Interviewed by Thomas Schwarzkop (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Ronnie Atkins, the voice of Danish cult-rockers Pretty Maids, just released the new album “Motherland” with his band. To me he’s one of the best singers in the genre and so it is an honor, that he had the time to answer my questions. Ronnie talked about the new Pretty Maids album as well as about his involvement in the new Avantasia record “The Mystery Of Time” and lots of other things. Check it out!
Myglobalmind: Hello Ronnie, you seem to be very busy these days. So how is everything going?
Ronnie: Well it’s been pretty hectic lately. A lot of promotion, but that’s part of the game (laughs).
Myglobalmind: You just released the new Pretty Maids album “Motherland” and I’ve to say I like this one very much. What are the reactions of the fans and press in general?
Ronnie: Well thank you! I must say that the reaction overall so far has been fantastic! In fact I can’t remember having such a respons on an album since probably the “ Future World “ days!!! And of course we all feel good about the fact that recording “ Motherland “ was worth the effort so to speak. Now we’re just looking forward to go out on the road with it.
Myglobalmind: “Pandemonium” was a very strong and successful album in 2010. You decided to change the band-sound from traditional hard rock to a more melodic metal style and we also find this on “Motherland”. What led to this decision?
Ronnie: I actually never thought about that, it’s just when I read about it in the press that I’ve found out that we’ve changed our style (laughs). To me and the band it’s all just Rock’n’Roll, you know! But I think “Pandemonium” had the right balance of songs and probably some of the best songs that we’ve written in years! The fact that we worked with Jacob Hansen as the producer also had a big impact. No doubt!
Myglobalmind: Was it hard for you and the band to make a “worthy” follow-up to “Pandemonium”?
Ronnie: Well we of course knew that expectations raised after the success of “ Pandemonium “ and so were our own. But we just said to ourselves: Let’s write what comes to us and get the best out of it and that’s what we did.
Myglobalmind: “Motherland” sounds a bit more modern, darker and more critical (when I look at the lyrics) than your previous records. Why is that?
Ronnie: Well it’s often that the atmosphere of the song sort decides which direction the lyrics will take. I’d always preferred to write about something that most people could relate to, not being political in trying to take people in any direction or inspire them to. But there’s so much shit going on in this world that there’s plenty to write about! But let me state I’m no (!!!) and don’t pretend to be some sort of Dylan or Lennon! (laughs) After all we’ve always seen ourselves and what we do as merely entertainment and not pretending to be highly intellectual.
Myglobalmind: After being 30 years in the business your voice sounds stronger than ever. It never sounds worn off. What is your secret?
Ronnie: Twenty cigarettes a day and little drink now and then (laughs). Seriously I think singing is also a mental thing, meaning that if you’re mentally on top it makes things easier, singing as well. At least that’s how I feel, that said I’m also trying to take care of my voice when we’re touring. But I have felt that my voice has been better in recent years than for instant 10 years ago. But I have no explanation as such.
Myglobalmind: I read you’ll go on tour this year. Which countries are on the list and when will you hit the road?
Ronnie: We start doing festivals in May and throughout the summer. And then we’ll undertake a full scale European tour in the fall. It’s all being set up at the moment.
Myglobalmind: For those new fans of your band: Please tell us what they can expect from a Pretty Maids show.
Ronnie: Rock’n’Roll! Always wanted to give people a good time and make them a part of the show. Always go up there to kick as much ass as possible!
Myglobalmind: What is the story behind the band name “Pretty Maids”?
Ronnie: It’s so stupid that I’ve told myself that I’d never tell it again. (laughs) Sorry
Editors Note: Ronnie actually told us last time we spoke the reason behind the story 🙂
The real story is that it came from a book I guess Hammer were in possession off, and that’s basically it. We talked about changing the name back in 82/83 since some thought we were a girlie band ( can’t really blame em’, right ) but at the time being we already had printed our own T shirts and we simply couldn’t afford to have some new ones made. ( No shit )
Myglobalmind: Pretty Maids still play a big role in the rock and metal scene, but the big breakthrough is still waiting for you. What do you think? What are the reasons? I mean with songs like “Little Drops Of Heaven”, “Hell On High Heels” or “Bullet For You” you showed that you really know how to write big hits!
Ronnie: Well thank you! What can I say? We always used to say that if it wasn’t for bad luck we wouldn’t have any luck at all. (laughs)
Myglobalmind: So if you could turn back time, would you do it all again in the same way?
Ronnie: Not business wise, but yes! I wouldn’t exchange my 32 years in Rock’n’Roll for anything!
Naaaahh, maybe a million dollars. (laughs)
Myglobalmind: It seems like you are a big workaholic. You have to promote your new album, but you found also the time to join Avantasia on their new record “The Mystery Of Time”. How did it happen?
Ronnie: Well I recorded that one song an evening last year in the fall. So it wasn’t really that time consuming. Well in fact Tobi asked me to participate for the Avantasia project many years ago, but I guess I refused back then since I didn’t know what it was all about and the fact that I never really did anything outside of Pretty Maids. But last year I met him on the 70 tons of metal cruise in the Caribbean and had a few beers and a chat. Then he asked me in the fall if I was interested in singing on the new album, I heard the track, thought it was good and did it.
Myglobalmind: Beside such big names as Tobias Sammet, Eric Martin, Michael Kiske or Bob Catley you’ll also join Avantasia on stage on their world tour and I’m really excited to see you there. How does it work with the rehearsals? Are you looking forward to it?
Ronnie: Well I haven’t rehearsed with them yet, but I’m trying to get into the songs and the lyrics right now. Well, it’s definitely gonna be a new experience for me since I ‘ve never done anything like this before. But since Pretty Maids wouldn’t be touring in the spring I committed myself to it! But it feels a little strange going out with somebody else. But I hope it’s gonna be a blast! I’ll do what I can!
Myglobalmind: Tobi Sammet said he will do a second part of “The Mystery Of Time”. Can you imagine being back on this second part?
Ronnie: Well he hasn’t asked me yet. But never say never!
Myglobalmind: What are your biggest goals you want to reach in the future?
Ronnie: Lots of success for Pretty Maids, cause without sounding too pathetic I think we deserve it (laughs) and to go to places that we haven’t been before.
Myglobalmind: The final words to the fans are yours!
Ronnie: Hope we ‘re gonna see a lot of you somewhere out there on the road, this year and next year! And thumbs up for all those always faithful!
Myglobalmind: Ronnie, thank you for taking the time. Will see you out there!
Ronnie: Well you’re welcome! All the best!
Webzine Review for Pretty Maids – Motherland