Interview with ROBERT JOHN GODFREY

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THE ENID are a progressive British rock group set up by former Barclay James Harvest music director and the Royal College of Music composer and pianist THE ENID are a progressive British rock group set up by former Barclay James Harvest music director and the Royal College of Music composer and pianist Robert John Godfrey.

Founded in 1973, RJG is one of only two original members still present in the 2016 line-up (the long-serving drummer Dave Storey worked on the band’s debut album.) Other key members in the early days included Francis Lickerish (guitars) and Steve Stewart ( guitars and bass).

We met with RJG in the splendid rock ‘n’ roll Sanctum Soho Hotel which were, on very day we met, about to show-off for the first time, their fabulous “lost photograph” of Jimi Hendrix. It will take a place of honour in the aesthetically pleasing reception area of the hotel, to accompany their famous stained glass Jimi Hendrix artwork.

Image by Paul Michael Hughes

Image by Paul Michael Hughes

We had arranged to meet with Robert John Godfrey to discuss the new ENID album titled DUST — the third and final chapter of a trilogy that started in 2010 with ‘Journey’s End’ followed by ‘Invicta’ in 2012.

DUST is The Enid’s 14th studio record and will be out April 1st 2016.

Was it always meant to be a Trilogy?

“I knew it couldn’t be one part and I had a loose plan… I knew what Journey’s End would be about and I knew I’d do it it in three parts. But, as far as the content is concerned —though I had a plan about the ingredients — rather like a chef would have, I didn’t actually have any idea how I was gonna “cook it” … and then some new ingredients showed up… in the form of Joe…” [Payne, vocals.]

You didn’t really imagine you would be writing vocal works?

“Well I did In the very early days… because we [originally] had a vocalist but he unfortunately killed himself in 1975 [In The Region Of The Summer Stars was originally composed as a largely vocal album, but the band’s singer Peter Roberts killed himself on New Year’s Day.] And the band were faced with with the question “What do we do now?” We’ve got studios booked, we’ve got a backer… we were living in an extended family of people and I felt I was responsible for looking after them, and so it was a question of, well — to keep us all together — to give us some sort of chance of a life, let’s carry on with this band. See what happens. And what has happened is where we are now! ”

So you kept it together as a family?

“Yes, it was very common in the 1960s and into the early 1970s for bands to be sharing flats and houses together. YES did it — they had to… it was the only way they could manage — PINK FLOYD did it, ERIC CLAPTON had a place which became The Pheasantry in the King’s Road, London [they hosted gigs by Lou Reed, Queen and Hawkwind in the early days] and in fact countless bands did this… they often rented farmhouses, for example, to live in and to work from. To concentrate on their music. It was the only way…”

Is it still the only way?

“Well, we live in a world now that is very resistant to the concept of extended family (of people who are not related to each other) but the benefits of it, a bit like the European Union, is a kind of “shared sovereignty” that you “give up” some of your privacy to make room for other people… so the benefits — not just financial — but also social… Of being able to all sit around a single fire or at a single dinner table eating the same meal together … are clear. It’s a good alternative way of doing things and in the case of The Enid we have had to do things that way…”

Long-standing drummer Dave Storey worked on the debut album ...

Long-standing drummer Dave Storey worked on the debut album …

Because of finances?

“Well, at least since the days when it was possible to get massive financial support from major record companies — to enable you to go into the studio and record five crap albums before you got a hit one — at least band’s like Pink Floyd were able to get into a studio and experiment.”

“Back in those days record companies were music lovers first. And corporate people second. And so when the label saw Pink Floyd they must have said, “Well, here’s a talented bunch of good looking boys… we don’t understand the scene … so let’s just put some investment into this and see what happens.”

“EMI funded a lot of stuff that perhaps didn’t get anywhere, by adopting this method, but they also funded a lot of bloody good stuff too. But by the time The Enid came along and punk had arrived… the music business had started to become commoditized in a way where it hadn’t been before.”

Commoditized ?

“Yes, hitherto the record buying public was largely confined to those people who had been sufficiently interested in music of all kinds to go and buy a Dansette record player or a Dynatron radiogram if you had the funds. Gradually, hi-fi began to be marketed as furniture. And that started the whole thing of “coffee table albums” (rather like the encyclopedia business of the 1950s) — first of all people come and try to sell you a bookshelf and then later they come along and sell you the Encyclopædia Britannica — so you could have these things on your shelf, to improve the home….”

“So we then had a record business that was more interested in selling records to consumers than in the music. And The Enid came along just at a time when the business was going through that change… so we had to find a different business model and I think the reason why I won my Visionary Award [Progressive Music Awards 2014] was probably not because of my views about life and death, but because I had the foresight to see that it was possible to do a “crowdfunding” thing back in the early days — the 1980s — before anybody had done any of this. And this pointed the way ahead for [British Prog Rock band] Marillion for example — who having been very unfairly “chucked out” — I think — from their label, found themselves in a difficult position and thought to themselves “Well, we have seen The Enid doing this for themselves… we can do it too.” So they were able to take this crowdfunding model to move ahead.”

“Now, I am not sure how much longer crowd-funding will remain a sensible way of going about things… but at the moment it is the right way to do it. For us, certainly.”

prog is bog

And the nice thing about crowdfunding, in our opinion, is that you take along the fans with you. On your journey of discovery… They are, by the very nature of the model that you propose, your partners in delivering fresh music …

“Well that’s right… That’s the reason why I am stepping down on 2nd April is so that I can join “My Family” which are my fans… And I am going to go there to spend the rest of my days with them. And trying to forge a fairly small community of very generous supporters — largely middle aged — and I need to increase that fan-base too. Because, otherwise, we cannot survive. For example, we’ve done all the figures and, apparently, after all our activities this year… after we have sold-out all our shows, when we have sold every record we think we’re gonna sell and sold all our merchandise (and taking into account the support we get from the Enidi) … We are still only going to make a profit of six hundred pounds!

“So we have got to do something [RJG hits the arms of his chair emphatically as he makes his point] about increasing membership. Where that is going to come from? It will come from a younger audience … and I want to help to motivate that…”

How did you get into the prog-rock scene?

“Well, I got thrown out of the Royal College of Music for rolling… for skinning up. And, of course I wasn’t trying to be rock ‘n’ roll… I was simply trying to become a concert pianist. But it’s true I did have friends who were fairly naughty…”

“At about that time I knew Kit Lambert (manager of The Who) who I knew because he was the son of a very famous British composer … Kit was a producer for The Who and he ran a record label together with Terence Stamp’s brother [Chris Stamp ] and that was really almost my first “intro” into the “other world” of non-classical music. But I was very into it as far as the culture was concerned… I was intrigued by all this stuff that was going on. And then I found myself living next door to Peter Jenner and Andrew King [managers and producers for PINK FLOYD.] They had [rock music management company] Blackhill Enterprises. When I met them they had just stopped managing PINK FLOYD but they had a few other bands and BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST were one of those… And so, through Barclay James Harvest, I met Norman Smith [engineer at EMI who worked on studio albums for PINK FLOYD] and I had an opportunity to start learning about the recording side of things.”

My Generation photo

Image by © Neil Mach

What is your main message to readers, today?

“My generation has made a big mess of this world. And the people who are going to have to clean it up are the people who have just left school and university. There’s a proportion of those people that I’m interested in … They are sensitive, they’re intelligent and they are the ones who are going to be capable of trying to tackle some of our problems.”

“So therefore [in prog music] I want to get all away from this “Fairies at the bottom of the garden” attitude …”

“The thing that pisses me off so much about the prog scene is that it is “all about” muso rock. It’s all about people […] who possess all the talent and all the production genius […] but who offer absolutely no content that is memorable or meaningful. ”

“Musos were always a problem… But it wasn’t a big problem because they were always overshadowed by the truly creative, truly progressive bands of their day. Bands like YES, GENESIS and PROCOL HARUM or the R ‘n’ B side which started with Jack Bruce and the supergroup CREAM [their live performances went on to influence progressive rock acts such as Rush.] And there was the pop side… with Pet Sounds and Brian Wilson and the Beatles, obviously, with George Martin.”

“So we had this terrific range of bands coming from all different strands of the popular music culture wanting to “push the envelope” and to do something wonderful. And some of them did. And it changed the whole perspective of it’s time … The early 1970s blossomed in terms of film, in terms of fashion and progressiveness was a movement…”

“Now prog is just bog!”

“Most of it is now meaningless, shallow nonsense… It is either a poor parody of things gone past … Or is a cynical attempt to try and feed the “prog community” with the sort of stuff they are used to. So now we have: Nothing challenging, no new ideas and nothing behind it…”

“The Enid are different from that …”

Thank you Robert John Godfrey
RJG was talking to @neilmach 2016 © at Sanctum Soho Hotel
The Enid are appearing at HRH PROG 2016
And continue their Dust Show (directed by illusionist Simon Drake, best know for his work on Kate Bush’s Tour of Life) which concludes at London, Cadogan Hall 2nd April
Order The Bridge now from the ENID SITE: http://www.theenid.co.uk/

Founded in 1973, RJG is one of only two original members still present in the 2016 line-up (the long-serving drummer Dave Storey worked on the band’s debut album.) Other key members in the early days included Francis Lickerish (guitars) and Steve Stewart ( guitars and bass).

We met with RJG in the splendid rock ‘n’ roll Sanctum Soho Hotel which were, on very day we met, about to show-off for the first time, their fabulous “lost photograph” of Jimi Hendrix. It will take a place of honour in the aesthetically pleasing reception area of the hotel, to accompany their famous stained glass Jimi Hendrix artwork.

Image by Paul Michael Hughes

Image by Paul Michael Hughes

We had arranged to meet with Robert John Godfrey to discuss the new ENID album titled DUST — the third and final chapter of a trilogy that started in 2010 with ‘Journey’s End’ followed by ‘Invicta’ in 2012.

DUST is The Enid’s 14th studio record and will be out April 1st 2016.

Was it always meant to be a Trilogy?

“I knew it couldn’t be one part and I had a loose plan… I knew what Journey’s End would be about and I knew I’d do it it in three parts. But, as far as the content is concerned —though I had a plan about the ingredients — rather like a chef would have, I didn’t actually have any idea how I was gonna “cook it” … and then some new ingredients showed up… in the form of Joe…” [Payne, vocals.]

You didn’t really imagine you would be writing vocal works?

“Well I did In the very early days… because we [originally] had a vocalist but he unfortunately killed himself in 1975 [In The Region Of The Summer Stars was originally composed as a largely vocal album, but the band’s singer Peter Roberts killed himself on New Year’s Day.] And the band were faced with with the question “What do we do now?” We’ve got studios booked, we’ve got a backer… we were living in an extended family of people and I felt I was responsible for looking after them, and so it was a question of, well — to keep us all together — to give us some sort of chance of a life, let’s carry on with this band. See what happens. And what has happened is where we are now! ”

So you kept it together as a family?

“Yes, it was very common in the 1960s and into the early 1970s for bands to be sharing flats and houses together. YES did it — they had to… it was the only way they could manage — PINK FLOYD did it, ERIC CLAPTON had a place which became The Pheasantry in the King’s Road, London [they hosted gigs by Lou Reed, Queen and Hawkwind in the early days] and in fact countless bands did this… they often rented farmhouses, for example, to live in and to work from. To concentrate on their music. It was the only way…”

Is it still the only way?

“Well, we live in a world now that is very resistant to the concept of extended family (of people who are not related to each other) but the benefits of it, a bit like the European Union, is a kind of “shared sovereignty” that you “give up” some of your privacy to make room for other people… so the benefits — not just financial — but also social… Of being able to all sit around a single fire or at a single dinner table eating the same meal together … are clear. It’s a good alternative way of doing things and in the case of The Enid we have had to do things that way…”

Long-standing drummer Dave Storey worked on the debut album ...

Long-standing drummer Dave Storey worked on the debut album …

Because of finances?

“Well, at least since the days when it was possible to get massive financial support from major record companies — to enable you to go into the studio and record five crap albums before you got a hit one — at least band’s like Pink Floyd were able to get into a studio and experiment.”

“Back in those days record companies were music lovers first. And corporate people second. And so when the label saw Pink Floyd they must have said, “Well, here’s a talented bunch of good looking boys… we don’t understand the scene … so let’s just put some investment into this and see what happens.”

“EMI funded a lot of stuff that perhaps didn’t get anywhere, by adopting this method, but they also funded a lot of bloody good stuff too. But by the time The Enid came along and punk had arrived… the music business had started to become commoditized in a way where it hadn’t been before.”

Commoditized ?

“Yes, hitherto the record buying public was largely confined to those people who had been sufficiently interested in music of all kinds to go and buy a Dansette record player or a Dynatron radiogram if you had the funds. Gradually, hi-fi began to be marketed as furniture. And that started the whole thing of “coffee table albums” (rather like the encyclopedia business of the 1950s) — first of all people come and try to sell you a bookshelf and then later they come along and sell you the Encyclopædia Britannica — so you could have these things on your shelf, to improve the home….”

“So we then had a record business that was more interested in selling records to consumers than in the music. And The Enid came along just at a time when the business was going through that change… so we had to find a different business model and I think the reason why I won my Visionary Award [Progressive Music Awards 2014] was probably not because of my views about life and death, but because I had the foresight to see that it was possible to do a “crowdfunding” thing back in the early days — the 1980s — before anybody had done any of this. And this pointed the way ahead for [British Prog Rock band] Marillion for example — who having been very unfairly “chucked out” — I think — from their label, found themselves in a difficult position and thought to themselves “Well, we have seen The Enid doing this for themselves… we can do it too.” So they were able to take this crowdfunding model to move ahead.”

“Now, I am not sure how much longer crowd-funding will remain a sensible way of going about things… but at the moment it is the right way to do it. For us, certainly.”

prog is bog

And the nice thing about crowdfunding, in our opinion, is that you take along the fans with you. On your journey of discovery… They are, by the very nature of the model that you propose, your partners in delivering fresh music …

“Well that’s right… That’s the reason why I am stepping down on 2nd April is so that I can join “My Family” which are my fans… And I am going to go there to spend the rest of my days with them. And trying to forge a fairly small community of very generous supporters — largely middle aged — and I need to increase that fan-base too. Because, otherwise, we cannot survive. For example, we’ve done all the figures and, apparently, after all our activities this year… after we have sold-out all our shows, when we have sold every record we think we’re gonna sell and sold all our merchandise (and taking into account the support we get from the Enidi) … We are still only going to make a profit of six hundred pounds!

“So we have got to do something [RJG hits the arms of his chair emphatically as he makes his point] about increasing membership. Where that is going to come from? It will come from a younger audience … and I want to help to motivate that…”

How did you get into the prog-rock scene?

“Well, I got thrown out of the Royal College of Music for rolling… for skinning up. And, of course I wasn’t trying to be rock ‘n’ roll… I was simply trying to become a concert pianist. But it’s true I did have friends who were fairly naughty…”

“At about that time I knew Kit Lambert (manager of The Who) who I knew because he was the son of a very famous British composer … Kit was a producer for The Who and he ran a record label together with Terence Stamp’s brother [Chris Stamp ] and that was really almost my first “intro” into the “other world” of non-classical music. But I was very into it as far as the culture was concerned… I was intrigued by all this stuff that was going on. And then I found myself living next door to Peter Jenner and Andrew King [managers and producers for PINK FLOYD.] They had [rock music management company] Blackhill Enterprises. When I met them they had just stopped managing PINK FLOYD but they had a few other bands and BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST were one of those… And so, through Barclay James Harvest, I met Norman Smith [engineer at EMI who worked on studio albums for PINK FLOYD] and I had an opportunity to start learning about the recording side of things.”

My Generation photo

Image by © Neil Mach

What is your main message to readers, today?

“My generation has made a big mess of this world. And the people who are going to have to clean it up are the people who have just left school and university. There’s a proportion of those people that I’m interested in … They are sensitive, they’re intelligent and they are the ones who are going to be capable of trying to tackle some of our problems.”

“So therefore [in prog music] I want to get all away from this “Fairies at the bottom of the garden” attitude …”

“The thing that pisses me off so much about the prog scene is that it is “all about” muso rock. It’s all about people […] who possess all the talent and all the production genius […] but who offer absolutely no content that is memorable or meaningful. ”

“Musos were always a problem… But it wasn’t a big problem because they were always overshadowed by the truly creative, truly progressive bands of their day. Bands like YES, GENESIS and PROCOL HARUM or the R ‘n’ B side which started with Jack Bruce and the supergroup CREAM [their live performances went on to influence progressive rock acts such as Rush.] And there was the pop side… with Pet Sounds and Brian Wilson and the Beatles, obviously, with George Martin.”

“So we had this terrific range of bands coming from all different strands of the popular music culture wanting to “push the envelope” and to do something wonderful. And some of them did. And it changed the whole perspective of it’s time … The early 1970s blossomed in terms of film, in terms of fashion and progressiveness was a movement…”

“Now prog is just bog!”

“Most of it is now meaningless, shallow nonsense… It is either a poor parody of things gone past … Or is a cynical attempt to try and feed the “prog community” with the sort of stuff they are used to. So now we have: Nothing challenging, no new ideas and nothing behind it…”

“The Enid are different from that …”

Thank you Robert John Godfrey
RJG was talking to @neilmach 2016 © at Sanctum Soho Hotel
The Enid are appearing at HRH PROG 2016
And continue their Dust Show (directed by illusionist Simon Drake, best know for his work on Kate Bush’s Tour of Life) which concludes at London, Cadogan Hall 2nd April
Order The Bridge now from the ENID SITE: http://www.theenid.co.uk/

Interview with AMBERIAN DAWN

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Amberian Dawn is a Finnish metal band who hone their sound-brand with artistic precision, creating an extremely refined symphonic melodic-metal product.

Their music is based around the songwriting of the band’s founding member, guitar and keyboard virtuoso, Tuomas Seppälä.

Amberian Dawn have released four studio albums since 2008 and during these years they have toured in Europe three times with bands like Epica, Van Canto, Tristania.

In 2013 they released a re-recorded compilation album Re-Evolution with their new singer, Capri.

Their new album Innuendo was released this October on Napalm Records.

I spoke to Tuomas about touring with the band, new songs from INNUENDO and the influence of Queen:

Congratulations on your release of INNUENDO. Are you feeling proud of the recording?
Do you think that the new songs are still influenced by Finnish and Norse mythology?

 
I don’t write any lyrics for AD but I know that Capri isn’t using mythologies as topic so much on our new songs. The songs are lyrically more fantasy based nowadays. Also some traditional themes like ”love” and ”hate” as far as I know.
 
What has it been like touring with Delain & The Gentle Storm ?
 
Well, I liked the tour and especially I liked all Delain members. It seemed like they’re liking our music too and maybe that’s why we got a chance to tour with them. All kinds of things always happens on road..but you probably know an old saying — what happens on road stays on the road”

 
The most exciting show on tour is always the very first one. That’s when you’re first time on stage with a new crew and all technical things aren’t perhaps going so smoothly yet.”
 
How do you deal with routine comparisons with the previous singer? (After all, it is the second studio album with Capri and yet folk are still talking about Heidi Parviainen.
 
I’ll let people compare our singers with each other if they want to. I still don’t feel like I should anyhow defend our new singer or something…I know that Capri is a perfect choice for us at the moment. Some of our old fans don’t like her but seems like the majority of our old fans are loving her too. It’s still true that you cannot please everyone no matter what you’ll do. You just got to believe in yourself and believe that the choices you make as composer and as a band leader are the right ones.

 
 We believe that new songs, such as “Fame & Glory”, “Ladyhawk” and “Innuendo”, are catchy, perhaps lighter and more pop than ever before. Is that something that the band has deliberately set out to achieve?
 
When I’m composing new songs, I never set myself any goals..instead I just let myself go and everything what comes out, comes out naturally.I don’t want to force myself doing any certain kind of songs. It’s just happened lately that some part of my music is been more pop-rock orientated. It’s nothing planned. But at the same there’s still a lot of songs with more ‘traditional’ AD—elements too…speed and heaviness are present in different songs.

 
It’s even been argued, by some, that this album sounds like a ‘new beginning’ for the band?

 
I also feel like this album is a new beginning for AD. There’s been a lot of changes in the past and for a couple of years now things seem to be just right and we’ve grown together as a solid band. This new beginning also means that I’m going to be even more bold to do different kinds of experiments with different kinds of music in the future too. You cannot expect AD to sound exactly same on all studio albums. Something new is always on the table.
 

Capri Amberian Dawn

Capri Amberian Dawn

 
How much of this ‘fresh sound’ is attributable to the production work of Mikko Karmilla? Or are your compostions just becoming more commercially flavoured?
 
Mixing engineer is the heart of album sound. Mikko Karmila is perfect guy for us at the moment for that job. He really gave our songs that certain final touch, which is magical. I’m really happy with his work.

About my songs, it’s true that some songs are more soft and could also be described as ”commercially flavoured” but that’s just something I’ve been liked to do. That all can still change in a heart beat if I feel like it. It’s also possible that I’ll continue on this path which started already on Magic Forest album. Time will tell.

 
We like the idea of “The Court Of Mirror Hall” — Do you ever feel caught between two opposing cultures and / or two contrasting genres? If so, do you think that the sense of conflict helps (or hinders) the artistic process?
 

Yes, with some softer songs like ”The Court” I’ve been in the middle of heavy metal and pop music. But it’s fun to mix these two elements together and make something new of those. Some people are going to like it and some are not. I don’t want to think about the people’s reactions too much, I just make that kind of music I feel right.

 
Finally, how much was Queen’s “Innuendo” album an influence on the Amberian Dawn album?
 

Not so much but it’s true that I’m a Queen fan (like rest of the band too) and that’s why there’s some Queen- influences on all of our studio albums. Freddie was an amazing singer.

 
Thank you, Tuomas Seppälä
 

Amberian Dawn were talking to @neilmach 2015 ©

 
Link:https://www.facebook.com/amberiandawn/

 

 

Interview with Groovy Rock ’n’ Roll Quartet HONEYMOON DISEASE

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The grooving rock quartet HONEYMOON DISEASE from Gothenburg, Sweden create rewarding guitar-riffs and structural masterpieces inspired by 1970s flavoured rock ‘n’ roll.

Rock fans will love their vintage sound, which has qualities reminiscent of Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy and even Rainbow.

In the Spring of 2015 the band signed to Napalm Records. Their debut album ‘The Transcendence’ is out this week.

I chatted to Jimi — the drummer from Honeymoon Disease — about the transitory nature of life, touring Europe and muscle cars:

 
Do you believe that your art operates beyond the ‘normal’ levels? In other words, do you think your sounds ‘rise above’ others in the field?
 

I very much hope so, haha…

Our goal with the new album was to create a retro rock feeling but with a very modern sound. A lot of bands try so hard today to just sound completely analogue and old, which is really great. But we didn’t just want to go the whole way back in time but also try to not be afraid of some modern touch. The producer Ola Ersfjord and co-producer Nicke Andersson (Imperial State Electric, ex-The Hellacopters) really helped us out a lot, and together with them I really believe we found a great and transcending sound for the record.

 
In “Gotta Move” you suggest that life is transitory — impermanent — is that how you feel musically and artistically too?

 
Gotta Move is about the tempting stuff that’s not really good for you, but that always drags you back even though you really should’ve leaved it a long time ago. It’s the moment you really understand and take the decision to be strong, break out and move on.

I really think we all feel that way musically too. This particular song was created when I just had left my old band to join Honeymoon Disease. So for me it was really a transition period. I believe all of us had the feeling right then that we wanted to go full throttle.”

 
How hard it is to define and maintain relationships whilst on the road with the band? Is the experience any different to ordinary folk i.e. non-musicians?
 

Of course it’s hard sometimes. We all have jobs beside the band and to work that out we need to do our band business on almost all the spare time and vacations we get, which unfortunately often affects other relationships. It’s important to find a good balance. Try to maintain contact even though you’re away from town. Most of our friends play and tour too so they understand the situation and it comes natural that you meet up in that environment. But for non-musician friends it’s sometimes harder. When it comes to our partners we always try to plan and help each other out, which mean that it is in everyone’s interest to spend time with our loved ones. So with some team work everyone is happy.”

 
Are you looking forwards to touring with Avatarium & The Vintage Caravan? [Check tour dates below]
 

Yes! We’re sure it’s going to be an amazing trip! It’s our first European tour and we’re really fortunate to get this chance to play with two awesome bands at so many cool venues. All three bands have a different sound and I believe it’s a great combination of heavy doom, blues and speedy rock’n’roll. A really fun mix and a great rock package for the audience.”

 
Your tour includes Speedfest Eindhoven — have you played that before?
 

“We have never played Speedfest, nor in Netherlands. That’s a show all of us really looking forward to. The line-up at Speedfest is freakin’ unbelievable and we’re really happy to be a part of it. I personally have played in Netherlands before and it’s indeed a lovely country for rock musicians.”

 
How is new bass-man Nicklas Hellqvist fitting in?
 

Nick is fitting in perfectly! He’s a wonderful guy and a great bass player who came to the first jam session and just nailed almost all songs. He joined the band this fall and we’ve done three shows together before the tour. The album was recorded in April so the former bassist Anders “Admiral” Bergstedt plays on the entire record.

 
If you could have a 1970s muscle-car, which would you choose? Are they still cool?
 

My dad had a lot of different American muscle-cars when I grow up and we always went to classic car meetings and dragster races together. He sometimes even woke me up in the middle of the night to bring me along to the secret street races outside town. So my choice is simple, a 1969 Camaro SS. The same one my old man used to race with.”

But to be honest I don’t even have a driver’s license myself, haha. And as poor musicians you always count every penny to have the chance to go as far as possible on the road. So big bad motors aren’t to prefer. But as an answer to your question, they’re still cool!

 
Who are your heroes of 1970s rock?
 

Wow, so many super heroes from that decade. Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin of course, and also Swedish rockers like November. But my biggest heroes have always been Kiss, a band that has influenced all of us in Honeymoon Disease. They are still going strong, unfortunately, haha!

I was fortunate to see the original line-up on the reunion tour back in 97. As an 8 year old I couldn’t see Kiss as nothing else than gods, and I still do.”

 

Good luck with the new release and the tour,
Thank you very much, Honeymoon Disease
Link: http://www.honeymoondisease.com

 

Honeymoon Disease were talking to @neilmach 2015 ©

 

November tour dates with Avatarium and The Vintage Caravan

 

Interview with THUNDERMOTHER

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Stockholm’s premier all-girl rock ‘n’ roll outfit Thundermother are firing on all cylinders! Their album ‘Road Fever’ is selling well and they have been nominated for “Hardrock of the year” and “Group of the year” by GAFFA.

Although they have no dates yet confirmed, we can expect a visit to the UK soon from this terrific rocking 5 piece.

I grabbed a chance to speak to Clare Cunningham (vocals) and Filippa Nässil (lead guitar) at the famous Gibson Guitars Room in London.

We are five feisty, energetic, fun-loving girls. We really are. More so on stage...

We are five feisty, energetic, fun-loving girls. We really are. More so on stage…

 
The band had just returned from a tip-to-toe tour of Spain. We were interested to know why the band had made such a splash on the Iberian Peninsula.

 

“It’s just because we did our first tour there last year… And we got such a huge response. We were out in Spain for 10 days. It was very exciting. A lot of foreign bands that go over get a good response because Spain does not really create a lot of their own rock music, you know… But I tell you what, they are the most dedicated, crazy fans ever! They really are! They take photos long after the show is over! We loved all our shows but our favourite gig was at Estepona [Costa del Sol.] The beach, the weather, the food. everything about Estepona is so lovely. It’s paradise.”

“But I think the best show on the tour was at the Atalaya Rock Festival. We were the first non-Spanish band to ever play it. The whole town turned up at the event. It was crazy.”

 
We were keen to know all about their second album ‘Road Fever’
 

“Yes, it was released in September. It was recorded in two studios in Sweden. It’s about being on the road but there’s quite a few aspects to it. There’s ‘Rock and Roll Sisterhood’ which is about being united as sisters-in-rock. And you’ve got ‘Roadkill’ which kinda speaks for itself. You come across quite a bit of roadkill when out touring. If you see the album (physical copy) you will see our little mascot (under the disc) — he comes everywhere with us. He’s a little road-killed raccoon. He’s drinking beer! We have him on the stage with us. ”

“So, yeah, it’s about life on the road… What else? Oh yeah… ‘Vagabonds’ that was written on the road as well. We are like a family when we’re on tour. But sometimes, it’s true, we have to share the road with boys. The lads. On the European tour we shared with two male-bands [The Scams and SuperCharger]. But that’s alright. They were fine. Scandinavian guys aren’t as dirty as the guys in the UK. [Laughs.] One of the guys in one of the bands was German and he was, like, dirty. In every aspect.”

 
How would the girls describe themselves?
 

“Well, we are as described. Mothers of thunder! We are five feisty, energetic, fun-loving girls. We really are. More so on stage. We really do kinda give it everything. You have to see us live to understand how energetic we really are.”

 
So how is the energy reproduced onto the recordings?
 

“It is hard. We do hope we can capture the same energy in a studio. And people ask us “Which do you prefer? In the studio or live?” And we are, totally “Live” A hundred per cent. One trick is that we record the songs live. It’s 1-2-3 and it’s done in one-take. We try to avoid things being too digitally processed. We were impressed that Halestorm did their third album completely live. Of course, it’s gonna take a lot longer to produce it that way… And we think that is probably the key to why Thundermother gets that raw feel.”

Filippa gives us a riff (she’s a riff machine) and her demo is like a highly polished production...

Filippa gives us a riff (she’s a riff machine) and her demo is like a highly polished production…

 
Does the band ever feel underestimated because they are all girls?
 

“If they (the crowd) don’t know us, before they see us… then, maybe. When we arrive somewhere, we are very short (physically) and they certainly think we are younger than we are! Which is brilliant! But as we get more and more, like, famous… people will know what to expect.”

“For people who don’t know us, it makes them go: “Oh! All females!” So being an all-girl band has got its pros and cons. So it’s a unique selling point (for anyone who doesn’t know us) but on the other hand we would rather be known ‘just’ as a rock band… Why mention that we are all females? Then we would be contributing to a more equal society. But it’s true, on the flip-side, it does help. But we would prefer not to be called a ‘girl band’. We are ‘Female Classic Rockers.’”

 
Do all band members write the songs?
 

“Filippa writes the music and she does half of the lyrics with Clare. It works really good! Filippa gives us a riff (she’s a riff machine) and her demo is like a highly polished production… But my singing is shit (says Filippa) “Ya da da da da…” I have to say “Imagine Clare singing…” And then, of course, when you get together and start rehearsing as a band, things come up, things are said… And there are some changes.”

 
So what are the plans for Thundermother? What’s happening next year, for example?
 

“The plan is we are playing a couple of shows with W.A.S.P on the Rockklassiker boat.”

“And there is talk of maybe coming to London some time next year. It would be lovely to come for a weekend. And we are gonna do a headlining tour in May (probably) in Europe and then, for sure, we will visit the UK. We love coming to Britain. And Filippa loves curries. So that will lure her back! Madras! Madras!”

 
Well, I am certainly looking forwards to seeing you. And congratulations on delivering such an exciting album…
 

Thank you, Thundermother

 
Thundermother was talking to Neil Mach
 
Link: https://www.facebook.com/thundermother

 

Interview with the Winners of the UK Blues Challenge — RED BUTLER

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RED BUTLER from Brighton (UK) play an amalgam of blues styles (think classic Etta James) thrillingly mixed with modern interpretations of blue-tinged rock reminiscent of Glasgow’s King King.

Their songs — for example ‘Last Page Of The Blues’ — are feverish hot, and played fiercely and sensually by Alex on lead guitar, with oily-smooth bass-work from Mike Topp. And dynamic rhythms setting a vigorous pace, from the endearing Charlie Simpson on drums.

Vocalist Jane Pearce never stops moving and grooving. She has more energy than a king-snake trapped in a bucket… Spiraling, arching and tantalizing her way through every beat of every song.

Red Butler - Their songs are feverish hot...

Red Butler – Their songs are feverish hot…

We met up with the band at the excellent Ilfracombe Blues Festival after it was announced that Red Butler will be representing the UK in the 6th European Blues Challenge (to be held in Tuscany, Italy next April, 2016.) The band won the 2nd UK Blues Challenge on Saturday 24th October 2015 at the Boom Boom Club in Sutton, Surrey.

We started our conversation by discussing their relative youth. How did they fit into the relatively ‘senior’ British Blues scene? (The average age of Red Butler is just 22. The founder member of the band, their astonishing lead guitarist, Alex Butler, is only 21.) How would they get younger fans to ‘connect’ with Blues Music and how would they get the young to come and see their live shows?

“We try to avoid playing old, slow blues songs. If you take the blues, like we do, and cross-it (like we do) and we spice it up a little, then you can get some younger people. It’s also how we market the shows. For us, it’s all about image and energy. So, for example, if we had marketed our shows as ‘Come listen to our Blues band’ then [younger audiences] wouldn’t turn up. Perhaps, if we said, ‘Come listen to our Rock Blues band…’ Then they would hear the word ‘Rock‘ first and they might be interested… ”

“If we told our fans ‘We’re playing a blues festival…’ They would say ‘We don’t wanna come!” But if we say, ‘We’ve got a gig in Brighton, come and see us…’ They might turn up. If we spoke to fans after the show, and we asked ‘What style of music do we play?’ They would probably answer ‘We don’t know!’ If we asked them, ‘Is it blues?’ They would say, probably, ‘No.’ And that’s because young people see the ‘Blues’ as basically 12-bars. Or they think it’s gonna be one guy on stage with an acoustic guitar, and that’s it. And there’s nothing wrong with that, of course, and young people need to know that it happened (Blues happened) and we want to help them appreciate and understand that. ”

“And, with our songwriting, we think that it’s important to write about something that’s happened to us, something we understand, rather than inventing a tale. That’s why it’s hard for us to play covers. Because we are then trying to convey what someone else was thinking. Though it’s nice to have a few covers. And we do our own versions… ”

“But if we play something that we’ve written as a band, we ‘feel’ it more. We understand where it ‘came’ from. We care about it more. ”

Are all the band members involved in the songwriting process?

“Yes very much. We are always jamming in rehearsals. And writing down new ideas. Quite often we can write a song, have an idea for it, either Jane writes the lyrics or we all write something together and then piece it together. Normally, the music comes first. Always together. And then comes a lot of rehearsing. ”

What’s it like having the responsibility to represent the UK at the European Blues Challenge?

“We have got a lot of preparation to do. In fact we have just had a big meeting. We are talking about not only playing (and the importance of playing and how we do it) but also the logistics of actually getting there [Tuscany.] And it’s such a big thing! So many people wanna come! So we are now talking about flying out and then sending a bus full of people from England. Of course, it’s about a day’s drive (24 hours.) But we’ll get people there! And the atmosphere for the band is incredible. Because so many people are wishing us well with it. It’s amazing the support we have had. ”

“And it still doesn’t even feel real! For us, the first thing is to have fun! And hopefully that comes across in our shows. ”

“And we know the competition will be big. Britain has never won it… There’s gonna be some incredible talent there. But we are just going to go and have as much fun as we can… and put everything into it. Like we did at Boom Boom Club. We always do our best. And it’s fair to say that we often ‘rise to an occasion’ so we say “Bring on the pressure!” We feel like musical Olympians! ”

Red Butler - It's amazing the support we have had...

Red Butler – It’s amazing the support we have had…

What is the secret of the band’s success?

“We are a band. We are hanging around together. We spend a lot of time as ‘a band.’ We talk about a lot of stuff. We have a lot of laughs. We have found that the closer you are off stage, the more it shows on stage. Often, after a theatre show, we go back to the hotel and we have a great laugh. Quite often we end up fitting four people into a [Travelodge Hotels] room! Which is just hilarious. We have fun, we have a lot of laughs. We share the god times and the bad times, too. We know that every member of the band is pulling their weight… and that’s what matters. And that ‘togetherness’ impacts on our stage performance. ”

“We all view being ‘a band’ so important. It sounds clichéd but, if one of us couldn’t do a gig, we probably wouldn’t do the show. It might sound naive and dreamy… but that’s what we thrive on, on stage. ”

Describe to those that haven’t seen your performance, what the Red Butler show is like…

“We each have our own personality on stage which we think we can look forward to developing more. We are gonna eventually be like Kiss… We are all gonna have our own ‘face’ ! ” [All laugh.]

So, along with prepping for the European Blues Challenge, what else is happening?

“We are recording in January. It’s very exciting. We are dying to play our new material… We want to try it out. Once the album is out (probably March) we will be able to play the material. We might do a few pre-release shows. Just to build up hype. ”

Red Butler - What we play is closer related to Led Zeppelin or the Foo Fighters than, say, Robert Johnson...

Red Butler – What we play is closer related to Led Zeppelin or the Foo Fighters than, say, Robert Johnson…

“And, like we were discussing before, so much of this album release is about trying to grab the attention of young people. It’s pretty much one of our biggest focuses. When you look at the musical genres you will see that Blues (as a genre) is falling behind. Country music now has louds of young followers. Jazz even has young followers. And we ask ourselves, why has blues music fallen so far behind in popularity? Because, what we play is closer related to Led Zeppelin or the Foo Fighters than, say, Robert Johnson.

“But, to be honest, if blues artists want young people in their audiences (no matter what age the band members are) they need to think seriously about dropping the 20-minute guitar solos from their sets. And they also have to realize that young people will not want to see slow blues songs. Those things don’t ‘do it’ for young people. ”

“Blues musicians need to know their audiences, be creative with their marketing, and get out there and move it a bit (for the young audiences.) A good example of doing it well is Jack White. The O2 arena was packed out when he recently played there. And the audience were all young. Yet he plays predominantly blues. Full of young people – singing the music back to him! The Strypes are another good example. They are, pretty much, a blues band. Yet they pack out venues. ”

Anything else to tell us?

“Yes, we have a tour supporting Danny Bryant in February, 2016. He’s a really great bloke and we are really looking forward to that tour. It’s about a 12 date tour… ” (details below).

We can’t wait to hear the new album and we look forwards to seeing you on the Danny Bryant tour.

Thank you, Red Butler.

Red Butler were talking to Neil Mach at the Ilfracombe Blues, Rhythm and Rock Festival in North Devon, UK.
All images: @neilmach 2015 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/redbutlermusic

UK Live Shows 2016

Wed. 10th February_Robin 2_Bilston_Danny Bryant Support
Thurs. 11th February_Old Firestation_Carlisle_Danny Bryant Support
Fri. 12th February_Voodoo Rooms_Edinburgh_Danny Bryant Support
Sat. 13th February_Meeting Rooms_Elland_Danny Bryant Support
Sun. 14th February_Engine Shed_Lincoln_Danny Bryant Support
Thurs. 18th February_The Leopard_Doncaster_Danny Bryant Support
Fri. 19th February_The Rescue Rooms_Nottingham_Danny Bryant Support
Sat. 20th February_Raven Hall_Corby_Danny Bryant Support
Sun. 21st February_Tithe Barn_Bishops Cleeve_Danny Bryant Support
Thurs. 25th February_Public Halls_Harpenden_Danny Bryant Support
Fri. 26th February_Old Clee Club_Grimsby_Danny Bryant Support
Sat. 27th February_The Waterfront_Norwich_Danny Bryant Support
Sun. 28th February_Cleo’s_Gravesend_Danny Bryant Support

Interview with Monster Truck

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Monster Truck are a Canadian Rock n’ Roll band from Hamilton, Ontario. For an idea of their sounds think: Grand Funk Railroad meets Deep Purple At the Drive-In.

Their first album “Furiosity” was released in 2013. The band have announced that their second studio album entitled “Sittin’ Heavy” is to be released via Mascot Records in February, 2016.

We chatted to guitarist Jeremy Widerman in London about trucks, Sittin’ Heavy and how this whole thing started…

Jer had spent the previous day thundering around the Metropolis in a monster truck (albeit a roadworthy smallish one.) But do Brits ‘get’ Monster Trucks? If you asked an average englishlander what a ‘Truck’ was is they would probably tell you it was a lorry…

“Yeah! It was a lotta fun running around London in a truck. When our fans in Canada woke up and found out what we were doing, they were, like “Hey! Oh! Why weren’t you doing that in Canada?” And we were, like “I dunno. Maybe the people who had the balls to pull it off are over here!” So it created a bit of a scene… ”

Monster Truck 2016 Canadian Tour Dates now up

Monster Truck 2016 Canadian Tour Dates now up

Of course, many associate power and energy with Monster Trucks.

“I think that it works better over here. In the USA and Canada they still have Monster Truck shows all the time. Everywhere. So some people [back home] think that our name sucks. They make fun out of of it. ”

“It’s fair to say that it certainly started as a bit of a ‘joke’ name for us. There were a few times when we thought about, possibly, changing it. But I never wanted to…because I loved the simplicity of it. And I do think it conveys the idea of what we are trying to do musically, really well. And we were very happy to see that when we got over to Europe and the UK everyone who came to see us was saying ‘That’s a great band name…’ And we were ‘Yes!’ [He throws his fist in the air in an excited and victorious gesture.] Because we were taking shit for the name in Canada. I think it still conveys the same thing back home but it’s so cliched. It’s a bit corny. Because people think the ‘Monster Trucks’ themselves and the ‘Monster Truck shows‘ are a bit corny. (Though half the people still love it…) But there’s a certain beauty to the band name… because it is so simple. When you hear the band name you get this kinda mental picture of what you think the band is gonna sound like and we fulfill that for people. That’s a real comfort-level thing. When someone hears the band name… they have a vision of what they think they’re gonna hear… And then they hear it! It’s very comforting (for people.) It’s quite the opposite of what could happen… You could name your band Monster Truck and then sound like Oasis! That would confuse the shit out of people!”

It was a lotta fun running around London in a truck...

It was a lotta fun running around London in a truck…

So what’s Jer’s background in music?

“I started out listening to a lot of classic rock as a kid. My father was a huge classic rock fan. He had lots of great vinyl. He got me started on Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath… Then I forged my own path in the punk rock realm, as a teenager, (at that age you are gonna naturally rebel against anything your parents are into) — then once I got tired of that, I ended up finding myself where I first started. With those same great bands. By then I was in my mid-to-late twenties. And that was about the time that this band started. That was the Spring of 2009. ”

“I was friends with everybody who is in the group now. Ahead of time. I had been friends with John [Jon Harvey ] our singer for many years. We had been good friends and had a lot of the same favorites from the Classic Rock era. We bonded over a mutual love for Grand Funk Railroad [1970s American blues rock.] And we would sit there and romanticize Zeppelin, Sabbath, Floyd and all those bands that made a difference. Though we noticed that Grand Funk got lost by the wayside a little bit. Mostly, perhaps, because they changed their ‘sound’ over the course of the mid to late 1970s. ”

“I knew Steve our drummer [Steve Kiely ] from a previous band I was in. And I met Brandon on tour when I was with that band.” [Brandon Bliss, keys.]

“So once we had the idea of forming Monster Truck it was easy to grab all those guys together (they are all my favorite people from different facets of my life) and they were all in a position to start another group. To this day I still think it’s the strongest element (or at least the biggest factor in our success to this point) the four members really coming together in a way that kinda fits together like a jig-saw. Everyone has their own vibe. But they’re all cut from the same cloth. And they all add a different element to the group. That is extremely useful and powerful when it comes to creativity. ”

Jer mentions Pink Floyd quite a lot in conversation. Were they a major influence?

“Well, all the bands I mentioned came from the era of my father’s tape collection. But it was simply that I had Pink Floyd’s The Wall on tape, as a kid. And it scared the shit out of me. It really hit me. And cut me deeply. From an emotional standpoint. Because it’s such a frightening album. For a little kid. I would listen with my headphones on. With such attention. It had to have an impact. ”

Is it fair to say that the music of Monster Truck is elementary?

“Yes, I think that’s exactly what it is. And, again, it comes back to the band name and the simplicity of it all. And, literally, that was the conscious design. It was a design decision that we made on the very first day we had a rehearsal. ”

“Although it’s fair to add that, back then, the decision was made so that we could get drunk and play at the same time. [Laughs.] It’s changed dramatically from that. But it’s something that we thought about and something that’s been a huge factor in our success. And I am glad that it reverberates in a lot of positive ways. ”

How important is the keyboards element in the Monster Truck sound?

“What a great asset! It can do anything. It can support guitar. So if I were to take a solo that ‘bottom’ wouldn’t fall out of it. It can go off on its own and provide a lot of tension up in the higher register. So, when you need that extra gear to shift to, at the end of a song or for a climax, you’ve got that wheeee! [He provides me with a high-pitched whirring sound to simulate the sound of the organ…] It can play with the bass… and find those root notes. It basically covers the entire sonic spectrum. And can be utilized in any way that we need to support our needs. Or it can take off on its own…”

“I don’t think I even realized how great an asset it was gonna be until we really started working with it… And it was all credit to our singer/bass player Jon who basically demanded (from the second we started the band) that we needed to find a rock organ player. Literally the second I said “We should start a band called Monster Truck” He said “In that case we need to find a rock organ player…” And I didn’t understand why. Of course, I knew Deep Purple, but I didn’t understand why it was such a fundamental element to their sound. And a huge reason why they sound the way that they do. It was almost as if I needed a re-education. I needed to understand why the keyboards would become a useful tool in creating a full sonic pallete.”

Tell us about the first album “Furiosity” (released 2013 )

“It was a classic story of having your entire career (up to that point) writing your album. So we were able to ‘cherry-pick’ all the best bits for it. And get it honed down. To exactly what we wanted to have… Which was a very powerful debut album. An album that didn’t stray too far from our sounds. We didn’t want to confuse people. So a lot of the record sits in one specific area… And there’s a couple of songs that may deviate a little bit… But for the most part it’s one idea. And that’s kinda why that’s what we’ve done with this album too. We decided to kinda stick to that formula. But deviate a little further now. For us it’s walking that line of keeping the core-fans happy but at the same time, showing people that we have another side and we have another direction we are willing to delve into. And it’s true that, as we do those longer shows, we will want to have those peaks and valleys where we can bring things up to a fever pitch then bring them down to a more chilled out and jammier landscape and then smash [he claps his hands] bring ’em right back up again.”

How do you translate your famous ‘live sound’ into something that is equally vibrant and electric in the recording studio?

“That’s the hard part! Playing live, for us, is the easy part. It has been since we started. Trying to capture that into a bottle and putting it on a record is the difficult part. I don’t think we’ve been able to do that as good as we can… What I mean is that we haven’t reached our potential with that yet. The idea is, perhaps, to play things through in one take. But when you think about doing that, you really need the time to be comfortable with those songs. And we’re still not even there yet, with these songs. We play them well. But there’s that extra ‘notch’ that we can reach (once we have played the song for a year or two) where it’s effortless! ”

“But our product is the ‘live show’ and our recordings ‘support’ the live work. The recordings serve one of two purposes; it can be taken home after a show or it’s a ‘calling card’ something to introduce you to the band. And if you like the record, you are really-really gonna like the live show! And I am really glad it’s that way — and not the other way — around! I would hate to find out that people liked our albums but thought our live show was mediocre. The best compliment I can get is when someone says “I loved the record … And I thought it couldn’t get any better… Then I came and saw you live… And I’m hooked!” That’s the best complement we can get. And that’s why we do what we do.”

So what does “Sittin’ Heavy” actually mean? [The name of the new album.]

“It doesn’t mean nothing! ”

“We came up with it when we were sitting in a catering tent at Bonnaroo (Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee, USA) and we had just played our set. And we were eating the extra-big portions you always get in the States. And our drummer, Steve (Kiely) had just eaten two big plates of food. And he was saying, like “Oh! My God!” And groaning. And I was like “Are you OK there Stevie?” And Stevie says: “Oh! I am Sittin’ Heavy…”

“So I said, “Well, that’s an album title. Right there.” And everyone agreed. Yes, it would make a great album title. And I thought ‘Holy shit! Did we all just agree on something? Did it come just right outta the gate?’ And that was that. It was done. That was the new album title. ”

We are really excited to get [the new album] into people's hands...

We are really excited to get [the new album] into people’s hands…

So what are the main differences between Furiosity and Sittin’ Heavy?

“Well, the main thing was that we felt we had a lot of success with Furiosity. And we did a lot of things right on that record. We didn’t want to deviate from that too much. We really wanted to stick to that idea… But at the same time, kinda, push forwards. So it was ‘walking that line’. We don’t wanna disappoint the fan-base who love the band. You know what it’s like to love a band and love their first record then their second record is “What is this all about? We didn’t want to make that mistake. But at the same time, we didn’t want to be too safe. We didn’t want to write the same record again. So we kinda did a little of both. So we stuck with the fundamental ideas that worked on the first album. We pushed things a little further on a couple of the other songs. And I feel like we found a nice balance. We are really excited to get it into people’s hands… Our gut instinct is that we did a great job. And that it sounds really good to us! ”

Are you playing some of the songs live to audiences yet?

“No. We are rehearsing the shit out of ’em, though! And, like you said, we have become known for our live show. And so it’s really important, for us, that when we come ‘out of the gate’ with the tour that we play these new songs as well as we play our old numbers. So, right now, it’s really about rehearsing this album to death. And making sure we feel tight with it. ”

“And we have even started working on the next record too! We are having a lot of fun with it. We never stopped! We literally went from finishing this record to writing and working on the next one! We are on that creative stride right now!”

Well, congratulations, on such a great record. And we can’t wait to see your shows next year.

Thank you Monster Truck

Jeremy Widerman was talking to @neilmach 2015 ©
You can pre-order the album now from the band’s site at http://ilovemonstertruck.com/
And check out the dates of the February 2016 Live Shows too!

Interview with ANTI-FLAG

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As the American punk rock band — Anti-Flag — are heading back to Europe with more live shows [UK dates are shown below] we caught up with the band on their hectic schedule to talk to them about making the stunning American Spring album, touring Europe and making ALL OF THE POISON, ALL OF THE PAIN:

Fist, we were interested to know if the band was aware of the developing migrant crisis affecting the region… Especially since “ALL OF THE POISON, ALL OF THE PAIN” was shot on the road/in concert this summer in Belgium, Austria and Hungary…

Anti Flag Singer/Bassist Chris Barker explained:

“That’s an interesting observance. We knew that there was a crisis and at the time it was mostly in Greece. To see the reach of it reinforces a lot of the ideas behind the band anti-flag. So. Directly aware or influenced, no. But we were definitely trying to make a statement by making the video with different people from and in different territories…”

Would they want to do something about the crisis? They are going back to Germany/Austria in October? Will they be offering any solidarity with the refugees and/or the countries that have taken the bulk in?

“ Of course. We will have amnesty international at all of the shows to help us and the other people at the shows learn how we can be better informed and involved. We have invited out other groups working with refugees. We hope the shows will be places of education and inspiration. ”

Anti Flag punk rock can inspire activismWe asked if they still thought their music could unite and inspire activism?

“ I think the heart is inside everyone dissatisfied with the status quo. Upset with blatant abuse of power. Racism, sexism, homophobia. And of course we believe punk rock can inspire activism. We are products of it. ”

We asked about Justin’s cut finger…

“ He cut his finger recycling a refrigerator with his father. Smashed it really good. His playing suffered a bit but he wrapped it up well and waited till the stitches could come out. It made a few songs and their solo’s unplayable for us. But luckily we have more than enough songs. Hahaha! ”

Was it true that the band suffered a series of accidents over the summer… and only Chris Head is intact?

“ Hahaha! yeah! This is true. Pat got a kidney stone. I got hit in the face with a drum stick. Justin’s finger. The works man…”

So, do the band think it is true that they have “raised their game” with American Spring?

“ I agree with [that]. We are currently the best version of our band we have ever been. More focused and working harder than ever. I had a lot go on in my life that left me questioning the whole thing. I found solace in punk rock and these songs and my friends in and around our band…”

We asked if it was, perhaps because, on the new album the band have tried out new things … or maybe that, as a band, they have way-more creative energy right now?

“Both. We know what type of song we want to write, were better at trying to get that song out. And we worked. We wrote and rewrote, worked and reworked lyrics. The art work. All of it was pondered and pushed until we felt it was the best we could do. ”

We asked how they defended the idea that one of the best songs on the album [“Brandenburg Gate”] is basically a number by ‘Rancid’ with guest Tim Armstrong?

“ We are greatly influenced by rancid. That was part of having Tim sing on it. We weren’t hiding the fact that we love that band. But Brandenburg is way more Billy Bragg than it is rancid. And that Billy Bragg song is probably a Woody Guthrie song anyway. ”

Thank you, Anti-Flag
Anti-Flag were talking to @neilmach 2015 ©

Anti Flag Brandenburg

 

MICHAEL SCHENKER Talks about “Spirit on a Mission” and his Temple of Rock plus Check his “Communion” Here

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The legendary “Blonde BomberMichael Schenker is best known as the guitarist with UFO.

He became famous as one of the first members of the Scorpions and is the younger brother of Rudolf Schenker.

The story is that the Scorpions went on tour, after the recording of their first album, opening for the upcoming British band UFO in Germany. During the tour Michael Schenker was offered the position of lead guitarist for UFO (replacing Bernie Marsden.)

Schenker briefly re-joined the Scorpions in late 1978, when they were recording their landmark album “Lovedrive.”

Schenker has always been in demand as a guitar wizard. He auditioned for The Rolling Stones in the mid-1970s (following Mick Taylor’s dismissal.) He also auditioned for Aerosmith in 1979 after Joe Perry left.

After the death of Randy Rhoads, Ozzy Osbourne called Schenker to replace Rhoads, but at that point Schenker had already embarked on a solo career and had founded the Michael Schenker Group (MSG).

Schenker is is consistently ranked as one of the worlds greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists. He accepted his “ROCK GUITAR LEGEND” award at the Vegas Rocks! Magazine Music Awards in 2012.

Michael Schenker has released four albums with his Temple of Rock — the most recent being ‘Spirit on a Mission’ (2015.) [Reviewed in our October Print Edition available here: http://rawramp.me/get-your-printed-copy-sent/

[Check his UK Tour Dates 2016 at the end of this article.]

RAW RAMP MUSIC MAG met up with Michael Schenker in London to talk about spirit, luck and loyalty.

So, does Schenker still feel he is a man on a mission?

“Yes, I am still on a mission. Spreading the joy of music from a place of pure expression. That’s me…”

Does he feel at his most commanding at this stage of his career? Does he feel as if he is at the top of his game?

“Yeah, it’s like this. If I look back now I can see clearly that my life came in three stages: The first stage was when I unconsciously made my musical contribution to the world (in the Seventies) — Well, it was created in the Seventies — but it was for the Eighties, really. When I worked with my brother on ‘Lovedrive’ they took over and simplified what I did… ”

“And it’s more like an education because they were performing for the ‘wide mass.’ So they were out to make it simple for the ‘wide mass.’ And that has been going on for 30-40 years. It’s basically been an educational thing. With the hope that people pick up an instrument and become musicians themselves. It understanding what music means and the power of the universal language. ”

“Everybody has a space and a place where they’re good. But I kind of fearlessly go and express — I cover new ground — though, you can only express what you have… nobody can express for you. So that’s what I do. That’s my part. That’s where I feel happy.”

Wayne Findlay, Francis Buchholz, Doogie White, Herman Rarebell & Michael Schenker. Photo Credit: © John Bull

Wayne Findlay, Francis Buchholz, Doogie White, Herman Rarebell & Michael Schenker.
Photo Credit: © John Bull

“I don’t listen to music for 43 years. And I don’t copy anybody since I was Seventeen. It’s purely coming from here.” [He touches his heart as he stares at me with bright eyes.]

“And that’s why it was powerful. And that’s why it was being used in the Eighties. By Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard and all that. And the Scorpions of course. Who simplified it and made it understandable. ”

“And that was the time of the second stage for me. When I gave my brother (Rudolf) my black and white design (Lovedrive) and he asked me if he could have “Coast to Coast” (it was co-written but I gave it to him) and the “Holiday” intro was also written by myself (but I gave it to him) because he wanted to be successful in a commercial way. And for me, it was all about developing as a great guitarist. So his vision was that way (he points to the door) my vision was that way (he points to the heart of the building.) He had that jump-start. I opened door in America for them, so they could go and do what they wanted to achieve.”

“Meanwhile, my middle years were about experimenting with guitar. Getting to areas that I hadn’t been to before. And then in the ‘later’ middle years I focussed very much on personal development.”

“Then in 2008, In the Midst of Beauty I felt like something was happening. I felt I was ready for something, you know? I never enjoyed being on stage — and yet all of a sudden I had the urge to be there. ”

“So, to re-cap, in the first stage of my life I developed something (unconsciously) I didn’t know it would have such an impact on everything. But now, in my third stage, I can consciously enjoy what was created and also — because it has been 30-40 years of education — I can take things now (on the guitar) to the next ‘playing level’…”

So it was a metamorphic process for him?

“Yeah! Yeah, something like that… ”

Does Schenker think he is loyal?

“Well, it’s like this… I always say that the The Universe is like the train driver. I just sit in my compartment and do my thing. The train ( Universe) is going to go where it wants anyway… I can’t stop the train. But I can decide what I wanna do in my compartment. So I thought: “It’s time for me to make a new record.” I went to Michael Voss’s recording studio (who I knew through Gary Barden) and I put down some music that I had and asked him if he could help me with it. He was singing along to it. I said, “Hey! You can sing! Why don’t you sing on this?” And that’s how that happened. ”

Photo Credit: © Laurence Harvey

Photo Credit: © Laurence Harvey

“And then I was jamming with Herman (Rarebell – drums) in Brighton and Pete Way was there (bass player) — they heard the demo and said they wanted to become the rhythm section… And so, I didn’t have to do anything, you know! Before I knew it I had all these incredible musicians… In fact I even got a phone call from William Shatner’s agent (asking if I would play on his album) and I said, “Hey! If you do the introduction to this album, I will play on yours!” So I got Captain Kirk to speak on my album! Unbelievable! ”

“So then, I was gonna go on tour. So all of a sudden Michael Voss was unavailable. So I was thinking “ Oh My! How am I gonna do this?” So I used Doogie White (who was on the recording, also.) And at about the time of the Europe tour Pete Way got sick and I asked Francis (Buchholz) if he could play. He said, “Maybe we could play a few Scorpions songs.” And so we did. ”

“Of course, when we went into the studio to start recording Spirit on a Mission it was almost effortless. It just all came together. I had a very precise concept. I design everything. I got it ready for Doogie (White, vocals) to hear so he can become inspired by it. And I asked Wayne (Findlay, guitars and keys) to come forwards because I wanted to use more 7-strings. So now, with Wayne involved, we have an addition to the song-writing team (it’s not just Doogie and myself) — we also have the 7-strings involved. ”

“Temple of Rock is still using the Michael Schenker platform. And the idea is to make Temple of Rock stand on it’s own feet. With it’s own identity. And with it’s own unique sound. So that’s how I developed this. Step-by-step. Without losing the essence of my being. ”

So will the singer Doogie be on the next tour?

Vocalist Doogie White with Schenker - Photo Credit: © John Bull

Vocalist Doogie White with Schenker – Photo Credit: © John Bull

“Yep! Doogie White, ex –Rainbow on vocals. Plus the original rhythm section of the Scorpions. Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell. ( Incidentally, Herman Rarebell wrote “Rock You Like a Hurricane.”) And then we have Wayne Findlay (who is now an additional song-writer)”

Does Schenker believe he brings new music because he because he delivers it from his heart and soul?

“Definitely. I write from within. That’s why it’s the ‘Temple’ of rock. I have a concept and all I need is a solid screen I can paint on (which is the professional rhythm section.) ”

How does Schenker think that younger audiences will approach his ‘classic rock’ sounds?

“I don’t know what they are doing. It’s a different generation. They are processing things so quickly and differently. They had a different upbringing. I think that they just fly though life in speed-time. At light speed. Because they have to process things so fast. I will leave it to them. That’s not my concern. ”

“All I need to do is be myself. There is nothing else to it.”

Thank You, Michael Schenker.

Michael Schenker was talking to @neilmach October 2015 ©

Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock January 2016 UK Tour

Wednesday Jan 20 – The Robin 2, Bilston
Thursday Jan 21 – The Picturedrome, Holmfirth
Friday Jan 22 – Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
Saturday Jan 23 – Ironworks Venue, Inverness
Monday Jan 25 – Sage Gateshead
Tuesday Jan 26 – O2 Academy Liverpool
Thursday Jan 28 – Manchester Academy 2
Friday Jan 29 – ROCK CITY, Nottingham
Saturday Jan 30 – Islington Assembly Hall, London

London Interview with RADWIMPS — On Their Tenth Anniversary Tour

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The highly praised and hugely popular Japanese band Radwimps played their first UK gig at the O2 Academy Islington last month — October 2015.

Radwimps are: Yojiro Noda (vocals & guitar), Asia Kuwahara (guitar), Yusuke Takeda (Bass) and Satoshi Yamaguchi (Drums): all accomplished and acclaimed musicians.

The band members met in 2001 as teenagers in Yokohama. Since then, they have become the number one post-punk rock group in Japan and regularly sell-out huge stadiums at home.

Their 15 track album ‘Batsu to Maru to Tsumi To’ was released on 16 October 2015.

Originally issued in 2013, the hit album is now being presented — internationally — to accompany the band’s first live shows in Europe.

London was the last appearance in a whistle-stop mini-tour that took in Germany (Cologne and Berlin) and France (Paris.)

When we listened to the 2015 single JikkyoChuuke recently we said it was “Filled with surprising textures and amazing colours…

We met up with the band, after the London O2 Academy gig to chat about emotions, sounds, aspirations and ‘starting over‘ :

So, how was the Berlin show?

“The show was amazing… the people were amazing. And the way the people received Japanese culture and music was awesome.”

What do Japanese teenagers want from their music?

Yojiro explained: “We are not really sure about that. Because I never really think of the listeners when I am writing music and making songs. So it’s like, afterwards, you know, when you start to think about whether someone is appreciating your music. And we don’t think about age ranges or borderlines when we are creating.”

“ But [we understand that the teenagers] enjoy the extremes of our music — the dynamics of our music. The variety. Because teenagers are bored of everything, right? Everywhere! And they get stressful all the time. And they’re interested in everything. But only for five seconds, you know. Then they want to get into another thing. And, we think, our music fits that way. All of our ideas and all of our dynamics fit into that world. ”

The Radwimps lyrics have enormous depth, expressing an incredible range of emotions. If the 18th-century English poet Alexander Pope was writing words for pop songs right now, we would expect they would sound something like this! We wanted to know if such depth and poetry is normal for a Japanese rock band

The main lyricist Yojiro clarified: “I don’t think so… Japanese people hate talking about political, regional or religious issues even when you are, like, talking with friends. They don’t speak out. They don’t speak out against anything at all! Maybe that’s why I wanna speak out. It’s lie, what’s the matter with you guys? That’s what I wanted to do! Everyone has to get their head around political or religious issues so I feel so weird about not speaking out. It’s such a natural thing to put it into music. ”

Rock is for revolution…

“We hope so ”

But revolutions are different. You could start a protest, I suppose, but maybe you could start a revolution inside the person. Maybe by talking to someone directly through the headphones, you can still achieve revolution?

“Exactly. It doesn’t have to be an outward demonstration of protest. There’s revolution inside people everywhere. ”

So could some of the wonderful language be translated into English for audiences outside Japan?

“Yes, one song “Tummy” (from ‘Batsu to Maru to Tsumi to’) — I tried to re-write it in English and so I tested it out in Cologne, Germany. It kinda worked out. Half the audience expected it in the regional language. But the other half enjoyed it. What I’m thinking — for the next album — is maybe to try to write the lyrics in English — maybe half the tracks on the album anyway…”

Yusuke Takeda explained: “Yes, it was refreshing to hear that song in English — ”

How would the band describe their music to an English music-lover who has not yet experienced the Radwimps sound?

“We love Radiohead. But we are not really sure if our sounds are similar or not…”
Asia Kuwahara: “I love George Harrison — ”

Radwimps Theres revolution

We were keen to know if the band would be returning (soon) to Europe and playing Blighty again?

“Definitely, yes. It’s like another launch for us. We feel so happy about that because, when we first started out the band, every show and every piece we recorded had to be the best – the blast – each one was a new fight and a new challenge. ”

“But over ten years things have changed, all the audience knows us. They know our songs. But we still want the feeling of challenge. We still want the feeling of starting a show… just starting out again. ”

“Like last night (at the O2 Academy in London) when we got up on stage… And we started our first song… The audience was still kinda a little bit weird! They’re looking to us. Seeing how we respond. What we would do. But, after we played three or four songs, they got so energetic. And they changed! That made us so hot — ”

“Yes, it was amazing. We think audiences (especially here in Europe) are honest. They’re honest with their feelings. And they know how to express them! Perhaps Japanese people need some kind of format to express but there is no kind of ‘format’ in Europe. ”

“That’s what we loved about playing these shows. We felt the honesty and the truth coming through. We liked that so much. ”

So had the band’s tenth anniversary inspired them to visit Europe and start over?

“Kinda yes. But we have been planning a European tour for 2 or 3 years. We have been wishing to come here but it worked out — it just happened to be in that 10th anniversary year. ”

When will they be coming back to London?

“Very soon. We want to come back very soon.”

Thank you Radwimps.

The Radwimps were talking to: @neilmach 2015 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/radwimps.official
ALBUM: Batsu To Maru To Tsumi To
RELEASE DATE: 16th October 2015
SINGLE: JikkyoChuuke
RELEASED 25th September 2015

 

Interview with L.A. Singer/Songwriter BETH HART

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We meet in London’s Soho on a bright afternoon. Beth Hart is looking confident and eager — her eyes flickering with interest and expectation

We have been listening to her compelling new album ‘Better Than Home’ and we wanted to know what her own thoughts about it were.

“Its a very, very different type of record for me… from what I have done in the past” She tells us.

“Especially when it comes to the narrative … And it’s also different in the way that its more focussed (musically) and when I say that, I mean that it’s not so genre-bending. It’s not ‘all over the place’ like a lot of my records are.”

beth hart elegant dressAre her records ‘all over the place’?

“I love to do a lot of genre-bending in my records because that’s how I like to write… But on this record the producers were very, very focussed on my strong-suit which they believe is that I’m a songwriter and they wanted me to dig deeper into my vulnerability — instead of hiding around stylistic-wise. At first I didn’t know what they meant… For example, if I sing a rock song I feel so strongly about it … in fact any song that I am singing I feel really into it — otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. But they said, in their opinion, they just felt that when I write a song like “LA Song” or “Light On” it means something more. They particularly loved the writing about pain.”

“So I said to them — I don’t wanna make another record like that at all. But the producer said, ‘Listen, just have a little faith in yourself… get to work … do not co-write…Just dig and see what happens.’ So I turned in a lot of material. In fact I turned in well-over forty songs. And in that mix I was still trying to convince them ‘lets do a jazz record’ or ‘lets have some hard rock…”

It must have been hard…

“It was really frustrating, it was really hard. And at some point I realized what I was really afraid of. And that was that I was afraid to stand in my own voice.”

“I figured that if I stood in my own voice — and I was rejected by my fanbase or by a new gathering — then I wouldn’t have anyone to blame it on. I was really scared of that.”

“And I think that because I became aware of that… it made me angry. Then I told myself, ‘Lets face the fear and do it anyway.’ Because, at the end of the day, it’s not like the worlds gonna stop spinning if I’m rejected for who I really am or for what my voice really is at this time in my life. ”

“So I had to stop taking myself so seriously and just trust in the process.”

So did Beth feel more valiant now that she had gone through the process?

“Well, actually, I feel very surprised. I feel suprised that I have so much joy and faith in me.”

“ I always thought of myself as someone that was highly insecure and overly sensitive… ”

Beth Hart Int with words“And I carry a lot of shame.”

Shame?

“Yes, and I realized that [with the making of this record] there was a part of me that has a lot of faith. And trust. And hope. And I do see how beautiful it is to be alive. And it was interesting to see how scary that was… To talk about and to sing about. And to put that out there. But after that whole process was done, well… It was the most difficult experience I have ever had (making a record) by far!”

How long was the process?

“It was a year and a half of working with the producers before we ever went into the studio. It was just me turning-in song-after-song-after-song.”

“And now, the funny thing is, (and this is why the title is so perfect for this record) this process has helped me choose a new path in my writing. This is something else. It’s a new way of looking at life. And at the medium — at what I can do with that. I learnt that there is also healing and joy to be had. And it’s OK to have joy. And it’s scary because now there’s somewhere to fall.You can’t fall when you’re in sadness. You are already on the ground.”

So what has been Beth’s desire as a writer?

“Well, once I get past all my denials — which keep me from the truth — and I catch it and I find it — and the song is finished … my immediate desire is ‘May this get to people – so people can help me feel that I’m not nuts.’ ”

“Like I’m not the only one that feels this way. And I think that that’s the end-all desire. I love it when I get a clap and I realize that the audience gets it. That I’m not alone.”

Beth Hart int with words 2Isn’t ‘Better Than Home’ kinda sad. Doesn’t it mean that Beth cannot retreat to a loving place when she feels tired, lonely or starved?

“Well, no, it doesn’t mean that to me. But its interesting you say that because my sister Susan who I love dearly (we are very close) called me up and she was so angry that I had been talking badly about the family and I was saying that where I am now is better than home. But although I felt sad that she felt that way, and sad that she didn’t trust my intentions, in fact it made me understand — even deeper — what that title means. To me it means: Facing that fear. Facing the darkness — then jumping straight into it. Jumping with blind faith. Then seeing that you are surrounded by the greatest light. That you could not have found unless you went into the dark. And that’s what ‘Better Than Home’ is. It represents something that is so much better than I ever could have hoped it would be.”

So what happened to the remaining songs? Just eleven of the songs (out of a possible forty plus) made it to vinyl…

“Well, the songs that are left over either change or they go through a new metamorphoses… Or they stay as they are and find the record that they are meant to be on! ”

“If they don’t find the record to are meant to be with, them maybe they worked just privately for me. And I really trust that, if they find their way, then they were meant to…”

We wanted to know if Beth felt vulnerable when she wrote.

“I have always felt this way in my writing. But I think that, on this record, it is so much more-so. It was very uncomfortable — but I felt vulnerable in the light (instead of vulnerable in the dark.) And being vulnerable in the light is way-more scarier! But, as we know, it is more fulfilling. But the promo tour, so far, has been interesting because I have not gotten such good feed-back before. And, like I said, it was 7-days in the studio and many weeks of mixing ( I chose not to be there for that mixing … on the first day of mixing I hated it so much!) I even started pulling myself out of it. I backed out and I said to my husband, my manager and my label ‘There is no way I am releasing this record… I’m just not gonna do it.’ It was more fear. It was me still feeling unable to stand in my own voice.”

“But then when I heard the final result I thought ‘Well, it doesn’t suck!”

Is she her own worst critic?

“I think I am my own worst everything. But then I can be my own best friend too! I hope for those moments to come more regularly.”

Beth Hart int with words 3The track ‘Hold On’ reminded us of the primitive grasper reflex — it’s the need (in all of us) to grab onto something. We asked Beth what she grabs onto for security.

“Well, God first. And my husband second. And especially during the process of writing this record. I even started going to church. Which I had never done since I was a little girl. I pray and I read the bible (it gives me so much hope) but I felt I was still searching for some power that was so much greater than myself (and I was getting so self-destructive) and I felt that I was getting lost — all over again. So I joined this awesome litttle church right around the corner from my house. So it proves that making this record has been a spiritual journey as well.”

Does Beth feel that she is a socially confident person?

“It really is up-and-down. It’s funny, but when I’m not on the road — it’s true — I am not confident. I won’t leave the house. I am totally home-ridden. I cook. I plant in the garden. I hang-out with the dogs. And I write. If I need to go out shopping — or feel like I want to go out to eat — I feel totally good if my husband is with me. But if he’s not with me, then I won’t go.”

“But on the road, there is a whole different armour. It’s a security. I don’t know what it is, and I could analyse it, but I think I should be really grateful for it. When I’m on the road I can go down the street. For myself. I can get myself a coffee. I can say hello to people.”

We told Beth that ‘Better Than Home’ captivated us and we are already suggesting to our readers that it is one of the finest albums of the year.

“This is where I realize that the closer you get to being yourself the better things can be…” She said.

“Now I am going to continue to work at ‘Being in the moment’ and enjoying life today…”

Thank you Beth Hart

Beth was talking to @neilmach 2015 ©

Beth will be releasing her new album ‘Better Than Home’ on 13th April 2015.
You can check our review here: http://rawramp.me/2015/03/11/bethhart-better-than-home/