by Marija Brettle
– Columnist —
Former frontman of the US progressive metal band 7 Months, Danny Veras, has finally released his solo debut album titled, Never Give Up. The hard edge melodic album, is a raw introspective look at the roller coaster ride that has been Vera’s life, for the past decade, from serious damage of his vocals cords, to the personal journey that followed.
With an all star line-up of Paul Sabu, rhythm guitarist and backing vocals, melodic master Eric Rogen on keyboards, Thorsten Koehne, lead guitar, Al Edwards, bass, Pete Newdeck on drums/backing vocals and Danny Veras, lead vocalist, they leave no groove or note unturned, on this record.
Hardrock Haven caught up with the Brazilian-born singer-songwriter and exceptionally talented guitarist Danny Veras, to talk about his early days of his music career, his music influences, his work with US band ‘7 Months’ and why his new album is a ‘labor of love’ for him …
HARDROCK HAVEN: Hi Danny! It must be a very exciting time for you. Finally, your solo debut is out and I hear you went No.2 already on the Miami Charts of ReverbNation. How does it feel to hold your own solo record?
Danny: It feels great! Yes, it’s great to realise and see that I have some final work done, after all this time! And being No.2 next to guys like Yngwie Malmsteen for a couple of weeks on the Miami Charts of ReverbNation, was a huge reward for my soul!
HRH: From what I can gather from your biography, it’s been quite a long journey for you, musically to get where you are now. Tell me more about those early days and music influences?
Danny: Music has always been my dream and passion since I was a child! Well, I owe it to my sister a lot, for introducing me to a lot of music. It started with a lot of classical music, like Mozart or Beethoven and Chopin, also a lot of Opera singers. Then later on my interest moved to hard rock and heavy metal!
HRH: Beside your sister, who else was responsible for you, getting seriously hooked on music from an early age?
Danny: Definitely Elvis! He was my Idol and favorite singer and my biggest inspiration of my early music career! His voice and style of singing must have something to do with my love of music later on…He taught me how to keep following my dreams! When I heard him singing those songs with his voice and those beautiful girls around him… I said to myself, like; “That’s what I wanna be, a musician!” (Laughs) Hmm … at that time I didn’t even speak English and wasn’t living in the United States, so it was a big dream as well as a challenge to get to where I am now. Well I am still fighting for that dream! But pretty much the bands that I listened to and that influenced me were Iron Maiden with Bruce Dickinson, Helloween with Michael Kiske, Manowar, Judas Priest, Anthrax, AC/DC, Pantera, Badlands …
HRH: In 2003, you moved to US. Was this move a conscious decision for you in order to give yourself a better chance to succeed in the music industry and reach a wider audience?
Danny: Actually around that time, I was doing great in Spain! I was playing at bars and restaurants in my hometown, until a law came up. That live music couldn’t be louder than 30 decibels. This was real tough time for so many music artists and bands, including myself! I mean it’s completely ridiculous and impossible to control the dynamics of the vocal range, at such a low volume. So all the bars and restaurants in Spain stopped having live music, as they were getting those fines by cops showing up every night, with decibel meters! (Laughs) So I pretty much had two options; one was to stay there and start working on something else, the other one was to go somewhere else and try my chances in another place. So I went to Hollywood, California and that’s where everything started for me!
HRH: Well, didn’t take long, before you joined the US Progressive metal band, ‘7 Months’ with whom soon, you recorded an album named In Time. The album was also ranked among the finest Progressive Rock Metal releases of 2009. So what happened with your work for this band?
Danny: ‘7 Months’ is really one of the best bands I have ever played with! These guys were also my main reason for staying in the States, back then. So yes, the album In Time is really a unique album, with very catchy melodies! I am very proud of this album! We may record something again in the future, but it’s something that we’ve still got to talk about. What really happened is, that in 2005 I started having several problems with my vocal chords and had to stop singing. I just couldn’t sing and carry on with them. So in 2006, I started with another band, called L.A. Holeshot. I started with a different singing style, in order to keep the voice going while I was still recovering.
HRH: There were times when you were playing clubs and pubs anywhere you can to make a living, by playing covers of Deep Purple, Eric Clapton etc. …
Danny: Well, I started playing music when I was seven years old. When I was 11 years old, I started playing guitar. So at that age I wasn’t thinking about making money. It was all about the love for the music. It was more about writing songs and composing. When I realized some of my friends were making a living playing covers then I changed my mind and started learning other people’s songs. I thought it would be more fun than any other job and it actually is! (Laughs) I really love my job!
HRH: Would you say that ‘Never Give Up’ is a testament to your personal journey … a labour of love for you?
Danny: Never Give Up is a testament of my true love of music … my passion! I always put 100% of my heart into everything I do and if you’ve got good ears, you’ll hear it. So yes you’re right, it’s totally me and a very personal … ‘selfie’ album. (Laughs) When it comes to taste, everything sounds perfect to me and I like it to the point that I really don’t care if some people don’t like it. (Laughs) I don’t expect to become a millionaire with this album. I just did it because of my personal satisfaction. So yeah, I would say it was a labor of love for me!
HRH: At what point for you, was it that you realized you wanted to work on your own solo record?
Danny: Well, for me it was part of the challenge to achieve the dream, some kind of proof that dreams can come true and it’s not all about the money. I recorded my songs the way I wanted. So this is a dream come true for me! There is also a message in every song, a positive vibe like the song “Never Give Up.” “Never give up,” it’s like one thing leads to another … you could say like; ‘Never give up, it’s never too late, it’s time to runaway roadrunner! Things can happen, it’s all about keep going your own way and don’t stop! Paul Sabu, was the guy who really helped me a lot, to put this entire puzzle together!
HRH: What about the songs like “Never Too Late” or “Road Runner?” What’s the story?
Danny: “Never Too Late,” it’s a song of hope, about finding your true love … A lot of people don’t even know what love is. “Road Runner” That’s me, a sinner like any other person. (Laughs) “Running away” running away from misery and pain, another positive matter!
HRH: The whole album has got the underlining of the 80’s sound/vibe. Tell me more about the whole writing and recording process of this record?
Danny: Yeah, there is a great deal of the 80’s vibe, but the whole album sound overall is a new, modern melodic rock! All the stories in the album are real, raw feelings and I’m not talking about dragons, witches or fairy tales! (Laughs) “Hell Rider” is the song that opens the album and talks about me going through a hell of a ride to keep the dream alive. “It Ain’t Over” nothing is really over until you die, so even if I lost my voice for a while I’m still singing… or if my babe’s gone, I can still love. It ain’t over! Like I said, it’s a very personal ’selfie’ album, but anybody can feel identified, as well.
Things that happen to me, usually happened to everybody else too. Every single musician that took part on this album, recorded their parts in their cities or country. Paul Sabu and Eric Ragno in California, Pete Newdeck in England, Thorsten Koehne in Germany. Paul mixed it all up and sent it to Sweden to master it by Peter In de Betou.
I got help from a couple of my friends, writing some of the songs. Thanks to Victor Conde for “Light up my life” and “Good Luck” and Barry “Blue” Magnuson for “Hammer Down,” and of course “Never Give Up” with Paul Sabu.
HRH: How did you end up working with great music masters such as Paul Sabu or Eric Ragno?
Danny: I saw Paul for the first time when I was a teenager in magazines in Spain so I knew who he was. He contacted me a few years ago when his album “Strange Messiah” came out. So we kept in touch since then, and started working together a couple years ago. He’s a really down to earth guy and he’s got brilliant ideas! He writes and produces really good music including Shania Twain’s “Silent Rage”, John Waite, David Bowie, WASP, Fatal Smile … Also tons of other great artists! His own music is phenomenal, so I feel very blessed, for having the opportunity to work with him! He did excellent arrangements on my songs recording the initial demos. Guitars, back-ups and everything we needed to show to the other guys. Well, Thorsten Koehne and I met about 14 years ago at the Frankfurt Messe in Germany.
HRH: I remember he mention about his work with you on this album in one of his Hardrock Haven Interview?
Danny: He is brilliant guy as well as uniquely talented guitarist! We kept in touch with Thorsten through the years and we always wanted to work together. But back then, he was with Demon Drive, and I was in L.A. with the band called ‘7 Months.’ But it was a real coincidence that Thorsten played on Paul’s Strange Messiah album.
HRH: How did you meet Eric?
Danny: I met Eric Ragno 10 years ago, when I was still with ‘7 Months.’ We kept in touch during all this time and it was kind of coincidence that he was working with Paul Sabu on the last Jesse Damon’s album. Pete Newdeck was recording drums for Jesse and also played drums on the same band, then Thorsten “Eden’s Curse.” So even with a long distance between all of us, it still feels like we live in a small world, where everybody is connected somehow. It’s like one of those; things happen in the right time for the right reason! (Laughs)
HRH: If you had a chance to choose, who would be your favorite band you would like to go on tour with?
Danny: Most definitely Motorhead! I really like Lemmy! He’s a really cool guy and Motorhead was my first band to see, when I was 15 years old. “No Sleep At All” was my first record I bought! (Laughs).
HRH: So what’s next for Danny Veras? What your plans for the future … are there any gigs lined-up for you, or maybe playing Festivals?
Danny: Yes, there is some radio interviews coming soon at www.rockangels.com with my buddy ‘Carlos Destroyer’ and just did the Rock Poser’s Roulette with Dan Mann from www.firebrandrr.com couple weeks ago. It’s pre-recorded, so anyone can hear it. I also did VBNAV Radio with Pete Blogster from England, a couple weeks ago. I also did a live interview that was like a 3 hours long interview, Pete Newdeck was also there. That was fun! We even played some Acoustic cover for the fans.
Regarding the gigs, right now, I’m looking for a management who can help me handle all this. I mean the business side. I’m also looking for a record label, but depends pretty much on the deal offers. So we’ll see.
Like so many music artists out there, I just don’t wanna get screwed, and you know what they do these days. (Laughs).
HRH: I read some recent quotes by Paul Sabu, praising you for being gifted with so much natural talents and how you are magnet for fans. If you were to describe yourself in three words, what would that be?
Danny: Persistent Warrior of Love!
HRH: Taking into account all your experience so far in the music industry, would you like to share any advice with all those new coming musicians out there?
Danny: Be always conscientious in what you do and “Never Give Up!”
HRH: Thank you Danny for taking the time for this Interview with us. Best of luck with the record!
Danny: Thanks a lot! It was a pleasure answering these questions! Hope to see you on tour one day!
Photos appear courtesy of Jason Corman.