Bruce Turgon (2005)

Bruce Turgon: Outside Looking Into A Largely Unhearalded Career.



Bruce Turgon is yet another exceptional musician that has spent a lengthy career making other people look good. Finally he gets the chance to shine under his own name, with his debut solo album for Frontiers Records.



Great to talk to you Bruce, time to talk the fabulous Outside Looking In album.
Nice to hear from you.

First of all - congrats on a great album that seems to have captured the imagination of a lot of fans.
Thank you - I'm very gratified to see all the positive response it's gotten so far.

To take things back to the start – for those that don't know – where did you career begin? The first time I remember hearing of you was on Lou Gramm's Ready Or Not solo debut, but the partnership went back further than that, didn't it?
In the early 70's, I developed a musical association and friendship with Lou Gramm, who lived very close to me in upstate NY. With our band Black Sheep, we worked our way up through the club circuit to eventually become the first American band signed to Chrysalis Records, and then recorded 2 albums for Capitol Records.
It was during this period that we truly started to develop our songwriting skills. By '76, Black Sheep was over, Lou had moved to NYC to work on what would become Foreigner, and I had an offer to work in LA.
I continued writing, recording and touring with various artists (Warrior/Billy Thorpe/Nick Gilder, etc,) and my own bands throughout the early 80's. In late '85, Lou contacted me about writing with him for his first solo effort. Our writing partnership was strong - we worked throughout the next year. In early '87, he released “Ready Or Not” which yielded the hit single, “Midnight Blue”

Looking back through the credits on that album - you were responsible for a great majority of the music and co-wrote many of the songs. I must admit I did not take that in fully at the time. You must have been very proud of the major success that album had.
It was great on many levels. After being apart from Lou and having worked with so many other musicians that I had little or no connection with, I really appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with my friend again. From the beginning of the songwriting process there was a great creative momentum, which continued throughout the recording phase.
Pat Moran was an integral part of that process in that he encouraged individual creativity and spontaneity, while keeping us focused throughout. Besides my own album, working on "Ready Or Not" was probably my most satisfying recording experience and yes, I was proud of the success we had

Long Hard Look was quite different though. Whereas Ready Or Not was a collaborative effort and a more cohesive record, Lou used a host of different players and different writers for Long Hard Look and although I love the album, it sounded like it was recorded - in parts. Any thoughts on your involvement in that record now, looking back?
Well, it was recorded in parts - in fact there are two different versions. We recorded one with Eric Thorngren, and while there were some good moments, it was not right, so Peter Wolf stepped in and completed the album that was released. Peter took the elements from the original recordings that he liked (which were precious few) and built on it with, as you say, a host of different players and writers, and it was during this time that I decided to tour with Steve Stevens.
I had nothing to do with this version of the record until near the end of the recordings, but just prior to leaving for NYC to begin Atomic Playboys rehearsals, Lou asked me to come to LA and work on it. For a couple of days I played bass and rhythm guitars and sang backing vocals with Lou. Like you, I feel the album is good, but fragmented - it seems to live somewhere between a pop and a hard rock record.

The move to a band name - Shadow King and a stable line up - what was the thinking behind that? It was more or less, the same set up as Ready Or Not, yet with Vivian Campbell added and a tougher sound. You and Lou co-wrote the record together, just as you had at the start. What prompted Lou to get back to basics with you?
We did eventually tour after Long Hard Look and it brought us back together again. After the tour, we started to write and had laid the groundwork for what was meant to be his next solo album. However, Lou's management and record label felt it would be stronger if there was a band identity. I was not in favor of it, but nevertheless, we went about the process of auditioning musicians and settled on Vivian Campbell and Kevin Valentine- both great players.




I could perhaps see yourself happy to be in a band situation as previously all your efforts musically were credited to Lou Gramm solely, but now perhaps you could share the limelight. Is that what happened?
Not really. As I mentioned, a band wasn't my personal druthers. If it had developed organically, it might have made more sense to me, but Shadow King was a completely manufactured situation. I have great respect for Lou and his accomplishments and I really didn't feel that whatever success we had achieved to that point, needed to be watered down with a new band identity to promote - it was like starting over to me. However, because I had both a friendship and a business obligation to Lou, I tried to find a middle ground between our original vision and what was now expected, but with varying degrees of success.

I'm not sure if you are aware, but the Shadow King record is to this today routinely debated on my message board – with some still not 'getting' that album, but many others (myself included) regard it as a classic and somewhat of a highly underrated and under sold record!
Thank you - regardless of sales, I always felt it was an album that distanced us from the pack in those days and would stand the test of time. I do know that there is a strong following from the people that are aware of it, but I didn't realize they were still debating the merits of it…

After listening to Outside Looking In, I instantly knew where the talent behind Shadow King came from. Were you disappointed that album did not take off as it should have? And do you have any idea why it did not? Did the label drop the ball, or what?
Thank you again and I appreciate that you recognize my contribution, but at its core, the heart and soul of the record is a collaboration between Lou and myself, very similar to "Ready Or Not".
In fact, a harder, more intense version of that record is what I had originally intended to accomplish prior to the whole band thing. Musically, because of my songwriting contributions and the instruments I played, it's weighted in my direction, but all the players contributed excellent, vital performances. However, early on, it was determined by Lou and producer Keith Olsen, that I should establish the rhythm section and song identities by playing the core instruments as I had done on the demos.
This created distrust and animosity, which we never really overcame. After everyone's eventual participation, the fact that a good album emerged was not enough to hold us together. The whole Shadow King experience was frustrating for all the musicians involved in that everyone was compromised in the process and there was no cohesive thread to make it feel or act like a band.
Lack of sales was just another step down that road, but not totally unexpected by me because despite the marquee value of the players, it was a new entity that would need to be heavily promoted and we released that album just as grunge was happening. The album was lumped in with all the other metal bands, which I never considered it to be.
Of course, I would have liked the album to sell, but it wasn't really a surprise when it didn't.

You followed Lou back to Foreigner, for arguably one of the band's finest and most mature records in Mr. Moonlight. Again, a classic record that continues to find fans that missed it back in the day, but another record that was criminally under-promoted and under sold. What went wrong in this particular case?
Again, I agree with you - it is a very musical, mature record. I think the fact that it was somewhat different from previous albums, plus coming from a new band lineup, it was probably hard to embrace by some of the fan base. Also, Mick and Lou had made a label and management change, so the traditional promo/marketing machine was not in place and although we worked very hard at promoting and toured extensively in support of "Moonlight", it didn't translate to great sales

You continued to tour with Foreigner and Lou for sometime - up until not too long ago. In fact, I saw you guys live in Toronto in 1993 - fabulous show. Why did things come to an end and what happened with your relationship with Lou?
There was no definitive end to my participation in Foreigner - it just faded away. We ended the 2002 tour and all was well, but when Mick and Lou went to Europe for the "Night Of The Proms" shows, old rivalries flared and they once again reached an impasse in their relationship.
Consequently, there was no Foreigner tour or recording planned for the next year. Lou wanted to tour solo, and I put together a show that focused on his (and to a certain extent, our) career highlights. It was a very long, difficult tour and a hard time for Lou personally. By the end of it, we were both exhausted and it was around this time that I was approached by Frontiers about doing a solo record. I wanted to take a break from touring and decided that I would finally commit to doing my own album. Lou put a band together to continue doing shows and recording, so really, we have just gone about our own projects for the time being. He is meant to be releasing a Christian album soon and I look forward to hearing it.

Moving on to the fabulous Outside Looking In - was there a portion of the songs featured on this album that were intended for a second Shadow King album?
They sound sonically compatible - or...were some of the songs originally demoed for a solo project? How many were written for this project after being signed by Frontiers?

Songs written for future Shadow King - none. The initial ideas for "Walk Thru Fire" and "Living A Lie" were developed in the early 90's in anticipation of a solo album that I obviously never recorded. The bonus track for the Japanese release, "Walk The Walk", was an idea I started with Lou around '91-'92 for what was to be his next solo album, before we went to Foreigner. However, the version on "Outside Looking In" is considerably different. The core ideas for "Heart So Strong" and "These Tears Must Fall" were written in the mid to late 90's, but have also been majorly revamped for this album. Everything else is new material.






Once again we find you playing a majority of the instruments - how challenging is it to play/record and then mix yourself into the perfect result?
For this record it was absolutely necessary for me to play most of the instruments and sing - it is, after all, a true solo album… I don't know if it's a blessing or a curse, but at a songs inception, I generally have a picture in my mind's eye of what it should be like and spend all my time in pursuit of that, so it's better for me to just play the instruments rather than try and communicate what I want. Mixing, however, is another thing completely and while I do have a definitive opinion, I also realize that I cannot be entirely objective with such a wealth of material. Dennis Ward did a great job mixing and mastering and it was no small feat - there was an enormous amount of data for him to handle, but we worked well together and got great results.

Some fantastic guests on the album too – first of all, Denny Carmassi on drums – how did you know Denny (one of the great rock n roll drummers!)
About 10 years ago, I tried to recruit Denny for Foreigner, but he was busy with Whitesnake. However, from those initial conversations, we remained friends and eventually I was able to get him to tour with Foreigner in 2002. When I decided to do this album, he was my first call and he absolutely played a vital role in the power and feel of this record. I'm very grateful for his contribution and friendship and yes, he is one of rock's great drummers.

And solo guitar parts from the likes of Rocket Richotte and Ronnie Montrose!
Both are good friends and amazing guitarists as well as Scott McKinstry, who while he is not as well known, did some really great work as well.

And lastly - backing vocals from a good friend of mine - Ricky Phillips. A fellow LA bud?
Yes, and a very good friend that I finally had the opportunity and pleasure to collaborate with. We had a lot of fun working at Ricky's studio, both in the recording, but also the post work hang… We actually did two backing vocal sessions - one with Ricky alone, the other with Rick and Tom Gimbel, which was also very cool and great fun…

Lou Gramm provides backing vocals. Were those vocals from some of the original sessions or did Lou come in to help out an old friend?
Lou sings on songs we wrote together. They were recorded during those writing sessions and worked great as I continued to develop this album.

After getting to know this album, it's easy to see what Bruce Turgon's sound is - it is very distinct. Previously I wouldn't have been able to definitively state that. Is it nice to finally get a solo release out there?
At this point in my career, the recognition factor was one of the major reasons for doing a solo album. My approach is a little off the beaten path and I don't expect everyone to get it - but I appreciate that some do. Collaborations can be great, but it generally means compromise to some degree, at least for me. There's been much speculation over the years as to what my contributions have been to all these high profile projects, so for anyone who has followed my career and wondered, I think "Outside Looking In" is revealing.

Very revealing\ Bruce! Favourite songs? I love These Tears Must Fall, Living A Lie, Any Other Time...Walk Thru Fire also...
Well, it is a solo album in which I wrote or co-wrote all of the songs, so choosing favorites is difficult as they're meaningful in one way or another. However if I had to pick one, "On A Wing And A Prayer" encompasses most of the elements that are important to me for this kind of record.

What next then Bruce? Will we see another solo album in 2006/2007?
I'm not sure yet. Right now, all my attention is on this album, although I am continuing to write. Much really depends on the outcome of "Outside Looking In". However, I do also have an opportunity to score a film later next year as well as developing a very artistic project that I'm not at liberty to elaborate on at the moment. I've been approached to produce some younger bands and am considering it, depending on how their songs develop. We'll see…

Is there anything else you are working on? Do you do a lot of session work in LA?
I'm not really a studio gun for hire. Although I have done session work in years past, I really tend to get involved more in projects that I can sink my teeth into on a few different levels. I've done quite a bit of TV/film work over the last few years and will be doing more as I really enjoy it.

Anything else you would like to add Bruce?
Just that I would like to thank you, Andrew, and everyone who has followed my career and supported my work all these years. “Outside Looking In” is the next step down this road - I hope you enjoy it!

Many thanks for talking today and I look forward to more music to follow soon I hope!
Thanks again Andrew, and Merry Christmas!





Bruce Turgon (2005)

Bruce Turgon: Outside Looking Into A Largely Unhearalded Career.



Bruce Turgon is yet another exceptional musician that has spent a lengthy career making other people look good. Finally he gets the chance to shine under his own name, with his debut solo album for Frontiers Records.



Great to talk to you Bruce, time to talk the fabulous Outside Looking In album.
Nice to hear from you.

First of all - congrats on a great album that seems to have captured the imagination of a lot of fans.
Thank you - I'm very gratified to see all the positive response it's gotten so far.

To take things back to the start – for those that don't know – where did you career begin? The first time I remember hearing of you was on Lou Gramm's Ready Or Not solo debut, but the partnership went back further than that, didn't it?
In the early 70's, I developed a musical association and friendship with Lou Gramm, who lived very close to me in upstate NY. With our band Black Sheep, we worked our way up through the club circuit to eventually become the first American band signed to Chrysalis Records, and then recorded 2 albums for Capitol Records.
It was during this period that we truly started to develop our songwriting skills. By '76, Black Sheep was over, Lou had moved to NYC to work on what would become Foreigner, and I had an offer to work in LA.
I continued writing, recording and touring with various artists (Warrior/Billy Thorpe/Nick Gilder, etc,) and my own bands throughout the early 80's. In late '85, Lou contacted me about writing with him for his first solo effort. Our writing partnership was strong - we worked throughout the next year. In early '87, he released “Ready Or Not” which yielded the hit single, “Midnight Blue”

Looking back through the credits on that album - you were responsible for a great majority of the music and co-wrote many of the songs. I must admit I did not take that in fully at the time. You must have been very proud of the major success that album had.
It was great on many levels. After being apart from Lou and having worked with so many other musicians that I had little or no connection with, I really appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with my friend again. From the beginning of the songwriting process there was a great creative momentum, which continued throughout the recording phase.
Pat Moran was an integral part of that process in that he encouraged individual creativity and spontaneity, while keeping us focused throughout. Besides my own album, working on "Ready Or Not" was probably my most satisfying recording experience and yes, I was proud of the success we had

Long Hard Look was quite different though. Whereas Ready Or Not was a collaborative effort and a more cohesive record, Lou used a host of different players and different writers for Long Hard Look and although I love the album, it sounded like it was recorded - in parts. Any thoughts on your involvement in that record now, looking back?
Well, it was recorded in parts - in fact there are two different versions. We recorded one with Eric Thorngren, and while there were some good moments, it was not right, so Peter Wolf stepped in and completed the album that was released. Peter took the elements from the original recordings that he liked (which were precious few) and built on it with, as you say, a host of different players and writers, and it was during this time that I decided to tour with Steve Stevens.
I had nothing to do with this version of the record until near the end of the recordings, but just prior to leaving for NYC to begin Atomic Playboys rehearsals, Lou asked me to come to LA and work on it. For a couple of days I played bass and rhythm guitars and sang backing vocals with Lou. Like you, I feel the album is good, but fragmented - it seems to live somewhere between a pop and a hard rock record.

The move to a band name - Shadow King and a stable line up - what was the thinking behind that? It was more or less, the same set up as Ready Or Not, yet with Vivian Campbell added and a tougher sound. You and Lou co-wrote the record together, just as you had at the start. What prompted Lou to get back to basics with you?
We did eventually tour after Long Hard Look and it brought us back together again. After the tour, we started to write and had laid the groundwork for what was meant to be his next solo album. However, Lou's management and record label felt it would be stronger if there was a band identity. I was not in favor of it, but nevertheless, we went about the process of auditioning musicians and settled on Vivian Campbell and Kevin Valentine- both great players.




I could perhaps see yourself happy to be in a band situation as previously all your efforts musically were credited to Lou Gramm solely, but now perhaps you could share the limelight. Is that what happened?
Not really. As I mentioned, a band wasn't my personal druthers. If it had developed organically, it might have made more sense to me, but Shadow King was a completely manufactured situation. I have great respect for Lou and his accomplishments and I really didn't feel that whatever success we had achieved to that point, needed to be watered down with a new band identity to promote - it was like starting over to me. However, because I had both a friendship and a business obligation to Lou, I tried to find a middle ground between our original vision and what was now expected, but with varying degrees of success.

I'm not sure if you are aware, but the Shadow King record is to this today routinely debated on my message board – with some still not 'getting' that album, but many others (myself included) regard it as a classic and somewhat of a highly underrated and under sold record!
Thank you - regardless of sales, I always felt it was an album that distanced us from the pack in those days and would stand the test of time. I do know that there is a strong following from the people that are aware of it, but I didn't realize they were still debating the merits of it…

After listening to Outside Looking In, I instantly knew where the talent behind Shadow King came from. Were you disappointed that album did not take off as it should have? And do you have any idea why it did not? Did the label drop the ball, or what?
Thank you again and I appreciate that you recognize my contribution, but at its core, the heart and soul of the record is a collaboration between Lou and myself, very similar to "Ready Or Not".
In fact, a harder, more intense version of that record is what I had originally intended to accomplish prior to the whole band thing. Musically, because of my songwriting contributions and the instruments I played, it's weighted in my direction, but all the players contributed excellent, vital performances. However, early on, it was determined by Lou and producer Keith Olsen, that I should establish the rhythm section and song identities by playing the core instruments as I had done on the demos.
This created distrust and animosity, which we never really overcame. After everyone's eventual participation, the fact that a good album emerged was not enough to hold us together. The whole Shadow King experience was frustrating for all the musicians involved in that everyone was compromised in the process and there was no cohesive thread to make it feel or act like a band.
Lack of sales was just another step down that road, but not totally unexpected by me because despite the marquee value of the players, it was a new entity that would need to be heavily promoted and we released that album just as grunge was happening. The album was lumped in with all the other metal bands, which I never considered it to be.
Of course, I would have liked the album to sell, but it wasn't really a surprise when it didn't.

You followed Lou back to Foreigner, for arguably one of the band's finest and most mature records in Mr. Moonlight. Again, a classic record that continues to find fans that missed it back in the day, but another record that was criminally under-promoted and under sold. What went wrong in this particular case?
Again, I agree with you - it is a very musical, mature record. I think the fact that it was somewhat different from previous albums, plus coming from a new band lineup, it was probably hard to embrace by some of the fan base. Also, Mick and Lou had made a label and management change, so the traditional promo/marketing machine was not in place and although we worked very hard at promoting and toured extensively in support of "Moonlight", it didn't translate to great sales

You continued to tour with Foreigner and Lou for sometime - up until not too long ago. In fact, I saw you guys live in Toronto in 1993 - fabulous show. Why did things come to an end and what happened with your relationship with Lou?
There was no definitive end to my participation in Foreigner - it just faded away. We ended the 2002 tour and all was well, but when Mick and Lou went to Europe for the "Night Of The Proms" shows, old rivalries flared and they once again reached an impasse in their relationship.
Consequently, there was no Foreigner tour or recording planned for the next year. Lou wanted to tour solo, and I put together a show that focused on his (and to a certain extent, our) career highlights. It was a very long, difficult tour and a hard time for Lou personally. By the end of it, we were both exhausted and it was around this time that I was approached by Frontiers about doing a solo record. I wanted to take a break from touring and decided that I would finally commit to doing my own album. Lou put a band together to continue doing shows and recording, so really, we have just gone about our own projects for the time being. He is meant to be releasing a Christian album soon and I look forward to hearing it.

Moving on to the fabulous Outside Looking In - was there a portion of the songs featured on this album that were intended for a second Shadow King album?
They sound sonically compatible - or...were some of the songs originally demoed for a solo project? How many were written for this project after being signed by Frontiers?

Songs written for future Shadow King - none. The initial ideas for "Walk Thru Fire" and "Living A Lie" were developed in the early 90's in anticipation of a solo album that I obviously never recorded. The bonus track for the Japanese release, "Walk The Walk", was an idea I started with Lou around '91-'92 for what was to be his next solo album, before we went to Foreigner. However, the version on "Outside Looking In" is considerably different. The core ideas for "Heart So Strong" and "These Tears Must Fall" were written in the mid to late 90's, but have also been majorly revamped for this album. Everything else is new material.






Once again we find you playing a majority of the instruments - how challenging is it to play/record and then mix yourself into the perfect result?
For this record it was absolutely necessary for me to play most of the instruments and sing - it is, after all, a true solo album… I don't know if it's a blessing or a curse, but at a songs inception, I generally have a picture in my mind's eye of what it should be like and spend all my time in pursuit of that, so it's better for me to just play the instruments rather than try and communicate what I want. Mixing, however, is another thing completely and while I do have a definitive opinion, I also realize that I cannot be entirely objective with such a wealth of material. Dennis Ward did a great job mixing and mastering and it was no small feat - there was an enormous amount of data for him to handle, but we worked well together and got great results.

Some fantastic guests on the album too – first of all, Denny Carmassi on drums – how did you know Denny (one of the great rock n roll drummers!)
About 10 years ago, I tried to recruit Denny for Foreigner, but he was busy with Whitesnake. However, from those initial conversations, we remained friends and eventually I was able to get him to tour with Foreigner in 2002. When I decided to do this album, he was my first call and he absolutely played a vital role in the power and feel of this record. I'm very grateful for his contribution and friendship and yes, he is one of rock's great drummers.

And solo guitar parts from the likes of Rocket Richotte and Ronnie Montrose!
Both are good friends and amazing guitarists as well as Scott McKinstry, who while he is not as well known, did some really great work as well.

And lastly - backing vocals from a good friend of mine - Ricky Phillips. A fellow LA bud?
Yes, and a very good friend that I finally had the opportunity and pleasure to collaborate with. We had a lot of fun working at Ricky's studio, both in the recording, but also the post work hang… We actually did two backing vocal sessions - one with Ricky alone, the other with Rick and Tom Gimbel, which was also very cool and great fun…

Lou Gramm provides backing vocals. Were those vocals from some of the original sessions or did Lou come in to help out an old friend?
Lou sings on songs we wrote together. They were recorded during those writing sessions and worked great as I continued to develop this album.

After getting to know this album, it's easy to see what Bruce Turgon's sound is - it is very distinct. Previously I wouldn't have been able to definitively state that. Is it nice to finally get a solo release out there?
At this point in my career, the recognition factor was one of the major reasons for doing a solo album. My approach is a little off the beaten path and I don't expect everyone to get it - but I appreciate that some do. Collaborations can be great, but it generally means compromise to some degree, at least for me. There's been much speculation over the years as to what my contributions have been to all these high profile projects, so for anyone who has followed my career and wondered, I think "Outside Looking In" is revealing.

Very revealing\ Bruce! Favourite songs? I love These Tears Must Fall, Living A Lie, Any Other Time...Walk Thru Fire also...
Well, it is a solo album in which I wrote or co-wrote all of the songs, so choosing favorites is difficult as they're meaningful in one way or another. However if I had to pick one, "On A Wing And A Prayer" encompasses most of the elements that are important to me for this kind of record.

What next then Bruce? Will we see another solo album in 2006/2007?
I'm not sure yet. Right now, all my attention is on this album, although I am continuing to write. Much really depends on the outcome of "Outside Looking In". However, I do also have an opportunity to score a film later next year as well as developing a very artistic project that I'm not at liberty to elaborate on at the moment. I've been approached to produce some younger bands and am considering it, depending on how their songs develop. We'll see…

Is there anything else you are working on? Do you do a lot of session work in LA?
I'm not really a studio gun for hire. Although I have done session work in years past, I really tend to get involved more in projects that I can sink my teeth into on a few different levels. I've done quite a bit of TV/film work over the last few years and will be doing more as I really enjoy it.

Anything else you would like to add Bruce?
Just that I would like to thank you, Andrew, and everyone who has followed my career and supported my work all these years. “Outside Looking In” is the next step down this road - I hope you enjoy it!

Many thanks for talking today and I look forward to more music to follow soon I hope!
Thanks again Andrew, and Merry Christmas!





Steve Perry (2005)

Steve Perry: Mother, Father By Mitch Lafon.



Something a little different today... When a mate sends you a Steve Perry interview - you print it! Canadian BW&BK journo Mitch Lafon talked to the great vocalist Steve Perry late last week and has granted me permission to print the interview here in full.
Former Journey vocalist and general melodic rock legend Steve Perry talks about the new Journey live DVD and much more...




At one time, Steve Perry was THE voice of melodic rock. Both fans and radio-programmers alike couldn't wait to hear his latest (be it with Journey or solo) multi-million selling song of a generation, but for almost a decade his voice has been silenced due mainly to a seemingly self-imposed exile from the music business. By the fall of 2005, he was back (sort of) doing a limited amount of print only press to help promote the Journey: Live in Houston 1981 Escape Tour DVD that he produced. In this rare and candid interview, he looks back at what was and what may be.

Steve Perry: “Talk to me – where are you?”

Mitch Lafon: In Montreal...

SP: “It's so beautiful up in Montreal. I was on tour one time up in Canada with a band called The Privilege when I was a teenager. They hired me as a singer and I was one of their frontmen and we ended up in Quebec and Montreal. In Quebec we stayed at the Chateau Frontenac and my big thrill was having onion soup at the Chateau Frontenac.”

ML: Maybe, you'll come back up here on vacation or for a show?

SP: “Yeah, but how about in the spring? Is that ok?”

ML: Let's talk about the DVD – Live in Houston 81. Why did you accept to get involved with the project? Wouldn't it be too much of a heartache?

SP: “The answer is yes – it was too much of a heartache to look back. When I first heard the tapes and I remember that show, it was too painful to think what it once was, but the only thing I could not do was... I'm a fighter for the music. I'm a fighter for the songs and a fighter for the performances and I refuse to let them be evaporated into time. If I do anything, I'm going to fight for those performances to be heard and the band is out doing what they're doing and I was approached by SONY to do it, so I said absolutely. Since, I produced the first compilation DVD. So, I got Allen Sides and we did the 5.1 and stereo mixes together then I did the editing. The interviews and all that was painful too. It was tough.”

ML: Will you be doing more DVDs like this?

SP: “I don't know if my heart can handle it.”

ML: You've been away from the band for quite awhile...

SP: “Since May '98”

ML: And you've also been away from the public for quite awhile...

SP: “Except for the World Series with the White Sox.”

ML: How was that?

SP: “That was excellent. It was so exciting. I just couldn't believe it and they adopted the 'Don't Stop Believin'' song back in July as their mascot and when they won and were going to the World Series; their communications director wanted to try and get me to game one. I got a phone call and went out there and was there for game one and two and was getting ready to leave and they said you can't go. You got to go to Houston and I had to think about that because they had booked me for all these interviews to promote this DVD. It felt good to be wanted, so next thing I knew – I'm flying to Houston for game 3 (which lasted 5 hours and 45 minutes) and I was on another planet when we won that one and game four they won and swept'em. It was unbelievable. They swept the Astros.”

ML: Good city to be in to be promoting a Houston 1981 DVD...

SP: “I didn't start the promotion there. I actually came back to LA and started doing phone calls. It was actually very funny.”

ML: You've been out of the limelight since '98. You did the Journey Behind The Music, but you really haven't put out any music. What's going on? Are the interviews and new DVD... are you coming back? Is Steve Perry going to be singing for us soon?

SP: “You know I love singing again. I've been pulling out of it and I've been missing in action for sure... I put a lot of effort in trying to put Journey back together for the Trial By Fire era and I worked hard with those guys so that we would keep our original integrity and write some good music and we did. Then I had that hip problem and it crashed on me. I had to go have surgery. There were some mistakes made and they checked out a few singers and they got tired of sitting around and one thing lead to another and we split again...”        

ML: For the final time?

SP: “Well, I think so. Only because I said to them in January of '98 when I got this phone message that said 'go out and do whatever you want to do, but do not call it Journey.' That fractures the stone to me; that breaks it. I was given an ultimatum and I don't respond well to ultimatums.”

ML: Not that anybody should. Now, the hip thing was a degenerative problem. Is it getting better?

SP: “It's completely replaced. It's very good. It's beyond better.”

ML: So, you're 100% physically?

SP: “Well, I have some other physical issues. I'm not a teenager anymore.”

ML: Do you see yourself going back into the studio?

SP: “I've been thinking about the good side about this whole split up with the band that happened in May of '98; which is that I could not be kept under contract while they replaced me with a sound-alike or whatever he was... fish or cut bait. The bottom line is that the label had to let me go. So, I haven't had a record deal since May '98 and you've got to know that I signed my record deal with Columbia in '78. That was 20 years of being signed to a label. It's been a real pleasure not having contracts lurking over me... obligations and extensions until you deliver. Oh, please! It's been nice to fall back into your own life and so that's what's happened. I'm no longer in the band since May '98 and I had the surgery seven or eight months after 'that' January phone call... so, you know, I'm just living my life and I have been entertaining the idea of just getting into the studio, but it's a tough thing.”

ML: Have you been writing at all?

SP: “I've got all kinds of stuff written. Writing isn't a problem, it's...”

ML: It's not stage fright at this point in your career?

SP: “ No, it's just what do I want to do? I love R&B. I love rock. I love techno. I love remixes. I love acoustic. I love everything. When I come up to LA, I'll spend two days watching someone record 172 pieces of score. I sat back a year or so ago and watched Alan Silvestri conduct a 175 piece orchestra for Van Helsing (movie). So, when I watch that kind of arranging... I love the power of that. So, I just don't know what to do, but I'll probably jump in the studio with a four-piece section and just start having some fun and maybe do some covers just to get my feet wet. I sat in the studio for six weeks with this DVD mixing it in stereo then tore in down and mixed in 5.1... that was one of the best pleasures I've had other than the emotional aspect of being dragged through the plethora of emotions from 'what happened' to 'we were great' to 'look how young we were' and remembering all the stupid things we were doing to each other when we didn't know what we had.”

ML: You've got that built-in Journey fan base that wants to hear you do that melodic rock again...

SP: “Yeah, exactly, but I don't know if I want to become a parody of myself.”

ML: If you do a comeback album and deliver something the fans aren't expecting...

SP: “I may do a comeback album or I may do one track; load it onto ITunes and go home. I don't know.”

ML: So it is something you're thinking of?

SP: “I don't have management... I have completely shut down the store. The store has been shut down forever. I own steveperry.com, but I haven't flown it. I've really had to let go because emotionally... to be perfectly honest with you, if I do decide to sing again and record again, I'm going to do it for the right reasons. It's not going to be because people want a comeback record that's calculated... people come up to me all the time and say 'you should do a big band album like Rod Stewart. It would sell.' That's probably true...”

ML: It is true – it would sell gangbusters...

SP: “And?”

ML: But if you don't like it, what does that matter?

SP: “I have a spin on that. I would do that differently than anybody else's, but I can't talk about it and I don't necessarily want to do a big band album.”

ML: And I imagine you don't want to do an album of ten 'Open Arms' or ten 'Oh, Sherry'...

SP: “That's right. I don't want to sit there and (sings) 'start spreading the news...' I don't really.”

ML: It would be interesting to get you singing again and with all due respect you are one of the greatest voices of the last thirty years...

SP: “That's so kind of you to say because they've only been saying that in the last five years. They certainly weren't saying that years ago. We were considered the band that wasn't cool. It was the bands with the skinny ties, the checkered shirts and the Flock Of Seagulls' haircut that were considered cool. We were not considered timeless at all, but as time has proven and we're fortunate that the music has made the voyage with us so far.”
ML: What do you attribute that too? Here we are in 2005 and you're hawking a show from 1981 and it's still timeless, it still sounds great, the musicianship is tight and the vocals are perfect... What is it about Journey that got you this far? Why didn't you just fade away like the Flock Of Seagulls?

SP: “Well, it's because it was a real band. When I joined them they were a band and when we replaced Ansley Dunbar with Steve Smith – it became a bigger band. When Jonathan Cain came along and I started writing with him... I had written all songs with Neal from 'Anyway You Want It' to whatever and that was one kind of band, but when Jonathan came along we turned another corner in the evolution of the band. This particular tour (Escape) was the first time Jonathan was onstage and it turned the corner. The work we had done previous had built a fan base and now that they were really showing up we were turning a corner musically and they just liked it. We didn't have any calculated things. There was nothing pre-calculated about the music ever. Never did we second guess, it was just 'let's do this. Ok.' If you listen to the albums, I don't know how many groups you'll find that have 'Separate Ways' and 'Still They Ride'. That's left and right. You go onto Escape and you'll get 'Who's Crying Now', 'Open Arms' or from other albums 'Dead Or Alive', 'Where Were You'... these are all on the DVD by the way, but we were all over the map. 'Good Morning Girl' was a little acoustic piece. 'Patiently' was the first song I wrote with Neal when I was waiting to get into the band and I had dreams of being a singer in a rock 'n roll band. I sat in a hotel with him while he was out opening for Emerson Lake and Palmer and I wrote 'Patiently' and that's what those lyrics are about – 'for your lights to shine on me. For your song inside of me this we bring to you.' That's what it's about. I was dying to get into this thing, but from the heart stand point - not from a calculated stand point and today everything is so calculated. Don't you think? The music business has become like the movie business...”

ML: Also, the music business doesn't develop an artist anymore. It's give me a hit single and get the heck out of here...

SP: “Isn't that sick? The guys who helped build the Journey fan base were record label executives like Al Teller and all the guys that worked at the label at the time that are escaping my mind. They helped believe in the band and they would go three, four singles deep into every album...”

ML: They would also go three albums... You had three albums to make it. First one was the trial, second was the hit or miss and the third one was the do or die...

SP: “More than that. We had Infinity, Evolution, Departure, Escape...”

ML: They would give you three albums minimum to develop. Now, you get single one maybe two...

SP: “That's right. It's like television. They release a TV show and if the numbers aren't good – it's cancelled next Tuesday. It's unbelievable – there's no faith anymore and nobody believes anymore. That's why it is the way it is. There are corporate executives that should say to their superiors 'this is the single – we have to go on it' would they ever say that? No. Would they ever say 'the band is crazy about this song and believes in this song? No, they won't say that either. Will they ever say 'I went and saw the show and this song is getting a lot of audience response. I don't know why, but we should go on it and ask radio to play this... NO! They'll do what's calculated and safe.”

ML: They want to appeal to the lowest common denominator and get as much money out of it as possible...

SP: “They are not making decisions based on belief. They are making decisions based on fear. They assess it and say 'well, let's not do this and we shouldn't do that... so, what's left? Let's do that.' They're decision making process is based on calculated fear assessment. Instead of – 'wow – I don't know what it is about this one song, but I sure do like it.' Those guys are gone; they just don't do that anymore. I'll tell you a quick story – 'Who's Crying Now' that song was intentionally recorded and arranged so that the solo (back then songs had solos) was at the end. The song goes out on a solo and that song is long. The record label came to us and said 'as soon as the solo starts you'll have to fade it or radio won't play it.' I said ' well, radio can fade out and go onto the news. I don't care, but we're not going to cut the solo.' They insisted that if it said it was four minutes fifty seconds or whatever radio won't even add it to their playlist. So, I told them to put whatever on it... three minutes whatever, but I'm not fading the solo and they were adamant about it and said we were killing the song. It's not going to be a hit because you won't fade it, so just fade it. It's no big deal. I said 'look – Neal played the most beautiful solo on this thing. It's simple, heartfelt and feels timeless; the melodics are timeless and I do not want to kill that solo. So, fought for it, the song becomes a hit and the stations never pulled out of the solo. When it goes to that melody (sings melody) – it's timeless and it's not the melody that's in the song. It's another melody; so is that so wrong? No! So, I'm glad we fought for it against all odds. Plus, Neal would have been really crushed... he would have been destroyed.”

ML: I'm surprised the record company didn't go ahead and just cut if off...

SP: “They would do that today which is why I'm glad I'm not signed right now. I would probably take a bat to somebody's desk.”

ML: That's the one new advantage, if you were to release new music, you don't have to go through a label. You can go through ITunes...

SP: “Isn't that amazing? I think the Internet is so freeing to music as we've come to know it. I think it's the best thing that has ever happened. It's phenomenal because as an artist you've never had so many choices. You just never have. I could get somebody right now to build my own site and put downloads on my own site. I've yet to do it though.”

ML: Is there a reason?

SP: “I'm just a little bit... you're going to ask me 'what is it, right?' But I don't know.”

ML: It's the question everybody has been asking, right?

SP: “No, we've been talking mainly about the DVD and the performances.”

ML: I apologize...

SP: “We can talk about this. It's ok. I don't know – it's a tough one... (pauses)... Twenty-four years ago when I did that DVD – when we recorded it for MTV... (pauses) It was a different landscape at that time, of course. MTV had aired for the first time in August of '81 and three months later we were recording this for MTV. It was a brave new world with this video music thing... (pauses) It was a different time – we had a mission as a group... (pauses) I emotionally was unstoppable... (pauses) My mother was alive and pulling for me. My father (though they weren't together) was pulling for me. My grandfather was alive... The whole landscape of that has changed... (pauses) You lose some of the incentive that you didn't realize was driving you to do good... to do it... to do IT. Now, that it's been done I'm trying my best to digest it. When I was doing this DVD, it was an emotional rollercoaster that I didn't expect. A friend of mine warned me because he knows me well. He's a TV director and he said 'I know you. You're going to get in there and be mixing and editing and it's going to be rough on you.' I said ' Ah, no biggie man – c'mon I did the other DVD.' And he said 'but that was assembling videos and synching up new masterings. This is going to be different. It's like making a mini-film.' And oh, God – he was right. It drove me... It dragged me through a plethora of emotions that I didn't expect. When I heard 'Open Arms' I got choked up. There are certain vocal things I did in 'Open Arms' that I'm not sure I'll be able to pull off exactly like that again because it was such a moment and I had reached beyond the master recordings to what I knew it could be. For example the lyric in the second verse 'wanting you near' that lyric is sung exactly the way I wanted it to be sung and I didn't know I hit it. I didn't know I got it. So, I'm sitting there mixing and watching the QuickTime video because I have to pay attention to audio and visual... so I'm watching it and just being dragged through... (pauses) through the whole thing again. The Whole Thing AGAIN! I'm dragged through our time together. I'm dragged through, 'what happened?' We were great together and then I'm dragged through the people who thought we weren't great and who used to belittle us in the press and I thought 'fuck them too'. How can that be fucked up? We were great! See you assholes... you know what I mean? We weren't fucked up – you used to tell us we were faceless and corporate and all these horrible things and all we were trying to do was keep our focus and play what we loved. Now, I'm looking back at it for the first time as a person in the audience... I'm not in the band and it's been years since I've been in the band. It's been years since I've been on that stage. I'm an older guy and this young kid up there on that stage believed in what he believed in and damned if it wasn't pretty good and I got emotional about it. I just felt vindicated. I really felt vindicated for my beliefs and my faith and my tenacity that I got such a bad rep for... it's just that I was NOT going to lay down. Betty Davis said “if you have a bad reputation – you must be doing something right.'

ML: She's absolutely right. It must really feel good after all these years. I was around back then and remember people complaining about your voice, that you were corporate and everything you just said...

SP: “They said it about a lot of groups.”

ML: I'm a Kiss, Cheap Trick and Aerosmith fan – all of those groups got dragged through the mud back then...

SP: “Foreigner got hit... everybody got it. They all were faceless.”

ML: Except Kiss – that only had a face, but no music talent, right? Not only did those groups survive, but are still setting trends to some extent. Anybody who looks into melodic rock has to start at Journey – you just have to.

SP: “And that's a big legacy to live up to. At the time, it was just living up to your own expectations. Now, it's become something else. Something you always hoped it would become. How do you deal with that?'

ML: I have no idea...

SP: “By the way if you're going to ask these questions – we kind of have to answer these questions as to what was going on with me back then versus now. It's a perspective that's interesting. A lot of it too... the music at that time... you were forced to perform everything. There was only one way to sell what you believed in and that was perform it and that was going to be live. MTV was three months old when we recorded this DVD. It was baby in diapers – it had no idea what it was. It had no power and I tried to go back to MTV and see if they had other elements or extra footage lying around and they had nothing because they burned over the tapes of that night. All I had was the final cut because they had no idea what they were going to become. They were too new and nobody had a clue. They were directionless. They were writing the pages as they were turned... everybody was and that reckless abandon is what created what we are calling timeless now.”

ML: Musically, there has been a loss of that 'fire' in bands and in MTV... there is no soul to anything anymore. It's all calculated...

SP: “They always said MTV would change the face of music forever and in some ways it did.”

ML: It did – for the worst.

SP: “It took the performing aspect out of it, but now they are getting back to it. Now, they realize that it's a great medium to promote performance. For a long time, it became a video lip-synch issue and it gave everybody credibility even if they're not performers. There's a lot of careers built on artists that have never performed, but they can make a great video and make a great record... and they were 'artists'. Then they'd decide to go on tour and work that up. A lot of them would run tapes, a lot of them were fake and would have mouth and ear pieces with little microphones in front of their faces and dance around. It was a totally different thing.”

ML: In terms of this performance – the band.. the five guys on stage (Steve, Ross, John, Neal and you) was that the ultimate line-up? Does this represent Journey well?

SP: “That's the quintessential line-up. Although, I don't want to take any credibility away from the line-up that existed with Greg Rollie and Ansley Dunbar. That was the earlier line-up that I joined and had it's own musical direction that was valid. It was a different kind of a band, then it changed when we got Steve Smith in there and Greg Rollie stayed. Then we got Jonathan Cain and I think the band turned a bigger corner. That became the Escape line-up that launched itself to another series of albums, songwriting and performing that was bigger. By bigger I mean it had a bigger pronounced sound to it... a mightier unity of the players than the previous one.”

ML: Jonathan brought a lot to the band... vocals, backing vocals and overall musicianship.

SP: “Yeah – right! And Steve Smith was a fusion drummer who was with Montrose... that's where we saw him play every night and I turned to Neal and said 'this is the guy we should have in our band. This is what we need.' I admit I was making trouble, but I had a gut level... that we had to look at making a change.”

ML: It was a good change...

SP: “Well, time has shown that to be the case, but at the time it had a mixed response.”

ML: By the way – with the producing of the DVD... is that something you see yourself doing more of?

SP: “I love it. I really love it. It's very very emotional and stressful though.”

ML: In general or doing the Journey stuff?

SP: “Both.”

ML: Do you want to do other bands?

SP: “I have shown up many times with little groups... friends of mine and I'll be a fly on the wall and help them. I do it all the time for fun and for free. I've be doing that for years.”

ML: Do you want to sell your services as a record producer? Hey record companies call me up...

SP: “No. I don't want to necessarily do that. There's a couple of groups I would like to do a track with here or there.”

ML: But not a whole album from conception to the final mixes?

SP: “It would depend on the group. If I believed in the group I would do it. If I believed in the song, the singer and the band. It would be easier doing my own thing, but that comes with a whole other set of demons.”

ML: If you did your own thing would you want to produce it?

SP: “Just yesterday, I was thinking for the first time ever 'should I just let it go' because I'm always so involved and that's the problem. I know what I want to hear and it can go against someone else's vision, but at the same time my own vision has built my own direction and sound. So, what am I doing? Do I want to become Cher and 'Do You Believe In Love' and let someone make a left turn for me? I don't know – I'm not that kind of guy. I do hear things completed in my head and try to follow that lead, but I don't know. I do know that I worked hard on this DVD and tried to make it sound contemporary sonically. That's why I chose Bob Ludwig and Allen Sides.”

ML: Satisfied with the final product?

SP: “I'm completely satisfied with the project, but there will always be issues. The sound quality I hear in the studio, you lose when... you know someone will make an MP3 of it. That changes everything. You do one thing to it; it changes it. Echoes respond differently. Digital converters eat echo and it loses some of the lush echoes you worked so hard on. That's just something I have to live with. There are certain things that are easier to do logistically with ProTools on a live project like this than with tape. There were certain pops and clicks in my special wireless mic. It had a lot of vocal qualities that I loved, but it also had a lot of problems because it was transmitter microphone. It would over modulate and there was a couple 'pffs'... it's everywhere and with ProTools you can get rid of it. It's fantastic. So, I was able to clean up problems that back in the day could not have been fixed. It enhanced the performance by not letting something like that distract it. You're in a restorative mode like when you take an old painting and just try to clean it up.”

ML: Any other touch-ups?

SP: “There really wasn't a lot of touch-ups on this. There really wasn't. Not one re-record was done. I will tell you... we did two shows and on the day-off between those shows... we knew we were on tour and we knew it would be aired on MTV with a quick mix. So, we got around one mic and sang the backing vocals against ourselves. So, that we could blend that studio thing we do with the live vocals; so that they would have a little shimmer to them. That's the only thing we did. We called that 'vocal help.'”

ML: That was just for MTV?

SP: “It's on the DVD too.”

ML: But the original ones from way back then?

SP: “Yeah, the band was on tour three months ago and we aren't speaking. So, believe me - we weren't in a room together.”

ML: It speaks volumes about the band that you didn't have to...

SP: “Well, it was great performance. It really was a moment where... I didn't like walking up to the back of the venues and see a recording truck because I would get a little moody and cause a stink about it. I didn't like the idea of having tape running. I like the shows to be free and have nothing hovering over them like 'the tape is running' because it changes the band's ability to be reckless and free. I like reckless and free.”

ML: It also make you over aware...

SP: “It instinctually makes you over aware that tape is running. You get more concerned that things be a little more performed, I'm so glad that there's no fall back to the masters to this performance in Houston. I think once the show started nobody cared... we just played. Though, I did not like to video or tape shows – I'm so glad that this one was because I would have been wrong to not have this one. I would have been really wrong.”

ML: It captures the essence of the band...

SP: “It really does and there's another laying around that we don't know what's going to happen to from 1983 – JFK Stadium in Philly. We had 14 cameras running film.”

ML: You want to produce that?

SP: “I don't know if my heart could take it. By the way I do want to say when you watch the DVD turn the Dolby to off. There is no need for it. It's been digitally recaptured. It will severely change the fidelity.”

ML: Anything else to promote or plug?

SP: “There's a band I like. I think they're fun and reckless called The Rock 'N Roll Soldiers. The lead singer is a talented kid called Marty... they're working on a record right now which I think is coming out on Atlantic. I like it – I believe in them.”

ML: Thank you for your time...

SP: “Thank you very much for your candid questions and your sincere feelings about this. All this is good stuff and I don't mind talking about the fears and where I'm going and where I'm not going and where I've been. I'm trying to put my arms around all of it and when I'm done with that... who knows? I'll either sing some more or maybe just be glad that we had what we had.”

ML: Well, I think I speak for many when I say – we got to hear you sing some more...

SP: “I'll do my best – thank you. I would like to sing with the Rolling Stones one night and if by chance, I record something let's talk again.”




Stratovarius (2005)

Stratovarius: Moving on from controversy.
I talk with Stratovarius' Timo Koltipelto, who discusses the band's reformation and their chance to put past troubles behind them.

Hi, Timo here, how are you doing?

I'm very well, mate, how's yourself?
I'm doing good. Tonight I'm flying back to Helsinki so no problem.

Oh, is this the last day of PR for a while?

Fantastic. Then back home?
Yes, basically, then there's some promotions to be done in Finland on Monday and then the next week is traditional mid-summer celebration in Finland so there's nothing happening then so I can relax as well.

Fantastic. You deserve it.
Maybe <laughs>

How long did the album take to record?
Well, it's a long story and probably a little bit different from other bands. The drums were recorded sometime in April last year. First of all, all of the problems we had in the past, I don't know if you're familiar with those?

Yes, I am.
The producer and guitar player Timo Tolkki has a mental illness called manic depression. He was diagnosed at the same time that he was supposed to be recording the tracks so what they did, at first, they did the drum sound-check and then the second day he was supposed to go to the studio and start recording Jorg's drums but he never appeared and then later we got a call from Timo's wife that he was in a mental hospital and of course that didn't help with the recording. It was like just the beginning and already a little bit weird.
The drummer was alone in the studio and there was no guitar or bass guitar recorded so the only thing that he heard was a click that he tried to remember the songs like is it going to be the verse next or the chorus next and maybe he did some markings on the paper, but that's it. Then I remember when I got a message from him, “Did you hear that Tolkki's in a mental hospital?” and then the same day Jens Johansson from New York said, “Did you hear that Tolkki's in a mental hospital?” To be honest, I didn't believe these guys. I thought, “Yeah, I bet he is. He's probably on holiday in Spain or somewhere.” But then I phoned Timo's brother, who I know pretty well, and I asked him what's going on and he told me that Timo was in the hospital and he went to see him the day before and he's not doing that good. But that was the first time that he was diagnosed that he has a mental illness. In the past nobody, not even himself, knew that he had a mental problem. I just thought, “What a weird guy,” and of course at some point I was thinking that he was a complete asshole.

He was treating me like shit, especially here in Finland on the yellow press. Nobody knew, of course I was thinking that he was really crazy in a funny way, “Hey, hey, he's crazy.” But then when the reality hits you, hey, he's manic depressive, it explains a lot of things especially from the past. Now it's easy to see when he was having a manic peak, like when we were having our Destiny tour in '98 and he was drinking heavily on that tour but we came back to Finland and he disappeared for weeks. I tried to reach him but no answer. First comes the manic phase and then the depression. Then it's very difficult. And now the biggest thing, and it happened at the same time when the advance money from the record deal came under his account and he had grand and great ideas about putting up a studio so he spent all of the bands' money. All the advance money he spent on his studio. The mixing desk alone costs more than 100,000 Euros.

Then he started saying, “I'm going to have my own studio.” It's not enough if you buy equipment with everything together. His plan was, he would record the drums, actually it was to be supposed to be Jens' brother, Anders Johansson, who he hired as a session drummer in the beginning, well, that complicates the whole story but it didn't work out because Tolkki said he was going to be the new drummer of the band and that was never agreed.

Like a couple of weeks before the recording. So he didn't have any drummer so he had Beck (sp?) would be doing the drums and helping him out but then he had the nervous breakdown. Then nothing happened for 6 or 7 months. He was in the hospital at the beginning and then the rest of the months he was in bed and taking some medications to be able to play some festivals, which we promised to do. The next time when something happened was in the beginning of December when he told me and asked if I would be interested in having a meeting with him and talking about the promise we had.
Then it was really strange, he came to my place and we talked for about 6 hours which is actually much more than we talked in the last 3 years. Then he apologized and all of this stuff. I said I can think about it but first I need to hear the demos, because I wasn't a big fan of the last 2 albums.

Elements. We took this power metal and took it as far as possible. The songs were fast and the vocals were inhuman high and the orchestra was bigger than before and the production was bigger and bigger and bigger.
There was nowhere to go. We walked that path to the end. But I was very surprised when he played me the new demos even though there were only guitars. The sound was more heavy and more rock instead of this symphonic epic thing.

I was going to say that. As soon as I put it on I was like, “Wow, this is like a back to basics release for you.”
Exactly. And it's a little bit closer to what I've been doing with my solo albums. They're rock songs, not big productions. The sound is good but when it comes to orchestrations, there aren't any. This is something new. I think the band needed this kind of a new step. Of course, the easy solution would've been just to play it safe and compose the next Elements Part III and take the money and run. But it doesn't make any sense.

Yeah. After all of the last year or so it must be nice to just get back to the music again.
Exactly. This is why I would like to leave all of these tabloid magazines out of any of the interviews and just do interviews with real music magazines and radios and people who are interested in the music, not in what happened. I never wanted to be famous for the, well, I never wanted to be famous but I only accept publicity when it comes to the music. I hated last year when I had to see my face on these magazines, even though I wanted to be there, but of course it was whenever Tolkki gave interviews it was the band's picture. It was like the old band, the singer got fired and blah, blah, blah. I just wanted to make music. But lucky me, at the time I was already composing my own material. I was busy otherwise I probably would've been lying on the sofa drinking beer and probably not be here today. I had a purpose in my life and I still have. I just want to sing, and that's it.

Yeah, well you do a mighty fine job of it. I'm really impressed with the new album.
Oh, good. That's cool.

Absolutely. I agree with you about the last couple of albums. I really like the new album for its back to basics approach.
Same here. I would say it's a combination, something new, but then again, some of the songs could've been from Episode or Visions or songs that are at the end of the album could've been done in '96 or '97, even though the sound is a little bit different. I like it a lot because it's different and we didn't play it safe. Of course it's probably some other bands wouldn't take this risk but if the fans don't like the album then what to do next? Of course, we can always go back. That's for sure. So far, the critics, especially from Germany, have been so positive.

I'm looking to the future. It can't get worse than the last few years.

Are you confident that that's all behind you?
Of course, I'm hoping that it will get better now. This illness, it doesn't go away.

No, but obviously it can be treated now that you know about it.
We know about it, but of course, I also know that there will be highs and lows, that's for sure. It's not something that you can 100% control, especially if the person who has this disease thinks that he feels good. When he has this depression he crashes down. The doctor told him that he had manic depression and then he took medication but then the people who have it, when they're feeling better they forget to take the medication and blah, blah, blah. I'm pretty sure that we will have to, of course we're trying to talk to him and we're trying to help him as much as possible, especially because we're planning to be touring for 3 or 4 months all together in the next year.

Yeah, I was going to ask you about that. You have a lot of dates lined up.

That's great.
It's good. The tour will start in August in South America. Those dates aren't published yet because they're not confirmed. They're working on it. After that comes North America which is the first time for us to go to the U.S and Canada. So that's going to be altogether something like one and a half months and then there is like 1 week off, which is mostly traveling, but then it's going to be a European tour starting in Moscow, so that's going to be a hard one. It's already in the autumn it's going to be 3 months touring so we're trying to make everything easier by finding good flights, etc. We're trying to make it easier for Timo because it's very important that he can do it.
We actually sort of tested it out by accident, because I had one festival gig last week in Finland with my old band, Koltipelto, and we played this Stratovarius song called “Black Diamond” and during that song Jens and Timo came on stage because Jens happened to be in Finland at the same time so they came on stage and played the song with me. I was very happy to see the reaction of the audience, but what is more important to me is I saw Timo Tolkki smiling on the side of the stage while playing and I haven't seen this for years.

Oh, wow.
And that's a good sign. Of course, he told me after the show, “Hey, man I really like it. I want to be back on the tour.” Now he feels like he wants to do the tour. You can't do the touring if you're depressed, that's for sure. It doesn't work. Well, let's see. I'm looking forward to the future. I guess we're going to do those. But then again, I've learned that you can plan things but you've got to be ready to change your plans.

Yes. It sounds like you guys are very aware of the situation and doing everything you can to make everything a success.
That's the only way. I personally asked the guys when we had a band meeting in December, if we want to get back together and if we want to do this album then everybody has to be 100% behind it and be ready to work. In the past, I guess it's the same problem with some other bands that have gained some popularity and had some success, somehow you get used to it. You might take everything for granted. Next year we'll do this album and then tour there and there. You get used to it. I know at least myself and everyone else in the band we can feel the hunger again. It's very important to first like what you're doing and you have the energy and the need to do it. You're not doing it just because somebody is paying you some money. That's the wrong approach. You have to feel the hunger and have to be ready to work hard for it especially now with internet pirates and record labels don't have as much money as in the past which means that the recording budget is much lower and not all of the bands can make it. So, especially then. It's a matter of touring and working hard. You can't expect things just to happen.

Absolutely. You sound… I know that you had some label problems there, but it sounds like Sanctuary is behind you and supporting this.
Yes. I think the only problem was about this one song, we are with Sanctuary in Germany, not Sanctuary in the UK, if we would've been signed to Sanctuary in the UK there would not have been this problem but Tolkki wrote this song about this one German guy, well, actually originally Austrian guy about Adolf Hitler and even though the song is quite an anti-Nazi song I can understand why the record label in Germany didn't like it. I didn't like it and nobody else in the band liked it, well, actually Jens liked it. But again, I can understand that the arts shouldn't be censored but then again maybe again it was too much to have his speech in the beginning of the song even though it was very frightening and very depressing. Once again it was an anti-Nazi song and still is. But it was never meant for German markets. In Scandinavia and Finland we have to read about history at the school and we're learning about these things. I don't know, for example, in the U.S. if the people, especially the younger generation, if they know what happened in Germany or in Europe 60 years ago in the 2nd world war. How and why it started. I think it should be very important to learn it so this kind of thing doesn't happen again. You've got one completely crazy guy with grand ideas who gets too much power. Well they've got one President, I don't want to say any names, who has a lot of powers…

Too much power.
That's the thing. These weapon factories and people they're setting this guy up… now I'm talking politics… but you know what I mean. It is dangerous. You've got this one guy deciding, “Let's attack Iraq,” and then off we go. What happens next? It's very dangerous. That's one of the points of the song. We're talking about one part of history, one event. Maybe the record label people didn't see the connection, but it's one song.
That's the end.

You're absolutely right. What do you guys do next? Do you have any long term plans or are you just going to take this tour how it comes and see how it goes?
Well, even before the tour starts there will be promotions to be done. Personally, I'm hoping to get the first summer holiday… maybe I can get two weeks. In the last 10 years we haven't got any. Maybe to relax and compose some of my own stuff this summer. At the moment the only plan is to go up to January next year. Then we have plans to tour Japan maybe Southeast Asia maybe Hong Kong. Maybe even Australia.

Maybe Australia? Absolutely.
That would be great. We've got some plans but nothing concrete. I'd love to play anywhere, I don't mind. It's really too early to say. But nothing is planned. The most important thing is Timo's health. If I had to choose I wouldn't be touring with Tolkki if he was hurting himself more or if he wouldn't be getting better. I would choose him to be better, but it's looking pretty good. But then again, we've learned that this disease is quite difficult to handle. You have to plan the future but you have to be flexible as well.

Yes. Well it sounds like you guys are definitely working towards everything you can do.
Right now it's everything for the band. All of the guys have to be interested in the band and be ready to be touring or it doesn't work.

Yeah. That sounds great.
So far so good.

It can't get worse, well, maybe it can.

I don't want to think about it.

I can't imagine so. That's great. You made a great record and you sound positive and I'm sure things will go well.
Hopefully, yeah.

Timo, that's all I had for you.

I appreciate your time.
Hey, thanks, man. Good interview.

A pleasure talking to you.
Same here.

All right. Thank you.
All right, take care.

Okay, you too.
Bye, bye


HammerFall (2005)

HammerFall:How Swede It Is


Something a little different. Lucas Aykroyd of Vancouver, Canada talks to Sweden's HammerFall. Lucas recently interviewed HammerFall guitarist Oscar Dronjak for a Georgia Straight preview of the band's August 25 concert in Vancouver. There was a ton of left over material, so Lucas kindly sent in the full interview for fans to check out.

HammerFall jumpstarted the European power metal revival with their 1997 release, Glory to the Brave. Since then, they've released four more studio albums (Legacy Of Kings, Renegade, Crimson Thunder, and 2005's Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken). Their hook-laden sound, melding elements of Judas Priest, Europe, and Accept, has resulted in worldwide sales of more than 1 million albums. Interviewer Lucas Aykroyd caught up with guitarist and songwriting mastermind Oscar Dronjak in early August 2005, just after the start of the quintet's Canadian tour.

How did you hook up with fellow power metal artists Edguy for this leg?

Edguy are old friends of ours. We toured together in '99 in Europe. If you play a similar style of music, you tend to end up at the same festivals. So we kept in touch over the years. Most importantly, we have the same booking agency in Europe. When we started looking into options for coming over to North America and doing our own tour, then we asked if Edguy wanted to come with us, because we always said that if we wanted to do a headlining tour, we probably should do it with another band that has some name recognition, too. Give people more for their money, I guess.

What's your main goal for the tour?
Have fun. That's the only thing we can really be sure of. We'll have fun. This is the second show on the tour so far. It's really hard to know what to expect. I really don't know what we're going to expect from the USA. From Canada even less, actually, because we've never been here before. It started out really, really good yesterday. It looks very promising for tonight, too. My hopes are really high, but I keep my expectations low so I won't be disappointed.

What do you think of when you hear the word "Canada"?
Hockey, of course. The [National Hockey League's Toronto] Maple Leafs. Moose.

So will you get your singer, Joacim Cans, to give a shout-out to the fans of the Vancouver Canucks? They've got a Swedish captain with Markus Naslund.
I think we can arrange that. It would be really cool if he said something about that. We were in Toronto yesterday, and Toronto is a classic Swedish team as well with Borje Salming and Mats Sundin. It feels really cool to be in these cities where people are as crazy about hockey as you are yourself.

You were previously supposed to play the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver with Dio on November 6, 2002. What happened?
[laughs] I have absolutely no idea. Dio didn't play there at all, did he?

Nope. And then I understand your equipment didn't arrive in time for you to play the next night in Seattle either.
Right. I have no idea what happened with the Vancouver gig. We were just the support act on that tour. We weren't informed of anything at all. During the tour, we weren't going anywhere. We didn't cancel any shows more than that. With the Seattle thing, we couldn't play, and that's the only thing I remember. I didn't remember anything about a Vancouver gig. I'm sorry I couldn't give you a better answer!

Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken is by far the longest album title HammerFall's used. What's the story behind that?
It comes from a lot of bad feelings, a lot of jealousy aimed toward HammerFall from people who supported us in the beginning. The great mass of fans, of course, they love the albums, because otherwise we would not be here. Most of the people like it. But there are always a vocal minority who go on the air and then blast everything they hear. Those were the people who were with us in the beginning when HammerFall came out with Glory to the Brave, and they thought it was cool because nobody else was doing this at that time. Eventually more and more bands started doing what we were doing, pretty much, and we got more and more recognition and fans all over the world. Not everyone liked that. Now, I don't really care. If you like the music, fine. If you don't, that's fine too. I'm not doing this to please anybody but myself. But the album title is a statement of where the band is right now. There were some things we had to go through. Certain people on the Internet started complaining, saying: "HammerFall is only in it for the money and they're not true to what they're doing. They don't like the music. They're just doing this to make a quick buck." Having fought for what I believed in for so many years before anything ever happened with the band, I took great offense to that. What happens now, and this is what I take such great offense to, is that people sort of conveniently forget about all these hard years we put in. There were ups and downs during those years, but we never stopped believing in what we wanted to. We never stopped playing the music we loved. But then in 1999 or 2000, people started claimed: "HammerFall only does this for the money." I really took offense to that. Then there was an incident that really brought matters to a head. On August 11, 2002, actually, exactly this date three years ago, when Joacim was assaulted in a bar in our hometown. It came out that the only reason for this was that the guy didn't like HammerFall's music. That's when I said: "Enough is enough. This should not happen anywhere, and especially, absolutely not for this reason." So instead of just ignoring all the badmouthing, we decided to respond to the critics with this. For me, the album title represents HammerFall now. No matter what anyone says or does to us or what happens, we're always going to be unbent, unbowed, and unbroken.

You also had about $30,000 stolen by a member of your entourage after your previous American tour in 2002.
Yeah, that was another BS thing that happened. But that's all in the past now. It was very unfortunate and very annoying. But what are you going to do? The guy just disappeared with all the money and there was nothing we could do about it.

How did you react earlier this year when you found out Chapter V had debuted at number four, right behind the new Judas Priest album, on the Swedish charts?
I was a little bit disappointed, actually, because I thought we would beat them in the first week. In the long run, we certainly did, because our album stayed in the Top Ten for four or five weeks, which has never happened to us before, and it certainly didn't happen to Judas Priest this time. But this is only because I know Sweden, and I know what kind of success we have achieved there. If we had ended up one position behind Judas Priest in any other country, I would have been ecstatic. But being from Sweden, we had high hopes for it. Those were actually met, anyway. The position on the chart is just a number. It's the actual number of albums, the number of fans that like your music that really matters. There's nothing to complain about, if you know what I mean.

Is it weird for you to be competing with a band you grew up idolizing?
Of course it is. I would never look at it in terms of "we're competing with them," even if it might sound like that. They are heroes of mine, and I really love them. For me they're always going to be number one.

Coming from Gothenburg, where would you say HammerFall fits into the so-called "Gothenburg sound"?
Not at all, actually. Not for me, anyway. The Gothenburg sound, for me, is what In Flames and Dark Tranquillity originated once. And we don't really have anything to do with that sound-wise. For me, we're just a different thing from that.

Even though Jesper Stromblad of In Flames did a lot of work with HammerFall in the early days?
Jesper has been a friend of mine for 15 years now. He was in the first installation of HammerFall. He was a member. So it was only natural that he continued working on the albums. But there's such a big difference between our musical styles, between In Flames and HammerFall, that I don't think we really have any place in the Gothenburg sound.

There's an incredible amount of melody, of sing-along quality in HammerFall's music. Where does that influence come from?
Partly Judas Priest, for one. When HammerFall started out in 1993, all we tried to do was create the kind of music we'd like to buy or listen to ourselves at concerts. In essence, we tried to create the ultimate heavy metal band, according to what we think and not what anybody else thinks. It would be stupid to listen to other people when you play metal. You should just do what feels right for you. The melodies themselves come from the music that we listened to. The minute I started listening to heavy metal, when I was around ten, I never looked back. I don't have a specific moment when I thought: "This is the music for me." It became clear for me, without me even thinking about it, that heavy metal is what I love. Then I started looking into other bands that I liked. So both Joacim and I have two very extensive 80's heavy metal collections on vinyl, because we were into that very much and still are to a certain extent. That's where the influences come from, everything we listened to in the 80's, which was melodic, most of the stuff.

Just about every well-known band from Sweden has that melodic touch, whether it's ABBA, Roxette or Yngwie Malmsteen.
You're absolutely right. I just don't have a good answer as to why. I think maybe ABBA is to blame a little bit for this, because they were the melody masters, in my opinion. Nobody could write melodies the way they did. I think they set the tone for a lot of the following acts. I'm not influenced by ABBA. I didn't listen to ABBA at all in the 80's or 90's. But in the last couple of years, I started to appreciate the band. I realized what incredible songwriters Benny and Bjorn were. It's unbelievable how they could put together so many melodies and great songs 30 years ago. I have nothing but respect for them. I think they might have had something to do with it. In Sweden, no matter whether you like ABBA or not, you hear their music right from youth. It's just all around.

Your European stage sets include pyrotechnics, castles with drawbridges, giant icebergs, and things like that. How much of that will North American fans get to see?
They'll get to see some icebergs, but only on our backdrop. We have no pyro because it would be too expensive to bring it over here and use it, in terms of the permits. Actually, what the people will get on this tour is just a heavy metal band and 100% energy on stage, with a backdrop. That's about it. We have two sidedrops, too. But otherwise, there isn't anything going on besides us and the music, which I like. I mean this is a big difference from what we normally do. We have a much greater connection with the audience now, because they're much closer.

Did you try to get a work permit for Hector, your warrior mascot?
[laughs] No, we never tried. Actually, Hector isn't really around much anymore. We haven't used him for this whole tour. It's partly because we decided we didn't want to use him, and also because, he's got this breastplate, which is sort of the main element in the costume. But no one has seen it since February 25, 2003, when we played in Oslo. It's probably hanging on somebody's wall somewhere.

In the past, you've been known to wear a long cape on stage. Have you ever had any accidents involving the cape?
I had a really close call once. But it wasn't on stage. We were doing an autograph session for the Renegade album in Gothenburg, and we were driving motorcycles to the record store. It was 100 meters down the street. But we were driving really slowly, and I was in front of [drummer] Anders Johansson, luckily, and he saw my cape had gotten stuck in the wheel. Nothing really happened. He shouted: "Stop, stop!" If I hadn't stopped, it would have probably yanked me backwards off the bike. It was fastened in a way that it would have pulled me with it before it broke. That was really close. Nothing happened except that the cape got a bit dirty. I was really worried after that, because I know from riding a motorcycle what could have happened if we were going faster. But apart from that, no incidents.

What is your explanation for why North Americans are mostly less open to metal music about knights, honor and glory than Europeans are?
I think one of the reasons is that because you had such a major backlash against the melodic music of the 80's, and that's still going strong. It seems like aggressive, attitude-based music is more incorporated with the society over here. That's at least one of the explanations.

Do you ever feel like, "Man, if we'd released Renegade or Crimson Thunder back in the mid-80's, we'd be playing Madison Square Garden now"?
[laughs] No, because we could not have put out those albums in 1983 or 1984, even if we'd been old enough at that time. Our music is so much a product of what we experienced during the 80's that we would never have been able to do that.

AC/DC's Angus Young once said, "The truth is that we've made the same album over and over 14 times!" What do you say to people who claim HammerFall keeps making the same album?
I would say they have no idea what they're talking about. Get into the albums, and you'll realize there is a big difference between them. We're following a path toward somewhere, I don't know where exactly. But we are not going to change our style. I know it's popular to do that in pop music. You go one way with this album, another way with the next. But that's not what heavy metal is about. Heavy metal is such a broad genre for us that I think we still have a lot of stuff within it to explore, and a lot of songs inside us that need to come out. I can admit that the first three albums were similar-sounding in a lot of ways, but also, I think we progressed with each one. But with the two latest ones, Crimson Thunder and Chapter V, I think what we learned with Crimson Thunder is how to put together a complete album instead of just writing ten songs and recording them. Now we write the songs with the album in mind. That gives the album a lot more diversity and variety, which I don't think the first three albums possessed to the same extent.

Can you elaborate on that?
We're just evolving, developing our sound bit by bit. Some artists go by leaps and bounds, but then, they have nowhere to go after that. We're just going in a certain direction, wherever that is. I guess we'll find out on the next album. We work really hard on not repeating ourselves. Of course, we're going to have the same style of songs here and there, but there's not one song that's similar to another one when it comes to the melodies and riffs. The structure may be similar, but what can you do? Sometimes you deviate from it a bit, but it's mostly verse, pre-chorus, and chorus. That's the way you write a good song, in my opinion. Of course, you need variety as well, and that's why we don't use that structure on all the songs. Some of the songs work better that way, but in other cases it's better not to have the chorus after the first pre-chorus or whatever. It's just a matter of what you feel when you write the song.

Is it safe to say HammerFall will never make an all-acoustic album, an album about saving the rainforest, or an album with a guest appearance by a rapper?
I can safely say "it's not very likely" to any of those. The first one might happen [acoustic], and that would be a bonus thing if it was 100% acoustic. The other two I can say with authority that this is never going to happen.

Tell me the craziest HammerFall road story of all time.
The one that immediately comes to mind when I hear this question is something that happened during the Death tour in 1998. We had a different drummer back then, and his name was Patrik Rafling. We pulled a Spinal Tap, actually! We left him at a gas station without realizing it. He was not very happy. I think it was in New Jersey, and we were going to Cleveland or Columbus. What happened was, half of the bus was asleep already, and half of the bus was out eating. So Patrik went to the bus and told the driver: "I'm going to get a Snickers," or something like that, "and then I'm going to bed." And nobody bothered to check for him. But he was still inside the gas station, buying his Snickers, when the bus took off. And Patrik being Patrik, he had no cell phone, no phone number to anyone. Luckily, he had some money. He called his mother in Sweden, who in turn called Nuclear Blast in Germany, who called Nuclear Blast America. When we woke up six hours later, there was about 100 messages on the cell phone from the label rep. Another label rep in New Jersey, luckily there was somebody there, took him to the airport and put him on the plane to Columbus, and so we picked him up there. It was also lucky that we had a day off the next day. We didn't miss a show.

And now Anders Johansson is a solid, permanent member of your band.
Absolutely. I don't think we could live without him anymore. The thing is, Patrik was in the band for two years. Anders has now been in the band for six years: three times as long! But he's still regarded as the new drummer sometimes. What are you going to do? With Anders, he didn't want to tour as much when his kids were really young. So we tried to find a middle ground. Now his kids are 8 and 10 or something like that, so pretty soon they're not going to want to have him around anyway! [laughs] So I think that's not a problem for him anymore. As for Joacim, he's got a little daughter about two years old.

What's one of your favorite memories relating to HammerFall fans?
Well, one of the coolest things I have experienced was when we were in Sao Paolo, Brazil. It was just HammerFall playing, no other bands. Everybody in the venue paid to see us. For us, that made it very special, because we knew it was 100% HammerFall fans there. There was a big curtain in front of the stage, and when the show started, the curtain was lifted and there we were. Before that, I heard there were about 3,000 people in the venue already, and this was about an hour before we started the show. So I took my video camera and Anders and I walked out in front of the curtain, and people just went crazy. I've never heard anything as loud as that. It was unbelievable. It gave me goosebumps. We stood there for about a minute with my camera panning back and forth.

What's the last CD you listened to?
The last album I listened to was Stormwitch, one of my absolute favorite bands. It was their second album, Tales of Terror, from 1985.

You've recorded with personal heroes like Udo Dirkschneider of Accept and Kai Hansen of Helloween. Who else is left on your list of people you'd like to record with?
That's a really long list. If I'm looking at what's feasible, so to speak, it would be having the guitarist from Accept, Wolf Hoffmann, do a solo on our next album. He's my guitar hero. I owe him so much when it comes to musical inspiration, it's ridiculous. He's also a very nice guy. We've met him a lot of times now, and he's almost like a friend. At least every time we see him, we give him a hug, and talk a little bit. He's really nice. That's something I'd love to do. Having someone like Rob Halford do something on the album would be the most awesome experience ever. But I don't think that's going to happen.

The last time you saw Accept, did you try to talk them into making their current reunion a permanent one?
No, I didn't bother with that, because I knew this Accept reunion was just for the festivals this summer. I talked to Udo a lot about this, and he said: "I know Wolf might want to continue with this, and he feels there are certain things we could still do." But Udo said in an interview that as far as he's concerned it's not going to happen, because he has his U.D.O. band. That's where he'll put all his energy after the current reunion is over. Still, I saw them at Wacken, and it was an awesome experience on every level.

Where would you reside if you couldn't live in Sweden?
I would probably move around a bit and find out where I felt at home, where I could root myself, so to speak. I don't really know. I think it would be a place where you have seasons, not just a rainy spring, summer, fall, and winter. [laughs] Sometimes that's what we have where I live in Gothenburg. But apart from that, I don't know. Somewhere that I spoke the language would be really important as well.

What would you do if you weren't playing metal for a living.
Realistically, I would be a teacher, because that's where I was headed before HammerFall started happening. But if I could fantasize, I have two dreams: being a paleontologist or working at a zoo with animals.

Give me your concept of a perfect day.
Well, it doesn't really matter what time I get up as long as I feel rested, because if not, the day's going to be shot to hell after that. Let's say I wake up around 8. I lie around in bed for a little while with my girlfriend, which I don't have right now, but this is a perfect day, so in the perfect world I have one! [laughs] We would enjoy each other for a little while before getting up, and then, because the sun would be shining, we'd go have breakfast in the park, and after that, I'd go home and write a song I was really, really happy with. Then I'd have a few beers and go see the monster lineup of the millennium, which would feature Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Accept, Motley Crue, Alice Cooper, and KISS on the same bill. That would be a really long set, but who cares! [laughs]

What message would you like to give to all the people out there who aren't sure whether they should attend a HammerFall show or not?
I would tell them that if you have any interest in metal and you're open-minded when it comes to melodies, you should not miss this HammerFall/Edguy show. If you do, you'll regret it for the rest of your life. It's never going to happen again on this level. Even if we come back someday with a bigger show, this is something you should not miss. It's going to be a heavy metal party the whole night and something you will never forget. I can guarantee a really good time if you like heavy metal, that's for sure.



Balance II (2005)

Balance II: Progressive Pomp AOR Fusion!




Balance II founder Brian Moritz talks about the complexities behind the new Balance release and the recording industry in general.

Hi Brian,
Well, it is about time that the world got to know a little more about you, so here goes. So Brian, you are a native of the Chicago land area correct?

I was born in Ohio, shortly after my family moved to the Chicago burbs, and I've been here trapped on the West coast of Lake Michigan ever since.

What is your first musical memory?
My brother's band was practicing in the living room, and they were recording practice on a Wollensak ¼ reel to reel tape machine that my brother had just bought with a couple of cheesy mics, and I got the bright idea of playing bongos on the stairwell, out of sight (I was about 7 years old at the time). When they played back the song it was featuring me and my ballistic bongos louder than the entire band. They stopped the tape recorder and the guys were all trying to figure out what the heck that that racket was - when I saw my brother running towards me. I made it about to the top of the stairs before my brother got a hold of me and started beating lumps on me. Tough crowd… not much different than the biker bars Vince, Joel and I played together many years later.

You have a wide and varied style, which I'll get to shortly, but what music influenced you personally and musically as you grew up?
Pretty much in chronological order: my dad and brother are both players and we used to play a lot of blues around the house, later I got into Zeppelin, Sabbath, Deep Purple, Kansas, Yes, Dregs, Bruford & once I got into music college it opened me up to appreciate everything and anything from A to Z musically as long as it was played well. In college I played in the concert jazz band, sang in concert choirs doing classical works and show tunes, etc. Later I played in some country bands too where we used to have to talk with fake accents all night and pretend we were from down South so the bar owners would pay us more than local bands.

And what other influences helped carve out the sound of the Balance II album?
It's pretty hard to get past Toto, production-wise. Those guys set the bar so damn high, I'll have to get adjusted to going way under it. Other engineering influences include a slew of great engineers like Tom Jung, Eddie Kramer, Jerry Jordan and my partner Bryan Mitchell who's right up there with the best of them.

Let's walk backwards a little first....Balance I - can you tell us about that?
Balance I was a rushed affair due to the circumstances. We had a tiny budget, and made the most of it, but it was very ambitious considering the lack of funding. We tracked the bass, drums and most of the keyboards live in 6.5 hours so it was a pretty compromised recording. Then we re-did the guitars and most of the lead vocals. I sent out 850 copies all around the world, and never personally sold a single one. My sense of pride wouldn't let me; it was too flawed and it just about drove me nuts. Paul Dobroth our bassist at the time (co-writer of Reptilian Crawl off of BII), and a few of my other buddies convinced me that I had to finish it, and I m sure glad they did. It opened a heck of a lot of doors for me as an artist and laid the foundation for BII.

I won't go over what was already covered in the Balance Bio, but in the early days you were involved with both Jim Peterik and Trillion. Both names people will recognize - was it just bad luck, of divine intervention that your name hasn't been as well known until this new opportunity?
God opens and closes doors for us, it's up to us to walk through them and I had things going on my life a lot more important to deal with starting with my family. I had the opportunity to play with a fantastic band touring the U.S. when I was first married, but having a baby and having to move out of state weren't in the cards at the time, so I had to re-examine my life and made sure I put the right priorities in order & next thing I knew, 20 years passed by - plus I live in Chicago - There are ten billion weekend warriors willing to play for next-to-nothing and 5 million people that don t care much about music in general here.
There were only a handful of opportunities that were ever of any interest to me and I've never had very good luck when it comes to auditions. I've auditioned for some of the best bands out of Chicago like Trillion, Dave Mason, Kicks, Deluxury… but I think I always knew I was supposed to be a songwriter/producer/musician and not a side-guy, and everything has been pointing that way since day one. Once I accepted that fact, things started getting a whole lot better. I'm very shy and the very last guy you'll find chasing the spot light. The only reason I do what I do is I want to share my music with people and hopefully inspire players like so many great ones have done for me.

What have you been doing musically and professionally in the time frame between getting started and today?
Geez, your readers would pass out 1/100th of the way into this one… Since the day I started playing I've almost always been in original bands playing primarily my compositions - I started writing right from the beginning. For five years I did session work and producing artists and I burned out doing stuff I didn't like or care about. I remember doing some totally cliché stuff at the end of a really lame band session almost as a joke, and when the clients were high 5-ing each other in the control room I realized that I just didn't want to do it anymore. When I got home I had to take a shower and wash the creepy feeling off me & taking money for something I didn't believe in nor want my name affiliated with just isn't why I got into music. Then I spent 10 years playing in various jobbing and bar bands, with the same talented 20 buddies grouped in various incarnations; with names like Zippy and the Pinheads, Burning Mules, Big Deal, Dairyland Aces, etc... We'd make up a different band name every night. It was always funny when somebody who saw the band on two back-to-back nights would comment on how the one band sucked and the other one was great; I can't imagine being that drunk I guess…

How did you hook up with - first of all - Vince Claps, vocalist for Balance II?
We had some friends in common that wanted to audition him for their band, and they asked me to sit in. I remember loving his attitude, it was positive and uplifting and - thankfully and miraculously dealing with this business – that's never changed. Vince played in this one popular local band that used to light him on fire in an asbestos suit and then he d wear a giant Elvis head and had a trunk full of costumes he d switch into. He s a great sport and always a blast to hang out with& we've played hundreds and hundreds of gigs and concerts together. He's a great front man, the exact opposite of me. I'd be over in the corner hiding in fear from the number of people we were occasionally playing in front of, and he d be getting the crowd wound up screaming and cheering, and I'd go over to him and beg him to knock it off. I'd have been happier if I could face the other way while playing. Yes playing in the round was always my dream of what I wanted to do on stage.

And the rest of the line-up - how did that fall into place? You certainly have some names involved there!
The guys in the band are good friends of mine and thankfully once we got done recording, they still are! I'd gotten a chance to work with Dave on Steve Morse's essential CD Split Decision (www.magnacarta.net) which I helped engineer, and I knew exactly what Dave could bring to the party which is an amazing work ethic and professionalism, not to mention he s got a great sense of humor. Rod and I had done some session work together prior to Balance II and in addition to being the most dedicated musician I've known, he's one of the best people too, he's a real uplifting inspiration for me as a human being. Those two together have blown me away for years with their work with the Dixie Dregs. When they decided to get involved in this band, it was a very surreal thing for me to be sure, being a HUGE Dregs fan and those guys being two of the best musicians on the planet it was WAY beyond a dream come true, it's in fact partially what the song Miracles was about. The song Miracles was about my disbelief of reality surpassing my dreams, when I heard Stan Cotey's stellar guitar tapestry work, I erased all of mine but a couple of solos, it was unbelievable and definitely otherworldly and overwhelming when I combined his tracks with ours... Joel is a buddy from way back, as is Thom Griffin who is also one of the few guys that I'll give a hug when I see him. When you've got friends this good, I m telling you, you feel like one blessed musician.

This album is obviously a labor of love - you know I love it, but it is certainly a less commercial sound. You guys have obviously played and written from the heart. Do you agree?
That's a very fair assessment on the one hand, on the other hand there is material on the CD that would be perfectly at home on the radio if given half a chance... The fact that BII swings wildly from one extreme to the next I knew would cause some issues for people who want their music to fit into a neat record bin. The reason there is a nude women all over the artwork on the CD is that this CD is about art and my Dad is a great photographer. I wanted to name the disk ART but I figured it was pretty obvious once you put the disk in. Art isn't about commercial justification; it s about purity and freedom of vision! I'm glad we did what we did. I hope Balance II is the kind of CD that when you sit staring at your disk collection 20 years from now, will be one that you grab when you want to be challenged mentally and sonically.

How would you describe it? Folks have soundbytes to check out, but let's hear your thoughts on this.
Balance II hopefully is impossible to pigeonhole. It's an album versus a bunch of songs; there is a definite flow and mood to the disk and it's missing when you download bits and pieces. There isn't a guy in this band who doesn't have his chops together in a variety of styles. As a writer and producer, I didn't want to make yet another Journey or Toto sound-alike disk, I wanted to write and help create something that would excite me if I walked into a record store.

This is a diverse record - is there anything that you love musically that didn't fit into this release that we might hear next time?
Oh heck yeah… that will always be what Balance is about with regards to shifting stylistic turns. We didn't get a chance to touch on Classical, Reggae, Bluegrass & Country or Metal on this release and I love pretty much all styles as do the guys in the band. BIII will be a big change as was BI to BII. I have zero interest in getting stuck in a rut and repeating ourselves. I never want somebody to be able to guess what the next release is going to sound like.

Now might be a good time to plug where folks can buy the CD and by what methods - being that this is an indie release...
www.balanceweb.com front page you can go to the buy now tab, it's a secure transaction or you can dial our 800 number.

Why go the indie route? I ask, as you have done everything in house for this, from the recording, to the mastering to the artwork. Have you enjoyed the freedom of working for yourselves?
I had to give these guys some sonic real estate and I didn't want to have to compromise our material for the sake of somebody else's idea of what s sellable. We might go down with the ship, but at least when I stare at my face in the mirror I'll never feel bad about anything to do with this. There is a mixture of stadium rock, R&B, blues, acoustic rock, progressive rock, and the f-word (fusion) that sends the labels running away in fear.
But that is exactly what I keep searching for and rarely find. When I do it's always something like Pages, It Bites, or Kevin Gilbert that people in general don't know but have super loyal fans who consider it the best stuff ever done by mankind. If enough people are exposed to it I know in my heart we'll be successful with some who will truly dig it, and that will hopefully allow us to make another one. This band live would be crippling and hopefully we'll get a chance to bring it overseas for a short tour for the fine people that are welcoming us with open arms.
Being an American band, we realize the people with cultured tastes that would appreciate our work mostly live overseas where they're raised with a cultured pedigree of musical tastes from classical to pop, unlike the US where music has become just a pathetic sidebar for dancers and models. The US society has all but killed off raising kids with music in the schools with budget cutbacks, even when it's proven the benefits of what music does to boost your intellectual capacity as a student. I'm really glad I was born and raised when I was before the US schools basically abolished music and art programs it in favor of lowering standards in education. I've stood with tears pouring down my cheeks in appreciation at concerts where I'm so thankful I've been able to witness what I have. I'd hate to think that kids growing up won't know that joy of watching somebody that can truly play their instrument and touch hearts, verse thinking stuff that's burped out by machines is way cooler because that's what they're being force fed by our media.

Any interview would be remiss if we didn't talk technical - you are a huge audiophile aren't you! Let's talk of your love of gadgets and studios and the like. Where did you first take an interest in working with not only making the sound, but how the sound was made?
I used to take our family piano apart from the time I was about six years old and hold the sustain pedal down and pluck the strings with my fingers, or used playing cards or toy hammers or screamed into the soundboard to make soundtrack type of sounds. I've always had a fascination with reverb and echoes. I taught myself how to play and eventually had a dozen teachers on a few different instruments, mostly for hand position and technique, then I went to college to get the theory and ear-training together.
My first original band, Tyme, was recording at Hedden West studios when I was 19, and the co-owner of the studio took an interest in my band. He used to invite me to come to the studio while I was cutting college classes and just hang out, and we used to go into the studio's storage rooms and pull down reels of 2 tape, load them up, and analyze the most minuscule details. He took me under his wing and taught me stuff musicians just don't share with each other.
I'll be forever grateful to him for opening my eyes and ears so deeply to production and performance. Like any production chainsaw psycho, once I was exposed to what was behind Oz's curtain I couldn't get enough of it. I started taking classes in recording engineering, A/V production, modular synths, then later worked in pro-audio at retail stores. My dad and I ended up building a studio at my old house and I spent seven of the last 10 years locked up in it. Once I had access to a studio day or night that's when I reanalyzed what I was doing as a musician and where I was headed.

Do you have some favorite producers from over the years of musical indulgence?
Well I'd have to cite artists and then you d have to research their production/engineering teams for brevity; here are some guys that come to mind: Kerry Livgren (Kansas), Steve Morse (SMB, Dregs), Pat Leonard (Toy Matinee and solo), Jude Cole (solo), Richard Page (solo in particular and with Pages), the late Kevin Gilbert (solo and Giraffe), all resonate a chord within me. Something about each of their unique approaches helped me to define mine.

Balance II was recorded in your own studio - one you were putting together at the same time as the album itself. Surely not a wise decision to keep your sanity?
What sanity??? If I was sane, I'd be doing something that makes some financial sense! The stuff I'm involved in is like the movie The Money Pit sometimes thankfully my wife of 23 years is an Angel and makes a lot of sacrifices for me and the kids understand artistic vision and Dad being gone a lot.

How has the studio turned out Brian?
There aren't words to describe it. It's surreal and definitely lifted straight out of my partner Bryan's and my dreams. Between the two of us, we've built four recording studios independently, and each time we were frustrated with various aspects of them. This time we went all out and made it a place where we need to make no excuses. Acoustic drums and audiophile standards are our specialty. We also do 2 transferring to pro-tools, mastering, MTV-style video shoots, we have housing and a chef available, and a couple small airports nearby for people who want to fly in from out of state. The location is perfect for creating great music, no distractions, total serenity. It's like Field of Dreams; in fact I keep looking at the corn field in the back yard and want to build a baseball diamond for some reason but Bryan won't let me!

And news to hand - you plan to open a full production facility - tell us about that?
Bryan Mitchell and I opened a production studio. www.bnbproductions.com which is like a mini Ironworks studio (www.ironworksmusic.com) where we work only with clients we want to (bands can submit material by contacting us through www.bnbproductions.com). I couldn't be happier. The studio features amazing vintage and state-of-the-art gear, and an amazing ambiance for recording artful music (things like having three drum rooms from tiny to large enough to fit an orchestra).

You are mates with Joe Vana of Mecca. You have obviously seen him go through a number of the pitfalls prevalent in the record industry. How do you avoid those and have you been able to help him out in any way?
Joe is an amazingly talented and gifted human being with a heart the size of Texas. He's taught me so much about so many aspects of this crazy business both through his example, and through his nightmares. Joe conceived Mecca and brought it to reality, and a couple of cockroaches tried to steal it from him, which is why you've not heard from him as he's been in litigation unable or unwilling to discuss it for the last two years. I watched it rip him apart along with personal issues he faced, all coming from a guy who just wanted to have some fun with his friends (another guy with some amazing friends). Luckily I avoid most of the problems he's faced by having people involved with Balance II that I can trust down to their DNA sequence, and in this business trust is anyone's Achilles heals. Success can bring out the evil in people who want to control and seize it. I think the only way I've helped him is my consistency: my head is screwed on pretty tight. Joe and BNB are teaming up on the new Mecca release btw, I'm really jazzed about this too since the hang is so much fun. We co-wrote some stuff with Shannon Forrest, David Hungate and Gordon Mote down at Michael McDonald's studio, and I'm really looking forward to seeing and working with these guys. Go to allmusic.com to check out what they've done in their careers – it's absolutely unbelievable. Gordon is blind and one of the most talented human beings I've ever met. I told him it wasn't fair what he could do (perfect pitch a whole lot more musically speaking), and he said “It's not fair that you can drive.” So one of these days, I'm gonna let him drive my car and he's gonna realize I m never gonna be able to do what he can do musically in return!

You and Joe are set to partner up for a song for my new compilation - time to tell folks about that!
One of the dreams I had after hearing Toy Matinee and the killer band Giraffe (Stan Cotey their guitarist is featured on BII on the song Miracles) was to someday work with Kevin Gilbert. We had friends in common, but I never got a chance to meet him before he died. I wanted to cover one of his songs, but not as he did it, more as if we were collaborating together. So I took his melody changed that a bit, re-harmonized the entire song, and added some twists and turns to the arrangement. In fact Joe didn't recognize the song when I played the arrangement for him yet he knows the song very well, and he started singing his own melody and words to it. Once I told him what song it was, he was bummed out because he wanted to write the lyrics and melody. Anyway, it's a fun song and hopefully it will get a few people checking out Kevin s amazing body of work. www.kevingilbert.com Just like Hendrix, Kevin's star burned super bright before it vanished and thankfully they both recorded a fantastic library of material in their far-too-short walk on the planet; it's almost like they both knew their fate and it was a race until the very end. Thom Griffin and Rick Vitek from Balance I are on it too!

I know you have rough plans for Balance III - are you confident it will all come to fruition?
Lots of things depend on Balance II sales covering expenses. If not, then Balance III will reflect what the labels would have an interest in promoting and supporting as there are a lot of expenses in the type of productions that we do. Losing our investor's money on BII isn't my idea of success. We haven't shipped product until recently, so I'm just gonna focus on promoting BII and the other 10 million things going on right now before worrying about what Balance will do next.

What else are you working on Brian? Now or coming up in the next 12 months?
Between Balance II, BNB Productions, writing Balance III, and helping Joe with Mecca, I couldn't fit anything else in if my life depended on it. I have great expectations for BII and for Mecca and am super excited about getting that in motion. Joe's new line-up couldn't be finer; he's got a lot of tricks up his sleeve and it's a lot fun to be involved in it. To anyone that dug the first Mecca CD - your eyes are gonna criss-cross and your head is going to spin around in circles with the new one! With Balance II we'll have to see if the grass-roots level of people telling people about our work will bring us enough success to continue with it. It was a very costly and time consuming effort on a lot of people's parts and without the fans support we can't afford to do it the same way again.

Anything that I have missed that you would like to add in Brian?
Thanks for supporting the whole melodic rock scene Andrew - you do us all a great service and I know a lot of players that think the world of you and what you're doing! I'm sure you could focus your talents elsewhere and make a heck of a lot more money with a lot less grief.

Quite possibly Brian! Cheers for taking the time to do this interview.
You bet Andrew, Peace and best wishes to you and your family!




Check out Balance II Showcase - Purchase Balance II.

Marcie Free (2005)


Marcie Free: An Amazing Musical Legacy.


Mark Free burst onto the scene as a young rock singer in King Kobra. The sales and fame richly deserved may not have followed, but this fine singer has made a huge impact on our melodic rock community with each release seemingly another classic. Signal, Unruly Child and the Long Way From Love solo album are all albums that have attained a cult following and are highly regarded as staples of classic melodic rock and AOR music.
But it all ended too soon. We were left with the music, but longed for more when Mark Free made the ultimate life altering decision to undergo sex change surgery.
It happens everyday in the world around us, but is almost unheard of in the world of rock music. Thanks to the Internet and the ability to interact with fans, Marcie, as she is now known, has made a comeback of sorts – setting up a website and once again saying hello to old fans. Not only that, but making many unreleased demos available so us fans can at least hear some new music.
Marcie has never done a feature interview and I'm very proud to feature this in depth chat about her musical career, her life as it was and as it is now and possibilities for the future.
Many thanks to Marcie for talking openly and answering the questions put to her honestly.

Ok Marcie...I guess the very best place to start is right back at the beginning, as you have had a wonderful career that has produced some real landmark releases as far as the world of melodic rock goes.

Beginning with King Kobra - not too many artists achieve success on their first outing and even though you spent some time working before hand, you must have felt somewhat blessed to be on your way from the outset?
First of all let me say how much I have appreciated all of your wonderful friendship and support all these years. It is a pleasure to speak with you once again.
Yes, King Kobra was my first big break. I felt nervous and excited all at the same time. I was very grateful for the opportunity. I wouldn't really say that selling 50,000 records the first time out was all that much of a success though, but it was a start.




Two albums were recorded - both with a different flair. The debut was a little tougher and Thrill Of A Lifetime is more AOR. Do you have a preference for either release? Which album has withstood the test of time the best?
I really do not have a preference for either that much. It is kind of painful for me to listen to some of that stuff now as it was my first time making a record. I would say that Ready To Strike has to be the quintessential must have for all the KK fans. But my heart is much more into some of the Thrill of A Lifetime stuff as I had more of a hand in the writing and felt like I was starting to get more control over some of the production.

Thrill Of A Lifetime is still heralded as one of those cult classics - why the change of style for that album?
The first album was deemed a failure judging by the small sales figures, and by radio, record company, and MTV standards. Having a guaranteed two record deal up front, we were desperate to get on radio as we knew we only had one more shot before the company could opt to drop us. Carmine called on his long time friend Duane Hitchings to help us craft a more radio friendly sound. So that's what we did.

I don't think the band has ever received credit for it, but you were one of the very first rock bands ever to use rap-delivery in part of a song - Home Street Home being the track in question. What was the story behind that track?
Yeah. Carmine kept trying to make a big deal of that in the press but it always fell on deaf ears. Mick wrote the song while living in a very small one room apartment on a busy street in Hollywood at the time. He would see quite a lot of homeless people walking the streets. Rap isn't one of my forte's.

Of all the great tracks on Thrill Of A Lifetime (Second Time Around, Feel The Heat, Only The Strong), one track sits firmly ahead of the rest - at least as far as I'm concerned and I think this track stands today as one of the great AOR anthems of all time. I speak of Iron Eagle (Never Say Die).
The track was featured in the movie of the same name - what is the story behind this track - was it written for the movie especially or customized around the needs for the movie?

Duane Hitchings had a friend named Jake Hooker (Weird Al Yankovich's mgr.) Together they had an opportunity to write a song for a new movie that was being made called, "Iron Eagle". The movie people had secured a soundtrack album deal with Capitol records. Once that happened our manager (Alan Miller) along with Jake started lobbying Capitol's vice president of A&R to let us do the song since we were already on Capitol's roster. The decision was made to do it and it went on our album as well as the soundtrack album. Making the video with Lou Gossett Jr. was the best part though.

Did it bring the band some good publicity and attention? I must admit, it's where my love affair with your music began - the Iron Eagle soundtrack!!!
Yes, it did get more airplay than any of our other songs as a result of the movie and the soundtrack album.

Either way, it seems the band couldn't capitalize on this as the KK line-up disbanded without recording anything further. What happened at this stage in your career?
The business arrangement between Carmine and the rest of us as set up in the beginning by his manager and their lawyers was inequitable at best. As a result it left very little incentive to remain with the band if it was not going to be a huge success. And it became apparent after the second album tour was over and Capitol had dropped us that it wasn't. Going on the road and touring was very grueling. Once Johnny left for the money W.A.S.P. was offering him, I tried for a while to go through the process of replacing him and moving on, but the chemistry was not as much fun and the guitarists (Dave & Mick) were attempting to move the band in more of a trash metal direction which I really didn't want to do. With no money in my bank account and after two years of touring and no record deal… my heart just wasn't in it any longer.

I guess the very next thing was the Black Roses soundtrack, How did you get involved in this?
Alex Woltman was an apprentice recording engineer at Pasha Studios at the time King Kobra recorded our first album. He had a friend named Elliot Soloman whose father was producing a new monster movie called Black Roses. They had written some material and wanted to hire me to sing four of the songs. It was the summer of 1987. Alex was still working at Pasha, and I was working as a driver for a courier service to survive between gigs. I got paid $750 to sing the songs which helped me out quite a bit at that time. I've never seen another dime since.





We are right smack in the middle of the Mark Free golden era (if you can forgive the self appointed terminology!), as the next release from you was the utterly classic Signal record.
Let's talk about Loud & Clear - an absolute anthem packed AOR masterpiece!
I believe it was former Peter McIan (Men At Work) that had a project going he needed a singer for and that featured Erik from Signal and songwriter Mark Baker?

Signal was hard to form. It originally started as a Peter McIan project with Erik and Mark as co-writers. It evolved over a two to three year period between late 1987 and 1990. It was originally called The Fugitive Kind. The name Signal was given to us by Ron Fair who had taken over the A & R duties at E.M.I. after our original A & R rep Bruce Dickinson left the label. He got the idea when he went into his bathroom one day and saw the bottle of mouthwash on the back of his toilet. I had tried for years to get everyone in the band to agree on a name. I had come up with literally hundreds of names. In fact the name Unruly Child was one of them. They didn't like any of them, so after two weeks in the studio and still no name, we had to basically settle for the name Signal which I hated, but hoped it might help influence our rapidly sinking support at the label.

Kevin Elson produced the album - I love his stuff to death - what influence did he have over the material?
I love Kevin Elson very much and his work as well. I felt honored to work with him for his accomplishments with one of my all time favorite singers Steve Perry. But you would be surprised to learn he actually influenced the material on this album very little. Not to say he didn't have some interesting ideas in the studio, a few of which I believe we ended up using. But Erik Scott had very meticulously pre-produced much of the material before we went into the studio. Kevin brought his pristine mixing and engineering skills to the table which added a lot of sheen to the overall presentation.





The writing credits for this album are very diverse, it seemed to be the first time you wrote with people outside a band itself and generally speaking, you were not involved in much of the songwriting here.
As it was basically a vehicle for Mark Baker's writing, and he was writing such good songs, I felt like "go Mark go". Once Danny came into the band near the end of the process, he and I started writing together. If the band would've survived another few years I feel that he and I would've been able to write some pretty cool things.

This also marks (I believe) the beginning of writing relationship with Mark Baker. How did you and Mark hook up?
Mark and I had tried to write together a few times. Not always successfully. Mark had very specific ideas that were hard for him to let go of at times which kind of butted heads with mine. I always felt inferior to him and his ideas. It wasn't the best of chemistry.

Also of note is the use of songs by outside writers - did the label force/suggest you go down that route?
I believe that "My Mistake" was the only song the label may have suggested. "This Love This Time" was a song that I had done the demo version of for Peter Glenister while he was in the United States on a writing assignment for his publishing company. He and I were paired up to write together by E.M.I. one day and that is how I met him. I loved the song and brought the song to our manager at the time who also fell in love with it.

And Eric Martin guested on the marvelous My Mistake. How did that come to pass, as he wasn't that big a name himself at that time.
Yes, but I knew of him and thought very highly of his talents. I had actually met him at a Capitol records party in 1985 while I was in King Kobra. He lived in the San Francisco bay area where we recorded the Signal album. Eric was managed by Herbie Herbert who also managed Journey, hence the connection with our producer Kevin Elson. Doing the song this way having Eric answer me during the chorus was one of those great ideas I told you about that Kevin came up with. It worked well I thought. Eric is one of the worlds truly great singers and a wonderful person.

Favourite songs Marcie? Personally I'll vote for Arms Of A Stranger, Does It Feel Like Love and the monster ballad This Love, This Time!
Oh let me see…would I be too egotistical to say I love them all? The ones you mentioned would also be high on my list that are close to my heart. But I do love some of the demos that I did like "Your Wild Ways", and the Jonathan Cain and John Waite song "I Wish That I Was There".

Yes, I will get to that track shortly! The Signal album was a one-off....which was extremely disappointing. Why? Was their label pressure for a hit single, or other complications? It seemed as if the band was on it's way to great things - touring etc...
We got signed to E.M.I. by a guy named Bruce Dickinson (not of Iron Maiden). He was good friends with a lady who at the time was an old flame of Peter McIan's. She was acting as the bands manager when I came into the picture. She persuaded Bruce to leave his position at Chrysalis records and come over to E.M.I. so that he could sign us to their label. Once he came over to E.M.I. he signed us and six other bands then decided to leave E.M.I. and take a position with M.C.A.. This pissed off a lot of people in the marketing department who are responsible for support at radio and MTV when it comes time to release the album. The decision was made at the executive level to release the album, but to drop us and to not spend any money to promote the album once it was released.

A three year break followed here - during which you spent a lot of time signing demos for various writers.
First to the art of that craft - for those new to the workings of the music industry, why would someone call you to sing on their songs?

Actually I apologize but I have to correct you on your timeline. Signal was released in April of 1990. Unruly Child was released in April of 1992. I left Signal in October of 1990 and started slowly forming what became Unruly Child. It took U.C. about a year to write all the songs and come up with our deal at Interscope. I believe you are referring to the time between King Kobra and Signal. That being said, I was working as a driver for a courier service in L.A. and in the meantime I met Judithe and Robin Randall. Once they hired me to sing their demos, they started telling all their other writer friends in L.A. about me and the phone started ringing and well I needed the money really bad so I started singing demos for people. It really helped me to develop further my ability to sing in the studio and I was being paid for it. Cool huh?

Indeed! Let's continue on with the demos for a moment...If you don't mind me asking, was this a good way to earn a living? How did it compare with working for yourself in a band?
It's a great way to make a living. A lot of singers have done this in between gigs. You don't really make a killing but it beats the hell out of working at a bank.

You sang an amazing amount of songs for some amazing people - I want to talk in more detail about your relationship with the Randall's in a moment, but just briefly, could you share a line or two about your thoughts of working with some of the others you sang for. Any that stand out in your mind for one reason or another?
Yes. Jeff Silverman, David Tyson, Christopher Ward, Teddy Castellucci, and Tom Mgrdichian to name a few. You would have to throw in Jonathan Cain as well. Jeff for his unique song writing ability and speed and accuracy at the controls when recording. David and Christopher for their impeccable song writing and precise producing and engineering skills. Teddy and Tom for all of the above. And do I need to say anything about the great Jonathan Cain??

You recorded several tracks for Jeff Silverman, another writer I am big fan of. Any memories there?
Yes. And Jeff - I apologize - but he had a reputation of being a bully on singers who he had worked with in the past. I on the other hand found him delightful and very fun to work with. I welcomed each and every time my phone rang when he was on the other end of it asking me to sing another one of his songs.

Many of these great demos you have copies of and are featuring in the members area of your website - what a cool idea. Let's plug that a little now - tell us about it.
Thank you so much Andrew. Yes. My website www.marciefree.com has a section which I refer to as my "vault" where people can come and subscribe for a year and receive access to all of my demos and most everything else I have ever done that may be hard to find out there and the ability to download them. All for a nominal charge of only $36.00 per year.

You and James Christian seemed to be the go-to guys for anyone that needed their songs demoed in the best possible light. Is that something you look fondly back upon?
Oh I know for a fact there were lots of others. Stan Bush I think was one. There was this guy named Joe somebody I can't remember his last name, who sang all of the Diane Warren and Desmond Child demos. I cannot remember the names of the others. But anyway James and I would seem to meet about once a year at a Judithe and Robin Randall Christmas party and exchange glances.

Do you have any idea how many songs you sang for others over the years and of all of these, what are the stand out favourites?
I remember once I counted about 150 songs that I had sung over the length of my career. These also included the songs I sang on my albums. But that's still quite a substantial number if you compare it to the number of songs you can find out there by some of the so called, major artists.

At what stage were you introduced to Judith and Robin Randall? You bonded on a personal as well as professional level didn't you?
From my own experience with Judith, these gals were class all the way and super nice people.

Yes very much. Judithe was one of a kind. She selflessly promoted me to everyone of her contacts from the first day she met me until the last day of her life. And for not one dime of compensation did she ever ask for her tireless efforts. Her ability to write lyrics was magical. Robin is one of the sweetest most gentle, compassionate, and extremely gifted musicians I have ever known. Perhaps not so much as in playing ability, but certainly in music knowledge and in musical composition. She and Judithe will always be in my heart as two of the greatest individuals who changed my life for the better.

How many songs did you record vocals for the Randall's?
According to my records, I sang 19 songs for them. I may have missed writing down a session or two though.

Of course, some 17 tracks would appear on Long Way From Love as your first ever solo album! Let's skip time a little and run through that - Now & Then Records released the album - what got the process underway for this album?
I received a call from Mark Ashton. He promised me the world if only I would agree to release the demos I did for Robin and Judithe, and he ripped me off for practically every record sold after that. In his companies defense they did pay for our expenses to come over and do the first God's of AOR concert. Other than that, I never saw a penny from his company after the first quarter accounting which was a complete joke. To this day I have no idea how many records I sold.

Who decided on the songs that would make up the release?
Robin, Judithe and I.

Again, another classic collection of AOR material - it was later re-issued with bonus tracks and The Gods 1993 performance on it. Did you have much to do with the re-issue? This leads us into the new release you have lined-up, but I'll get to that shortly.
No. That scheme was cooked up by Mark Ashton and the guys in Italy at Frontiers Records. Ha.

I'd like just to clean up some confusion over some of your demos which have long been traded like gold - some of which are in the Vault section of your site.
There are numerous references to some tracks being a second Signal record - is this correct, or are they merely tracks you sang on that fitted the same song/style as the Signal material?

I am not quite sure to which songs you are referring to but there were two songs that were recorded in addition to the ten songs we recorded at the original recording session for Loud and Clear. Those were Runaway, and You And I Need Love. There was another song which appeared on the Signal Live video that I released a few years back called No One Gets Out Alive. But other than that there was only one other demo that I did for Signal in hopes of getting another record deal after we were dropped called What Goes Up.

Of the unreleased material there is some seriously amazing songs....just amazing....for example The Night Has A Way, Dancing On The Edge, You Do It For Love, Hopelessly Lost, Do It For Love....and stacks more!
Where did those tracks come from, as they all sound very close sonically?

The Night Has A Way was written by David Tyson and Christopher Ward producers and song writers for Alannah Miles. One of my favorites. Dancin' On The Edge was written by Jeff Silverman and Rick Springfield. Rick actually sang backgrounds with me the day I sang the lead on that track. Very cool. You Do It For Love was written by Teddy Castellucci and Tom Mgrdichian who wrote and produced all those pop delights I did later on for them as a possible solo endeavor in the summer of 1993.

I must dedicate a question to my all-time favourite unreleased demo and that is Your Wild Ways. What an amazing song - tell me about that one and the amazing vocal. Who wrote that one??!!
That track was the first song I ever sang for David Tyson and Christopher Ward. Most enjoyable. My Canadian friends.

There is also a set of 10 songs in a more pop/dance style over the AOR tracks. What was that project?
Those were the pop delights I was referring to in the answer above. Teddy Castellucci and Tom Mgrdichian. Two very extremely talented players, producers, and composers I had met while living in L.A..

Any way I can share a few of these with the site regulars, or will they appear in The Vault?
I am sorry, but I am planning on putting them in the vault and have hopes they will be hot sellers for me.

Jumping back a little - yet another major label deal came with the signing of Unruly Child. How did you come to be a part of this project?
The timing was impeccable because I was already planning on leaving Signal. It was July of 1990. After floating around for a couple of years doing demos for all the various songwriters in L.A. you start to get a reputation. Bruce Gowdy's publisher at Warner/Chappel contacted me one day and asked me if I was available to sing some of Bruce's demos. The first song I did for he and Guy Allison was a song called "Let's Talk About Love". I had first met Guy Allison back in 1980 while he was in a band called Lodgic. I had always fantasized playing with him in a band as I thought very highly of his talents. We all jelled immediately and the chemistry was magical. We ended up writing all the material for the Unruly Child album in the next 10 months to come as well as some of the songs that were not used on the first U.C. record that ended up on the Tormented C.D. It was a very cool time in my life as well as a very tormented time as I started actualizing my life long gender issues around that time as well.





Metal was huge at the time of this release and as a vocalist you toughened up your sound for the release also. This was a rocking record, but also seriously high-tech as far as layers and technical achievement!
Beau Hill was the album's producer - I'm not so much a fan of his - but this was a monster sound! Do you know how much money the label spent on this album and how long did the recording process last?

Yes the recording budget for this album was around $200K. The recording process started in the fall of 1991 and was wrapped up by December of that same year. It was scheduled for an April 1992 release.
As for me toughing up my sound - I felt for the first time that I had nothing to lose by singing the way I always wanted. I felt free for the first time to actually be me in this group. I knew that I could always do a more subdued singing style if that was what would bring me financial security but at this point in my life I was going for what was in my soul.

As we would later learn - through the release of the Unruly Child Basement Tapes - the original tracks were quite different than the finished product. Any thoughts on this?
I actually liked our demos better than the finished product that Beau presented. He homogenized our edge and took away our soul I felt.

And directly from that question - what did you think about the release of the Basement Tapes and the inclusion of the behind the scenes DVD? Quite a brilliant package for fans...
I bless anything that Bruce and Guy wish to do regarding our relationship past or present.





With Unruly Child, you had a much greater involvement in the songwriting. Did the record label believe you guys more than EMI did with Signal?
It was just a whole lot different. Signal was presented to the label as a project, and U.C. was presented as a group. Plus I had the benefit of the power of Herbie Hebert behind me when first being presented to Interscope as he ended up managing Signal in the end times.

I suppose this question is aimed more at the tracks that would become the Tormented release, but how much was your inner turmoil affecting the subject matter of your songwriting?
Tracks like Forever and Falling contain some haunting lyrics and although you did not write Still Believe, I feel the vocal on that track is about as heartfelt as it gets.

That track was actually written by Bruce and Guy after the breakup of the band but they still wanted me to sing it. I believe they actually paid me to sing it as well. I believe very deeply in always putting my heart and soul into everything I do. The anger in the songs which appeared on Tormented was actually the whole bands rage directed by the frustration of being on the losing end of the newly found "grundge era" and the wittnessing of the L.A. riots after the Rodney King verdict.

At the time of your change of lifestyle announcement came the Marcie Free release Tormented. Obviously the title was an absolute understatement, the music itself was more or less the second Unruly Child album wasn't it?
The title of the album had nothing to do with my personal issues. I had written the song Tormented with the guys back when we were Twelve Pound Sledge and it just seemed like an appropriate title at the time.

First of all - why the decision to release under the Marcie Free moniker, but more importantly, tell us about the music within and why Unruly Child wasn't to be?
I think that is pretty much obvious by now being that I am transsexual and the world was not ready for the likes of me or anyone like me. After I announced that I could no longer live as Mark my whole musical world quickly fell apart.

Ok. There were two separate masters for that release wasn't there - a European release and a superior Japanese release. How did this happen and who made the decision to go with the different master (and artwork also) for each release?
Different companies make different decisions. The Japanese company simply chose to re-master the DAT before the release. I had no problem with this decision.






Marcie, it seems almost every band you were involved with has been the subject of some kind of archive release (King Kobra, Unruly Child & Solo). While some will see that as a cash-in on the part of the labels involved, I also see that as tantamount to the legacy of music you recorded over the years and the continuing demand for that great music. How do you feel about this?
I really don't know to be honest with you. But I do know that archives are always important to the hard core fans and I suppose that is what provides the value of their content.

Speaking of which, you have released a coupe of archives of your own :)
As well as the continuously updated Vault section of your website came the Signal live release. Good memories to put that together? Is that still available?

Yes it is still available and I plan on making a DVD release of the live performance available soon.





The Gods 1993 performance was I think your only ever UK appearance - it was recorded and filmed and as already discussed, has been released as a bonus audio CD already.
This time around you are releasing it yourself, both as a DVD and a CD. This time without the involvement of your old record label.

As I previously discussed they have no issues with me. They already made their money. Now I am simply making mine.

I've gone on record previously naming this live show as one of my favourite live recordings ever - it's nice and raw, features the odd mistake, but has an amazing energy. Who was in the band on that day and what are your memories of the UK appearance and that show?
The band was made up of a bunch of crazy Swedes named Snakes In Paradise. (I of course mean that very lovingly guys) They were all freaking incredible. I watched the whole DVD recently after not seeing it for many years and I couldn't believe how great the band was. They had not only learned all the songs we were to play during the show but also learned how to transpose the songs in no time once we showed up for our first rehearsal in the U.K. together. I also brought with me from the U.S. Robin Randall and Diana DeWitt without whom I could have not survived long enough to do the shows.

Oh yeah, I did forget that…fabulous band! There are not too many places you will hear a string of classics like these tracks all in one place!
Feel free to plug the DVD/CD purchase details right now also :)

Thank you Andrew. You are so kind. The DVD which is available now on my website, www.marciefree.com is one of the last live shows I have ever done. It was filmed at the Ritz Club in Manchester England in October of 1993. I remember how wonderful the fans were that night. Everyone who was standing in front of the stage that I could see were all mouthing the words right along with me as I sang that night. It was such a thrill for me. And a memory that I will never forget. It also includes a MTV interview with me which gives the viewer a lot more than just a live performance. The price is right at only $19.99 USD





How did you like touring/live performing Marcie? You performed a lot with King Kobra and Signal and even a few solo dates at the advent of signing with Now & Then Records. Did Unruly Child perform much?
Live performing with King Kobra at first was grueling for me as we traveled with 13 guys in a sleep 6 broken down old motor home. Night after night I had to take sleeping pills and lay in a corner of the bed in the back along with 6 or 7 other guys to try and get enough sleep before we arrived at the motel the next morning so that I could have the physical rest my voice needed to be able to sing the next gig. I always loved being in front of the fans but the logistics of being a live performer night after night got very tiresome for me. I need to be more grounded and have roots. Signal only did 5 maybe 6 shows in the time we were together. It was a shame as we were becoming an excellent live band near the end. Not as exciting visually as King Kobra, but much better musically I think. Unruly Child tried to do some live shows a few times but I think we only did 3 or 4. Again quite a shame as U.C. was very talented and extremely tight live.

I recall the guys speaking fondly of the band and leaving the door open for possible new music in the future.
I suppose anything's possible. That would be up to Bruce. He treated me quite harshly near the end and I would have to see an intense sincere effort on his part to make amends.

I think I have covered the music Marcie, which leaves me to talk about the person behind the music.
I noted with some concern at the time and now looking back, it still makes for a powerful sentiment, but you wrote within the thank you's for the liner notes of this album "All of whom have inspired me to persevere and survive through some of life's darkest hours".
Just how dark did things get for you Marcie?

If I could've wished myself back to heaven instead of living my life as I am I would have. I never had the courage to actually harm myself. But I thought about it many times.

As hard as it is to put into words to ask you about, I can't begin to imagine what you have been through over the last 10 years.
I read a quote attributed to you at the time of your decision to have a sex change that you literally had to decide between life and death. To chose life was to make the hardest decision imaginable.

Yes it was extremely difficult, but it has been very rewarding in ways I never thought could be.

Yet, you had the courage to make that decision....
Courage or desperation? I think I had no choice in the matter. If I would've continued my life as Mark I would have died for sure.

At what stage did you decide that your only way out was the course of action you took? Dare I ask how hard it was to tell friends and family about your choice?
I had tried to be the man once again and fell deeply in love with a gorgeous woman named Laurie Richardson. She was and is a very talented lady rock radio personality. We were married on June 24, 1989. After only 2 years of marriage we were divorced because of my gender issues and I knew then it was only a matter of time. As I have said many times previously there were very few friends who stayed by me once I came out with it. Including my former wife Laurie. My family is still with me though. Thank God.

I did hear you were married at the time. I'm sorry to hear that things ended badly.
Laurie was and will always be my last love affair with another human being in this life time. The fact that she could not stay with me was her choice and I suppose I cannot blame her for that. But to this day she still does not wish to talk with me or have anything to do with me what so ever and that makes me believe she never truly loved me and that really hurts me very much.

I know for a fact that many did not stand by you, but some others did. How important was the support of those that did stick by you and were there some that surprised and hurt you by not supporting you?
I learned during that time that there are 3 groups of people in this world. Those who like you, those who do not, and those who are indifferent towards you. As hard as it was to accept that there are some who do not like me, as I think I am lovable always, I had to gravitate myself to those who do and to not worry myself about those who do not.

In the few years following your change of life, did you feel exiled from the music business and the world in which you had been involved since being a teenager?
Yes at first. But it was best for me to bow out anyway.

You obviously got well away from all that - what have you been doing over the last few years?
I have just been living life and working as a normal person does every day. The best thing this change has given me is my peace of mind. That is the most simplest concept for most people but the most difficult to attain if you are not living inside the body of who you feel like you are inside. Once I did attain it, it immediately took away my desire to become famous and to be loved and adored by everyone like I was striving for while living in the body of Mark Free. Loving myself so that I can love others is all I care to do now.

How important has the Internet been in allowing you to finally again mix with the many fans you left behind?
Extremely. Without it I would have never even known anyone still remembered me or even cared about me. I love being in touch with you all very much. It gives me so much joy. I really am a people person in spite of my reclusive nature.

As you are well aware, the melodic rock community has a great deal of love for you as a performer and as a person, as witnessed by the amazing amount of entries in the guestbook I set up for you.
What were your first thoughts when you read those entries, which continue to be added to still!

I was shocked because I truly had no idea that there were so many out there who even knew who I was. I am deeply touched by all the outpouring of support and love the people have written about me on your message board. My appreciation and my heart goes out to everyone of them.

Without getting to personal (as that's not what I'm trying to do), are you happy Marcie? I ask as I - and I'm sure everyone else - is hoping you have found peace and comfort in your new life that the past did not fully allow?
Yes I am very happy. Life is just life now. It has it's ups and downs but I deal with it as it comes. It was always such a struggle for me before.

That leads me to what's next - the future!
Do you have any other archive releases planned and what might fans be in store for?

Yes believe it or not there are still more demos to be put up in the vault so please be looking for that.

My biggest hope is that you will consider some form of new/fresh recording. I hope (again) I am not being in sensitive hear, but how is your singing voice now? I am still amazed at the power you held over your career, and just hope it is not the last we hear from you!
I too would like to be able to run my studio and to be able to record the new songs I have written lately. My voice is still the same. I never had it altered surgically like some do. I would never do that. I don't sing as much as I used to though and I would most likely have to do some practicing to get back the stamina I had built up at the end. But I am still planning on someday recording those songs and putting them out.

To a few more light-hearted questions, is there one thing you have not been asked, but you wish you had been - this is your chance to ad-lib!
Laughing... No Andrew I think you have about covered it all very thoroughly indeed!!!

Marcie, is there anything you would like to add to fans reading?
Just please know that I feel your love, and your support, and your good will deeply, and that if I could be with you all I would. Thank you all so much for the caring and the giving. My life is much fuller as a result of our relationship together. May God continue to bless us all. Love, Marcie xoxoxoxoxxo




Journey (2005)


The 2005 Journey Interviews



Deen Castronovo (Drums / Vocals)

"2 weeks later we were going to do Soul SirkUS and my doctor, he prescribed me this stuff – he thought I was bi-polar. It took this stuff and was so dehydrated that it was like getting pure doses of this stuff – I had no water, no fluids and I almost died!
I was in the Emergency Room and the doctor said, well you can either go on the road and die, or you can go home and get yourself well. And I had to tell Neal this. It broke his frickin' heart. Not only that, but it broke my heart that I had to hurt him.
Because, I tell you Andrew, if it was not for Neal Schon, my career would not exist.
I would do anything for him....

....Using drugs and alcohol is definitely an instalment plan! I thank God for the guys in this band, if it is wasn't for them I'd probably be in a box six feet under."

Online Now - Read Interview.
Neal Schon (Guitars / Vocals)

"This is something I have wanted to do for a long time. It wasn't an easy situation. Management weren't totally into it, our agent was not totally into it and I think a lot of promoters were not into it. They finally came around and is said I think this is going to be really good. We have about 11,000 people the other night in Irvine, and we did 7 or 8 last night and we have 8 here tonight and we are doing great numbers playing by our self.
There was so much speculation when we did that three bill show a couple of years back with Styx and REO. REO fans were saying that Journey aren't selling any tickets, Styx management were saying they were selling all the tickets and Journey wouldn't be anything with out them. So I'm happy to be standing on our own ground here and doing well."

Online Now - Read Interview.
Jonathan Cain (Keyboards / Vocals)

"The lyrics are some of the best I have ever done. For me this is one of the best lyric sessions I have ever had, 'cause I wrote a lot. I wrote from the heart and I wrote for the fans. Faith In The Heartland is about things learnt and seen on the road.
Growing up with my kids and watching fans come to the shows – Every Generation is for me really what this band is all about. I think I hit the nail on the head with that one.

I did motivational speeches to 3000 of these kids – maybe 5 or 6 speeches. I found out who I was again – the process of going back and looking at things. I told them all that there are a series of conversations you have in your life that really matter. You really have to be in the conversation – that will make or break you. About having those moments of really shining and that only comes from being in the moment at all times. And being in the conversation and people get your meaning and you are there, wholeheartedly – not just half-hearted you know….there must have been three or four conversations I had with very important people that made or broke my career and me paying attention to what was said. And that's what I left them with."

Online Now - Read Interview.
Ross Valory (Bass / Vocals)

"The recording of Generations is some of my proudest moments. The music is strong, it's varied, it's surprisingly not necessarily what people would expect from Journey.
With the deprival of Arrival – being that nobody thoughts anything of it for whatever reason – we made a sincere and conscientious attempt at writing music that tied to our past influences and past styles. That threads, that signature…from Arrival to the songs we were most known for in the past. And it did absolutely no good. It didn't mean anything to anybody.
In spite of what I believe and what you believe, ah, were some quality songs and quality recordings representing the Journey style and all of a sudden nothing happened."

Online Now - Read Interview.
Steve Augeri (Lead Vocals)

"Deen Castronovo takes a huge workload off of me, cause quite frankly I would not be able to do four or five shows a week without Deen's help. And that is just the bottom line. Initially it was a little bizarre but as the shows progressed and I saw how things were working out…and you know, this is about a band first and foremost – I joined a band, I walked into a situation where, frankly, they were tied of a lead singer…how should I put this…as diplomatically as possible – they were trying to resume being a band as opposed to a band with a lead singer."

Online Now - Read Interview.








Freddy Curci (2005)

Freddy Curci: From Alias to Zion - The Complete Curci.



From his best known role as frontman of Alias, to his roots fronting Sheriff, through the solo years, the Alias demos and back to his new project Zion – Freddy covers it all in this new interview.


Andrew from Australia
Oh, Andrew!

How are you going?
Good, man. How are you?

Very well, thank you. I'm a few minutes late of course but at least this time I called. [Last scheduled time I forgot…Ooops]
Oh, no. Not at all. It's fine. It's only 4:15 in the afternoon.

Terrific. Have you got a moment to chat?

Fantastic. Great to talk to you after all this time.

I've been a fan since the debut, in fact. I picked that up upon release back in the day.
Oh, my gosh.

Longtime fan.
So you're calling from Australia?

I'm from Australia, indeed.
And where are you calling me from now?

I'm in the state of Tasmania right down the bottom.
Incredible. I love Australia.

Do you? Have you ever been down here?
Yes I have. I did a promotional tour with Alias down there and it was unbelievable.

Is that right? Did you really?
Yes, it was just a dream come true. We have a few fans down there and I'm excited about releasing a new record, you know?

Yes. Let's jump straight to that.

It's great that you're working on a record; it's been far too long.
Thank you.

You've been working on and off for a couple of years on this, right?
To be perfectly honest, I was sick for a year and a half.

I couldn't sing.

Oh, my God.
I had lost my voice and I thought, that's it, I'm finished, I can't sing anymore. I had kind of the same thing that Phil Collins had.

It was a viral infection. There was nothing I could do about it. I had no range. It sounded like I had a cold. If you were to hear me it sounded like I had a cold and there was absolutely nothing I could've done. It took me a year and a half to… I lost a bit of hearing in my left ear.

Wow. That's vicious.
It was a little scary but not enough for me to hamper my career or anything. I lost a bit of hearing in my left ear, but thank God my voice is back. I've been taking really good care of it. I'm singing like I was a kid again. I'm very, very pleased where I am now as far as my voice is concerned.

Do you know where you picked this up from?
No, I don't know. It's so weird. Not to compare myself to Phil Collins at all but he said that he picked it up in L.A. and that's where I live.

So it must've happened here somewhere.

So this is what, a couple of years ago then?
Yeah. It did. For a year and a half I was devastated. I thought, oh my God, there's nothing anybody can do. I went to specialist after specialist and all they wanted to do was fill me up with steroids. I said, “I don't think so.” “Well, we can't really do anything, then.” “Okay.” I just got really depressed.

As you would, yeah.
I tried to write and kept praying that one day I would be able to sing. I can sing now and I'm a happy bird.

Oh, yeah. Did the virus affect you physically otherwise like a normal cold or a virus?
Right, I just felt run down. It felt like a flu. I didn't have the strength, I couldn't do anything, I didn't want to go out. It was a terrible thing.

A year and a half flu, great. I'm just getting over one I can't kick and it's been a week!
God bless you. I hope it doesn't go any further. I hope it goes away now.

I think I should stop wincing now that I've heard that story.
Yeah <laughs>

So a couple of years ago you signed onto Frontiers for a record.

Did you get it started then before…
Yes, I did. We were into the project and going for it and doing it and everything came to an extreme halt. I didn't want to hear about anything. I couldn't proceed.

They've been terrific. They said, “Take as long as you need to get better.” I did and now I'm really excited. They've been terrific. I didn't expect it. I thought that they would be all upset but they were in my corner and incredibly supportive, you know.

Well that's great. That's all you can hope for.
And now they've promised me huge support on this record, so what else can you ask for?

Yeah, exactly. So where are you at now with the record, Freddy?
I'm pretty much done.

I've got three songs to mix and then that's it.

I'm really in a good place. I feel like my guns are loaded. It's just so much fun! <laughs>. I can't tell you. I want to let you hear songs over the phone. I'm bursting.

I bet.
I can't wait for people to hear this stuff. It's been so long.

How many tracks will be featured on the album?
Probably 11 or 12, something like that. I've got enough for a double record right now but hopefully we'll put another one on the market soon.

Gotcha. Let's talk about who's playing on the album.
Tons of people. Everybody from Joey Scoleri to Paul Marangoni… I forget who else, Jason Hooks and I hooked up recently and he's been playing on the record.

I heard about that. That's interesting.
Jason is phenomenal. He's my hero. Have you met Jason?

I haven't. I've had some email conversations with him.
He is so amazing. He's the nicest guy in the world. He's in rehearsals right now with Hillary Duff.

Next week in fact we're going to be mixing a song that we wrote together. As soon as I put up my computer I want to let you hear… I'm so stoked about this song.

That's cool. Something just clicked and I've got a much clearer phone connection with you.
Oh, is this better now?

Absolutely better.
I just changed phones.

Terrific. It's much better.
I'm in my studio now.

Fantastic. So style-wise, people aren't looking for an Audioslave record they're looking for a continuation of Alias. Is that what you're…
I don't know. It started out being a really dark murky ugly record because that's where I was.

I bet.
It was just horrible and then I literally let it go for about 6 months and didn't listen to anything and then I popped the CD in my car one day and said, “What the hell is this?”

<laughs> It was so ugly. The lyrics were about suicide and death and the whole world is going to blow up and Armageddon's here, and I'm like, “I don't think so.”

Okay. So you've left those off the record or there's a little bit of that?
Well, I don't know. There are some great songs. We've certainly got a lot to choose from, but I would like to see, for lack of a better word, an uplifting record – something that makes people feel good. Dare I say it, almost edifying?

Yeah. I think that's what people will be expecting.
That's who I really am and what I like to sing about and where I come from. It makes me happy to be able to do that and see people's reactions and stuff. Hey it makes me feel good as opposed to let's all go commit suicide.

<laughs> Well I can't blame you for singing and feeling it, that's for sure.
I guess I'm with the old school that music should be entertaining.

Here, want to listen to something?

Yes, mate. Absolutely!
Okay, hold on a second here. Hold on.

You bet.

<Freddy begins playing Andrew a song (“All It Takes Is A Minute”) from his computer>

Oh, wow. That sounds like something people are going to want to hear.
I hope so, I hope so. I'm singing good again, anyway. That's what makes me feel good.

That sounds great. You sound perfect.
That's the one that Jason and I just wrote a month ago. I'm singing good again. I'm feeling good again, and thank God I'm singing in tune! That was my biggest worry that I wouldn't be able to sing in tune. I focus and I sing with one ear off anyway.

So that's okay.

Now what was that song called?
“All It Takes Is A Minute”

Fantastic. I can tell people on my site that I heard a snippet of that and it sounded great.
Oh, cool. That was right off the multi-track.

Wow. Lots of vocals going on there in the chorus.
Yeah. I guess I'm over doing it now that I can sing again! Not to harp on the subject.

You can never overdo it. The more vocals the better.
That was 46 background vocals. All me.


Well the thing is it's a blessing and a curse. It's great to sing exactly what you want to sing, but you've got to sing so much of it to make a cut because it is all me, there aren't real different textures.

Yep. Okay.
It's all me and you've got to keep singing to make it sound full. To make it sound like 10 people you've got to do like 46 tracks of it this time. I've never appreciated music more than I do now. I'm just so enamored with this whole thing again. I don't know how to explain it. It's such a joy now to be able to so this. I guess when I was younger I took it for granted and now it's just doing music for music's sake and being really excited about whatever the record does it does. That's not important. It's out of my hands; it's out of my control. What I can do is make the best record I can and that's all that really matters now.



What a perfect place to be in, so enthusiastic and being able to promote a record, almost, you know, get it up there and make the most of that.
Well I'm sitting in my studio and, I counted, it was 17 steps from my house.

Yeah. I have a studio in my guest house and it's really state of the art. I have incredible neighbors that don't mind if I play into the wee hours of the morning. You know how neighbors complain? I've got an English couple living next to me and they say, “How lovely, we were listening to you playing the guitar last night and it was just lovely.” And I'm thinking, “Can I kiss you right now?”

You couldn't ask for better.
Yeah, it's a really, really wonderful situation to be in.

Where about in LA are you?
You wouldn't believe it; you could spit to the strip from my house. I live right up Sunset and Fairfax.

Yeah, okay.
Right where the strip starts.

I was there about 4 weeks ago.
Get out of town! Why didn't you come over?

I only had three days.
You could've taken some pictures for the article. Way to go.

I know, I know. It's terrible, isn't it? I just had so much to do in so little time.
The hotel was on Sunset and North Vermont.

Gosh, you were 10 minutes from my house.

I know. It wasn't far was it? Next time.
You could've had dinner.

Yeah, could've had dinner. Exactly.
I'm good with barbeque.

Are you? Oh, we love barbeques!
I'm good with barbeque. I'm Italian. I can whip up anything. I had my mother's – I don't know if it's a blessing or a curse – if you look in my refrigerator it looks like there's nothing there, but I can whip up a 3 course meal.

I'm hopeless like that. My wife is good like that. I'm hopeless.
It's like, “What do you want to eat?” “We've got nothing in the fridge?” “Oh yes we do.” Boom.

Brilliant. Do you know when the album will be released?
I'm hoping that it will be released in November sometime.

That's what we're shooting for.

Excellent. So you really are seriously close to finishing it.
Yeah. I truly am.
I'm mixing this song next week. I've got some odds and ends to finish. I've got a lead vocal to finish on “One Man Alone”. Just a few things to finish up and then we're out of here. I'm going to do everything I possibly can. I'm going to be doing some promotional dates in Europe.

Oh that would be great.
We spoke with Frontiers; they're really behind this record. I'm so stoked about it. I go, “I want 50 promotional dates,” he goes, “How about 5?” I said, “Done.”

You can barter up from there.
Jason's going to be touring with me.

All right.
It's going to be Jason and I and possibly one more guitar player and we don't know if it's going to be an acoustic set or a full band thing but, yeah, that would be a blast.



Let's talk about acoustic tracks and in particular, the VH-1 Metal Mania release.

I heard that a tour was being put together. So that's a go?
Yes. It's been put together; we start Oct. 8 or the 18 somewhere in America and we're going to be touring.

Wonderful. And how many dates?
I think 20 or 30 dates across America.

How did your involvement in that record come about?
I just got a call from the head of A&R who said, “We need you to do a record for this,” and I said, “Okay,” so two days later I had a record for them.

Yeah? And that was a whole new recording you did for them, wasn't it?
Absolutely. Yeah. It was weird because that was the first thing I sang that I didn't know… I kind of put myself under the gun because it was the first real thing that I sang and I didn't know if I could do it, but I did it. I figured that if there was anything I could sing in my sleep it could be that, “More Than Words Can Say.”

So when I pulled it off it gave me a ton of confidence to be able to say, “Okay I guess my voice is back.”

Yeah, it sounded great.
Thank you. That was so easy to do and a lot of people liked that vocal on that track. They say it sounds even more soulful than the original. <laughs>

It was. I liked the format. It was the perfect song to lend itself to that format.
Yeah, I dig it.

I have a buddy that was in the LA show for the live show and he said you sounded great there too.
Well thanks. The live show came off really well. I had a really wonderful time doing it and was really glad to be there. When you get to my age, being a rock star doesn't matter anymore.
All I want to do is get out there and get the music to the people. Because, let's face it, when you're in the studio it's a wonderful environment but yet it's like hell because you've got this microphone and all it's doing is sucking your soul. It's sucking every ounce of your emotional well being. And it gives nothing back.

That's an interesting take on that.
When you're live you're getting all of this incredible energy back. It's almost overwhelming. It's the first time I had played in I don't know how long. I was totally grateful for the guys I was playing with and man it couldn't sound any better. I was being taken away by the crowd. I thought the crowd was into it. They didn't know who I was originally but then you could see it in their faces, oh yeah! I think half of the girls lost their virginity to my song. They're like, “That's the guy?”

Haha…Tell me, when Alias had that – that was a massive hit, even here in Australia.
It was a #1 hit in 18 countries.

Yeah, it was a huge hit. How does, you don't have to talk details here, but how does that specifically set you up financially? Does that really do it for you?
We did okay. We were okay. There was a ton of airplay; we sold a decent amount of records, we weren't really foolish with the money. Just because I wasn't dealing with it. Thank God we had wiser heads prevailing at that point.

A lot of guys snort it or blow it, don't they?
Well, yeah. I tried my best.

Did you? <laughs> Fantastic!

I ask that because a lot of people get screwed, don't they?
I got screwed in Sheriff. I never saw a penny in Sheriff.

Really? That's just sad isn't it?
I equate stories by bottles of wine and that's a 4 bottle of wine story.

Really? <laughs> That doesn't sound too good.
It's really a sad story. It's so typical of rock and roll bands or all those bands that come and go it's such a shame. I know for a fact that the bass player and the drummer in Sheriff are working in factories and whatever money they would've received from Sheriff would've been a windfall. The last I hear, the drummer from Sheriff was living in a, how do I say this, a bit of a ghetto.

Yeah. That is really…
And we're still fighting. It's been 15 years of lawsuits.

Really? And you're still going.
And I don't want to tell you how much money we've spent. Oh, I don't care, I'll tell you, we've spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars on lawsuits. All I know is that there is a God because when there had to be money for a lawsuit, boom, here's Alias with this hit and we were able to afford the lawsuit. It's not about the money, it's about doing what's right. Sometimes you've got to do what's right in spite of the money.

Who are you fighting? The record label?
In a sense, we're fighting the publishing company.

Which is the keyboard player that was in Sheriff and the keyboard player's cousin that was in Sheriff.

Oh, dear. Never bring family in to it.
What are you going to do? It's been 15 years and it's sad because we never made any money when we were in the band. We could've had a wonderful situation after the band and it's just sad. How can you not take it personally?

I would. Absolutely. Sheriff still receives good airplay in Canada, I'm sure.
I guess. I hope so, yeah. I wouldn't know.
And the scary part is, Sheriff, the lawsuit that we filed, we won in 1995.

We won two subsequent appeals and they're still smoke and mirrors. Stuff like they keep changing the bank account every month because we've garnished the wages.

That sucks.
It's been…it just really sucks. It's stupid, you know. It would be really wonderful if we just got it all over with and could move on. Well, there you go. There's my Sheriff story.

I feel like a drink after that.
Yeah, I feel like having a shower.

Absolutely. But Alias was obviously a better deal for you and that went well.
Oh, yeah. Alias was amazing.

Do you keep in touch with the guys?
Yes, I do. Steve and I spoke yesterday for 3 hours Steve DeMarchi and myself. I spoke to Steve Fossen about two weeks ago and he updated me on the other two guys and if this tour goes to Seattle I'm going to get them to come up onstage.

That's cool.
We're still friends. They're wonderful guys, great musicians. Mr. Derosier is still the loudest drummer I've ever played with.

Poor drums. He had to change heads every gig – boom, whap, boom! I felt so sorry for those drums.

Alias was a pretty rocking band.
The band was the best band I was ever in.

A lot of people will only know you for the ballads, from radio play, but you were a pretty rocking band.
It was such a small part of the band.

A lot of bands have fallen into that trap. I don't regret having the hits. How many people have had two #1 records in their lives? I just wish that more people would've seen the band rock live because we were amazing. We were really amazing.

Is there any live recordings or radio shows?
Yes! We did a live show… yes we do as a matter of fact.

I'd love to hear some of that.
I'm thinking of perhaps convincing the record company to release that.

Oh, I think they'd be there in a second.
We've become old enough now that we've become nostalgically hip if that means anything.

Absolutely. I've seen the 2 video clips off of the album, which I thought were great, but I've never seen or heard anything live.
The band was… the Heart guys knew what they were doing, Steve and I knew what we were doing. When we were up there, nothing mattered. We didn't' care about anything. It was like a punk attitude with melodic songs.

We would go and I would look at whoever and go, “Go do a solo. I've got to go have a drink.” <laughs> It was fun, we would react to the audience. It wasn't staged in any way. We would talk to the audience. It was really the best band. When you get a bunch of people up there who really love performing. The bigger the crowd, the better. Actually sometimes the small crowds were great too. After the show we would go jam at some bars and that was a blast too.

That's fantastic.
I'm really looking forward to actually touring. Hopefully I'd like to be touring non-stop for a while. I want to sing now. I can!

That VH-1 thing is a good leg up, isn't it?
Yeah, I'm really grateful for that again.

Do you see Alias touring or recording or getting back together?
That would be my dream. If we could get together somehow…It's just a matter of logistically getting it all together. Me, I can't even get out of bed. I'm not a very organized person. <laughs>

I can sympathize. <laughs>
Somebody's got to step in and go, “Okay, guys, this is what we're doing.” “Okay.” So hopefully that will happen.

That's cool.
Maybe Sarafino will go, “Okay, guys.”

Well, I will pass that on to him. I've got to ask you, Freddy, about the… I don't even know if it is officially the 2nd Alias album, but the tracks have been bootlegged the hell everywhere.
Oh, the bootleg?

I don't know how that happened.

Some company in Sweden put out a 10 track…
They're not even mixed!

They're not even mixed, they were just roughs of some stuff we were recording and it got out somehow.

Right. Personally, I've got 14 tracks.
Wow. I don't know how that got out. I have no idea how that got out.

Was that something you were working on at the time?
That's what we were working on at the time as a 2nd Alias record.

Did that just get swept aside because of the usual label bullshit?
You got it. I don't know how that happened.

You're re-recording a couple of tracks for Zion, right?
I am. Yes.

That's cool.
One is “How Much Longer is Forever” and I can't remember the other track.

Was it “Heat of the Night”?
Oh, “In the Heat of the Night” has never been released and nobody has ever heard it. It's a track that I wrote with Jim Vallance.

I think I've heard it.
No way!

Has Sarafino let you hear it?

No, I think it's part of the original trade thing that got traded.
No. I don't think so. I saw that record. “In the Heat of the Night” is this song here… hold on a second… Let me find it.

I swear I think I heard it because I was talking to Jim Vallance once because I got a hold of him via email.
And you've heard that song, huh?

I sure have, yeah.
Well there you go.

I don't think it's one of the ones being widely traded or whatever, you know.
That's interesting.

These ones have been traded are crappy quality anyway. I even featured a couple on my site, forgive me, but…
Wow. There you go. Well, “In The Heat of the Night” is a smash song and if it got out, what are you going to do?

Well, I'm really pleased that you're doing it properly now.
Yeah, it's going to be a good version. I love Jim. Jim's got the best work ethic.

I have enjoyed e-mailing him.
Yeah, he's the most amazing writer. I don't know where he gets his ideas, but I just thank God for them.

Yeah. I'm a big fan of the stuff he works with. He seems to bring out the best in artists.
I don't know. He's just an amazing man and an amazing writer. Just a lovely guy. I could never say enough wonderful things about the guy because he's just… he's that one in a million that somehow I had an opportunity to write with the guy and I'll never forget it. I'm very pleased with that. Hopefully one day I'll be able to do it again.

That's good.
He's just so amazing. You know, then you understand why he's had all of these amazing hits. You think, “How can he do that?” Just amazing. We wrote two or three songs together and they're all amazing.

How many songs did you write together?
Either two or three.

And where are the other two? Have they been demo'd or recorded?
Oh, yeah. A song called “Believe Me”, that's a really good, that's like a shuffle, it's really cool. Maybe it was just two, I don't remember.

He's doing a web site where he's doing a history of every track he's ever written.
Has he? It'd have to be a pretty big book.

I know. This is two years ago and he goes, “I'll let you know when it's finished,” and he still hasn't emailed me.
God bless him.

Yeah, he's a nice guy.
His work ethic, he knows how to caress a song. He knows how to get the best out of whoever he's working with. I can't say enough about the guy.

There's some people who I work with that just… I guess I'm too old now to have an ego now but some people still have egos and I'm like, “Oh, shut up. Come on.” My father has this saying, “Even the Queen has to go to the bathroom.”

So let's make it real here.

You're in the wrong business not to deal with egos.
Well, yeah. What do they say, “How does a lead singer change a light bulb? He just stands there while the world revolves around him.”

I like that. <laughs>
How true.





Yep. I'm also a fan of your solo album.
Oh, Dreamer's Road. Well thank you very much!

That was a really nice album.
Thank you. Thank you very much. It was supposed to be a 2nd Alias album.

Again. It was supposed to be a 2nd Alias album but we had to make a bunch of changes because the record company said, “Well, rock isn't happening anymore so we want to do a Freddy Curci solo album.” “What? Okay”.

That was good of them.
But, we pulled up our socks and tried to do the best job we can. It is all music after all.

Well, it was great, a little more relaxed; it was a nice sort of laid back record. I really like it.
What a band I had for that record!

Yeah, because you had Steve on there as well, didn't you?
Yeah, Steve DeMarchi, he's my champion, always will be, but aside from Steve there was Abraham Laboriel played bass, I had Carlos Vega playing drums, I had Debra Dobkin playing keyboard, I had Kevin Savigar playing keyboards again.

Oh, wow.
I just had this incredible studio band that were all so amazing and then I had Marco Mendoza playing bass; you know Marco.

Oh, Marco. I met him in the UK last month. He headlined the festival.
Marco. We spent months together working on that record.

And Larry Aberman playing drums. If you look, all the 6 string fret lists… it's Marco.

That's great.
In fact, on that bootleg, that's all Marco.

Is it really?

I never knew that.
Yeah, you've got to hear some of the stuff though. He gets a little funky on... There's a song called “Love is a Jungle”. You've got to hear Marco just wail on that.

I'm going to dig it out and play it in a minute.
Marco's all over the place on that. Larry Aberman is playing drums all over that stuff. Larry Aberman was the guy who replaced the drummer… remember when the original drummer in Foreigner left?

Larry was the guy who took his place.

So I had all of these incredible musicians to play with. Robert O'Hearn played on some of this record, so it was like my dream band. Plus Steve, you know.

That was a really joyful experience after spinning our wheels with Alias. But I'd love to do one more Alias record.

It was a pleasure, pleasure speaking to you.

You too, Freddy.
This was the most un-interview interview I've ever done.

I know. Sometimes I tend to get a little bit laid back and tend to just chat through it!
That's the way it should be.

Completely informal. I probably told you more than I intended <Laughs>.

Yeah, I charm it out of you. I ooze it out of you.
Well, you're a charming man, what can I say.

Well we've got each others' e-mail addresses, let's keep in touch.

Thanks, Freddy!
I'll talk to you soon!

A pleasure talking to you, mate.
You too.




Troy Lucketta (2005)

Troy Lucketta: Tesla strip it back one more time.
Another interview from Ron & Don Higgins. Again, a little late getting online, so apologies again. Troy talks about the just passed tesla acoustic tour and what's next for the band.

Ron: First I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk with us. I know you guys are busy with kicking off the new tour so probably the best thing to ask is, you kicked it off last night, right? How did the show go last night?
Troy: I guess it was good. I mean it's hard you know, it's such a different experience than the electric experience, you know, the acoustic thing is obviously a different experience for the Tesla people.

Ron: Was it a pretty big crowd?
I think the place only held about 800 people.

Ron: Oh, OK, so an intimate…
Troy: It was sold out. In a situation…I mean we just decided on this tour that, because when you tour a lot and you play a lot of the same songs, you only have an hour to play, which was our case when we were touring with the Scorpions, and you know, we just, I don't know, personally, speaking for myself I've always kind of got burned out just playing the same tunes you know.

Ron: Sure.
Troy: Even with the new record out you know. But when we first…when the record first came out we were playing like 8-9 songs off of the record. We'd go out and play for an hour and a half, an hour and 45 minutes, and it was cool.

Ron: Right.
Troy: But then the last couple of months when we were on with the Scorpions, we ended up with just an hour show.

Ron: OK.
Don: And you had to play all the songs that everyone expected you to play.
Troy: It was the same set every night. It just got kind of old. We were all in the mind-frame, same mind-frame, mind you, of for this tour we have a list of about 30–40 songs. We're changing it every night.

Ron: Oh great.
Troy: Nothing's really that rehearsed (laughs).

Ron: Yeah.
Troy: Which is kind of cool.

Ron: That is cool.
Troy: We're doing 2 hours.

Ron: Wow!
Troy: We're doing a two hour show so it's kind of exciting. So I mean yeah, last night was the first show, you asked me how it went, to answer the question it's kind of like, I think it went well. People I talked to really enjoyed it. For me it's kind of like, you know, we're just kind of getting in the groove. And maybe we'll never get completely in the groove if we constantly keep changing things. I think that would be kind of exciting.

Ron: Yeah that keeps you kind of fresh. I guess in this day and age it's kind of sad when you're getting ready to go to a concert and you go to the internet and find out the exact set list, what order it's going to be played in and it's such a recipe.
Troy: Right.

Ron: It's nice when…
Troy: Unfortunately it is that and with the internet accessibility, you know there's really no surprise. And that's the drag.

Ron: Right, that's true.
Troy: But on the other hand we just decided to, I guess because of that. You know, that's what we had talked about doing all week so tomorrow's the second show. Now I hope there's a lot of different songs tomorrow night.

Ron: Great!
Troy: I'm hoping that will be the case.

Don: So when do you come up… you guys just kind of do it like right when you all get at the show, getting close to show time, you guys go over which songs you're going to throw in that night?
Troy: I left it up to Jeff and Frank, you know, because they put the set list together. Like last night they go, so what do you guys want to play? I said, “Whatever you guys write down I'll play”.

Ron: Right. Sure.
Troy: So I don't know. We'll see. We'll see how it goes, but I think it's a good thing.

Ron: Yeah, well we're talking about the internet and one of the cool things that I saw on your website was that you are using the internet as a way to allow fans to pick a variety of the songs. I think it had 10 or 11 songs on there that basically allowed fans to pick which 5 they wanted to hear.
Troy: I think every song they pick we're playing (laughs).

Ron: Really!
Don: So everyone's happy.
Troy: Yeah because our manager told us about that list so I think we're playing at least 95% of them (laughs).

Ron: Well it's cool because the list was actually some of the more obscure type stuff. I don't know if I want to call it obscure but you know, there were at least 4 songs off of Bust a Nut, which is one of my favorite albums.
Troy: Yeah, we never perform songs off of that record for whatever reason. I don't know but… Yeah like last night, I know we did “Shine Away”.

Ron: Yeah, that's a great song.
Troy: A few other ones. I forget, I don't even remember.

Ron: Well you guys were actually in Cincinnati not that long ago before the Scorpions tour and you were playing at the same place you're coming back to in March, but I was pleasantly shocked when I think the second song of the night, you guys played “Solution” off of Bust a Nut which is probably my favorite Tesla song.
Troy: Right.

Ron: Is that still in your set list? I don't know how it would work acoustically.
Troy: You know what. It didn't make the set list but you know, maybe I'll mention it tomorrow and we might be able to throw it in.

Ron: Yeah, I mean it's a great song, but how it would translate acoustically I'm not sure but…
Troy: You know, some of them are cooler than others, I think the coolest thing about the acoustic set is when you can take it and make it, you know, more obscure. Really change the tunes up but some of the songs we're just playing acoustically and I try to approach things a little differently but sometimes they're just songs in an acoustic setting.
I prefer to get a little more creative with them myself.

Don: That always makes it a little more fun.
Troy: So maybe you would take a song like “Solution” for example, maybe, I know it's a little more up-tempo, because, it kind of seems like we almost need more up-tempo tunes anyway.

Ron: Really?
Troy: So many slow songs. But maybe you find a different way to approach it.

Ron: Well put a note in that Ron from Cincinnati, wants you to include it in your Cincinnati set list, how about that (laughs)?
Troy: I'll try to get it.

Don: That gives you two weeks to get it worked out.
Ron: Yeah, you're only obligated for one show (laughs).
Troy: It's not hard to work out it's like, we'll sit down, we'll go through it at the sound check and it's done.

Ron: Oh wow! That's great!
Troy: We don't really spend a whole lot of time working on anything.

Ron: That keeps it fresh. I guess you can kind of over-rehearse stuff at times.
Troy: Yeah, well absolutely. We're not a band that really rehearses a lot. Our rehearsals come together pretty quickly. Like for this 2-hour set, we had like 3 rehearsals.

Ron: Wow!
Troy: And we never went through the set. Just worked on some of the obscure tunes that we haven't played in a while. You know, go through them a couple of times. Most of the rehearsals it seemed like we were having meetings more than rehearsal.

Don: I think that just comes down to good musicianship.
Troy: Yeah, the band's very capable.

Don: Yeah, you're capable of doing that.
Troy: It's really not rocket science. The stuff's really pretty simple to be quite honest with you.

Ron: Well the thing is too, it is rock and roll and when you're playing the stuff it just sounds great when you're not so rehearsed, when you're just kind of doing things on the fly.
Don: You can change things up a little bit and if you make a mistake here and there, you know what I mean?
Troy: Yeah like last night there were a few for sure.

Don: Why don't we start asking a few of the questions we had written down before we get too far off the mark there.
Ron: Well I was just kind of curious, one of the things was, the show last night, what song did you guys start off with?
Troy: “Into the Now”.

Ron: Oh that's great! I think that's what you kicked off with when you were here before.
Troy: I hope that opening number changes every night.

Ron: Oh really?
Troy: I hope so, you know, I would like to see…I'd like to just see it be a different show every night.

Ron: That'd be cool.
Troy: That's what it's supposed to be so I'm going to call the band on it tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

Don: If they don't get it by the second night, you're in trouble (joking). You'll have to start mixing it up right off the bat.
Troy: I mean why?… I don't want to open the show tomorrow with that. We already did that. I mean you figure, there's twenty dates on this tour, there's really no reason why you can't keep changing it.

Don: Right.
Ron: How many days did you say, twenty?
Troy: I think on this leg … this month.

Ron: How long do you see this tour going?
Troy: Well, there's 2 legs of the acoustic tour, we'll go home for a month, then we'll start back up for another month. That will be the 2nd leg, forty dates. There might be a third leg to it, then there's other summer shows that we'll be going back to electric and stuff.

Ron: Oh, OK.
Don: It's very popular for a lot of bands…, the summer tours seem to do pretty well and several bands kind of hook together and play some of the bigger outdoor arenas and that kind of stuff. So we'll definitely keep an eye on if you guys hook up with something like that. Those are always fun. I guess as far as the acoustic tour, one question that I had was, whose idea was it to do this acoustic tour after so many years?
Troy: I think the talk was… Basically we had a record that worked, and a lot of the markets we had just played and we didn't want to go back into them electrically. So it's the 15th year anniversary of the Five Man Acoustical Jam and we never ever toured on that record so that's kind of how it came up.

Don: OK. That makes sense.
Ron: Seems like a good time to do it too.
Troy: Yeah, I mean you know what? We've never toured on it. We're doing it, we'll see if people like it, you know. We'll play, I mean we played for 2 hours and it really went by quickly for me last night. I thought, I could play another 10 songs (laughs).

Ron: Well, I'm sure your fans would have stayed (laughs).
Troy: Yeah.

Ron: Well that's great though, I mean, obviously you guys were having fun.
Troy: Yeah.

Don: Well again, like you said, you didn't tour the last time but you did obviously get a single out there that did pretty well. Any talk or chance of taking a song from this current tour and maybe putting a single out there?
Troy: “What a Shame” came out this week, so we'll see how that does. For this next thing, you know, I imagine we'll record a covers record. There's a few things we're going to do so we're going to be creative and get some stuff out there. I really don't know though, to be specific.

Don: OK.
Ron: You guys are going to do a covers record though?
Troy: I think we are.

Ron: Oh, that's cool. There are a lot of people doing that, in fact I think Def Leppard are…
Troy: We've always wanted to do it and then that got brought up at rehearsal. Frank didn't want to do it because everybody else was doing it. We've always wanted to do it so who cares what everybody else is doing. Everybody else is touring.

Ron: Right. Right. Well the other thing is, you know, in your live shows you guys have always included a lot of cool cover tunes. Some Beetles and Stones and things like that so it kind of makes sense.
Troy: Yeah, we're going to… I don't know. It'll be whatever it'll be. I have no idea what's going to end up on the record.

Ron: Yeah.
Troy: Whatever it is, I hope we record it really quickly. Then it's just kind of done. Don't make a big production out of it.

Ron: Right! Would that be the next…Is that the plans for the next thing that comes… that you guys release? Or are you guys talking about a new studio album?
Troy: Well we're not talking about a studio album as of yet.

Don: Yeah, see how things go.
Troy: There will be a studio album at some point, but when, I don't know.

Ron: Gotcha.
Don: OK.
Ron: Well we're just glad that you guys are back together and releasing new material. You know, Into the Now is as good as anything that you guys have done. I mean, it's great stuff. It's a shame that we're in the sort of musical environment we're in where you've got Ashley Simpson playing every 10 minutes on radio and everywhere and good music is… you know.
Troy: Well, you know, I mean, it's just part of the times. If you look at, you know, over the years, every decade there's always something, some kind of change. Sometimes things come back in cycles, you know. It seems like the rock market is coming back. Look what's happening, I don't know if you're hip to what's happening to Motley Crue right now.

Ron: Oh Yeah, absolutely.
Troy: They're selling… they're kicking ass. That's kind of exciting you know especially… That excites me to know that they're out there doing well and that tour is going to be a complete success.

Don: One big question I really had is, obviously coming up later this month you guys are going to be doing the Wake Up To Love benefit concert for the victims of the fire in Rhode Island and I was just curious how Tesla became associated with that whole thing?
Troy: Well, there's a place called The Strand. There was. I don't know if you're hip to it, a club out there in Providence, we played there last year.

Don: OK.
Troy: And some of the survivors had come down. I know there was a few people…I shook hands with a few people.

Don: Oh Yeah?
Troy: Didn't really get to talk to people at length or anything but there was a package from The Statio… in any rate, it sat on the bus for a few days and so I finally picked it up and looked at it and went through it. And somebody we had lost in the fire, a guy by the name of Jeff Raider who was a personal… he was basically our personal assistant for the band.

Ron: Oh wow.
Troy: Wrong place, wrong time kind of thing.

Ron: Yeah.
Troy: But any rate, so I was just thinking, hmm. I'm going to buy a bunch of guitars and call them up and get them signed and send them to them and see if we can raise some extra money. So I got in touch with them, and Todd King, the vice president called me back. I was so impressed with their organization. Every dollar that they raise goes to exactly what they say it's going to go to.

Ron: Yeah, that's great.
Troy: They pay for their own postage out of their own pockets, I mean their story's really impressive. What they've done. No help from the federal or state. So at any rate, we were talking and they were talking about the second year anniversary coming up, February 20th, and this was six months ago so I don't know. I was talking to Todd, I think what I said was, 'Hey, can I call you back in 20 minutes?' He goes, oh sure. So I hung up, I just called all the band members. I think I called Jeff and said, “hey what do you say we do a concert for these guys, you know? Nobody's done anything.” He just said yes, automatically. I called Brian, it was the same response.

Ron: Wow!
Troy: Same response and that was how we got involved. The Wake Up To Love foundation is just something I started, for hope, you know. I mean we can get involved with things.

Ron: Wow that's great! So you actually created this foundation?
Troy: So we're going to do what we're doing. We're going to do concerts for the Station Family Fund every year.

Ron: That's great!
Troy: I don't mean Tesla, I mean the Wake Up To Love foundation.

Ron: Right.
Troy: It's great because now it's kind of given us some credibility too, because myself and Todd King, you know, we started working with WHJY but we put the show together. And it was very exciting to know that, you know, just from one musician talking to another you can do these kinds of things. And that's all I did. I called Carmine and I think he called Pat Travers. You know I went and saw the Shinedown guys and went and talked to all of them and then we also had WHJY, Scott Ladonie was also working on the Shinedown thing and finally it got confirmed you know.

Ron: Wow.
Troy: And that's how it came together.

Ron: Well that's great!
Troy: It's really exciting to know that that show will be a success. It will be a pretty emotional night for a lot of people you know.

Ron: Sure.
Troy: Hopefully you can bring…not only raise some money, but bring healing back to a community that truly needs it, you know.

Ron: Yeah, no kidding.
Troy: Because it's like, you know, it's almost like it just got forgotten about.

Ron: You could say that again.
Troy: That's just kind of what I felt and I heard, so I'm hoping we can continue to make a difference for years to come down the road.

Ron: I think that's great. I'm glad someone's doing it because I've got to tell you, I remember two years ago when I heard about it… you know I go to a lot of bars like that to see bands like yours and Great White and it just… I kept thinking, wow, that just so easily could have been me and I think within a week were the Grammy Awards and not one mention was made. And in Cincinnati we had the Who concert tragedy where, you know, eleven people were killed back in '79 and they still talk about it. You still can't have festival seating in Cincinnati, Ohio. And it was such a big deal but then you think about Rhode Island where a hundred people lost their lives and most of the musical community just kind of ignored it aside from this genre.
Don: It was a very sensational story for a few weeks after it happened.
Troy: Yeah.

Don: People who were into rock music or 80s music, a lot of people probably remember it more so because they've probably been fans of Great White or have been to some smaller clubs like that. But it's good to give a little more exposure and it's good to see the line up you guys got. You guys, Tesla, a big band that's been around for a while, then you've got Shinedown, a newer band and then you throw in Vanilla Fudge, that classic sound. That's just great.
Troy: What I've learned from this is, it's no big deal for us as musicians to say yes. That's all it takes. That's all it took. All I had to do was pick up the phone. Now if I would have went through management, it would have been a different story. But I didn't call our manager. I called the band. I personally have made some phone calls. I sent Kid Rock an email. He had his manager call me back. And I was just disappointed that he didn't pick up the phone and call me himself. I mean, if he's busy or can't make it, that's fine but it seems like when we're all in this together, part of the political situation, and I don't want to knock Kid Rock for the choice that he made. Maybe for whatever reason he didn't want to make the call. But the fact of the matter is, if he had, maybe just by our conversation, maybe he would be playing.

Ron: Right.
Troy: Because maybe there would have been a sense of understanding or just talking, I mean, you know, when you start calling, reaching out, you know, there was a lot of people I called. I had to start calling management people. And when I started doing that I got discouraged. And I just thought, well, I'm not going to do that. I'm just going to stick with calling one musician to another because that's what makes it happen.

Ron: And it looks like it did.
Troy: I know it's a big deal for them. And it's a big deal for us to be a part of it. It's more of an honor to be a part of something like that and to give than obviously to be on the receiving end of that.

Ron: Sure.
Troy: Those people have had their lives completely altered.

Don: Yeah.
Troy: You know, the kids that have no parents, that lost both their parents.

Ron: Wow, yeah.
Troy: People like Donovan Williams, Gina Russo who've been so burnt up by the fire and their lives are forever changed.

Don: I think just about everybody in that bar…
Troy: Those are situations, you know, I mean, I'm not dealing with that. I'm sitting in a nice hotel right now, you know. I'm going to play a great show tomorrow, you know. God willing. But you know, I mean, I don't really have any problems. So what's the big deal, of course I can go…I can jump on a plane and fly across the U.S. to help any body that needs help. Period.

Ron: That's great.
Troy: That's just my attitude.

Ron: That's an awesome attitude.
Troy: I don't think we're doing that big a thing, but I know it's a big thing and I'm hoping that it will turn into a big thing once other people become involved. That's my hopes and dreams. I'm not interested in the press that comes from doing something like this. Because I have the Wake Up to Love Foundation, because it gives us some credibility of what we're all about and what it is we want to do.

Ron: Sure.
Troy: But, you know.

Don: Well sometimes it's just the little things that someone does that makes a big difference in someone else's life.
Troy: Like I said, we just have to keep things in proper perspective. But if we can be the first band to say yes and maybe other people jump on board then that's awesome.

Ron: That's great.
Don: Are you still making room for some other people to possibly join up with it? Or are you pretty much set with what you have right now?
Troy: Because the show's Friday…

Don: That's right. This month is going by way too fast!
Troy: The show is definitely set for this week. It's a done deal. But there's next year. I mean I'm going to start working on that right after this week.

Don: That's a great idea.
Ron: So you want to take this foundation and do more similar concerts but for different…
Troy: Yeah, Wake Up to Love Foundation will hopefully be operating in a lot of different avenues/venues. From animals to whatever.

Ron: Oh, that's great.
Troy: Maybe some kid that just needs a transplant of some sort.

Ron OK.
Troy: Whatever, you know?

Ron: Do you guys have a separate web site for that foundation?
Don: Oh yeah.
Ron: I'm sure you…
Troy. Wakeuptolove.com

Ron: Wakeuptolove.com. That's cool.
Troy: And if you go there, you'll see a picture of … the Wake Up To Love… the gal you talked to was my wife. You'll see a picture of her, myself and Skylar if you click on the About Us. It talks about what we're doing.

Ron: Oh, OK.
Troy: But yeah, that's just something…we've adapted the Station Family Fund so we're going to continue to do those concerts.

Ron: Gotcha. Well that's great and I like that you're doing a great thing but you've got plans to do even more great things. And that's just wonderful.
Troy: I mean really, it's like, I don't know what else to do with my life. You know, I mean I've had a lot of great success, you know, playing. I have my health, you know. I have a family. I have a two-year-old now. If I'm going to come out here and play music, which what we do is very self-serving, and we bring music to people, people enjoy it and that's wonderful. I'm just saying it's a very self-centered lifestyle so to speak.

Ron: Sure.
Troy: Just ask all of the wives that are sitting there.

Ron: Yeah, right (laughing).
Troy: My point being, I have my family with me, my point is to take it and do something with it. My voice is much louder in Tesla than not being in Tesla so if I can use that voice for something, I might as well use it for something positive and try and do something with it. And I enjoy it, you know.

Ron: That is awesome.
Troy: I'm having fun. I mean, I love people, I like doing things. Hopefully we'll make a difference somewhere.

Ron: Well that is fantastic.
Don: I think you definitely will. I think, like you said, the good songs you've put out have made a difference in peoples lives just by giving them joy to hear music, but then to take it one step further and do something like this is… again, you can be touching additional lives and every one you touch, they'll remember that and…
Troy: And it's nice to have people like yourselves call up, and all the support that we get because it's people like you that bring it to the people. You get a story, then you get to share it. You're doing your part and that's cool.

Ron: That's a cool way to look at it. Thanks. So you have a two-year-old, is that what you said?
Troy: Yeah.

Ron: Is that your only one? Just the two-year-old?
Troy: I have a son who's 22. I'm recently remarried and we're traveling as a family together.

Ron: Well that's really neat.
Troy: It's challenging but we do OK.

Ron: Well hopefully your two-year-old didn't wake you up by vomiting on you like my two-year-old did this morning (laughs).
Troy: Not today. Probably tomorrow, man.

Ron: I will never complain about an alarm clock again. I always said, I hate waking up to an alarm clock. Alarm clocks aren't so bad I'm finding out.
Troy: I guess if you woke up to vomit, you truly did wake up to love!

Ron: Yeah, exactly (laughing). That's life with kids, I've got three of them and he's the last one so what are you going to do? They're a blast. They help keep you grounded, that's for sure.
Don: When I called in Troy, I was talking to your wife to get this interview set up, I could hear your two-year-old in the background, you know, being noisy, running around and she was being apologetic, saying, “I'm sorry.” I was like, “No need. I've got a three-year-old and a seven-year-old and you don't have to apologize. I know what it's like!”
Troy: When you have kids, you certainly understand. When you don't have kids, some people can't relate. And I can understand that. It's just kind of annoying or a nuisance to them, you know. When you have kids, it's not that way.

Ron: Yeah, when you go to a restaurant and you kid's acting up, you look around, the people that aren't fazed are the ones that have kids and the people that are offended are the ones that don't. It's kind of funny.
Don: They'll learn. In time.
Ron: That's cool that you're bringing your whole family with you. I mean, I think that's a great thing to hear too.
Troy: You're going to be in Cincinnati you said?

Ron: Yeah.
Troy: We'll see you there, I'm sure.

Ron: Sure, yeah. We'll be there. I think it's in mid-March and it's the same place you guys played back before the tour with the Scorpions so I think there's a pretty good fan base here in Cincinnati. So we look forward to seeing you.

Don: I think you've pretty much answered most of the stuff. We just really wanted to talk a little bit about your upcoming tour, the acoustic tour, how it came about; your plans for the future; and The Wake Up to Love Foundation. So you've pretty much answered the questions that we were hoping for. The only other question I've got, and this is strictly a personal one, as a fan of drummers, I've got a set downstairs, my three-year-old plays it much more than I do, but for you being a drummer, I was just curious if you could tell who some of your influences were as a drummer, or who are some of your contemporary drummers that you really respect and enjoy listening to now?
Troy: Well, over the years I've probably listened to just about everybody. I grew up with a lot of the seventies drummers, you know, Bonham, Ian Pace from Deep Purple. And as I would go through…Simon Kirk from Bad Company, and then times would change. There was a guy names Mark Crane who I listened to a lot with a record called “Brother to Brother” by Gino Vanelli. You've probably never heard of that. And then there's Steve Smith.

Ron: Journey, yeah.
Troy: And then David Derabomby from Power Powers, Steve Gat, Jeff Porcaro.

Don: He's good. From Toto.
Ron: That's cool.
Don: Like I said, it was a little off the topic from everything else, but like I said, I sometimes like to get a musician on the phone and it's fun to hear a little bit about their influences, you know, … to relate it to the music that you created over the years. Sort of a selfish question on my part but thanks for answering.
Troy: OK man. I look forward to seeing you guys in Cincinnati.

Don: We'll let you get off the phone here and we appreciate you talking with us. It was a lot of fun and we will get some stuff together and get it on the website so we can send it out to the world.
Troy: Thank you man.

Ron: You take care, have a good show tomorrow and we'll see you in Cincinnati. Take care Troy.


Mark Kendall (2005)

Mark Kendall: The man behind Great White steps out on his own.



Shame on me for not getting this posted online sooner, but here it is. Being that it's an enjoyable and not overly time-sensitive interview, I think fans will still get a lot from it. This time however, it's not me doing the interview, but rather my Ohio buds Ron and Don Higgins, who help out transcribing interviews for the site. Their turn to sit down and chat away to one of the great guitarists from the last 20 years.



Mark Kendall Interview (Date 3/3/05)

Mark: We were going to a dinner and then we cancelled it and now I'm home. We were going to go with Joe, my singer, but they cancelled so we cancelled too.

Ron: That's cool.
Don: Not a big deal at all.
Ron: Every time we do one of these interviews something happens, so that's just par for the course. So that's great.
Mark: <Laughs>

Ron: I explained to him, Don, about Melodicrock and that we're taping the interview, we're going to transcribe it and then have Andrew post it to the site.
Mark: It's a cool site. I actually went to it to check it out and it's pretty happening. I like it.

Ron: So we said, “Why don't you let us do a couple of these interviews now?” and he said, “Sure.” So now we've done a host of them. In fact, we just talked with Troy Lucketta from Tesla last week.
Mark: Excellent, man.

Ron: They were getting ready to do that benefit show up in Rhode Island.
Mark: Oh, cool. Did Tesla do theirs?

Ron: Yeah, Tesla. They were doing that Wake Up To Love thing.
Mark: Yeah, I heard they did one.

Don: Wake Up To Love is the Foundation that Troy is involved with and in cooperation with the Station Family Fund. They did a concert where Tesla performed and Shinedown and some members of Vanilla Fudge -- Carmine Appice and Pat Travers. It was on Feb. 25, I believe.
Mark: Yeah, I'm supposed to call Troy but I haven't called him yet.

Ron: The night we talked to him was a few days before the benefit concert and the night after Tesla kicked off their new acoustic tour.
Mark: Oh, okay.

Ron: So that was pretty cool, he was giving us some info about that.
Mark: Yeah, those guys are great.

Ron: Yeah, they really are. They're going to be in town here in a couple of weeks. We're calling by the way from Cincinnati, Ohio.
Mark: Oh, okay.

Ron: Which is kind of funny because we just heard you on our local radio station yesterday.
Mark: Oh, really?

Ron: Yeah, you had called in to WEBN.
Mark: Oh, yeah!

Ron: And talked to Mr. K and Wendy.
Mark: What a trip. It's freaky because it's a total coincidence because that's something that my publicist got.

Ron: Is that what it was?
Mark: Yeah, and I hooked up with you guys through Todd. That's just a freak thing.

Ron: Imagine, we're sitting there, we knew that this – this was yesterday – and we knew that we were going to be talking with you tonight and we're listening to that show and they say, “We're going to be talking with Mark Kendall,” and I'm going, “No, way.”
Mark: That's so weird.

Ron: It was a riot but it was so cool because they did play one of the new tracks off of your new solo album, which I thought was cool.
Mark: Oh, cool.

Ron: They played “Hail To The Kitty”
Mark: Oh, “Hail To The Kitty”. Okay.

Ron: Yeah. So that was kind of cool that they did that.
Mark: Did you guys get a copy of the album?

Ron: No, we didn't but I'll tell you what we did, both of us, we went out to cdbaby.com, which is where you can buy it and they've' got some pretty lengthy sound clips of everything.
Mark: Okay, good.

Ron: So we listened to every one of them and I think got a pretty good feel for most of the album.
Mark: There's supposed to be a tape on the way. I thought it was going to be overnighted.

Ron: Well, they might've sent it to Andrew. I don't know because we did this with Todd, not through a publicist.
Mark: Got it. I know what you mean.

Ron: I had asked Todd when he set it up if he had a copy of it and he didn't say whether or not he did, and Andrew is down in Australia.
Mark: Well before you guys go, I'll get your information and… do I have your address in any of the emails, or no?

Ron: Probably not, but I can just send it to you. I've still got your email obviously.
Mark: Yeah, just email me your address and I'll make sure you guys get a copy.

Ron: That's great.
Don: That's cool.
Ron: It's funny because Todd highly recommended it. I think his quote was, “The guy sings as well as he plays guitar.”
Mark: <laughs>

Ron: I'm thinking, “Well, the guy can play a guitar so…!”
Mark: Awesome

Ron: But I didn't know what to expect. Of course, what am I expecting? Something that sounds a bit like Great White, and it really doesn't.
Mark: Right

Ron: And that's not a bad thing. I love Great White but I always like when solo projects don't sound like the bands, because if it did, then why bother?
Mark: Yeah, well it's hard for me to sound like Jack Russell when I sing! <laughs>

Ron: <laughs> Well, you know what's funny? When I was listening to “Hail To The Kitty”, and I hope you take this as a compliment, but I thought you sounded a heck of a lot like David Lee Roth. Have you ever been told that?
Mark: I think somebody had said that they kind of hear those overtones.

Ron: Yeah. And I'm a huge Van Halen fan.
Mark: I'm kind of in his range. In fact, his range might be a little higher than mine with his squealing and that. When you don't have a high range you have to deliver with a lot of attitude. That's the way I make people believe me, I have to just give it maximum attitude.

Ron: Well, Todd was right. You can sing.
Don: I thought “Lift Me Up” definitely had a lot of DLR sound to it.
Mark: In the very early days of Van Halen, I used to really… because I saw them when I was in the 8th grade in a backyard party.

Ron: You're kidding.
Mark: They were playing like 3 blocks away from my house.

Ron: Wow.
Mark: I lived in El Monte, CA. They played mostly all covers. They were like the backyard party band. I just thought that they were a little better than everybody else. I was pretty young and everything, but there were a lot of bands around and we used to go see them play and a lot of people were playing in people's backyards.

Ron: Wow.
Don: Is that when they were still calling themselves Mammoth?
Mark: No they were called Van Halen when I saw them and them my friend we used to go see them, they were playing a few bigger venues like little basketball arenas, you know, high school arenas. They were the best band around. Their whole following was like mostly musicians, you know. There were mostly guitar players in the crowd, because of Eddie, how he played the guitar. But back then, he didn't have the whammy bar and he didn't use his right hand a lot on the finger board or anything, but he played a little bit outside of where most people were playing.

Ron: I had heard, I don't know if this is true, maybe I read it in David Lee Roth's autobiography, but it said that he used to play, when he played live in front of a crowd, he would turn around so people couldn't see what he was doing. He was kind of trying to protect his trade secrets or something.
Mark: I never saw him do that, but I heard that George Lynch used to do that.

Ron: Really?
Mark: George Lynch, when he used to play in The Boyz, he was doing that right hand thing on the finger board before Eddie was.

Ron: You're kidding?
Mark: No. So he would face his amp when he did that part.

Ron: Wow.
Mark: What they say is, now this is just the rumor, but Eddie knew what he was doing, kind of took that idea, now he probably wouldn't admit to it, but this is just what I heard because I grew up around all those guys, I know a lot of other guitar players too, and what they said is Eddie just turned it more into a musical thing, where Lynch made it more of a noise maker.

Ron: Yeah.
Mark: Like he used to do the hammer-offs but he also did a lot of sliding with his right hand and stuff.

Ron: Yeah.
Mark: And when he would hammer with his left hand, instead of alternating fingers, he said he had a hard time doing that so he would slide his finger back and forth.

Ron: Okay.
Mark: Lynch. You know.

Ron: That's cool.
Mark: Eddie just turned it into more of an orchestrated thing, like with “Eruption”.

Ron: Sure.
Mark: He would literally, you know, put beautiful melodies together incorporating that right-hand.

Ron: That's funny, because they're both phenomenal guitarists, but they definitely have distinctive styles.
Don: Yeah, with George Lynch I don't think of him as much of doing the hammer-ons and tapping but he always seemed to be more efficient at very fast plucking. He really sort of perfected that.
Mark: Yeah, he definitely has his own kind of thing. I just went and saw him the other day. This guy came down from this radio station called WMMT and he did a couple of shows with me. I can't think of where it was…

Ron: George Lynch did some shows with you?
Mark: No, no. he was playing in town out here, going to the NAM show and stuff like that and I guess he'd done some things with Lynch too and told me that he was playing so I went and saw him the other night at the House of Blues in Anaheim.

Ron: That would've been great.
Mark: I hadn't seen him in a long time. He was playing with kind of unknown guys, I guess, but it was good. It was cool.

Ron: Have you seen Dokken with their new guitar player? I thought he was pretty good -- Jon Levin.
Mark: Yeah. In fact, we did a show with him last year, we did a few shows with Dokken last year, some festivals, and that guitar player, Don said, I've known Don since 1975, so he's like, “Yeah, but the guy's too much like Lynch. He's exactly.” Yeah, but that guy is good.

Ron: Well yeah, and then you find out that in his spare time he's a lawyer. Its like, “Wait a minute!”
Mark: Oh, really?

Ron: Yeah, he was their lawyer.
Mark: I think somebody told me something about that!

Ron: Yeah, he was their lawyer and doing stuff for them and he obviously plays and he still does a lot of stuff for the band.
Mark: The guitar playing lawyer!

Ron: Yeah. He even said, he couldn't get in too much trouble and stuff because he's married and he's always doing paperwork on the bus. <laughs>
Mark: Oh, my goodness.

Ron: I told him, “You're kind of killing the whole rock and roll sort of image here, buddy!”
Mark: <laughs>

Ron: He was great. He was one of the other guys we were fortunate enough to interview.
Mark: Talk about something to fall back on!

Ron: Yeah <laughs> If the whole guitar thing doesn't work out…
Mark: <laughs>

Ron: But he was phenomenal. We saw Dokken last year with him when they came to Annies, that's the place down here in Cincinnati, and we were really impressed. Actually, the last time I saw Great White was at that same place, called Annies, down on the river.
Mark: Oh, yeah! I remember that. And a couple of guys from Cinderella played?

Ron: I don't remember that but, gosh, it's probably been 7 or 8 years when I saw that.
Mark: Oh, you're talking a way long time ago.

Ron: Yeah.
Mark: Oh, I thought you were talking about last year or something.

Ron: No. Did you guys come to Cincinnati last year? You were close. Maybe you did.
Mark: Oh, no. It might've been St. Louis.

Ron: I know you came close because either you or Jack, I think it was Jack, called that same radio station, and they were talking up the gig, but I think it was up closer to Dayton, Ohio, which is only about an hour and a half away.
Mark: Yeah, it probably was Dayton. That sounds familiar.

Ron: There's two things that I remember about that show. One, you guys were phenomenal live…
Mark: Annies?

Ron: Yeah.
Mark: I think we did… didn't we play there last year?

Ron: I don't remember. If you did I'm mad because I missed it! You might have.
Mark: It's like a large club? I think we played there with Warrant.

Ron: You know what, you might've. Warrant's been through town a lot.
Mark: It holds about 900 people?

Don: Yeah, it's got an outdoor area.
Mark: Yeah, it's got an outdoor thing that wraps around and then there's a lot of wood on the inside and stuff.

Ron: Yeah.
Mark: Yeah, we definitely played there last year.

Ron: Wow. Cool.
Mark: We played one show with Warrant last year. And the opening act was… oh, no, no. It wasn't Warrant. It was the guitar player who used to play in Warrant. Billy something. Billy Martin. That's where I met this radio station guy. It's WMMT, he was down there in Arkansas Mountain Radio, or something like that. Anyway, he was just out there and it was a freak kind of thing.

Ron: That's cool. Well the other thing that I remember about the show, other than it was a great show, was that after the show, every person in the band came out and met the fans and signed autographs.
Mark: Oh, yeah. We always do that. I don't leave until the last little pick is signed.

Ron: That is awesome. I've been to so many shows where…
Mark: Everybody tells me that, “Oh, so and so band didn't even stay - they all went and rushed off like they were The Beatles or something, and I get so sick of hearing that. When you're playing the big places, like all those years when we played the big arenas, it was hard for us to get to the fans, you know. You really can't go out and sign 20,000 autographs, you know?

Ron: Yeah.
Mark: Or you wouldn't even make it to the next show. Since we are playing the smaller venues, why not take advantage to meet some of the people and hear the stories, or whatever.

Ron: Well, I'll tell you, as a fan, I really appreciate that and I think all of the fans do.
Mark: That's awesome. I'm a fan myself and I know that seeing Johnny Winter, well he's pretty sick right now, but when I saw him a few years ago I got to go on his bus and got the full treatment. I saw him in a small venue, which was really cool. When I used to see him as a teenager, you know, I was like always in the last row of an arena and he was like the size of a B.B., or whatever?

Ron: Right.
Mark: To see your favorite artist in a smaller place is awesome.

Ron: It really is.
Don: Yep, yep. Because like you said, sometimes…
Mark: From a fan's point of view. Of course, we all want to be playing stadiums! <laughs>

Ron: Right, right.
Don: It's fun to go to the big shows, you know, I've been to the big stadium concerts and it's cool when you've got 40,000 people, but then again, like you said, usually the artist is so small, unless you get really lucky and get really good tickets. I pulled that off once. I saw the Billy Joel/Elton John combined tour, they were up at Ohio State University and they had the whole Horseshoe sold out and we ended up in the 10th row on the floor and we're like, “These are great seats, but look at all those people behind us!”
Mark: <laughs> Right.

Don: It's still a fun atmosphere.
Ron: Yeah, but we've been on the other side too. The Monsters of Rock tour in the late 80s.
Don: Oh, with Van Halen.
Ron: It was at the Hoosier Dome and I swear Eddie Van Halen was the size of an ant, we had the worst seats. I think our ticket stub actually said “Worst Seat In House”.
Mark: <laughs>

Don: I remember that. We were so far away, that you would watch the drummer and he would hit his cymbal and then you would hear the sound like a half a second later.
Mark: I know, I know.

Don: You were so far away that the audio and video…
Mark: Yeah, we played some of those kind of shows with Iron Maiden in Germany and I can't imagine being…I mean, they had two sets of delay towers, they were so far away.

Ron: Wow.
Mark: Because we would play with like Iron Maiden, David Lee Roth, KISS…

Ron: I'd pay good money to see that.
Mark: And I think Anthrax and a couple of other bands, one from up North like a Metallica like thing, but they were just really heavy. They guy sang through an Echoplex, like a hundred octaves low and stuff.

Ron: Geez.
Mark: Yeah <laughs>. One of those kinds of gigs, you know. It was cool. It was fun to play for so many people but.

Don: It's almost like you're not even there to see a band. You're just there at a really big party with really good music on the radio.
Ron: Right. With really expensive beer.
Mark: I went to a concert, the last really big concert that I went to because my manager was managing Guns and Roses, is we went and saw Aerosmith. Now this is after they cleaned up and were all kick ass and everything. We went and saw them at the Universal Amphitheater here in California and I had my wife with me and we got the full treatment and everything and we got these great seats right by the board, like we were going to have these real awesome seats, and these two huge bikers were in my seat and I showed them my ticket stub and they ripped them up and said, “What tickets?”

Ron: Oh, no!
Mark: I said, “I'm not going to deal with this,” so I just hung by the board for a couple of songs and then went backstage. <laughs>


Ron: That must've been the same two cats that were at the Aerosmith show in Cincinnati one year. A buddy of ours had to go to the hospital because it was the same thing, we were in the pavilion, this was down at Riverbend, which is an outdoor amphitheater and he came back with a couple of beers and there were two big biker guys in his seat. He decided he was going to get tough with them and they put him in the hospital.
Don: Yeah, he came back during the opening act, which was Jackyl, and the biker said, “We'll move when Aerosmith come,” and I'm thinking, “yeah, sure they're going to move when the headliner comes.” And he believed them.
Mark: <laughs>

Don: Well, they didn't and they all started swinging and like a fool, I put one of these biker guys in a headlock, I don't know what possessed me, but I was yelling, “Get off of him!” I guess they thought I was like a worker or some sort of security…
Mark: Oh, a security guard or something.

Ron: Lucky for you!
Don: Yeah, but my friend got knocked about two rows back and we had to carry him out and take him to the hospital.
Ron: Yeah, so it must've been the same two cats that were in your seat.
Mark: Yeah, I didn't go that far. I figured that they wanted to see them worse than me.

Don: Well, my friend was arguing with them and I'm just thinking, we can scoot down and squeeze you guys into our seats. I'm not going to tangle with those guys, but they had other ideas. Aerosmith, drawing in the ruffians, I suppose.
Mark: Right.

Don: Of the half of the concert I saw, it was very good.
Mark: Yeah. Right on. They sounded amazing. I couldn't believe it. I saw them like probably 1978 at the U.S. concert. I don't know what it was but it was a long time ago and they sounded kind of sloppy and the sound was really bad.

Don: Yeah, they had a rough time there in the late 70's when they were fighting between each other.
Mark: They were all fighting and drinking and all drugged up.

Ron: They put on a good show now though.
Don: They turned it around quite a bit.
Mark: Oh, man.

Ron: I saw them last year with KISS and boy that was a double bill.
Mark: Oh, yeah.

Ron: That was fantastic.
Don: it's good to see when bands have been around for a while and can maintain and come back.
Mark: KISS. It's amazing, because their makeup must be worth a lot. We played with them in like 1994 and we weren't really filling arenas and we had some actual thin nights, you know, when they didn't have the makeup or anything. Attendance was good some nights, but we did have some weak nights.

Ron: Yeah.
Mark: It was amazing. They put the makeup back on and they're playing stadiums again.

Ron: Yeah. The first time I saw them was without makeup. This was about '86. They had just come out with an album and had a few videos and just when they start to lose their fan base, they put the makeup back on and boom, it's craziness.
Mark: Yeah, right back to the bubblegum cards and everything.

Ron: Gene Simmons is, if nothing else, a marketing genius.
Mark: Oh, definitely. No doubt about that!

Ron: Dude, say what you want, but.
Mark: Oh, yeah. He's definitely a smart guy. A friend of mine was in the band, I think he was only in for a month or so…

Ron: Who was that?
Mark: It was New York, about 1984.

Ron: Mark St. John?
Mark: I was in this club called The Limelight and I was screaming, “Mark, Mark,” and he, I thought was saying, “I'm on KISS” but he was saying, “I'm in KISS!”. I finally got a hold of him outside and he said, “Dude, I'm in the band KISS,” and I'm like, “No way!” and he goes, “Yeah. We're doing this record and this video and they've got this apartment for me in New York here and all this stuff,” and I went and saw him the next day and we're jamming and stuff and it was just a trip. And then he got tendonitis -- woke up one morning and his hand was swollen to the bone. He couldn't play his guitar or anything. I guess he went and got it treated and was fine but when he went back they said they had found this guy Bruce Kulick.

Don: Is that Mark St. John?
Mark: Yeah. Mark St. John.

Don: He played on one album.
Mark: Yeah, he played on one album and a few videos.

Don: That was Animalize wasn't it?
Mark: Yeah, yeah. He was so bummed. That was his big break.

Don: I knew he had something medical but never found exactly what ever happened to him after that.
Mark: he basically disappeared. It broke his heart to be up there with a big band like that.

Ron: do you still talk to him?
Mark: He never really got going again. It was kind of strange because he played really laid-back, I mean, that guy could rip licks. On that KISS album he barely played at all. He really kept it tame. I think they told him to play a certain way or something

Don: yeah I always got the impression that Paul and Gene really control that kind of thing quite a bit.
Mark: I sat down with the guy before and I've seen him play live before. We kind of grew up in the same area. He can do “Flight of the Bumble Bee” backwards and all of that. The guy can play like Paul Gilbert and all of those guys. He played really laid back. I don't think he wanted to out-shine anybody.

Don: Yeah and like you said, if he grew up he was probably a fan and just so happy to be in KISS. As a fan, you're probably just so impressed that you're standing on stage with the guys.
Mark: Absolutely.

Ron: Do you ever talk to him any more?
Mark: Oh, Mark?

Ron: Yeah.
Mark: No, I lost touch with him. I moved around so much. We were just friends in passing and we were playing the same clubs and that was quite a long time ago

Ron: I was just curious what ever happened to him?
Mark: He was in the band called White Tiger or something like that.

Ron: Really?
Mark: yeah it was a band that didn't quite get there and I'm not sure whatever became of him.

Ron: I'll have to go check on the internet; I'm sure it's out there somewhere.
Mark: Yeah you can probably just go to the internet.

Ron: That's cool. Well, we definitely wanted to talk about this new solo CD because it's pretty fresh and like I said we both went through and listened to the sound clips of everything. I really kind of like “Hail to the Kitty” but “I'm The Man”, I thought was a really good ballad.
Mark: Oh thanks, man.

Ron: It's kind of got a country feel.
Mark: What happened was, I was at the music awards, at this LA music awards, and I was talking to George Lynch and stuff and I was just toying with the idea at that time. I had just done a couple of demos. I go, “What are you up to? I'm doing a solo thing.” He said, “Oh, cool”, and then I went upstairs and I met this girl that was… we were just talking and stuff, you know, she looked like somebody out of the '40s like she was out of her era, you know.

Ron: Yeah.
Mark: But she was really pretty, you know? And I go, “I'm just here with some friends and we were just checking it out. A friend of mine's band won some local band award thing, and I was just there for that. She said that she was a piano player and her husband was a producer for the Temptations and all of this stuff and I go, “I have this song, you're a piano player? Because I have this song.” I was working with this guy Douglas Day Stewart who was a movie producer who had done An Officer And a Gentleman he had won awards and stuff, anyway he had this new movie called Tanner's Wish and he had given me the script for it and I wrote this song but I hadn't recorded it or anything. She said her husband had this studio and I go, “I'd love to show you this song and I would like to check you out.” So anyways, I have this song pretty much finished but she added some touches to it that made it stronger and so when it came down to do my record… and then when I worked with her I brought musicians over and we recorded it and it turned out killer. I actually ended up having Jack sing on it because it was for a movie sound track.

Ron: OK
Mark: It didn't really matter. I tried another singer but the guy was way too much drama, the way this guy was singing.

Ron: Right
Mark: I couldn't handle it so I just got Jack and he knocked it out in about an hour or so. So we're building this songwriting relationship deal. Anyway, we were screwing around one day and I had some lyrics and I was showing her this piece of music I had and we did the same thing. That was “I'm the Man”. I actually co-wrote it with her.

Ron: Oh, great.
Mark: She came up with a couple of parts and we put it together and I go, “Hey, maybe I can put this on my solo album.” At first I thought that it might be too mellow but I thought that I would go ahead and record it anyway and when I put it up against the other songs it seemed to be fine, you know?

Ron: Yeah, it fits.
Mark: It didn't really matter that it was coming out of a really heavy song. It was almost a welcomed dynamic.

Ron: Exactly
Mark: So it really didn't bother me. Some people responded to it and stuff so it's cool.

Ron: Yeah it was sort of a nice change. Obviously the record has a very bluesy feel to it. Great White is obviously kind of bluesy.
Mark: The reason that I think Great White is a lot different, it's because especially with all of the original members and everything, a lot of people had a lot of input so you're going to hear a lot of their influences, everybody's idea getting into the soup, and then you get more of a band sound, you know what I mean? Michael Lardie, the keyboard player, was into Elton John and Billy Joel.

Ron: OK
Mark: …and people like that, you know?

Ron: Yeah
Mark: Jack was like the Zeppelin guy. He liked Aerosmith and all of the modern day rock stuff like that and I was kind of like Ten Years After, Alvin Lee, Billy Gibbons, Hendricks, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn and all of the big gunslinger type straight-ahead blues guys. I like the real stinky blues and heavy rock and stuff too but I was always more of the edge part of the band so when you've got those keyboard layers and all that stuff you can hear it in there somewhere but when you strip that all away and I just do something and especially with me singing it's going to be hard to sound just like Great White.

Ron: Right. Like I said, that's a good thing.
Mark: Sure, why do a solo album if it is going to sound just like Great White?

Ron: Right.
Don: Exactly. It's also cool because everyone knows that you're a good guitar player but since it's the solo album, and if you have some singing ability--as you obviously do although much different than the way Jack sings, it adds a whole other personal level to the whole project and it really comes across as, this is really Mark's solo album and a piece of who you are.
Mark: Right. Well, people say that I played way more guitar which is kind of true but you know I don't sing like Jack and also when I'm singing myself, when I'm not singing I automatically play in between the parts, you know what I mean. Whereas Jack sings a lot more and that leaves less space for me to play so I just have to insert the solo in that spot. To where, when I'm playing it's like, “Hey, yeah! < makes guitar sounds>”. It's a little different, plus it feels way different when your singing because when you're not singing you want to insert some music, you want to have some breath and hear the band play and stuff like that.

Ron: Yeah.
Mark: Instead of judging people's phrases like especially when you're playing live, well, I know how Jack sings now, of course, I've played with him so long but, it feels way different when you're playing guitar and singing, you know?

Ron: Sure.
Mark: You squeeze it into different spots because you can feel when you're going to stop singing you know what I mean? It's a whole different thing.

Don: I thought it was interesting because obviously as Ron had just said the Great White stuff is obviously hard rock/heavy metal with a blues influence. This album is definitely blues with a little bit of rock.
Mark: Right

Don: It's more of a blues album. But your vocals, if someone didn't know any better they would've thought that somebody went out and got this great blues singer to match this blues music. Your voice so fits the music. I mean, even if Jack was doing it… you voice fits it better than even if Jack was singing it. If that makes any sense.
Mark: Yeah, it is funny. The way Great White writes is a lot different than the way I put this together. Almost everything stems from jams, like I jammed for like a month with two guys who didn't play on the record but who would really lay it down for me very simple to where I can just try riffs and screw around and play for hours and I would just go home and listen to the tapes and I mean I have so many CDs full of music and I was kind of listening to things and I would go, “I really like that riff right there and I want to try and make that into something.” To where, Great White wouldn't jam for hours and hours and have things come out of that, you know what I mean? I would get together with Jack and show him a riff I have and then he would start writing lyrics and stuff.

Ron: OK
Mark: So it was like all of the music was written and then we would go rehearse it. That's usually the way they wrote, for the most part. Of course there were flashes of things that would happen when we were playing together and stuff like that. I always like to jam with a band. Things just come out of that. It just seems to have a different energy to it.

Ron : That's cool.
Don: That's the fun thing about, I'm sure, as an artist, for you to do a solo album is, you can approach the entire music project in a different way. You've got the freedom that once you step outside the band it just gives you a whole different approach to the music itself. It's got to be a little bit more fun and liberating.
Mark: Absolutely. Being in a band format, sometimes I'm afraid to tell them stuff because I'm afraid they're going to shoot it down or something. Whereas doing a solo project, there's very little compromise <laughs>.

Ron: Right. It's your baby.
Mark: It's my baby, man. These guys came up with some great ideas and I welcomed them. There's definitely a lot of compromise. 100% of your ideas don't get in there.

Ron: Right.
Mark: And that's really the whole reason for doing one, I think. Just to be able to express yourself 100% or 110%.

Don: Have you wanted to do a solo album for a long time and just finally got a chance to?
Mark: Yeah, I just finally got a chance. Actually, it wasn't that I've never had an opportunity to do it, but I was over a friend's house and he had a recording studio in his garage, you know, a pretty good little Pro Tools setup.

Ron: Okay.
Mark: He told me that if I ever had a little guitar riff or a little song that I wanted to lay down, feel free to come over and stuff. This guy went to my church and stuff. A great guy. He was a bass player. He plays in like the heaviest, believe it or not, full on death metal.

Ron: <laughs>
Mark: But the guy is as religious as they come.

Ron: Oh, yeah?
Mark: Yeah. But anyway, I go, "Believe it or not Shane, I have a riff right now that I would love to lay down because I don't want to lose it. I just want to put it away. And he goes, "Come on over right now." He had a guitar out there, a bass, everything, you know. I was just going to put the guitar riff. So we lay down this quick track and I did "Buckle Down".

Ron: Oh, you're kidding?
Mark: All the way through from front to finish. I already had the whole thing together. All of a sudden, he had these drums and we laid down a beat and he had a bass so I asked if I could play the bass riff and so I played the bass riff and before I know it, I'm in the singing booth and everything, doing the full thing. I go, "That doesn't sound bad does it? My voice isn't, like, horrible." He's going, “No, dude. You sound great!" So that just sparked me to realize, hey, wait a minute. I could put a whole collection of songs together and really do a record with me singing."

Ron: So "Buckle Down" was the first song?
Mark: Yeah, that was the first idea that I ever laid down.

Ron: That's got a really cool funky beat to it as well. It's got a good funky vibe.
Don: How long ago was that?
Mark: That was actually about, probably, at the beginning of last year. Right around January or something.

Ron: So that was pretty quick.
Mark: One night my wife and I went over there for dinner, there was no big plan to jam or anything, he's the one that came with it. It was just one of those freak things. Great White had a little time off so I went and just jammed with these guys for almost four weeks, putting all of these ideas down. And then I was in writing mode. When I was at home I was constantly writing on my acoustic and stuff. Laying things down. Grabbing riffs off of jam tapes and trying to come up with ideas. And then I was pretty much just scatting and I didn't really have any lyrics so I was just kind of scatting, you know how you're just kind of feeling the words and stuff, and then I came up and put it all together with some stories and things.

Ron: I've got to add, one of my favorite songs, and it is die-hard blues, is the last one "Kill That Red Rooster".
Mark: Oh, yeah. That's funny.

Ron: You sound like a 90 year old black guy.
Mark: The way I heard that, a friend of my wife about three years ago, she hooked up with this guy, he came over and was doing some work at our house or something and he goes, "Hey, I have a CD too. I have a band. Let me go out to my truck and you can give it to your husband and see what he thinks and stuff." Well, it was just like, these guys were really, really, good. They had an upright bass and harmonica and a wailing recording. It was really good. They did that song “Red Rooster” and I always wanted to do it so I just kind of took the opportunity to do it. I just wanted to do anything that I felt like doing. <laughs>.

Ron: Sure. It came out great.
Mark: Yeah, and the drummer and bass player were just phenomenal. These guys play on every project known to man, they're always recording and they're always playing somewhere, you know. They laid it down really good.

Ron: It's got a nice piano track in it too.
Mark: Yeah, that's the piano player I was telling you about. Her name is Jane Getz.

Ron: Yeah?
Mark: Yeah, what happened was, this guy has this huge, giant garage up in West Hollywood.

Ron: Okay.
Mark: And he just converted the whole thing into this big, giant studio. They live in this full mansion and his wife would come down 4 flights of stairs and play the piano. We'd call her on the intercom and say, “Come on down, Jane,” and she'd come down. I'd say, “I want you to play on this song.” She'd listen to it once and then play it. This music is like so simple for her it's stupid, you know?

Ron: You're kidding.
Mark: Oh, yeah. She plays all of this jazz stuff. She jammed with like John Lennon and she's a little older than we are. She actually played live with Hendrix before.

Ron: No way.
Mark: I cannot imagine. Yeah, it was like a few weeks before he died or something. Some little festival or something. I've never even heard him with piano.

Ron: Wow. How cool.
Mark: She's phenomenal. She did sessions with John Lennon and did some recordings and stuff. So anyway, she'd come down and I would just kind of produce her you know, come up with some little lines and stuff. If I wanted a little strings or something I'd come up with a little line of strings, but we didn't really over do, I didn't want it to be too keyboardy. I didn't want a lot of keyboards on the records so I did strip it down a little bit. There would be some spots for a little bit of keyboards, so I think I got some on some songs. I wanted that real Honky Tonkish, it's almost a jazzy but more in a blues…

Don: It's like an old Chicago blues.
Mark: Yeah, exactly. I'm just kind of wailing in the background.

Don: It's different than the rest of the tracks on there but it's a blues album and it certainly makes it fit. It's a cool way to end it, I thought.
Mark: Yeah, I always thought that the lyrics were really funny. “Don't ever mess with my old lady or I'm going to cut your head.” It's just awesome, take him out to the tree stump…” The lyrics are brilliant. That's why I did it, just a funny little song.

Don: It's fun.
Ron: But your voice was awesome in that. I don't know if you heard me before, but you sound like you're like an old 90 year old black guy.
Mark: <laughs> Right on , dude. Well I love those old singers. I'm sure it's a big influence, and you say I've got a little David Lee Roth or whatever, I'm sure he's influenced by them too because he used to do all those old songs. I never saw him but I heard that he used to do all those old standards. He used to go out to the Ice House in Pasadena with his acoustic and do all those old standards. Have you ever heard them do that old song that Eddie's dad plays on?

Don: “Big Bad Bill”?
Mark: Yeah, “Big Bad Bill” and the way he sings and stuff. <Mark sings: Just a gigolo>

Don: He's definitely got that kind of voice and he's good in that style. Van Halen is always known as a big arena hard rock band, but his voice fits that style of music very well. He was performing out in Las Vegas for a while.
Mark: Yeah, he was doing a Vegas things and…

Don: I think a lot of people didn't get it.
Mark: No, they way didn't get it. In fact, a good friend of mine, he actually married the daughter of the Imperial Palace, well they all went and saw David Lee Roth and he was playing out by a big pool or something.

Ron: <laughs>
Mark: He said that nobody was even paying attention to him, it was just like background music, like the David Letterman band. He's doing a big show and nobody is even watching. He felt really bad because, you know, those guys were our heroes when we were growing up. This was the friend that took me to see him when I was a young teenager for the very first time I had seen him.

Don: I think he had some good blues guys with him when he was doing that stuff. I think he had Edgar Winter playing with him.
Mark: Well I have tapes of Van Halen playing, like, “Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo”, they did “Tobacco Road”. They used to have like over 200 cover songs.

Ron: Well Roth did “Tobacco Road” on his first solo album with Steve Vai doing the guitar stuff, and it was great.
Mark: Oh, really?

Ron: Yeah, it was one of the best tracks.
Mark: Well, they used to do that with Van Halen, years ago. They used to play that and there was a big jam in it and everything.

Ron: It's a great song.
Mark: Most of the covers they did, Eddie would do some of the signature licks, but most of it would be his own trip. Even in Trower, they would play Robin Trower, and in the solos he would play a couple of signature Trower licks but it was mostly his trip. It was good when they started doing their originals, because a lot of times I liked the way the songs were, and even though he was just brilliant, I was like, “I like the Trower version”. But when they started playing more originals then I was like, “Okay, now his leads really fit.”

Ron: Right. Now I get it.
Mark: Now I get it.

Don: He was just warming up.
Mark: Yeah, absolutely. It was his own style. No one else played that way. It would just make you go home and work harder on your guitar and then you go and see him again and he improves from there. We all keep getting better. Refreshingly.

Don: They just came around here finally, after all of the trouble they had, they put a small tour together a few months ago and I know that he had been a little bit ill and they had some problems and so forth, but I was still impressed with his guitar playing.
Mark: Well I went and saw him in Dallas, just at sound check because I'm friends with Michael Anthony.

Don: Oh, okay.
Mark: Years ago we played at a wedding for a friend of ours, he actually worked for Tesla, he used to work for Michael in the off-season and stuff, but anyways.

Ron: How cool would that be?
Mark: Yeah, I stayed friends with him, he's really down to earth, a cool guy, and I know that Eddie was drinking a little bit. At the sound check they had 200 people from the radio station come down and he walked down and said, “My name is Bill W.” <laughs>

Ron: Oh, no. Bill Wyman, how are you doing?
Mark: But he played good. It was great, for the radio station crowd they were playing “Running With the Devil” and “Somebody Get Me a Doctor” and Michael Anthony sang. Sammy didn't come down to the sound check. But it sounded great. Michael, he's got pipes, man.

Ron: He does.
Mark: He can even sound like Roth a little bit.

Don: The first time that I ever saw Michael sing, and it's funny because on this last tour, he sang “Somebody Get Me a Doctor”, but the first time I saw him sing lead was back when they were touring with Gary Cherone singing and, when that album came out I wasn't a terribly big fan of that album itself, it just didn't work, in my opinion…
Mark: Yeah, it didn't work.

Don: But I saw the tour that summer with Gary Cherone and I thought that it was one of the best Van Halen tours because they were having so much fun and they were playing the complete catalog and Gary wasn't afraid to do his own stuff, Sammy's stuff, or Dave's stuff.
Mark: Oh, good.

Don: So they had a great set list. And that's the one where Michael comes out and sings lead.
Mark: Well he was a lead singer, years ago before Van Halen. I had never seen him, but he was in some band called Snake or something. They all met at Pasadena College.

Ron: Really?
Mark: He was in a little rival band so he decided to play bass when they got Roth because they had a singer. But he was a lead singer. He could sing Zeppelin or anything.

Ron: Wow.
Mark: He's got a high voice. He could sing anything.

Don: Maybe that's Van Halen's answer to all of their troubles with lead singers. They just need to make it a three man band and carry on.
Mark: <laughs>

Ron: Hey, it worked for Genesis, right?
Mark: I think they like that front man thing, you know.

Ron: I know.
Mark: Basically, Michael doesn't walk around and say, “How are you people feeling tonight?” you know? He doesn't want to do that.

Don: Dave and Sammy aren't only good singers; they're good show people.
Mark: If you notice, over the years with Van Halen, their background vocals are really strong?

Ron: Yes.
Mark: He's a big part of that.

Ron: And he seems like he's just a great guy. Is he?
Mark: He's the most down to earth dude I've ever met in my life in rock, period.

Ron: Wow. That's the way he comes across.
Mark: And he's got this huge house with 12 garages with 2 vehicles in them, and there's no ego vehicles, I mean, he uses these cars.

Ron: Really?
Mark: He has his brother fully hired just to clean the cars.

Don: Yeah I saw him on TV on one of those shows about cars.
Mark: He is kind of a collector, but he doesn't have tons of Lamborghini's or ego-trip cars.

Don: No, they were more like classic cars.
Mark: Show cars.

Don: Yeah, that had been fixed up. Something like from the 60's or something. Not all of the Lamborghinis and Porches, although he may have some of those.
Mark: He didn't have the “dig me I'm a rich rock star” cars. He actually goes to car shows and stuff.

Ron: Do you still talk to him a lot?
Mark: I saw him at the Dallas thing. Not a lot. He says, “Call me, man” and I'm like, “Yeah, I'll call you,” but then we never do, of course. Every time we see each other it's like high-five city. The guy is just a full bro. He dances at the house with my wife all drunk and shit. He's just cool. He's a down-homer.

Ron: He just seems to be one of those rock guys that you'd like to meet.
Mark: No doubt. He'll go to the picnic. He's a family man. He's a cool dude.

Don: It' s funny with the media, because they're such a huge band, and of course they've had so much drama and everybody wants to talk to Eddie, talk to Alex, talk to Sammy, talk to Dave… all of these people need to talk to Michael. He's the one that's been there the whole time. He keeps quiet but he's seen it all. He's down to earth so someone needs to sit down and talk to him.
Mark: Every time I go to see Eddie there's always something wrong. I think I was born not to meet the guy. I've seen him all these years and I can never meet him.

Ron: Really?
Mark: Michael invited me down and I went and saw them when Hagar first hooked up with them when they did the “Poundcake” video.

Ron: Yep.
Mark: He invites me down. It's in LA at the Olympic Auditorium, and I'm down there and he's like, “Well, Mark, today's not a good day. He's been drinking, he's kind of being an asshole.” <laughs> I said, “It's okay. It's cool, man.” Hagar's all, “Hey, you can come in my trailer, man. There ain't no rock star egos here, man. Anything you guys want…” He's all cool.

Ron: Is he a cool guy?
Mark: Oh, yeah. He's like the old teenager. He's like full energy boy. He's the life of the party, always jumping around. Big energy guy. Really nice.

Ron: Excellent. Well, listen. We've talked about your CD, but I'm curious, are you touring on it at all?
Mark: What I'm doing is, right now obviously networking, trying to get a little airplay, trying to get it to some ears. I've been talking to a few companies about distribution. I want to get it out there. Try to get some airplay. I've got it on a few stations, XM radio and stuff like that. Getting a little attention. There's a couple of labels that I'm talking to that are interested in doing something and then I'm going to play this year in between when Great White plays, all I can, and then when, we'll probably play up until September or so, and then I was going to go out for a couple of months and maybe even 3 or 4 months if I can, and do a proper tour. I've been kind of doing it with a publicist and networking but I've got more people helping me.

Ron: Okay.
Mark: A couple of record company guys are helping me and I'm talking to a couple of other labels. Just trying to do something that makes sense. I want it to be in stores and all of this stuff. Right now it's just on my web site, bigfinmusic.com. My whole thing is, oh I don't want to go triple platinum or whatever, that's never been my concern. Oh yeah, that would be great, but I want a lot of people to hear it. That's the main thing. I want a lot of people to say “Oh, I hate it” or “It's good” or something. But to just not hear it… I hate that, when you do a record, even the one we did for Sony, because I don't really think, John Kalodner is brilliant, he's a rock and roll guru, he is a really brilliant guy, but I think that the mistake he made, this is just my opinion, was he signed too many bands at once when he tried to revive the '80s. He signed Cinderella, Ratt, Great White, you know. I wouldn't have cared if he had just singed Ratt and put a bunch of money into them and try to make that happen. But to sign all of the bands without the proper amount of money. I mean, we were doing in-stores with Ratt.

Ron: Really?
Mark: They were promoting both records at the same time. It was a little goofy. Stephen Pearcy said, “Let's sign each others names.”

Ron: <laughs>
Mark: Don't these guys have any money? God Bless him for trying to do that, but it was hard because the budget he had wasn't the kind of budget you need to promote eight bands at once.

Ron: And it's a shame because when I first read that John Kalodner was coming back and signed all of these bands, which were my favorite types of music, I thought, “Finally, we're going to get something,” and it just didn't go anywhere.
Mark: It was a great idea because he feels the same way I do. It ended before it really needed to. When Great White got signed and then Ratt or something and Motley Crue got signed like a year before we did there weren't like 55 bands. There were a few and then towards the end of the 80s it was like everyone was writing the same song or something. Is it Slaughter, Dokken, Warrant. It almost sounded like everyone had the same production and the same predictable big hook. So I think when the Nirvana thing happened it was almost refreshing to hear that trashy guitar, at least something different.

Don: You're exactly right. I think that's exactly what happened. And you had some good bands like you guys and Motley Crue when heavy metal was underground a little bit, but as soon as it hit the mainstream on MTV and radio, all these record executives said, “Hey, we can make money with this,” and they started signing anybody who even looked the part or sounded the part.”
Mark: That's why I don't really blame the bands. If something works, every record company wants theirs. It's just like new music comes in. Hey guys, that's not enough Pendleton's. The singer has got to wear a Pendleton.

Don: That's what happened to Nirvana. Grunge rock was still hard and bluesy. I thought it all could've worked together but it was a new generation.
Mark: Oh, I saw it coming. I go, “Okay, here's the next Nirvana coming out.” Here's a new style of music. Grunge rock. But even some good bands came out of that. Alice and Chains, I thought that was a viable band. So some good music came out of that. They always say it comes full circle so eventually the rock will come back.

Ron: And I think it's starting to. Look how well the Motley Crue tour is selling.
Mark: And, if you realize it, it's the record companies that force you and burn it out. That's why we sound fresh again. Everybody's ears have been burned out to the sludge mania, kill your parents, sludge, sludge, sludge, and now you hear “Rock Me” or something and it sounds cool.

Don: Every generation has their own thing but then when Grunge was big everything had to look grunge and they didn't want anything to do with metal, and then that goes away and now nobody wants that anymore.
Mark: Well I love it that bands like Motley Crue are back together and bands like Velvet Revolver and stuff. Anything like that, I love it that that's doing well.

Don: And of course Aerosmith has weathered the storm and continue to do well.
Ron: And you've got Judas Priest with Halford back. And Iron Maiden…
Mark: Right! That was one of the original big tours that we did, in fact, that was the 2nd tour we did was with Judas Priest. Way back in '84. We did a tour with Whitesnake in '83 in Europe for 4 months in England, Ireland, and Scotland and stuff. And then our first show in the States was in Niagara Falls with Judas Priest on their Defenders of the Faith tour.

Ron: Wow.
Don: That would've been a good one.
Mark: Oh, it was awesome, man. I was scared to death. <Laughs> I go, “We're going to play in front of that?” They had monsters and a big arm that came down and they were filming a video and we're like, “No way, man”. Where do I put my amp and stuff. <laughs>

Ron: When you called in to our local radio station, you mentioned that Great White was going to be playing some festivals this summer?
Mark: Yeah. I just saw one with ZZ Top and Cheap Trick. There's a ton of them. We're playing a few shows with Dokken and they're putting a little package together. There will be a lot of outdoor stuff, festivals and stuff.

Don: Those kind of tours seem to go over pretty well because some of those bands aren't getting a lot of radio play these days but now that the fans are in their 20's, 30's and 40's, they've got family's now and don't have as much money as they used to but they say, “Now I can see Ratt and Dokken and Great White and all of these bands together…”
Mark: Oh, right. It's funny, when we used to play there would only be 3 bands and we'd fill arenas and then these bands came out in the early '90s and there would be like 7 bands on the package. But they all sold like 2 or 3 million records. It was like, doesn't anyone go to these shows? They're selling millions of records but… it was weird. We would play a tour and be the center band and there would be an opening act and like Whitesnake or the Scorpions would headline and there would be 20,000 people. It's really weird that they had to put such strong packages together to fill arenas. Who could figure?

Ron: Who knows?
Don: It gets weird about what people will go to because the other thing I think is weird is you get a new band like Creed and then they're headlining tours and selling millions of records on their debut album.
Mark: Right. <laughs>

Don: I remember back in the day you'd have like Dokken, I'm a big Dokken fan, but you'd have them touring on Under Lock and Key, which is like their 3rd album, and I was still waiting for them to headline. They were still opening for people.
Mark: Yeah, that was hard. We headlined for like 5000 seat venues but we did a co-headlining tour where we flip-flopped with Tesla for like 13 months where we were both in our heyday of our success. One night we would close the show and the next night they would and we had an opening act. That was working out pretty good.

Ron: That was the same as the Aerosmith/KISS show I saw where they flip-flopped every night, which was kind of interesting.
Mark: That was a fun way to do it. We called it the Double Header tour. We had 2 girls holding a baseball bat. <laughs>

Don: I seem to remember that.
Mark: Oh, man.

Ron: Tesla's a good band too. I saw them about a year ago and they're coming back in about a week to do their acoustic thing. I'm not sure if I'm going to make it our not.
Mark: We just did an album for VH-1.

Ron: Yeah, the Metal Mania Stripped.
Mark: Yeah. They're thinking about putting a few shows together for that.

Ron: Oh, really?
Mark: All of the bands would go out and play 4 or 5 songs each.

Ron: That would be cool.
Mark: We just did it in Los Angeles. Not all of them, like the Scorpions weren't there, but most of the bands were there that played on the record. We played on KLOS, a local radio station here in LA and then we played over at the Key Club in LA. It was pretty fun to see all of those guys you haven't seen in so long.

Ron: Who are we talking about? Who was there?
Mark: Night Ranger, Kip Winger, the singer for Warrant.

Ron: Jani Lane
Mark: Yeah, Jani Lane. Slaughter. A band called Alias.

Ron: Oh, yeah. Alias.
Mark: Yeah, Alias played. Who else?

Ron: Yeah, they've got a song in a commercial now.
Mark: Oh, really?

Don: Yeah. “I Need You Now”
Ron: I think it's a Subway commercial.
Mark: That's so funny because we were offered so many commercials like McDonald's and this and that and our manager would always say, “Oh this isn't that kind of band”. We're not commercial. We're not going to sell cars with our songs. I was kidding around with Jack, I said that if they offered us a McDonald's commercial now, well, McDonald's is the greatest hamburgers in the world! <laughs>

Ron: That's funny. I don't know if you remember this, but back in the '80s Neil Young did a song, “This Note's For You”. It was totally making fun of people that were selling out and doing the commercial thing, but now, you've got bands doing commercials when they've had one album. It's like the first thing you do.
Mark: That's mind-blowing. You know, there's not too much wrong with that, I don't think.

Ron: Nah
Mark: I don't think it's a career stopper or anything. More people are going to hear your music but fans might say, “They're selling Subway, what are they doing?”

As long as it works lyrically, I think.
Mark: More people are going to hear your music.

Don: I think it's better for a band to actually write a song for a project, as opposed to taking a song that…
Mark: Right. Taking a song that's already on the record. Yeah. I'd rather see that too. I know that Aerosmith sure has a lot of music in car commercials and stuff. There's one chick, I don't know who it is, but we have one cable station out here, I don't know if it's nationwide or not, it's called Time Warner.

Ron: Sure. We've got that.
Mark: Have you seen that girl that sings “Time….” What is it?

Ron: Yeah, yeah, yeah. The Rolling Stones song.
Mark: Yeah, the Rolling Stone.

Ron: Is it Mandy Moore?
Mark: No, it looks like her. It's some new artist. I forget her name.

Ron: Yeah, she sings “Time Is On My Side”.
Mark: Yeah, and it's got her album posted on the screen. But it's the only time I've ever seen this chick.

Ron: I know exactly what you're talking about. We have the same commercial here.
Mark: Talk about promotion. A lot of people are seeing that. I would think that she's singing it because “time” and Time Warner. I don't think that she does that song on her record; I don't think but I don't know. <Mark starts signing the song> It's cool.

Ron: I thought it was Mandy Moore, but I think you're right, it's another young girl.
Mark: Yeah. It's a new artist.

Don: If it's a new artist and nobody knows who you are, then you can't fault them. Any exposure you can get, go for it.
Mark: Yeah, the selling out bit, I remember when the bass player for Metallica, he's no longer with the band, but he said, “Yeah, we sell out. Every place we play.” <laughs>

Ron: Yeah. Gene Simmons likes to say that too. It's a classic line. But Miller Lite had a commercial a while back, it was a Buffalo Springfield tune, a Vietnam protest song. The whole song was about protesting the war, and they turned it into a beer, let's get drunk commercial.
Mark: <laughs> A friend of mine, it's the same guy I was telling you about who lived in Vegas, now he lives in Santa Rosa, but they were out to dinner and his wife that he's with now, knows a lot of stars, you know, and they were out with this guy that wrote “Spirit in the Sky”. <starts signing>. You know that song?

Ron: Absolutely.
Don: Yeah.
Mark: He said that everyone thought that that was such a spiritual song, but it never was and they've done that in commercials that were kind of Godly, but he didn't write it about that.

Ron: Oh, really?
Mark: No. It wasn't a spiritual song. It was just a trippy song. The hippies, you know.

Ron: I didn't know that. Somebody covered that song in the '80s and had somewhat of a hit with it.
Mark: Oh, really. Oh, it was a big song.

Ron: Like you said, it was a big hit in the 60s, and I can't for the life of me remember who it was.
Mark: Yeah, I could call the guy right now and he'd tell me. I just don't remember the guy's name. We're all old now, you know. <laughs>

Ron: Yeah. <laughs> And we've got kids. That sucks all of the brain out of you. I remember that somebody re-did it and had a somewhat successful run with it in the mid to late '80s.
Mark: This same guy, he just did.

Don: Norman Greenbaum?
Ron: Yeah, Greenbaum.
Mark: Oh, that's it! Greenbaum. You've got it. That's his last name. Anyway, this same guy just played with a guitar player named Johnny Hiland. Have you guys heard of him?

Ron: No.
Mark: This guy's like the best guitar player known to man right now. He's really a Nashville kind of dude but he's really breaking out. Every guitar magazine you get now has him in it. Fender made him his own guitar. Steve Vai saw this guy and goes, “You're the only guy that I've ever said is like a million times better than me.”

Ron: Wow.
Mark: He's like frighteningly good. It's kind of that country picking thing, but he can rip leads, he'll rip your face off with soloing. His name is Johnny Hiland. Steve Vai signed him to his own label. This guy is frightening if you ever hear the guy play. He was just playing me some stuff on the phone, because my friend, he plays bass, he went and played on one song for a jingle or something because he knows this guy named Tom Finn who got him the gig. Now he's really good friends with Johnny Hiland. But Tom Finn used to be in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He writes for a lot of Nashville people. He writes some trippy, folksy stuff too. He's kind of a trippy writer and stuff. Anyway, listen up for that guy.

Ron: Okay.
Mark: He was playing me some stuff on the phone today and it was just scary.

Ron: I've got to hear this stuff with an endorsement like that from you.
Mark: Oh, you've got to hear it. He's in every guitar magazine right now. He's just getting noticed. He's only like 29. He's kind of a heavyset dude; he weighs like 300 and supposedly he's all religious and stuff but his leads will scare you. You've heard some of these guys, almost banjo style?

Ron: Yeah.
Mark: But he plays rock stuff that he kind of throws in. It's wild. It's unbelievable that somebody would take that much time to practice! <laughs>

Ron: So Steve Vai signed him?
Mark: Yeah. I guess he's got a label or something.

Ron: I'll definitely have to keep an eye out for him.
Mark: Yeah, his name is Johnny Hiland. He's probably got a web site.

Ron: Sure.
Mark: It's amazing because this guy, my friend, gave him my solo and they just played a show up in San Francisco and he had it in his pocket the whole gig.

Ron: Cool.
Mark: <laughs> And he called Jim and he said he really liked it. It's so insane because this guy was a fan of Great White. He liked 80's rock and all this stuff, but the way he plays you'd never think that he was into anything like that.

Ron: Gotcha.
Mark: But he's a young guy. I think he's 29 or 30 or something. He's totally frightening.

Ron: Well I look forward to hearing his stuff. Well, what to you guys have going on with Great White? You're starting a tour hear in a couple of days up in Canada, right?
Mark: Yeah, we're going to Canada for like 3 weeks and then we're going to do 1 show in Pittsburg and then come home for a little bit and then we're going to go to Europe for about 3 or 4 weeks. Then we've got a lot of festivals coming up. Yeah, I'm really looking forward to playing with ZZ Top, because I've never done a gig with those guys.

Ron: Yeah, that would be fun.
Mark: I was at a casino about 2 months ago, just hanging out. Actually it was with Jack's mom. Jack was out of town and his mom lives up here. She's like 75 years old and she likes to go to the casino so I took her so she could play all of the machines and everything. So I was just hanging out, playing a little poker and stuff and I was just kind of hanging out and having a smoke and this guy walks by with this big ol' beard and all of this ZZ Top garb and wearing a Levi vest, and I go, “That guy looks like he wants to be Billy Gibbons.” I didn't think it was him because he kind of looked old and stuff and it didn't look like him. I know what Billy Gibbons looks like and stuff and it didn't look like him. Anyway, I was talking to this chick at this restaurant called Low's or something and she overheard me talking about it and she said, “Oh, yeah. He's in town. He's an outpatient. My mom works over at Betty Ford and he's an outpatient there.”

Ron: Really?
Mark: He's just there for a little temporary help with a miniature alcohol problem or something. He goes in and out.

Ron: For a little refresher course or something?
Mark: He doesn't stay confined or anything. He was just talking with some counselors or whatever. So he was hanging out in town and I could've been hanging out with the dude.

Ron: On, no.
Mark: It pissed me off because he's my hero.

Ron: Well you'll get to hang out with him soon, I guess.
Mark: Yeah, we'll do a couple of shows with them.

Don: That'll be a lot of fun.
Mark: People don't realize that ZZ Top have had about 4 or 5 albums in the past few years that just haven't been heard because of the way radio is and no MTV. They have an album they put out about 5 years ago called Rhythmeen that just smokes.

Ron: Yeah?
Mark: And then they have another album called Deguello that's killer.

Don: I remember that one.
Mark: But that album Rhythmeen is really, really good. There's probably no big “Tush” kind of songs on it or anything but there's some good songs and incredible lyrics. It's amazing how good Frank Beard is on drums.

Ron: Yeah.
Mark: I never knew how good he was. That guy, over the years, always kept it kind of solid and straight, and I didn't know that he could just riff out so outrageously. There was one song where he just goes crazy. I said, “My God, is he that good?” I always thought that he was kind of drum machine guy.

Ron: Charlie Watts kind of.
Mark: One dude who really plays well played on my record. This guy won like Buddy Rich drum-off contests.

Ron: Yeah, I read that.
Mark: He's like insane on drums, right? And he said that Frank Beard is hot. He goes, “Nobody's ever played 'La Grange' right. Everybody just plays it kind of how they think it is but here's how the beat really was,” and he's playing me the beat and there's a little tricky stuff going on with the kick drum and stuff that people don't catch. Stock drummers that just play straight, they don't catch the way that he was playing that. It's got a really cool beat.

Don: It's funny, that's the kind of thing that other musicians will pick up on because you'll hear musicians rave about other musicians that maybe people don't always think of at first because they're not that flashy. Like with drumming, a lot of people rave about Steve Smith, the drummer for Journey, but when you think about Journey the first thing that pops into your mind isn't, “Wow what a great drummer they've got.”
Mark: He was a big school of outrageous… like, he played jazz and all that stuff. So people that knew that said, “Yeah, he's upper echelon.” But when they get a big gig like Journey they've got to strip it down. You can't be noodling out.

Don: You've got to be in a band like Yes before you can get away with that kind of stuff.
Mark: Exactly! <laughs>

Ron: Well, we don't want to keep you all night because this has probably been the funnest interview we've ever done.
Mark: Well, thank you.

Ron: And we could talk all night.
Mark: No doubt. No doubt.

Ron: You'd better stop us.
Mark: When I talk about music I could talk forever.

Don: Well I'll warn you, we may end up paraphrasing a bit of this interview or it'll take forever to transcribe.
Ron: Don, I've done longer ones. I'm transcribing one for Andrew right now of him with Joe Lynn Turner…
Mark: Yeah, just paraphrase; otherwise, it'll be kind of like us just talking, which basically it's been like that, you know?

Ron: In a way, that's one thing that's kind of nice about the interviews on Melodicrock.com. It is more conversational because so many people do interviews and it's 10 stock questions.
Mark: It's the same questions.

Ron: Exactly. And it's like, we already know that. We can go to the internet and we can read that.
Mark: I totally agree. I like this format of just talking because I don't really think it's the artists fault to kind of fall into being scripted when asked the same questions all the time. You're not going to have different answers every time.

Ron: Right.
Mark: You're going to answer what's on your head, but it's going to come out similar each time if you keep getting the same questions. How did the band get together? What am I going to say, something different this time?

Ron: Right.
Mark: <laughs> What should I tell them this time? Maybe I should tell them that my birthday is this week.

Ron: Yeah, I have 5 kids tonight and last night I had 3.
Mark: Right <laughs> Exactly. When are their birthdays? Give a different answer every time.

Ron: The other thing that I think is different is a lot of the guys that are asking these questions, they're getting paid to do this and it's their job. They may not even necessarily know you or the band.
Mark: Right.

Ron: Don and I, on the other hand, are fans first and foremost. We're not getting paid anything to do this. We're doing it just out of the love of the music.
Mark: That's awesome. I know that, being a fan myself, I know some kind of behind the scenes type stuff with musicians and stuff and we kind of touched on that. We've even talked about doing a book called Backstage or something just to talk about all of the musicians we've met and all of the behind the scenes stuff.

Ron: To me that's fascinating stuff.
Mark: I love that stuff. I always wanted to know, what does Billy Gibbon do on the weekend and stuff. What about Jimmy Page? Do they have a life off of the stage. That was my thinking when I was like 15. Are they like real human beings?

Ron: Do they eat…
Mark: Yeah, do they drive through McDonalds or do they just pop out of the stage, jam, and then disappear? When I was a teenager I always thought that bands were larger than life. I couldn't picture them doing regular stuff.

Ron: It's kind of cool having that mystery because when Ozzy came out with this TV show, there's stuff about Ozzy that I don't care to ever know. It should've stayed hidden.
Mark: Yeah, a little too much exposure.

Ron: Right.
Mark: They must've written some big checks to get him to do that.

Ron: Absolutely.
Mark: I wouldn't want to have a TV show at my house, man. Where that guy was then and where he is now, before Sharon Osbourne met him, I'm really happy for the guy for all of his success.

Don: He met a good woman, that's for sure.
Mark: Really good.

Ron: I'll tell you, if we could put Sharon Osbourne with Gene Simmons, now they might be able to solve the Middle East peace crisis.
Mark: <Laughs> That's good.

Ron: Those two…
Don: They're always thinking aren't they?
Ron: Well listen, is there anything else that you want to talk about? I know that you guys are still donating a lot of your proceeds to the Station Family Fund.
Mark: Yeah, we're still doing that.

Don: Very cool.
Mark: We're too glad to help out any way we can.
I've gone through so much with the therapy and everything. I'm starting to move on. The fellowship with the families and everything and some of the victims. We're all healing together but to relive that night, I don't want those thoughts or those visions. But I want to keep the awareness of the Station Family Fund. I don't want that to go away.

Ron: Exactly.
Mark: I know that these people still need help and we're going to keep that going forever.

Don: That's great. That's a good attitude.
Ron: That's exactly why we didn't want to focus our interview on that. It's about the music. We wanted to talk about the music but we wanted to make sure that people are aware that you guys are donating proceeds from albums and tours to raise the awareness.
Mark: The music is part of the healing process.

Ron: Absolutely.
Mark: Music. That's what we do. It's the only way we knew how to help. After that, I didn't even touch the guitar for so many months until I found out I could help. Once I found out I could help, then it was time to get busy and create some awareness.

Don: Sure. That's how you can help because that's what you are—a musician.
Mark: When Jack and I first got together, one of our main things was, we were pretty young guys, but we go, let's do this for our lives, nothing to fall back on, because everybody always said you've got to have something to fall back on but here we have nothing to fall back on. The only thing we have to fall back on is our music.

Ron: Yeah.
Mark: So we gave ourselves no outs whatsoever. <laughs>

Ron: That's cool.
Don: I've never heard anybody say that.
Mark: Yeah. You better get there dude. I swear, we fought. Even though it seems like it happened overnight, we played around for a few years and we played like 6 nights a week. We played all the time. We'd play anywhere. We literally played anywhere that had a stage, I don't care if it had 10 people in front of us.

Don: As a fan, and I first heard of you guys right when you first started making some more national noise when you came out with Once Bitten and you got a little bit of radio play, and actually at the same time there was a local band—they're actually still together—who played at Annies where you guys played called Prizoner, and they used to play “Street Killer” and “Stick It”.
Mark: Oh, cool.

Don: At first I didn't know who sang them and then I talked with them and they said Great White. That was right about the same time that you guys came out with this album and then you also had the Recovery Live album so I ran out and got that.
Mark: That was our first album, with “Stick It” and all of that.

Don: That's how I became a Great White fan, by listening to some other band cover your songs.
Mark: Back then when we had those songs, it was the early part of our writing, you know, and we were young. We didn't have keyboards or another guitar or anything. It was one guitar, a bass and drums and a lead singer. Everything we wrote was pretty much in the heavier vain.

Ron: That's the other thing that I remember about the concert when I saw you guys, was after the show when you were meeting everybody, as I was going through the line and getting autographs or whatever, I said to, I think it was you and Jack, I said, “Yeah I kept waiting to hear 'Stick It' or 'Street Killer'”, because it wasn't on your set that night, I remember Jack looking over at you and saying, “That's the 2nd person to say that tonight. We're going to have to add that to our set.” I was blown away.
Mark: We do play “On Your Knees” and we kind of do it a little different, we try to change the set around a little bit. You've got to do that to make it exciting. For us. You know, we keep playing the same set. I mean, there's a few songs that we have to play obviously but it's cool to play ones that… I always hated that, we record albums and then we never play some of the songs live ever. It's like, why do we even put that music on the tape if we're never going to play it. What, you just play it once and then that's it? You have to re-learn the song just to play it.

Ron: I always thought it would be cool if bands did a tour and they called it For the Fans and they didn't have any hits.
Mark: Well, we had an idea for our web site to have a fan write what his greatest hits would be, and we'll make him a CD like that.

Ron: Yeah! You know, Iron Maiden did something like that.
Mark: That's a good idea.

Ron: That's a great idea.
Mark: You tell us your greatest hits, I don't care if it's a live version or any song off of the first album, we'll make you a CD and create our own artwork and stuff.

Ron: That would be cool.
Mark: <Laughs> You know what I mean?

Don: With the digital revolution that certainly seems doable.
Mark: We should have like 500 fans pick their greatest hits album. Because the people that put out the Great White Greatest Hits just did it without us even knowing that it was coming out. We go, “We would never put those songs on there,” or I would've done it different or Jack would've done it different. You usually talk to the artist at least a little bit.

Don: That would make sense.
Mark: That's our greatest hits?

Ron: The greatest hits according to who?
Mark: Right. Well, whatever. OK, man. Thank you guys. I'll check out Melodicrock.
I'll keep you updated on my site. We're getting it built right now. It's been kind of frustrating. We went through a guy that's slower than a snail.
I want to make a really, really good site because we're doing a band Great White site right now and it's turning out really, really good.

Ron: Cool. Because it's mistabone.com right now, right?
Mark: This mistabone site is good for the fans to chat or whatever, but we need to get a proper site. I've been to some sites for like Van Halen and George Lynch and I go, “These guys have some really good web sites.” We need to get a good one going. So we're having one built right now and this guy's an expert. Even the first page is amazing. It's got this shark swimming at the bottom and then it comes out and there's stuff moving around. It looks awesome. It's a really good site. It'll keep people really updated on what's going on. Have somebody just doing that, constantly feeding people information. Don't have things from 3 years ago, you know. Come on! Tell these people what we're doing now, you know.

Ron: Right. Well, we'll keep an eye out for it. We'll just keep checking it.
Mark: This guy is going to work fast. We just had a meeting, we did a photo shoot in Hollywood a couple of days ago and then we had a meeting at the office with the web site guy and put a lot of ideas around and he's got a lot of ideas and we put it all together and he's going to build us a really good site. It's going to be called Greatwhite.com.

Ron: Okay.
Mark: And then I've got mine. I've been having a really hard time with my domain name. That's why it's bigfinmusic.com right now. I want it to be markkendall.com but some other guy has my name and stuff and wants like a million dollars for it, so we're bugging the guy and we're trying to figure it out. I want it to be markkendall.com not bigfinmusic.com, because I just kind of came up with it. Jack's going to have his little site and then I'm going to have my site and then we'll have the Great White site.

Ron: That'll be great.
Mark: Okay, great, fellas. Thanks for calling.

Ron: Well we didn't mean to keep you so long.
Mark: Well, Rock On! And thank you guys.

Ron: Thank you!
Mark: It was great talking to you.

Don: It was a lot of fun.
Mark: See you guys in Ohio. I'm sure we'll be playing there this year.

Ron: Well, good luck with your album and with your tour.
Mark: Thank you, guys.

Ron: Take care, Mark
Talk to you later. Bye.
Mark: OK. Bye, bye.







Starbreaker (2005)



Starbreaker: The Start Of Something Special.

Vocalist Tony Harnell and guitarist Magnus Karlsson talk about their hard rocking Starbreaker album and how it come together across two continents!





An Interview with Tony Harnell


Ok Mr. Harnell…Time to start the interrogation! You've always been a busy man, but Starbreaker does further lift your profile in the rock world - how has the reaction been to the album thus far?
Amazing. Especially when you consider that this started as one of those project albums!!

Let's talk about the origins of the project first - you were slated to do a solo album. Who approached you to do that and how did it progress from there?
This never had anything to do with the solo album though, this was a totally different animal from the start. Something else to distract me further from doing my solo album :) Anyway, Serafino at Frontiers was calling me a lot and we were talking about doing something together. We decided to start the relationship with a project album to see how things went. At first we were not seeing eye to eye on the direction, and this almost didn't happen at all, but then he came back to me and asked me what I wanted to do, I said a heavy melodic metal album, we then proceeded.

At what point were you introduced to Magnus Karlsson? Did you have any prior awareness of his musical talents?
Not really. First I spoke to Fabrizio about the direction of the album and then Magnus came on board and started sending me material. I was very pleased with what I was getting and though it wasn't exactly what I had in mind it was close enough and I knew I could run with it.

What kind of conversation did you two have before setting out writing the songs? What was the vision anticipated?
We didn't really. Fabrizio spoke to him and it wasn't till much later that he and I were sharing e-mails.

With Magnus in Europe and Fabrizio in LA and you in NYC, writing and recording this album must have been a real challenge.
First the writing - how did you and Magnus do this?

Yes, thank God for MP3s and the internet. This album would not have been possible years ago. But it went very smoothly and easily. I think we were all very focused and that helped a lot.

Was this the first time you have done such, or have you written like this with TNT before?
Somewhat yes. We have done it this way a few times. It wasn't that big a deal for me. Magnus made it very easy as he provided me with great music to write to.

Now with TNT you flew to Norway to record - this time you recorded your vocals in NYC and the album was pieced together...well, maybe you should explain that! How did it work precisely?
I wrote everything in my apartment, then went to Bruno Ravel's studio where I have recorded vocals for Cyberdreams and My Religion. I feel really comfortable there and Bruno and I are good friends. First the music would come, and then I would write lyrics and melodies and then go to the studio. From there the vocals were shipped to Fabrizio. After that the drums were recorded and then the bass and then everything was sent back to Magnus to re-record the final guitars. It was that easy, like magic. And we were all shocked when the songs started coming together.

And were you happy with the result? Fabrizio did a fine job putting it all together - it really does sound great, although I could imagine what a million dollar budget and you all in one studio could have done!
Exactly. I haven't really seen any bad reviews, but I will ignore any of them if there are any. I am so proud of everyone involved with this. We worked on a shoestring budget, across oceans and pulled this off! You better believe that with a bigger budget and the ability to write in the same room and record together we would be able to make an even better album and that s something to get excited about for all of us.

Starbreaker is a different beast entirely to TNT - did you originally plan to have it be such a heavy and more metal sounding release, or did that just evolve?
No it was my desire and my plan. I would have been happy if it was even heavier, but I think this is a good debut album for the band and for me back into metal where my heart has always been.

Did you enjoy stretching those vocal chords into something heavier - doing something a little different?
Oh yeah! Definitely. I sang how the songs wanted me to though. I always do that.

Having lived with the CD for sometime - favourite tracks?
Break My Bones, Days Of Confusion, Save Yourself, Transparent, Die For You and more really :)

I also enjoyed the film clip - great energy. When did you all get together to do that?
We had just a few hours in L.A. Again on a shoestring budget and just jammed. We never even spent any time together before that so it's weird. We also did a photo shoot that day and we were looking at the Polaroid's thinking, wow, we look like a band!

I must also note what a classy bit of artwork the CD featured. You must be happy with that also?
Yes, finally a cover I can be proud of!

Any plans for touring as Starbreaker? I could easily see you guys doing some metal festivals. Is it all down to economics?
Sort of but we will get out there. We plan on doing things in the fall I believe.

How about a US domestic release of the album? Or might you do it yourself as you have done with TNT and Westworld?
Yes, well, Frontiers owns it for the world so it s up to them, but I have heard it is coming out through Locomotive/Warner in the U.S. Which I think should be pretty good. I mean we're not going to be on MTV, but we should get a lot of radio play which is always helpful.

So where do you envisage Starbreaker going? A lot of these albums are one-off projects, but I see a great future for this name and the band in general.
Yeah it kind of looks that way. We will take it as far as we can, we are calling ourselves a band and that is not a marketing ploy like so many of these project albums are. I knew going into this that I wouldn't settle for a release that would just be mediocre. I just would never do that. I had to put myself into it full on and try my best to make it more than just another one-off. I don t like to be a part of things like that. It's not good for the fans, for me or for the market in general. It had to be something.

We must talk TNT! My Religion was obviously a huge success; do you have any ideas of sales numbers for Europe and/or Japan?
Not really, but I didn't buy a villa in Spain that s for sure :) But it did very well for all concerned I am sure of that.

I thought My Religion (as you well know) was a perfect blend of classic and updated melodic rock, with classic TNT fans catered for as well as new fans.
What do you have in mind for the new album due later this year and how are things progressing?

They are coming along. The songs are just fantastic. It feels very good right now. Ronni and I have a chemistry that is undeniable and these songs are proof of that. I'm excited about where this is going.

Do you have the same recording plan as My Religion? The sound on that really was major label quality.
Yeah, pretty much. Tommy Hansen is our man!

Another one of your much admired projects is WestWorld. What's the status of the band and when might we see something new from you guys? Same line-up?
I don t see anything happening there for awhile if at all. We'll see. I love those albums. To bring Westworld back would take a special deal from a special label :)

How about more Morning Wood? That's still a brilliant CD!
I am working on something like that and if it comes together it will be relatively soon.

I know from talking to you there are a few other things on the go also! What else are you involved in this year Tony?
I have three songs on the new Brazon Abbot CD, and a few other appearances on other recordings. One song here and there. It's the most output from me in a year for sure. But I think all the things I have agreed to are good projects with good songs. I won't do this every year, but this one is special. My priorities are still going to be TNT and now Starbreaker for sure!

Have we missed anything Tony? Anything you would like to add?
I love your site Andrew! You rock. Thanks for all the support you have given me throughout Melodic Rock's reign. The fans have been able to find out more about what I am doing because of you and this site. I love the crazy message board as well. It can get hot in there sometimes though!
I am looking forward to Firefest with my buddy JSS and the Firehouse guys. It's going to be a blast. It's going to be a busy year and I hope that both TNT and Starbreaker get to play as many countries as possible.

Thanks in advance for taking the time out to do the interview. Much appreciated.
Thanks again! Peace and love.





An Interview with Magnus Karlsson






I said this to Tony, but the same applies to you - Starbreaker further lifts your profile in the rock world - are you happy with the feedback to date?
I have not seen so many reviews yet. But the feedback from the people that I have played it for has been great. And I have of course been reading your review. Thank you for those encouraging words Andrew.

How did this project get started for you?
Serafino at Frontiers asked if I wanted to write songs for an album with Tony Harnell. But he warned me and said that every song must be approved by Tony and he is a real demanding guy when it comes to songwriting. Great I thought because so am I. And I am always up for new challenges so of course I said yes to the project.

At what point were you introduced to Tony Harnell? Did you have any prior awareness of his musical talents?
I must admit that I had never listened TNT before (and yes I am ashamed). But when I got this offer from Serafino, I started too listened to everything I came over with TNT and Westworld and now I am a big fan. I can't believe that I have missed so much great music. What a voice! Unbelievable, I'm still in shock!

What kind of conversation did you two have before setting out writing the songs? What was the vision anticipated?
Rule number one: NO POWERMETAL!
Ok Ok I won't.
No…just kidding it wasn't really like that. We had a discussion between me and Tony and Fabrizio and I got feedback on my demos I sent to them and from Serafino as well.
I know that Tony wanted to do something hard but still melodic and that's what I like too so everything went very smooth. I got a lot of inspiration just listen too Tony's vocals on old recordings. So when I start to write on a Starbreaker song I have Tony's voice in my head and try to imagine the result when he sings in the song.

With Tony in NYC and Fabrizio in LA and you in Europe, the writing and recording process had to be different. How did you go about it?
As I mentioned before everyone involved gets demos from me. The demos has no vocals just a guitar that plays the melody. Then Tony gets the same songs without the melody and he starts to do the changes he wants so they will suit him and the lyrics perfect. In the beginning I was terrified that someone was going to do changes in my creations but when I hear the result now I am convinced that every change has been for the better. Fabrizio did some changes in the arrangement. If he thought there was a chorus to much or something he just chopped it off. It's nice to have someone that listens to the songs with “new” ears. After a while when I have been working with a song for a long time I can't tell if it's good or bad any longer. I usually torture my friends or girlfriend with it. But now I just send it to the producer. That's great hehe.

Was this the first time you have done such?
Yes and I'm surprised it worked so well.

And were you happy with the result with the budget available?
I guess a million dollar budget is not a guarantee for a perfect production. Just listen to Metallica's latest album - (now I got me some enemies!).
Yeah Fabrizio did a great job and I think it's cool that he didn't do a traditional metal production and that he had the courage to try something new. I think it's something we need in this kind of music. I have heard the same production so many times.

Starbreaker is a little different to Last Tribe - how do you compare the both?
The biggest difference is the sound and of course the singer. Last Tribe has more progressive elements (longer songs) and more guitar shredding. And I think there more of old school guitar riff in Last Tribe.

Having lived with the CD for sometime - favourite tracks?
It changes all the time but Transparent and Lies and … ohh f%# it's hard to choose. I normally don't listen so carefully to lyrics but in this case I can recommend it. Tony can be really proud over them.

I also enjoyed the film clip - great energy!
That was really fun to do and then I got a chance to meet the whole band. Great guys by the way. It was done in November last year.

Any plans for touring as Starbreaker?
I really hope we will play live soon. I can't wait to perform these songs on a stage and we are discussing where and when but nothing is decided yet.

So where do you envisage Starbreaker going? I see a great future for you.
Thanks. So do I and the other band members. We enjoyed doing this so much so I am convinced you will hear more from us.

Now, how about Last Tribe? You guy shave been getting better and better with each release and building a strong fan base. What's next for the band?
As you know I have been busy in different projects but we have plans for another album. I just don't know when we will find the time for it.

I have to also ask you about the highly anticipated Lande/Allen project. How has that been going and what stage are you up to?
The songs were finished for almost a year ago and everything is recorded except for Russel's vocals. His solo album took a little longer than he planned. But he just told me that he is working with the vocals right now. I can't wait to hear his stuff. I already got Jorn's vocals and it's completely awesome. This album is going to be so cool. But don't expect any progressive and power metal just because its Russel Allen and Jorn Lande behind the mics. It's more of a Hard rock feel to it.

Have you been recording that in the same method as you did Starbreaker?
Not really. We recorded the drums In Roastinghouse studio that's just 5 minutes from my place here in Malmö. Jaime from Last Tribe did the drums. I recorded the rest of the instruments in my own studio and Jorn did his vocals in Norway and Russel doing his in USA.
And we are mixing it in Roasting house as well. And I wrote 100% of the music and lyrics this time so it has been a little less files to send around the world.

When might this album be ready for release?
I'm not sure but as soon as possible I think. Hopefully this summer.

And is there anything else you are working on Magnus?
I have just finished the songwriting and pre-production for an album with Tony O'Hora (Praying Mantis). I'm really satisfied with this one and I love he's voice. It's really a wonderful privilege for me to get the opportunity to write for all this great singers.
And I also just finished an album with my Irish folk music band Greenhouse. (not Greenhouze ). If you want to hear me play the banjo you should check this out!

Anything you would like to add Magnus?
I must again take the opportunity to thank all the wonderful people that are mailing me or write in forums and my guestbook for all the encouraging and warming words about the music I'm involved in. I don't think you understand how much it means to me and for my creativity.
Thank you all! And hope you will enjoy listening to Starbreaker.

Thanks in advance for taking the time out to do the interview. Much appreciated.
You're welcome Andrew. It's always a pleasure.







Heaven & Earth (2005)



Heaven & Earth: All Is Revealed.
Guitarist Stuart Smith talks Heaven & Earth - past and present - that re-release and missing lead singers included!


Stu, I guess the main objective of this interview is to promote the re-issue of the debut Heaven & Earth release…itself a bit of a classic.
Now, why the need for a new version - especially as it's already been released in Asia and Europe separately?

As you know we started our own label Black Star Records that, for the time being, is focusing on the States. The worldwide rights to the first Heaven & Earth album have finally reverted back to me and we felt that this would be an ideal first release as it's never been brought out officially over here.

Did copies of the initial release make it through to the USA at the time, or are you finding fans are picking it up now?
There were copies of this album in the States as the companies that released it in other territories had exported it over here, which was expressly against the contractual agreements we had with them but it's no use blaming a shark for being a shark. The sales have been going really well and things seem to be taking off so I guess we made the right choice.

The bonus tracks are an obvious attraction, but there will be a few annoyed that a CD they like is available again with extra tracks. What can you say to those?
I saw the comments on the Noticeboard and wanted to address them at the time but was so busy I never got round to it so now things are relaxed a bit I can answer the critics.

Firstly, nowadays every record company throughout the world asks for a bonus track for their own territory. It started with the Japanese companies and now I believe the European labels have jumped on the bandwagon. I personally don't like the idea as I feel the fans get the short end of the deal as they have to pay anything up to $40.00 for an import but when you're a new band struggling to survive, in a position of having a record label say they won't give you a deal without the bonus track, there's not much you can do about it. With our Black Star Records releases I'd love to find a way around this and would certainly be open to suggestions any of the Melodicrock.com readers have on this subject.

Secondly, apart from the original advances from the above mentioned record labels, which were very small, we have seen no money whatsoever and in some cases are still to this day trying to get our publishing money from them from when it was originally released back in 1997. For those of you that are unfamiliar with what publishing is, on every CD pressed 8.5 cents per song has by international law to be paid to the writers of the songs. This is how musicians survive. Now I know most people think that because someone has a record deal they're rolling in money but this is not the case. Generally you're lucky if the advance you get covers the cost of recording the CD and you have to survive on that and what you can make on gigs, which until you achieve superstar status, is not very much. I still play for the love of it but I also don't want to have to starve while I do it.

Next, the first Heaven & Earth album was never released and in the States and was never given the chance to do what I feel it could have done given the publicity and promotion that the labels that released it abroad did. Our release was targeted at the States and some distribution companies throughout the world wanted to purchase copies that we, at least, had the legal right to do. We did everything we could to make it up to the loyal fans that wanted the extra tracks to complete their collections like making them available on iTunes, etc. Re-releasing albums with bonus tracks is not something we plan to make a habit of and as I said before if any of the readers out there have any realistic ideas on how to overcome this bonus track issue I'd be glad to hear them.

Lastly, regarding the comments made on our launch party I'd like to say, “Thank you” to those of you who were supportive and to those of you that weren't, “Shut the hell up!!”
I assume you're participating in this forum because you love melodic Rock & Roll and want to see it come back in a big way. We at least are trying to do something about bringing good songs and well played music back to the forefront again as opposed to just talking about it and whining about what's out there. We spent a year of our lives putting together a business plan to get some investors to back us in our ventures as well as putting a lot of our own money into it and we made it happen. There has never been a better time than right now for the Classic Rock sound to re-emerge and all it takes is money behind it to get it there. You don't seriously think someone like Ashlee Simpson is where she is right now because of her staggering talent do you? All it takes is money and we are putting the kind of finances and effort behind all our releases that a major label would for a successful rap artist. We have hired a full time publicist, a full time radio promoter, a full time distribution consultant and we pay for listening stations and end caps in Tower Records, Boarders and all the independent chains throughout the country as well as internet advertising and full page color ads in magazines and we'll do the same for all our artists, not just Heaven & Earth. Some of you may not like me or like Heaven & Earth's music, I don't really care, but surely we're all on the same side here and want some changes in what we hear on the radio and television. The way I see it is that if you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem. When nearly every commercial on television in the States is featuring Classic Rock music and Heaven & Earth is picking up radio play over here and being one of the few bands ever to be invited to be on the nationally syndicated Rockline on our first album and seeing a standing room only crowd at our show last Saturday with Blue Oyster Cult I believe with all my heart that this music is coming back and thank God because I'm sure I'm not alone in being sick and tired of the same 200 songs being played on Classic Rock Radio. Everyone right now needs to work together and that means supporting the bands you like by actually buying their albums as opposed to burning a copy from a friend, calling and e-mailing your local radio stations and asking them to play a song you like. Do something to make a difference!!!

Something a little unusual with these bonus tracks too - they were actually recorded recently and have been added to the CD, not tracks that weren't used originally as is the normal case with bonus tracks. What was the thinking behind that?
The backing track for “Life on the Line” was originally written and recorded during the original Heaven & Earth sessions but “Still Got The Blues” was recorded especially for this release.

Ok, let's go thru those couple of tracks:
Life On The Line, featuring the brilliant Bobby Kimball –

“Life on the Line” was a song that Joe Lynn Turner and I wrote for the original Heaven & Earth sessions and it was recorded back then but didn't have any vocals, guitar solos or keyboards on so we brought in Arlan Schierbaum to add the Hammond organ again. Richie Onori had played with Bobby Kimball in the past and called him up to come in and add vocals. I think both of these guys did an incredible job. I added the solo afterwards, which, for once, I was really happy with.

An inspired cover of Gary Moore's Still Got The Blues with Joe Lynn Turner -
“Still Got The Blues” is a song that I have always loved and have played with various people over the years. Back in 93 Joe Lynn Turner and I had a band called Midnight and we did a show at the China Club in Chicago that somebody bootlegged and a version we played of this song made the rounds. After Heaven & Earth came out I had so many people e-mail me asking us to do a version of it so we did. We recorded the tracks at our Wine Cellar Studios here in Woodland Hills where we've just installed the new Pro-Tools system and sent it to Joe Lynn on the East Coast where he added the vocals.

We decided to make this track our first single as a way of getting into the Classic Rock stations in America. They won't add songs by new bands but we took a calculated risk and pressed 1,000 copies that we had our radio promoter send out to all the program directors. We felt that as it was a familiar song with a known “Classic Rock” voice they might be more inclined to add it to their play lists or at least give it a few spins. The gamble paid off and we had program directors wanting to hear the full album.

When the Blues Catch Up with You featuring Al Mirikitani –
When Frontiers signed Heaven & Earth they wanted a few bonus tracks as the original Samsung release had already been exported, again, against my agreement with them so we went in Al Mirikitani's Dog House Studios with Howard Leese producing and added Howard's and my guitar to an existing track Al had already recorded and sung.

Howlin' at the Moon featuring Paul Shortino –
Same deal with this one except we added Paul's voice as well as my guitar.

That makes for a very complete album now doesn't it?!
I'm not sure. Perhaps we should release it again next year with two more bonus tracks.J





For those that are new to the album and yourself as a performer - let's go back just a little bit. First off, you are English - how did you end up in LA?
In 1983 I got tired of the British rock scene which was not really going anywhere at the time and on one of his English tours with Rainbow, Ritchie Blackmore suggested I move out to the States as you could at least make a living there. I took him up on the suggestion and packed up my guitars and moved to Long Island, New York where I formed the first version of a band called Midnight. In 1984 Ritchie reformed Deep Purple to record the Perfect Strangers album and when they went on tour for that he invited me along with him for the Australian tour dates. On the way back we stopped in LA and Ritchie introduced me to a friend of his called Anna Fraley who was one of the Penthouse Pets. I ended up going out with her and she came and visited me when I was back in Long Island. I'd been offered a deal to do some recording back in England so I flew back out there and she joined me. It turned out to be an incredibly tempestuous relationship with Anna, every 3-4 months we'd break up and she'd fly back to LA. and I'd fly back and get her and she'd come back to England again and then after the 3-4 months we'd have the usual break up. On one of these stays back in England we got the crazy idea that things would work out better if we were in LA so in 1986 we packed up and moved there. Of course the location changed nothing and after 3 months we broke up again. She ended up leaving L.A. but I liked it so I stayed here till this day.

That wasn't an answer I was expecting, but thanks anyway! You made a lot of big name friends along the way - how did you rope those guys into being a part of the album, which turns out to feature an amazing line-up?
Well I had pictures and videos of them all in compromising situations and threatened to make them public if they didn't come and sing on my album. Also, its amazing how agreeable people can be if you send a couple of big lads round to have a chat with them. Seriously I had called Joe Lynn and Richie Sambora and once they'd said yes it was sort of like a domino effect, everyone wanted to get involved.

And the album sounds a million bucks and features some amazing names. The story of how it got made and it's original release it another great tale - can you run through that briefly.
Richie Onori & I were playing with Keith Emerson in a band called the “Aliens of Extraordinary Ability” and the guys from Samsung, the Korean electronics giant, had opened a record label that was going to be distributed worldwide through WEA were at one of our live shows and offered us a deal for an album. We couldn't do it as Keith was going to go off to do the ELP reunion tour with Jethro Tull and I was slated to be the guitarist for the reformed Sweet. Sadly Brian Connelly died so that didn't happen and then about 2 months later the top guys from Samsung heard me jamming at the Baked Potato with Teddy Andreas and the “Screaming Cocktail Hour”. They came up and talked to me afterwards and then came to my house for a late night drink where they heard the material I'd written over the years. They offered me a deal on the spot but it took 3 months to finally get it signed. Half way through the recording of the album the Asian economy collapsed and Samsung lost their distribution deal so when the album was finished it was only released in Korea. I bought 8,000 copies off them myself and sent about 300 of them off to anyone I knew in the business and the rest I sold off my web site, which I'd just started. After them seeing the review on your page I got the offer from Frontiers for Europe and after Richie Sambora had mentioned the CD in an interview in Burrn Magazine in Japan I got offered the deal from Pony Canyon for Japan.

I remember getting a package from you and reviewing an advance tape for the site - not even a CDR, an advance tape!
I know, it was all that I had at the time, as the Samsung copies weren't even pressed then.

And now it's back in your hands - Black Star Records is your own label. Who else is involved in it with you?
Apart from myself there's Richie Onori and Kelly Hansen dealing with the day to day running of the company and we have our publicist, Kathy Arnold, radio promoter, Kim Langbecker, artwork co-coordinator, German Arbelaez, producer/engineer, Dave Jenkins and distribution consultant, Clay Pasternack. We also have a few ancillary office staff.

You touched on this briefly before, but let's talk why you would want to start your own label.
There were a number of reasons but mainly it's because we were not happy with the amount of money the record companies make in relation to the artist. Record labels today are still working off a business model that's over 60 years old when records were made on vinyl and there wasn't the Internet to help with publicity. Manufacturing, publicity and shipping costs have gone way down yet the record companies out there are still taking a huge percentage of income, which we feel is grossly unfair to the artist. Also, once the labels have made about three times their money back they don't put much effort into further promotion such as live touring etc. We intend to change that.

Now, this just isn't a vanity project to get your own record into the market place is it? You have definite plans to develop the label and create
a roster of artists don't you?

Most certainly. We originally had a two year business plan with Black Star Records to release this first Heaven & Earth album, record and release the next one, “Screaming for Redemption” and do the same for Howard Leese's solo album but since we're gotten this label started and generated as much press as we have we've been approached by quite a number of artists, both well known and not so well known, to sign them so we're in the process of talking to investors right now so that we can expand earlier that we anticipated.

Can you reveal any of those plans yet? You have already announced Howard Leese's solo album....
Unfortunately I can't reveal anything new at the moment as we're still in negotiations but you'll be the first to know Andrew.

You just played a few live shows too…
We just played our first official show last month opening for Blue Oyster Cult at The Canyon Club that went really well. As we brought in a good crowd they asked us back so we're co-headlining with Mountain on May 21st which should be quite an interesting show as after we did Rockline last week we went out with Bob Coburn for a drink afterwards at our local hangout the White Harte British Pub and when he told us he was going to come to the show, our manager John Malta asked him if he would agree to M.C. it. He said he'd love to so I suggested that they should have a monthly “Bob Coburn's Rock Night” at the Canyon Club where it could be promoted on Rockline and KLOS. We talked to the club and they went for it so this gig on the 21st May is actually going to be the first one. We're also playing at Paladinos in Reseda on April 23rd and opening up for Europe at the Los Angeles House of Blues the day after, April 24th. Alice Cooper is interviewing us for his radio show this week as well so I feel we're on the right rack with this “New Classic Rock” idea.

Who's in the band for the show and is that the same for the next album?
For these shows at least the band will consist of Kelly Hansen (Vocals),
Me (Guitar), Richie Onori (Drums), Joe Petro (Bass), Stu Simone (Keyboards). As most of you already know, Kelly has the gig with Foreigner and we're in the process of looking for a replacement so it doesn't look like he'll be with us on the next album. It's come at an awkward time as everything seems to be finally moving for Heaven & Earth but I'm very happy for Kelly. I can't really be mad at him, as I know it's every singers dream gig and we'll still be working together with Black Star Records. If we can't find another singer I've got a hit man set up to pick Mick Jones off at one of their shows.

Any other live shows in the pipeline?
There are quite a few being offered as we have a new manager in John Malta who manages Pat Benatar but we don't want to commit to too many shows until we've sorted out the new singer as we're going to be running into conflicts with the Foreigner shows.

You have recorded and released one other album after this debut and last
year released a new 4 track EP. Featured on that EP, as he is on one of the new bonus tracks here was Paul Shortino. He was announced as the new singer for Heaven & Earth, but it didn't work out. Can you explain what happened?

That EP was really put together for a July 4th show we had out here playing to 40,000 people so we thought it would be good to have something to sell there. We brought in Paul to record the songs and sing at the show and wanted to try to work with him but it turned into the usual nightmare. Paul and I have tried to work together many times in the past and it always blows up but this will be the last time. I guess you could call it personality conflicts.





Kelly's a very versatile singer – can you two still plan new material?
Although Kelly is in Foreigner now I'm sure we'll be doing some writing together at some point and there's some tracks we wrote in the past like “Everybody's Girl” that we may use on the next Heaven & Earth album.

And what is the timetable for a new album?
I would really like to get recording it soon but we have to wait till we've sorted out the singer situation. I'd also like to get out and play the songs live a few times before committing them to tape as I feel you get a lot more magic down that way. I do hope to have it out sometime this year though.

Tell us about Richie Onori's involvement with yourself, the band and the label.
Richie has been my long time friend, drummer and business partner. We first met back in the 80's when I was asked to come and audition for a band he was playing in with a singer named Larry Greene. We remained friends to this day and he is really the behind the scenes driving force with Black Star Records. As well as being a great drummer he has a fine business mind. You should interview him one day; he has a lot of interesting things to say about the music industry.

You have done a bunch of press in recent weeks - what else have you got
coming up where folks can read more?

We keep the Heaven & Earth and Black Star Records websites pretty well updated so people can see what's going on there. We also have a One-list which people can subscribe to by putting in their e-mail address on the H&E website which automatically updates members as to what's new and exciting.

Recent times have seen three more rock stations switch format in the USA. Although the underground following for rock music seems to be building, the powers behind the money, or the corporations seem intent on continuing their quick fix/instant payoff policy. How can you get around that?
Probably by doing what we're doing right now. We find that having a good publicist and drawing everyone's attention to this “New Classic Rock” idea is paying off. There are a lot of people out there that are tired of the same old crap and want to hear some new well-played guitar driven rock. For the last 10 years we've had to put up with Alternative, Rap, Hip Hop and whiney Female singers and they come out with nothing more musically substantial than a hot dog. Now it's our turn!

Outside the current line-up, you did start working with a female singer and previewed one track on my site year or so ago. What did happen with you and that singer Doah?
Ahh Doah, the wild elemental force. What can I say? I first saw Doah when I was actually out on a date and went to a bar where they had Karaoke. As I came out of the restroom I heard this absolutely amazing voice singing “My Heart Will Go On” from the Titanic movie and I was completely stunned. When I turned the corner and saw who was singing I was even more blown away. I ended up going back to the same bar every night for about a week but never saw her again then one night when they had karaoke there again, the guy who ran it came up to me and told me he was a big fan of mine.
I told him that I was a big fan of the girl with the long curly red hair and amazing voice and he knew exactly who it was and told me he'd call me and let me know when she was in again. A few days later I was in a recording session when he called and told me she was there so I dropped my guitars, drove down to the bar, walked right up to her and introduced myself. We started working together writing songs with Howard Leese who loved her voice and recording them. Within a few weeks we stared going out together and she eventually moved in with me. We had this incredible chemistry going together and wrote some really great songs, which just came out naturally. The material we wrote was a cross between Bad Company and Heart, very bluesy and melodic but after a while it became obvious that that was not where she was coming from musically although she could pull it off incredibly. We then started working on new material, which was still very good but it wasn't happening fast enough for her and we eventually parted ways. There was a lot of personal drama that went down as well but I'm not going to get into that and although there's still some good songs we wrote together that I'd like to rework and possibly use with the new Heaven & Earth album, I can't help feeling I got a bit used on this one but as the saying goes “There's only one thing better than the love of a good woman and that's the love of a bad one” and Doah was a bad one.





Is there anything else you are working on Stu, either for the label, Heaven
& Earth or outside projects?

There are a few other things and one great idea that we have in the pipeline but as usual I can't talk about them just yet. Of course I may not have absolutely anything going on at all and am just saying that to keep you all guessing.

Anything you would like to add Stu?
Yes, I'd like to say thanks to all the MelodicRock.com readers who've supported us and hope we get to see you out on tour soon and to the bands out there, make an effort to write songs that the everyday people can connect with so we can bring the music we love back to the forefront. Unless your stage act depends on it like Dio, stop singing about wizards and dragons, they're not the kind of thing people run into in the everyday course of their lives.
I'm going to shoot the next person I hear using the words “River of destiny” in a song.

And there you have it – thanks Stu!








Glenn Hughes (2005)

Glenn Hughes: The Soul Mover Speaks.
Glenn Hughes talks at length about his soullyfully rocking new solo album, Iommi Hughes, that live DVD and a bunch of other great stuff!

This is a MP3 Interview in 5 Parts! I hope you enjoy the concept - it allows the lengthy interview to be placed online quicker than waiting for a transcript to be typed out.

Highlights of the interview include:

"The last 10 years ... it's been a nice little ride, now let's get serious.

What's missing for me is that I wanted to start focusing on what makes me tick. I want to make records now for the way I will be remembered in 10 years time.

I made a lot of records, what I did with From Now On…Feel…all different…that was a guy figuring out what I really want to do.

It's all me (style changes) – it takes me quite a while to feel comfortable in my own skin.

I'm really happy with the focus of what's going on right now….I'm allowing myself to have fun with my music now. Labels that want me to be one dimensional – no – I'm going to do what I want to do. I gotta be me.

This is the best record I've done – personally – in my mind…that's the way I feel. As an artist, I stand behind this record.

My life since I have been sober is not about music. I blew a million dollars up my nose and made it back. It's about making artist statements that will come through the music and the touring I'm about to do.

Although I am writing, I don't see myself recording anything this year. When Tony and I's record comes out, we want to tour behind that.

Deep Purple for me was pretty average – I'm writing better songs now and signing better.

I don't want to make too many u-turns, I've been blessed to be able to write in so many styles. I feel comfortable in all of it and that's kind of a curse in some regards.

I could do a 180 in 18 months time and do a ballad album…cause we all know I'm crazy!!

This new Iommi record…what we have here is one hell of a focused record. This is Iommi's best work. Riffs, songs…just blow your mind type stuff. I told Tony it was his best work since Black Sabbath.
It's one hell of a record….and when you here it you will know what I'm talking about.
The DEP Sessions was well received, we call that the appetizer for what's coming.
The whole rock industry took a shine to us working together again.
I'm going to do at least 80 shows solo this year and Tony and I will tour the world on this record.
It's an album for me that will compete with Velvet Revolver and Audioslave.
I couldn't sing live though…From 1976 to 1991 when I got sober, I did altogether no more than 40 shows….that's a crime for an artist like me who loves to play live.

(Regarding Deep Purple) - People talk about the Purple Mk3 getting back together. I would much rather do a thing with Tony than get together with 4 or 5 guys I don't even know! I don't know who Jon Lord is and Ian Paice and Richie Blackmore….I barely know who David Coverdale is.
I was in a band with these guys – we were all ego's and high or drunk or whatever, pretty much…I don't know who these guys are.
I saw Purple 4 or 5 months ago…I went backstage and I had no idea who these people were….no connection whatsoever….so I wouldn't look forward to that.

(Regarding the new Russian project with JLT) - The songs were written in the 80's, so they are more akin to a lighter Purple Mk3, meets Joe era Rainbow, in a Russian way! That kinda Russian vibe! Very melodic, kinda light…it will serve its purpose in that market. It was great to work with Joe again.

DOWNLOAD: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5.


Joe Lynn Turner (2005)

Joe Lynn Turner: The Usual Suspect.
Joe Lynn Turner talks about his new solo album, life with Richie, nursing Yngwie and some other great stories!
Thanks to Ron Higgins for his work transcribing this interview!



Hey Joe, Nice to talk to you.
Right. I appreciate your time.

No, I appreciate your time. I mean, what took us so long to get on the phone and do an interview? I'm not sure.
I don't know, because I love your site. I'm always on it.

Thank you.
I'm always checking things and checking new releases and who's doing what to whom. Honestly I am because I really do appreciate your take on what's good, what's not good, and so on.

Well, hopefully I get it right most of the time.
Oh, I think you do. That's what I mean, most people get it wrong most of the time, so you're on the other end of the spectrum.

Thank you, Joe. I appreciate that.
I mean that. No kidding. I'm not just kissing your ass. I'm not. I'm just saying, I check and see what you do. I listen to sound bytes and I go, “Hmm, I think Andrew's on it.” You're really a music person, so that's why it's great to talk to you.

Thank you, Joe. I appreciate it. I've been a fan for a long time, so the feeling's mutual. I have to say as someone who's bought your records from the word go, I'm very pleased to say that I think The Usual Suspects is up there with some of your best ever.
Well, I appreciate that. I was holding my breath, waiting to hear what you were going to say about it. I do appreciate that, Andrew. I thank you. I didn't try to make it my best or worst, I just got something else kicked into me and I said, “Let me get back to some commercial rock some melodic stuff. Melodicrock.com, huh?

I belong on that site for sure. No, honestly, that's what happened. I had about 4 or 5 different tracks suited and I just said, “All I'm doing is making another blues rock record and I said, “Nobody gives a shit, you know?”
I said, let me write some songs that have some structure and that's when I got into it and I think the body of that combined with some of the older sounding, more bluesier sounding stuff works.

I like what you've got. You've got a rocking start. A little soulful sort of blues ballady sort of middle section and then you rock again at the end, so it flows well.
Exactly. It's a quilt.

It does. It flows well and I don't think the record is a great departure from anything you've done before but I think the songs are just spot on.
I appreciate that because that's really what I wanted to do, I wanted to get back into crafting some songwriting that I know I'm capable of that I've been writing for other people here trying to get deals and what not, and I said, “I should use this songwriting talent on myself again. This blues thing, people are getting the wrong idea. Oh, just another album from Joe. Oh there he is swimming in circles. I read it all, you know.




And I try to be above it, but it's difficult.

I'm much the same. People give me some stick sometimes with the things I do. And it's hard to take criticism sometimes when you feel so passionately about it. How do you handle it?
Well, Ritchie, I've got to give Ritchie credit again. When I was a young thing coming up, well I wasn't all that young, but I was immature that's for sure. I didn't know the ropes and Blackmore taught me the ropes. He always said one thing to me and it stuck.
We were in Germany at the time and I was reading a review and somebody had said, “Sure Joe Lynn Turner can sing, but can he sing for Rainbow… and he's a bit on the gay side,” and all of this. And in the meanwhile, I'm not gay at all, I'm the furthest thing from that and some of my best friends are gay so I have no problem with gayness or homosexuality or any of that. It was just like, “What the fuck does that have to do with music?” And I started to go off and Ritchie said, “Settle down. He said look. If you believe a good review, then you've got to believe a bad review so henceforth, don't believe any fuckin' review. You know exactly what you've done. You know if it was good or bad of if you challenged yourself in any way. So throw the paper away.

That's an interesting take.
I never forgot that. If you believe a good review, then you've got to believe a bad review. Don't believe any reviews. He said, “What do you care for? Ritchie is a true… Voltaire the French revolutionist, I'll share this with you, he said that he had contempt for his audiences because he said that audiences are like cattle. They bring you up, they bring you down, they push you around, they criticize you, they adore you and then they leave you flat. When you get too old they kick you to the side. And this was coming from Voltaire and I said, “Wow, that's pretty deep stuff.” And I try to look at the public as just people who…they're much like relatives, you know, they're always telling you, “When are you going to get a job, you're not doing this right, you're not doing that right <laughs>. So you've got to take them with a large block of salt. When they don't like something that you've put up or something you've said or you've quoted or you've given certain things to, you're going to get a lot of that because, first of all, it's your site.

So fuck 'em! <laughs> That's what Ritchie would say. It's you doing it. But secondly you take into consideration how they feel, but at the same time, if you did that, it wouldn't be your site. And it's the same with the music, it wouldn't be my music. Do I write… I always credit the fans for this. I say look, “Without you guys, I'm unnecessary. If you didn't want to hear me sing, if you didn't want to hear me do this, who the hell am I making records for? I'm certainly not making them for me. You don't. If I were to do this for myself, I'd make completely different types of albums.

If it was just for me. I know where I've come from, I know where I've been and I think you've said something before, which I will interject here, you said in an oblique way, they don't want you to really get outside of that corner, out of that pocket. They want you to be the same.

And you've got to try and be the same.
Yeah. They remember you a certain way so they want to remember you that way. If you depart from that, then they say, “What in the fuck are you doing?” You, know? <laughs> It's almost like the mafia. The more they let you out they try to pull you back in. That's an old phrase around here. It's hilarious because that's the one I use, “They pull me back in. Here's the melodic song.” I love all this stuff, but you just can't do what you want to do. It's impossible.

And you've got to try to be different while being the same as well.
Isn't that strange?

It is. It is.
Do they call that a dichotomy of sorts?

It is. You're absolutely right. It's always a popular topic of debate on the message boards. When somebody tries to do something different. Should they have? You know.
Well, here's the thing that I don't agree with, and I must share this with you, I don't agree with people like, and it's happened in the past with good friends of mine like Skid Row, they went completely over to like this whole grunge thing or some other bands that have tried to not be themselves. That is something that I don't agree with. That is unauthentic. You're not that. You didn't start as that, but now you're trying to be that. No matter how you cut your hair, no matter how many piercings you get, that's really not you.

I couldn't agree more. Something I quite often bring up myself, I'm all for everybody sounding and moving forward, and I hope bands do, but name me one band that's been successful changing their stripes.
Look, I look at AC/DC. They never change, and they never will.

And that's them, and fuck everybody. I love them. Everybody loves them. You know what I mean? They're just it. They're just a hard rocking band, and they don't give a shit. No frills. They're not going to do stuff just because you like it. I say stick to your guns, and they do. That's the only thing that I disagree with. They say, “You could've been more modern.” Modern how? Copy Pearl Jam? Oh, they're not modern. Let me think. Linkin Park? You want me to rap?

Yeah <laughs>
You know what I mean? It's very obvious when you depart from yourself.

I think you've been very true to yourself on Usual Suspects.
Thank you.
You know, someone likened it to a quilt, “I hear Fandango, I hear Rainbow, I hear…” You know, it's all you but yet it all works, whether it's “Jacknife” which is the old slammin', blistering rock and roll thing, or if it's the sort of melodic “Rest of My Life” with the R&B, you know, it's all me.

So, it's a quilt. It's a patchwork quilt. I think, and I hope, Andrew, and you can benefit me by this, I hope when people listen to it, it's an eclectic album, but yet at the same time there's a thread running through it.

Oh yeah. Definitely. I can hear little bits of everything and I was really pleased with that. I just thought that the song quality was extremely high.
Thank you.

I'm looking forward to reviewing it.
I appreciate it. It's about time I got a good review, well I haven't got a bad review, but it's been a long time since I've got an excellent review, anyway.
You know, it pissed me off because I know what I can do. I think, between you and I, I've dropped the ball a few times in the past and I didn't quite come up to the goal line. I'd be all around it but never quite cross it and it was kind of because I just went “fuck it”, you know. I'm not trying to… what do I have to prove and all this kind of crap. But I said that's not it. My attitude was wrong, Andrew. I admit that and I say to myself, this time I just said, “You know what I've got to do? I've got to write a record that I like.”

If I like it, other people will like it because I like music. Hello. And stand back from it. And also, I got nudged by people like yourself and journalists and managers and record companies and even Serafino got in my face about it. He says, “People love you as a melodic rock singer. That's what you're known for.” I said, “But I was always blues based. With Ritchie I was always blues based. That was the magic of Rainbow. We had a hard rock sound with a blues kind of singer who could transcend all of that and people just sort of go, “Well, that's different, but yet the same, but not.” And that was the magic about it. So they said, “Look, come back a little bit to center.” And I said, “You're right. So I scrapped 3 or 4 songs and I wrote 3 or 4 new ones and that's when the songwriting quality came up and I must admit I was tickled just doing this. This is great. I don't care if the songs are too sappy. Fuck it.

You've done well. Stuff like, “Power of Love” I think will be a fan favorite. Nice little anthems. Good strong vocals. Some great melodies.
You know, I was really wanting to hear what you had to say out of everybody. I've talked to journalists before, but I really keep abreast of what you're doing and I respect what you're doing so therefore I respect what you say.

Thank you, Joe!
I mean that, Andrew. You've put up one of the best sites. It's in my bookmarks, I refer to it constantly. I check out new things and I read what you have to say and your reviews and I get the sound bytes and all of that and I use the site as a meter of my music, of what I'm going to buy and what I'm not.

Well, I get a lot of great feedback, and that's all that I can ask for.
You've done marvelous things.

I had no idea where this site would go when I first started it. I'm still amazed that it is what it is. <laughs>
Well, I think that you're authentic. That's what really touches people.

Well, I don't hide behind the site... I want to talk to others that love the music too. You try to make yourself available, don't you?
I sure try to. I really do. There's nothing worse than being inaccessible. I don't mean that about like Ritchie because I thought that he was a very accessible person, but just misunderstood.

I mean that. I mean, he's always accessible when you want him. But at the same time he just didn't like many peoples approach to him.
So he backed off because he felt that he didn't really want to put himself through this.

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense.
It does. I'm totally accessible. A journalist asked me the other day, he said, “What do you think of this album. I think it's the best of your best. Have you reached the mountain and the top,” and all of that, and I went, “What? Mountain top? Best of the best? I don't know. Yeah, I think it's a good CD and I like it, but they're like children. I love them all but differently. Maybe this is a special child.” He said, “What's your quote?” I said, “It's not for me to quote.” It's up to you to quote. That's why you're calling me, right? It's my opinion but if you want me to say, “It's the best fuckin' think I've ever done,” I read other artists quotes about their own stuff and I have to laugh. You know, “…Now I can die happy, it's the best fuckin' thing I've ever done and it'll blow you away,” or something crazy and I go, “Really? Can you say that about your own stuff?”

I'm glad you said that because that does kind of annoy me too, because then they say that the next interview you do.
That's what they always say, “It's the best thing I've ever done, I've reached the pinnacle of my profession,” and I'm always like, “Look, I don't know,” I said, “You listen to it. You tell me.” I'll respect your opinion and your critique and I'll keep it as just that, an opinion and a critique. We all know what opinions are, so…but anyway it's just great to talk to somebody who actually knows what they're talking about <laughs>.

I hope so. I hope I can bluff my way through it.
It's like they say, “If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”

It works for me sometimes!
It works for me as well. <laughs> I've been sliding by for years on that. Seriously though, getting down to it, putting the accolades aside for both of us, I'm glad you liked the record, I really put some time into this one. I did the vocals at my house, so I've got the dog running around and phone calls interrupting me and everything. So I think that's part of the magic of it, because I felt so comfortable at my house in the studio here as opposed to being in a clinical studio. It makes a big difference to me because I was doing most of them barefoot and my wife talking to me and I'm going, “Yeah, honey, I'm doing a vocal.” You, know. Normal. Natural.






You've got your long time buddy Bob Held there with you. How important is he to the process?
Well I'll tell you, I answered this question once before this weekend, it was in a different manner, but Bob Held knows who I am. He likes the polished product. I could get many different types of producers or produce it myself but Bob gives me a hard time. For example, “Power of Love” had a completely different lyric. Similar melodies, but a whole other song. He said, “This is not up to your par.” I said, “What are you talking about? It's my favorite song on the album.” He goes, “No. We need something that's going to reach, that's going to give hope, he says, you don't have that on the record and I kind of resented it for two days, I'm coming down to the end of the album, it's the last vocal I did and I'm like, “you always put me in this position,” but I always respect what he says.

Again I knew that if I pushed myself it's like you said, it's an anthem and I like it much better. That's one of the sparkling traits that Bob has He can push me to the point where I want to punch him yet he's right about me reaching more of my fulfillment of purpose. You don't find many people that (a) you can trust, and (b) that can stir you to the point of long time friendship violence. You know, best friends can say anything to each other and that's what Bob fills the role. He'll say, “I don't like that vocal there,” and I'll say, “But I love that line. That was a great line. Lou Gramm could have that line, Paul Rodgers could have that line,” all of my favorite singers you know, I'll bring them up. I'm bringing up Elvis, I'll bring up everyone from the dead if I can to support my argument and he'll go, “Nope. I want one more,” and I go “You're killing me here! I fuckin' sung it 12 times,” and he goes, “I need one more I need it to have that thing,” and I go, “What thing?” “That Joe Lynn Turner thing.” He goes, “I don't believe it,” I go, “You don't believe it? All right, well, believe this,” and I'll sing something and he'll go, “That's it. Next” And I'll go, “You mother f…you cock sucker…” <laughs> That's the importance of Bob Held. He knows how to push my buttons the right way so that I don't settle.

Is that the same as working with Ritchie.
Yeah, Ritchie was like that. He'd just raise his eyebrows at me and go, “Is that it?” and I'd go, “You're right.” And then I'd go in and realize what I had done. I might have sang it better, but I didn't believe it when I sang it and he can always pick up on that. He was the first one to come in, I'll never forget, with “Street Of Dreams”, we were in Copenhagen and, first of all, the song evolved mythically because the music was 4 different jams, and I put these 4 pieces together because I sat with the tapes and said, “All right, let's put this piece with that piece and this piece with that piece,” and he goes, “Okay.” And then I come up with the title and melody and hook and sang, I might say, one of my better moments and he came in to the kitchen of the studio… hang on a second…..so Ritchie came up to me and he says, “I can't play. I can't play the solo.” And I said, “What do you mean?” and he goes, “The vocals are intimidating me.” And I go, “What?”

This is a true story. I said, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Shining moment for you.” I went, “Well, thanks,” but I go, “But Ritch, come on.” He goes, “I don't know where to start, I don't know where to go, I'm all confused.” I went to the refrigerator and grabbed 2 Heinekens and said, “Sit down mother fucker let's get into this. You've just got to go in there and be an extension to the song. You know you're a song man, you know you're not full of guitar pyrotechnics, you don't give a shit about that, you can do it, but you don't care about all of that.” He played the most melodic solo after that.

I can still sing it to this day. And that's what it's about. He was like that with me and I think at that moment I was like that for him. They say the greatest gift you can give someone is that self revelation, you know? I think I at least gave it back to him a few times.

Absolutely. You're whole history is sort of linked back to where you started.
That's true.

You guys did the best, his work as well. It still acclaimed as some of the best stuff that was ever done, isn't it?
Well, I think we had a magic and chemistry. Look, I love all the other singers, Dio was great, all the Dungeons and Dragons themes and all that stuff is great, but I think we came into a modern age that elevated Rainbow, whatever was between us, the tension, the mutual respect, whatever it was, we had it and it worked and I still believe it could work today.

Do you think that you would ever try it again for old time's sake?
If he was up for it, I'd be there in a heartbeat. It's really up to him because I know what we had and I miss that. That's like a hole in you soul. There was the eternal partner, there was my match. That was like a soul mate. We were also very connected on other dimensions such as all of the supernatural and paranormal stuff. We both loved that, it was incredible that ran through our lives. I just knew that we had this connection. The blues and so on and so forth. And perfectionism. Not settling and besides I had a real affection for him as a mate because he really took me under his wing and grew me up. He protected me, he was always on my side if somebody was coming down at me. He threw himself in the way of critics and band members. You've got to love somebody like that if they'd do that for you.

I'd like to see it happen, but obviously Ritchie's in his own spot isn't he?
God bless him because I know he's doing what he wants to do.

He's making records for himself isn't he?
He really is. And he couldn't give a damn about anything…I gave a little bit of a tribute for his birthday on I guess it was the other day an e-mail, somebody that's got blacker than purple. I think the last comment I said was, “I just want to say, Cheers mate,” I'll paraphrase it, “To many years of great music, to a man who follows no one and nothing but his heart.” That's true. He follows no one and nothing but his heart. He loves to do that Renaissance music. So be it far from me to say you've got to come out and do this. But you know what? It's not that I want to take him away; I just want to add to it. I'm lucky enough, I hope they… Candice and himself, they offered me a duet on the next record.

I did hear that. Yeah.
That was fabulous. That came out of Carol Stevens, they wrote me an email and said, “We always liked you, Joe. The rest of them we couldn't give a hoot for.” <laughs> I was very impressed with that. I just wrote back and said, “Well, we've never had problems.” Really. Ritchie and I never had problems.

That's something to look forward to then, isn't it?
Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. I told Carol Stevens, I said, “Look, when you get ready for the material if they want me to co-write, if they just want me to sing, I'm available because I like to stretch out as well. I find it difficult that people allow you to stretch out, and I think this would be an educational process for everyone including me. So yeah, that would be great. I'd love to get back together. I don't care if it would be for just one album or what, but I think we could write some great songs.

I do too.
In the meantime, I try to be reminiscent. In my own material, I try to say, “Well this is where I come from, and it was a large part of my life. How would Blackmore approach this and how would we do it if we were in Rainbow?”

Yeah, I think you've definitely got some of that in the new record.
Yeah, it's definitely got some Rainbow-esque stuff on there.

For sure. Someone also mentioned that your work with Yngwie is probably regarded as probably his best album ever.
I think so.

That's 2 for 2 then, isn't it? You must be proud at least of the legacy of that.
I am, Andrew. Honest to God. Again you can't talk about my life without Yngwie. Odyssey is a pinnacle. I love it.

It's my favorite album that he ever did.
It's one of my favorite albums that I ever did. Again it came together and I think that when I get together with these ornery guitar players – I used to be an ornery guitar player, I am one – I was a guitar player first and a singer second so I think I understand these guys. I don't know, I just get a whip and a chair and I go in there like a lion tamer and I try to bring something else to the table. One thing I must mention to you, a journalist I spoke with this morning from France or somewhere, they said “Crystal Ball” sounds so reminiscent of Joe Lynn Turner yet there's no credits of you. And I said, “Oh no. He's at it again because there was a time there when Yngwie was taking my name off of all of the publishing credits.

Oh, really?
Fuck yeah. I was like going, “What? Where is this happening? What is this about?” I said, “You better go and check the original credits because you'll see that I am co-writer of Crystal Ball. Melody and lyrics. Hello. That's probably why you hear me. So I think he's up to his old tricks that Ying Yang.

That's sad.
I don't know what's up with him. I mean, I saved this guy's life. I was there. I was the elder in a mass of confusion when he wrecked up that Jaguar.

I only vaguely recall that. What happened?
Oh, well geez, Andrew. I was there getting ready to do the Odyssey record and I flew back to New York to get 6 months worth of clothes to fly back to LA to do the record, and by the time I got back, it was May Day weekend, May 7, or something like that, it's a big weekend in Sweden. They were drinking and doing all kinds of cheese and the drugs and all of that. He went out about 8:00 in the morning when the 7-11's would sell beer again, I suppose there was a curfew on it or something. He was coming back with oodles of beer to continue the partying and he wrecked his Jaguar with Thomas his good friend and a friend of mine as well that I became friendly with, and they both ended up pretty banged up.

Here is the thing, I'll just give you the highlights. His manager Andy Truman, he used to manage the Bay City Rollers, was taking all of Yngwie's money, he was taking all of the advances so Polygram put me in as a spy and said look you've got to get involved in this. Now, here's a guy that's doing tons of cocaine he's got guns all over the house, he carries guns with him, he's out of his fuckin' mind, he talks in the third person every time he said something it was like, "Well Andy says," because his name is Andy Truman, and I said, "Well, aren't you Andy?" and it was really freaky because, you know, you hear somebody talking in third person, you think, this guy's a wing nut.

Yeah, what's up with that?
You fuel that with cocaine and booze and everything else and guns. He tells me, "Yngwie, he's going to be all right, and he's had a bit of an accident.” He picks me up at the airport, right, so I go, "All right." I dress up a bit and shave and put on a jacket and say, “I'll go to the hospital a little later.” So when I get to the hospital, he's straight up to the ICU. I said, "He's in the ICU? The intensive care unit?" And they go, yeah. And I'm like, man, he's in a bad way. I look in through the glass and his head is 5 times the size.

Oh, wow.
And he just looks like some beast. He's not responding. He's not talking and the doctors say he's in a coma. I go, “Coma?” Andy Truman never told me he was in a coma! He said he was a little banged up. That was it. So a couple of days later the administration -- I'm there every day, of course with Jens Johansson and Anders Johansson and everything, and I'm sorting out, because these poor guys, Yngwie wasn't paying them really well, or at all, and they were living on the floor in a one bedroom apartment. They didn't even have enough money to buy any underwear. It was unbelievable.

So I'm trying to sort them out and get them a living space that's more humane and also trying to deal with the hospital and the administration and stuff because I was the older of the bunch and had more experience and they needed $80,000 or they were going to pull Yngwie out of ICU. Andy Truman is all in favor of this because he doesn't want to spend any money, does he? And I said, "Andy, if you pull him out of ICU and you bring him down to LA Country which is where the "common” people go, because Northridge was a very select hospital and he lived close to Northridge so they flew him in on a chopper. That's how bad he was. They had to use Jaws of Death to get him out of the car and fly him in because he was going to die right there.

So this is really serious, right? So Andy doesn't want to do this because he's full of advances and out of his mind and doesn't even realize that if Yngwie dies, there goes his meal ticket. So this is all just absolutely surreal to me and absurd. So I get $80,000 from Polygram wired to the administration to keep him in Northridge. Meanwhile, Andy is trying to get me to go down to County Hospital to say, "Oh, it's nice down here, everybody down here is great." And I'm like, "Andy, its death down there. You walk in and you smell death. I've been there. I know what it's about. No, he can't leave. Even the doctor said that if he leaves for an inferior institution he's going to die.” So meanwhile, Polygram's got me watching Andy Truman, they're trying to get rid of Andy. Andy doesn't know that I'm a spy reporting back to Polygram. I could've been shot. This is real intrigue. This was 007 shit.

To make a long story short, Yngwie comes out of the coma, I don't know how many weeks it is, but he finally comes out. We were there every day. He had bleeding in the brain which could've been retardation. Sometimes I think maybe he did bleed in the brain. So he actually recovers from this, now he's on powerful medication, and of course I'm trying to monitor him and he goes out one night and starts doing cocaine and shit so, as big as he is, I grab him and slam him up against a wall and said, "Look, you fuckin' die on your own 24 hours, not on my watch!" I said, "I'm just so sick of this bullshit." I threw him up against the wall and jumped back in the car and sped off. I was livid that he would actually do this. So he got the message and he's kind of straightened out a bit but other than that he was going to die without anybody caring for him.

That's amazing. Whatever happened to the manager?
They got him. They finally pulled all of his power away from him, they didn't give him another nickel, they re-routed Yngwie's funds, I think that's when Jim Lewis was still with Polygram and became Yngwie's manager (and that's a whole other story, the way they broke up) and really Jim went to bat for Yngwie and the last I heard was that Andy's wife left him and stole everything, including the Roller, she took the Rolls Royce, everything, and he was trying to track her down. At one point, Andrew, I must interject, we had a 24 hour security guard, fully armed in front of Yngwie's house, this was for over 2 months because we were afraid of Truman. He would drive by and some of his other compadres would drive by and we would see them peering into the house trying to see what was going on. We were afraid that they were just going to come in blasting away one day. And, of course, Yngwie's got guns, so he's like, "I'll shoot them and kill them," and I'm just like, "Just calm down, man. You're not going to shoot anyone."

No wonder you only did the one record! <laughs>
Well, yeah. And the other thing was, originally, we were supposed to have Eric Singer as the drummer, Bob Daisley as the bass player. It was going to be a super group. It was all looking really good. As you can see, Bob did play on a few tracks, but Eric unfortunately got pushed out, but he did all right for himself.

And he's a fabulous drummer and a wonderful guy. A very funny guy. We're friends to this day. What I'm trying to say is that Yngwie just wanted to have full control of everything. I think, personally, he could've gone much, much further in his art and music if he would've just let other people in. Yeah, but he was going to die. Like the doctor said, if he does not come up from this coma, and he was bleeding from the brain, in 3 days, they said if it didn't stop and it stopped now, they said it's over for him.

He will be brain dead and we will keep him on the respirator but he will be a vegetable.

That's awful.
So I kept him in that hospital, made sure the administration was paid, because hospitals have no heart, they just have money, money is where it all comes from, at least here in the states. To make a long story short, that's why I claim, quite humbly really, that I was instrumental in saving his ass. That's why I can't understand why he's got this bone of contention about me.

That's probably why, isn't it?
It might be. That seems very psychologically normal. Love and hate's a fine line. But anyway, I wish him well but I wish he's stop taking my name off these songs.

Well, we won't hold out for a reunion then. <laughs>
<Laughs> No, I don't think so. I told him last time I talked to him, I emailed him, "Good fuckin' luck, mate." But apparently he seems to be doing all right.

Yeah, not too much bad press from recent times.
So that's the story.





You went on to work with Bob not long after that, so what's the story?
Right. We did Mother's Army.

What a great set of albums. I love the first one.
You know what? I got an email from Jeff Watson who emailed Aynsley Dunbar, and I emailed Bob and we're all starting to think about maybe putting that all back together.

Yeah, do it because Jeff's a wonderful, wonderful guitar player, isn't he?
He is, a wonderful writer, guitar player, a great guy. Bob is too. Lyrically Bob and I, those albums were hard rock, man. They were really deep profound stuff.

Not commercial at all were they?
No. they were meant to be a Pink Floyd twist to them.

I still love the first one the most.
Yeah, “By Your Side” and all those great songs, yeah.

You changed your voice somewhat for the first album, didn't you? There were some comments that, “Oh, Joe's voice is shot,” but that was never the case, was it?
No, I can be a lot of different characters really.

Yeah, when you listen to The Usual Suspects, you're as soulful as ever, but your voice was really raspy on that one, wasn't it?
Yeah, we kind of tried to want it to be, during that period of time the raspy vocal was sort of in. To be honest, there was a lot of pressure to try and at least make this stuff fit in. I said, “Well, if that's the case I'm going to sing a bit gritty.” Maybe the grit button was up too much.

Oh, I love it. I thought it was great.
Yeah. Here's the thing. That's what Ritchie always liked. Ritchie always liked that I could do this operatic shit, pointed, clear as a bell, but then I could growl at the bottom.

I love the growl. I hope you do another record. That would be really interesting.
Well, we're toying around with the idea now. It's in the e-mail stages.

That's great I do talk to Jeff every now and then. We've done a couple of interviews and stuff. A longtime fan of Night Ranger. That would be great.
Did I ever tell you about the time JLT toured with Night Ranger?

No, I don't believe I've heard that.
We got kicked out of Tyler, Texas. It was nasty. It was the Joe Lynn Turner band. My bass player was going out with a stripper and he decides to bring her out on the road. She decided to try a designer drug one night in Tyler, Texas and we were opening for Night Ranger. Well, my set was relatively free of incident, but I guess she was getting off during Night Ranger and right in the middle of “Sister Christian” she comes out and does her act.

Oh, no.
She took this huge flashlight and did preposterous things with it. The cops came. There were children at the concert. They surrounded us and made us sign disclaimers that we would never come back to Tyler, Texas. So we got kicked out.

Terrific. The life of a rock and roller.

That's great.
It was really funny because Kelly was throwing sticks at her and Brad was coming over to the side of the stage to me and saying, “You better get her off the fuckin' stage and I'm saying, “What do you want me to do? Walk out and pull her off? Get one of your roadies to get her off”. So finally Jeff just gets frustrated and picks her up and walks about 20-30 feet and dumps her on the side of the stage.

Now if only somebody would've bootlegged that on video. That would've been great.
I wish we had it. It was hysterical. Yeah, I hope we get that thing back together. We had no luck with that band. What I mean by that is we had no apparent management. Carmine's manager Warren Wyatt, I have nothing nice to say about this guy.

Yeah, I've had some dealings with this guy too.
I don't know what your experience was like.

Not great.
Ours was terrible. He actually took the money for the record. We couldn't finish the record. By the time we got the lawyers on it and found the money. He gave it all back minus his commission, like he was owed a commission! What balls does that take? He takes all the money and he kept saying, “Well the Japanese don't like what they've heard so far so they haven't given me the rest of the money,” but he had the rest of the money in his bank account. So if we do it, I'm not going to do it without proper management and a record label and all of that. Because that's when it goes awry. Everyone's got an uncle in the business. Carmine brought Warren in and we wouldn't even talk to Carmine after that because Carmine sided with Warren and that's when Aynsley came in.

Yeah, Aynsley's a great drummer. That's a good pick.
He just emailed back and said, “I'm up for it. That's great. Let's do it. I can't wait to see everybody again.” We'll see.

That would be awesome. I should also mention while we're here the Hughes/Turner was a couple of pretty nice albums for you. I talked to Glenn a few months back. Are you done with that for now?
I haven't talked to Glenn for a month of two but I know that he's doing the Iommi thing and he's got Soul Mover out now, which is a great album, I'm happy for him. So HTP has to be in hiatus. I would never say that we wouldn't get back together for another album or two and I hope he feels the same way.

Yeah, you two, your voices are just a great match for each other.
Thank you for your words. It had never been done to my knowledge and never quite that good.

Yeah, especially the first album, I really still enjoy it.
Me too. I have to tell you. It was quality stuff. I think we both sort of raised the bar. Together we gained inspiration in our own solo careers.

I agree. I think it gave you new momentum to your solo career. You were just doing an album for Japan but it's really shifted to the European side now hasn't it?
Yeah, I just signed with Yamaha in Japan as well. That's a good label there. They're going to try to do other things with me over there like bring me into their sound products and their commercials for their motorbikes and things like that.

Yes, so I was and now I'm full blow into Europe and looking towards this record release in the US.

Yeah, Stu [Stuart Smith] mentioned that, he was going to talk to you about that.
I appreciate your thoughts on that. I think we're going to do it. Getting back to Glenn. I love him like a brother. We just put a couple of years together, it was phenomenal, now it's time to sit back, breathe, and do other things.

Well that's cool. In a couple of years time you can get back together again and hopefully there will be a third album.
You know, somewhere down the line I do too because it was magic. I'm just so fortunate to be hooked up with such wonderful people in my career, for the most part anyway, including Malmsteen, the guy's brilliant regardless if he can be an asshole sometimes.

He makes some great music, no doubt.
He's brilliant. I'll always give that to Yngwie. He was a forerunner. The guy's just crazy good. But I would love to do it with Glenn, but I wish him all the best with the Iommi thing and he's got Sanctuary here for the Soul Mover and I hope they can do something with that. He really deserves it, he's such a fantastic singer and he's a great person.

Absolutely. I love talking with him. He's always full of life.
He sure is. He's one of the funniest guys I know.

You've recently, you've probably seen it, but Rescue You got a CD released in America, that was a good move.
Can you believe that Wounded Bird?
I can't. So many people told me, “You've got to re-release Rescue You and all this stuff, and I'm like, “Do you know what that entails?” You've got to go there and wrestle the people at Mercury and Electra and they're not going to press this record if it's 20,000 copies.” They won't. That's the reality of it, isn't it?

So then this Terry goes along and whatever he did, I love him for it, because now you can actually buy Rescue You on CD and it's a damn good record.

Yeah, I've got the original Japanese release but I think that even that was only out for a short time wasn't it?
Absolutely. It was never meant to be released for much longer. I've got 2 copies of that one that's still in the packaging and I'm not even touching them.

I don't blame you.
Because that's the only place that you could buy the CD -- Japan. And vinyl, of course. I still see vinyl popping up every now and again. Regardless. I think that Wounded Bird thing is a great outlet for stuff, he's got some Yes things on there and Allman Brothers.

Some old acts. A lot of great stuff.
You can't get it on CD.

There should be more of it. There should be less resistance from the majors to license it off for someone else to do it because they're not going to do it, are they?
No, it's just collecting dust.

You know what. My manager had gone back a few years ago and looked into it and they just laughed and said, “If it's not going to sell 150,000 albums, then we don't give a shit.”

Yeah. Isn't that sad?
He said, “I know it's not Joe's day anymore but at the same time there are plenty of fans in the US and everywhere that would love to hear this record. It's not going to be crap, but no, we don't expect to sell 150,000 records. They just laughed and said, “It's not worth it.” However he did it, and whatever he did, and whom he paid to get this… some day I'm going to email him and just say, “Terry, give me the low-down.”

And based on what you've said there, I guess you do have one unreleased album still in the vaults, don't you? The follow-up to Rescue You.
Oh, yeah.

Is that right? That's never been released anywhere, has it?
Well, no. You know what's happening though. One of those drunken nights on the road, somebody must've been in my party room and nicked one of the tapes.

Uh, oh.
Serafino had it for years. He's been getting different artists to do different songs of mine from that era. <laughs> And I find it really funny because I never got to record them properly myself. And he's always, can I get Terry Brock to do this song, and somebody else to do that song. And I go, “Sure, go ahead if you want.” And then he wanted me to do those songs on this album and I said, “No, no, no.” Look, that's a different time. If you want me to do an album like that from that time then I'll do that album. Now's a different time. Really, yeah, there's an album there, but I'd do it as an album.

Because you can't just put “Forever Now” the song in the mix with the stuff I've just done. I don't know, maybe you could, I just hear it. Yeah, that was strange because the tape got around and the next thing you know, people are all going, “When are you going to do this song? What about that song?”

You're like, “Where did you hear that from?”
Yeah, I'm just amazed and then I go, drunken stupor, that was it. Somebody nicked the tape.

You'll have to release it officially now then won't you?
It wouldn't be a bad idea if I at least got commissioned to go and do these 8 or 10 songs and call it Demos.

Yeah, exactly.
Call it Demos.

I'll look and see what I've got in the can. I'll see what I've got on the 24 track. That's almost ancient, isn't it?

Yeah, exactly. You could put an album out in between and just say here's a collection, or compilation. That would be great.
Yeah. I think so. I might just have to do something like that because I love those songs and all. They're a real big part of me.

Exactly. And just like people want to hear Rescue You, they want to hear anything, don't they?
Yeah, they want to hear what it was once, what it was then. A return to their youth, or a return to the good times, whatever you want to call it and I can't blame them because that's what I do. My daughter is 15 so I'm up on all the new stuff.

Oh, great.
Forget about it. Thankfully, she was brought up on Beatles and Hendrix. She's got a great ear, plays classical piano, and now she's learning guitar. And she's bitching at me because I don't have time to teach her so she's learning on her own and she's humiliating me. I go, “Where are you learning from?” She goes, “The internet.” So I'm like the absent father. I'm going, “How about on Monday?” but then Monday comes and I'm like, “I'm too busy right now.” But to make a long story short, I'm up on all the new stuff but I go back to all the old stuff because it just makes me feel good.

Of course.
Plus, it was great fuckin' music! I mean, what am I supposed to listen to? Ashlee Simpson?

Please. Arrghh.
<laughs> What they call talent is unbelievable.

I know. It's sad isn't it?
It really, really is. I mean, hello. And this is, she sold 3.5 to 4 million records.

I know. It's depressing isn't it?
It is. We're all struggling to sell 20,000 records. It's absurd.
This classic rock thing is sort of returning though.

I think so, yeah.
I hope you see it on your end. Because I'm feeling it with the little feelers that I put out. But who's to say. Everybody's been saying that for the last 10 years. I think this time it really starts to feel like people are getting sick and tired of the crap. All we want to do is just get a bit of nostalgia and look back and say, “Ah, that is when people could play and sing and write songs.”

Yep. Exactly.
You're doing a lot for that with the site and all because there's a place to go, like a haven. You're almost like a shelter for me because nowadays it's like just go to Melodicrock and you'll find out. All of your buddies are over there.

I'm just happy it's working…I've had some really crappy visions in my years! <laughs>
<laughs> Haven't we all. I've written some pretty shitty songs as well. It's splendid to talk to you, really...

Thank you, Joe. Look I've really enjoyed this time on the phone.
My pleasure Andrew!











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