Created with Sketch.
46 minutes | Jul 21, 2021
BIG BIG TRAIN’s Members NICK D’VIRGILIO and DAVID LONGDON Talk Upcoming “Common Ground” Album: “We Were Able to Do Something A Little Bit Different, It’s Fresh and That’s What We Needed.”
For the past decade-plus, Big Big Train have increasingly grown their fanbase and the size of their band. Almost on the verge of becoming a supergroup, the membership was so chock full of talent that it was continuously on the verge of tripping over itself. The pandemic and other factors brought some changes to the personnel, whittling down the core membership to the size of a quartet. But you would never know that, given the creativity and skill displayed on new release “Common Ground”. To the contrary, the band is ready to tackle new musical avenues as well as new venues – they’re preparing for extensive touring including their debut trip to North America. Sonic Perspectives’ progressive rock resident contributor Scott Medina had a chance to talk with lead singer David Longdon and drummer / vocalist Nick D’Virgilio about the latest evolutions of the band, including their songwriting contributions. You can read the transcription of the interview below or listen to the audio. Great ready for the Big Big Train to arrive at your station in early 2022! Remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis. INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT: Hey everybody, this is Scott Medina with Sonic Perspectives. We are really pleased to have not one but two members of Big Big Train. We’ll just call them Big Train, I guess, for the moment [laughing]since they’re half of the band, from both sides of the pond. Welcome gentlemen! First to start off with, who IS Big Big Train at this point in time? You essentially are a quartet now, yes? David: I guess we are. Yeah. As a result of the pandemic, we narrowed down to a quartet. Which was great because it enabled us to reinvent ourselves to a certain extent and be able to have more space…because usually space is a very rare commodity in Big Big Train with all people kind of piling in. So now we were able to do something a little bit different, but also retain some of what we’re known for, too. It’s been good, a great experience. It’s something different. It’s fresh and that’s what we needed. Nick: And even though we’re a quartet, I guess officially, we still had a lot of other guests help us out in the recordings. When we go out and play live, we’re still gonna have 11 people on stage. There’s not just going to be a four piece. So even though we say the band is technically a four piece, we still employ and bring in a lot of other people, too. Is the writing essentially the four of you in the principal arrangements, though? David: Yeah, it has been so far. For this record. And as you mentioned, you’ll be augmenting the band to include several other players live and it sounds like some of them also did perform on the album as well, in addition to the five-piece brass ensemble. Nick: We had Carly Bryant who’s going to be playing keys and guitar and singing. She’s doing a few things. Dave Foster, who’s going to be the second guitar player, he’s playing on a few things here and there. So yeah, we definitely had people help and add their voices to the recordings. We wanted to get them involved from the beginning so they’re not just feeling like they’re just hired guns and stuff. You know, we try to be a family and get close to everybody. So it was a cool thing to just have them sort of dive right in. They got to actually record with David at Real World studios where we were all supposed to record, but of course we couldn’t because of this freaking virus. So, they actually got together to record during our original recording session, they couldn’t cancel the session. So, they actually went and did some vocals and a few other things. And Carly and Dave got to go and hang out with the boys and do some recording. David: Yeah. That was great, it was good fun. On the album, we also had Aidan O’Rourke who’s from a band called Lau, on violin. He’s really good. He does some great things but he’s won’t be joining the band, he’s gotta be back up on the stage with Lau, that’s what he does, that’s his thing. We’ve also got Claire Lindley on violin. We didn’t want to lose the sound of the violin in Big Big Train. That’s a very important factor. And, even though you mentioned Dave Foster adding some guitars, did it come down to Rikard to do the majority of guitars and keys on the new album? Nick: Yeah, Rikard really got to step out and shine on this record. He really did a lot of stuff. I mean, we already knew that he was great, but he really got to show… the dude’s pretty phenomenal! David: Yeah, he’s amazing. Nick: He added some great flavors to the songs. The sound is so full, whenever I’m hearing all those layers of keyboards and guitars and everything, I’m just thinking, man, he was really working it on this album. Although we’re focusing on where Big Big Train is headed in the future, is there anything that you two care to share about the former members who chose to leave the band in the past year or two and how that shift happened? David: They’re all in the UK and they’re all friends. So there wasn’t any animosity between any of us. I think just with what we were going through with the pandemic and all of that, I think it brought a lot of things to a head. It was a very intense time, really. Rachel went because she decided she wanted to train to become a nurse. And Danny‘s an old friend of mine and he just decided that he was going to step down…he had thought about it, and eventually he did go for that. And for Dave, again, I think there just comes a point where we wanted to do more live playing at that time. Dave stepped back because we were about to go off and do an American tour. That tour didn’t happen but in principle, once we’re back up and running, it will happen. I think Dave just was thinking about that, you know, and whether or not he wants it to be, to be doing that. Nick: We love all them and we always will. They’re fantastic people and we had a great run together and thankfully the band kept going, which I’m very thankful for. We’re all very good friends and will be for the future, for sure. The new album, “Common Ground,” is labeled as being split into two different parts, part one and part two. And I especially found the first part to be finding you guys sporting some new sounds. Was that a real focus that you wanted the beginning of the album to bring in some new elements? You know, Nick is writing and there’s a lot of new voices. Was that a concerted effort from the get-go? David: Yeah, we just wanted to do something different. It was a great opportunity, so we said, Let’s bring it. Let’s see what we’ve got. Let’s show people from the get-go that we’re doing something a little bit different. Nick: Yeah, I got a chance to write more, which I’m very excited about and it just adds a little bit different flavor than Greg writing so much of the material. He’s an amazing writer, but we got the chance to kind of lend our voices a little bit more. And I think we found that we kind of liked what we were getting. It’s a little edgier to the sound. I still think it sounds very much like Big Big Train, we’re just adding a little spice here and there that wasn’t there before, and it’s totally working. David: It’s a very direct sound this time around. We’re getting to it, you know. It’s rockier, definitely, which is not a bad thing. You know, it’s where we find ourselves with who we are at the moment, so that’s okay. That’s all good. It’s just different. Let’s explore one of those tracks that really heads into some new places. There’s one written by Nick, “All the Love We Can Give”. Musically it weaves a lot of different styles into it and also finds David going out of his usual vocal range as well. I’d love to hear from both of you a little bit about that song. Nick: So, I’m a huge David Bowie fan and David Longdon doesn’t do it very often, but I love the character of David‘s voice when he sings low. I think he’s got just a very sultry, beautiful tone to his voice when he sings low. So, when I was coming up with the vibe of this tune, especially at the beginning part, I just had in my brain the inspiration of 80s-era Bowie, like the Let’s Dance sort of record, and some of those vibey tunes like “China Girl” and stuff where he sings that sort of low register and it’s mellow, but deep sounding. That’s just kind of what I had in my brain. Originally David was a little afraid to sing that low but I think once you went for it, it worked. It’s about coming together and finding love for people that you might have a tough time finding love for. You know, coming together as people and respecting everybody. Dignity for all, that kind of thing. So the song sort of weaves about that, you know, in the end we can all give love and if you just treat people like you want to be treated, boy, life is so much easier! And so the song gets to weave through a little bit of that until you get to that point at the end, where the guy sort of has to find that he’s got love to give, and then it gets a little bit dark in that sort of rock section in the middle and it eventually ends where we’re all sort of together. That’s kind of a theme about this record is kind of coming together as people. So, it sort of fits in that vein. It’s funny, you mentioned the Bowie reference cause I did pick up on that as I was listening. It kind of has that sort of Bowie swoop in there. So David did Nick let you know that that’s what he was going for and put that in your mind? David: Yeah, he did, absolutely. What tends to happen when I rehearse is I go into rehearsals and it’s not only about when you sing a set, there’s the recovery time afterwards and things like that. So, after I’d done it a few times for a few days, it sort of starts to go lower. So during rehearsals…I think we even did “China Girl” in the past and maybe that was when Nick thought, Okay, yeah, I like that. So it takes a while to get there, but Nick sort of knew I could do it. Nick: David was working on changing the melody when he first got the song, he thought it was too low to sing. So he was working on different melody ideas, which I was totally going to go for. The melody he came up with was cool and it was totally working, but then I think it was in the Real World session, your voice was sort of finding that spot. And he went for it with the melody I came up with. David: At the end of the day, when I work on Nick‘s material, I want to please him. I want to give him what he’s after, you know? That’s the point of it. We’re all trying to get towards whatever vision the writer has got for the thing. Nick, Rikard and Greg and I have been together for a long time as a band. And we have that trust in each other, you know, we’ve got that, we root for each other. And then later in the second half of the song, we go into a whole different section, a nice rocking section. Nick comes to the fore with the vocals at that point. How do you guys decide when anyone other than David’s going to be doing the lead vocals? David: Well, Nick‘s very magnanimous for this thing, as indeed Greg is. I think I made the call because it just sounded like Nick. So let’s let him do it. Cause it just sounds like Nick. I think I did record vocals in some of those parts, but it just sounded just like Nick‘s thing and the words as well, the lyrics, what he was saying sounded like something that Nick would say. Nick: I was happy! [laughing]And the song is about people, so having different voices sort of works in the story, you know. It’s the proggy thing, so the song goes through sections. So when the guys said, Yeah, we think you should sing it, I thought, Cool! I mean, I’m happy to do so. I love singing, so the more I could do, the better. I appreciate that. The next track on the album, “Black with Ink” continues on that vein. I think we’ve got four different singers singing verses on that. David: Yeah, that was an odd track. We had an ill-fated concept record called “Hope” that got abandoned in the earlier days because as a band we were becoming more and more popular. So this would have been a really big undertaking to do and we thought, well, we actually need something that addresses where we are. We need an album out so that the album ended up being “Folklore“. So lots of material got shelved from that record. So this is a track that Greg wrote but the lyrics are different. The initial title of the song was called “Edmund Ironside“, which was a character in part of the story. But anyway, it’s a great song that has to do with the destruction of a library. When this ancient library was destroyed, they threw all the books in the library into the river and the ink from the books turned the river black. So it’s the destruction of all that knowledge and insight, and the idea of enlightenment in the sense that we get enlightenment by knowledge, by learning, by reading. And we find common ground by being enlightened by reading and seeking things out. So destroying it is not good for civilization. That’s the message behind it. And once again, it takes pretty adventurous turns, musically-speaking, throughout that song, too. David: Yeah. Well, we’ve got these great singers in the band with Rikard and Nick for years. So it’s good to let us all have a go at it and just get us all just firing. But this song has lots of words, loads of words. Greg can write lots of words, and sometimes it’s good to make them overlap. So I just said to Greg, why don’t we get people just to record as much as we can. And then when we got Carly in the studio, we realized she’s got really good voice. It’s a different voice to Rachel‘s voice. Rachel‘s got a great voice, and Carly‘s is a different thing altogether. So she, brought something different again, which is what this album’s all about. It’s funny, as that song begins, I always think of the song “Turn It On Again”. [laughter]I expect Nick to count in the band like Phil does. Well, since we’ve been talking about the theme of the album already several times, why don’t we dive into the title track here, David where I believe you were doing the songwriting on that one? David: Yeah, I did. In the last year, the world’s kind of gone in a very nightmarish direction and we’ve all found ourselves in extremely awful predicaments. A lot of people been tested. These have been very fearful times and at certain points, no certain outcomes, either. It’s been horrendous really. “Common Ground” was written just before the pandemic. It’s about my partner and I, Sarah Ewing, who’s the artist for Big Big Train. We got together and as I’m 56, we decided that, you know, we were embarking on this relationship, at our time in life. And so it was really about finding our common ground with each other. So it’s written about two people and it’s real, it’s these real people finding themselves in that situation. When I started writing for this record, I told Greg that “Common Ground” was one of the tracks that I’ve got for it and I’m writing about the moment. I think with everything that has gone on with the world, I found what was happening was so shocking that I just couldn’t have time to go read “The Tempest” or research the life of William Shakespeare, I haven’t got time for that! I just got enough to go through each day. And I thought, well, I need to write about the now. And the same thing went on with “The Strangest Times“, which is really about living through the pandemic. In fact, a friend of ours said “The Strangest Times” sounds like a Pete Townsend song, it’s kind of got that anger to it. So, the difference for me on that record is that I’m writing about the current situation and it’s still current. I’m really looking forward to when I can sing it in hindsight and say, Remembers those awful days? And they’re well behind us. When I never have to sing that song again, that’d be great. I’m good with that! Although it’s a love song, a very personal love song, that theme does take on more of a global context, especially with the album cover you’ve got and the video for the song too. It really transcends even just that personal love. David: Yeah, we’ve got the idea of the helping hands on the album cover. The amazing about this whole pandemic thing is the resilience of the human spirit. It’s just incredible, you know. You see it time and time again, every story that you hear on the radio. And that’s great. That’s what we’re about. I particularly like the album cover. In many ways it looks like one of the hands is helping up the other one. It was originally just about Sarah and I finding out what we had in common with each other, and how we’re going forth. The idea of the line in the chorus, “We claim our common ground” is not something that just happens to you. It’s also something you’re in command of, it’s something you choose. In our cases, we need to have it now because we don’t know how long we DO have, especially in light of the pandemic, and also in terms of years. You just never know. You just never know what’s around the corner. If one thing the pandemic has taught us as a species is that you better get on with it, you know, the clock’s ticking. Get it and enjoy it while you have it. There’s a track on here, the “Dandelion Clock” where the band takes a decidedly XTC-ish turn, and yet the song comes after Dave Gregory has left the band. That’s sort of ironic, it seems. David: Yeah. There’s a bit of XTC in “Common Ground” as well with the opening chords. Yeah. But they were always a big influence on me. I’ve known Dave a long time, he’s a close personal friend of mine. When I was a young struggling musician, he gave me his time and the fact that he encouraged me, he gave me that hand up, and I’ll always be grateful to that. So the idea of having an XTC-ish-ness about certain things within our writing, that’s fine. I’m good with that. They’re incredible band. We’ve also got this killer instrumental called “Apollo”. Nick, it’s really exciting that you’re continuing to write instrumentals for the band, like “Pantheon” was on the last album. So what led to the creation of this track for you? Nick: This band rocks, in my opinion. We’ve got a group of killer musicians in all these different areas. And even though we haven’t had many instrumentals like specific instrumentals – we have a lot of great instrumental sections in our extended songs – I wanted to write the band’s quintessential sort of instrumental. Sort of like Genesis has “Los Endos“. You know, they ended every show with “Los Endos“, they still do. And it’s just one of those tunes where it shows off the band. The melodies aren’t too inaccessible. It’s still sort of straight ahead. There’s singable melodies through it, but it’s a chance for the band to stretch a little bit and a great show closer. And that’s kind of what I set out to do with this tune. That was my inspiration. Once I got the beginning sort of going, I was just laser focused. I worked on nothing for three or four weeks until I sent the guys the demo. Cause I was just so excited about the whole thing. And they were into the tune, everybody liked it. And once everybody else started putting their flavor onto the original demo, man oh man, it just took on a life that I just couldn’t be happier with the way the tune turned out. From Rikard to David‘s flute to the way Greg played bass, Aiden‘s violin, my gosh, it’s just killer! It really turned out well and I love it. The drums are massive on it, and I know you’ve got the whole Sweetwater support there. So is there anything you want to mention about the specifics of the drums on that track? Nick: The drums are a little bit different on this tune. I used a small drum kit throughout the whole record, just a regular four-piece drum kit. But we used a ton of different snares to get the sounds. We have a great engineer here named Sean Dealy, who worked with The Counting Crows for a long time. He’s been on the road forever. He works here as one of our main engineers and producers now, and he’s a drummer by trade. So it’s almost like I had a drum tech in the studio with me. I think we had like 15 different snare drums and went through each one to just dial in that sound since the snare is like the main body of any song, as far as the drums are concerned. So we really tried to focus in the sound for each tune and gave Rob Aubrey – our engineer, the guy who mixes all our stuff – lots of options as far as microphones and sounds to work with. It’s just fun to work here. I got to really kind of experiment on things. So, like “Los Endos”, do you think you’re going to have that be your show closer from here on out, or you’ll have to wait and see? Nick: I mean, I don’t know about forever, but definitely the tours that we’re going to be doing next year, yeah. David: It’ll be fun to play, definitely. It’s a great piece of music. Yeah. Speaking of touring, finally you’ve got UK dates booked and you are finally coming across over to North America as well. David: And we can’t wait! We’re really looking forward to it. Nick: For North America it’s going to be – you know, I know nothing’s announced yet – but it’s a fairly extensive run of shows going all over the country from the east coast to the middle of the country – which is unusual for a band to tour in the States for the first time and actually hit some of these cities in the middle of the country which is great – and then up and down the west coast. So we’re really kind of tackling a bunch of cities and a couple in Canada as well. For me, of course, being the only American in the band, I’m super excited about bringing this band over here finally after all these years. I mean, I’m really eager to play this music for an American audience, David: It’s going to wild. I mean, imagine it. These are the first dates we’ve done since coming out of the pandemic. It’s going to be so joyous! I can’t wait. Nick: And a lot of the guys have never been here. David‘s never…have you been to the States? David: No, no. Nick: And Greg‘s only seen a few things, a few cities in his life. Sarah‘s probably traveled a little bit more? David: Sarah‘s been in the States. She used to work for George Lucas. Nick: Right. So a lot of the gang has not seen a lot of this country. And since we’re literally going to be driving all the way across and pretty much all the way back, they’re going to see a lot of things they’ve never seen before, which is great, and have experiences, which’ll be fun. We’re going to do some rehearsing here in Fort Wayne first. They’re gonna come to Sweetwater. So they’ll get to hang at my house and come to dinner. I’m always over there, you know, going to their houses and stuff. So it’ll be great to have the gang over. Tiffany will make sauce and we’ll have a big dinner, and I’m excited about these things! David: So am I. I’ve heard about this sauce! Nick: Oh, it’s good. Even I’ve heard about the sauce! [laughter] Nick: Come on over, man, you’re welcome!’ Well, this is an amazing way for you guys to experience North America. I’m really excited for you. And knowing about the songwriting approach of the band, another album or two down the road might encapsulate some more American stories in them. David: Yeah. I guess so. Cause it does, doesn’t it? I mean, look how much what’s happened in the world has impacted this record. So as we broaden our horizons, I’m sure, absolutely. There are songs to be written, I’m sure! Now that you’re releasing this excellent new album, as you look back over the past 10-plus years, how would each of you define the band’s evolution at this point, over that time you’ve been in the band? Nick: To me, it’s been fun to see how this band – which was already around for a number of years before I joined and before David joined – to see the incremental growth and just the joy of making music. Being in progressive rock for a lot of my career…It was always one of these things where you had to say, Oh yeah, I’m in a progressive rock band and the response was always like, Oh, you play THAT kind of music? But BBT were always an unapologetic, progressive rock band. This is what we do. We hope you like our music, if you don’t that’s fine. That kind of thing. The earlier records had a lot of the English storytelling that they did. That’s what we did. And it resonated with people because they thought it was very honest. We just did what we loved first. And thankfully the band was very talented. So the quality of music was good. And just to see it grow, our friendships grow, our music grow. And then once we played live that first time at King’s Place, I think we all kind of said, Man, we should do this some more. And that was really the stepping off point to try and really grow the band. And it’s just been nice to kind of live this incremental growth over the years. Really, it’s a very joyous experience for me as a musician. David: It’s great because the bigger it gets…it’s an odd thing. You know, it’s very idiosyncratic thing as well. It’s that if you look at what we did and how we did it, it just doesn’t make sense. When you think about it on paper, it’s just a ludicrous scheme. But in some way it just does work. And idiosyncratic in a way that probably Jethro Tull or Genesis or Yes or those sorts of bands just were. But it is interesting to see how it grows. How we’re going onto the next step, now going over to America. It’s a wonderful thing for BBT. There’s future there, there’s life to be lived. Also seeing how people change as well, the growth in people as individuals. I mean, when you think about what we were like when we first met, we’ve both had such different experiences. It’s been wonderful seeing people come to the fore, like on this album Rikard‘s come to the fore and you can hear what he does. And it’s undeniably Rikard. I’ve been in it for 11 years and it feels like we’re just getting started. It’s ridiculous. Just feels like there’s so much potential here. What does the rest of 2022 look like in terms of either live shows or future activity? Nick: We still want to go play continental Europe. We’ve only had a couple of gigs in Germany at the Night of the Prog, you know, that kind of stuff. So we haven’t explored. It’s a big world out there. I think there’s a lot of places for Big Big Train to play if we have the opportunity. So it’s just a matter of things opening up and there’s political things, and visa things, and there’s always kind of stuff that’s a pain in the ass to try and figure out. And they all cost money. That’s the biggest part of it all is that we’re at a point where we’re able to do this, but we still don’t have enough in the coffers to not have to worry about it. It’s a consideration. So all of these things just sometimes get in the way of where we want to go, but it’s just a step-by-step process. What’s really great now, too, at this point in the band’s history is that we have a team behind the band that is really focused on getting us to the next place in the responsible, proper way. So we’re not just hemorrhaging money and we’re doing right stuff for promotion. And all of those things, we have a nice team with us now, too. We’re not just doing it all ourselves, which is great. It helps out a lot. Like Sarah is helping with promotion, aside from the artwork and publicity and stuff, cause she’s so smart and she’s been in the film and music business her whole life. So she has a ton of knowledge. So she’s helping. And our manager, Nick, and all kinds of stuff. So it’s really taken us to another level. As far as the business part of it is concerned David: And Steve does the web page and the Passenger Club and all that kind of thing. That’s Steve’s baby and he’s made a massive difference to Big Big Train. Well, the arc looks good for where you guys are headed. Gentlemen, thanks so much for chatting with us. I know everyone’s going to be ecstatic about the new album and then getting to see you next year. Nick: Awesome, thank you man. David: Thanks a lot, Scott.
16 minutes | Jul 7, 2021
Comedian and Actor GARRET JAMIESON Talks Recent “Heavy Metal Hitchhiker” YouTube Series: “I embodied SpongeBob While Performing as the Series Main Character”
Contrary to popular belief, metal bands and fans do not walk around with frowny faces all the time, looking like they want to murder someone. In fact, humor and metal have walked hand in hand since forever. From Ozzy‘s stage antics and weird facial expressions with Black Sabbath, to Spinal Tap, S.O.D. and Steel Panther, it seems us metalheads have always found a way to laugh at ourselves. BangerTV, the YouTube channel of the Canadian production company Banger Films, have just added yet another entry to an ever expanding catalogue, and once again, humor plays a key role in how this story is told. Their eight-part series “Heavy Metal Hitchhiker” follows the journey of Mitch, a metal fan who hitchhikes across Canada to deliver a lost guitar to the fictional band Rägr. Each episode shows a ride with a different character, and as the Rägr show time approaches, Mitch gets closer and closer to his final destination. Or does he? The soundtrack of Heavy Metal Hitchhiker features a myriad of bands, and showcases an interesting mix of new and old acts: Power Trip, Earthless, Pale Mare, Cancer Bats, Carcass, Protest the Hero, Exciter, Possessed and others. Funny enough, there’s only one Rägr song, and one couldn’t help but wonder if there are more to be discovered. The script leaves plenty of room for more episodes to be filmed, so we might see more of the band down the road. In a very spirited interview, Sonic Perspectives collaborator Rodrigo Altaf spoke with Garret Jamieson, the man behind the character Mitch, and the two discussed how the character was created, Canadian humor, the possibility of more episodes and much more. Listen to their conversation below and remember to subscribe to our podcast in any of the several platforms we publish them in, to listen and be notified about new interviews and contents from the world of music.
21 minutes | Jul 6, 2021
YNGWIE MALMSTEEN Talks Creative Process of Upcoming Album “Parabellum”: ‘I Don’t Follow Trends, I’m Very Clear About My Vision of Where I Want to Go”
The name of Yngwie Malmsteen has always stood for uncompromising excellence. In a career that now spans more than 40 years he has proven himself to be a unique artist. You can try to categorize him in any way you wish. But the manner in which this supreme Swedish craftsman has continually developed his music makes Malmsteen sublimely transcend any definition you attempt to impose. He now has a catalogue of 21 solo studio albums, each of which has much to commend. Moreover, the guitarist played a crucial role in helping to establish Alcatrazz as a significant force in the 1980s. Malmsteen‘s artistry has always clearly incorporated a healthy virtuosity, but his talent goes well beyond a comprehensive control of the guitar. The man is a fine composer and, on recent releases, has also showcased a strong vocal presence. Malmsteen new studio album titled “Parabellum” comes on July 23. The album will be available on a Ltd. CD Boxset, Red Transparent 2LP, a web-exclusive Splatter 2Lp (Ltd 300) and digital. He shares, “I always try to push myself on every album I do, and attempt things which are more extreme than previously. But what has helped this time is that I wasn’t able to go on the road because of the pandemic. It meant I could take much longer in the studio, both to write and record. Because I am usually always on tour, which is great, I haven’t had the luxury of spending a lot of time working on new music for more than 20 years. But I suddenly had no pressure at all on that front. And I feel the album has benefited enormously as a result.” “Parabellum” Album Artwork “The bottom line for me is that the passion I feel for the music I make has to be obvious. I am the sort of person who lives in the moment. I wanted this album to have a joyous, spontaneous atmosphere. This must never sound as if it’s been rehearsed so much that it becomes routine. I hope people will put on this record at the start and listen right through to the end, from start to finish. I recorded this as a singular piece of art. Not as a collection of 10 tracks you can hear in any order you want. I was asked by Mascot what song would be the lead track. The one for which I’d do a video. You know what? I’d like to do videos for everything here. I view this album as having a natural flow from start to finish. It’s not to be cut up into little pieces. I want fans to experience the delight I had in making it.” Restless interviewer Rodrigo Altaf sat down with Malmsteen to discuss about “Parabellum”, from the title significance, through details of the recording process and even touching on his time as a Shrapnel artist and what he listen to at home. Listen or watch their conversation below and remember to subscribe to our podcast in any of the several platforms we publish them in, to listen and be notified about new interviews and contents from the world of music.
69 minutes | Jul 1, 2021
Legendary Canadian Artist BEN MINK Discusses His Lengthy Musical Career, Reflects on Working with RUSH, HEART, FM and Many More
Ben Mink has surely cast a wide musical net throughout his career. From the early performances with the rock/country group Mary-Lou Horner, he went on to be the violin player of Canadian prog rockers FM, and collaborated with artists such as k.d. Lang, Rush, Barenaked Ladies and many more. As a producer, his credits are even more extensive: Heart, Anne Murray, Dan Hill, Mendelson Joe, Prairie Oyster, Raffi, Jane Siberry, Ian and Sylvia Tyson, Valdy, Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan, Alison Krauss, Feist, Daniel Lanois, Sarah McLachlan, Roy Orbison, Elton John…the list goes on and on! Ben has also been very prolific in the soundtrack department, having scored the 2007 biopic “Confessions of an Innocent Man” about British-Canadian engineer William Sampson, which garnered him a Gemini Award, and extensive TV work. To this day he has released one solo album, 1980’s “Foreign Exchange,” and he’s also a member of the Black Sea Station, a North American klezmer supergroup. Perhaps the collaboration that got Ben the biggest exposures was the violin solo on the Rush song “Losing It”. After his band FM supported the Canadian trio in 1980, they quickly developed a friendship, which led to Ben playing on the famous track on the “Signals” album, and also playing strings on the song “Faithless”, on the album “Snakes and Arrows.” He also co-wrote and played guitar on Geddy Lee’s only solo album to date, 2000’s “My Favourite Headache.” Sonic Perspectives interviewer Rodrigo Altaf collaborated with Paul Beaulieu, from the website “The Canadian Music Scene” on an extensive chat with Ben Mink, where he explored many aspects of his career, collaborating with Rush, producing Heart albums, touring with k.d. lang and much more. Listen or watch their conversation below and remember to subscribe to our podcast in any of the several platforms we publish them in, to listen and be notified about new interviews and contents from the world of music.
32 minutes | Jun 23, 2021
KK DOWNING Talks Upcoming KK’s PRIEST “Sermons of the Sinner” Debut Album: “My Heavy Metal Days Are Far From Over”
K.K. Downing is a legendary name and figure in the history of metal. He helped found Judas Priest some 50 years ago and scaled the heights of rock ‘n’ roll as that band developed through the ‘70s and finally achieved its signature sound in 1980 with the groundbreaking album “British Steel.” Downing’s rough and tough solos (and dual fills with fellow guitarist Glenn Tipton) were a feature of Judas Priest’s presentation. And for years, with many changes in musicians, the Downing and the band maintained a place on the Mount Rushmore of metal. But in 2011, Downing quit. He said there were several reasons for the split, especially a breakdown of relations between various band members, management and him. In spite of that, Downing remained open to a possible reunion, but and an invitation never came, not even when Glenn Tipton stepped out from the rigors of touring. During that decade, Downing did some guest gigs with various musicians, but nothing solid or permanent. After years of quietly enjoying life away from the rigors of the road and intense studio recording, Downing emerged again on stage in August 2019, and in 2020 he formed a new group, K.K.’s Priest, which featured former Judas Priest members Tim “Ripper” Owens (vocals) and drummer Les Binks – later replaced by DeathRiders/Cage drummer Sean Elg due to a hand wrist injury. And rather than simply relying on his past successes and going on the road performing classic Judas Priest songs, the renowned guitarist did what he has always done – make new music. “Sermon Of The Sinner” Album Artwork Their new album, “Sermons of the Sinner,” is due out on August 20, and is a record that celebrates Downing classic metal roots and encourages us to cherish those iconic pioneers whom we still have with us. The album cover features a mysterious figure robed in a monk’s habit, whom Downing slyly states may or may not be him, holding a book of sermons. He says the “sinner” in the title refers to his famous solo in that classic song of the same name and also reflects his sense of alienation from the groundbreaking group that he helped create. “The whole concept is the fact that I continue proudly to be who I am and what I am and do what I do,” declares Downing. “It’s been nearly 10 years. I’m back making music.” With his usually gentle and talkative demeanor K.K. recently spoke with Sonic Perspectives contributor Rodrigo Altaf about his new band and album, as well as life in Judas Priest. Listen or watch their conversation below and remember to subscribe to our podcast in any of the several platforms we publish them in, to listen and be notified about new interviews and contents from the world of music.
45 minutes | Jun 21, 2021
DENNIS DEYOUNG Reflects On Recently Release “26 East Vol. II” Final Album: “This is The Last One, I Just Don’t Want to Do It Anymore”
On June 11, Dennis DeYoung released his most recent—and supposedly final—album, “26 East, Vol. 2.” It’s the culmination of more than 50 years in the music business, one that has seen some incredible successes, especially with his former band Styx. At age 74, DeYoung has nothing left to prove. But he had some more arrows in the quiver and, after some pushing and pulling by friends, family and music honchos, Dennis decided to send out one more musical statement. And “Vol. 2” shows the range and variety of the artists abilities and tastes. “26 East” was the address where DeYoung grew up in Roseland, IL on the far south side of Chicago. This is where the band was formed in his basement in 1962. Across the street lived the Panozzo twins, John and Chuck, who along with DeYoung would go on to form the nucleus of Styx. The process that brought forth the album beginning in the first place started when Jim Peterik, a fellow Chicagoan and nearby neighbor, sent a song to Dennis. “If not for Jim Peterik’s encouragement, talent and prodding I would not have recorded this music,” says DeYoung. “He once told me the world needed my music; to which I replied ‘have the world text me for verification.’ We collaborated from the get go, happily and seamlessly and at this time we have written 9 songs together of which five will be on Volume 1. Just two Chicago guys doing what they do best, making music and having a laugh.” Correspondents Rodrigo Altaf and Mark Boardman spoke with DeYoung about the writing and recording the new album, what he has done to stay busy during the pandemic, and how he still finds energy and acceptance in live performance. Listen or watch their conversation in the links below, and remember to subscribe to our podcast in any of the several platforms we publish them in, to listen and be notified about new interviews and contents from the world of music.
45 minutes | Jun 4, 2021
JEM GODFREY and JOHN MITCHELL Talk Recent FROST* Album “Day and Age”: ‘We Were a Little Bit Nervous That Perhaps We’d Gone Off Too Far in A Strange Direction. But Now We’re Feeling Very Vindicated and Relieved’
Frost* came onto the scene in 2006 with their acclaimed debut album “Milliontown”. Comprised of a formidable group of musicians, it was primarily led by Jem Godfrey with John Mitchell (Lonely Robot, Kino, It Bites) closely in tow. These two have weathered several changes in the band during the intervening years and, accompanied by longtime bassist Nathan King (Level 42), are the primary drivers of excellent new album “Day and Age”. Sonic Perspectives spoke with Godfrey and Mitchell shortly before the release of “Day and Age”, discussing at length the material on the new album as well as the circumstances surrounding its recording locations and the various drummers who were chosen to perform. Always keen to engage in dry humor, it should be noted for those reading the transcription that an overarching sense of wit, and at times sarcasm, pervaded the interview. The audio recording culminates with the full 12-minute version of the title track. Be sure not to miss this engaging conversation, or the album which inspired it. Remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis. INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT: Hey, welcome everyone. This is Scott Medina with Sonic Perspectives. We have Jem and John on the line, representing Frost* today. Welcome, gentlemen. We’ve got a new “Day and Age” out. So how you boys feeling about this new one? John: I’m feeling remarkably good! I’m full of the joys of spring. This album has got a lot of very positive feedback thus far, so that’s very reassuring. When we started doing it, we were quietly confident that we had something on our hands and it looks like quite a vindication. So yes, I’m as happy as Larry! Jem: It was more of an experiment this time in doing something different with how we wrote it and we were a little bit nervous that perhaps we’d gone off too far in a strange direction. But it turns out that it doesn’t look like we have! So as John is saying, we’re feeling very vindicated and relieved. No one noticed that there’s no solos as well, so we managed to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes and we’ve got away with it…we think! I noticed, cause at the end of “Kill the Orchestra”, there’s just a little moment of John’s guitar coming in on a little lick and suddenly you realize, wait, hang on for a minute, is that the first guitar kind of solo lick thus far? it only lasts for five seconds or so, but it’s enough to remind you of what you’ve been missing. So, since you brought it up, let’s start there. How was the decision to not have any solos on this album made? Jem: Every time we write something, we try and set ourselves up with some different parameters to work with because it kind of makes it interesting to have something to push against. So, on the second album we had no toms. I remember the drummer at the time was very unhappy about that. But he had a kit made up of four or five snares in the end, so he kind of got round it in a different way. But I think the older we get, I feel more conspicuous soloing because it sort of feels faintly ridiculous sometimes, playing really fast with a bunch of chords and things like that. So, as songwriters, the challenge for us was more, how do we fill this 32 bars or 16 bars with something that’s interesting without it just being a kind of lazy sense of, you know, John – off you go, Jem – off you go kind of thing. So it was, it was more of a challenge for us to make it a bit more difficult for ourselves. And hopefully as a result, we discover some new things to do, which I think we did. John, are you happy in retrospect that you guys made the decision not to do any solos on this one? Absolutely. I mean, none of the music that I listen to on a day-to-day basis…I mean, one of my favorite bands is The Police, and I cannot stand it when Andy plays a lead guitar solo. [laughs]He’s a very, very good rhythm guitar player, but The Police don’t need guitar solos. From an emotional context, you’re trying to relate to people seriously about something, and if suddenly in the middle of a quite poignant song, you suddenly go and start playing 30-second notes, it kind of deconstructs everything that you were building up there in the first place. It’s very unnecessary, really. As Jem says, we’re trying to approach our dotage with dignity here. So, a full-on monitor, channeling Iron Maiden is not the way forward for us! So do you think going forward from here, even in other projects that you’re involved with, do you think that’s going to have an impact on how much you’re soloing and you might rethink that? Jem: Ah, well album five is a continuous solo! [laughs]No, you can never tell, really. You can never tell. I mean, there was a track on the album before, the “Falling Satellites” album, where the last six minutes of it was this sort of big elongated keyboard solo. I remember at the time thinking that that was the last one I wanted to do, really. Because “Milliontown” has got a lot of soloing on it, and then “A Nice Day For It” had a long solo in it, and so there’s only so many ways you can frame that particular picture, I think. So unless we can think of something different to do…I might get very good at the thumb piano, for example, in which case – game on! Well, John, I’ll be interested to hear on the next Lonely Robot album if the amount of soloing has dramatically gone down… John: Well, I’m not really aligned with the likes of Steve Vai, I’m more sort of Dave Gilmour really, and I don’t think anybody needs to hear that, either. So, like Jem says, maybe I’ll rely more upon…the emotional context. So, let’s talk about the formation of the songwriting. It sounds like you had some dramatic locations in which to be writing this album, like next to a lighthouse and such. Jem: Yes. Well, previously we’ve always gone around to each other’s houses to write, to each other’s studios. And the trouble with that is obviously there’s the inevitable distractions you’ll have, like, you know, your kids will go, Oh, what’s for dinner dad, or the phone will ring or there’ll be a delivery at the door. So sometimes it’s very difficult to get into a flow where you can really focus on what you’re supposed to be doing. And so I think we’ve always been kind of quietly mourning the fact that places like The Manor in Oxfordshire, the studio, is gone, and Air Studios in Montserrat. Those places where you’d go for a couple of weeks. I think we always lamented the fact that we were about 10 years too late for that sort of behavior. So I think the closest we could get was to say let’s get out of our comfort zones and go to a place that neither of us really knows and focus on songwriting. So the first place was down in Cornwall, which is in the Southwest of England where most of the UK goes on holiday for summer. And we sort of converted this little cottage into a makeshift recording studio for six days. We wrote five or six songs I think on that first session. And then we had a break for a couple of months, to give our livers a chance to recover. And then we went in January down to Dungeness, which is on the South coast of England, which is a really kind of bleak, strange place where Derek Jarman, the artist used to live and there’s a nuclear power station 200 meters to the right and the lighthouse to the left. And it was absolutely the foulest winter weather, you know? So we were right by the sea, and blowing full force and we’re trying to write this song. Let’s just say it added to the atmosphere of the writing. So I think we’ll do that again! Definitely. Maybe not there, but somewhere else. John: I did actually find out by the way, Jem, that Dungeness is actually classified as Europe’s only desert. That’s the classification, Dungeness is a desert, bizarrely! Tell us about the song writing process between the two of you. Are most of the songs written by both of you together, or are you coming in with some ideas ahead of time? Or how does that work? John: When we went to Cornwall, no, we didn’t have a stitch! And I was quite nervous about it at the time, I seem to recall. Because what if we hit a roadblock early on? And Jem‘s like, Don’t worry about it, there’s lots of pubs around here. So we’ll make the best use of the time elsewhere. But the fact of the matter is, once we’re sort of off the ground – I think we spent the first evening sort of setting up an improvised studio – and then the first actual day we started, we hit the ground running. One day we came up with two sort of songs. There were three songs on the first session that we ended up using for the album, and the second session had two. So yeah, once we’re up and running it was really quite a prolific experience and it was very rewarding in that respect. How do you determine who’s going to be the lead vocalist on it? Is it the main songwriter of it or do you flip a coin or what? John: When we were doing the demos, it was simply a case of the fact that I don’t know how to use Pro Tools. So Jem was in charge of Pro Tools and I said, Well, I’ll tell you what, I’ll put down a guide vocal here and we’ll decide who actually sings it later. And so, it was very much a case of most of songs that you’re hearing were actually the original sort of sketch that we put together. A lot of those vocals and guitars were from the actual situation and the environment where we recorded them. But I did keep saying to Jem, This one will be good for you! Your voice will be good on this. I did fully expect to get completely replaced, but that doesn’t seem to be the case! Actually, to be fair, on the album Jem sings three, and we both sing one of them, we can take turns. So there’s a mix of voices across the album. So when John sent the guide vocals to you, Jem, were you just having a cold that week or a sore throat? Jem: Well, I did try and re-sing some of them. I mean, “Skywards” was supposed to be me. I recorded a version of it and I listened to them and I thought, this is not as good. So, I just said to John, you’re on this one as well, mate, sorry. [laughs]. And then obviously now that puts the added responsibility of were we to play this live, the ball is very much in my court now, isn’t it? [laughter] So, you’ve got this interesting juxtaposition of a narrative running throughout the album with phrases, like “Enjoy yourself”, “Relax”, “Everything is okay”. Spoken sometimes in an ominous inflection, and sometimes by a child. Um, and of course then there’s the counter reference of “You scum”. So, what’s your overarching intention with these messages sprinkled throughout the album? Jem: There’s a sort of sense these days in the UK, where it was all quite patronizing in terms of how we were told to behave and what not to do. And I think up to that point, even before COVID, with the current powers that be, there’s definitely been a sense of sort of being talked down to in some respects. But they’re doing it in that kind of Bill Hicks way. Go back to sleep. I think it’s just that sense of responsibility feels like it’s been more and more taken away from people. So we’re just kind of herded about and told, Do this! But it’s okay, fine, take it easy, relax, have a holiday, buy this, go back to Amazon and get some more things, that sort of thing. I think underneath all that there is a certain aggression from the powers that be. It’s a sense that society is increasingly kind of nannied and made to feel that children, perhaps. Because underneath it you’re considered scum, but we’re just going to put nice veneer over top of it. Jem: Exactly. Yeah. Just do as you’re told, will you! John: Another thing to consider as well is the fact that, like if you’re going to get somebody to perform open heart surgery, you have to be qualified to do that. But there’s no real qualification to run a country, is there? It’s bizarre that one of the most important roles in anybody’s life, you know, with such an active responsibility can be so mismanaged by somebody with so little compassion or ability to do one’s own job, it’s quite remarkable when you think about it. You certainly wouldn’t put Boris Johnson in charge of…well, open heart surgery, for example! [laughs] Yeah, we can relate to that… John: Didn’t want to go there! Didn’t want to make that journey, but… So even though that’s running through various songs on the album, are most of the lyrics of the songs also reflecting that, or was that just a little injection you wanted to put in, regardless of the story that individual songs were telling? Jem: I think the narrative really is that it’s more observationalist. It’s looking at the world at the moment and – whether it’s because I’m getting older and I’m more aware of these things, or because I’ve got children now, so you kind of suddenly become more hyper-aware of the planet and what effect it might be on them – I think it was a sort of commentary on how incredibly strange the world’s become in the last five years, perhaps. Certain people in power that you’d never thought would have been in power, strange things happening with pandemics, you know, it’s just an extraordinary time to be alive. The video for the title track Day and Age was recently released. Does the final video portray what you were originally writing the lyrics to be about… A middle-age pig crisis? [laughs]John: I think the narrative about that whole thing is: Ignorance is bliss, really. I don’t want to give too much away, but he’s not having a crisis, he’s just lost his job and he can’t bare to tell his wife that he’s lost his job and it sends him slightly around the twist…a pig twist. And then of course it goes off in another direction. At the end of it we learned that the little oinky-oink pig there is relieved that he’s not actually a human being and he doesn’t know what fate befalls him, but that’s in a way which keeps him sort of subservient and happy. It’s not the cheeriest of videos, but it’s sort of macabre and I’m very pleased with how it’s turned out. I noticed that one of the studios that you were writing the album in, you renamed it the Troubled Cow studios. So there seems to be this existential animal angst that’s incorporating its way throughout here. John: Well, yeah, I mean, actually both studios had very pertinent names. Butter Beak was the second studio. And the reason for that was one of the first things that Jem and I did, we gazed upon the shoreline. We were literally 20 meters from the actual sea. And we spotted this seagull that had caught this fish and he kept picking it up. And then seconds later he would drop it again! And then pick it up and then drop it. It’s like, Just keep hold of the fish! And I said, Butter Beak! Cause we had the film Butterfingers. And that’s how it became Butter Beak studios. And the Troubled Cow was that there was a strange portrait of a cow in Cornwall. And it just seemed to be in some sort of, I don’t know, sort of discontent. And yeah, so Troubled Cow it was. Jem: Big Gary Larson fans! What initially inspired the storytelling monologue in “The Boy Who Stood Still”? Jem: Sometimes I just sit down and write things out. I’ve got lots of Word documents of lyrics and half finished bits and pieces. So it kind of started out as one thing and ended up being this little short story. And I just thought, it’d be nice to put that to music or to do something with it. It’s something we haven’t done before. We probably won’t do it again because again, it was an interesting experiment. But yeah, it is a slight diversion, I suppose, from the overriding theme of the album, but it’s quite nice in a way. It’s sort of like how you’d have “Yellow Submarine” on an album or that kind of thing. It’s a little little sorbet in the middle of it all, just a bit of fun, really. It was just an interesting story, I thought. And getting someone of the caliber of Jason Isaacs to read it, lent it that kind of weight. I think it’s a wonderful diversion in that respect and unlike some narratives that you might hear on an album, it’s kind of compelling even as you listen to it over and over again. So it doesn’t, it doesn’t lose its effect, I think. Jem: Yeah, I think so. There’s a slight reference to the album cover in it, which was a secondary thing, about the five characters on the front. The thing that took the most time was the “Hail rage! Hail fear!” bit. Cause that was about 300 vocals…it took quite a while to tape. John: I was going to ask you about that actually! Is there a plug-in that does that? But then no, you actually did it 300 times! Jem: Yeah. It was quite boring! [laughter] But we do have three drummers who appear on this album. Did you initially hope to have one drummer after Craig left or what led you to reach out to these particular musicians? John: Well, yeah. Craig left, he was a bit busy with Steve Wilson and we just saw that as an opportunity, really. We knew that we wanted Pat Mastelotto on the record. Having grown up throughout the eighties and being massively obsessed with the album “Welcome To the Real World”, we just thought, wouldn’t that be cool? You know, that would be a box ticked. He’s got his own pocket and he actually said to us, “I’m just a tired old rock drummer, man.” And we said, “Come on, Pat, come and do it.” And he agreed to it. His groove on “Skywards” is exactly similar to the sort of thing that he’s famous for, that kind of “Broken Wings” kind of groove. He’s a very hard hitter and of course, “Repeat to Fade” was the perfect track for him. Darby Todd, Jem saw in a jazz context, in a bar in Tunbridge Wells. He sent me some footage of this guy playing and I’m like, “Wow, well, let’s get him in on it!” Strangely enough, he played for The Darkness briefly and Hot Leg with Justin Hawkins. I don’t know if anybody remembers them, but you know, he’s kind of finding his feet in the wide world of drums. And then of course, Kaz Rodriguez is one of the top session drummers in the country and he’s like the drummer’s drummer. So they’ve all got very different styles. Darby‘s got a real groove on and he plays on “Waiting For the Lie” and that end section is absolutely brilliant. Kaz has got a real motoring style he’s on “Day and Age” and he’s got some interesting sort of cross rhythms that he does. So, all in all, they’re just interesting choices for three drummers. Who knows what we’re gonna do next time, we might get three other ones, who knows? Especially without having new solos, the rhythm really plays a huge role in the album. John: That’s what people have said. Obviously, it’s down to Jem‘s production, but you know, the drums really are the superstar of the record, really. Especially on a long track like “Day and Age”, it’s just a crucial element. Did you ever try out Pat for that track and see which you preferred? John: No, everyone was assigned a role, we kind of knew that from the outset, really. You guys have alluded a couple of times to a future Frost* projects. I did hear Jem comment in another interview that there might be a finite number of releases for the band’s future. So, is there a life expectancy on Frost* before it melts? [laughs]Jem: Oh, I see what you did there! I don’t know…as long as we keep having interesting ideas and experiences it’s worth doing. But if we ever felt, and I know John would agree with this, if we ever felt we were starting to rehash old stuff…you’re not going to get “Tubular Bells” II out of us, put it that way. As long as it’s interesting. We can pick up pace a bit now, we’ve already started working on the fifth album. That’s already in the planning stages. So, I think, yeah, for now, we’ll do five and see how we get on. John: The important thing is, like Jem said earlier, is to make sure that every album is a progression or that there is something different about it from the previous one. It’s very easy to get stuck in that rut. To a certain degree, I kind of experienced that from doing the three Lonely Robot albums. Even though there are differences, like the third one was way more synth-y, but I did find myself towards the end of that cycle going, Yeah, there’s a reason I wanted to do three. And then of course, I tripped myself up and make a fourth one just to confuse myself! And so moving forward, I’m gonna rethink things now. But certainly like Jem says, there are bands out there that rely upon the Holy Trinity of the Mellotron, the Hammond and the Moog and you kind of know what you’re going to get and we don’t want to be that band. Well, John, how do you differentiate writing for Frost* as opposed to the other projects that you’re in? John: Well, I mean, that’s an interesting question. It very much depends on who you’re collaborating with, really. I mean, I know that, for example, like with It Bites or Kino, I was collaborating with John Beck. He’s got a very stylized way of playing the keyboards. I mean, I don’t think the Mitchell motor changes that much. To be fair when we did “The Tall Ships”, I have to say with all honesty and I know it’s probably unkind of me to say that it was a real, conscious effort to try and sound like a pastiche of what It Bites might’ve sounded like had they got together again in 2008. As much at the time I was quite fond of it, in hindsight I don’t think it’s aged well and it certainly didn’t have all the integrity that it should have had. So yeah, you’ve got to be mindful of that when you, when you approach anything really. Do you guys have hopes in 2022 for live gigs before the fifth album might come out? Jem: Yes we do. In fact, only today I bought two Mac Book Pros for that very reason. We have one problem at the moment, which is the wonderful deal that the government did for touring musicians in Europe, the current Brexit arranJements. John did some calculations and worked out that it was 2000 euros per country just to even arrive in those countries to play. So doing Germany, Italy, France, you’re looking at 10 grand before you even plugged your keyboards in. So, at the moment, we’re not quite sure about our European plans. That said, I hear America is a wonderful place to play and so is Japan and other places like that. So, we are definitely gonna get out and about! But I don’t think this year is the time to do it because I think we’re all still finding our feet with the way the world works. The other thing is that the entire gigging community is going to get back out on the road as soon as it can. So there’s only so many venues left! So, I think we’re going to let the rush die down, then we might step out a bit. So yes, definitely. We’d love to get out and play. Yeah. Is an option instead of that, since it’s just so cost prohibitive with what you just described, to do festivals or things like that so that you don’t need to worry about taking that on yourself, or is that not as fulfilling for you? Jem: Possibly. Yeah. We’re not particularly interested in doing streamed gigs. It’s quite a stilted experience for me as an observer because you know, you’re in a room and we’re all two meters apart from each other, it doesn’t feel right to do that. So we definitely want to go out and do it face-to-face with people. We’ll see, I suppose. John: When we do get out again, what’s going to make this band special really is that we want to step it up a gear and put on real production value. And certainly that’s our sort of mission drive at the moment. Do you think that Brexit visa hurdle will get overturned somehow because it’s just such a ridiculous set up that you guys are up against now? John: There was a deal on the table. But our glorious leader sidestepped it and said no to Europe. And so now here we are. I hope it does get revisited. And I certainly, I know that there was a letter written to the governance signed by people like Roger Daltrey – who actually voted for Brexit, it should be pointed out – and now wanting to see it overturned. But, time will tell. Well we’re going to close up by playing a track from the album, let’s play the full title track. Do you want to set it up for us? Well, this is quite a cinematic song. I kind of liken it to walking through quite a large house and you’re going into different rooms as you go through. And there’s different experiences to be had in each of those rooms. And eventually you end up back in the kitchen, the good old kitchen of the chorus! Right on. Well, gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure talking with you and thanks for filling us in a little bit about the album, it’s a fantastic release. Really excited for what you come up with next, but all the best with this release. Thanks very much, Scott. Thanks! Bye bye.
33 minutes | Jun 2, 2021
INTERLOPER’s Guitarist/Frontman ANDREW VIRRUETA Talks Band’s Debut Album: “We Discovered the Level of Organic Sound Development We’re Capable Of”
The development of progressive pioneers INTERLOPER has not been an instant nor mundane process to say the least. On the contrary, it has procured particular expertise in creating endless layers of transcendent sound. Initially set as the title of one of the album’s most vibrant tracks, it quickly became obvious that the feel of “Search Party” could speak for the entire record. “In a way, it represents what we went through as a band, ﬁnding our sound, our members, ﬁnding our place in general,” explains drummer and Co-founder Aaron Stechauner. A feeling of harsh desolation can be captured from the world embellishing the album cover created by Caelan Stokkermans. A woman sits in solitude on the edge of the world as a violent ocean crashes against her rock. The lyrics of the title track observe a young woman running away from herself and her challenges, destroying her connections with everyone around her. “She’s run as far away from her problems as she can, to the literal ends of the Earth, and she’s still lost. She’s carving a symbol in the rock (which happens to be our emblem), but the artistic purpose of the symbol in the piece is open to interpretation. I like to see it as a distress beacon,” explains Stechauner. “Search Party” Album Artwork “Search Party” has been a long time coming in terms of INTERLOPER’s existence as a musical project. “For me personally, this LP coming out feels like this is the start of what this band really will become. We needed to have patience, but there’s no reason to wait anymore. This marks the oﬃcial start of this band,” says Baker. The deep cohesiveness of INTERLOPER’s writing process for “Search Party” allowed for a creative project with no real boundaries or restrictions. Each member of INTERLOPER comes outfitted with a specialized skill set that is integral to the unique structure of these passionate and imaginative anthems. Pulling inspiration from raw human emotion, nostalgia, and pushing boundaries through the precision of musicianship itself, INTERLOPER continues to develop their identity. Correspondent Carlos Gomez spoke with guitarist and singer Andrew Virrueta to dig as much information as possible about the creative process for “Search Party”. Find out that and more in the audio below, and remember to subscribe to our podcast in any of the several platforms we publish them in, to listen and be notified about new interviews and contents from the world of music.
69 minutes | May 27, 2021
SUBTERRANEAN MASQUERADE Singer DAVIDAVI DOLEV Talks Just Released “Mountain Fever” Album: “There Was Always Another Idea Waiting Around the Corner While Working on This Record”
“Shai is a lobster.” This is the regard in which new-ish Subterranean Masquerade front-man Davidavi Dolev holds his bandmate, keyboardist Shai Yallin. Lobsters, you see, have evolved an impressive pair of eyeballs that not only enable them to see just fine several hundred feet below salty sea surfaces, they also have a 180° field of vision. But that’s not what “Vidi” is talking about. He’s talking about the peacock mantis shrimp, which is neither a peacock, nor a mantis, nor a shrimp. Formally known as Odontodactylus scyllarus, this bizarre crustacean has north of a dozen photoreceptors in its eyes (compared to your three), which some believe allows the mantis shrimp to see colors that you and I can’t even comprehend. Though this is disputed (see the NatGeo article at here), Radiolab (here) did a fascinating audio story that illustrates Vidi’s point beautifully. And his point, to wit, is this: his psychedelic-loving, micro-dosing, analog keyboard-playing bandmate Shai composes music like a guy who sees through dual 4mm f/0 lenses coated in colors you’ve never seen. And he does so with the help of a guy whose musical background is in black metal. “Tomer and Shaihave a beautiful musical relationship where they work parallel to each other, and they glue that to what the other guys are doing.” adds Vidi. This is how bandleader/ guitarist Tomer Pink and his assigns are able create music that sounds like death metal, tastes like klezmer, and feels like progressive rock, all at once. “It’s what happens when you work with one guy who is crazy, and another guy who is lobster-crazy.” “I think he lives forever too,” he admits between laughs. “Mountain Fever” Album Artwork The charismatic Haifa-born front-man chatted with Sonic Perspectives Texas Bureau Chief Gonzalo Pozo a few nights into the cease-fire his home country of Israel had just negotiated with Hamas. The pair discuss life, hummus, emerging from a pandemic, The Beatles, Subterranean Masquerade’s ridiculously awesome new record “Mountain Fever,” and what gives Vidi hope during yet another round of conflict in his homeland. Listen to their revealing conversation below, and remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new interviews and contents we publish on a daily basis. (Lobsters, by the way, are not kosher.)
30 minutes | May 24, 2021
BLACK SABBATH and ROB ZOMBIE Drummer TOMMY CLUFETOS reflects on the debut of TOMMY’S ROCK TRIP: “I took this album as a challenge to myself”
Tommy Clufetos has already carved his name in the history of rock and metal by working with reputable acts such as Rob Zombie, Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper. The cherry on the cake of such an illustrious touring career was being handpicked by Ozzy to join his band and to replace Bill Ward in Black Sabbath. More recently, Tommy has been announced as the new member of The Dead Daisies, and kicked off a new band, the supergroup L.A. Rats, with his old buddy Rob Zombie, Nikki Sixx and John 5. In addition to that, he recently put out an album under the moniker of Tommy’s Rock Trip, a celebration of the music that inspired him, with a distinctive 70’s-tinged hard rock sound. The band’s debut is entitled “Beat Up By Rock and Roll”, and showcases Tommy on drums and vocals, alongside Eric Dover on vocals, Eliot Lorengo on bass, Hank Schneekluth and Nao Nakashima on guitar. Released on May 07th via Frontiers Records, “Beat Up By Rock and Roll” holds no punches, and sounds like a soundtrack to an episode of “That 70’s Show”. Tommy‘s origins and upbringing in Detroit are very much in the forefront, with a distinctive “live in the studio” feel permeating its eleven tracks. In fact, many parts of the album were cut straight from the demos into their final form, which gives it an organic atmosphere. Sonic Perspectives collaborator Rodrigo Altaf sat down with Tommy Clufetos to discuss the making of “Beat Up by Rock and Roll“, his influences, the tours with Black Sabbath and much more. Find out their spirited chat on the links below. Remember to subscribe to our podcast in any of the several platforms we publish them in, to listen and be notified about new interviews and contents from the world of music.
20 minutes | Apr 28, 2021
RIOT V Vocalist TODD MICHAEL HALL Talks “Sonic Healing” Upcoming Solo Album: “This Album Was Inspired by the Music I Grew Up Listening to”
Todd Michael Hall of Riot V will be releasing a solo album entitled “Sonic Healing” on May 7th via Rat Pak Records. Todd and Kurdt Vanderhoof of Metal Church collaborated on the songwriting, and Kurdt also produced the record. With thought provoking lyrics and rock solid guitar riffs, “Sonic Healing” delivers all the power and punch that one would expect from these high-level players. From the infectious guitar riffs of the opening track “Overdrive” to the anthemic album finale of “Long Lost Rock & Rollers,” Todd showcases his vocal range and passion for rock music. Songs like “Let Loose Tonight,” “Running After You,” and “Like No Other” are testaments to the magic that was created when Todd and Kurdt began to focus on their deep love of classic rock icons like Boston, Rush, Styx, Foreigner and REO Speedwagon. Todd’s multi-octave voice and Kurdt‘s riff writing capabilities create memorable songs that are reminiscent of the artists that inspired them to pursue a career in music. “Sonic Healing” delivers all the power and punch that one would expect from these high-level players with thought-provoking lyrics and rock-solid guitar riffs. Pre-orders are available here: https://smarturl.it/toddmichaelhall. “Music has a healing effect to get you up and running,” Todd explains. “People use it to console themselves on a daily basis. It’s such a weird time right now. So, ‘Sonic Healing’ is meant to be good positive rock. We definitely paid homage to our favorite bands, but we added a new twist. There’s a hunger for this music, and there aren’t many artists trying to scratch the itch. We’re here to scratch the itch and bring the energy.” Contributor Robert Cavuoto spoke with Todd about “Sonic Healing,” working with Kurdt, and what we can expect from Riot V in the near future. Remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis.
26 minutes | Apr 27, 2021
JEFF PILSON Reflects on The Sophomore THE END MACHINE Album: “Having to Work Remotely Helped Us Keep the Material More Direct”
The staying power of 80’s hard rock is undeniable. After its rise to fame and being almost completely erased from the airwaves by grunge, there seems to be a resurgence of the genre, and many of the same bands who were part of the “first wave” are still around. Granted, the days of filling stadiums and arenas may be long gone, but many of those acts are still staples of the live circuit, and their albums continue to sell. One of the key figures of that genre is Jeff Pilson, an original member of Dokken who also played with McAuley Schekner Group, Lynch Mob and Dio. Since 2004 he’s been a member and active writer of Foreigner, another representative of that era. More recently, Jeff has been part of two new groups: Black Swan, with Matt Starr, Robin McAuley and Reb Beach, and The End Machine, which is essentially the original Dokken lineup minus Don Dokken. Here, the vocal duties are handled by Robert Mason, of Lynch Mob and Warrant fame. The End Machine‘s self titled debut came out in 2019 and sounded very much like a continuation of the Dokken sound, brought into current times. The album made several “best of 2019” lists, which prompted a second offering from the group. Thus, “Phase 2” the band’s sophomore effort was born. Sounding more direct and straightforward than the debut, it has pleased the fan base upon its release on April 9th and is very much an expansion of their initial blueprint. Sonic Perspectives’ collaborator Rodrigo Altaf sat down with Jeff Pilson to discuss the writing and recording of “Phase 2”, and the pair also touched on Jeff’s many endeavors: tour dates with Foreigner, a potential Dokken reunion, a yoga book and much more. Find out their chat on the link below. Find out that and more in the audio below, and remember to subscribe to our podcast in any of the several platforms we publish them in, to listen and be notified about new interviews and contents from the world of music.
36 minutes | Apr 22, 2021
JANE GETTER Talks Recent Studio Album “Anomalia”: “I Don’t Really Know Too Many Women Who Are Doing What I Do, I’m Sort of an Anomaly.”
Rock, metal, jazz, songwriter material, progressive rock, finger style guitar – Jane Getter does it all, including vocals. On her new album “Anomalia” with her musical project Jane Getter Premonition, she employs all of these styles with her all-star band and a few choice special guests. The result is a devastatingly hip recording which will appeal to a broad spectrum of listeners. Having led an extended career as recording artist, performer, teacher and even a member of the Saturday Night Live band, Getter’s extensive experience has afforded her a more diverse background than many musicians, all of which can be heard on “Anomalia”. In this audio interview, Sonic Perspectives correspondent Scott Medina discusses the new album in depth, including the incredible musicians Getter surrounds herself with. Be sure not to miss this engaging conversation, or the album which inspired it. Remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis.
36 minutes | Apr 20, 2021
AMORPHIS’ Guitarist ESA HOLOPAINEN Reflects On His Upcoming Solo Project SILVER LAKE: “I Wanted to Have a Proper Project Name and For it to Be Someway Connected with Nature”
Guitarist Esa Holopainen has been making music with Finnish melodic death metal act Amorphis for over 30 years. Thanks to the metallic and melodic beauty of such classic albums as “Tales from the Thousand Lakes”, “Elegy” and “Skyforger”, Holopainen‘s magnificent abilities to create enchanting atmospheres and innovative riffs have become widely known within the worldwide heavy metal circuit. Obviously, Amorphis has taken most of Esa’s attention as an artist before the pandemic changed the ways of the world. As a positive outcome, Esa decided to take the imposed time off to focus on his first solo album of his career. SILVER LAKE by ESA HOLOPAINEN is the name of his debut project and it will be released on May 28th on Nuclear Blast. The first single was released on March 26th and it is called “Storm”, featuring HÅKAN HEMLIN on vocals. Other guest singers in this album include Jonas Renske (Katatonia), Einar Solberg (Leprous), Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork), Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis) and Anneke Van Giersbergen. “Silver Lake by Esa Holopainen” Album Artwork “I’ve been thinking of doing my own record for years” recalls Holopainen. “I mean, when Nino Laurenne – renowned music producer and owner of Helsinki-based recording facility Sonic Pump who ended up mixing and producing the album – called me and asked me if this would be the right time to start working on my solo album, the worldwide pandemic had already destroyed all plans concerning 2020, and I was starkly aware of the fact that I had spare time on my hands. So it didn’t take long to comprehend that this is it, time has finally come to do something on my own – for the first time in three decades!” Correspondent Carlos Gomez spoke with Esa about several topics related to SILVER LAKE, such as the origin of the project name, the album cover artwork, the guest musicians, the first single video and most of the guest singers featured on the album. Find out that and more in the audio below, and remember to subscribe to our podcast in any of the several platforms we publish them in, to listen and be notified about new interviews and contents from the world of music.
16 minutes | Apr 8, 2021
Guitarist RUFUS MILLER Reflects On Keeping Himself Busy During Lockdown: “I Used the Pandemic to Reconnect with My Musical Roots”
Talent surely runs in the family when it comes to Rufus Miller. His interest in electric guitar came from his father Dominic, an accomplished musician with several solo albums, who has been collaborating with Sting since 1991. Slowly but surely, Rufus started to learn basic chords and to play grunge songs, which to this day are a massive influence on his work. Rufus joined Sting‘s band for a few tours, and split the six-string duties with his father on many shows. This move kept him on his toes every night, with Sting pushing the envelope and challenging his band to change bits and pieces of songs from one show to the next. He is determined to carve his own path though, and released his first solo album, “Pop Skull”, in 2018. Rufus‘ sophomore effort, 2020’s “Make It”, is an evolutionary quantum leap: more cohesive, with stronger songs and a bigger sense of how he wants his career to progress. Through its eleven tracks, Rufus absorbs elements from grunge, hard rock, world music and 90’s pop, and pays homage to his heroes Alice in Chains with a cover of “Rain When I Die”. The pandemic has been a prolific time for Rufus Miller, with many songs in the works with his talented sister Misty, a few live streams, and much more to come. Sonic Perspectives collaborator Rodrigo Altaf caught up with the musician to discuss his influences, what it feels like to play with his father, the future plans and much more. Find out their chat on the link below. Find out that and more in the audio below, and remember to subscribe to our podcast in any of the several platforms we publish them in, to listen and be notified about new interviews and contents from the world of music.
52 minutes | Apr 1, 2021
MEGADETH’S Basist DAVE ELLEFSON and DREW FORTIER Reflect on Their Collaboration on Books, Movies and Music: “We Really Found a Collective Voice Together”
One of the most enduring metal acts on the planet, MEGADETH has been recording a new album in the last few months, and updates have been given by their main-man Dave Mustaine from time to time. While the new songs are being honed in the studio, the band’s bass player, Dave Ellefson, aka “Junior”, is branching out and sowing his creative seeds in many other endeavors. He released a solo effort, “Sleeping Giants” in 2019, and honored some of his heroes and influences with the covers album “No Cover” last year, with the help of an extensive guest list. 2021 brings yet another one of Dave’s musical exploits, in the form of a collaboration with vocal extraordinaire Jeff Scott Soto (SOTO, Sons of Apollo, Trans-Siberian Orchestra). Under the moniker ELLEFSON-SOTO, their first debut will contain original material, and a taste of what’s to come has just been revealed, in the shape of “Swords & Tequila”, their version of a Riot song. Dave is no stranger to writing either, having released two memoirs, entitles “My Life with Deth” and “More Life with Deth”. More recently, he explored the world of fiction, having put out “Rock Star Hitman”, the first in chapter of The Sledge Chronicles series. The book tells the tale of Sledge, a musician who must enlist as a ruthless killer for a clandestine agency in exchange for success. The book is co-written by Drew Fortier, an accomplished guitarist, filmmaker, actor, and filmmaker who collaborated with the American rock band BANG TANGO for the release of the documentary “Attack of Life: The Bang Tango Movie”. The partnership with Drew proved to be extremely prolific, as the pair joined forces in a band called LUCID. Their most recent adventure comes in the form of a horror movie entitled “Dwellers”, scheduled for release this October. Another offering of the “found footage” genre, it follows a documentary film crew who eventually go missing while uncovering the truths behind the disappearances within a homeless community. With so many initiatives, it’s no wonder that there’s a lot to talk about. Sonic Perspectives collaborator Rodrigo Altaf sat down with Dave and Drew on an information-packed conversation where they spoke about all the projects they’re involved on, reminisce about their most memorable shows, and much more. Find out their chat on the link below. Find out that and more in the audio below, and remember to subscribe to our podcast in any of the several platforms we publish them in, to listen and be notified about new interviews and contents from the world of music.
25 minutes | Mar 31, 2021
RONNIE ROMERO Reflects on His Involvement in SUNSTORM’s “Afterlife” Album: “As Musicians We Always Try To Prove Ourselves, and I Took This Record As a Challenge”
The new chapter of SUNSTORM is here! Originally designed to showcase a musical style similar to singer Joe Lynn Turner’s Melodic Rock/AOR roots, the band now has a new face on the front-man’s seat, in the form of LORDS OF BLACK and RAINBOW singer Ronnie Romero. His debut with the group, “Afterlife” was recently released on March 12, 2021, and you can read our chronicle of the album at this location. With producer Alessandro Del Vecchio handling the songwriting, the new SUNSTORM album caught many in the melodic rock fanbase by surprise, and it’s an 80’s hard rock fan’s wet dream. The new lineup counts also with Simone Mularoni (DGM) on guitars, Nik Mazzucconi on bass and Michele Sanna on drums. Together, they aim at combining the highest points of Rainbow, Whitesnake and Deep Purple, with a modern edge and a dose of heaviness added for good measure. Sonic Perspectives collaborator Rodrigo Altaf sat down with Ronnie Romero to discuss the making of the new album, his origins in Chile, future plans with other projects and much more. Listen to their conversation or enjoy the chat transcript below, and remember that for more interviews and other daily content, Sonic Perspectives is on Facebook, Flipboard, Twitter and YouTube, where you can be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis.
28 minutes | Mar 29, 2021
GEOFF TATE Talks SWEET OBLIVION Sophomore Record: “The Whole Album Concept Deals with the Relentless March of Time”
Very few people who are called an “icon” in the metal community deserve such title, but Geoff Tate is surely worthy of that denomination. Tate fronted the prog metal pioneers Queensrÿche from the band’s inception through the peak of their success with albums like “Operation: Mindcrime” and “Empire”, all the way to a controversial exit from the band in 2012. Since then, he has established himself as a solo act, and has also contributed to the incredible Avantasia albums, and toured extensively with them. Lately he has been doing a celebratory tour playing two Queensryche albums in full, “Rage for Order” and “Empire”. For obvious reasons the tour was cut short when Covid-19 hit, but he’s now ready to be back on the road, with dates booked all the way to the end of 2023. Geoff’s explorations outside music include wine, movies and tourism, all of which are fields he invested on. One of his musical adventures of late is the Frontiers project Sweet Oblivion, which has recently released its second album, “Relentless”. While the self titled debut had Simone Mularoni as one of the composers, this time Tate teamed up with Aldo Lonobile (Secret Sphere, Timo Tolkki’s Avalon, Archon Angel). Aldo handled production duties and is also featured on guitar. Other musicians appearing on the album include Michele Sanna on drums, Luigi Andreone on bass and Antonio Agate on keyboards. As is the case with the first album, “Relentless” brings Tate back to a sonic landscape not too far from his early days with Queensrÿche, while also imprinting a modern edge to the overall sound. Surprisingly, despite the dramatic change in the team of writers, there’s a unity between the to albums, and Sweet Oblivion has begun to shape its promising identity. With so much history under his belt and so many different interests, Geoff Tate remains a dependable source of excellent music, a man of many insightful statements and great anecdotes about the industry, and someone with whom one could talk for hours. Our incessant interview’s purveyor Rodrigo Altaf had the luxury of sitting down with Geoff for a second time to discuss the Sweet Oblivion album, to reminisce about the old days with Queensrÿche and talk about plans for the future. Listen to their conversation or enjoy the chat transcript below, and remember that for more interviews and other daily content, Sonic Perspectives is on Facebook, Flipboard, Twitter and YouTube, where you can be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis.
33 minutes | Mar 12, 2021
HUMAN FORTRESS Singer GUS MONSANTO Reflects On Recent Compilation Album: “A Good Singer Is Like an Artist ,You’ve Got To Be A Good Storyteller”
Coming from Hanover, Human Fortress has been flying the flag of power metal and taking no prisoners since their inception in 1997. After several lineup changes and eight albums, things seem a little bit more stable since Brazilian singer Gus Monsanto joined them in 2013. The band recently put out an album entitled “Epic Tales and Untold Stories”, which puts old material and new songs side by side, making this a perfect introduction to the band’s sound. As seen on our review of the album, “Epic Tales and Untold Stories” clearly shows the band is as tight as ever, with a bright future ahead. Whether you prefer a more traditional form of metal, or power metal with keyboards and orchestrated parts, this band will please you. Sonic Perspectives collaborator Rodrigo Altaf is a long time friend of Gus Monsanto, and the two of them sat down to discuss the new Human Fortress album, Gus’ recordings during the pandemic, and much more. Find their spirited chat on the links below, and remember that for more interviews and other daily content, Sonic Perspectives is on Facebook, Flipboard, Twitter and YouTube, where you can be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis.
25 minutes | Mar 12, 2021
RICHIE KOTZEN Talks Upcoming SMITH/KOTZEN Debut Album: “It’s A Big Deal for Me To Have My Name Alongside ADRIAN SMITH’s Name on an Album Cover”
Smith/Kotzen, the collaboration between guitar giants Adrian Smith and Richie Kotzen, has been teased with cryptic posts on social media in the last few months. More recently, three singles have been revealed: “Taking My Changes”, “Scars” and “Running”, which carry both players’ early influences on their sleeves. On March 26th fans will be able to experience the duo’s electrifying collaboration in full, which embodies the spirited attitude of 1970’s classic rock with a modern edge. The record features special guest performances by Adrian‘s IRON MAIDEN bandmate Nicko McBrain on drums for the track “Solar Fire”, and Richie‘s longstanding friend and touring partner Tal Bergman on drums for “You Don’t Know Me”, “I Wanna Stay” and “‘Til Tomorrow”, with Richie picking up the sticks on the other five songs. Sonic Perspectives collaborator Rodrigo Altaf sat down with Richie Kotzen to discuss several songs off this album, how his friendship with Adrian developed and much more. Listen to their conversation or enjoy the chat transcript below, and remember that for more interviews and other daily content, Sonic Perspectives is on Facebook, Flipboard, Twitter and YouTube, where you can be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis. INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT Richie, how you doing, man? I’m doing great. How are you? I’m good, man! I know you speak a little bit of Portuguese, so maybe I should say bom dia! Bom dia! [laughs]. You know, I’m going to get embarrassed here, because I only know the bad words in Portuguese: “sai daqui”, “gambiarra” [laughs]. I just know some strange words, but you know, I get in trouble a lot because, um, I’m just too lazy and I really should know a lot of Portuguese being that I’m married to a Brazilian. So this is something that I promise I am going to focus on for the future. Good stuff! But let’s talk about the upcoming release of Smith/Kotzen. I think it’s a unique pairing, which yielded an amazing album. How did you guys meet at first? Well, it was very interesting how we’ve met. It was many years ago and I was out one night with a buddy friend of mine and we were driving around looking for something to do. And there is a place in LA called the Sunset Marquis and it’s a tiny little bar in a hotel on a side street. And I used to go in there all the time in the nineties. That was a real popular place for musicians to hang out and one night, and this is not, this wasn’t the nineties. This was, you know, 2000’s and it kind of had died off. But one night I went in there just hanging out and we started talking to this woman who was in interested in music and my friend said “Oh, you know, Richie’s is a guitar player and this and that”. And then she said “Oh, well, my husband is in Iron Maiden”. And you know, I have been a fan of Iron Maiden since I’ve been a child. I mean, it’s one of my favorite bands of all time. I played “The Number of the Beast” every morning before I went to school when it came out. So, you know, Maiden and Black Sabbath were my bands back in that particular era of my life. We hit it off and she said, “Adrian’s coming to town, and I’ll make sure you guys can meet”. Adrian and I eventually met, and we developed into a friendship and my wife and Adrian‘s wife are friends. So we all became friends and every time they would come to LA, we’d get together, go for dinner. And they would have holiday parties at the house. And there would always be like a jam session happening by the end of the night, somewhere along the line, we’d go into the studio and start messing around playing cover songs. And in more recent times, Natalie, his wife, had mentioned “you know, you guys should try and write a song together, see what happens!”. So we got together and then one thing led to another and now we’ve got this out. Awesome! And I don’t think many people know this, but your first ever concert was Iron Maiden in 1985! If you only knew it would be playing with Adrian many years later, right? Oh yeah. Can you believe that? And yeah, it was the “Piece of Mind” tour. I saw them in Allentown, Pennsylvania, which is not far from where I grew up. And that was the loudest concert I’ve ever been to, by the way to this day! Photo by John McMurtrie That says something! And you recorded the album in Turks & Caicos. What was it like to record there in terms of recording facilities, infrastructure and whatnot? You know, I had never been there before, and Adrian goes down there a lot, so they suggested we do something different and we went down there. They said everything was set up for us, so I didn’t have to worry about anything. I had just done a show in Miami and then I went on a cruise and did a performance. So I was already close by. So I got on the plane and Julia, my wife and I went down there. To be honest, the first couple days, I didn’t want to bother to do anything except lay on the beach and drink caipirinhas or whatever we were drinking down there [laughs]. And it was fantastic. But then we got into a routine and eventually we got to work and did what we had to do, so Adrian and I ended up producing the record, and did everything ourselves. And then when it was all done, we sent the, the final files, whatever you call it, not tape. I used to record on tape back in the day, I had a tape machine in my house and I used to cut tape to edit. I would splice the 24 track machine and everything. I learned how to do all that stuff, but now you send files. So we sent the files to Australia, which is a lot cheaper to send than audio tape! And Kevin Shirley got hold of it and just did a fantastic job mixing it. I mean, when they sent back the first song, I said “Oh yeah, you got to have this guy mix the whole record!”. So that was nice. And so everything came together. I gotta say, now that I have it right here in my office – I’m looking at it, and I have it in vinyl – it reminds me of one of those classic albums that I would have had when I was a kid, you know? And that’s why I’m so proud of it. Obviously it’s got Adrian‘s name on the cover. So that’s a big deal for me – Adrian Smith and Richie Kotzen together. But the thing is that it looks and feels, and sounds like one of those records that I would have bought back in the day. So I’m very excited to get this out there so people can hear it. Very cool! And it’s great how you guys split the bass and the vocals on all the tracks. And there’s almost a seamless transition between you two in the verses. How was the decision made for every track in terms of who’s going to sing what, who’s going to play bass where etc.? Yeah, well, I played bass on my records. Um, you know, I hate saying this, but I consider myself a bass player as much as a guitar player because I have the privilege of growing up around great bass players. As you know, I’ve been in two bands with Billy Sheehan, Mr. Big and The Winery Dogs. And I was in a band with Stanley Clarke. And so, you know, those are two top-of-the-food-chain guys right there, and then a long list of other amazing guys, you know, Jeff Berlin, T.M. Stevens and all these guys. So I picked up a lot and bass is something that I always gravitated towards as a young person. I love Richie Kotzen:, and the bass on his album “Talking Book” is fantastic. So, it was really natural for me to grab the bass on a couple of songs, and Adrian played bass on a couple of things. So it just made sense. We had ideas, one of us would have an idea for a bass line and say “let me try this”. And then with the singing, it really was also a matter of who had an idea. For example, “Taking My Chances”, Adrian brought that riff in, and then he had an idea what to sing over it. You know, when that verse comes, and the song opens up to the verse. And then the next part, I said “well, let me try something, I got an idea”. You know what I mean? We really did that. It just kind of went naturally. So it’s almost like if somebody had an idea for a melody, then they’d sing it. Although it’s not like that on every song, there are a couple songs where it went the other way, where maybe Adrian had an idea for a melody and I sing it. So almost an even split. And you did most of the drums on the album, but you also have Tal Bergman adding some flavor on three songs and Nicko from Iron Maiden on the song “Solar Fire”. Can you comment on that? Sure! Um, you know, things started rolling in a way that we started realizing quickly that I was the drummer on the album. We wanted to get some different flavors, but as far as me and my drumming, I kinda come from a Simon Kirke/John Bonham school of drumming, you know, I love John Bonham. So I liked that style, but I don’t have that kind of machine gun, you know, big fills, you know, kind of big shooter type drum fills. I don’t have that in my arsenal. So when we did “Solar Fire” I said, “you know, I can play on this, but man, it’d be nice to get someone with a little more facilities to do this, to make it a little more aggressive, a little more entertaining”. And so Adrian had the idea to call Nicko, and he just did a great job! I mean, the fills he put on there just set it off to me. I think he did a great job. And then once we decided to do that for “Solar Fire”, I thought “well I just did a couple shows with Tal Bergman, who I’ve known since I was 26, who I also took with me when I opened for The Rolling Stones”. I picked him to go over there to Japan with me. And so he did a couple of songs and he’s one of those guys that comes in, he listens to what you got. We had everything mapped out, with either a drum loop or a click track guide, guitar guide, vocals…and he said, “all right, well, let me listen to it”. He’d sit there for about 20 minutes with a piece of paper and a pencil, not say nothing, just play it back and forth, write stuff and say “thanks, I got it, let’s go.” And he’d go down there and just bang! –done in one take, or “let me fix this one section”. So that was great, but you know, that was just how it happened, and they did a great job on it. Photo by John McMurtrie Absolutely! And tell me about Scars, the second single. In my head, I keep imagining that song being stretched live with you and Adrian exchanging solos on it like a long jam type of thing. Yeah. That’d be great! You know, we’re going to have to stretch some stuff out because we only have nine songs! So we’re going to have to come up with something, but we are talking about playing live. We got half of this, right: the first half was getting the record released in March. And that was always the plan. This thing was finished before the pandemic hit. So in our minds, I had four continents of dates book for myself for the “50 for 50” album that I put out in February of 2020, and he had dates for Maiden. So we thought “all right, well, let’s release Smith/Kotzen in March of 2021, and then come April, we’ll go do some shows”. So half of that, we got right. We got the record coming out here in March. Unfortunately, we can’t do the live shows. But the plan eventually when things open up is for us to get out there and do some live shows. Okay, fingers crossed! By the way, forgive my ignorance, but I always thought you played Telecasters exclusively, but on the video of Scars you’re playing a Strat. Is that right? Oh yeah. You got to go back and look at my old videos. I’m about 50/50 between the Teles and Strats. On one of the last music videos I put out I was playing a Strat, but you know, I go back and forth. Back in the early 90’s, I was doing the Tele, then in ‘94, when I did the “Mother Head’s Family Reunion” record, I was playing Strats. And I kind of go back and forth on this record, I’m playing both. But at one point on this record – you can go back and listen to it – on the song “I Wanna Stay”, and I think in one other song, I actually grabbed Adrian‘s Jackson and I did a solo. And that thing took me back to my teenage years, because it has a locking tremolo system, which I abandoned years ago, because they’re such a pain in the ass to tune and deal with! [laughs]. But back then I used to play it. So I grabbed his guitar and I was playing that, using that bar. And I listened back to the solo and it sounds like an old, like a teenage Richie Kotzen came back and did a solo on the record [laughs]. Listen to it and you’ll hear me sound like back to my Shrapnel Records roots on that particular song, but it’s because I just grabbed his guitar to do the solo, just to try something different. Awesome. Another song that has that slow burn kind of feel that you could easily jam to and stretch out is “You Don’t Know Me”, with seven minutes! Yeah, that’s right. That’s the one that has the long solo at the end, right? I got to go back and listen, because you know the problem, I don’t know if it’s a problem, but I tend to make records and then I never listened to them again until I got to play it live and then I’ll go back and study it, figure out what I did. I figured once we got play live, we’ll stretch out some things cause we’re both players, we like to play. So we’ll stretch out some things, maybe pull in a song from Adrian’s catalogue, that’s not a Smith/Kotzen song, maybe pull out one of mine, probably throwing a couple of covers in there. We could put a good set together. I can’t wait to see you live! I think this record has everything that the old seventies fan, is willing to happen in 2021. And Adrian mentioned that “I Wanna Stay” was the song that took the longest of all to reach its final form. Can you tell me what was difficult about that one in particular? That song, there’s a melody there in the chorus, and there’s a couple of lines there, that were in my head the entire time I was down there in Turks & Caicos. It was kind of making me crazy, like literally, and I even say that in the song, “oh, she makes me crazy”. I actually put that in the lyric because the melody was making me crazy! I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say. And that happens, sometimes you have an idea for a song, you sing it into your recorder so you don’t forget it. At other times you don’t need to, because the melody just sticks with you. I knew it was something that needed to be written because it wasn’t going away, and then one night it clicked. I went in there, I got in front of the microphone and just started messing around and it came together. But he’s right. That one took probably the longest to get going. And “Running”, the second song on the album, is particularly catchy. Am I right in saying that there’s a Lenny Kravitz kind of vibe on that song? Or maybe Lenny drank from the same fountain as you guys? [laughs]Oh man. Well, you know, it’s possible we were all drinking from the same fountain [laughs]. “Running” is an interesting song. That is the first song that we worked on together – imagine that, that was the beginning, and we said “okay, we got something!”. Adrian brought that riff in, and maybe that riff is where you’re getting that vibe from. And then the chorus I came up with it – that riff led me into the chorus. And that was the first thing we did. When we were talking about a sequence of songs on the record, we were trying to figure out what to do. We didn’t know if “Running” should be first, or “Taking My Chances”. And then finally we settled into what’s on the album right now. Final question from me: what is next for you in 2021, another solo album or maybe the Winery Dogs? Oh man, It’s so hard to make plans. I had big plans when I was coming out of this recording, the Smith/Kotzen record. I had all kinds of plans and then they all went out the window. So right now we’re doing as much as we can, to let people know about the Smith/Kotzen record. Interestingly, I’ve been talking to Stanley Clarke again and we got something we’ve been working on. I have to take in our time, nobody’s in a rush, but we’ll see what comes out of it. And I actually started writing some new music for myself, that’s very, very different than anything I’ve done. It’s very interesting. I played a song last night for Julia, my wife, and she said “wow, I never heard anything like that come out of this room”. That’s really something. Wow. So there will always be another solo record, as long as I’m walking around. I’ll always make my records and my music. And with The Winery Dogs, we did a tour in 2019. That was really just a great tour and I had a great time. That was one of my favorite tours I’ve done, and coming out of that, we were trying to throw around some ideas and then, you know, with COVID, that just knocked this out. Adrian‘s got a house here in LA, so he’s going to come back, and he and I are going to write more, but with Billy and Mike, you know, one guy’s in Pennsylvania, one guy’s in Nashville, I’m in California. To make a proper The Winery Dogs record, we gotta be in the same room. We don’t send files around. I kind of tried to do that earlier in the year. I had a song I put out called “Raise the Cain”, and I thought maybe we could try to write by sending some files around. But the reality is to do a The Winery Dogs record, we need to get in the room and throw ideas. Cause that’s how we work, and that’s the magic of that band. We’re going to do it, it’s just a matter of when it’s safe. Personally, I’m not willing to get on an airplane right now, I’m just not going to do it. But once things open up and everybody is clean and safe, then we can look at it. Richie, it’s been a pleasure talking to you, man, all the best with this release and stay safe and healthy! Thanks for the interview Rodrigo, stay safe!
Terms of Service
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© Stitcher 2021