December 30, 2011 by Publisher
by Alexandra Mrozowska
Staff Writer –
Hard rock might not be a genre which we immediately associate with Italian music, and we still cannot talk about any serious revolution happening in the European rock scene yet. However, the increasing number of great hard rock acts from Italy appearing recently might portend some future invasion in a way!
While most of the promising Italian bands and projects are comprised of the experienced and acclaimed musicians – like Edge of Forever, HungryHeart or Shining Line – the Ferrara-based Voodoo Highway brings youth and enthusiasm onto the stage.
Founded last year, the group has recently released their debut album Broken Uncle’s Inn. This fact itself was a great reason to catch up with the band’s bassist Filippo Cavallini and take a closer look upon the band, their classic rock roots that influenced considerably their first effort… and the plans they have for their bright future ahead!
Hardrock Haven: Hi guys! Thanks for a possibility of talking; it’s a real pleasure to promote Voodoo Highway. Let’s begin with the most important thing – your newly released album, the first in band’s history. What can we find on Broken Uncle’s Inn?
Filippo Cavallini: Nice to meet you all readers of Hard Rock Haven! It’s our pleasure to be here answering this cool interview from the divine Alexandra! So let’s begin… Broken Uncle’s Inn …what can I tell you? Someone told it’s one of the best albums of the year, other guys told it’s a sort of a tribute to Deep Purple (probably they didn’t listen to it for real…) but all I can tell you is that our album is a pure concentrate of hard rocking, nothing else! There you can surely find a great seventies rock influence with a kinda eighties style in the choruses, but I’m not a music journalist, and all I can tell you is that we’ve just rocked hard to make it, and put every inch of our souls in it! ..and that’s also the reason why it’s filled with really weird lyrics! [laughs] We’re just a bunch of boys from a small town in the wetlands of North East Italy, who like rock n’ roll and having dirty adventures! [laughs]
HRH: What are your favorites of the album, which songs would you pick up as the most important?
FC: It’s hard to answer this one… I could probably tell you the usual thing that all the bands say in an interview… so that we like each song, that each song it’s important etc. etc. … but I’m sure that what we really like of this album is the opening track ‘Till It Bleeds’, as it’s the first tune we’ve ever made together, and it’s about the dirtiest and funniest thing in life: having sex with fat girls! It’s not an autobiographic story (exception made for our drummer), but we really like it! We know that a famous Australian band made a song about it before, but our lyrics are far more dirty! [laughs]
HRH: Broken Uncle’s Inn was produced by Luca Magni. Are you satisfied with the results of this co-work? In what way did he influence the album?
FC: Oh, Mr. Magni!! Luca has been a great friend of us since we were teenagers (he’s the same age of mine: 24), and he always supported Voodoo Highway! Luca is quite a good sound engineer and he has tons of great ideas in terms of artistic production… he helped us a lot! He’s patient (and a man needs a lot of patience, if he’s going to work with us!) and he likes booze – and that’s all we need! We had fun with him, for real! He helped us in building up the we-are-having-a-lot-of-fun-doing-this atmosphere that a lot of people who has listened to the LP have noticed; he has somehow been the key of the album! Great guy, great friend!
HRH: ‘Broken Uncle’s Inn’ gained rave reviews all across the world. Craig Gruber (ex-Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Gary Moore) has named the band the next Deep Purple. What is your take on that?
FC: Oh well… you can guess we are honored about the great critics, the quotes etc. etc. … we have won some really cool nominations this year, and the LP as sold out TWICE!! We are really happy about it all… and well, Mr. Gruber is our idol, a man who helped writing the rock ’n roll history, so it’s amazing! But in the end of it we just love to think that what really has rewarded us it’s our feet-on-the-ground mood! So we just keep thinking about rocking and having fun, which is just what we love!
HRH: What kind of promotion do you plan for the album?
FC: You must ask to our manager darlin’! In the last six months we’ve gigged a lot, collected tons of reviews, interviews, radio airplay, TV airplay etc. etc. … and it’s been amazing! We’ll just continue keep doing this ’till the end of times… hoping one day soon someone will notice us and will give us some millions of dollars to spend in fireworks!
HRH: Your management is Rock N’ Growl. Are you satisfied with their work?
FC: It’s a super cool management, and they also deal with the distribution of our LP with distributors all over the world, including digital release on all the majors digital shops! By the way, Rock n’ Growl it’s amazing! Mr. Axel Wiesenauer, who’s the guy behind the band, is just the top manager around! He’s cool and he put his heart in it, such a cool guy and friend!
HRH: Now, a bit of history. When was the band formed? Please, tell a few words about Voodoo Highway’s current line-up.
FC: It all started back in springtime 2010, when we decided to have some jams together to fight the boring nights of our hometown! After a few rehearsals we’ve composed ‘Till It Bleeds’ and we saw that it was good (in our modest opinion at least…). We are just friends or neighbors who started a band just for game! Federico Di Marco (vocals), Matteo Bizzarri (guitars) and myself (Filippo Cavallini, bass) know each other since we were at high school, Alessandro Duò (Organ) used to play with me in another band before Voodoo Highway was formed, and Lorenzo Gollini (the drummer who recorded the album) was a Matteo’s contact.
The current line-up is up since July 2011, when our original drummer Lorenzo Gollini left the band due to personal problems, and Vincenzo Zairo replaced him. Vincenzo is a cool one, bad ass drummer with a real rock n’ roll attitude! We’re happy with having him aboard, as we compose quicker than before and, even if Lorenzo used to have that lovely blues-groovy style, Vincenzo is such a more powerful drummer!
HRH: From where came an idea for a band’s name?
FC: Well… strange story, and I’m sure that everyone always think that the idea came from the super album from Badlands (‘Voodoo Highway’), but the truth is different…
In April 2010 I found myself traveling to Rome as I was attending a gig there with my other band… While I was on the bus I started to think badly to my favorite Black Sabbath’s album from the DIO era, which is Mob Rules, and to the song ‘Voodoo’ as at the time a girl somehow broke my heart and I was looking for something evil to listen to… obviously on my MP3 player there was no song of ‘Mob Rules’! So I started singing ‘Voodoo’ in my head looking at the highway… From that association comes ‘Voodoo Highway.’
HRH: What were your main inspirations and influences?
FC: Each of us has several different influences… Matteo and myself (we are cousins too) always used to listen to very retro rock n’ roll: Deep Purple, Rainbow, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Who, Uriah Heep, UFO, and so on… We also love more modern acts like The Darkness, and personally talking, the American act Foxy Shazam. Matteo is also a great fan of thrash metal; his idols are Ritchie Blackmore, Dimebag Darrell and Zakk Wylde. Personally I also love eigthties heavy metal such as Judas Priest, Savatage or Saxon, while my all time fav band is Led Zeppelin. I also love some death metal acts like Carcass… Federico, the singer, is a great fan of Queen and Gianni Drudi (a weird singer and performer from Italy). Alessandro Duò has the strangest musical taste in the band as he listens to power prog acts, power metal acts, black metal acts, hard rock acts, retro progressive acts etc etc. … a very complicated guy! [laughs] Vincenzo is a great fan of Pantera and Badlands… he’s such a macho guy!
HRH: What would you call the real breakthrough in the band’s career?
FC: Well… I guess, and I HOPE that the real breakthrough is still to come… anyway the best thing that happened to us was to meet Mr. Wiesenauer instead of signing with some weird record label! Rock n’ Growl Management is really helping in make the band great; I guess it was the first step for a future breakthrough!
HRH: When was the first concert the band ever played in this line-up? What was the audience’s reception?
FC: We did it at the end of July 2011, in our hometown… The audience was in frenzy! Vincenzo made a great performance and the people immediately loved him! And obviously, our usual stage show was at the top with fireworks, strange costumes, smoke, guests etc. etc.! We love playin’ live and we do our best in every single gig since we’ve started gigging back in May 2010. People must love our live shows… it’s like going to the circus, but with no animals exploitations, as we are the animals!!
HRH: How do you judge current music scene in Europe? Is it different in Italy than in other parts of the mainland? Ain’t that quite hard to play hard rock stuff nowadays, in the world of digital downloads, hip hop and techno?
FC: I think there is a great bunch of cool bands in Europe nowadays! Coldspell and Vains of Jenna are cool, and they play great hard rock! Also Myon band is a cool act and Rob Mancini has a killer album with him! The Darkness are on the road again too, and that’s great as well… In Italy we have some really cool realities, as… VOODOO HIGHWAY [laughs], our friends Asgard, Game Over, Black Wings and many more! I like what’s going to happen in Europe… I’m sure that one day soon REAL ROCK N’ ROLL will be back!! Nowadays it’s hard indeed, but if you have good people working with and for you, and you put your soul in it, all is possible! Good music never dies, as Mozart will never die.. I don’t play for money (maybe for women, yes…)… all we want to do is to find a good job that will allow us to continue touring all around and delivering good music all over the world! Rock n’ roll is a mission, a faith, a love first of all! Having fun is the most important thing… OK, to become a millionaire is also preferable! [laughs]
HRH: Are there any great hard rock acts on Italian scene you’d like to recommend to us?
FC: Sure!! You must check out The Hot Pants! They’ve just released their brand new video clip called ‘Leavin’ All 4 Rock n’ Roll’… they rock!
HRH: Let’s not forget all of us are rock ‘n rollers – are there any wild backstage stories you’d like to share? The 70’s and the 80′s are long gone now – being a rock band nowadays, can you still say that the party never stops?
FC: Sure it never stops! [laughs] We always have booze, we always go after girls… probably Motley Crue used to have more girls than us, but who cares!… I can’t actually recall nothing in particular apart the usual mess we make after the concerts (also before them… and meanwhile sometimes…) you know… usual things like getting drunk and going with any girl that you meet! The most rocking thing is to find out she was a bog the morning of the next day! [laughs]
HRH: What are the future plans for Voodoo Highway? How do you see your career in 5-10 years from now?
FC: First of all let’s hope we will be alive… in the next 5 or 10 years? I really don’t know… We really don’t care about the future of the band, we just think about it all step by step… we are too stupid to think too much about the future! Thinking of the future is a peculiarity of women and managers, thanks God we have Axel! [laughs] Hope we’ll have some women too one day! [laughs]
HRH: Do you plan to expand your concert territory onto the other parts of the world someday?
FC: Well… In 2012 we’ll probably play in some other European countries… let’s see what happens! Meanwhile we’ll keep on rocking Italy!
HRH: Is there anything you’d like to add in the end?
FC: All I can do now is to thank you for the great chance of having an interview on your site! It’s a pleasure, guys! And thanks to Alexandra, who’s a really cool girl! The last words goes to the readers.: we know you are now probably thinking we are an idiotic band, and probably you’re right… but please, please… buy our album! Luca Magni is still waiting for money we own him for the recordings and he has just sent us our singer’s tongue! [laughs]
by Derric Miller
Paisty Jenny checked in with Hardrock Haven to talk about their killer brand new EP Head in a Haze; how they hooked up with producers Michael Beck and Brad Vance; how the new-ish guitarist Stan Liberty entered the fold; the video for “Anything;” how the songwriting process works this time around; upcoming tour plans; hot chicks in killer videos; and a whole lot more.
You really need to hear the new EP Head in a Haze and their new single “Anything” starts a nationwide campaign in January. Tune in to get to know the band who will be your new favorite band, and pick up Head in a Haze immediately.
by Deb Rao
In this exclusive interview with Hardrock Haven, guitarist Troy McLawhorn discusses the making of the new self-titled Evanescence CD. From the moment that Evanescence launched onto to music scene, the band has captivated audiences worldwide with the unforgettable vocals of Amy Lee. Now they band is back with new single “What You Want” climbing up the charts.
HRH: Troy, Thank you for checking in with Hardrock Haven. Tell us about the writing process for the new self-titled Evanescence album.
TROY: It was pretty much a collaborative event for the whole band. We pretty much got into a rehearsal space for six weeks. There were some ideas that had been written prior with Amy, Tim, and Terry. I think there were four songs that they were working on earlier. Basically, some of the songs were written in that rehearsal space. It was a lot of fun. I think it was the first time that Amy involved the band in the writing process for the record. It was a lot of fun to get together and write like that.
HRH: What was it like working with Grammy Award winner producer Nick Raskulinecz?
TROY: He’s great. Nick is a really fun guy to be around. He is fan or rock music. He has a lot of great stories. He brought a lot of energy to the pre-production sessions. He was there when we were writing the songs and arranging the songs for the record. He helped us raided the bar. He was so positive about everything. He had a lot of great ideas.
HRH: Would you say this album is more aggressive than previous albums?
TROY: Yes, as the core of it. It is more up-tempo songs. heavier guitar riffs. I think some of the guitar riffs on this album are fun to play. The strings help to mellow it out a bit. When we initially recorded this … we finished all the music first as a band. It was really heavy. Then the strings were added and it softened it up a little bit. It makes it more dramatic.
HRH: Evanescence has also had its own unique sound. When it hits the airwaves you can always tell its one of your songs on the radio. How has the band evolved over the years?
TROY: Just over the course of time the band has changed. The music they listen to and the music they are inspired by and the writing changes. I think it is a natural progression. I think this line-up is really tight. The vibe on the road is really good. Everyone gets a long good. The band just progressed in a positive progression.
HRH: Tell us about the first single,” What You Want?”
TROY: That was one of the songs that was worked on in pre-production. We all felt like it was a really good rock song. What we wanted to do on this album is just write a really good rock record. Not try to do anything. We all just knew it was going to be the first single.
HRH: What are your favorite songs on the album?
TROY: We had so much fun making this album. I love every song on the album. If I had to pick a couple there is a song “Never Go Back.” I think we all like because it is one of the heaviest songs on the album. The guitar riff is fun to play. “Made Of Stone” and “Ocean.” It is really fun to make an album where everybody likes the song on the album. Usually there are one or two songs that a band doesn’t like.
HRH: How long a process did it take for you to record the album?
TROY: I think the actual recording took eight weeks. It didn’t seem like that long.
HRH: The band is currently on the road. How is the tour going so far?
TROY: It has been going great. Every show has been sold out. The set consists of a lot of new material. But we are definitely playing the songs from the catalog that the people expect to hear and all the hits. So far I haven’t heard any complaints. The album is out and people know the songs. They are singing the songs.
HRH: What are your future touring plans?
TROY: We have only done a couple weeks of shows here. We haven’t even begun to touch all the places we go to. We went to Europe in November and we hit the Southeast in January. Then we are going to Japan. We are going to bounce from continent to continent. Try and get the whole world.
HRH: Troy, thank you for giving us this update. Is there anything else that you would like to say about the album?
TROY: I want to say thanks to all the fans who waited so patiently for us to get the album out. Go pick it up!
November 29, 2011 by Publisher
by Cameron Edney
Guest Staff Writer –
Swedish Metallers Opeth Take a New Direction with Heritage
In Mid-September Swedish metallers Opeth will release their tenth studio album via roadrunner records titled Heritage. Not only does this mark the band’s return to the studio following up from their critically acclaimed 2008 masterpiece ‘Watershed’ but it’s also the longest gap the band has ever had between studio release’s solely due to the mass success that followed ‘Watershed’. Having approached Heritage in a different way musically to some of the bands better know albums, some Opeth fans may be surprised to learn that there is very little vocal growling on this album, the band had stripped it back musically going for a more seventies hard rock feel rather than another heavy, dark metal album. Read more
by Marija Brettle
Staff Writer –
With two hit albums in the U.S. and top 20 singles behind, the ever popular Nashville singer/songwriter Mitch Malloy re-emerged this October with his new release entitled, Mitch Malloy II. The album that show this gifted vocalist truly returning to his most melodious moments, with the real ‘80s, early’90s vibe, both in sound and songwriting; the album he is calling the logical successor to his RCA Records melodic rock debut, Mitch Malloy.
Or to put simply, this is the record fans of Malloy have waited for nearly twenty years. As Mitch says, “For years my core fans have asked me to give them another album full of Melodic Rock, and I’m proud to say that Mitch Malloy II is just that! For me this is my real second album, the true follow-up to my major label debut, the record that I wanted to make for a long time.”
During his highly anticipated return to this years FIREFEST Festival in Nottingham, and one week before his European tour, HARDROCK HAVEN caught up with Mitch and managed to discuses all his excitement at being back with his loyal fans, his pride in his new record, his present and future plans and once again putting out his side of the story when he almost became the new Van Halen front man. Read more
November 24, 2011 by Publisher
by Deb Rao
Staff Writer –
Hardrock Haven recently had the opportunity to speak with Sweden rock band Crashdiet at their Las Vegas show at Vamp’d. The band performed a West Coast trek of dates including special stops at the Key Club In LA and Club Red in Tempe, Ariz. Crashdiet is touring in support of their latest release Generation Wild.
Crashdiet gave an outstanding performance in Las Vegas in front of a packed club and was enthused to talk with Hardrock Haven regarding their North American Tour and how the band has evolved since their debut back in 2003.
Hardrock Haven: Welcome to Las Vegas. How has the tour been going?
Eric: It’s been going great.
Hardrock Haven: How has the band evolved since your debut in 2003? I know Simon joined the band three years ago.
Eric: Quite a lot. We have matured at certain levels. We are more focused.
Hardrock Haven: Do see feel that there is a revival of the Glam metal scene? I know the band is heavily influenced by bands like Motley Crue.
Eric: We did see a revival back when we did our first album. We hope we kind of revived it.
Hardrock Haven: Tell us about the release of Generation Wild and how it differs from your previous releases?
Eric: It is more focused.
Simon: It is probably more different from the first album then the second album. It is more classic hard rock.
Martin: Not as heavy.
Eric: Everybody had their hand in the cookie jar regarding the writing.
Hardrock Haven: The band has an interesting band label-signing story. I read you were standing in front of a liquor store and Universal thought you were cool and signed you!
Martin: It’s probably true and it is a good story so we will stick with it. (Laughter)
Hardrock Haven: How does performing in Las Vegas and California differ from performing in Sweden?
Eric: Not much difference I would say. I thought there would be a lot less people coming to the shows here. It’s not that I wasn’t optimistic or anything. I was told this whole kind of music scene here was dead. I was expecting the worst. When we played the Key Club it was amazing. That shows people still care. That gives me hope at least. The scene isn’t dead.
Hardrock Haven: Tell us about your performance. Are you into a theatrical performance?
Eric: We try to do as much as that as we can. But since we are flying across the globe we can’t really bring all our stuff.
Martin: When we tour Sweden we can do a full show with everything. We have a lot of theatrical stuff with bombs going off.
Hardrock Haven: Has the band ever played the Sweden Rock Festival?
Eric: Two times. We had lots of people showing up there last time we played last summer. We played at 5 in the afternoon so we weren’t really expecting that many people. But it was packed.
Hardrock Haven: What’s next for the band?
Eric: We will have some time off in January and continue writing material.
HRH: As we come to a close what was the highlight of 2011?
Simon: Playing Key Club.
Eric: Key Club and Sweden Rock.
Martin: Sweden Rock.
Hardrock Haven: Thank you for helping bring back Glam metal. Have a good show!
Visit Crahsdiet on the web: www.facebook.com/realcrashdiet
November 24, 2011 by Publisher
by Cameron Edney
Guest Staff Writer –
In the Pit with Anthrax’s Scott Ian
With thirty years of thrashing under his belt Anthrax’s Scott Ian knows how to deliver a mind-blowing album and it don’t get much better than the long-awaited Worship Music but it’s surely taken some time to get to this point! Having spent the best part of the last eight years on the road without releasing any new studio material Anthrax have had a roller coaster ride of ups and downs which seen the band change vocalist not once but twice before being rejoined by longtime vocalist Joey Belladonna. With Belladonna back fronting the band, New York’s favorite Thrashers hit the road as part of one of the most successful Thrash tours of all-time playing alongside Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica in what was dubbed ‘The Big 4’.
Anthrax also spent a lot of time working on the follow up to 2003’s masterpiece We’ve come for you All writing and re-writing tracks for more than four years before settling on an astonishing list of tracks which finally became Worship Music. Worship Music is now on the shelves and fans have praised the bands efforts with mostly positive reviews. Their latest album is a return to the bands Thrash sound from the eighties and features phenomenal tracks like ‘In the End,’ ‘Earth on Hell’ and ‘Revolution Screams’.
I had the pleasure of speaking with the coolest mosher of all-time Scott Ian about the band’s latest album, the possibility of touring Australia next year and getting advice from Iron Maiden. Here’s what Scott had to say!
Hardrock Haven: On finally releasing the long awaited Worship Music’…
Scott Ian: It’s obviously very satisfying to finally have the record out so we can stop talking about it and we can finally let the record speak for itself.
Hardrock Haven: What inspired the writing process this time around?
Scott Ian: Oh I don’t know… nothing changes in the way that we write, we just get in a room and start writing riffs, start arranging songs and they start coming together and then I start getting lyrical idea’s. That’s the same way that we’ve been doing it since ‘Spreading the Disease’ basically. I don’t know how it works, where the inspiration comes from, how we do it, other than we literally sit in a room and start playing, jamming and it just all comes together.
Hardrock Haven: Thoughts on the response ‘Worship Music’ has been getting from fans and media…
Scott Ian: It’s been amazing; people are hearing the record the same way that we hear it. It’s obviously really satisfying, we feel very strongly about the record and it’s really exciting to know that people are digging the record! I’m just happy that I hear from people that they love the record and that makes me feel good. I hope that people listen to it, because it deserves to be listened to and if people want to enjoy fifty minutes of really fuckin good [Heavy] Metal they should listen to it!
Hardrock Haven: When can we expect to see Anthrax back in Australia and what fond memories do you have from past visits?
Scott Ian: Hopefully the first half of next year sometime, that would be awesome. My favorite memory of touring Australia has nothing to do with Anthrax… when we were here for Soundwave last time, we got to go and see Ac/dc playing at Olympic Stadium in Sydney and that would be my favorite memory of touring Australia.
Hardroch Haven: What band do you feel you’ve learnt the most from whilst on the road?
Scott Ian: The first time that we toured with Iron Maiden back in 1988, I can definitely say that we learnt from them. They never told us anything, but just how well they treated us and the respect they afforded us as their opening band. We always felt like they treated us so well. Obviously we’re huge fans of Iron Maiden and we got to go on tour with them, they were unbelievably nice to us so we felt it was the way we should pattern ourselves as well.
Hardrock Haven: Scott any last words for our readers?
Scott Ian: We look forward to getting back down there and playing again. With the album out it obviously makes us really excited to get back down to play some shows!
November 3, 2011 by Publisher
by Deb Rao
Staff Writer –
Hardrock Haven is proud to present an interview from up and coming new band The Stone Chiefs. The Stone Chiefs has just released their debut Drive On. As you can tell from the title, Drive On is full of catchy guitar riffs and hard driving vocals. The Stone Chiefs have a Southern rock appeal that is reminiscent of The Black Crowes. Aaron Wiig has check in with Hardrock Haven to discuss the birth of the band and new debut Drive On.
HRH: Aaron, Thank you for checking in with Hardrock Haven. Tell us a little bit about your debut album Drive On and the writing process that transpired during the release.
Aaron: Thanks for having me. The Stone Chiefs are really proud of Drive On. We took our time recording the album, spending about a year in and out of the studio tracking, marinating, revising, and tracking some more. Several tunes recorded very quickly, others required more digging. There is enough raw energy and soul on this record to fuel a freight train.
The Stone Chiefs are unique in that we have four songwriters in the band and three potential bass players. This results in an impressive amount of flexibility when it comes to bringing ideas to the table and showcasing playing styles that complement each other very well. The guitar players have known each other for decades. We know how to work together to get the best out of a song. The actual songwriting runs the gamut of a person showing up with a song complete to virtually everybody in the band pitching in to craft a tune starting from a riff or vocal melody idea. It just depends on the tune. With this said, Dallas is the main songwriter in the band. He’s the front man lyricist and also writes many catchy melodies. He also is very open to everybody else ideas and recognizes a good song when he hears one.
HRH: Drive On has a huge Southern Rock appeal. Were you influenced by The Black Crowes and Kings of Leon at all?
Aaron: Oh yes, two of my favorite bands. Lots of folks pick up on The Black Crowes influence, which I consider a compliment. The Stone Chiefs are a guitar and vocals driven rock-n-roll band. We’re not creating any new genres. We have a unique sound, but aren’t afraid to tap our roots to keep us grounded.
HRH: As a guitarist, do you find that guitar solos are once again popular?
Aaron: For me guitar solos never went out of style. The music I listen to the most has always had a heavy guitar presence with frequent solos. There have been very popular bands embracing guitar solos since rock began, even in the past decade. Sure, maybe not like Southern Rock or Prog in the ’70s and hair bands in the ’80s, but the folks out there that play their instruments with skill for a living have always been around. What is considered popular cycles round and round. One key to happiness is not paying attention to any of that shit. Just play what you want to play and listen to what you find interesting cause life is short. If a musician is constantly chasing what is viewed as popular they may as well drop their original music career and join a cover band. Are guitar solos popular again? Hell, I don’t know…and I don’t really care.
HRH: What kind of guitar did you use in the studio to get that Southern rock ambiance?
Aaron: We used a variety of guitars:
1972 Black Beauty Les Paul (lots of action. David Arnn’s main axe on the record)
Vintage Epiphone Riviera that I borrowed from a buddy
Customized Epiphone Sheraton II
Several Fender Stratocasters– my favorite is an early 90s Strat plus with Lace Sensors and a mean as heel DiMarzio humbucker in the bridge position.
The two guitars I played the most on the record by far were the Sheraton II and the early ’90s Strat Plus.
The amps we used had just as much influence on the ambiance as the guitars. On this record we played through Dr. Z Carmen Ghia, Dr. Z Maz 18, Budda, Marshall, and Fender heads through a variety of custom cabs and an Orange 4×12 cab. Speakers and mic technique specifics may as well remain a secret.
HRH: The Stone Chiefs hail from North Carolina. How did you all get together?
Aaron: David, BT, and I met in college. David and I ended up as random freshman roommates who just so happened to both play guitar and love the same music. We bumped into BT through mutual friends and spent our time trading licks and messing around. We jammed in various bands over the years until David ran across Dallas in some other band. The three of us promptly decided we needed to convince Dallas to play with us subsequently resulting in Dallas ditching his other band. After parting ways with one drummer we came across Twig, who impressed us with his skill so much that we suspended subsequent auditions and offered Twig the spot. We got a more detailed description on our bio page at thestonechiefs.com/bio.
HRH: What was it like working with producer Jeff Creed?
Aaron: Jeff was great. He opened up his home and let us come and go as we pleased. He knew when to make suggestions and when to let the band just work it out. He suggested Barbara Weathers for backing vocals and Chris Johnson on keys. He was very involved with inspecting the tracks and making sure we stayed the course when it came to recording quality tones. I would work with Jeff again in a heartbeat. He’s a cool cat and I have much respect for his approach.
HRH: The band is currently on tour. How is the tour going so far?
Aaron: We’ve had some really fun shows this summer/fall and played on big stages. We played our first stadium in Greensboro, NC with Grammy-winning artists. We also kicked off a show at the Raleigh Amphitheatre in downtown Raleigh, NC. The rest of the year takes us to other venues around North Carolina. Later this year we are taking some time off for the holidays and then we hit it again in 2012 focusing on regional festival dates and club gigs.
HRH: As a young band in the business, what do you hope to accomplish with your unique sound?
Aaron: Although this is the first The Stone Chiefs album, the players have been around the block with several bands. We realize that The Stone Chiefs is by far the best band that any of us have been involved with, so we want to take this one all the way. What do we hope to accomplish? How about a world tour of packed houses with guys shoving fists in the air to the rockers and chicks singing along to the ballads. After the show folks leave happy and get laid.
HRH: Is there anything else that you would like to say about Drive On?
Aaron: Drive On is solid from start to finish. If you check it out and don’t like the first two songs … just keep going to some other tunes on this record. There is something for everybody on this record. The variety of tunes on the album is refreshing. Give it a listen, you’ll see what I mean.
Visit The Stone Chiefs on the web: thestonechiefs.com
by Deb Rao
Staff Writer –
Revisited Interview with Otep Shamaya from 2008
Archaic Revival comments: “One of the most exciting and brutally honest women performers in metal today is Otep Shamaya. Otep is not only a musician but also an accomplished poet and speaker. Her lyrics are razor sharp never afraid of taking on such controversial subjects as child abuse, domestic violence and politics.”
Inspired by Nirvana, Otep’s music is real and honest. In a day and age in the music industry that seems bombarded with pop rock princesses, it is refreshing to see a front woman take the term women in metal to a whole new level.
Otep is currently on tour in support of her latest album, The Ascension. Recorded after post Katrina, in the horror aftermath that Katrina left behind on the Gulf Coast, Otep has released one of her most inspiring albums to date. Otep paints an eclectic canvas of emotion as she channels in her emotional experiences into a sea of words filled with deep emotion.
Otep’s live performances reflect the power and strength of an artists determined to make a difference in the music industry infused with raw power and razor sharp words that cut like a knife and make you think and feel the pain both at the same.
I recently had the opportunity to discuss in-depth the recording of The Ascension, Election 2008, and the devastated Gulf Coast with Otep Shamaya. Sit back and enjoy one of the most polished and intellectual women in rock view on some of the most important subject matters in the world today as Otep get ready for their huge homecoming show at the Key Club in Los Angeles on November 30th.
HRH: Otep, thank you so much for checking in with Hardrock Haven. Net. I know you are currently on the road in support of your new album, The Ascension. How is the tour going so far?
OTEP: It is going fantastically well. We were just in New York City the night of the election which I think is a bit apropos, considering that the attacks on 911 happened there and how much fear and pain and terror occurred and to be in New York City the night Barack Obama was elected President seems to take the direction of our nation in a much more positive way, in my opinion. Right a lot of wrongs that have gone on in the past eight years and to see the beauty and the love.
HRH: How inspiring was it as an artist to be there on election night and to see that dreams really can come true?
OTEP: Absolutely. I believe that Obama winning that election, we can mark that one down for all the outsiders. For anyone who has ever told us that our dream did not matter and they weren’t good enough to make it or they weren’t the right race or gender or the right height or the right weight or came from the right part of the country or the right part of town. You can chalk this one up for the outsiders.
HRH: Would you say that your new album, The Ascension is more of a political album than House of Secrets? I think it has many multi-layered facets to it. It shows that you are more than a new metal band. It showcases all of your different side, which is exciting. Do you agree?
OTEP: I wouldn’t say it is more political. We have one song. One every record we have had a political song. We actually had two on the first album. We had “Battle Ready” and the song “Thots”. On the second record we had,” War Head” and on the third album we have,” Confrontation”. I have never been comfortable with the label nu-metal. That was something that allowed certain people to feel comfortable to categorize a lot of different styles of music. I consider it the fusion band. We have elements from metal to hard rock to grunge to hip hop, even blues and jazz as well. I know that maybe because it is loud and I do scream but I hope people don’t over shadow some of the other things that we do. We try to come up with our own sort of category even thou I am not a fan of that like art core. That is more of our focus.
HRH: Tell us about the writing process for The Ascension. Would you say it is more of a collaborative that your first two albums? Are you the primary songwriter in the group?
OTEP: Yes, I will collaborate with anybody that I write a record with. I compose a lot. But I also try to welcome other artists in to offer their own meaning and their own thing on a particular message on the song we are trying to write together.
HRH: Also, what is so inspiring with The Ascension is that it was recorded post Katrina down in Louisiana. Tell us about that experience and how that affected the writing of the album. It must have been really a learning experience and life changing experience for you.
OTEP: Sure. I am from Los Angeles. We followed Katrina on the news; we saw the lack of reaction form the Bush administration. They completely neglected the victims of Hurricane Katrina all along the Gulf Coast. After awhile the news stopped covering it, I just assumed as most people did that people were being taking care of because in California we have natural disasters too. We have wildfires, mudslides and flooding. So when anything bad happens there, our government and the people rally together and they work to help other people out. When we landed in Louisiana, nothing had happened. There we bulldozers sitting out in the middle of a vast wasteland. There was no one in the city. I think there was one pharmacy that was still open like a Walgreen’s and that was it. If you wanted to buy groceries you had to drive 45 minutes out of town. When you get there and actually see it, and you see boats under houses, you see entire blocks where there once were houses completely empty and all you see is empty foundation and cars overturned. Buildings with their windows completely blown out. You realize what these people were going through. Part of the reason we went there was to help the economy as well because our producer was there. We were inside this cafe people come up to us and they don’t know whom we are, they think we are musicians. They say,” We probably don’t listen to your music unless it is country or western in which it is not but if you could please write a song about us. Don’t let the world forgot about us. Because we are still hurting down here.” Some people lost their families members. It was really eye opening, it was devastating. There was just so much pain and regret going on. It really gave a whole new spirit to the emotional energy that I tried to infuse on the record.
HRH: How is the music scene in New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina? I know rock and roll came from the blues. New Orleans has always been noted for being home of the blues. How are the musicians down there surviving? They must have been really devastated by this horrific event?
OTEP: Well they were. But that is one thing I can say that lived on was the musicians. We would go down to some of the nightlife area. Inside some of these clubs are musicians, some of them are blues some of them are jazz; some of them are just rocking out. A lot of these guys let audiences members who are musicians come up and jam, the spirit of that and music healing the mental health and emotional health of the people that survived it was so inspiring.
HRH: How did you come up with the title for your new album, The Ascension?
OTEP: Part of it is from being down there. Another part of it has to do is my hope for seeing our nation rise over the way the nation has been over the last eight years. A lot if it has to so with my own personal artistic philosophy that artists are suppose to evolve. A lot of it has to do with my own working class background where I believe that obstacles should be expected in life. I believe that through hard work you can overcome it.
HRH: Actually, would you say that Sharon Osbourne discovered you? She is a really strong figure in the music industry. Tell us about your initial meeting with Sharon. It must have been amazing.
OTEP: Well she definitely helped. There was already some talk in the Los Angeles scene about this new band that has come out of no-where. We had only down maybe three or four shows. We already had started to get a buzz and a fan base. It was really amazing. We just played at the Roxy. Backstage after the show was over, someone said to me Sharon is here to see you. I said I don’t know anyone named Sharon. They said Sharon Osbourne. What could I say, I was speechless. They said Sharon wants to talk to you. I relently shuffled my way out the, I was a little bit shy. She hugged me and said,” Otep, you are amazing and you are doing Ozzfest this year.” I looked at her and said,”I don’t have a record deal.” Sharon said,” We are going to make it happen.” Luckily, we had a showcase with three different labels the next day. All of those labels knew of each other, so they all started the bidding war or what ever you want to call it. We did three different showcases and we got offers from one label, and I didn’t really care for them. We did another one and they said we want to think about it. We did the last one for Capitol and they walked outside and got out their blackberry and came back inside and said Ok we would like to sign you guys. I was all for it. After looking at Capitol’s rooster, I thought they really don’t have any bands like us. But they have some incredibly artistic bands Pink Floyd, Radio Head, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, so at least they would understand our artistic intentions. I thought that it was a good move for us as well.
HRH: Was it hard making the transitions from playing clubs to performing at Ozzfest in a large arena setting?
OTEP: We were only together about six months before we got signed. We got signed without a demo. We got signed after only four shows I believe. So going from transition to playing a club from playing to our first show of 50 people and our last show I think we had 250 people and then to go and playing to a stage of 15,000 people was a bit odd, exhilarating and at the same time I looked at that crowd and said this is my chance to conquer. I went out there with a feeling of self-victory in my heart and wanted to do everything that I can to impress them. Because nobody knew me, we didn’t have a record out when de did Ozzfest. I wasn’t. I would walk out their with a sense of I am going to give these people a taste of something new.
HRH: That is what Ozzfest is all about and you do a great job with it. Tell us about the current tour. What can the fans expect to see on this tour?
OTEP: The talent of bands on this tour is incredible. We have everyone from Sister Sin to Walls of Jericho and iLL Nino. Then you have a band like ours. You get a feast of al different sounds. We have an hour-long set. In-between songs, we do what we normally do which is poetry numbers. We are playing,” Battle Ready,” “Confrontation,” “Breed,” “Crooked Spoons,” Home Grown” and “Ghost Flowers” plus a few other songs.
HRH: Have you ever thought about writing a band about your life story?
OTEP: It is so funny I get that a lot. I don’t think my life story is that interesting. I do plan on writing probably another book of poetry. I have been putting together a book of illustrations of my own drawings.
HRH: Otep we want to thank you for giving Hardrock Haven the opportunity to discuss your new album and politics with you. We wish you the best of luck on tour.
OTEP: Thank you, I really appreciate it.
Visit Otep on the web: www.myspace.com/otep
Interviewed October 27th, 2011 at the Taft Theatre, Cincinnati, OH.
by Chris A.
Staff Writer –
Hardrock Haven: Welcome to Cincinnati Kenny, it must be fun playing here since your singer Noah Hunt is a native and has a large cadre of friends and fans in and around the city.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd: Yeah absolutely, it’s like when I got back to my home town. He’s like an adopted member of my family down in Louisiana, so coming to Cincinnati is like coming home for me too.
HRH: Well you’re into tonight headlining with Joe Walsh on the bill. How did this pairing happen?
KWS: Well Joe and I have been friends since I was 17. My first album came out and I was doing the “Hell Freezes Over” tour with the Eagles in Europe plus a few shows in the states. We became friends on the tour and have stayed in touch. We’ve jammed a few times in Los Angeles with other musicians. Since we’ve both got new albums out we thought it would be a good chance to go on the road together especially since we get along.
HRH: Okay, you’ve jammed with Joe Walsh, who would you like to perform with that you haven’t yet?
KWS: Hmm, I don’t know, I’ve played with just about everyone but Clapton and I would really like the opportunity to do that. Unfortunately every time they have done the Crossroads thing we’ve had prior commitments.
HRH: The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band has a new album called “How I Go” so the logical question is how’s it going for that disc?
KWS: It’s going well and a lot of people believe its our best album to date and I’m really happy. I think it’s certainly one of our best records. I’m very proud of the album, everyone’s performance shows a lot of growth and maturity and that comes from having done this for 20 years.
HRH: I understand that your approach to this record was to really focus on crafting the song rather than try to put on a blues guitar shredding clinic.
KWS: I’ve just learned over the years after listening to my guitar heroes, Albert King, B.B. King, Albert Collins and even Stevie Ray, that a lot of the times it’s the guys with the “less is more” approach that really resonated with me. I felt their music so much. I would hear a lick that I would like and I would want to learn it. It wasn’t normally a flurry of notes, it was usually just a collection of powerful notes combined into a lick. I just didn’t want to overdo it on this record I wanted to make sure that what I played for the songs was appropriate. I want the music to penetrate people in their soul with those notes.
HRH: Do you think it takes a level of experience and maturity as a guitarist to get to be able to capitalize musically on that “less is more” approach?
KWS: I think everyone who is young when they pick up a guitar wants to be fast. A lot of that is youth and a lot of what I am doing does come with maturity but there are a lot of guys out there who play fast like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani or even Joe Bonnamassa. Those guys aren’t kids and they still play fast a lot of the time and they are really good at it, really technically talented. For me, it’s like Albert King. Nothing that guy does is fast. He never plays anything fast, it’s all just straight from the gut feeling. You know Hendrix is about as fast as a player, or Stevie Ray in his later days when his speed was picking up, that’s about as fast as it gets for me. It’s cool and it’s fun to play fast but I feel like when I play with B.B. King he can play just one note and it says everything for him. That’s more inspirational to me than seeing how many notes you can cram into a phrase.
HRH: You built your chops on the blues and in that genre you’re well respected. Do you think you’ll continue to explore more rock or alternative styles or stick primarily with the blues?
KWS: Well blues will be in everything I do and no matter how many times I branch out in different directions, I’ll always return to the blues It’s the foundation of what I do. In my heart, I love the blues and I could just play blues guitar all day long and be happy. As a musician, songwriter, composer and producer, taking the blues in different directions keeps things interesting to me. To throw a progression in that isn’t typical of the blues to see what direction it takes the music and to see what ideas it generates, I find that interesting. Now, I could sit around and play a slow blues or a 1-4-5 blues shuffle all day long and it would be a lot of fun but as a writer I like to try different things. I also like to incorporate my rock influences because you know blues and rock were cut from the same mold.
HRH: You often are compared to Stevie Ray Vaughan but from a guitar playing and song writing perspective, what sets you apart from SRV?
KWS: If I had to place myself on a chart, I’d say I’m musically somewhere between Stevie Ray and Jimi Hendrix. I think my music has more of an edge to it that Stevie Ray Vaughan’s music but it isn’t quite as out there or not as psychedelic as Hendrix. But there are plenty of songs I’ve performed and recorded over the years that I don’t think Steve Ray Vaughan would have recorded. “Blue on Black” is a perfect example, I can’t say that I could see Stevie Ray doing that song, that’s not to say he wouldn’t like it but I don’t know, as an artist I just don’t think that is a song he would have done. My fourth album, “The Place You’re In”, the album I sung on, is a straight ahead rock record and I don’t think it’s a record that Stevie Ray would have done. So, you know, I feel like I’m in the middle ground between those two guys. I have a pretty significant rock background growing up listening to ZZ Top, Jimi Hendrix, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Almond Brothers, lots of southern rock bands and all of that stuff finds its way into your music, intentional or not simply because you absorb it.
HRH: Do you think people who describe you as an “SRV clone” have actually listened to your musical catalog?
KWS: You know man, it seems like everyone tries to fit you in to a box. Look at Stevie Ray, when he was around people were calling him a Hendrix clone. Listen to B.B. King’s early stuff, it’s all T. Bone Walker stuff because T. Bone was B.B.’s hero at the time. Everyone has their heroes and influences and that’s not something I’m going to disregard. If it wasn’t for Stevie Ray Vaughan I would probably not be doing what I’m doing. Kenny Wayne Shepherd might not even exist as a guitar player that’s how significant he was to me on a personal level and on a musical level. So I have no problem, he’s one of the greatest guitar players to pick up the instrument, so if people want to compare me to him or throw me in that category that’s okay. There’s a lot of people who would love to be mentioned in the same breath with him.
HRH: Today the tables are somewhat turned and now you’re influencing a host of younger guitarist. Guys like up and coming blues/rock guitarist Scotty Bratcher. He’s 23, plays a KWS signature Strat and lists you as one of his influences. How’s that feel?
KWS: I think its great. It’s hard for me to look at myself like that, I still revert back to that little kid with the guitar looking up at my heroes and just being a music and guitar enthusiast. It’s hard for me to see myself on a pedestal but it’s very complimentary and it has a big impact on me when people tell me my music influences them. You have a big responsibility when you are successful (in music). Music is a powerful thing and I try to take that responsibility and turn it into a positive thing.
HRH: Let me ask you about your rig, I understand you’re using some gear from Pennsylvania based effects maker Pigntroix. How did you get hooked up with them and what’s your impression of their gear?
KWS: Yes, I’m using one of their effects pedals in the studio, one of the guys at Pigtronix sent me one of their EP2 Envelope Phasers, it’s a big unit and it gets these really crazy sounds. You can go like way far out there and get really trippy with it or you can get some very subtle effects. I used it on a song called “Anywhere The Wind Blows” with a couple chorus pedals and was able to get this great big monstrous sound. It’s a really cool sounding pedal, it’s the only pedal I have from Pigtronix but I am very impressed with it, impressed enough to use it on an album!
HRH: You’ve got a nice arsenal of gigging guitars. Are there any routine modifications you make to your guitars to make them your own?
KWS: Look, that’s why my Kenny Wayne Shepherd Fender Strat signature model guitar is so ideal because the guitars are built the way I want. Now, if I bought a new guitar off the shelf I would to do it what have been done to the signature model. I would immediately put 6100 jumbo frets on it. I would put Graph Tech guitar labs saddles on it, I would probably put my signature series pickups in it because we worked a year and a half on them to get the right sound and I think they sound really good! Feeling and sound is most important in a guitar, if the frets aren’t big enough you can always re-fret it and the graphite saddles are so important to reduce string breakage. Since I’ve been using those saddles if a string has broken it’s because of a flaw in the string, they make a big difference.
HRH: Well hey Kenny, thank you very much for your time this evening, have a great show and enjoy Cincinnati. Any final thoughts for our readers?
KWS It was good meeting you and yes, I hope they will pick up a copy of my new record “How I Go” I think they’ll like it.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd is currently on tour with Joe Walsh. For more information on Kenny Wayne Shepherd, visit his official website at http://www.kennywayneshepherd.net/.
by Derric Miller
Staff Writer —
Michael Eden announced his departure from Eden’s Curse … and then the shat hit the metaphorical fan. Because of the fallout, the lack of any public communication from the band itself, the negative and erroneous info being slung around the Internet, Eden is doing one, all-encompassing interview to put the final nail in the coffin and give you the exact truth about what happened. Why he left, if “money” was one of the reasons, his relationship with each band mate, what he has learned from the experience, why he is going to make a new Eden’s Curse in America … and so much more. This two-hour interview covers everything from touring to in-fighting to the fact he absolutely wishes the band the best of luck in their search to find someone who can actually replace his voice and contributions to the legacy thus far.
Hardrock Haven has been a friend of the band since their inception; they even put an interview with Pamela Moore, Paul Logue and Michael Eden on the EP Condemned to Burn. There is a long history here, and that’s why Eden came to Hardrock Haven — the only place on earth you will hear this interview.
Never one to hold back when he feels strongly about something, tune in now to hear the exclusive interview with Eden and why Eden’s Curse is as far behind him as he can put it … but also straight ahead of him.
*** Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here by Michael Eden do not reflect the views or opinions of HardrockHaven.net and or our staff. The interview presented is for entertainment purposes only. — MGMT.
by Derric Miller
Staff Writer –
Kansas drummer Phil Ehart checked in with Hardrock Haven in the midst of their current tour to talk about how the College Symphony Tour was created; the 35th anniversary compilation Dust in the Wind, a book featuring original handwritten lyrics, song history and letters from fans; why they picked Autism Speaks as the charity the proceeds from the book sales go to; why you need to get off your ass and rediscover Kansas live again; and a whole lot more.
Ehart is one of two Kansas members who have appeared on every studio recording, and he is also a major influence to scores of drummers in the past and today. Tune in now to get to know Ehart, and if they are playing in your neck of the woods any time soon … go see them.
(If the embedded player doesn’t populate, click here to stream the interview in a stand alone player.)
by Cameron Edney
Guest Staff Writer –
From The Blackening, Unto the Locust with Machine Head’s Phil Demmel
Heavy Metal giants Machine Head are one of the finest, hardest working, greatest live acts you will ever see walking the face of this planet and they have just released their brand new eagerly awaited follow up to 2008’s The Blackening. For the past three years these heavy metal giants have been on the road in support of an album that critics and fans classed as the metal album of the decade, so to say that fans have been anxiously awaiting the release of Unto the Locust is an understatement. Featuring seven tracks, the band’s latest album is much heavier, darker and more aggressive musically then anything they have done in the past.
Writing for the first time about more fictional characters and situations rather than from personal experiences, Machine Head take us out of The Blackening and straight into hell right from the get-go with the album’s opening track ‘I am Hell’; a nine minute epic that is broken up into three section’s I: Sangre Sani (Blood Saint), II: I Am Hell, III: Ashes to the Sky. ‘Unto the Locust’ has been smashing charts all over the globe peaking at number twenty two on the American Billboard charts and smashing charts in Germany, Finland, New Zealand, Japan, Sweden, not to leave out right here in Australia where they entered the charts at number ten; not too bad for a Heavy metal act that most average folk would never give the time of day!
Earlier this year Machine Head were supposed to return to Australia taking part in the Soundwave Revolution festival bill which was to be headlined by Van Halen, unfortunately those shows were cancelled with many of the bands billed now confirmed to take part in the 2012 Soundwave Festivals come February. With a massive sixty two band line-up the 2012 Soundwave Festival recently confirmed the return of bands such as Slipknot, System of a Down, Marilyn Manson and the mighty Machine Fuckin Head as they are best known. Due to take place around Australia in February and running into March, the 2012 Soundwave Festival’s will undoubtedly go down as the best shows to hit Australia all year long! I recently had the pleasure of catching up with the bands extremely talented guitarist Phil Demmel to discuss the band’s new album, having his son featured on one of the bands new songs, his thoughts on the recently cancelled Australian shows with Van Halen and more!
Kick back as escape ‘The Blackening’ and head ‘Unto the Locust’ with Phil Demmel:
Hardrock Haven: Hi Phil, thanks for putting some time aside to speak with us today, congratulations on the brand new album Unto the Locust you must be thrilled with the outcome?
Phil Demmel: Yeah absolutely, we knew we had a lot of special songs putting them together; we went into the studio with nine and came out with seven. We broke the first song into three, we knew we had some special stuff, some different stuff and we all felt really stoked about it. It’s been really well received so far.
Hardrock Haven: Robb [Flynn] had made it very clear in statements surrounding the new album that fan’s shouldn’t expect The Blackening Pt. 02 as you never set out to write the follow up to it, so how do you hope the fans take to the new album and what do you hope they will take away with them after listening to it?
Phil Demmel: I hope they just take it in and understand what the record’s about. There are a lot of emotional songs on this record, trying to convey a lot of the feelings that we as people feel. It’s obviously a Machine Head record with all the Machine Head elements in it, but there’s also new element’s that we’re introducing too. I hope that people read the lyrics and understand what the songs are about, we’re a very honest band and speak from the heart, we translate what we’re feeling into our music and I think the fans will pick up on that!
Hardrock Haven: The last time I caught up with you was backstage during the very last show of The Blackening tour and we spoke about how you were missing your son and counting down the hours to see him, fast forward to now and your son is singing on the new album, tell us how that all came about?
Phil Demmel: Robb had demoed a couple of songs that he had written before I joined in the writing process. I was going through some stuff that had taken me away from the writing process and Robb and Dave [McClain] got together and wrote ‘This is the End’ and ‘Who we Are’ and had demoed both those songs in pre-production. Robb had bought his and our engineer [Juan Urteaga] kids in to sing; so we had these kids singing this classroom choir part and for the album recording we bought the same kids in and I bought my son down to the studio to record it as well; but he clammed up and got a little shy. He was more interested in watching Robb direct the other kids so I took him home. Robb was really pushing to have him on the record, he was saying “I really wanna have him on the record man, let’s try to get this happening” so I shut him in a room by himself for a little while with the chorus looping over and over again, he had the headphones on and I had to leave the room but he ended up singing it through one time, and that was enough to get it out of there. I am so proud, after my long music career, to have my son sing on the record with me, it’s a very proud moment and I’m really glad that Robb pushed to have it happen, it’s really special!
Hardrock Haven: It is really awesome man, when you guys began to hit the studio and work on the new songs you began to post up small You Tube videos, showing fans what was happening in the room and one thing that stood out for me was the posters you all had up for “inspiration,” from Judas Priest to Kiss and Iron Maiden. How much drive and inspiration did those posters give you? How much do you think looking up at all those posters of your heroes affected the overall outcome of the new album?
Phil Demmel: It has a resonating effect! I put some other ones up too on my side that you can’t see; I had Phil Lynott up there, Metallica with Cliff [Burton], Angus from the Bon Scott era AC/DC up there. We wanted to create that classic and epic record and they were the masters, those were the ones that did it and we wanted to fill up the air with the vibe of that. When we got into the studio I had my original Number of the Beast and Screaming for Vengeance tour programs and Robb would put up different pictures… “Who’s going to be our inspiration for today…? Clive Burr”. There were all these pictures of these classic metal bands, we really drew a lot of inspiration from that; you can really hear the [Judas] Priest influence I mean shit, we do ‘The Sentinel’ on this as a cover for a b-side. You can hear the classic [Iron] Maiden, you listen to a song like ‘Be Still and Know’ and that sounds like Maiden totally!
Hardrock Haven: Phil, moving on to touring as everyone is aware you guys were supposed to visit us last month as part of the cancelled Soundwave Revolution that had Van Halen headlining. When news spread that Van Halen had cancelled it seemed that most of the bands found out via social media sites before the organizers could reach everyone, was this the case with you guys and what was your reaction to the news?
Phil Demmel: Stupid Van Halen not getting the right colored M and M’s or whatever the fuck happened! We were really looking forward to that run; it was looking like it was going to be a lot of fun! We were on the Rockstar Mayhem Tour with a lot of bands that were going to be on that tour like Unearth, Hatebreed and some other bands that were stoked about it. Someone from the Van Halen camp had told me that it was being cancelled but to keep it under my hat so I had known about it for about a week or so before it came out. I told the band and other bands were walking up saying how excited they were about it and I was all “well, a little birdie told me it’s not happening” and slowly the rumors came to truth and everybody was just bummed man! Getting to play with classic Van Halen is a once in a lifetime event and since it’s not going to happen again Fuck You Van Halen!
Hardrock Haven: Phil, you’re no stranger to playing here in Australia, Machine Head love it here, and we love having you guys down here. When you look back now on all the past Aussie tour what comes to mind as your favourite memories?
Phil Demmel: Ah man we’ve had so many good runs there, the Ashes run was my first time there and being on the shores of Perth and swimming in the ocean was awesome. Melbourne during Halloween on the Black Crusade tour where I dressed up like Britney Spears from the ‘Hit Me One More Time’ video; the two nights we did at Luna Park in Sydney on that tour was amazing. The after party after the Sydney show was just crazy, Led Zeppelin type stuff, all the shows have been awesome, doing the huge arena tour with slipknot was great, we love it down there, good times man! I met the girl of my dreams in Australia the last time we were down there. One of the greatest things that has ever happened to me was on that run. I have very special memories of Australia and knowing that I was in love for the first time when I was in Brisbane!
Hardrock Haven: Mate, just before we do wrap this up, you will be back in Australia early next year for the Soundwave Festival’s, the new album is out now and doing very well, what other immediate plans are in place for the band?
Phil Demmel: We’re doing a headlining run with Devildriver, Bring Me the Horizon, Darkest Hour through November and December in arenas throughout the UK, this will be our most ambitious run yet overseas.
Hardrock Haven: Well Phil, I hope it goes very well for you guys! I also want to thank you again for your time today; it’s always a pleasure man! Do you have any last words for our readers?
Phil Demmel: Australian fans have always been so good to the band; we’ve had such a great relationship with them all down there. Thank you Australia for supporting Machine Head, we can’t wait to get down there and make up for this Van Halen fuck up and tear up Australia one more time!
October 12, 2011 by Publisher
by Deb Rao
Staff Writer –
There is a fine line between sports and music. Both forms of art run high on adrenaline. There is a new band in California called Brute Forcz that that proves wrestling and music go hand in hand. Founded by two brothers that are ex-pro wrestlers that go by the name of Jammer and Slammer, Brute Forcz is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Jammer describes the bands music as fast and hard. Inspired by Motorhead, heavy metal fans will enjoy the thunderous riffs. Brute Forcz has just released a 4 song EP entitled Kick Ass Heavy Metal. Lead singer Jammer was kind enough to give Hardrock Haven readers an exclusive track by track plus introduce you to the making of Brute Forcz.
HRH: Jammer, thank you for checking in with Hardrock Haven. Tell us how Brute Forcz came into fruition. Tell us about Kick Ass Heavy Metal.
Jammer: Thanks for having us. People like yourself and magazines that help us out, we really appreciate it. Our CD is an EP, it is four songs that were produced by Bob Kulick. It is four-kick ass heavy metal ’80′s style type of music. A lot of people have been comparing us to a Motorhead, Accept or Venom. We take that as a compliment. We’re more old school. That is the style we grew up with. We took everything to Bob Kulick. He is a Grammy Award winner and guitar legend. We put it out there on the market to see what it would look like.
HRH: What was it like working with Bob Kulick? How did he guide you in the studio?
Jammer: He was great to work with. Very straightforward and that is how we are. When he tells us something, you can’t take it personally. But I’ll speak for myself and for my brother. He has really helped our musicianship a lot. He helped me develop the vocals that I needed. He made us better musicians. He made our guitar player extend himself a little more. We were just really honored to work with him.
HRH: The first single is “Live For Speed.”
Jammer: We actually have taken that song to Nascar. That description for that song is basically, it is the way that heavy metal fans like it fast and hard. We have “Leather N Chains” that song describes the heavy metal lifestyle. We live that life style leather and chains. The bike you ride and the women you go out with. We have another song “Sex Machine.” That song is pretty much self-explanatory. We have a song “Thrill Queen”. That song is our tribute to the women in the adult industry. We have 13 or 14 songs but we put those songs out front.
HRH: What was it like working with your brother Jammer in the studio?
Jammer: We have wrestled together. It is great being with your brother first of all because you can trust him. You have the same kind of ideas. Sometimes you want to have the power to make decisions that you want to make. He is a really good drummer.
HRH: How long have you been playing music together?
Jammer: We actually, started a band after we left high school. It was a cover and band it didn’t work out so it ended up being an original band. We played for about a year. Then we split from Atlanta, Georgia right when we started to get a lot of gigs. We had an opportunity to become professional wrestlers. Then after wrestling, we moved out here to get into acting a bit. We always wanted to pick the band up again because we always missed it. Brute Forcz has been playing since 2010. We actually played 45 shows last year.
HRH: Yes, you opened up for LA Guns and Wasp. What was it like playing for some of the ’80s band?
Jammer: I like that style of guitar. I like that chainsaw whipping guitar style. You would know from Dokken and George Lynch, “Into The Fire” and stuff like that. Joey Belladonna saw us play and told us he liked our show backstage.
HRH: I definitely can hear your Motorhead influences.
Jammer: We are huge Motorhead fans.
HRH: Do you have any shows lined up?
Jammer: We’re trying to get on a tour. We’re trying to go over to Europe. We’re also trying to get set-up to play some Monster Jams to play in front of huge crowds.
HRH: That will be great if you play Vegas. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Jammer: We’re getting ready to launch a big Web site in a couple of weeks. It’s called www.bruteforcz.com We would like to thank family and friends and Bob Kulick. We are looking forward to being able to tour. And Hardrock Haven for helping these kind of bands out.
Find Brute Forcz on the web: www.myspace.com/bruteforcz
October 11, 2011 by Publisher
by Ron & Don Higgins
Staff Writer –
Hardrock Haven: First, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk with us today.
Jon Anderson: I’m happy to talk to you too. How are you doing?
HRH: Doing great. Having wonderful weather here in the Midwest for a change. Where are you at right now?
Jon Anderson: I’m in central California in a very small village actually, up in the hills. Beautiful, surrounded by little birds, little doves, little rabbits, little jackrabbits.
HRH: That sounds wonderful.
Jon Anderson: A little heaven.
HRH: Kinda like heaven, yes. I know you’re in the middle of your tour, or did you just wrap up this leg of the solo tour?
Jon Anderson: Yeah, just last week and now we’re on holiday for three weeks. Then we’re going to do more music and then tour with Rick Wakeman on the East Coast.
Jon Anderson: In mid October to November.
HRH: That willl be fabulous. You’ve toured with him solo in the past haven’t you?
Jon Anderson: We did a tour five years ago and we did one last year in the UK.
HRH: Will this be the first time you two have done this show in the US?
Jon Anderson: Yeah, it will be considerably voice heavy. We actually tell jokes and then we play music and we play songs from our new album Living Tree. We’ll be playing the songs and some new ideas. Actually, we might do “Awaken”… a stripped down version.
HRH: That would be fabulous. That’s a great tune. You used to play that on the Union tour.
Jon Anderson: Oh yeah, that was amazing!
HRH: That’s one of my favorites. Obviously one of the main reasons we wanted to talk with you today is to talk about this fabulous new album of yours. We’ve had it now for about a month. I enjoyed it when I first listened to it but, I have to tell you, I like it more every time I listen to it. I don’t know why but it just gets better and better. It’s just absorbed into my psyche now and I really, really enjoy this album.
Jon Anderson: Excellent. I’m glad you like it. It’s one of those things, you make music, you put together an album of songs… Every time I’d listen to them… I love hearing them again. By time you finish you know them inside and out.
Jon Anderson: So you’re listening to them differently than when you first heard them and first created them. When you hear the album it’s like the first time and you hope people spend some time like you have done to listen to them again every day or once a week or something and you go through the experience of the music, exactly the same experience I went through when creating the music.
HRH: I like to do it because I’m going to review the album and I like to make sure I really know it before I review it because it’s only fair. I like to live with it for a while. That’s what I did in this case. It’s funny, for reviews I like to highlight a couple of the standouts. What I caught myself doing is, I had two or three standout tracks and then every time I listened to it I added another standout track. Give me another month and there will be 11 standout tracks on the 11 song album.
Jon Anderson: I love it!
HRH: I love how this came together, the fact you just put a note on your web site saying if you’re a musician and interested in collaborating, contact me. What a great idea and something I don’t think people would expect from someone with your history to do but it’s clearly worked out very well.
Jon Anderson: It’s one of those things, when you start doing a project you hope you are doing the right thing but when you put it out there on the web site and you have everyone around the world sending you music, you realize, first of all, that there’s so many talented people out there and secondly they sort of resound with me when I hear the music for the first time. I would sing the ideas right away, send it back to them and they’d send it back to me with a little change in the music or put something in or take something out, then we’d talk about it and then Skype each other. That’s how we got to know each other. Then over the years you start to create lots of music. For me it was always a big fascination, what was going to come in my email today. Actually, I had one piece of music yesterday from a guy in Romania. It’s just so beautiful to hear the music because it’s very fresh for me, you see?
HRH: Yeah, that’s great. You’re not confined to just one or two songwriters, you’ve basically got the world at your fingertips that you can draw creativity from and that just opens up an entire realm of possibilities.
Jon Anderson: That’s for sure.
HRH: The fact you can take all those things and combine them into a cohesive album… it certainly doesn’t sound like 11 disjointed songs by a bunch of different people, it sounds like a Jon Anderson album. It very much sounds like a unified effort and there’s something to say about that as well.
Jon Anderson: Yeah, you have people come through my web site, so first of all, they know who I am and the music I like to do so they create music that resonates inside of me. As I said before, there are so many talented people out there and we’re living in a sort of new world of music where we can put music on the internet and we don’t have to deal with record companies deciding if it’s good or bad. You just put music out there. It’s a very , very good time.
HRH: Sure. That’s an interesting perspective because you hear a lot of artists complain about the digital age whereas you have embraced it. You’re right, with the advent of technology you can kind of utilize the record labels less and it gets more back to the art and the music and less of being about the business.
Jon Anderson: That’s so true. Part of it is, I’m very lucky that I went through the past 40 years realizing how things have changed and modernized. I still believe… I’ve worked with a lot of young people over the last 5-6 years. I’ve worked with the School of Rock people in LA and New York and Chicago and San Francisco. You work with these young people… there are some very talented teenagers, you know? It really inspires me to want to do more work and create more with younger people.
HRH: That’s great. So were the people you collaborated with on these songs , were they primarily younger people?
Jon Anderson: Some were sort of 30, 40, year old. But there are a couple in their 20’s. One guy, the second song “Understanding Truth”, he came to see my show in Holland and played some guitar for me backstage so I sent him my email address and he sent me this beautiful music that I sang on and gosh he was 22 years old, you know?
HRH: That’s great. And it’s opening up an opportunity for a guy that never would’ve had the ability to collaborate with someone that’s been in the business as long as you have.
Jon Anderson: Again, that’s the world we’re living in, you know? We’ve got new systems now where you can work with people… Skype, you now, you can talk to people and see people, you can make music with people in Skype. I’ve done it. It sounds kind of far out as well.
HRH: That would be interesting. I’ve got to know though, you mentioned placing that ad for musicians, did you have some well known musicians respond? I’ve got to think a lot of people would be interested in working with you whether they’re already popular in their own right.
Jon Anderson: It’s funny, no, because people that are already popular probably don’t go to my web site.
HRH: Well they should!
Jon Anderson: (laughs)
HRH: If I understand correctly, these collaborations, this is not a one-off project. You are going to release other stuff with these collaborations, isn’t that right?
Jon Anderson: Yeah, I’ve got a couple more albums of this music that will come out this year and the year after.
HRH: Oh, that’s great!
Jon Anderson: I’m constantly writing music with different people so it could just be an endless stream of energy, which is kind of cool too.
HRH: As a fan, I love to hear that. That the creativity is going to keep on coming and we’ll keep getting great music.
Jon Anderson: I like to keep doing it, that’s for sure.
HRH: That’s great. By the way, I meant to ask this at the beginning of the interview, but how are you doing ? I know you had some health issues but on this album you sound great. You sound as well as you ever have.
Jon Anderson: Yeah, thanks for that. I’m feeling really good. It’s funny when I start singing this energy kicks in. I’m singing as well as I ever have and sometimes better. Physically, I’m a lot better than I was and obviously I’m just a lot happier over the past couple of years. I’m just getting better and better so thanks for asking.
HRH: That’s fantastic. Jon Anderson has a lot more up his sleeves, a lot more for the fans. That’s great for everybody. Now speaking of the album, first off, I really enjoyed it. There are a number of standouts. The first one “New New World” is one my absolute favorites. I love how it starts off with tribal drumming, almost making me think I’m getting ready to watch another season of Survivor or something. But what rally struck me about that song and “Love of the Life” are how similar they sound to Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe, which I absolutely love. More people need to discover that album. And I felt because of the up-tempo stuff, in particular, “Love of the Life” reminds me of “Teakbois.”
Jon Anderson: Oh yeah! You know, I never thought of that. But it’s that kind of music I enjoy doing.
HRH: I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed the album so much because I really do love that ABWH album and having a couple of tracks off this that reminds me of that… I was sold from that point.
Jon Anderson: It is interesting, when you look at songs from ABWH, I was able to control that album and when you control something the best that you can do is give everybody freedom to do what they want. When you manage something, the best way to manage is to let everybody perform their best rather than tell them what to play. This is the same situation. I don’t tell anybody what to create. I just say send me what you’ve got. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s just the way it is.
HRH: Sure. I noticed that some things sounded a little like ABWH and some reminded me of Magnification as well, like when you have the orchestrated parts.
Jon Anderson: Yeah, in some ways Magnification was a point in time where we were all working on this in high gear. Sometimes you get together as a band and sometimes everybody is sort of pushing and pulling in different ways and an album can come out that’s not quite in harmony but that’s what you do for that year. You say, well okay, this is the album. You hope it’s good but there are some albums you do that are really special.
HRH: And Magnification is one of those album that are probably less known but shouldn’t be.
Jon Anderson: I agree. (laughs)
HRH: And I would go a step back. I thought The Ladder before that was great, and it was nice to see with that and Magnification that the creativity of the group and the music was still strong. It doesn’t sound exactly like an album recorded in 1972, but it doesn’t need to.
Jon Anderson: It’s quite amazing that a band could be together for 35 years for one thing. Not many bands can stay together for that long musically, you know. People in the band change here and there, come back, left, whatever, but the music kept going for 35 years. You can look at that and that’s a truly amazing event itself. When I look at it, 80% of the albums we did were really special and that’s a pretty good percentage, you know?
HRH: Very much for the amount of material you guys have put out as a group and as individuals. There’s just so much out there and so much is very good and, like I said, with all the collaborations and solo projects, not everything sounds the same but you wouldn’t want to have 20 albums and have them all sound the same, that would be very boring. You can see the creativity change and grow with the different members. At times it may be a little different but it’s still very good in my opinion. Although Angus Young does say AC/DC has created the same album 20 times!
Jon Anderson: Yeah, different strokes for different people. That’s just the way it is.
HRH: But you make a good point about the fact YES music has been able to sustain so long. I’m always struck by the bands that are in a sense still going but when you get to their concert… I just had this experience, I just saw Foreigner and you realize that they now have exactly one original member.
Jon Anderson: Oh, yeah.
HRH: At what point does it stop being a band and become a really good cover band?
Jon Anderson: My whole idea of YES music is that it will survive the band. In 10-20 years time, there will be young musicians performing YES music.
HRH: I think that’s absolutely true.
Jon Anderson: It will be part of the music knowledge. You’re in a band, you’ll learn some Beatles, a little Zappa, some YES… it’s just of the things you learn to become a better musician. It’s part of the schooling.
HRH: Sure. I guarantee there will be YES in those types of curriculum’s. Well, to get back to the album, the other thing is, this doesn’t surprise me, but lyrically it’s a very spiritual album. I’m sure you’d agree with that?
Jon Anderson: Like everybody, we’re all spiritual beings and I like to sing about the path and the seeking, the connection with Mother Earth and The Divine. I just like singing about it and I always have so it’s nothing new in a way, it’s just a way of explaining certain things and emotions, you know?
HRH: Sure. And the obvious one on the album, you see a song titled “Big Buddha Song” it’s pretty obvious it’s going to be somewhat spiritual. I wasn’t sure what to expect but after hearing it I enjoyed it very much. I thought it was interesting how it calls out a lot of the … Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed… it thanks all of them. What kind of reaction have you gotten from people?
Jon Anderson: It’s mostly positive because they were related to the cold hard life and war-like tendencies of the human experience. But we do have the reality of Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed, Jesus. They are the ones who show us the way. The Enlightenment. So the actual song is pretty dark in the actual lyric of the verse, it talks about the “balance of the Earth is in the sand”, which is about oil.
HRH: Well, it’s one my favorite songs on the album, musically and lyrically it’s top-notch.
Jon Anderson: It’s funny, I wrote the chorus while I was driving around listening to the Christian channel on the radio because they have very good productions and good songs. I’m interested in how they… the recordings are pretty cool. So I’m listening and I started thinking… I wonder if there’s somebody in India driving around listening to Krishna music. And of course, there is. They have Krishna music, they have music for Mohammed, they have music for Buddha in China. They have music which is very spiritual which is their connection with God or The Divine or whatever you want to call it. So the whole idea is… I thought why not write a song about all four of the masters. I know it won’t get played on Christian radio but maybe somebody out there will hear it, you know?
HRH: Sure. The other song that strikes me is “Just One Man”. Did you write that thinking about one particular person? Because when I hear it, as a Christian, I can easily substitute that for Jesus.
Jon Anderson: Oh yeah, that was definitely for Jesus.
HRH: Oh, okay.
Jon Anderson: Because you know, he’s The Savior, on our hearts, you know?
Jon Anderson: Because Buddha was a teacher.
Jon Anderson: He was a great man, like Gandhi. Like Chief Seattle. He was a great teacher. It’s just one of those funny things, we keep forgetting that they’re all saying the same thing in a way but Jesus was the one that came and said “I Am the Light,” you know?
Jon Anderson: You can’t discount the millions of people who look up to Buddha, who look up to Mohammed… you can’t say, well the Muslims are crazy. No, no, no, no. The Muslims are beautiful, just like you and me.
HRH: Right. We’re all human.
Jon Anderson: You always get some people that are a little bit wild and crazy in any religion.
HRH: Yeah, it always bothers me when people try to stereotype a religion based on the fanatics. Every religion has them. I wouldn’t dare compare the typical Muslim to a terrorist any more than I would compare a Christian to one of the people who bombs abortion clinics. That’ a small fragment.
Jon Anderson: Exactly.
HRH: But too many people, I think, too easily want to write off an entire group of people because they don’t happen to be their group of people.
Jon Anderson: The good thing is we’re waking up to a realization where 40, 50, 60 years ago we didn’t care. Now we care. We’re waking up, you know?
HRH: And exactly how we talked about the internet and how it is useful for Skyping and music, it just makes the whole world a smaller place. It’s one community; it’s one globe. We’re not as separated by coast lines and everything else, whether it’s religion or music, it’s definitely a smaller world and hopefully we can get to a more cohesive, unified harmony among everybody where everyone understands each other and accepts a little bit better.
Jon Anderson: Totally agree.
HRH: I think your music definitely helps do that. Your music has always been spiritual, everything from Tales to your new album and everything else in between. It’s great to see you are still passionate about your lyrical content and what you’re putting out there.
Jon Anderson: We all play our part in our world like you do with your project and you get people interested in totally different kinds of music. It opens up so many avenues to so many people, you know?
HRH: Absolutely and speaking of music, you’ve been doing stuff with Rick Wakeman. YES fans obviously love to hear that but they may not be aware that you are also collaborating with Trevor Rabin as well. I’ve heard the three of you are working on a new project, so I just wanted to ask about that.
Jon Anderson: Yeah, I feel we’re all connected on so many levels. I’m actually working with Trevor… I went to see him do a movie a few months ago. It was amazing to watch him work in a studio with a full orchestra and about 20 people around him. It was for a movie and it was just wonderful music as well.
HRH: Sure. He’s done a lot of that recently.
Jon Anderson: Oh yeah, he’s become a master.
HRH: Yes. He sure has. You see his name and Danny Elfman, there’s a few of them you see over and over again. It’ll be great for fans of his solo music like Can’t Look Away as well as the number of YES albums he’s done to be back doing new music with you and Rick. I think it’s very exciting. Do you have time for one more question?
Jon Anderson: I’ve got time for one more.
HRH: Okay, great. I just wanted to comment, in this day and age, people like to download music but in this case it would be a real shame because there are very extensive biographical liner notes that I thoroughly enjoyed . My question is, in the liner notes, it gets to a point where they sort of just stop so I’m assuming the next chapter will be in the next CD. Is that right?
Jon Anderson: Yes, my stories will be in each CD that I release.
HRH: Got it. My favorite quote had to be the one where you talk about being a young man and seeing strippers that you say, “will turn you off sex forever.” That’s hysterical.
Jon Anderson: Exactly! (Laughs)
HRH: Loved it. Well Jon we can’t let you go without at least asking this question. Obviously YES has released a brand new album. Have you heard it and what are your thoughts?
Jon Anderson: I’ve heard it. The singing is beautiful, the arranging is good but when I listen to it, it didn’t sound like the YES that I understand. It didn’t sound as exciting as I had hoped it would be and to me it sounded a little bit… it wasn’t like future music, it sounded a little dated in a way. That’s the way I felt. I only listened to it once and thought, well, that’s what they’re doing. I gotta get along with my life.
HRH: Sure. Part of the reason it sounds dated is the first part of the album ,the first six tracks, the “Fly From Here” suite, was actually put together and written 30 years ago when the same group of guys were working on the Drama album, so it would make sense that at least that part of the album would be somewhat dated.
Jon Anderson: Sure. They were working with Trevor Horn, he was the producer. It didn’t feel like he was there. I was expecting it to jump out and be a big music thing but it didn’t do anything for me. That’s the way life can be.
HRH: That’s fair.
Jon Anderson: Okay, I wish you well, guys.
HRH: Ok, well, listen, thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule. You’re scheduled to be here in March so we hope to see your solo show live.
Jon Anderson: Excellent!
HRH: So thank you so much. Have a wonderful day and congrats on the great album and we look forward to the next collaboration.
Jon Anderson: Thanks, guys. (laughs)
October 9, 2011 by Publisher
by Deb Rao
Staff Writer –
Exclusive Bassist Mike Rodden from Hinder Talks ShipRocked and All American Nightmare
One of the most popular bands in music today, HINDER have been touring non-stop this year. The band’s current single “What Ya Gonna Do” is receiving huge radio airplay from their latest release All American Nightmare. Recently this summer, Hinder performed to a huge audience at Rock On The Range.
Hinder is currently gearing up for ShipRocked, which is slated to take place Nov.14-19. The cruise departs from Ft. Lauderdale and heads to Cozumel and Costa Maya. Bassist Mike Rodden checks in with Hardrock Haven to give the fans exclusive details and also discuss the making of All American Nightmare.
HRH: Mike, Thank you for checking in with Hardrock Haven. Hinder has been on the road touring non-stop all year. How has the tour been going so far?
Mike: It has been going good. We have been playing a lot of festivals and some club dates in between them. It’s good. The turnout is good and the fans are having a good time. It’s a success for us.
HRH: I know that you just recently played one of the biggest festivals all summer Rock On The Range correct? What were some of the highlights from that show? Thousands of people get to hear Hinder. How awesome is that?
MIKE: Yes, back in the summer time. That show is always rad. We played that three or four times now. That is like one of the biggest festivals of the year. The line-ups of all the different bands are crazy. It is always cool to get to share the stage with bands like ZZ Top, Velvet Revolver and countless other bands that played that night. It is always a good feeling to be out there.
HRH: Hinder is gearing for a cruise called ShipRocked. It is going to take place Nov.14-19. Tell us about that event.
Mike: It is something that has been going on a few years now. Our buddies in Lynam have been telling us about it. The past few years we haven’t been able to be a part of it because of scheduling conflicts. This year it worked out. We jumped right on it. There are bands like Queensryche, and Buckcherry. And Lynam. It is going to be great. It leaves from Ft. Lauderdale and goes to Cozumel to Costa Maya. It is going to be a good time for sure.
HRH: How is the schedule going to work? Are you playing every night?
Mike: We haven’t gotten our schedule yet. But from what I understand we play two of the nights. Each night it is a different combination of bands.
HRH: Earlier this year you release your third album All American Nightmare. Tell us about the writing process for this album.
Mike: This writing process was different. The whole album. We went about it different. The last couple of albums we wrote strictly with our producer. This album we went about it different. Austin and Cody kind of traveled around and wrote with some different writers. Some in Nashville and some in LA. To get different feels with other artists and other writers. We wrote about 70 songs and recorded about 50 of them. We narrowed it down with a different process and narrowed it down to eleven or twelve songs. It was definitely a different way to go.
HRH: How did you approach the writing?
Mike: Basically, they would come back to town with a skeleton of a song. We all kind of jam it out. I will get in there and write a bass line for the song that we are recording. Just lay it down and me and the producer will go over it and tweak it out a little bit to where we like it. That is pretty much my part.
HRH: What kind of bass do you use?
Mike: I use Specter basses.
HRH: How did you come up with the title All American Nightmare?
Mike: It was a song before it was the title of the album. We were going to name the album Two Sides Of Me which is another single on the record. Once the record got done and the whole flow with it and it came out, we decided it All American Nightmare would be a better title.
HRH: Do you know what is cool about this album is that is has different styles on it. I can hear a lot of blues riffs. Do you agree?
Mike: Yes, Cody is really into old school blues and you can really see it through his writing. They wrote with some country writers in Nashville. I think the bluesier stuff kind of came through. Blues is the base for rock and roll anyways. I think it kind of shines around this one more because of the circumstances.
HRH: How do you think Hinder has evolved since your debut back in 2006? I know the band opened up for Aerosmith back in 2006 for a couple of dates.
Mike: I think we have definitely matured as songwriters and as a band. I think that goes hand and hand with playing with bands like Aerosmith and old school bands that have been playing for years and years. You take some stuff from what they are doing and kind of learn from them. Apply it to our band how we go about the whole deal. We also have matured in the business. We realize it is a dirty business. You kind of got to look out for your own. There are lots of things that you learn over a six-year period.
HRH: It is hard to believe so much time has past since I have heard “Lips Of An Angel.”
Mike: Yes, that seems like yesterday. When we sit back and look, it has been a long time. It is crazy what that song did. We knew it was the song we wanted to put on our album and one we believed in. We didn’t know it was going to do what it did. That was definitely a pleasant surprise for us in a good way.
HRH: The latest single is,” What Ya Gonna Do.” They have been playing it out in Vegas.
Mike: Yes, we are about to release another one in October. We are really thankful for all the stations that have been playing it. We appreciate all of the support from all of them. We owe it to them and the fans.
HRH: Hinder has ShipRocked coming up in November. What’s the plan? Is the band going to head back into the studio after that?
Mike: Right now we are just trying to see what this next single is going to do. If it takes on and everybody is digging it. Then we can extend our album cycle that much more. We are always writing. We like to be on the road. That is what we like to do. If we can stay out here a little longer that is what we will do. If we need to go back into the studio, we will do that too.
HRH: Awesome. Thank you Mike for checking in with Hardrock Haven.
September 22, 2011 by Managing Editor
by Derric Miller
Kidd Havok guitarist Scot Marcs checked in with Hardrock Haven to talk about the brand new album Dirty Money; specific songs like “Back Door Man” and “The Way I Feel With You;” his upcoming solo instrumental; tour plans; and a whole lot more.
Sure, Kidd Havok gets compared to bands like Extreme, but since Extreme is one of the most talented bands in Hard Rock, the gents in Kidd Havok deal with it. Tune in now to get to know their enigmatic guitarist, and pick up Dirty Money immediately thereafter.
(If the embedded player doesn’t populate, click here to stream the interview in a stand alone player.)
September 22, 2011 by Publisher
by Deb Rao
Exclusive Ricky Phillips of Styx Discusses Upcoming Styx Vegas performance
One of the great rock bands that helped defined the classic rock genre Styx will be performing a special concert Sept. 24 at the Hard Rock at The Joint in Vegas. Styx bassist Ricky Phillips gives Hardrock Haven exclusive details surrounding the special event.
Hardrock Haven: Ricky, thank you so much for checking in with Hardrock Haven. Styx is going to be coming to Vegas on Sept. 24 performing at The Joint at the Hard Rock. Now the band has been touring non-stop all summer. Styx just got off the road doing a summer tour with Yes. Tell us what the Vegas fans can expect to see at the Hard Rock.
Ricky: It’s always fun for us to go to Vegas. We have a good time in Vegas. It’s always a good show. This year we are kind of interjecting some of the deeper album cuts along with the hits everybody wants to hear. Last year we did a run of shows at theaters on the East Coast. We played all of The Grand Illusion album. Then we took an intermission and then came back and did the entire Pieces Of Eight album. In doing that I started to perform songs that have never been performed live by the band. It got such a great fan response; we have been interjecting night to night. We change it up a little bit. I am not sure which songs will be in there. A lot of the stuff that the die-hard fans think that they are not going to hear. We are kind of just trying to surprise everybody and throw stuff in. We change it up so it is fresh for us and fresh for the audience. We have a lot of people that have seen us multiple times. It is just something that has worked out to be a win win for us.
Hardrock Haven: How long will your set be? Will you be doing two sets? I think Reo Speedwagon is on the same bill that night.
Ricky: Yes, I think so. And if that is the case both bands will be restricted to 75 minutes a set. We get up there, we mean business. We take charge. We will be slamming out songs for 75 solid minutes. We don’t like to stagnate. We like to keep the band fresh and moving forward. We up the bar and up the game every year. We want the next gig to be better than the last one. We have a great crew. There are about 21 people on our entourage. Our crew is every bit part of the show and every reason, we are able to do as many shows as we do and with the quality. We got a really good army of people. We are looking forward to the Vegas show simply because Vegas is so damn much fun!
Hardrock Haven: Since Vegas is all about the glitz and glamor; will the stage set be elaborate? Styx’s music surely stands on it own with just straight ahead rock and roll.
Ricky: I don’t think so. Only because we are out of concert season. This summer we had the big rig out. I think it is going to be what you said just straight ahead rock and roll. It’s funny I talk to fans and some just love the down and dirty shows where it is just the band. With all the content up there is a lot going on. I don’t think anybody will be disappointed.
Hardrock Haven: Vegas is gearing up for the Styx concert. The radio was just playing “Blue Collar Man” the other night. It’s amazing; year after year Styx is garnering new fans. Did you find that on the recent tour with Yes that families were bringing their kids to see the band and introducing them to your music?
Ricky: Yes there are a few things going on that we discovered. Families are bringing their young kids. Six or seven years ago, we discovered there have been 14, 15, 16 year old fans both boys and girls. Some of them discovered the band on a musical quest and not from family members. Maybe from Zeppelin or Hendrix records. I was singing “Lady”; it is kind of an aggressive pop song. Here I am singing this kid was singing along giving me this kind of full on Billy Idol scowl and Mohawk singing “Lady” at the top of his lungs. He was probably 15. I think by people going back and they’re not caught up going on when these songs were initially recorded they are taking the songs by face value.
Hardrock Haven: Regeneration Volume 2 is now out for the fans. Tell us about the new album.
Ricky: It is cool what is going on with this. We did the recordings at the time to kind of save the masters. There were trying to find the masters and some of them were found and some of them were misplaced. Then when you find them sometimes they are not playable. Regeneration 1 and 2 are being embraced by our fan base. We were doing “High Enough” for fun this summer and we put that on Regeneration Volume 2. It is something new for the fans to get along with the songs that were basically being archived.
Hardrock Haven: What was the goal of Styx when re-recording these classics hits? Did you want to keep it true to the sound but maybe make it fresh and bring in a little bit of the new element?
Ricky: I think that is what ended up happening. Initially, we were trying to stay so true to the original that we were paying homage to them. Never did we want to say this is how we do it now. To be honest. I think we have great respect in reference to the original master recording. Those were the songs that defined the time. I always say there is nothing worse to go hear a guitar lick or melody or a certain place in a song that I love and they don’t do it. We weren’t trying to re-invent the wheel and say this is how we do it now. A lot of the young kids who listen to the band let them know us as their Styx with great respect to the masters
Hardrock Haven: So many of the Styx catalog are hits and these songs have remained timeless. What do you think makes a good song stand the test of time?
Ricky: I think the great natural sense for the guys to write these multiple harmonies that became sort of the Styx sound. But also what we developed started in 1975 with James Young and Tommy Shaw, they have a dance that they do not physically on the stage but with their guitars. There is some choreography that happens with these guys naturally. When they both play guitar, they are playing completely different. But it creates this one bigger sound together. It is really identifiable as a part of Styx. That is something that really came apparent to me after doing multiple shows with the band. James Young has made sure that the sound has stay true to its original. That is a hurdle that I had to jump through. It has just been something that has paramount to the bands integrity. This isn’t the new Styx. This is Styx and the only Styx.
Hardrock Haven: Styx has their own signature sound. No band in rock and roll has a sound like Styx. The great aspect is that Styx can pull off this sound live. The band spends over 200 nights a year tour.
Ricky: Exactly. We are lucky that we can keep our voices. We actually like doing five shows a week. Some of the bands that we tour with that can’t do that. They have one lead singer. Because Styx has always had three lead singers, we can move around some of the high notes in the places that just tear up your throat. I think our record is for this year; we did 30 shows in 36 days. There have been times in dry weather that can really tear at your throat like Vegas. In the Midwest, when we were playing this summer muggy weather is really good singing weather. Not good for the hairdo but good for the throat.
Hardrock Haven: During your illustrious career as a musician. What is your greatest accomplishment as a musician? How did playing in a cover band doing five sets a night help build your stamina for touring in Styx?
Ricky: That was definitely Rock And Roll College. Definably, playing four and five sets a night before I headed to LA and try and go it. I knew I had to go to either New York or Los Angeles if I was really serious. After I was ready and had done the work, I went to Los Angeles in 1978. Inside a few months ended up getting in an International touring act called The Babys. That is where I met all the guys in Styx and that is where I was first onstage with in 1979. Tommy Shaw and I remained friends throughout this time. When he was in Damn Yankees I was in Bad English. Tommy and I laugh about it now and say can you believe we are in a band together? It is so cool. One of the things I am proudest of is I am one of the guys that rose to the top. I am thrilled that I did. This is not what I expected. If you told me after the beginning of my career after having meeting Styx that I would one day be in this band I would have laughed. I wouldn’t have thought this was possible. However all the planets aligned and all the dots connected for me to be here at this time at this point in my career, I feel that I have won the lottery. I am with guys that know how to be in a band. Respect and know how to protect a band as great as Styx and make the changes necessary so that the band thrives and lives. It is better to sound better than it ever has for that love and nurturing.
Hardrock Haven: In your free time to you get to pursue any of your hobbies?
Ricky: I am a golfer. If I can get on that golf course, when I am on the road I will be just fine.
Hardrock Haven: The metal genre just lost Jani Lane. He was an avid golfer. Did you ever play golf with Jani?
Ricky: I played golf with Jani. God Bless him. He was a lot of fun. Him and I played golf a few times. It has actually been a while now since I have been in Styx now that I think about it. Bobby Blotzer from Ratt, Jani and some of the guys from Warrant played golf together.
Hardrock Haven: Anything else that you want to say about the upcoming Vegas show Sept. 24 at the Hard Rock?
Ricky: Everybody come and have a good night. It is the first time we have played with Reo Speedwagon in quite some time. It is going to be a big party!
September 21, 2011 by Publisher
by Marc C.
Formed in 1992, broken up by 2003 and reformed in 2011 Dick Delicious is back and it appears this time everyone is a target regardless of race, creed, gender and/or affliction.
Instead of just drawing up the usual “so who is the main songwriter,” blah, blah, blah type questions it was time the band was asked what could be considered the most thought provoking questions of their collective careers to date. With their latest release” Vulgar Display Of Obscurity” already screaming up the Billboard Hot 100 charts with such thought provoking titles as “Beer Shit, Aids and Bad Drugs” and “Feed The Homeless (To Each Other)” it’s time the band answers the hard hitting questions only we here at Hardrock Haven are brave enough to ask. No fluff, no filler, no bullshit! Ladies and Gentlemen Dick Delicious And The Tasty Testicles as you’ve never heard them before.
Hardrock Haven: Considering your hatred of the Black Eyed Peas would you rather:
A. Have “surprise sex” with Fergies anus while her father was strapped to a chair,
B. Create incisions along Wil.I.Am’s testicle sack and dip it into a bowl of Ben-Gay or
C. Create incisions in your own testicle sac and dip it into a bucket of Aids while listening to Imma Be?
Dick Delicious: That may be the toughest question I’ve ever been asked in an interview. Is there any way we can go with a combo of A,B, and C? The Black Eyed Peas have inflicted so much suffering on the ears of the people everywhere, I think it’s only fair the punishment be reciprocated. Maybe get Wil.I.Am to bang Fergie’s anus wile creating incisions in her father’s balls? They are already so gay that I’m sure they have AIDS already. Leave the bucket at home.
Hardrock Haven: What “reality star” deserves a Dirty Sanchez and why?
Dick Delicious: Although, I would not to personally be perform the sexual act (just because of the sheer density of the herpes involved) anyone from The Jersey Shore would do. Hurricane Irene was created and aimed at New Jersey for one reason: If the networks weren’t going to cancel The Jersey Shore — God would.
Hardrock Haven: If you could tea-bag any starlet who would it be?
Dick Delicious: No question: Mila Kunis. I’d hit it like Katrina.
Hardrock Haven: Who would you want to toss your salad?
Dick Delicious: Wow, these are the most perverted questions I’ve been asked in an interview: CONGRATS! Again, I would like to defer to you last question: Mila Kunis.
Hardrock Haven: If good lovin’ indeed does go brown is it better to clean up right away or should one allow for ass to mouth first?
Dick Delicious: Always go for the ATM when possible. It’s much more degrading, though not the most hygienic.
Hardrock Haven: Do you prefer a “pruned bush” or would you rather it looked like Fidel Castro eating a London Broil?
Dick Delicious: “Pruned bush” for sure, although I wish more chicks would bring of the the 80′s style “Hitler Bush” thing back – they were sexy. Plus, it’s much easier to figure out where to put your dick when you have a “treasure trail” to follow.
Hardrock Haven: Have you ever had any Nashville Pussy?
Dick Delicious: Everyone always asks me that, as if they assumed I had, but the answer to that question is “No.” It is a gravitational constant: “Dick’s and Pussies Do Attract,” so I wouldn’t totally rule it out on the road.
Hardrock Haven: Who’s currently at the top of your death pool?
Dick Delicious: Charlie Sheen for sure. I work in the porn biz, I get the inside dirt. He’s still doing all the same shit he was doing before, except now he’s graduated to Meth. He’s not long for this world.
Hardrock Haven: Just how tasty are Ruyters testicles?
Dick Delicious: I plead the 5th.
September 19, 2011 by Publisher
by Cynthia Jo
Pepper Keenan, guitarist for Down, takes time to call HardRock Haven’s Cyndi Jo in between sound-check at Thursday’s Sept 9th show in San Francisco. After years of touring since their last effort Down III: Over the Under, Pepper talks about the much overdue album, new bassist Pat Bruders, drinking lots of beer, and ghosts.
Hardrock Haven: Hey, Mr. Keenan, how are you this fine day?
Pepper: Good, I’m in San Francisco.
HRH: Awesome, how’s San Fran treating you?
Pepper: Everything’s fine.
Hardrock Haven: Good. And the tour, overall, how’s that going?
Pepper: Good, we’re having a blast. We always have a blast, which it’s what’s all about.
Hardrock Haven: Yeah, any stories you can share?
Pepper: What’s happens on the road stays on the road lady. (laughs)
Hardrock Haven: (laughs) Right on. So you’re on the second week of the tour, and tomorrow you’re playing Anaheim, how’s playing in Southern California different from playing in any other city?
Pepper: It’s been a while since we’ve been down to Anaheim. I don’t know if we’ve played The Grove before. It will be great. It’s California we always have a good time there. We were in Utah yesterday.
Hardrock Haven: Yeah, you have a lot of excited fans out here who are happy to welcome you back.
Pepper: Yeah, always a good time.
Hardrock Haven: So the tour ends at the end of September, what are your plans after that?
Pepper: After that, we are going to work on the new record.
Hardrock Haven: Oh good.
Pepper: Yeah, as soon as we are done with that we are going to South America and doing about three weeks down there and wait and hope the new records will be out by early next year. Hope it’s amazing because we just want to get back out there.
Hardrock Haven: Where are you recording the new record?
Pepper: We are recording it in our studio out in the swamps. (laughs)
Hardrock Haven: (laughs) That sounds like fun. Are you working with any producers?
Pepper: Nope, we’re doing it all by ourselves. We’ve always done it all by ourselves. I think we kind of have it figured out by now.(laughs)
Hardrock Haven: For sure, and you’ve done an awesome job.
Pepper: I’d like to think so.
Hardrock Haven: Yeah, so with the touring for the last few years, do you have any more material to do another live CD/DVD?
Pepper: Maybe, when have some more material or good recorded shit. We did a really good show in Japan so we would like to put that out a little later.
Hardrock Haven: Very cool, so going back to the new record, any influences that have come up for being on the road that you would like to share?
Pepper: Well we’ve pretty much come up with the concept, similar to the last three albums. We are going backwards, kind of more of the NOLA direction. It’s going to be very greedy heavy guitar, we’re really excited.
Hardrock Haven: Awesome. Any lyrical themes you can tell me?
Pepper: Nah, no. (laughs)
Hardrock Haven: (laughs)
Pepper: I’m not going to tell you any of that, you have to wait until it comes out.
Hardrock Haven: Ok, fair enough. We’ll wait for that then.
Pepper: It’s gonna be pretty brutal though.
Hardrock Haven: How do you find influence on writing riffs, or music in general?
Pepper: At this point in the game we know what to do. We kind of vibe off from each other.
Hardrock Haven: What are you looking forward to the most when you tour Latin America?
Pepper: Well after the album is done, we’re going to have a huge blowout and be super excited to play a bunch of new material.
Hardrock Haven: Any bands you would like to tour with next summer?
Pepper: There this one band called Ghost. We’re really fond of, we all love them very much. They’re from Sweden. If no one has heard from them, you should really check them out.
Hardrock Haven: So do you prefer to be in the studio or on the road?
Pepper: Ou. Tough question. I think the reward of being in the studio is going on the road. You can’t do one without the other.
Hardrock Haven: Right. Any rituals you do before you go on stage for the shows?
Pepper: Yeah, yeah we save all our energy to make it loud.
Hardrock Haven: Do you specifically have anything you do before a show a show?
Pepper: Drink a lot of beer. (laughs)
Hardrock Haven: (laughs) I’m sure that’s always a good time.
Pepper: Yeah. it’s always a party.
Hardrock Haven: So you just literally finished a sound check as you’re speaking to me.
Pepper: Yes, we did.
Hardrock Haven: Good?
Pepper: Yes, good as always.
Hardrock Haven: Any new songs you’re going to throw out on us tomorrow night?
Pepper: No, not yet.
Hardrock Haven: Same set list for all shows?
Pepper: We try to change it up a bit, add some from time to time. We just got a new bass player so there needs to be some new material he can learn as well.
Hardrock Haven: Cool, how’s working with the new bass player? Pat Bruders, right?
Pepper: Yeah, he’s great. He plays with his fingers so it’s a different ball game.
Hardrock Haven: Cool. I’m a bass player myself so I know that’s always better.
Pepper: Well, cool. Come early to the show and show us what you got. (laughs)
Hardrock Haven: (laughs) yeah if only. Going back to being on the road and all that, are there any fans you’ve come across with crazy requests?
Pepper: We had a fan come out to this sound-check that came out to see us all the way from Jordan, so we have crazy fans from all over the world. We try to play it off with that. Go to as many places as we can. It’s a big mad heavy metal world.
Hardrock Haven: Yeah it is. Is there anywhere specific you would like to tour.
Pepper: At this point we’ll go anywhere. It’s all fun. Everywhere we go it’s fun to play.
Hardrock Haven: Do you ever fly out family to see you play?
Pepper: No, not really. Sometimes if we do it’s for Europe.
Hardrock Haven: So before I let you, because the show is about to start, is there anything you would like to let the fans know?
Pepper: Just that we appreciate everybody’s support and we wouldn’t know what to do without them. The main reason we do this is to play live and we know the extreme support of the bands and we do appreciate it.
Hardrock Haven: And we appreciate you playing awesome music.
Pepper: Yes, and we will continue to do so all around the world.
Hardrock Haven: Well thank you so much for this opportunity, been a big fan for so many years. Have a good show tonight, and I’ll see you tomorrow.
Pepper: Yes, for sure, thank you. We’ll see you tomorrow.
Hardrock Haven: Alright, bye.
by John Kindred
In the Hard Rock and Metal communities, Tore St. Moren most notably is known for his role as one of Jorn Lande’s primary guitarists. Sharing this role in Jorn’s band since 2000, Moren has been featured on six studio albums, three compilation albums, two live albums and two DVDs, and a tribute album to Ronnie James Dio. However, his body of recorded work extends beyond his role in Jorn.
Hardrock Haven’s exclusive interview with Moren delves deeper into his musical past and sheds light on the future.
Hardrock Haven: Greetings from America Tore! It is good to talk with you.
Tore St Moren: Hey, nice to hear from you too. Greetings back from Norway!
Hardrock Haven: For those who don’t know by now, you have been one of the featured guitarists in Jorn Lande’s band for years. Can you briefly tell us what you were doing prior to joining Jorn? How did you land the gig with Jorn?
Tore St Moren: Before I met Jorn and the guys I was in a band called Street Legal for some years. We wrote their first album Thunderdome, but I decided to move on when Sid Ringsby, Jorn Lande and Willy Bendiksen asked me to join their band The Snakes after they had split up with Bernie Marsden and Mickey Moody. While writing material for the new album we traveled around Norway playing covers as Wild Willy’s Gang. When we had recorded the first three tracks for the album we found that they sounded quite different from what The Snakes usually did, so we decided to put them on the first JORN album instead. And the rest is history, as they say.
Hardrock Haven: How long have you been playing the guitar? Who are your influences?
Tore St Moren: I started playing when I was 11, and for the first couple of years it was just a hobby. I was also in the school marching band where I learned to play cornetto, tuba, and drums.
My first influences were Ace Frehley and Gary Moore, but when I heard Yngwie’s first solo album I was blown away, and I knew instantly that playing guitar was going to be my path in life. I’m also very much into Santana, Satriani, Iommi, Scott Gorham and Michael Lee Firkins just to mention a few.
Hardrock Haven: Tell me about playing the ProgPower VII Festival in Atlanta, Georgia (United States) in 2006 with Jorn? Was this your first trip to the U.S.? How did the audience react to the band and the live performance?
Tore St Moren: The PP VII was an awesome gig for us! That was in fact our first, and so far the only, trip to the US, so we didn’t know what to expect. The audience was fantastic – unlike anything we’d anticipated. Obviously we have quite a few fans over there, so it’s really sad we haven’t been able to come back yet.
Hardrock Haven: The band (Jorn) just released the DVD, double CD release of Live in Black, are there any good stories about that show?
Tore St Moren: The show was really an awesome experience. We have a good following, and our fans are very dedicated. That, however, turned out to be a bit of a problem for the festival and their security routines. The passageway between our stage and the main stage where Aerosmith played was a bit on the narrow side, so we were instructed by the festival management to cut our set short by 10 minutes in order to move all 22,000 people safely to the Aerosmith gig in time for their show. That’s why we didn’t play “Song For Ronnie James” that night, as it was the last song on our set list.
But Sweden Rock Festival is always a very cool place to be. You get to hang out with both old friends, colleagues, and your heroes at the same place. Y&T were on before us, so I finally got to see them live and meet Dave Meniketti. That was pretty awesome.
Hardrock Haven: Can you tell Jorn fans what is like working with him? How do you guys write the songs? Do play any part in writing the lyrics?
Tore St Moren: Usually someone brings an idea to the table. For me it’s usually a riff or a composition that I record and give to him. Then we work through it and fit it to one of his lyrics or melodies.
He, on the other hand, usually has got most of the song done in his head by the time he presents it to the rest of us, so we just tag along and add our personal touch to it.
As far as lyrics go I’ve participated once when I came up with the title Worldchanger and presented the concept that I read into it.
Hardrock Haven: Now I discovered Jorn through the band Masterplan, then went back and discovered Jorn’s solo music. And after hearing the music and your guitar performances captured on those releases, I now count you as one my favorite guitarists to listen to. Do you see yourself as a “guitar hero” or just someone who is good at his craft?
Tore St Moren: Thank you. The term guitar hero suits me just fine. When I grew up there was nothing cooler than to be a guitar hero. But in the ’90s when the trends changed and the establishment decided that people like Kurt Cobain etc. were the coolest guitar players in the business, most guitar players jumped on the grunge-train. I didn’t. I still went on stage every night with my long ’80s hair, no shirt on and long pants, playing solos the same way I always did, never compromising my style. What I do both musically and visually is a natural part of who I am. I believe that’s the key to success. Be true to who you really are.
Hardrock Haven: What inspires you to write music?
Tore St Moren: I get inspiration from many different sources. Sometimes it’s a song I’ve heard, sometimes things I hear on the news. I very often get inspiration from places I go to and the people I meet. Other times it’s just a feeling I get inside, or a sound I hear when I’m out and about.
Hardrock Haven: You have released two singles on iTunes, “The Journey” and “Benedicte’s Song,” in preparation for releasing your first solo CD. What has been the response been from fans and critics to your music?
Tore St Moren: The response has been awesome. Although instrumental music is a much smaller niche than the traditional classic hard rock that we play with Jorn, I see that people enjoy my songs. Mainly because I focus more on melody, I suppose, rather than technique and speed. Although I love to listen to shred music I personally prefer to play a more bluesy and melodic style.
Hardrock Haven: Shredguy Records is the label that is releasing your solo music. How did you hook up with Michael McDowell?
Tore St Moren: We made contact through old myspace, and he put “Instrubrutal” from the first Carnivora album “Judas” on the Shredding Across The World album. We started talking about the future as I was in the early stages of writing material for my upcoming album. I wanted to release one song to see if there was a market for me out there. Michael put out “The Journey” on iTunes and Amazon. I made it on to the charts, so we decided to release one more track called “Benedicte’s Song” (which also charted), and now I’m about to finish off the album.
Hardrock Haven: What can fans expect to hear from you musically that maybe you don’t to express in Jorn or your other projects?
Tore St Moren: I think the main difference will be that I get to work my way through a whole melody, and not just the 20 to 30 seconds I usually get per song for a solo. This allows me a lot more space for musical expression and atmosphere, and I think it really lifts the whole experience for the listener. I also get to play more diverse musically. This time it’s really about the guitar melodies and not about fitting into one specific genre or sound-scape as you will always have to when you’re in a band or with a singer.
Hardrock Haven: Can you tell us about some of your other past projects? Rain is one that comes to mind, still have the promo of Stronger from 2006, there are some great tunes on there.
Tore St Moren: Yeah – I’ve always liked “Stronger”. It’s a good album with strong melodies and the production is quite good as well. Sadly we ended up being too busy working with other projects, so the band kind of disintegrated I guess. Street Legal is another band that I’m working with at the moment. I co-wrote the first album with them, but decided to put my efforts into JORN, so I didn’t play on the album. I play gigs with them whenever I can, and it looks like we’re going to make a new album this winter. I was also in Arcturus for a while. I recorded one album with them called Sideshow Symphonies, and we also released a live DVD called Shipwrecked In Oslo.
Hardrock Haven: Besides your solo CD soon to be released in the fall or early spring, are there any other cool projects in the works? Any comment on the next Jorn release?
Tore St Moren: As I mentioned before it seems like we’re writing a new album with Street Legal this winter. I’ve also just written and recorded one song with/for Lance King, so you might wanna check that out later this year. The new JORN album is in progress, and the release will be sometime early 2012. We’re currently writing the new material, and recording will start in November. I also did a guest appearance on the debut album from a Czech band called Sebastien earlier this year, and I might do something on their next album as well.
Hardrock Haven: Any thoughts on the passing of Ronnie James Dio? Was it an emotional writing and recording “A Song for Ronnie James?”
Tore St Moren: What many people don’t know, and some don’t want to understand about that song and the “Dio” album is that we had already been working on it for almost two years, in between our other albums when he was first diagnosed with cancer. The video was filmed three months before he passed away. Jorn and Ronnie were really fond of each other; they spent quite some time on the road together when Jorn toured with Yngwie opening for Dio some years back. Jorn wanted to show his appreciation for the man he considers being the greatest hard rock singer of all times, so it was truly a sad day for all of us when we got the news about his passing. That same night was the first time we played “Song For Ronnie James” live.
Hardrock Haven: Tore it was great to get the chance to talk with you? Is there anything else you might want to say in wrapping up the interview?
Tore St Moren: It’s been nice talking to you too. I would also like to add a big thank you to the fans – You guys rock – SHRED IS NOT DEAD!
Tore St Moren artist page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tore-St-Moren/260658053960
Tore St Moren fan group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/torestmoren/
Tore St Moren website: www.torestmoren.com (Under construction)
Jorn website: www.jornlande.com
by Derric Miller
Arch/Matheos singer John Arch (Fates Warning) checked in with Hardrock Haven to discuss their brand new album Sympathetic Resonance; what it was like getting back together with Jim Matheos and other members of Fates Warning; how he approaches the lyrics when coupled with the musical complexity; specific songs like “Stained Glass Sky” and “Neurotically Wired;” upcoming tour plans; and a whole lot more.
Tune in now to re-learn why John Arch is one of Metal’s greatest vocalists, and pick up Sympathetic Resonance as soon as it’s available in your territory.
(If the embedded player doesn’t populate, click here to stream the interview in a stand alone player.)
August 31, 2011 by Managing Editor
by Derric Miller
Chasing Magic singer Jace Pawlak checked in with Hardrock Haven to talk about their brand new, self-titled debut; how Jace stepped out of the role of writer into frontman on this release; specific songs like “Fine Line,” “Angelina” and “Too Many Roads;” upcoming tour plans; how this trio of brothers got together as a band; comparing his recent recordings to the same songs recorded by bands like FarCry and Bombay Black; and a whole lot more.
Jace is a great songwriter, but his vocals and the band Chasing Magic are just as impressive. Tune in now to get to know one of the best Melodic Rock/AOR songwriters today, and pick up Chasing Magic immediately.
by Derric Miller
Edguy bassist Tobias Exxel, or Eggi, checked in with Hardrock Haven to talk about the band’s brand new release Age of the Joker; some of the specific tracks on the release like “Robin Hood” and “2 Out of 7;” shooting the video for “Robin Hood;” upcoming tour plans and if they are going to make it back to the States; why Americans ears may or may not be as good as European ears; and a whole lot more.
Edguy is one of the best Hard Rock/Power Metal bands making music today for a bevy of reasons, and Age of the Joker is the culmination of everything (great) they have done before. Tune in now to get to know their personable and funny as hell bassist, and pick up Age of the Joker if you haven’t already.