me to sing them, and when it come to mine, they leave me alone.

To me, tracks like Beautiful and Enough and even Song 4 Lennon are related D2, but have taken another step forward. Do you consider the same?
Well...I know that they would never choose any song like that to be on one of their albums. It's hard for me to think of in the context of D2...outside people are a better judge of that. Since I don't write with and formulate a concept of any D2 album with Steve and Bruno, I don't think of any of my songs sounding particularly D2...in fact I have been chastised for writing different sounding material that perhaps hasn't fit into the D2 mould, and criticized for not sounding like Ted...I just think that I sound like me, and for the first time in a long time, I can stand on my own without being compared to somebody else.

How about most modern rock tracks like Stepped Into My Universe and Get The Hell Outta My House - where does the musical inspiration for those come from?
Again...when it comes to writing...there is no pre-conceived plan...I wrestled with putting Stepped Into My Universe on the record...everyone else just love the song so much that I had to...Chris wrote Get the Hell Outa My House, and I wanted that song on the record and he didn't...so figure that one out.

Are you happy with the results for the debut album? Is it as you envisioned?
The producer in me never is, with any record I make, but the songwriter in me is happy with it.

How would you describe the band's sound to those that haven't heard it?
Some people say we are a cross between U2/Coldplay meets Phantom Planet - but hey...who's naming names!!! ;)
I don't know really...I guess that's for everyone else to decide...I'm too close to it!

Any touring plans for the band?
We are definitely a live band...anybody willing to have us come play...we'll show up...We are going to be doing a lot of dates in Canada...most likely Europe as well...I suppose it depends if anybody likes it.

And I gather that this will be an ongoing band that will record future albums?
Yes...as long as the songs keep coming...and we don't kill each other.

Is there any room in the future for a Paul Laine solo album of any description?
At this point I don't know....If I feel constrained somehow and I feel the need to say something writing-wise that doesn't fit into the context of the group I'm in, then I suppose that I will...right now I feel tremendous freedom in my writing....As long as I have that, I am happy.

You have just got back from some European Danger Danger dates. Where does D2 feature in your future plans?
I'm focused on this project right now....D2 for all of us is just a hobby...I think if it wasn't...we'd all be working harder to make it more of a force than it is...besides, I am not the captain of the D2 ship and have no say in the decision making process.

It's been a three year break now since Gildersleeves and the band just released Rare Cuts, which sadly doesn't feature yourself. I hear word of a Best Of release and a live album. Why not just record a new studio album - or is it out of your hands?
Well...I am happy that Rare Cuts doesn't have me on it...I think it was a wise decision on their part, and goes to show what I think most people believe to be the true core of D2 anyways...I know my place in the band, and have never felt bad about it...I even think it would be great if they did a tour with Ted.
I know that the fans would probably appreciate it a lot....the thing is, when you're the replacement guy, you will always be that in the minds of most people who love the band...As far as a " Best of" goes...I don't know...and if there is a live record, at this point I don't see the point.

Will a new studio happen, or is it just too hard to get done?
I don't think so, but you would have to pose that question to Steve & Bruno.

Is it nice to still get requests for the Stick It In Your Ear album?
It is, and I am still flattered at all the nice things people have to say about it...You know...I wrote most of that album when I was 17 years old....I didn't even own a copy of it until about 6 months ago....I never listen to work that I have done unless there is a tour to go on....which is why I always have cheat sheets on stage!!!
Pretty pathetic that can't even remember the lyrics to my own songs!

I hear that you are considering re-releasing the album?
I am seriously considering releasing it again...especially after this last tour, where I had a lot of record store owners coming out asking me if I would....apparently it is quite hard to get, and there seems to be enough people who want it...so...

And will it include the 4 bonus tracks and/or anything else different?
Yes and probably something new as well....

Paul, you have a lot of songs that remain unreleased - could there be any plans to release these at any stage?
I won't release anything in demo form ever again...They will only be released as I intended for people to hear, which of course would be in a new studio album....I really think that you only do that when you run out of options creatively, or you just want to milk your career to the last drop.

What's next at this stage then for Paul Laine?
Devoting all my energies to the Shugaazer album....Right now I am trying to get distribution in my own country, and will begin playing as soon as that happens.

What albums are you listening to right now?
A lot of old stuff...Fleetwood Mac "Rumours" ,ELO's Greatest Hits, Bowie, the Cars, Blondie and Liz Phair's great new album...Also...I discovered this great band from the UK....they're called Feeder...Love that band...very much along the lines of what I am doing, so I guess it's justification in some weird way.

Anything you would like to add?
I would just like to say thank-you to everyone who has ever bought a recording of mine...With the internet piracy going on, it is a lot tougher for smaller artists like myself to forge out a career and make a living from it...music is art...and artists need to be paid in order to sustain at what they do...we think nothing at downloading music for free off the internet, but if we went in to an artist's studio, painter, potter, novelist, whatever and just took from him what he had spent so long to create....I think it would be a different matter..
It is because this kind of theft is an anonymous theft....responsibility and respect for people and their work is always important, no matter what their job is...I am not saying don't listen to music online...I am just saying respect the effort that went into it, and if you truly love what you hear, BUY the album, so the artist has a chance to make more of his art available to you.

Cheers Paul for taking the time out to do this interview - much appreciated.





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