Interview with Alien Weaponry (Lewis De Jong, Henry De Jong and Ethan Trembath)

Words: Brendan O’Mahony

Live Photos and Video Production:Olga Kuzmenko

© Olga Kuzmenko

MGM: Guys, thanks so much for coming over to Dublin. How do you feel about your first show in Ireland?

LDJ: Yeah mate we’re excited.

ET: It’s an awesome venue here and we can see so many people lining up already so it should be fun.

MGM: Yeah, most definitely we have been looking forward to this show for a good while now. You’re here on the Tūmatauenga tour, a follow on from the album name Tū, named after the God of War. Can we expect that kind of energy to be brought to the stage?

HDJ: Well that’s what we definitely try and do. We are definitely going to bring the energy tonight so we hope the crowd does too.

MGM: So, T?matauenga, he is also the God of cooking and fishing, so do you guys have anything that helps you relax on tour or before a show?

ET: We always sing some traditional Māori Waiata which is always a good way to get in the mood before jumping on stage. Lewis likes to do a bit of meditating so that he’s at peace. I suppose it’s all the way chill or absolutely nuts like smacking each other in the face to get pumped up, just depends on the day.

MGM: Well with this tour starting off in New Zealand and Australia before heading over to the USA and now over to Europe, you’re doing your own headline shows, you’re getting to play Slayer’s last show in Germany, you’re doing shows with Anthrax alongside the festival shows as well.

ET: Yeah man we are doing a lot of shows, we’ve been really lucky with this tour. It will be Slayer’s last European show ever which is going to be great and we’ve got six more shows with Anthrax and we’ve also got a bunch more headline shows.

HDJ: We couldn’t have asked for a better tour in Europe, the U.K and now you guys as well. It’s really awesome to be coming back and doing this for a second time. We had hoped to come here last year but it fell through unfortunately and a lot of people have been waiting to see us for a while as you said so we are really glad we could be here tonight.

ET: It’s really blown our expectations away so we are really happy.

MGM: So, in terms of being on tour and meeting all these different bands, who have you learned the most from on tour?

HDJ: It’s hard to say but it would probably be Ministry eh.

ET: Yeah, we actually had time to make pretty good friends with the guys from Ministry when we toured with them. Big Al actually invited us back to his place in L.A. and we got to hang out with him and he told us some pretty crazy stories as Al would. Just before we came over here to Europe the drummer from Ministry, Derek, we got to hang out with him for a day and went around Venice Beach and saw some cool stuff. Another band would be Devilskin, another New Zealand band, who really supported us earlier on and their bass player Paul Martin was the first guy who ever played us on a radio station so he was really awesome for us.

MGM: In the rock and metal scene in New Zealand we would know of bands like Shihad, a band you have a lot of association with as their drummer Tom Larkin produced your album, and also Beastwars as well. So, what other bands should we be checking out from New Zealand?

LDJ: Seas of Conflict definitely. We got to tour with them on the New Zealand/ Australian part of the tour. They are really good lads and make some killer music. Devilskin of course, Blindspot, Shihad are kind of more rock but they’ve got some pretty heavy stuff as well.

HDJ: Their earlier stuff is pretty heavy.

ET: They’ve got some thrash in there.

MGM: They are kind of like New Zealand music royalty in a way?

AW: Oh yeah man.

MGM: When touring you guys are in really close proximity all the time. I mean Henry and Lewis you guys are brothers and Ethan well you’re pretty much family now.

ET: Almost.

MGM: How do you guys stay on good terms?

HDJ: Sometimes we don’t know how but, on this tour, we have two vehicles so. Some travel in the van while others travel in the camper. Me and him (pointing to his brother Lewis) we get separated most of the time you know. Brothers always argue about stuff you know.

ET: Space is the hardest thing to come by when you’re on tour. I mean physically being close is a different thing from being emotionally close. We support each other fully but we have got some rules, four actually, write good songs, practice those songs, stick together and don’t be a dick.

LDJ: Pretty straight forward but we manage to break them somehow. Mostly rule number four.

MGM: So, who can be the biggest dick in the band?

ET: Those two.

MGM: So, when you guys are traveling so often and playing shows from one day to the next, do you get time to practice or are the shows your practice?

LDJ: Yeah, you can’t really practice on tour eh.

HDJ: Yeah, as you said each show is the practice. Sometimes during sound check, we might come up with a bit of a riff idea we might explore. I guess, as far as songwriting goes on tour, it’s a really different mindset that you’re in versus when you actually have time to put your mind to writing music. I know some bands do it but for us you know..

LDJ: You kind of need space and the time.

HDJ: Yeah if you can find a good space overseas then you can do some stuff.

ET: Yeah but that will come later down the road.

MGM: So, in terms of writing music how do you all contribute?

ET: We are all kind of in the loop. There is no set way we write or approach songs. We try out new ideas whenever they come up. We’ve tried stuff like locking Lewis in the band room for two hours and seeing what he comes up with. We leave him some water and stuff you know or a pot full of coffee.

MGM: Well, whatever you’re doing it’s working. Considering your lyrics then I never knew that English is not technically an official language in New Zealand merely a de-facto language, it’s actually Māori Te Reo and NZSL New Zealand Sign Language that are the official languages, yet there isn’t as much music coming out in Māori as you might expect. What is the scene for music using the Māori language like back home?

ET: When you think of Māori music in New Zealand you kind of think of reggae, RnB, hip-hop, dub and stuff like that or traditional Waiata, which people would know from learning it in school, but I guess we are trying to break the mold a bit. When we started writing in Māori we had a lot of kids kind of announcing to the world that they liked rock and metal too.

MGM: Yeah, the music that would be really big would be Fat Freddy’s Drop, The Black Seeds, Katchafire and Kora.

LDJ: Yeah, I am a huge fan of Katchafire and Fat Freddy’s Drop especially. They have made some great music.

MGM: Are the Māori kids who are starting to enjoy rock and metal more, are they coming to the shows in bigger numbers?

ET: Yeah, most definitely. I think it’s a worldwide thing really. Metal is growing and there are loads of great new bands coming out now. All the cool music these days is getting heavier, even if it’s not rock or metal specifically. A lot of the mumble rap, rap, and hip-hop, it’s all heavier than it used to be.

HDJ: I feel that it’s also partly due to the accessibility of music now. Before you had to go to a record store and commit to buying something and you really wanted to know what you were going to get was good. Now you are able to go out and find whatever you want and decide what you like from so many options.

LDJ: Yeah, the rappers and even dubstep are incorporating guitars and metal elements now.

ET: Then you’ve got 12 Foot Ninja who incorporate everything into metal. They’re really cool.

MGM: With the material that you write about, you’ve got a lot of weighty subjects like your Great, Great, Great Grandfather Te Ahoaho in a battle against the English armed forces, you sing about the land confiscations. That’s heavy material for guys at such a young age to be singing about.

ET: It didn’t start out as a purposeful thing I don’t think. We grew up with stories from Lewis and Henry’s dad. We weren’t so interested when we were quite young but as we grew older and matured more, we took more interest in it and understood it more. We realized how messed up the situations were and the more we learned about it the more passionate we became about it. I don’t think we were specifically meaning to single out New Zealand history or anything, it just ended up being a subject we became very passionate about.

MGM: It also seems you’ve got the ear of your Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as well with the music you’ve made and the topics discussed?

HDJ: Well I mean I think she is the coolest Prime Minister we’ve had for a long time, actually probably the coolest Prime Minister we’ve had a full stop in New Zealand. She’s into music, into metal, she understands people our age and really has the future of New Zealand in mind.

ET: In New Zealand, we’ve got a pretty good infrastructure for supporting music so we are pretty lucky and she likes our stuff.

HDJ: Apparently her kid does as well.

LDJ: Yeah, her kid is in the car moshing out to us so that’s awesome.

MGM: Best way is to get them into metal when they are younger. In terms of your album Tū, it’s been out for a year now?

HDJ: Yeah, a year and eleven days which is awesome.

MGM: So, is it too early to start talking about the next album or will you look to tour this one a bit longer?

HDJ: No, it’s not at all. We are going to be playing two songs tonight which we hope will go onto the next album so you guys will get to hear them. One of them is already out, Ahi Kā, and Blinded which will be coming out pretty soon. We’ve got a music video for that one completed as well which was a lot of fun to make.

MGM: Well guys thanks for sitting down to chat. Is there anything you’d like to say to the readers online?

AW: Yeah, guys thanks for those of you who have come to the shows already. We are really happy with the tour so far and for those of you who don’t know us, check us out online and come see us at a live show.

MGM: Thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with us and best of luck with the show and the rest of the tour.

AW: Thanks, man.

Interview with Camden Rocks organiser and founder, Chris McCormack

Interview and Photos : Adrian Hextall

With just over a month to go until the 2019 Camden Rocks Festival commences, the event celebrates it’s tenth anniversary by making the whole thing a 2 day affair this year. What is logistically one of the hardest things to put on, 25 odd venues and over 400 bands across the weekend, shows the commitment founder Chris McCormack has when it comes to bringing all manner of band covering multiple genres into Camden Town to help them be discovered by thousands of fans descending on the mile long strip. We spoke to Chris over a few beers at the Holiday Inn in Camden as he puts the final touches on this year’s festival.

Chris McCormack with The Professionals

AH: I saw you at Vive Le Rock Awards recently. They offer that same independent spirit that you do with Camden Rocks.

CM: We do these things, Camden Rocks, and I put Vive Le Rock and Eugene (Magazine owner and Awards organiser) in the same kind of space. Helping others, helping people progress, he supports so many great bands. He supports all these rock and roll acts. He gives them a platform to do something. And there’s this something with Camden. We’re all doing the same thing in a different way. He gives them a platform, that’s it. He makes things happen for them. He’ll put things together, and he’ll make sure people see those bands that he loves. He pushes the right people that he loves. (Our review of the night is below)

AH: Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more. I mean, you’re doing the same sort of thing. And if I can rewind you slightly to when this first kicked off, you did this one-off by the looks of it. Back in, what was it? 2009?

CM: Yeah.

AH: And smaller number venues, obviously a much smaller bill at that time, and what was it, just like a foot in the water let’s see if it works?

CM: All I was doing with that, it was a one-off. It was never meant to be more than a one-off.

AH: And then what made you convince to come back?

CM: Because it started off because I was doing clubs nights and these ‘Jubilee’ named events as well. I was putting these bands on, which are brilliant little bands. Also, I’ve come from a little tiny town called South Shields, which nobody fucking goes to. And there’s a great load of musicians there.

So I thought when I moved to London, I was in the middle of, I knew everyone. I knew all guys and all the publishers, I knew the agents, so I was in a position where I was in the middle of it with the bands. So I thought, why don’t I get all of these people that I know, to see some of the bands that I really liked. But they couldn’t get even get arrested in Camden let alone pull in a crowd, they couldn’t get anywhere with what they were trying to do.

AH: They couldn’t get in on their own, presumably. And they get to play a gig to the likes of five people?

CM: Yeah. It was really difficult, and it’s always been like that. You can’t be full energy, play and support, come back home and work the next day. We were fucked. There was not many people, there was not enough people in Newcastle but, the reason we came down here was because of the off chance an agent might be in here. Somebody that could change your life in London. That was why you came down. And London was the only place. So I kind of wanted to make Camden Rocks a little bit about… I wanted to bring bands from South Shields to give them that chance.

Or Glasgow, or fucking Edinburgh or wherever, just bring them down. There’s no network up there. Give them a chance to get signed in London, that was the idea.

AH: And there’s a buzz now, isn’t there? About people being able to play this every year. The volume of bands has gone up. The names you attract has gone up. The excitement that people get discovering a new act, the calibre is such that the first band on the bill of the day could be a future headliner.

CM: Yeah, yeah. Well there’s no shit bands playing. There’s only good bands play in that festival. The calibre is always going to be the same, I think. I mean, this year has been a bit weird because KOKO’s refurbished and we can’t use that. The Roundhouse are being difficult, so we can’t use that.

AH: Which is a shame. Because that would’ve been an ideal one for the bands that draw crowds.

CM: Well listen, Roundhouse should’ve been the venue because of the way it was set-up, and the way it was supposed to work as a venue, from the government to promote local artists and to promote and help the area. It was supposed to be for the area. But they’re the one venue that just isn’t used at Camden Rocks.

AH: That’s really frustrating because the layouts of all the venues, we need something at their location to make the Fiddlers Elbow not so out of the way.

CM: Yeah, it’s a shame, I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried everything.

AH: So your headliners this year, are going to be at Electric Ballroom and you’ve expanded this to a two day affair as well. Is that same number of bands, just spread a little bit more evenly. Or have you got way more bands coming?

CM: No, there’s 400 bands. 3,000 musicians included in all that.

AH: Fantastic. Bloody hell, that’s insane.

CM: That’s insane. But listen, we put a website together with every band, every video, we put videos in every single band. Go check the bands out that you want to see. We put a program together, which is– I mean, this is all about checking new bands out, really. The whole point of this festival–

AH: My friend who I commute with spends a month with me on Spotify, doing nothing but checking out the right bands to go and watch…..

CM: [Cue emotional moment from Chris who instantly launches himself across the table for a hug] Fucking hell, I love you for that. This why we do that, this is why we do that. [Laughs]

This is why we do it. Because of people like you. That’s what I want to do. I want to create something where people can just watch a minute of the video and go like, “Fuck, they sound good.”, and then they’re getting into that band. And then, they’ll start buying music from that band, and then they’re getting into the music. “Oh fucking hell, this is a great band”. That’s the idea of it.

AH: Totally.

CM: So you’ve got to have that, and so we’ve got this website where every single band that are playing on a Friday, this Saturday, even genre, size it, “Oh I like rock music, I like metal music”. You get a program, given you’re free on the day.

AH: Yeah.

CM: When you look at it, and you’ve got to plan your day basically.

AH: You do. That programme is a Godsend.

CM: Yeah, you need that.

AH: The program in the middle pages, tick tick tick!

CM: Yeah. And you can do it in advance as well. You don’t have to wait until the day. You can do it in advance, we put it out online. You can have your schedule, you go like “I’m going to get there, and let them get my tickets. So, 12 o’ clock, I want to go and see that band, 11 o’ clock–” but you’re going to literally see two songs or three songs about– and you’ve got nothing to do for two hours that you don’t really care about. Go and see a load of bands, go and see a song by– that’s why we stagger the stage times as well. We stagger them, so you can go like “I’m going to go and see…” otherwise, you’re sitting around waiting for a band to start.

So you want to watch two bands here, you have one band, one song there, three songs there. You can do a lot. You can fill a lot in.

AH: You would never feel like you’re overwhelmed in terms of how many people are crowded around you. It’s only probably the final band of the night, where you think, “You know what, I’ll go and see the main band on the bill.” that it gets a bit crowded.

CM: I want people to get in. I don’t want to oversell.

AH: In terms of the bands that you’ve brought onto the bill, what stands out as one of your favourites? The one that you think, “Goodness. I managed to get them”?

CM: Do you know the best band I’ve ever booked? My favourite band is, Public Image Limited.

Public Image Ltd

AH: Yeah?

CM: Yeah. I love John Lydon. I mean, John Lydon is an absolute gentleman — and obviously, I’ve hung out with him a lot. And he’s been a massive tit. I mean, he’s been lovely. But I tell you what, he’s the most genuine fucking human being over the lot of them.

AH: He just tells it as it is, does he?

CM: Oh, absolutely. He’s a fucking gem. Absolute gem. His missus is going through so much at the moment with her health. She’s really struggling and he’s struggling with it. And just to see him, he’s the most genuine person you can ever see go through something like that. And it’s very fucking hard, man. It’s hard.

AH: Oh, I can’t imagine.

CM: But it’s going to get worse for him, it’s going to get worse. But I just wonder how he’s going to deal with that. He’s going through a lot, he is. But he was so professional, he was beautiful. I sat with him in The Hawley Arms [Camden] for a drink. Me and him were hanging out until five o’ clock, six o’ clock in the morning, just having brilliant chats and all that. And he was my hero ever since I was a kid. He was the reason I picked up the guitar, he’s the reason why I fucking got into music, he’s the reason why I’m a little bastard, and like I’m a really angry little shit. He’s the reason of that, he gave me a reason to do shit like that. And then to meet him, and to just hangout with him, he’s a lovely– he’s one of my heroes. I met him and he was brilliant.

AH: That’s wonderful. You also play with Paul [Cook] in The Professionals as well now.

CM: Yeah.

AH: So playing with Paul must bring it full circle for you?

CM: Yeah. That’s why I love Paul. Paul is the most beautiful, beautiful human being. He can’t book a rehearsal studio, but he can fucking play — he’s a great drummer. He’s a great person, he’s a great human being. And I love being in a band with him. I love it.

AH: Well, those guys are responsible for getting you back out there playing again, aren’t they?

CM: Yeah, it is. I struggle, I do struggle. I do struggle.

AH: Doesn’t show on stage, I’ll tell you that.

CM: I’m struggling because they’re bunch of bloody idiots, them lot. They really are. I love them all.

AH: Are you down to three, at the moment? Is Paul no longer playing with you?

CM: Well, Toshi’s [Hey! Hello! / Lupus Dei ] been playing the last few gigs, yeah. I don’t know what’s happening, to be honest. I don’t know if– yeah. I mean I know he’s [Paul] not well.

So we haven’t really pushed it. I mean, I love Paul to be honest, I love playing with– Paul Myers is genuinely brilliant. He’s a funny bloke. He’s great because he’s just pranks the guys all the time.

AH: And you need that!

CM: Nothing is serious. Nothing is ever serious with Paul Myers. Oh God, you can go through the worst situation. Your mom will die and he’ll go like, “She was old”. He would just say the weirdest shit.

AH: Yeah. Thanks to Paul for putting this into perspective.

CM: Thanks, mate. Yeah, I feel good now. That’s alright.

AH: That works [laughs] So, last question, Who haven’t you managed to get that you’d love to, so far?

CM: If I was going to get a band to end this whole silly saga of what I do, Sex Pistols. Get them all back together, dig Sid up. [Laughs] No, I’ll get Glen Matlock. [laughs] And yeah. No, I don’t know. I don’t have anything– to be honest, it’s not about that. It’s not about the fucking big band.

AH: They don’t have to be big band, do they? It’s just the one that you would love to see there.

CM: The whole point of this festival, is not about my personal fucking ride. It’s not about that, it’s not about this. It’s about little bands getting a little step-up. If you’re never going to be anything about this whole fucking silly 10 years of doing this, it’s getting that little band that I couldn’t get a-fucking-rrested. The little band that was playing pubs in South Shields, or Glasgow, or fucking Liverpool, or something, and then they got put in a situation where those people that see them and sign them. That’s the whole thing. Yeah, that’s the fucking idea of this whole thing.

AH: That’s what we love. I want to see a dozen bands that I’ve never heard of before. The lead up to the festival discovering new music to find out that I like them before I come to the show. That’s the whole point.

CM: This is the fucking reason — this is it!!



The line-up is split over 2 days and the details are here:

Interview with RRHoF Inductee Rod Argent (The Zombies)

Interview by Tom Hilverkus – Pictures Adrian Hextall

50 years since their first US number 1 single “Time Of The Season”, The Zombies are going from strength to strength. Not only have they just released a new vinyl box set, working on a new album and are relentlessly touring the world but they have also just been inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.

Just a week before the ceremony, Colin and Rod played an unusual acoustic gig, showcasing a mix of Zombies hits, rare songs but also solo songs by both of them. The stripped down versions of songs together with several anecdotes Colin and Rod told the audience in between songs made this gig very intimate. One of these anecdotes were from the recent US tour, where a certain Dave Grohl came up to them after one gig to tell them how he’s been a super fan for many years.

Following MGM’s interview with Colin Blunstone last year (CLICK HERE), Adrian Hextall and Tom Hilverkus had the chance to speak to keyboardist Rod Argent in advance of the gig.

TH: Hi Rod, very glad you are taking the time speaking to us. I actually saw you guys play Berlin last Summer and…

RA: Oh yeah, I really enjoyed that concert. We didn’t know what to expect in Germany. Because in fact Germany is one of the few territories where we’ve hardly ever been. I know this is extraordinary for a UK band but that’s actually the case. Our original management company never seemed to be interested in getting us on ‘Beat Club’ which was the best TV programme in the world at that time, so we never did that. But I really enjoyed the Berlin concert!

TH: Yes, it was a great gig! The energy on stage ? from you and Colin ? was just incredible. So, we’re really looking forward to seeing you play live at a venue that is rather different, “Boisdale” at Canary Wharf .

Yes, this is very interesting. When Colin and I first did a little acoustic thing together it was completely by accident. Because we were on a tour in Holland and we were there for about 3 weeks and then on one of the days the guy said “oh, the gig this afternoon is just for you and Colin and it is in a church!” And we said “what do you mean?”, and he said “it is just two voices and piano. And it is a full church ? it is sold out!” And I said to Colin, “Oh my God, what are we gonna do?”

So, I said to Colin “well, look, if the acoustic is really good…” and when we got they were, they were lovely actually, so I said “well, look, let me explore the acoustics a bit, and I start off just improvising, and then I bring it round to the first song”. And this worried him a lot but I mean, it worked out fine! And it was something we really enjoyed!

We realised it brings a very different perspective to this song because you get this very stripped down, intimate version of the songs, taking it back to the bare bones and it was something we really enjoyed. And since that time we haven’t done it an awful lot but in America we have done it maybe 3 or 4 times. We’ve done it twice in the UK, that’s all before now. We’ve done it once at the Union Chapel which amazingly was a sold out thing and that was several years ago and we did one in St Albans Cathedral.

So it is something I am looking forward to!

But it is always a little bit flying by the seat of your pants! We tend to do a bit more of talking than we would normally do on a concert. But you get a different sort of a connection with the audience. It is something that ? to our amazement ? we really enjoyed doing.

AH: Presumably where you do have this sort of events and there is a little bit more chat, I would imagine your audiences lap it up because it is this sort of thing they don’t normally get to hear in an average concert performance.

Well, it has seem to have been the case. I mean before each one I think “oh my goodness, how are people going to react to this?” but certainly the last one we did was in America, in Arizona. People went mad there, it was lovely! So, it does seem to work although we can hardly believe it before each one. You do get to express yourself in a slightly different way, both verbally and musically.

TH: Trust we can expect a good mix of old and new Zombies songs, or will we also hear some Argent songs? Really appreciate you played “Hold Your Head Up” last year, it was great hearing that live!

RA: When we are with the full the band we always play “Hold Your Head Up” and it always goes down in storm! And we quite often play “God Gave Rock And Roll To You”.

Those two songs don’t really translate themselves to the piano and voice thing. What I sometimes do ? and I haven’t played it for so long ? is an Argent song that I am really fond of called “Rejoice”. We did it in St Alban’s Abbey and it went down beautifully. That’s from the “Rings of Hands” album which is one of my favourite Argent albums.

We may well do something from Argent but we’ll do old and new songs. It will probably cross the boundaries from all stuff we recorded but we sometimes when we play the acoustic thing we sometimes do a version of “Going Out Of My Head” which I quite enjoy when it is just the two of us. We recorded that once. Things like that, “I Want You Back Again”, early Zombies song, obviously the hits like “She’s Not There”, “Time of The Season” and “Tell Her No”. Also probably somethings from Colin’s solo career like “Say You Don’t Mind” but also something from the Alan Parsons Project song which he sang which is “Old And Wise”.

We probably do that – what else? Oh! We definitely do at least a couple of new tracks, maybe even three, from the last album “Still Got That Hunger” which I always like to remind people that to our astonishment when it came out in America made the Top 100 album sales in Billboard.

It will be a mix of all those things ? loads of things people will know but hopefully some things they won’t know so well and we really enjoy playing live.

TH: Fantastic, really looking forward to that. And then a week after that you are actually going to be in New York because… you have some very exciting news: The Zombies are to be inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.

RA: We’re absolutely thrilled and delighted, honestly! I mean it is fashionable for bands to say “oh, you know, it is for the fans really” but tell you what: in America ? I know people take notice over here ? but in America it is almost like an Oscar. It is really big news in America to do that. And we’re so, so thrilled to have that sort of validation! It is fantastic!

One thing that really knocks me out is the fact that even though we’ve been eligible since 1986 when Rock’n’Rock Hall of Fame had its first inductees is that we’ve been nominated 4 times in the last 5 years.

The band you saw in Berlin is the band that we tour with now, and we really build up a second incarnation that’s become very popular in America. We are very proud in this stage of our career that from almost nothing going over there in the early 2000s we built up to the point where we’re playing in front of big audiences now. And the fact that people have been knocked out with the live show I think – that attention and excitement – has really helped us to become nominated four times in the last five years.

And to actually finally get past the winning post and to get such a strong fan vote over there as well has been something that was unlooked for. We would have never believed that would have happened!

And also the date that we get inducted is 29 March 2019… and on 29 March 1996, in other words 50 years to the day, is when “Time of the Season” became number 1 in Cashbox. It is an extraordinary coincident!

TH: The interest in the Zombies is clearly very high and now you even have a coloured vinyl box set out, titled “In The Beginning”, compiling the early material such as the first two albums and A and B sides.

RA: It is stuff that has been released before, but this is the very time it is on a vinyl compilation. And I guess one of the things we found is nobody buys any products of anything these days, everybody streams everything ? except for vinyl. At our gigs when we sell records we sell tons of vinyl to a young audience. And I think it’s great that a young audience is discovering the pleasure we used to get out of buying albums on vinyl. It is a different experience! I am as bad as anybody else, I stream everything as well, but it is so easy when you stream to just have… you know stream something you wanna hear and then after one of the songs you think, “Oh I better just do these emails while I’m listening”. You get diverted and distracted!

When you’ve got an album in your hand, you’ve got that 12” piece of artwork which is big enough to look and feel really, really nice. And you have to take the album out, you have to set up the record player, put it on the record player and it tends to be much more an event and a way of listening to a whole album. You tend to sit down and listen to the album and at the same time keep your full attention to it but also read the liner notes and see who played on which track, see who wrote it. This is something that almost nobody does when they stream. I can never find out – when I stream things – who is playing on a particular track. It is just so hard to do.

So, they are rediscovering this pleasure of concentrating one’s attention onto an album from start to finish and getting the deeper satisfaction that you get out of that. So I’m really pleased that this stuff has come together.

TH: There were some very strong B sides like “Is This The Dream” or “She Does Everything For Me”. Was it fun looking back at this material again?

It is the early stuff up to and after “Odyssey and Oracle”. Well, we only ever made two albums. We made the first album which came on the back of “She’s Not There”. In those days that’s what albums were. This album was recorded and mixed in two days and some of it I’m happy with, and some of it makes me cringe. That’s how things were recorded in those days. You have one take and then the producer makes you move onto something else.

Then there was “Odyssey & Oracle”, the end of our professional first time round, which we were 100% happy with but then broke up because we thought nobody was listening it. And in-between on this box set you got a couple of albums that are made up of A sides and B sides, some of which works well and other we weren’t particular happy with. It is more of a historical document. And after “Odyssey & Oracle” I was already concentrating on Argent. Colin was concentrating on his solo career.

And the forces in America were saying “You just had a Number 1 single, you can’t leave it here. But it wasn’t that wholesome commitment we had when there was just one focal point on our horizon. So, it is very interesting to go back and listen to it and very nice to have to in a box set and have it on vinyl, but I see it more as a historic collection than albums we particular focused on and which have never been out for out.

It’s funny you mentioned “She Does Everything For Me”. I was really, really fond of this single, that one I think worked.

“Is This The Dream”, we always thought was a great tarck trying to get out but we felt we were unhappy with the production because we had a producer who was a very fine musician but very old school and it was one of the things that made Chris and I feel that we had to do “Odyssey & Oracle”. Because I said “we got to get our own ideas of how our songs sound onto record. We got to have something out in a way that we perceive it when we write our songs”. But I am fond of the song “Is This The Dream” but feel it could have been produced in a better way.

TH: Really looking forward to the box set. Hopefully some of these rarities will make it to the show last year!

RA: They probably will. Certainly we’ll do a version of “I Want You Back Again”. Colin is coming round on Thursday and we’re going to have a play through to define what we’re going to play.

TH: So what comes next for The Zombies?

RA: Well, I’ve started writing songs for our next album. And one we were rehearsing on stage in the American tour we just finished. And I was really heartened because we didn’t really get to the stage where Colin could remember all the words, because they are new songs, the words were on paper, and certainly the first song we were practising worked out in every detail, and when we were practising, the support back came up, saying what was the song you were just playing, hope you’re going to play it tonight. But we haven’t played it on stage yet. The first two songs I’ve written. And I’m really looking forward to writing and recording the next album.

zombies AH: And style wise, there was quite a difference between your debut album and “Odyssey & Oracle”, where are you finding yourself leaving towards to these days?

RA: I only know one way to write a song really and that is to get a musical idea, to get myself excited about it and feel like it is starting to work, to get together with Colin and see it come together and start to work between the two of us. And then when if it reaches this stage, take it to the band and rehearse it and it is a very exciting thing to see it come together. That is the only way.

No song is ever consciously styled as far as we are concerned. It is just that thing of trying to excite yourself and then making it work. And that’s how we’ve always written.

Of course between the 1st and 2nd album… as I said that 1st album was done in 2 days. “Odyssey & Oracle” was a product of where we were in that particular time and how we were feeling… but we weren’t consciously styling anything. It was the same old thing of writing to make it work. Look at the difference “From Me To You” and… I don’t know… “Sgt. Pepper” When you are musicians and in a band you evolve and you go through different processes. And an album is a snapshot of where you are at that particular time. It obviously has common elements because it is the same creative force going into it. But it has its same personality as well. So the answer is really… (laughing) I can’t tell you until it’s finished!

Like everything else… I can’t help what my influences are, as far as my songs are concerns, this tends to be my majority of what we record. It will have if you like jazz and classic influences but never trying to incorporate this consciously… it’s just what’s in my mind and what comes out subconsciously and feeling good and working out when you are in the writing process.

AH: We were talking about artist’s influences. I recently spoke to a musician called Reese Wynans [of Double Trouble and Captain Beyond], he’s been playing for six decades and we were talking about his influences and for someone having played with almost everybody, asking him who he would have most liked to play with. And the answer was you!

RA: Oh, I am so flattered, that’s lovely! This makes me feel so good!

You know, I found out a couple of things recently…

It was very sad that Keith Emerson died. And from the first time I heard him play “America” with The Nice which I thought was hugely exciting… I loved his playing, I loved the grit and excitement and his playing was fiery, but at the same time it was beautifully formed, musically, and strangely enough after he died I met someone who was really close to him and he said that Keith actually loved my playing and that just brought me up so much to hear that and that’s the first time I actually heard that.

And then I was listening to a radio programme, I think it was Johnnie Walker’s “Sound Of The 70s” over Christmas. And Rick Wakeman [of Yes] was on, choosing things and he choose “Hold Your Head Up” and he was saying the most ridiculously loving things about my playing. And he said “This is the best keyboard solo ever been on a record so please make sure you play the long version of ‘Hold Your Head Up’”. I was absolutely flabbergasted!

And when you hear the things from the guy you were talking about. It is such a lovely thing to hear in your later life (laughs). This is really so nice!

AH: Rod, thank you very much for your time, we’re really looking forward to the show..

RA: It’s been a pleasure!

The Vinyl Box Set contains the following tracks:

The Zombies, ‘The Complete Studio Recordings’ Track Listing
‘She’s Not There / Tell Her No’
Side One
1. She’s Not There
2. Summertime
3. It’s Alright With Me
4. You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me / Bring It On Home to Me
5. Sometimes
6. Woman

Side Two
1. Tell Her No
2. I Don’t Want to Know
3. Work ’n’ Play
4. Can’t Nobody Love You
5. What More Can I Do
6. Got My Mojo Working

‘I Love You’
Side One
1. The Way I Feel Inside
2. How We Were Before
3. Is This the Dream
4. Whenever You’re Ready
5. Woman
6. You Make Me Feel Good

Side Two
1. Gotta Get a Hold Of Myself
2. Indication
3. Don’t Go Away
4. I Love You
5. Leave Me Be
6. She’s Not There

‘Odessey & Oracle’
Side One
1. Care of Cell 44
2. A Rose for Emily
3. Maybe After He’s Gone
4. Beechwood Park
5. Brief Candles
6. Hung Up On a Dream

Side Two
1. Changes
2. I Want Her She Wants Me
3. This Will Be Our Year
4. Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914)
5. Friends of Mine
6. Time of the Season

Side One
1. She Loves the Way
They Love Her
2. Imagine the Swan
3. Smokey Day
4. Girl Help Me
5. I Could Spend The Day
6. Conversation Off Floral Street

Side Two
1. If It Don’t Work Out
2. I’ll Call You Mine
3. I’ll Keep Trying
4. I Know She Will
5. Don’t Cry For Me
6. Walking In the Sun

‘Oddities & Extras’
Side One
1. Kind Of Girl
2. She’s Coming Home
3. I Must Move
4. I Want You Back Again
5. I Can’t Make Up My Mind
6. I Remember When I Loved Her
7. I’m Going Home

Side Two
1. Remember You
2. Just Out of Reach
3. Nothing’s Changed
4. Goin’ Out of My Head
5. She Does Everything For Me
6. A Love That Never Was


Interview with internationally renowned keyboard player: Reese Wynans

Interview by Adrian Hextall

Reese Wynans has been a member of the Second Coming, which, from November 1968 to March 1969 also included two future and founding members of The Allman Brothers Band: guitarist Dickey Betts and bassist Berry Oakley.

In 1973 he played with Captain Beyond and was on the album Sufficiently Breathless. He also played with The Explosives along with Freddie Krc and Cam King.

His major exposure came in 1985 playing with Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, playing keyboards on Soul to Soul and In Step. Wynans performed with the group until Vaughan’s death in 1990.

Fast forward to late 2014 and early 2015, Wynans was inducted into the Musician’s Hall of Fame, Austin City Limits, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame all as a part of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble.

In 2015 he then became the touring keyboard player for blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa, replacing Derek Sherinian. Wynans had previously played keyboards on Bonamassa’s 2014 album Different Shades of Blue and his “Muddy Wolf” tour, where Bonamassa played songs originally recorded by Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.

Joe is in the producer’s chair for Reese’s album, ‘Sweet Release’ his first solo exercise in a career spanning some 60 years. It’s about time he got round to it so we had a chat with him to find out why the delay….

AH: I was listening to your album, and I have to say I started as I normally do as a reviewer, thinking I can hear this person in that one, and I can hear this influence in there and this and that. But then I realized I’ve actually got it almost back to front. In that, I suddenly realized, I’m not hearing other people in your music. I’m suddenly realizing how much I’ve heard you in other people’s music. And that’s probably the truth, isn’t it?

RW: Well, I’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of wonderful people over the years. So yeah, you’ve probably heard my music, heard my sound with Buddy Guy, with Los Loney Boys, with Delbert McClinton, with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, and any number of other folks that I’ve worked with all through the years. I’ve done a lot of records. You hear what I sound like on this record, and if you could hear that, then yes you can identify to a lot of other things and say, “Oh, that must’ve been him,” and it very well could’ve been. Because it’s a long discography.

AH: Oh, definitely, yeah. And it’s almost a case of, you can start in your head and picture the family tree, as this whole thing sort of branches out, like a mind map, or something.

RW: Fabulous that you’re saying that. My daughter was saying the other day, “Why don’t you get a music tree, start  out with– Name all the musicians that you’ve worked with and where they went and where you went along the line.” It would be an interesting project. I’ve just now thought of it, she just reminded me of that and that’s something I want to get together.

AH: Rolling all the way back, to kind of the beginning, when you first started, I chatted not so long ago to Doyle Bramhall– Who of course, you’ve got playing on this album.

RW: Doyle is doing– Is innovative and creative music as there is in the blues today. I love all the stuff that he does.

AH: Like you, he was mixing it up with different artists as well, on his latest album. And chatting to him, we actually got back to what he was doing as a child, and why he kind of veered down the path he did. And I would imagine that must’ve been similar for you. Who did you grow up with? How did your influences first appear?

RW: Well, I was a classical trained as a youngster and the first piano– Rock ‘n roll piano player I heard was Jerry Lee Lewis. I loved Jerry Lee Lewis, I got all of his records, I thought he was great. Another I heard was Jimmy Smith, “Walk on the wild side”, and then I heard The Rascals’ Felix Cavalier. The way he played on “Good Lovin’ ” and all those terrific Rascals songs. And I loved the piano with Chuck Berry and I loved Little Richard songs. And so, all those people were influences to me at a young age. I didn’t start playing in bands until I was in college, and we worked up some Zombie songs, I was a big fan of Rod Argent at that point. Later on I became a fan of Ray Manzarek with The Doors, I thought he was very creative. I’ve liked all sorts of people, all the rock ‘n roll guys influenced me, either in a good way or a bad way, one way or the other, as I’ve tried to figure out who I am along the line. Even when I was in Captain Beyond as a rock band, as a psychedelic rock band, I would try to throw a little bit of blues in there too. I think I always had that in the back of my mind.

AH: And is that because you’ve heard it a lot as you were a child?

RW: I just felt that. No I didn’t hear it a lot as a child, but I just– That’s the way I think, that’s just my roots and just the way I felt things.

AH: Now interestingly a lot of blues players would always say, it’s not what you’ve heard, it’s what you feel. I would imagine– And of course, it comes from the heart, doesn’t it?

RW: It’s interesting about blues isn’t it? A lot of people say, well the blues in Chicago sounds like this, the blues in Texas sounds like that, the blues of California sounds like this and in England it sound like this. Everybody plays it a little different, I think there is something to be said for the different types of blues, the different locals. But I think that’s kind of an over-generalization too. I think, you can go down– Like you said, it comes from the individual’s heart, how they feel it, how they want to play with their band, how the different musicians embrace it, how they accompany it, how they direct it. You know I was lucky enough to work with some pretty decent blues players when I started out. A man named Jim Roberts, was one of the first people I played blues with, and he had this really cool style. I love the drummer we had, Chris Nielson played a great shuffle. Another guitar player I started out with Joe Bill Loudermilk, had a really nice blues style.  So, I just liked that and I always say I’ve liked it.

AH: Wonderful. You mention on the keyboard and the piano side of things, Rod Argent and The Zombies. Now we spoke to Colin Blunstone, probably no more that five or six weeks ago. We’ve got an chat coming up with Rod in about a week.

RW: Is that right? Well I hope you have mentioned that I’m a big fan of his and always have been. I’d love to meet him sometime. I think Rod Argent played electric piano on some of his earlier songs, “She’s not there”, “Tell her no” and some of those songs. He was so fluid with his solo, I always thought he was the heart and soul of that band. One of the first keyboards I ever got, I wanted to play just like him.

AH: Now, it has taken you so long to do your own album, as opposed to playing on other peoples’, is that workload? Or did somebody just finally convince you to do it?

RW: Well I have to admit people were not lining up at my the door begging me to make a record. But, when I joined Joe Bonamassa, I had been sitting in on albums, being a studio musician for 15 years or so, and I just had– Something told me I just wanted to get it back up out on the road, I want to play in front of people again. It was great, it was terrific travelling around the world again, playing the blues in front of people. I loved doing it, I still love doing it. But it occurred to me that maybe I’m playing pretty well right now, maybe in 15 years– 10 or 15 years I won’t be playing so well. Who knows what’s going to happen. So when you get to be a certain age, you want to put something down and have something with your name on it.

So, I think that, that just didn’t occur to me until these days, and working with a fantastic guy like Joe Bonamassa, he offered to do it. He offered to produce it, I hadn’t talked him into producing it. His record label is putting it out, so I decided to take that opportunity and go ahead and do this.

AH: I mean, it’s Joe’s first production job as well, isn’t it?

RW: And I hope not his last, because he is an excellent producer. He came up with great ideas, one after another. Wonderful song selection, great ideas for arrangements, instrumentation, which guitars to use, what keyboards to use, who to get to sing on. He made great choices all along the line.

When he makes his own records, he uses his producer, it’s Kevin Shirley. And they have the kind of dialogue, were they talk about– They co-produce everything, it’s really a co-producing job with those guys.

And I have to say one other thing about Joe, while we’re talking about him. What is it about him? His records are good– Every record he makes goes to number 1, right now I think he has three records in the Top 10. Seems like everything he touches these days is golden. It’s just his time right now.

AH: Yeah, definitely. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s solo, if it’s collaborative, in the likes of Beth Hart for example. There’s a pocket of people in the world that want that bit of Joe, this bit of Joe, that bit of Joe. I mean for me, my favorite Joe is the one that’s with Black Country Communion.

RW: A lot of people love that Joe.

AH: Yeah, because it’s the more rock infused Joe, than the of blues infused Joe. But then again, I can sit back on a Sunday morning and listen to “Black Coffee”, with him and Beth. Fabulous.

RW: So, I want to know, why is he such an angry guy? [laughing] Actually, he is not an angry guy at all, he is a terrific guy.

AH: He is one of the few artists in the world that we are seeing that level of progession in these days.

RW: Absolutely leading the pack, in the blues field I think.

AH: Definitely. Which can only be good for the scene, because for me I always thought the blues might’ve finished in the 50’s, 60’s at the most and then you see this– And then people like Joe reinvigorated it. And then all the musicians coming out these days that are playing blues-rock. Wonderful.

RW: Look at his coming, he’s doing well now, besides Joe, Gary Clark Jnr is doing great. Doyle Bramhall is doing fantastic. I love the Tedeschi Trucks Band, not exactly a blues band but they sort of have that blues-y feel in the things that they do.

AH: Well they’re on Doyle’s latest album, aren’t they?

RW: You know, I was lucky on this record, I got almost everybody that I’ve wanted to have on this record. The one person– two people that were unavailable was, Susan and Derek. I would’ve loved to have them both play. They’re just busy making their next records, so it just didn’t work out.

AH: Now you’ve mentioned the number of people– I mean the list quite frankly is unbelievable. I mean that’s the list of artists on your album.

RW: Couldn’t have done without everyone of them, every single one of them.

AH: But to be able to pull in effectively that many favors– That just shows the camaraderie, both in with the musicians that you play with, but also how many people you know and you’ve worked with.

RW: Next record, if I do another record I’m going to get Buddy Guy to come play something on it, because I love him. And hopefully we’ll get Susan and Derek on the next one too.

AH: But for you, did that sort of make you click and realize, all of these people just said yes just like that, it was so easy to get them. I mean it’s an impressive list.

RW: You know, I’m a lucky guy, I’m a thankful guy. I’ve made a lot of friends down through the years, in the musical community. I was thrilled when Bonnie Brown said, “Yes, I’ll be right there, what can I do?”, and it was terrific having her there. I loved that Warren had said yes, and just like what can I do, same with Doyle. It’s a terrific feeling, I am a lucky person.

AH: Did you realize your little black book had got quite that many names in it?

RW: Well it’s my book and Joe’s book as well, so he dug in his book as well. Between the two of us, we got all these guys covered.

AH: Listening to some of the material on it, the material itself feels almost timeless. You could release that 40 years ago, it would’ve fit perfectly. You could probably release it 40 years from now and it would still fit. Because it’s never going to age, I don’t think.

RW: So, you’re saying it’s an instant collector’s item? [laughing]

AH: Bingo. Absolutely, yes.

RW: Well, what is it about the blues that’s kind of timeless? I listen to blues radio a lot. I love the blues from the 40’s and 50’s, it sound great to me. We started out with some hits from ’78, so the record noise, the needle on the record so gives it that vintage sound. But I think the blues is just one of those things– If you love the blues it doesn’t matter when it is, as long as it’s good.

AH: Absolutely, yeah, couldn’t agree more. Now you’ve added a nice little bit of flavor with it as well, there’s a real Atlantic soul sound in there. I mean you’ve got Sam Moran at one point as well.

RW: What a legendary guy he is, and what an honor to have him sing “Crossfire.” I heard Sam is going to be honored this year by the Grammy Committee, for a Lifetime Achievement, so congratulations to Sam Moran.

AH: Another one that does adds flavour, it’s another person that plays on your album as well, is Kenny Wayne Shepherd, he’s very good at blending the soul and blues.

RW: Let me just say, Kenny Wayne Shepherd came in the studio and was blazing from the very first song, from the very first bar, all the way through. What a performance by him. I just love the way he plays, and I was so happy to have him on this record. He played guitar on “Riviera Paradise”, played on “Crossfire”, played on “Say What” and even sings a little bit on the Archangel song, doing pretty good for the shape I’m in. So thank you very much Kenny Wayne.

AH: Yeah. And you mentioned Gary Clark as well, He played at Hyde Park here last summer, and again, wonderful. Mesmerizing to watch.

RW: Very talented individual, very talented. Wonderful singer, fantastic player. Gary Clark, a lot of people are saying he is the future of the blues, so let’s see what happens with him.

AH: Let’s see what happens with him, yeah. And all of these names I keep throwing at you, you’ve got a smile and a little bit of knowledge and some memory of them. Again that’s yours or Joe’s black book, or whoever but. What a serious connection– You’ve got to do this family tree.

RW: I want the music tree, the idea of the music tree, I think that’s a great idea. My daughter came up with that and you echo it and I think it’s a fantastic idea, so we’ll see how that goes.

AH: Is there a shortlist of people– aside from who you couldn’t get on to this album, I would imagine there is only a very short list of people, throughout the years that you’ve been playing, that you wish you could’ve played with, but haven’t to or may never be able to.

RW: I’ve always been a fan of Mark Knopfler. I’ve also been a fan of The Rolling Stones, of course everybody loves them. I’ve never recorded with Derek Trucks. Never recorded with Doyle, I love Carlos Santana. So yeah, there’s a lot of people that I haven’t worked with, that I’d like to and a lot of people that I have worked with. I’ve been lucky and then who know what the future holds.

AH: But like you said with Derek and Susan, that’s album two.

RW: I hope so. I hope so.

AH: We’re not going to wait another 50 years for album two though, are we?

RW: I don’t think so, I don’t think that we’re going to do that. 

If you listen to the album, it will appeal to many on different levels. Some people will like “Sweet Release”, some people will like “Crossfire”, some people will like “You’re Killing My Love”, which is fantastic. Some people will like “Hard to Beat”, which has a sort of New Orleans version of “Hard to Beat”

RW: I think that’s my favorite right now. Every time I feel it– Every time I hear it I want to dance. Everybody will have their own song that they like.

AH: I’m with you on that, because if it gets your feet moving, it puts a smile on your face straight away. You can’t help but enjoy it them.

Reese returns to the UK in April with Joe Bonamassa. For now, enjoy Sweet Release from Reece and Friends.

Interview with Niels Kinsella and Torsten Kinsella from God Is An Astronaut

Interview by: Mo Sheerin

Pics: © Olga Kuzmenko Photography

How did the show in Cork go?

Torsten – It’s always a delight to play a local show. Obviously it’s quite nice when you don’t have to drive for 12 hours to play a gig, so.

Neils – Yeah Cork is always a great place to play and we really enjoyed our time there.

The release of Epitaph in 2018 has been a success. How do you find it differentiates from your previous albums? How has the band changed stylistically from your debut album, The End of the Beginning.

Torsten – Well there’s a huge difference between the two albums, The End of the Beginning definitely has much more of an electronic, kinda trip hop kinda project, whereas Epitaph has more of a doom vibe. It’s inspired by our cousin who unfortunately passed away. This was difficult, but the music wrote itself really.

Neils – It’s kinda like you’re trapped in this big bubble dealing with these things over and over again really and I think initially we were writing a lot more ambient progressions within the album but it didn’t capture our emotions at the time. Then the Doom element came in and it felt it was a bit more natural. It represented the emotions at the time for sure.

Torsten – It all came rather organically, from beginning to end for sure. Our debut album would have a different kind of darkness and apocalyptic feeling to it where as Epitaph is much more emotive.

There is a clear influence of cinematic scores and compositions within your sound, who would be your favourite movie composers and why?

Torsten – I’ve always loved film scores and i take a lot of inspiration from them, particularly John Murphy for sure. He’s amazing and one of the more unique composers out there.

Where do your ideas for songs come from, what inspires you?

Neils – A lot of it comes from experiences, what we’re dealing with at the time you know, our sound is rather emotive and we bring it from a place of release.

How do you approach your music first and foremost? Which instrument do you focus on first?

Torsten –
Definitely I would initially work around a melody on my main instrument which is the guitar. I’m not a major piano player but if I can sit down and record something and work around a progression or something, I find I can work for a track then definitely. I would say Piano also. For me a lot of inspiration comes to me at night also, because during the day there’s the usual elements of life that just distract your creativity like emails, work, general business of humanity. So at night for sure creativity takes a hold of me and that’s where I get most of my ideas from.

So you’re an insomniac as well?

Torsten –
Big time. At night it’s just the quiet and peace that can definitely spur a lot of motivation, whereas during the day writing seems kinda, forced? I guess?”

What would be the most important piece of gear you each own and why

Torsten – For me the guitar and my laptop. Definitely my Axe-Fx also as It just enables me to divulge into an array of different sounds that allow me go through tracks with ease live. A lot of our sounds are unconventional so it’s one of the best pieces of equipment for me”

What is your favourite track to perform live and why

Neils – ‘Seance Room’, for sure. It’s just one of those tracks, I mean we wrote it and, ah, it’s veracious and there’s something weird about the track itself, but beautiful and it’s close to heart.

What other plans have God is an Astronaut lined up?

Torsten – Back to touring in properly May, back to Scandinavia, and we have some shows in the summer and opening for The Cure, and a few festivals. Then we’re off to the states in September and yeah! Very excited.

Neills – Yeah touring in the states is always a great way to see more international audiences because, ah, it’s very hard to promote yourself these days what with the internet. It’s almost like we’re spoilt for choice in terms of what we can listen to, what is shared, what GETS shared. It’s all gotten very tough but all we do is give it our very best when we perform live. The last few months instead of being a trio we decided to tour as a five piece to ensure audiences a more well rounded experiences you know?

Tobias Sammet: There’s nothing less appealing to me than a song that describes how the fucking elves get from Forest A to Valley B!

Interview by Adrian Hextall

Pictures (C) Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media

Following on from the very impressive ‘Ghostlights’, the new 11 track album from Avantasia sees Tobias Sammet reunited with some familiar faces from previous albums. Guests include original QUEENSRYCHE lead singer Geoff Tate, PRETTY MAIDS frontman Ronnie Atkins, Michael Kiske of HELLOWEEN, Jørn Lande (ex-MASTERPLAN), Eric Martin (MR BIG) and MAGNUM’s Bob Catley. Moonglow also introduces new collaborators Hansi Kürsch of BLIND GUARDIAN, KREATOR’s Mille Petrozza and BLACKMORE’S NIGHT frontwoman Candice Night in a truly spectacular fashion. 

We spoke to Tobias about the new release and his love of storytelling (as long as it doesn’t involve elves!)

AH: For us, of course, it’s a very welcome return for the band as well. I say, band, it’s more than a band, isn’t it? It’s a project that just evolves as time goes on?

TS: To be honest with you I don’t really know what it is. It is something… It seems like a band, it seems like a tribal thing when we are on tour. Also with the same players being in the band… at the same time it’s also some kind of project with a treasured guest, or it’s a band without the democracy part. I don’t know what it is but it feels good.

AH: I can imagine it does. It’s almost a vision as much as anything else. Isn’t it?

TS: Yes. That’s a good compromise. Not a band without a project. It’s a vision. It’s a life achievement. It is a religion of vision. What else can we say? A piece of art, it’s a seventh wonder of the world. [laughing] You name it! It’s everything, it’s all of it and much more.

AH: And of course that brings us very neatly to the next point – every release going forward becomes quite a challenge. Doesn’t it? Well, normally how can you do as well as if not better than previously but how do you get everybody together at the right time?

TS: It’s just you try not to think of it as a challenge. You try not to think of it as a competition with your own previous albums, because after all even though the industry really tends to compare albums, and I do as a fan as well… Which is the better record? Is it the Number of the Beast or is it Piece of Mind or whatever? But in music there is no better and worse. I try to approach music very very innocently, and very much based on intuition. The will to express myself and to compose, express myself lyrically but also musically… It all happens very naturally.

I didn’t even start this record with a goal of producing a new Avantasia record, it was quite the opposite. So I was composing and recording and doing demos in a newly built studio of mine and I thought maybe it’s gonna be a solo record or something like that, but it sounded like Avantasia. I wrote it and then with all the guesting, some of them are known, some of them I’ve had in my mind when I wrote a certain song. Sometimes they say yes sometimes they say no. You know sometimes some people have better things to do. [laughing]

AH: You mentioned the right voices for the right songs as well, you’ve got two or three new ones this time. I mean Hansi [Kürsch Blind Guardian]– I believe is coming in for the first time to perform with the album?

TS: Hansi Kürsch? Yes, it’s his first first time on an Avantasia record. But I have to say I have been friends with Hansi for more than 21 years. When I had the idea of asking him, I already had a vague idea that he would not decline because we had worked together on one of the early Edguy records. We already spoke about him being part of Avantasia back in ‘99,  2000, but he was super busy back then and well it didn’t happen until now but I had an idea it would happen if I would ask nicely. [laughing]

AH: It does there to show you though just how quickly 18 years can pass before you got to do what you anticipated doing in early 2000.

TS: Absolutely! And you know what, the pace had gotten on my nerves by 2016. I was working too fast, and the expectations were kind of choking me. That was one of the things that I noticed, my life was going by… I mean when you are a kid, your time measurement happens… at least that was the case for me, around Birthdays and Christmas’s. It was, “Oh it’s that time of the year again.” You’re waiting for Christmas as a child, one year passed by, but you don’t think about the fact that life doesn’t go on forever.

AH: I know what you mean, there is that point in life where as a child, you’d never consider what could go wrong. You just think that everything will continue year, after year, after year. But then as we get older we recognise that actually, this could be the last chance to do this, or something like that.

TS: Absolutely! And now I realised that my life is pretty much sliced into album touring cycles, and they began to happen so automatically that I was not even involved I didn’t really have a say in it anymore. You are so stuck in that treadmill that you start questioning it, because everybody else is yes yes okay yes we have already booked a new show for next year, and yeah you can do an album, you can even release it in August… or if you need a little more time we can do it in December.

AH: I do know exactly what you mean though. It’s time to put the foot on the break and look at your options.

TS: Yeah! Absolutely! That’s what I want, I wanted to slow down and you know do more on my thing.

AH: I understand that. Definitely. And of the new people, and the family as we know you’ll turn to for the albums. Who you’ve got coming out on tour with you because of course, we get you in a sort of eight to nine weeks time touring across Europe mainly?

TS: Yes absolutely! We are gonna come to London. We are going to play the Forum.

AH: Well we saw you last time, I remember it well.

TS: Yes, think it’s like flying out of the window, as Eric Martin says or would say, as he phrases things, it’s really going great and we will have a great show we will have a big stage production. We will just do everything to put on a great show but not make it to a final top it’s still going to be a rock and roll show after all. There will be Eric Martin of Mr. Big he will join us. Yolanda will join us, there will be Bob Catley of Magnum, of course, Ronnie Atkins will be there, Pretty Maids, Geoff Tate he will join us this time.

AH: Wonderful.

TS: Michael Kiske won’t come this time. He is recovering from the Helloween tour, and he just wants to relax a little bit so he’s not going to join us this time. 

AH: I don’t blame him I would imagine that’s being quite the most intensive tougher in many years it’s been pretty fall on.

TS: Absolutely and also emotionally I mean, of course, there was a lot of pressure on him I mean all of a sudden he’s back in the band and ticket sales rocketing up you know and I think that’s also for somebody who cares and he is a very caring person and I think that’s also a mental challenge.

Of course, Oli and Sascha, Felix Bohnke is gonna to be on drums same as last time. We are going to have three singers during the backing vocals. It will be a great show, we’re going to play approximately 3 hours, we’re going to do most of the new album and you know two plus hours of old material.

AH: Wonderful.

TS: We are all looking forward to it. We’re putting the stage together right now, putting many ideas and we just see which of those ideas are possible and what’s not. It’s going to be a big show.

AH: You mentioned the stage setting, I mean the thing I remember most from the last tall the way you are introducing the singers they come in at the top of the stairs, in the middle of the stage set. It was always a surprise, and it was the care that greeted them as they made their first appearance, and then it was mixed as who came out next whether it was then two or three of you singing as well. I mean the concept itself is fantastic and it really keeps the audience engaged because they never quite know what’s next.

TS: Absolutely! I think that makes Avantasia so special, and it’s something I’m fully aware of… That magical aspect of it. And I’m really happy about that and I’ve never wanted Avantasia to be a gimmick that kind of out-does or out-shadows? Does that word exist or it doesn’t?

AH: I know what you mean though, overshadows.

TS: Overshadow, yes. I don’t want it to overshadow, I don’t want to show that the gimmick overshadows the music that’s also something for the record. With Avantasia it’s very well balanced I think, and we are putting together a great stage right now. It’s going to be a huge stage set again. It’s going to be a big show but not the final top, it’s on top but not over top. [laughing]

AH: I know exactly what you mean and as I say everything you did last time, worth because it gives the audience that level of anticipation that if it appears we didn’t know what was coming next that was wonderful. In terms of the show and in terms of the album as well I would imagine you have the term rock opera, passed to you many many times as a result to this. Do you look back for inspiration to things like say Bat Out of Hell which of course now celebrated its fortieth anniversary?

TS: I love Bat Out of Hell. In the case of Avantasia, and yes to answer your question, I have been really inspired by Jim Steinman and what he did with Meatloaf. It sounds very operatic and very a visual song, a visual album and it sounds conceptual but it is not. But I never really… Well, in the beginning, I had that approach of doing a rock opera or metal opera when I did the first two records. I think it’s really difficult to do a concept album which is a rock opera, with an ongoing story being told in all its details, and at the same time maintain the poetic aspect in an individual song. To me the smallest unit of a musical album is the individual song.

I think there’s nothing less interesting, I think, or less appealing to me than a song that describes how the fucking elves get from forest A to valley B and what they see… Who the fuck cares? And who likes elves anyway? [laughing] That approach is always too Spinal Tap to me. I wanted always to have an individual song that would be poetic that would leave room to interpretation and that would work on its own. I think I never have that on the first two Avantasia albums they had a different approach.

But with this new album, I think it’s a very good compromise. It’s a conceptual thing. Every song is one aspect of a bigger picture, the bigger picture of a very coherent world which is Moonglow. It is based on a story that I have in my mind. Every song makes sense individually and it leaves a lot of room for interpretation. It’s very… I want to believe deep… Based on personal experience. So that makes it… to me much more interesting, and I don’t want to say mature, because I’m not sure if heavy metal and rock music are supposed to be mature… But in that case, I picked mature. [laughing]

AH: I would say it is also more likely to stand the test of time as well when it is that more mature approach as you say. 

TS: Yes, sometimes… I have to be honest, and some probably will hate me for saying that. I love the first two records but sometimes when I’m on stage and I do those songs, I’d go “What did you write back then?” I still love the songs, and I love to do it, but I think a song aged better when you give them something that you don’t find… A Broadway song, or chapter out of Broadway musical…

AH: When it’s grounded a little bit more.

TS: Yes.

AH: Now I get that. Absolutely! That was wonderful. I love the comment about the elves that will make me chuckle for the rest of the day. Thanks for that.

TS: [laughing] Okay.

AH: That’s great! Tobias, listen Thank You very much for your time my friend!

TS: Thank You Very Much! Thank You very much! It was a great conversation. 

AVANTASIA – Moonglow World Tour 2019

27.03.   SK   Presov – Tatran Handball Aréna
28.03.   SK   Bratislava – Hant Aréna
30.03.   DE   Kaufbeuren – All-Karthalle *SOLD OUT*
31.03.   IT   Milan – Alcatraz
02.04.   CZ   Prague – Forum Karlín *SOLD OUT*
03.04.   DE   Berlin – Huxleys Neue Welt
05.04.   DE   Ludwigsburg – MHP Arena
06.04.   DE   Bamberg – Brose Arena
08.04.   DE   Fulda – Esperantohalle
09.04.   DE   Saarbrücken – Saarlandhalle
10.04.   FR   Paris – Olympia
12.04.   DE   Osnabrück – Osnabrück Halle
13.04.   DE   Hamburg – Mehr! Theater *SOLD OUT*
14.04.   DE   Oberhausen – König-Pilsener-Arena
16.04.   UK   London – The Forum
18.04.   DE   Offenbach – Stadthalle
19.04.   CH   Pratteln – Z7
20.04.   CH   Pratteln – Z7
24.04.   ES   Bilbao – Santana 27
26.04.   ES   Barcelona – Razzmatazz 1
27.04.   ES   Madrid – Palacio Vistalegre
02.05.   SE   Stockholm – Arenan
04.05.   RU   Moscow – Glavclub Green Concert
06.05.   HU   Budapest – Barba Negra Track
09.05.   JP        Tokyo – Blitz Akasaka
12.05.   AU   Sydney – Metro Theatre
14.05.   AU   Melbourne – The Forum
17.05.   US   San Jose, CA – City National Civic of San Jose
19.05.   US   Anaheim, CA – City National Grove
21.05.   US   Chicago, IL – Patio Theater
23.05.   CA   Montreal, QUE – Metropolis
24.05.   US   Worcester, MA – The Palladium
26.05.   MEX     Mexico City – Auditorio BlackBerry
29.05.   RCH     Santiago – Teatro Caupolican
31.05.   RA       Buenos Aires – El Teatro Flores
02.06.   BR       São Paulo – Espaço das Américas

11. – 13.07.     D         Balingen – Bang Your Head!!!
11. – 14.07.     CZ       Vizovice – Masters of Rock
14. – 17.08.     D         Dinkelsbühl – Summer Breeze

“That is one of or possibly the biggest Wayne’s World moment I have had!” Tesla guitarist Dave Rude on his signature Flying V

Interview by Francijn Suermondt

As I stumbled out of my camper van on a Sunday morning in June 10 years ago, the sun greeted me warmly in the bright blue sky.  Having abstained from alcohol the previous evening at Download Festival (no mean feat for me in 2009), I was anticipating seeing the band I had wanted to see since my early teens, Tesla.  The boys from Sacramento delivered a killer set to the biggest crowd I had ever seen at any music festival at 10am and quite honestly, was one of the best music experiences I have ever had the good fortune to enjoy.

Fast forward to 12th Feb 2019 and again with anticipation, I am waiting on the line to connect to Dave Rude, guitarist with Tesla and, I was soon to find out, all round jolly good egg, to discuss the upcoming album ‘Shock’.

Fran – Thank you so much for speaking to me today as Tesla have always been one of my favourite bands and the sound track to my misspent youth…

Dave – Hahaha … nice!  That’s so cool.

Fran – You have a brand new album out on 8th March, produced by Phil Collen, who I believe also co-wrote and produced the TESLA song “Save That Goodness”, which was released in August 2016 and included on the “Mechanical Resonance Live!” album?

Dave – Yes, Phil actually wrote that whole song. It all came about because we were on tour with Def Leppard and we ended up really being on tour with them for the next three years, which was really cool, in North America and Canada. Obviously the Tesla guys and Def Leppard went way back to the early 80’s, and I also knew them from doing so many shows and festivals together. It was a close connection because we were seeing each other every day, hanging out together and stuff and Phil was sort of always there and giving us advice.  Phil said what about a bonus song for your live album? He had one that he had already written, so we worked on an involved demoing process when we were on the road together, it was really nice, and we ended up with this cool song that did really well in the states etc.

Fran – It is a great song indeed!

Dave – Yeah, so later on that year, after that record came out, we said gee, why not do a whole original record that the band writes and Phil can produce and we can do it the same way, because we knew we would already be doing more touring together.  So we worked on songs while we are on the road whilst we had time.  You know there is a lot of time to kill when you are on the road, between meet and greets and bits like that.

Fran – Yes of course …

Dave – And Phil was obviously busier, due to Leppard being the headline act, but he still gave us the time…. so we used to set up in a dressing room and work it in around our VIP and our sound checks and on our days off got together in hotel rooms etc.

Fran – It sounds great, Phil sounds almost like he was a sixth member of the band in a way …

Dave – Totally, totally, it really was like that, and it was so much fun.  Phil is the nicest guy and so talented.  He really was a great producer on this and he brought the best out of us, so that we made a record that we are all really happy with and pretty excited about.  But because we worked on that one single for the Live album, we had a really good working relationship already, so it made it that much easier.

Fran – You were comfortable already working together and already had that bonding feeling

Dave – Exactly!

Fran – What I found really interesting when I listened to the new album today, was how impressed I was with how the band still sounds very true to Tesla, in fact I found it very evocative of the 2 years I lived in LA in the early 90’s ( Especially ‘Love Is A Fire’ and ‘California Summer Song’).  How do you keep that really true to Tesla sound whilst moving it on to the modern era?

Dave – So glad you like the record …

Fran – Yes it’s wonderful …

Dave – We were conscious of keeping the band’s original sound but also not becoming dated and that is something for the most part we have always tried to do.  Since I joined the band it has been like that and even honestly with our last album it was also. I think no matter what we do, it always sounds like Tesla because of Jeff’s voice, it is so recognisable, because of the way he sings and the way he writes.  But at the same time we have always been careful to not totally repeat ourselves and ensure that we are not those ‘80’s bands’, nothing against them though, I love some of those bands and we play with a lot of them.  But if you are too identified with that era then people tend to not take anything you do later on seriously.

Fran – Yes, I mean Tesla were never, excuse my French, one of the cock rock, hair bands were you ….even back in the 80’s and 90’s I wouldn’t have said.

Dave – I agree and you know that was before I was in the band, so I have the luxury of a fan’s perspective, cos I used to love Tesla when I was a kid. Part of what I liked about the band with their classic stuff, was that they were really more like Aerosmith, in fact they were more like a 70’s band that came out in the 80’s.

Fran – Do you have any stories behind the tracks on Shock? Could you pick a favourite song from the album or do you love them all the same like your babies?

Dave – It would be hard to pick one, but I really love the song Shock, that’s one of my favourites.  And it is also probably one of the weirdest ones, I think it has definitely got the Tesla core elements, but clearly with the different updated sound, with the electronic drum loop and stuff. To me it has a texture that adds to the rock power in the chorus and the verses.  I wrote that song originally a lot faster, it had a different vibe with the same music, but a lot quicker.  We thought, what if we really slowed this down to make a more of a dirty, grind feel to it?

Fran – It had an almost grunge feel to it actually ….

Dave – Yeah, and so it really took a big turn from the original that I had written, so it was really cool that we changed the vibe of the song with the big heavy beats.  It sort of just has a tension with the lyrical sort of content about feeling pressured and under the gun and it explodes in the chorus …. I actually really like ‘Love Is a Fire’ too ….

Fran – I have written a list of my favourites: ‘You Won’t Take Me Alive’, ‘Love Is a Fire’, ‘California Summer Song’ and I absolutely LOVED ‘Tied to the Tracks’

Dave – Ah cool, ‘Tied To The Tracks’, yeah I really like that one, yes this definitely has that classic 70’s rock feel, Frank is playing a lot of slide.  Another track I wrote was The Mission, which is more metal, but is still more classic, it’s old school, like classic Tesla or Def Leppard with guitar, more guitar and riffs.

Fran – Yeah, and I am an old 70’s rock chick at heart, I love all that stuff … You know the only time I have ever seen you guys play was in 2009 at Download.  I have loved Tesla since I was a teenager, I held off the booze the day before in anticipation of your set …and it was the best set of the whole festival.

Dave – Ah thank you!

Fran – And you and Frank were playing your epic guitar battles and everything on stage, you are playing Download again this year aren’t you?

Dave – Yes, we are and really looking forward to it!  We will be in Europe doing festivals for about two weeks.  I am really excited about that, as these festivals are just mind blowing and so much fun to play!

Fran – Talking of festivals and the fact that obviously you have toured with bands such as Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Dave Lee Roth, Alice Cooper and Poison.  You are also doing the Monsters of Rock Cruise on March 1st aren’t you?

Dave – Yes we are …

Fran – That looks like fun!  If you had to pick one or two highlights of your career on tour so far, what would they be?

Dave – You know for me since 2006 when I joined the band, I guess being out with Def Leppard on those tours was just totally amazing in the states, because I mean every show was sold out or almost sold out, but people were coming early for Tesla. This is so weird because people usually just don’t all turn up for the band that is on at say 7pm, usually people are parking or having dinner when the support bands are on right?  But every time we came on stage it would be almost full out there! So we essentially got to play to a full house every day on that tour, and that was pretty amazing.  Wow, to look out and see this sea of people, we are very lucky to have a large and dedicated fan base, but we have always played smaller venues like theatres of a couple of thousand, but suddenly to be exposed to 10,000 people it was like whoa! It’s a different sort of feeling all together!

Fran – Such a buzz I bet!  But you know, that does not surprise me at all. Because I put you in the same category as all those other stadium groups, I think you are an iconic band. When you played at Download in 2009, everyone was so excited to see your set!

Dave – You know that show, was one of the highlights that you are asking about, because I think that was the first time we had done Download and there was a bunch of my favourite bands on that bill. The show went great, it was really fun, I got to meet a bunch of people and hang out with these bands that I love.  We were done early, so I was out bopping around between all the stages, watching all these killer bands. It was just so much fun and because in the UK and really Europe in general, you guys are such rockers, you show up early at festivals!  I mean we could be on at 1pm and there is 30,000 people there! You know in the States when they have these all day festivals, its dead at that time, there’s like 100 people there to watch you! They don’t filter in until the evening.  You know it is pretty mind blowing across Europe and the UK, tons of people want to see cool rock bands, so they are saying ‘OK, we are here, what have you got?’

Fran – And it’s interesting, I was interviewing I think The Dead Daisies, who said that festivals in America don’t have the mix of bands that we do.  So you wouldn’t get Slipknot playing on the same bill as you guys for example….

Dave – I love that, as soon as we started touring Europe, I was blown away by that.  And a couple of times I was a little nervous too, I was thinking ‘Oh man, these people are going to throw rocks at us!’, but these really heavy music fans would end up singing along to ‘Love Song’ … I would be thinking ‘What the hell?’!!  We did a festival in Belgium and there was multiple stages, we were on the bill, as were ‘Chickenfoot’, ‘Jeff Beck’, ‘Lucinda Williams’ … you know a weird mix of acoustic bands and Americana … I love all those bands, but in the States that would never fly, it would have to be three different festivals, you couldn’t mix those types of bands.  And we did a show in Spain and band right before us was a thrash band from LA, I thought, this is it we are definitely going to be in trouble now, but nope, everyone loved it, it was great.  So I love the diversity of line ups over here and that everyone is so cool, they stay and watch and no one throws anything at you!

Fran – We are very polite and if you are good, which you guys obviously are, everyone is just going to love you … I mean it’s a no brainer. We love bands like you that come over to the UK and play for us, cos let’s be honest, the UK is a bit crap compared to California, so people that make the effort to come to us…this really means a lot to rock fans over here.  What other ‘hot off the press’ news do you have for our readers?

Dave – Well I’m really excited about Shock album obviously which is coming out on March 8th. Two songs, ‘Shock’ and ‘Taste Like’ are available now.  But another thing I am really excited about is that last month Epiphone released a signature flying V Dave Rude guitar.  This will be in stores in the spring.

Fran – WOW … that sounds like a real Wayne’s World moment right there!

Dave – Hahahaha!!! Yeah definitely, that’s a great term! That is one of or possibly the biggest Wayne’s World moment I have had!  Like … WOW I’ve got a signature guitar … I can’t believe it! It still has not sunk in it, but I have the prototype out here on the road and I will definitely have it in Europe with me!

Fran – So where can we see the guitar now?

Dave – Check out my Instagram page … you can see loads of pictures on there!  It’s really unique it’s white and red!

Fran – Great ….thanks!! It is interesting to see that not only will ‘Shock’ be available in cd and digital formats, but also in black vinyl and limited edition translucent blue vinyl formats.  Do you feel that the industry is reverting back to vinyl in popularity? 

Dave = Yeah, to a degree it is and I am happy about that, as I grew up with that physical product in my hands.  I know it’s a cliché with guys in older bands, but it’s true man that I prefer having something in my hands, you know I have Spotify on my phone and now days it’s mostly how I listen to my music because it’s difficult any other way, because the companies and trends are making it hard to get the physical product and have a way to listen to them.  I mean you can’t buy a CD Walkman anymore, they don’t exist, unless you find a speciality website and pay twice as much. So I miss the days of having this type of stuff and I’m one of those guys that all I cared about was music and records. I love to read about who was behind the music, like the assistant engineer and stuff, and see everything on the album cover. …all the thank you’s and geeky stuff like that, I mean that’s me. I think it’s great, even if it is a niche market, that we are providing this on vinyl….and that people are excited about it!  In fact all the Tesla records that I have played on I know is available on vinyl now.

Fran – Last question and it’s a bit random! If you could 4 people dead or alive for a dinner party who would they be and why?  AND I see from the Tesla website that you are fan of Thai food, so which Thai dish would you serve them?

Dave – Hahahaha!!!  Oh my gosh, Thai dish for sure we would have Phat si-io (Pad See Ew), you know those really wide noodles with the spicy sauce.  And it would be really cool to hang out with Brian May, he is friends with our bass player, so that would be great.  And how about Nikola Tesla, that would be awesome! Now that would be an interesting conversation!  Hahahhah!!  And then how about Richard Pryor …he would be the best company and then I think Noel Gallagher, I have never met him but I think he and I would get along. In fact I bet he would great to interview!!

Fran – This has been great …I have more questions still, but maybe I can ask them when you are over here in the summer, it has been great talking to you….thank you so much!

Dave – It has been great talking to you too!!  And yes of course you can ask more questions then!!  I’ll see you in the summer!

‘Shock’ will be released on March 8th and to support the release of ‘Shock’, Tesla are heading out on an extensive series of shows across North America, Europe, and elsewhere around the globe throughout 2019.  They will be playing at Download Festival on Friday 14th June.

Like a Bat Out Of Islington – Interview with GIO \ deVience lead singer Giovanni Spano

Interview & Photos by Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media

Gio is, to put it simply, ambitious. The energetic front man who along with Donnie, Olli, Benno and Jim have played as deVience for the last few years are about to enter the next stage of their career. On the back of Gio’s time in Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical, playing Ledoux and a successful stint in 2018’s X-Factor, the band’s profile couldn’t be higher.

We sat down with Gio in the dressing room at Islington’s O2 Academy to understand what next for him and the rest of the band.

Now a starting point for any interview is research and of course Google is your friend and one world wide search later, we some across an interesting snippet. Giovanni Spano is famous…. he also died in 1878…..

GS: Absolutely bizarre. Absolutely bizarre. I’ve Googled myself a couple of times. As you do. Yeah. The archaeologist comes up. Giovanni Spano, the archaeologist. Hopefully… I’m digging out some good music for you guys anyway….. [collective yet wholly acceptable ‘groan’]

AH: One of the things highlighted that he was known for was being multi-lingual. You don’t have a name like yours without being able to speak more than one language surely?

GS: Well, I am semi bilingual right now. I’m sort of doing well with my Italian. I’ve been learning over the years. So, yeah. My Dad, he never spoke to us in Italian which is really funny because it’s obviously his mother tongue. He never spoke to us in Italian but I just embraced their culture over the years. We started visiting, supporting a football team over there, and enjoying some of the Italian singers as well. I get by. I’m absolutely.. I’m good. Yeah.

AH: Presumably, as is often the case, you’ve got that huge extended family out there?

GS: Massive. Down in the south of Italy in Reggio Calabria which is a poor part of Italy and I’ve got loads of family, loads of cousins, loads of aunties and uncles, great aunties and uncles and what not. Immediate family are here you know, my grandparents and stuff like that they moved over here post-war, or was it ’44 or something like that. Yeah, they came over to work the land etc.. and yeah we just grown up here ever since and it’s been amazing.

AH: The weeks leading up to the show have included quite a trawl through your old material. Stage wise, you were part of the live touring show for Jesus Christ Superstar long before you did Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical? JCSS is quite trippy, breaking into jazz and prog rock at times. Not what you expect from your typical musical?

GS: It was a little bit trippy and I’m sure there was acid fueled evening or two between the writers [Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice]

AH: Your character is very noticeable on stage. The shaved ‘A’ on the side of your head indicating……. what?

GS: Anarchist basically yeah. The hell-raiser as it were. Everything that I did I went in 110%, I threw myself in even without thinking about the consequences, that was my particular role. I spoke to the Director and he said to me “Imagine yourself walking into the Houses of Parliament”, excuse me if I say this, “with a bomb strapped onto your chest! As if you’re Guy Fawkes and that’s how far you would go for Jesus Christ.”

It was quite extreme and it was quite nice to actually go there to push yourself to that limit and do that every single day. Some people would talk to me backstage but until I had done my number, I was down on my knees, listening to the whole of the show and fueling and building this aggression and this you know angst and desire to want to see Christ where he belongs, where I thought he belongs.

I would then go on stage and then go bang. You know that was great, it was really fun. Nathan James came to see it and then we did a show together shortly afterwards and he was just like “Dude you are just like a stand-up figure for me.” It meant a lot.

AH: You certainly push yourself and your voice when performing. You mentioned a piece about giving everything as that person in role of the show. You’ve got a track on the album ‘Go Hard or Go Home’, because that sums up the same approach.

GS: Yeah, exactly that and that’s sort of my analogy in life. That’s why we postponed the gig [December 2018] because I was ill and I couldn’t do a performance that I wanted to do. As you say it is go hard or go home and I give everything in every single performance that I do. I love doing what I do, I love seeing the audience’s face and you know that just drives me to be more passionate about what I do and I just love it every single night you know, getting out there, singing my own music and doing what I do best and that’s being a showman.

People clapping along singing the songs it’s just sick like, you know, you can understand why the likes of Axl Rose, Gene Simmons and people like that are so passionate about it, it’s phenomenal. Mick Jagger is a legend as well you know, Robert Plant, an unbelievable showman as far as I’m concerned.

AH: If you aspire to be any of them, they are the characters you want to go for aren’t they?

GS: Yeah, absolutely you know Freddie [Mercury] you know something exciting.

AH: The show is as much part of the performance as the voice isn’t it?

GS: Absolutely. Yeah if not more exactly. You know you hear him [Freddie] on his record he is very different when he is performing live but I tell you what, they really aren’t watching one other person on that stage when he’s there.

AH: Electrifying.

GS: 80,000 people just like that in the palm of your hand. So good luck.

AH: You also took ill during the final performance of Bat at the Dominion. That must have been a real blow for you?

GS: You know what I had the absolute pleasure of doing the show and like conceiving it from the very beginning, that part was my part you know I made it, it’ll forever be my character and will forever be a part of me.

I think when I came away from it for such a long time and such an appreciation and admiration and love for the show, it was kind of like I started a brand new chapter doing the X-Factor and sort of that chapter just needed to keep going and going.

Yes, I was not going to be able to finish the show the way that I would’ve liked to but that’s the exact reason why I didn’t do it. It wouldn’t have been good enough and you know as I said I was suffering for a very long time and you know it’s better I left it the way that I left it, having enjoyed it and having enjoyed my last performance than trying to go out there and do something really bad and then kicking myself in the teeth for not being able to really finish it.

AH: That’s good I like that. You mentioned in terms of the sort of artist you could aspire to be you threw Axl in there as well. Listening to the album your vocal range and your style fits that real L.A hard rock sound doesn’t it? It oozes the sleaze and swagger that typifies that sound and scene. 

GS: I love sex in music I think it’s absolutely beautiful, but I don’t just mean I’m not talking about crude sex, I’m talking about when you can feel it in your body you can feel it coursing through your veins and I find that the writing that we’ve done especially on the 2016 album, I find it, you can just feel it all over your body and it makes you want to do something and I think that’s the best thing about music it makes you want to feel something.

I think every single song on the album makes you want to do something, you know whether it’d be you know going to hug someone, giving a kiss, whether it’s headbanging as hard as possibly you can or whether it’s a hip thrust. And that’s what I love about it, you know, a couple of people compare me to Axl and like Myles [Kennedy] and Dio but I love what I do and I can’t wait for the new music to come out. I think it’s going to be absolutely amazing, some of the stuff we’ve written is incredible. So yeah we’re just working on it at the moment.

AH: Obviously now is a good time to capitalize on everything that you’ve managed to do in the last 12 months.

GS: I think so yeah. We’ve got this platform, we’ve been given the voice that we’ve been given and had been gifted as it were, we’re now just going to take it to the next level and go to where rock and roll rightly deserves to be in this country and that’s out there with everybody. You know we’ve got 8 year olds coming to the show tonight which is unheard of in hard rock.

AH: And it’s them that you want to catch as well before they get tainted by that fabricated music, they’ll be listening to that, it’s gonna be there.

GS: Of course and you know I walk down the street now and I’ve got kids smiling at me and I’m like “Why are you smiling at me?” And it clicks and you realise they like rock and roll music and it makes me the happiest man alive. It takes you back to the days when The Beatles were around and everybody listened to it, everyone could listen to it. That’s what I think rock music should be it should be a trademark for the UK. It’s where it was born.

AH: Look at the history music through the years.

GS: Exactly and I think it’s only right that it has prominence and it has it’s place within the mainstream charts, it should be in the commercial chart as far as I’m concerned.

AH: When are we expecting something new?

GS: The plan is to do like a little e.p. maybe like a double A side or something like that at Easter and then we’ll get an album out in summer and then in the 4th quarter you might have something else written for the beginning of January 2020. So it’s gonna be busy because obviously we’re gonna do the festivals and stuff, we’ve got a few festivals booked over this summer which is going to be pretty fine.

AH: You played the Isle of Wight festival previously?

GS: Yeah and we’ve also got booked again which is absolutely amazing but maybe I shouldn’t have just said that but yeah we’ve got it. Download is also that weekend as well so we’re going to see what’s going on and see what we can manage.

AH: Saturday at one and Sunday at the other?

GS: Exactly that’s it. You know we’re gonna have a sit down and have a strategy meeting this week, my entire team met my band last week so yeah it’s just sort of getting everything in place now because I want to be nice and organized because there’s other events that come off the back of the X-Factor that you have to be involved in as well.

AH: The lads have clearly been very supportive whilst you were out spreading the word?

GS: Amazing. You know they’ve been absolutely phenomenal since day 1 and every single week in the live studio when we were filming the shows at the X-Factor the boys were there supporting me and then we’d go and do maybe a little jam or whatever. During the first 2 weeks of being in the X-Factor house I couldn’t tell anybody that I was there etc, we were still gigging. We had all our fans at the gigs and they were like “Oh, you’ve just been on judges houses.” You know so it’s been a wild ride but they’ve been incredibly supportive as well as my family and you know now I’ve got new management and staff and just a whole massive team now. It’s phenomenal.

AH: I would imagine you don’t necessarily realize what they can do for you until you have them working with you?

GS: I’ll be honest, I mean there’s only so much that one person can do and before you start spreading yourself too thinly and when you’ve got a musical to do 8 times a week and trying to do the band stuff or even something simple like trying to buy a hat, you know just live. You know it’s the grind, I love it, I wouldn’t have it any other way and I think it makes me appreciate nights like this more than anything in the world because you know all that work, all that hard work that you do and the sleepless nights and nights where you are bitching to your girlfriend about how fucking hard it is. You get to nights like this and you just go “Ahhhh, that’s why.” because it’s awesome and there’s no greater feeling than actually being out there and singing your own songs and seeing people smile because of that reason because you’re singing your own songs, I mean I am getting paid to do that. It’s amazing it’s just amazing.

AH: Staying involved must keep you grounded though. It stops you going off on an “I’m the front-man” trip?

GS: I’m a go-getter, I’m a laborer, I’m the same as my Dad you know. You know his parents were immigrants to this country and obviously now you know, we’re British citizens or whatever, but he’s a hard worker and he’s my hero.

AH: And imparted the right information and upbringing too.

GS: Absolutely just a hard worker and just want to do this more than anything in the world and I think now I’ve got the opportunity to do it and it’s only right that I do it and I do it right and I give the respect it deserves.

AH: You mentioned ‘brand’. Now, this could’ve been billed 3 different ways couldn’t it? What’s the band name going to be going forward?


AH: just GIO?

GS: Yeah. That’s it. Spoken to my boys, to my team and spoken to everybody, family etc.and that’s it going forward and that’s an exclusive that you’ve just got.

AH: Are you gonna miss the name deVience? Because it’s a cool name for a band.

GS: It’s amazing because everything that it stands for and it’s always in my heart, it’s always going to be there because deVience actually became more than just a name of the band it actually became what we were about. You know people look at you as a human being and think “They’ll never amount to anything.” And then when you smashed that down and say “Hey, here I am and this is what I’ve achieved over life and these are the goals that I will always achieve and I will always go to improve and better myself and stay passionate and driven.” That’s what I insist and that’s what we’re doing and we just done it over the last year. We’ve done things that bands wouldn’t do and hard rock bands like ours wouldn’t play the Isle of Wight festival, we did it.

GS: You know we’ve not been around that long. We’ve been playing music since 2010 but deVience and the sound that we have and the identity that we have as a group has not been around that long. So we really found it and I think we’re there now, I think we’ve got our makeup and we’re very excited about what’s ahead. The future holds some amazing things.

AH: The X-Factor fans that are gonna be coming to the show tonight have possibly only seen you do that, this is going to be a surprise for them.

GS: It’s gonna be absolutely brilliant because if someone is going to sing those songs and have a really good time to those songs they’ll get to see the proper side of me as well and not that I didn’t show it on the program, but it’s just gonna be so much and they’re going to realize how much fun rock music is. You know these people that maybe saw just the sugary bubble gum pop get to see this side of me and get to see how much fun it is.

AH: From big show songs on the X-Factor and you’re performing some of the same tonight people are also going to hear memorable original songs. Everything has a hook for the listener.

GS: That’s what I’ve always wanted to do anyways just write good anthemic songs you know. Something people can sing along to, people can dance to, people can clap to and just have a good time. Remember me, remember the songs, remember the band, remember the night, remember the moment. You know ’86 live Wembley. Freddie Mercury, Queen 80,000 people no one will ever forget it. So hopefully, eventually, I can aspire to be at that level, in fact we’re not gonna aspire we’re gonna get there. Just got to work hard.

AH: Put in for the opening spotter to Bon Jovi’s Wembley show or something like that.

GS: Exactly that it’s already been mentioned.

AH: You’re a good fit.

GS: A perfect fit because we’re a little bit harder as well, so that it is not exactly the same, do you know what I mean?

AH: And aging gracefully.

GS: Yeah, dude he looks great. I think he’s hot.

AH: Well I know my wife does and I could explain more about her feelings for Jon but we’re out of time…. Gio, thank you very much !

GIO are
Giovanni Spano – Vocals : Donnie Roulstone – Guitars : Jim O’Connor – Guitars : Ben Porter – Bass : Olli Carter – Drums

Epicenter Festival 2019 – interview with organizer Gary Spivack

For more than ten years near the border of North and South Carolina, a seismic rumbling would occur. The spirit of power chords, cheers, tattoos, and general mayhem would make settle in for a weekend every May at the annual Carolina Rebellion festival. The festival bore witness to many rock and heavy metal acts during its tenure, ranging from Japanese oddballs, BabyMetal, to one of the final performances of Soundgarden before Chris Cornell’s sad passing in 2017.

Now in 2019, a new beast has emerged from the Rebellion’s ashes called the Epicenter Festival. Epicenter Festival organizer, Gary Spivack, hopped on the phone with us to talk about what makes Epicenter Festival bigger, more epic and just more EVERYTHING than any other festival that the southeast has to offer.

My Global Mind: Hey Gary! How are you?

Gary Spivack: Hey David, good to talk to you again. How are you?

MGM: Doing well. I was just looking over some the details I have about the Epicenter Festival, and it looks like this will be a fun little rock venture this year.

GS: (Laughs) Yeah, going to be a little shindig. Right in the heart of North Carolina.

MGM: Tell me about it. This isn’t the Carolina Rebellion any more, so what made that go away and bring the Epicenter Festival around?

GS: Actually, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that’s pretty boring to the rock fans-so I don’t need to get into that-but the bottom line is that this will be the rock festival for the Carolinas. We want to make sure that we can cater not only to true rock rebels from past and present, but also bring this rock festival into the next decade. I think we’ve done that…having a Foo Fighters, Tool, Korn, Rob Zombie, and Judas freaking Priest…I just hope everyone feels we delivered a fastball right down the middle.

MGM:  Yeah, getting Tool is sort of the Holy Grail type of thing for a rock festival, considering they’re not really known for having a heavy public persona and not appearing or recording for years at a time.

GS: Yeah, we managed to strike a very special relationship with that band. They are a band that is very private-you just don’t sashay your way into their inner circle. You don’t just call them up and say: ‘Hey, do you want to barbecue?’ (Laughs) But we have proven to them as festival promoters and producers that we can put on the biggest rock shows in America. We have their trust. They were planning to go to Europe for a few shows and we got them to do just a couple in states for 2019 and Epicenter in North Carolina being one of them.

MGM: I imagine it was easier to get in touch with Tool since you already worked with some of the members in A Perfect Circle a couple of years ago.

GS: Sure. I think us previously working with (Tool vocalist) Maynard put our foot in the door…and you’re right tool is one of the Holy Grail bands. We coveted them for North Carolina for a decade and we’re very psyched to have them.

MGM: I also dig a lot of the newer bands you have on the bill, like Zeal & Ardor and it looks like Counterfeit are making a return. I spoke with those guys last year and they seem like they are really burning up the road in terms of just being a touring rock band.

GS: I appreciate you saying that. We haven’t even delved into the undercard, the support bands. While I am excited to have bands like the Foo Fighters and Tool, these are the bands that we really want fans to discover. There’s a band out of England called Basements, and (Former Rage Against The Machine guitarist) Tom Morello has a new project that he is going to play a special set in North Carolina. A band out of Canada called The Dirty Mill, and just a host of many bands that we want rock fans to discover.

MGM: A moment ago, you alluded to something called the Rockingham Village.  So is this the part of the festival that is not really shutting down, but making this a 24-hour, three-day festival?

GS: It’s going to be an experience. There will be a very big camping element to Epicenter…in our previous venue there was a much stricter curfew. This will not have a curfew. The music may stop on the main stages, but we’re going to keep the party going all night long.  We will have special entertainment that we’re working on right now, so we want to make sure everyone is geared up not only for the regular show hours but big after parties too.

MGM: So if you want to party all night, you can, but if you want to fall over in the middle of the field, that’s also a viable option?

GS: Yeah! You can call it a night after the music is done, or if you want to keep the party going we’ll be there with you.

MGM: That’s nice to be able to do, because I know a lot of times venues can be hamstrung by curfew hours where you can be fined an exorbitant amount of money for every minute that you go over the curfew time.

GS: That was one of the key elements we wanted to begin this new festival with, so that we can have a full sensory overload of rock n roll.

MGM: When I was doing my research I also saw that there were some hints at the possibility of a comedy element being introduced to the festival this year. Is there any truth to this?

GS: Well, the first thing we had to do was get all of the great music acts up and running…and from now until May we will be focusing on the other aspects of the festival:  comedy, spoken word, the after hours events. There’s nothing specific that I can give you on this particular interview, but we have a lot of things that will be ready come May.

MGM: With all of the elements you’ve added to the festival, has it renewed your sense of vigor to put on a great show, or are you mad at yourself for making life 10 times more exhausting?

GS:  It’s both! That’s a good question. It is a 364 day a year siege for 25 hours a day. With creating a new event, it takes extra legwork-and that is an education process-but we feel that first and foremost we are fans. We are fans of rock ’n roll. And we feel it’s important-and have an obligation as promoters and producers of Epicenter-to make sure this lineup is untouchable and the best rock festival, not only in North Carolina but the entire Southeast.

MGM: So is there any kind of a cool story behind why this festival has been named Epicenter? Or is it as straight forward as it sounds?

GS: Well when we were looking at the Rockingham Festival grounds, we noticed that it really was in the heart of the Carolinas. Right in the epicenter, if you will.

MGM: So how is it that you became such an integral part of these festivals? I know you’ve been doing these events for sometime now.

GS: I’m a glutton for punishment I guess. (Laughs) Like I said before, at my core I’m a fan and I like to wave the rock ’n roll flag. I was a drummer, a frustrated musician like many of us, and that led me to a long career at record labels where I became involved in the promotion and marketing department. But what always drove me, what always raised the hair on my arms, was the live experience. Going to a show, being part of a show. So when the opportunity to start a business came up over a decade ago, putting together rock festivals around the country was my calling. I always felt from the day we started this, that one of the areas that were underserved were the great states of North and South Carolina.

MGM: That’s true. I grew up missing a lot of bands because they just wouldn’t come very close to the area in North Carolina where I was. So having something that is this big and only an hour and a half away is pretty awesome. And I got a real appreciation for good we have it last year when I was talking to one of the Carolina Rebellion attendees who told me he had driven down from Jersey to go to the festival!

GS: (Laughs) I love that! That’s the thing; we are nothing without guys like you, or your friend in Jersey, or someone listening to rock radio station who buys a ticket- that’s what it’s all about.

MGM: Gary, I appreciate your time once again. I was told that you were recently getting over the flu so I don’t my questions didn’t beat up your recovering voice.

GS: No, I appreciate you looking out for me. I’m at about 90% recovered now, but thanks for asking. I’m pushing through it. Got to. Thanks again for your support.

A 2019 67 track Epicenter play list exists on YouTube. Check out here:

If I could get one other person that would have been the fourth ‘Tremor’, ‘Midnight’, no hesitation. Sean Peck on adding the late vocalist to the Three Tremors.

Interview by: Adrian Hextall

“Three times louder than a sonic boom, three fingers on the hand of doom!” is how the Three Tremors is being described. And when you find out the stellar line-up, there is no denying the mighty vocal power that the newly formed outfit possesses – Tim “Ripper” Owens (JUDAS PRIEST, ICED EARTH, DIO DISCIPLES), Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin (JAG PANZER, SATAN’S HOST, TITAN FORCE), and Sean “The Hell Destroyer” Peck (CAGE, DENNER/SHERMANN, DEATH DEALER)

And on January 18th 2019, metalheads worldwide will be able to behold the power of the Three Tremors, when their self-titled debut album will be unveiled (with a full tour following immediately thereafter).

We caught up with Sean “The Hell Destroyer” Peck to discuss what initially was a dream in concept only and has now become a full blown reality!

MGM: It sounds like you’ve been busy — It’s taken quite some time putting all of this together, so you must be really pleased to finally see the fruits of your work now.

SP: Man, it was… Yeah, you know, we took a long time writing the songs, you heard the album, right?

MGM: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s intense, there’s no other way to describe it. [laughter]

SP: Yes, I mean, we took a long time writing it, I don’t wanna get into it too much, so I’ll go along with your other questions as well but it was a big, big undertaking and now that’s out, we kind of did the unorthodox thing of touring first before the album is out, so we’ve gotten to see people’s reactions to these songs live and it’s like, ‘okay we know these songs are good because people are rocking out to them’, you know, having never heard them before.

MGM: Did the live experience make you reconsider anything? Did you have to revisit some of the songs as a result of the reactions?

SP: Well, some of the songs I was not sure about live, you know, with my other bands some songs are just like amazing on the record but live, it’s just– Sometimes they’re hard to duplicate, it doesn’t come over as good live but these are the ones that I was sketching on live. Some of them were the biggest hits for the crowd but to get that we had to make a lot of adjustments between the three of us. We used the album as a blueprint but as we went along with the tour we’re like “Okay, we’ll do this, you do this part, you do that part.” Sometimes there’s a lot of ad-libbing going on, still even after 17 shows like all of a sudden we’ll look over and Harry, he’ll be singing the one line and me and Ripper will look at you like “Okay, well I guess he’s singing that one.” Makes it kind of fun, it’s a little different every time.

MGM: I was going to say, that’s got to keep you on your toes as well a little bit, hasn’t it? Keeps it fresh.

SP: Yeah. We’re always like looking at each other like [laughter] we’re trying to eliminate as much of that as possible like “Are you on this one?” And we’re like “Planning to do it. Are you good? I’m I doing?” It makes it tough now, man.  It’s a lot… that’s when I conceptualize this, you know, making this a reality, like man, live this thing could be just– I’m a fan obviously of this kind of– I grew up with the Priests and the Maidens of the world and this kind of heavy metal. Conceptually In just thought it could be like the ultimate heavy metal experience.

That’s what some of the people that came out to us said, there being… every night there’d be some guy who would slowly walk up to me and like, “May I speak with you for a moment?” And I’m like “Okay.” “I have been to over 1,000 shows and this was fucking amazing.” That’s kind of like “we are the top” like reaction, where one guy is like– “I went to Maiden and this, and these two shows are like neck-to-neck” and for that, those kind of comments, and a lot of people that came in and said like “Hey, we came here thinking it was gonna be a bunch of shit, we were like really skeptical but we just wanted to see what’s going on.” And they’re like “You guys blew us away.”

It really exceeded [live] my highest expectations and when we did the first rehearsal even like– When you’re in doing it it’s kind of hard to visualize it from outside. I was looking back at the other band mates, these guys were just like “Oh my God, what’s wrong?” And they’re like “Nothing dude, this is just insane.” It’s a unique like super powerful live experience, you know, we’re just still getting it where it needs to be.

MGM: If you’re experimenting this almost as you’re onstage and you’re working out this for the first time, presumably it was quite difficult to work out where the three of you should come in because it would be so easy to overlap each other, not almost try and outdo each other at some point. So, to find the balance for the three of you, that must have been a tough ask.

SP: Yeah, we made a lot of adjustments as we went along and kind of figuring out who was strongest at what spot, and what sounded good, there was no ego shit or anything, we’re all like bros, it’s really a lot of fun which makes it– It’s like a buddy thing, everyone’s laughing, onstage what’s being said in between the songs it’s just like– Me and Tim like each other, we don’t know what’s Harry gonna say next. But there was definitely some experimentation, I was going through the videotapes of some of the shows where we only did two practices and I felt really strongly like “Oh man, we didn’t have enough practice, it’s gonna be pretty rough these first few shows.”

Watching videos from the first show, second show, third show and it was awesome, I was like “Man this is great” I thought there were gonna be pretty sketchy and a lot of mess ups but even the first three shows were really good, so somehow I don’t know how but we made it work.

MGM: It’s not like you are setting off as a young band making your first tentative steps into the world, I mean, you’re all seasoned musicians at the end of the day. You can presumably feel your way and adapt pretty easily.

SP: They had to memorize all these lyrics, and there’s a lot more work for Tim and Harry, I had written all the lyrics and I had already been rehearsing these songs with the band by myself, there was a moment, when we were singing this 18 song set in rehearsal and I had to sing everything. These songs are designed for three singers and I’m having to sing the whole thing. I had to learn what not to sing but they had to memorize all these lyrics, it was a little harder for them I think, and we just worked it out, man, we got like I said, figured out, we use the album as a blueprint but we made a lot of adjustments from like “Okay, I’ll sing this part.” Even though we’re seasoned veterans this is three singers interacting together with harmonies and trade-offs. No matter how seasoned you are, the material for three dudes to make it sound as it was drawn up on the chalkboard was still a trick!

MGM: How do you prevent the three of you sounding too similar to each other? Because you could easily– It would be difficult if you didn’t know who was singing too, was it the same guy who’s just got a great range or something like that? How did you establish who can stand out almost?

SP: I don’t know, I think we were really successful at keeping everybody identifiable on the album, which is pretty– I think it’s pure luck, everyone else you know I’m interviewing with has been like “No, dude you’ve done a lot of records.” And I’m like “Yeah, I have. But man you know, we made a schematic of who was going to go where without any concept of whether it would sound good and then all ended up working and sounding good.” We had some of the covers and some of the Priest stuff, we just went crazy, the first few times we were playing the cover songs and then that was like kind of almost too much so we scaled that back, it was just all three of us like “Yeah.” At the same time, that’s just fricking– Maybe we’ll let Tim do wherever he wants to do and then we’ll just fill in the gaps. [laughs]

It’s just kind of trial by fire and we have enough– I think you know Tim has this distinguishable tone, I ended up taking like a lot of the full body mid-range stuff live and then the super high notes, I’m kind of like the mid foundation and the super, super high ones– Everyone has a real good spot man, everyone just– I’m just trying to not embarrass myself next to Harry and Tim which are like two of the greatest singers on earth, forget heavy metal, I mean, those dudes are like two of the greatest vocalists period, no matter what genre of music, just being next to them is just is incredible.

MGM: The three of you are going to attract an audience as you say, on name alone aren’t you? It’s gonna be an interesting concept for people to come out and see. It’s no surprise that the live show feedback was good really. Some people were coming to see you because they know who they’re going to watch, they kind of know what to expect whether they have heard anything before or not.

SP: Yeah, because we had to kind of make– We had to switch gears on the music business part of it, we had it all planned out, the album was gonna be out like right when the tour hit, then that part of it, the people that were holding up their end of the bargain they just completely failed, you know, we had to go, you know what? All right, screw them, we’re gonna go another direction, which I’m happy it all ended up this way, you know, things happen for a reason. At first, everyone was at the merch table like “Where’s the album? Where’s the album?” Then we have these download cards like “Download four songs.” And like nobody wanted to download probably. “No, I want the album man, I don’t want to download tracks.” And I was like, “All right.”

I’ve been playing… It’s the first time ever I think for the other guys too that I’ve ever played an album in its entirety on tour, you usually take four or five songs of the new album, you know how it goes. Playing the entire album that people– There were only two songs out with the lyric videos, only two songs that anybody knew and it was just one big advertisement for the record and I’d be like “How are you guys liking these new songs?” Just seeing them rocking to songs they’ve never heard of…. never heard before was great. So, we did the entire album, all 12 songs, then we did Burn in Hell off the Jugulator album where Tim does Burn in Hell, then we did Hell Destroyer off the Cage… Hell Destroyer record, we did the ‘Black’ where Harry would come out and do Black, which I penned the song. And then we would, for the encore, we’d walk off the stage, thank you and good night, and then the encore the drummer would just come right in with Painkiller, and we’d come running on the stage and the place would just go ape shit.

You’ve never heard Painkiller like this before, I mean, it’s like fucking out of… it’s inhuman how we do it. After that, we did the Sentinel, then we would end it with two original songs, which I thought like after getting them all fired up on Painkiller and Sentinel, then we’re dropping back down to our original song, I don’t know how it’s gonna go but it ended up great, you know, the two original Speed to Burn and then we ended with a Three Tremor Song kind of that, it was kind of starting with that happy little bounce thing and I’m like “I don’t know man. I don’t know how that’s gonna work.” And it worked out great, it was amazing how well the whole set up went.

MGM: By the time you’ve got to that point in the show, they’ve bought into you, you’ve got a lot more freedom at that point, I would imagine to just enjoy yourselves?

SP: Yeah, I mean, it’s like hour and a half at least 18 songs of just pummeling, over the top. The backing band is caged and everyone’s just gray, the kids are head whipping, Dave’s up there with his muscles, it looks just killer though, it was great man, I’m really excited about the future for this thing.

MGM: The whole thing looks complete, you’ve obviously got the artwork, you’ve got the pseudonyms for all the band members as well that make it a really cool look and feel.

SP: Yeah, that’s Mark Sasso. Mark Sasso has done most of the Cage stuff, he did the first Death-Dealer album cover, Dio stuff, Halford, over the years he’s become like one of my best friends. We don’t call each other because when we call each other, it’s like literally two hours of just us going, “Dude, did you see the trailer for the blah-blah-blah.” So, we know it’ll kill half the day if we call each other, so we try and literally stay off the phone, but actually, we had three other album covers that have already been prepared by Dusan Markovic, who is another incredible artist who had a whole different concept. I started talking with Mark and he was like, “What about this?” I completely changed gears and went with that….. 

When you see the music video that will be coming out in January, it’s kind of along the same lines for the song ‘Bullets for the Damned’. We plan on releasing the three solo versions of the record, the Hell Destroyer version, the Tyrant version and the Ripper version, and we already have three separate album covers for those, it’s just killing me because these album covers are so fricking insane, that’s gonna be real exciting because it was really hard to decide who was gonna take what part because I had sung the entire finished album so they kind of use that as a blueprint, then like Harry would send his tracks back and Ripper would send his track back.

Me and Dave would like listen to him and it’s like “Holy shit.” They were so good, we’re just like “How are we gonna choose?” Everybody just sounds killer. The Ripper version of this album– I’m definitely jaded but the Ripper solo version of this album to me, is like the most and best thing he’s ever done, I swear to God. It’s so good, the Ripper solo version. We’re gonna probably put those out in the future.

MGM: That comes back to what you said, the fans were saying to the end of the shows as well it’s like “Don’t give me a download card man, give me the album.” People still want to buy that version, that version, that version, it’s like KISS releasing four solo albums on the same day, you know, everybody wants a copy of everything, they want the collection.

SP: That’s the best thing about metal people, you know, if you’re in the music business, you know, I’m not in the music business really for the financial end of it because nobody really is, it’s a passion, I have my other stuff that supports my heavy metal habit but it is nice when you put all this effort into it that the metal heads– We have a Pledge Music site, we’re on pledge music and that was just doing really well, we offer it all; different fricking keychains and baseball cards, like everything you can imagine and everyone has really embraced it. That’s the best thing about metalheads, they support you and they want they want to have the physical shit.

MGM: As soon as you’ve hooked them, you’ve pretty much gotten them for life as well, unless you do something really, really bad, they’ll stick with you after album, after album, after album. Won’t they, always.

SP: Yeah, yeah. You see the same names come through when you put out a new product, it’s always the same guys buying it so it’s awesome.

MGM: You mentioned about the intensity, certainly of the opening track on the album. Crimson Glory springs to mind because you’ve got that real mix of sort of Priest, Halford and probably Midnight singing as well. It really does give you that real intensity that comes with Priest but also the high side of things that Midnight used to bring when he was still alive. It’s a blend you don’t hear very often these days, you know, the Crimson Glory side of the metal world doesn’t really appear anymore, it’s kind of lost these days, and I think you’ve probably brought it back which is really cool.

SP: I’ve been asked if you could get one other person that would have been the fourth tremor, who would it be? And I’m like “I’ll get Midnight.” Without even hesitating. I’m able to do these like super high midnight notes now, I do them live a lot and it’s like having a superpower, you know, like that last super high note at the end of “When the Last Scream Fades”, Harry does the first two and then I come in with them on the third, the super fricking atmosphere, 2500 Hertz note I do, which gives me a little bit of a showcase because the rest of the guys are just killing it the whole rest of the show, at that point at least I get a little spotlight. [laughs]

I’m glad you noticed that because those first two Crimson Glory albums are– Transcendence could be my favorite album of all time of any music, it’s just so magical, I got to do at the Prog Power USA, I got to sing with Crimson Glory and I sang Red Sharks with Neil from Pagans Mind, that was a great experience and there’s a video of it online. Doing the super high ones, I’d love just looking at the reaction of people’s faces, you know, when you do it live, the jaw drops… it’s super cool, and I’m glad you noticed that because that’s– We wanted to put that in there.

It was supposed to be a vocal fireworks on display with good songs and I wanted this to exceed people’s highest expectations because so many times these super groups and these projects they look great on paper and they never ever live up to the hype, they never are– It’s like, “It’s good.” It’s like I wanted this to be just like beyond what people’s expectations were. That’s kind of how I write for all the bands that I’m in, but being able to mix in Harry and Ripper into this songs it’s just a treat man. As a metal fan, some of these songs have been sitting on for five years and I’m still not even sick of them, I know the material is good.

MGM: That’s a testament to what you’ve written if you can hang on to it for that amount of time and still feel like it’s fresh and exciting for you, thank God it can be conveyed to the audience when you play it to them as well.

SP: We want to get out there for sure, that’s the plan. The important thing was this– And I go with this Death Dealer a bit, everyone thinks it’s a project when you put these supergroups together, this whole thing was this is a band, this is gonna– We’re already talking about a second album, Ripper’s 100% committed to it and he’s having fun with it, and Harry’s 100% committed to it. The fact that we’ve already done 17 live shows, people are like “Okay.” It just gives it more credibility that it’s not just some Internet album that we threw together.

It’s a unique experience, I mean, everyone’s seen a million heavy metal bands that are the ones that are great, but to see three singers like this, you know, meld together with these super powerful heavy metal songs it’s a different kind of thing, and my whole thing is trying to innovate in the idea department in heavy metal because musically if you innovate too much in heavy metal, you just lose the thought, you lose what it is, it becomes something else.

MGM: Agreed.

SP: We just want great songs and the fact with these three singers intertwining it’s something that’s it’s kind of a gimmick but it’s a gimmick that it has a real substance to it and we’re not just wearing some costumes, we’re not wearing McDonald’s costumes playing Black Sabbath songs and calling it McSabbath [Oh, very good. ]and expect everyone– It’s a gimmick but it’s an actual musical thing behind the gimmick.

MGM: You’ve only got a look at the artwork, the content and listen to the album to realize you are actually serious about this. It may be a gimmick as you say, but it’s not a joke and that’s the big difference.

SP: One of the coolest– And I’ve gotten this several times, the reaction of this album, is people say, “It makes me feel like I was in high school again.”

SP: They’re like, “Man, this makes me feel like when I first discovered metal, man.” and it’s like, I can’t tell if–” Some people are like “It makes me feel like I was in junior high school.” All right, same kind of vibe. That’s a really cool reaction because I remember how I was when I first got into metal, you know, like 16 and just all about it and rocking it out in the back of a Camaro, freaking banging your head, drinking beers and going to the party, that’s really cool that that’s the emotion that we’re bringing out in some people.

To quote Sean at the end of the call…

“When you see this thing live you’re gonna be just like– Your fucking face is gonna be melted and all the other heavy metal metaphors will come true. We fulfilled the prophecy so to speak, they said it couldn’t be done and we have fulfilled a heavy metal prophecy of the Three Tremors.”

01: Invaders From The Sky 
02 Bullets For The Damned
03: When The Last Scream Fades
04: Wrath Of Asgard
05: The Cause
06: King Of The Monsters 
07: The Pit Shows No Mercy
08: Sonic Suicide
09: Fly Or Die 
10: Lust Of The Blade 
11: Speed To Burn 
12: The Three Tremors (Bonus Track) 

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