Interviewed by Denys (Site Founder/Senior Staff Writer) Myglobalmind Webzine
Myglobalmind: Hi Rob thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for readers of our webzine and fans of your work, and on a personal note being a huge fan of yours through your career; is a great honor to finally talk to you!!! Let’s start off by going a bit into your past yeah?
Myglobalmind: How was it growing up in school and so forth, we’re you active musician then? I know you started out as a drummer initially correct? When did you first find out you wanted to be a vocalist?
Rob: At 16 years old I was playing drums every day in the basement of our house. I used to watch and listen to my brother’s band rehearse every weekend. I wanted to be in my brother’s band but I had to sing to get in so….I started to teach myself how to sing and drum and eventually I got in the band. I was playing nightclubs and weddings in the band while I was in high school.
Myglobalmind: What kind of music did you listen to the early years that influence the type of material that eventually led to Metal?
Rob: I learned drums on Led Zepplin, ZZ Top, Grand Funk Railroad, and Allman Brothers band. Later I was heavily into vocal rock bands like Styx, Boston, Uriah Heep, and Foreigner. Then came metal with Black Sabbath, Dio, Deep Purple, and Judas Priest.
Myglobalmind: I want to see if it would be cool for you to take us in to the past and give us a sneak peek into the early days of Rob Rock and your musical journey. For most I’m sure they remember for your very successful solo work, your stint in Impellitteri and the great M.A.R.S Driver project, but I remember when you we’re in the band Joshua. Tell me about that time and was this the first break you got in the scene? We’re you in other previous bands before Joshua?
Rob: Joshua was 1988. I already did M.A.R.S. and Impellitteri Black EP, but I answered an ad for a singer for Joshua because they were signed to RCA Records and had some great songs. We spent two years rehearsing the songs before we got the chance to go to Germany and record at Dieter Dierks Studios, home of the Scorpions, Accept, and Dokken.
Myglobalmind: What was the biggest challenge early on trying to make it in the scene?
Rob: I was “making the scene” in New England playing night clubs 6 nights per week and got the MARS audition from my reputation out there in the clubs. I didn’t try to make the scene in L.A. until I started my own band “Driver” with Roy Z and Butch Carlson and a couple of guys from the Joshua Band. The biggest challenge was trying to get signed when a million other bands were trying hard too.
Myglobalmind: Tell me about the M.A.R.S project and how you jumped on board with of course the great Rudy Sarzo, Tony McAlpine and Tommy Aldridge?
Rob: Tony knew of my reputation in New England and suggested me. Then after they tried every singer in L.A., Mike Varney (Schrapnel Records) called me and asked me if I wanted to audition for a “once in a lifetime shot”…I was on the plane the following week. I auditioned, got the gig that day, and immediately started working on our debut album.
Myglobalmind: That project put you on the map I would say, how was it working with all that talent? And what ended up causing each member to go their separate ways after a short while?
Rob: It was a surreal experience. It was my first major recording and I had to learn and write the songs on the spot, it was a bit stressful but it was magical. As we were finishing up the album, we started looking for tours, and then in one phone call it all vanished, as Rudy and Tommy would change direction. An “offer they couldn’t refuse” from Whitesnake was the reason. So…”in the still of the night” I was walking the streets of L.A. thinking….what the heck just happened here?
Myglobalmind: I’m sure it was bittersweet as you guys never got to do the big touring thing when Sarzo and Aldridge accepted the Whitesnake gig, but this lead you to team up with shredder Chris Impellitteri which wasn’t a bad thing since you guys released some killer records like “Answer to the Master” and “Screaming Symphony”. To me those are some of your best work to date and a pre cursor to your success as a solo artist. Do you feel that way?
Rob: Yes, those two albums are near the top of my favorites list. I knew Chris back in New England, before I got the MARS gig. Chris needed a singer and I was now out in L.A. looking for a band, so I went in the studio and recorded some songs with him.
Myglobalmind: At what point did you decide to catapult your own solo career and how did it feel to get some great feedback from the fans once “Rage of Creation” came out?
Rob: It was in 2000, after JVC Victor Japan offered me a solo deal. That was a career highlight for me. I made the album I wanted to make and the fans loved it! It was nerve wracking to put my own name on it knowing it would be judged, but in the end, it was the start of a successful solo career.
Myglobalmind: What have you learned throughout your career that has benefited you the most?
Rob: Expect the unexpected because nothing ever goes as planned…and…Fight the good fight and count your blessings. I think doing the best you can do and focusing on the music quality has worked for me.
Myglobalmind: Recently the new Driver project “Countdown” was released. You are back again working with Roy Z, after the re-recorded of the early demos from the 89/90 and new material on “Sons of Thunder” in 2008. How did you guys approach this new studio record this time around?
Rob: We approached pretty much the same as “Sons”…keep it true to the original vibe and style of the demos. We were trying to keep the sound we had then, not change it.
Myglobalmind: How would you describe the sound in “Driver” and is it the sound that you guys had initially intended?
Rob: The sound is classic late 80’s/early 90’s hard melodic rock, the peak of the sound that ruled the world then. We had the band that should have been signed and released then and we want to share that band and our songs even now.
Myglobalmind: Melodic Metal is how I would describe the new sound in Driver, melodic guitar solos everywhere and of course you’re high rising vocal pipes are always a treat to listen to. What has been the early response to the record?
Rob: Fantastic. I hear interviewer’s talk of the interest in this sound again right now over in Europe and it’s surprising that the response is so great, when we were just putting it out for ourselves and our fans.
Myglobalmind: Talk about the long standing partnership between you and Roy Z, you guys have been friends for a long time now. How do you guys put the ideas together on what to work on musically?
Rob: Roy usually has a vision for songs that will fit an album and the band that is going to record it. We have such a large vault of song ideas together that he conjures up a collection of riffs and we go from there to finish the songs.
Myglobalmind: Any plans of taking the project on the road live?
Rob: No plans that are cast in concrete, but we are looking at every opportunity we can find.
Myglobalmind: We all have a profound respect for your ability as a vocalist, but I want to know where the nick name “Voice of Melodic Metal” came from?
Rob: When I released my first solo album, there were a few references from the major magazines that were reviewing it that suggested this title for me. When I released my second solo album, the European label used that phrase in response to the strong reaction to “Rage of Creation” and they started marketing and advertising “Eyes of Eternity” with that moniker. It stuck then and has remained with me throughout the years with the releases of “Holy Hell” and “Garden of Chaos”.
Myglobalmind: Your faith has always inspired your writing in music, talk a little about that if you could and your message in your songs?
Rob: I love to use Biblical references and faith perspectives when I write my lyrics. I think it puts a different twist on the lyrics that the usual rock band lyrics don’t have. When you listen to my solo albums you can expect positive messages and end time imagery and different subject matter than the usual sex, drugs and rock and roll lyrics that have been done a million times over.
Myglobalmind: I always found the mysticism of the Japanese market relative to the Hard Rock and Metal genres to be insane as to how popular it has been for a long time in its support of Metal bands especially. You have a nice following over there, can you explain the fans in Japan and what makes that market so attractive, even to this day?
Rob: I think they appreciate great performances and talents and the power of metal music that seems to invade their everyday life culture there. They are so nice and polite and respectful that the rebellion in rock is a release for them and an escape to another level of freedom, especially at the live concerts where they can spread their wings.
Myglobalmind: What was the best live show or band you have ever witness in person?
Rob: Well, the most impactful for me was Grand Funk Railroad, my first concert I ever saw when I was a kid. After that I knew what I wanted to do in my life. Styx was another great one, as well as many others I’ve seen…
Myglobalmind: Are you in tune with today’s metal scene, and if so what bands do you listen to often? Any new albums or bands that are currently on your playlist?
Rob: I would say “no” I’m not really in tune with the new stuff so much.
Myglobalmind: When you’re not producing/singing or working on countless projects, what does a daily day in Rob Rock’s life entail?
Rob: I usually have a lot of balls in the air with a lot going on, trying to make the best use of my time. Family is really my main focus, spending time and supporting them and working hard to keep things as good and steady as possible. Raising our son is a lot of fun too!
Myglobalmind: What’s next for you Rob? Can you give us a sneak peek into upcoming projects? Perhaps more solo work soon?
Rob: Perhaps more solo work on the horizon…maybe 2013. I have to see how it goes. I do projects here and there and I’d like to release another Rob Rock solo album next year.
Myglobalmind: Do you feel that you have plenty of music left in the tank still? You have had a very unique career so far and your longevity is to be admired; how do you keep your voice in such fine shape and keep plowing forward?
Rob: Yes, many years, many albums, I’ve been blessed with longevity. There is plenty in the tank and my voice is in great shape so I’m just taking it as it comes right now and I look forward to whatever comes my way. I always try to keep it fresh so it’s real and it’s inspired.
Myglobalmind: Do you think there’s still hope for Hard Rock and Metal to return to the glory days of the 70’s and 80’s amongst this digital era we live in now and the issues with downloading, copyright, etc?
Rob: I don’t think there will be any glory days exactly like that again; if it does come back it will be in a different form or vehicle or blend. The business model keeps changing with labels and independent recordings so the landscape has changed. The hard rock music will live on and hopefully a whole new generation will pick it up on a huge level again because what comes around goes around in some sort of way. I still look forward to HD audio getting big someday and hope to get away from less than desirable mp3’s.
Myglobalmind: Hey Rob I thank you very much and admire the way you handle business as a classy individual. A million thanks for taking the time and the final words are all yours!!!