Interviewer: Adrian Hextall (Writer / Reviewer / Photographer – MyGlobalMind)
With a career which started in 1981, with the Heavy Metal band Crossbones, and subsequent work with such musical giants like Tony Martin (Black Sabbath), Graham Bonnet (Rainbow, MSG), Don Airey (Rainbow, Ozzy, Deep Purple) and several others, Dario Mollo has worked with some of the greatest names in rock. The Voodoo Hill albums with Glenn Hughes have always marked a special milestone in Dario career and the latest helps cement his reputation further.
To talk us through Waterfall and how difficult it is to get Dario and Glenn to co-ordinate their diaries, Adrian Hextall spoke to Dario Mollo
MGM: Dario, thanks for talking to us. You must be caught excited. You’ve got a new album with Mr. Hughes coming out.
Dario: Yes (laughs), exactly very, very excited because Glenn did a very, very nice job on this album.
MGM: Oh, definitely, definitely. And this time it’s taken you was it 11 years? (Laughs)
Dario: (Laughs) No. In the meanwhile I did another album with Tony Martin. It’s another project I have and another album with an Italian band and last I am a studio producer so I do somebody else’s albums too. I have built a new house, a new studio, so I have been quite busy.
MGM: Yeah. I mean I was going to say I imagined the delay for you and Glen working together is more down to the availability of you both at the same time because you both got so many other projects haven’t you?
Dario: Exactly. That’s the main problem.
MGM: And you mentioned the Italian band you’re working with as well. Who’s that? Because I am aware of you worked with Tony. I’ve got all 3 of the Cage albums but who else do you work with then?
Dario: The band is NoiZe Machine called. It was a band. We did a tour in UK with Graham Bonnet and a band of Italian musicians. The bass player and the drummer are fantastic musicians. And this band was a… with the same band we hired in new singer in Italy. With that singer we formed NoiZe Machine and with the same band we toured with Graham Bonnet in 2004. So it’s called NoiZe Machine. We did a video, “The Jumping Clown”. There is a video on YouTube if you want to see, full of beautiful, beautiful girls (laughs). We hire a circus and we shoot video there with all these wonderful girls. That’s great (laughs).
MGM: (Laughs) so the sex angle definitely sells record doesn’t it? So that’s what you mean?
Dario: Yeah. Yeah. (Laughs) It does. [To see the aforementioned video click here.]
MGM: Yeah, absolutely. So tell me a little bit more about the new album then. Obviously you’ve got Glenn working on it. Who do you have working with you? Is it session musicians or have you got Don working for you again for example?
Dario: It depends. Now I form a team of musician and friends that when I compose and write a song because I am in the studio I record directly when I compose. I send the back end track to the musician. They rehearse. They come over to the studio. It’s quite a team. We exchange opinions. Generally I produce the album so I have the final decision, the responsibility of the production. But musically, it’s quite a lot of team work now. And regarding the vocals, I don’t write melodic lines or lyrics. I just leave this job to the singer and Glenn can do a wonderful job on this you know. I cannot write a melodic line for Glenn Hughes. It should be very stupid. I prefer what Glenn would write. He’s a good song writer and then an amazing singer.
MGM: Yeah. And you I mean with the latest album as well I mean it shows really a combination of say the first and the second Voodoo Hill albums. And you’ve got more of the bluesy riffs and solos sitting over the top or say the melodic stuff this time. So it’s neither a blues album, it’s neither a hard rock album. It’s a beautiful combination of everything isn’t it?
Dario: Absolutely. You’re absolutely right. It’s the best of both… the best aspect of both albums. It’s sometimes heavy, sometimes it’s more bluesy. And I said this is an album with quite a good character, a good attitude.
MGM: What stands out on it for you? What did you really enjoy about the process of making this one?
Dario: The song I prefer on the album is ‘Underneath and Down Below’. It’s a song that reflects of my past experience and all the bands I loved, I’ve grown up with. This mix of influence on this, I really like this song. There is everything I like about a rock song, attitude, epic, and good vocals. I enjoyed writing this song. Then I generally never listen again my albums. Once they’re finished, I forget them, I move to the next one. So I don’t know if I have written the song or not in the past album or from where that song is coming from, if it’s from the first Cage or from Voodoo Hill. I can’t tell if it’s Voodoo Hill or Cage because of the singer. For the rest I never listened back but this album is to one I can listen again. I’m quite pleased after the release because when you release an album you listen to that song. Oh, I would like to change this and that. This one I put really a huge amount of work in the production process. And when I listen, I’m always a little scared say maybe what I can find wrong and then when I listened, I’m pleased, I don’t know, I like it. I did a nice job. You need a quite a lot of listing to this album. It’s not the first list. Some songs are catchy, hard rock tracks. The others, you need to listen more and more and more times before they open to you.
MGM: Yeah. I’d agree with that. The longer you sit there, the more you can take in the song again and the more it just fills you up but yeah, definitely. It’s not an immediate thing but it definitely fills you the more you listen to that.
Dario: Yeah. I’m like you. In the past when you buy a record, you keep listening to this record many, many times. I did with ‘Made in Japan’, ‘Machine Head’ and others. But I don’t want to compare to these giants absolutely but I like to make an album that doesn’t last just one listen. That’s the reason why I put a huge amount of work in the production because I want that an album that lasts for many years possibly.
MGM: Yeah. And in terms of the label, you are working with the guys at Frontiers, was this album something that the Frontiers asked you to do again and work with Glenn? Or was it something that you and Glenn had already planned that you’d get back together?
Dario: Yeah. I wasn’t… it was a strange period. I was recording a variety of new song. I just recorded something like 35 songs. Then I received a phone call from Frontiers and they asked me if I wanted to make the third Voodoo Hill album. It was completely unexpected from me. So we already spoke with Glenn and he said yes. He would like to do the sudden Voodoo Hill album. So okay, fantastic! I have all the tracks ready. So it’s been an idea from Frontiers.
MGM: Okay. You know that’s good to know and I suppose the timing wise is been perfect because Glenn’s just come off the back of his work with Black Country Communion and California Breed. So timing wise for him he had that gap available, didn’t he?
Dario: The right man, the right moment (laughs). Yeah, absolutely because he was very, very busy. Then after in Black Country Communion, Glenn become more and more famous. Say this time I don’t know if I can do another Voodoo Hill album, so I’m very, very pleased about this. I caught him at the right moment.
MGM: And is he… I know he’s touring solo in the not so distant future. Is he like to be playing some of stuff of the new Voodoo Hill album?
Dario: I don’t think that he will play something from the Voodoo Hill album. I don’t know his set list but he generally play songs from his solo career. I would like to form a band not with Glenn because he’s very busy but with a good singer and play song from all my past projects. This could be a good idea.
MGM: Definitely. I mean I was going to ask you I mean what about taking Tony out as well? Because obviously he’s your other main contributor when it comes to vocalist isn’t he?
Dario: Yeah. I did a gig in Birmingham a couple of years ago with Tony Martin and Geoff Nichols from Black Sabbath. It’s been great. Tony is a fantastic singer. But I would like to have somebody different from Tony or Glenn that can sing from both project I have. If I worked with Tony I would play only from The Cage.
MGM: Ah yes, of course. Yeah.
Dario: Exactly and who knows? You know now the business is very difficult this time to go out live. You risk to lose a huge amount of money so I must be careful. But in my dreams I would like to do some songs from the different projects I’ve done in the past.
MGM: There’s got to be an appetite for that I would have thought. I mean you’ve got festivals that would recognize the Mollo – Martin collaboration and the Voodoo Hill piece as well and knowing that they’d be getting tracks from both bands. There’s got to be a slot on the festival bills that would embrace that?
Dario: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I just toured in the past with Graham Bonnet for example and we were playing songs from of course Rainbow, Graham’s solo career and from The Cage and Voodoo Hill. So I have some recordings with Graham Bonnet singing some of my songs. That has been great also. I toured with John Rae in the past. I tour quite a lot in UK. If I’m allowed to play rock and roll in the UK, that’s fantastic.
MGM: And the live scene seems to be improving again doesn’t it? The number of band listings with concerts that you see these days. It seems to be more of than it was say 10 years ago.
Dario: That’s great news, fantastic. Yeah, I should… you know rock and roll goes up and then appear a little down but always return because it’s real music made by real musician. That’s quite important.
MGM: Definitely. And the style of music you’re playing with Glenn, that’s sort of harder blues rocking fused music that you’ve got on the latest album. That’s really in fashion at the moment as well, isn’t it? That seems to be a real appetite for that style these days.
Dario: Yes. I don’t want to be completely up to date because if you’re up to date, tomorrow you’re old. I like to remain in the classic structure of the tracks. Try to improve because you improve the classics. I remembered in the ’70s and the ’80s, the ’80s have become a different kind of rock. I’m also sound wise and production wise. And then after many years I now can see is more mature, more than the ’70s, than the ’80s. So I like to remain in classic than blues, rock, with also more than sound influence of course because I wanted the album not to sound old in a couple of years’ time. That’s my main concern.
MGM: If you can achieve that classic sound then as you say it becomes a timeless album then it fits almost any era.
Dario: And then when I write songs, I don’t think or had that I would do a song in this style or using it. This came out very naturally. So it is me, a snapshot of me in this period with all of my experience I’ve learned in the ’70s music. I respect the original sound of the instrument and performance, not all that produced the album for example. That is a good aspect for me.
MGM: On the production side of things, you mentioned obviously one of the reasons that has taking you and Glenn so long to get back together was the building of a new house and a new studio. Was this recorded at the new studio? Did you use that for production purposes as well?
Dario: Yes. I am a studio producer too. I’ve mixed for example the last two albums from Satan. That’s an English band from the ’80s and wonderful band. I worked with many, many people all around the world. I worked many years in my studio with a great English producer and I worked hard enough on my production and then produced somebody else. It’s a good experience also in work to see a different point of view. You grow if you work with other musicians.
MGM: And the same presumably by working with other producers as well. You get to learn all the styles and they’d learn from you presumably.
Dario: Oh yeah, absolutely. You must have an open mind in this job and you learn something every single day. You can improve every single day. That is great. There are no rules. You can invent the rules in this job. That’s great. It’s just challenge, sometimes it’s difficult but when you achieve the result is a great satisfaction because you reflect all your personality. It’s you in your production, your music. It’s good to leave a trace. (Laughs)
MGM: What else are you working on right now then?
Dario: I’m just in the mixing process of my next project which is the new single from the Scottish band Nazareth. We did a wonderful, wonderful album together. It came over here in April and it’s been fantastic. It’s a huge single, wonderful, and wonderful people. I have been introduced to Carl Sentance (lead singer) by John Rae. He is a number one singer. He was absolutely right for them. And now I’m mixing an album with Carl singing my music as well. England is full of amazing singers.
MGM: We’ve got quite a history haven’t we? And a lot of these bands are still going as well which is always good to see. I mean Nazareth have just played in London maybe three or four weeks ago.
Dario: Yeah. The new single I think is something great for Nazareth.
MGM: Yes. It’s re-energized them I think.
Dario: Oh yeah. Modernized, energized, and because the new single was wonderful. It has helped them with a problem. A while ago they got a non-professional singer in to and it wasn’t very, very good live. And now that they went with Carl Sentance, that’s a complete, total, professional singer/songwriter. He did an amazing job with all of my tracks as well. I can’t wait to release this one too.
MGM: Excellent and I presume you’re going to hold on to it just to give Voodoo Hill time to breathe. But when do we expect this out?
Dario: Exactly. The business about this new project is not started exactly for the reason that you mentioned earlier. I want to release Voodoo Hill, leave a little time between the albums and then start the business. We will check with Frontiers so we’ll see. I’m sure I will not have problems in releasing this because it’s a very, very good album thanks to this wonderful singer. Wonderful melodies backed in vocals, the song writing, I was amazed in the studio. I didn’t expect such a good singer.
MGM: So absolutely exceeded you expectations and also clearly very enthused about this next project as it were. What can we expect from that in terms of style? Is it an out to out hard rock album?
Dario: Oh, when I choose the songs for wonderful Voodoo Hill, I choose between 35 songs so it’s quite the same kind of songs. Exactly with Orchestra, blues, they imagine a Voodoo Hill with a different singer but the music at the end is a little more ’80s, more AOR, less blues, a little more modern because of the singer.
MGM: Okay. Yeah, and you had so many tracks available to use. It’s a shame to waste them then clearly.
Dario: Oh no, I will not (laughs). I will not waste it absolutely and then I have a third album ready after this one but just the music. It could be the fourth Voodoo Hill album probably because I have a contract towards three Voodoo Hill albums. So the next Voodoo Hill album is already recorded except the vocals.
MGM: So we don’t have to wait 11 years for the next one then? (Laughs)
Dario: No, no, no, absolutely not. (Laughs) You can see it in a couple of years this time.
We wrap up then safe in the knowledge that another Hughes-Mollo release may well be less than two years away. A comforting thought for those fans who don’t like waiting a decade or more in between releases.