Melodic Rock Fanzine #39
This new issue includes reviews and interviews of First Signal, Terry Brock, Terra Nova, Sister Sin Wheels Of Fire, Joey Summer, Kickhunter, Tony Harnell & The Mercury Train, Yoso, Jorn... and more!
04 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 15 17 19 20 22 CONTENTS First Signal Terry Brock Terra Nova Stan Bush Kiske / Somerville preview Sister Sin Wheels Of Fire Reviews Joey Summer Kickhunter Tony Harnell & The Mercury Train Yoso Jorn Melodic Rock Fanzine The official Frontiers Records magazine Year #6 - Nr. 4 / Issue #39 Editor-in-chief: Elio Bordi Design: Elio Bordi Writers: Bruce E.J. Atkinson, Fulvio Bordi, Duncan Jamieson, Barry McMinn, Vitale Nocerino, Rob “Ezy” Bone, Fabio Mainardi. Headquarters and general contacts: Frontiers Records - Via Gonzaga 18 80125, Napoli - Italy Tel: +39.081.2399340/7753 Fax: +39.081.2399794 E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.frontiers.it Myspace: www.myspace.com/frontiersrecords Editor and publisher: Frontiers Records US Headquarters: usa.frontiers.it Copyright©2010 Frontiers Records. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Printed in Italy. Band: First Signal Album: First Signal Interview with: Harry Hess Interviewed by: Bruce E.J. Atkinson Focus on: 4 | MRF FIRST SIGNAL Feat. Harry Hess - First Signal (Frontiers Records) It has been just over a year since our ears have been graced with the final sounds of Harem Scarem. In August of this year we’ll be able to hear the ‘post-scarem’ First Signal of lead vocalist Harry Hess! Yes, Mr. Hess has delivered another masterwork, teaming up with, amongst others…Dennis Ward! ‘First Signal’ is the duo’s debut of what is hoped to be a long string of releases! “This City”—the opening track of the album leaves no doubt that the musicians assembled for this luxurious musical expression are at the top of their craft! Partnering with multi-instrumentalist and producer; Dennis Ward has produced a magical return to form. “First Signal” is an elegant and powerful set of aural delights. Both Harry and Dennis sought out new outlets for their musical expressions and invited a few friends with them. Enlisting such talented songwriters as Erik Martensson, Mark Baker, and a host of others, --- combining those Talents with these great players: Chris Schmidt, Michael Klein, Eric Ragno and fellow Harem Scarem vocalist Darren Smith…they have created a solid, adventuresome melodious musical statement. Dennis Ward also handled the production chores, and arrangements…giving Harry amble room to deliver each and every song with heart felt emotion, drenched in a tuneful rich vocal style.! “First Signal”…a muscular, towering, and exciting collection of musical gems…coming to you loud and clear. Bruce E. J. Atkinson(92/100) Question: Harry, I would like to begin with a question I asked of you the last time we talked, during the release of Harem Scarem’s last album… at that time I asked in part that I felt there would be some future collaborations, and lo and behold we have one… First Signal! Please let us in on how this all started!? Answer: Well, Serafino from Frontiers called and asked if I would be interested in being the vocalist on a project and I was happy to do a rock record again. Q: As one may expect… there are many similarities with this current work, and your work with Harem Scarem… however there is obviously more… much more, please take us through your creative process as it is directed to First Signal. A: This was really a simple process for me with regards to my involvement because Serafino compiled the songs and pitched them to me and with the exception of a few I thought they were great melodic rock songs and something I could do a good job singing. After we decided on the 11 that we both liked Dennis did all the production work and I just sang them the way I thought they worked best with my voice. Q: Again, your label is Frontiers Records… a label that is famous for supporting Artists… you must be happy with this fruitful partnership… A: Yes, we have done many deals in the past and for this style of music they are one of the best labels out there. Q: In the press release, we read that First Signal is an exciting new Studio Project, however the name is very interesting and implies a lot, and secondly the performance on the debut sounds so solid and cohesive… any chance that you will take this out on the road? A: I don’t know… It’s very early to tell what the reaction is but it was made for fans of melodic rock so I would assume that people are gonna enjoy it. I would assume that if it becomes a success we will look at all the possibilities. Q: Yourself and Dennis Ward are accomplished producers, and no doubt have other projects on the burners… does this hamper your plans for First Signal’s future endeavours? A: Not for me, Dennis did the most time consuming work on the project but singing will always be a part of my life so I can see myself doing things like this in the future. Q: It is also nice to see that you are working with Darren Smith again… so!...d o you two have anything up your collective sleeves!? A: We’re are not smart enough to have anything up our selves except Darren has a few tattoos up there… Q: What do you think about the actual melodic rock scene? A: Well I guess it’s a declining style of music were you don’t see a lot of new artists so it’s a lot of older musicians doing the same thing over and over but hopefully doing a good job of it. It’s an era of musicians that can actually play, which is nice… Q: What advice would you pass onto “young” musicians? I never really felt like there was a specific moment but looking back I can say that getting a record deal was obviously a big step in the right direction. Before Harem Scarem I started by playing songs I was writing for publishers in Toronto and they hooked me up with talented writers so I really worked on that right from the beginning and it help with networking and getting music to the right people. My advice would be to hook up with talented musicians ( not just friends ) and really be committed to working hard and writing great songs, without songs that the world needs to hear it doesn't matter how fast you can play or how good you look ( unless you're the people in my dream band ). Q: Here there are some general questions, I’d like to have your point of view regarding those matters! :) You surely have a long career in the music business: do you think that something has changed since the beginning in the music universe? What in particular? A: Yes, everything is constantly changing and it's always been that way. I believe you always have to evolve and grow to survive in any industry and developing as an artist is no different. Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? A: I have two kids so other than working on music I try to spend some time at home with the family. Q: You are from Canada, correct? So musically who do you feel is Canada's greatest export? A: I'm actually very proud of the impact Canadian artists have had on an international level. For such a small population we have had a lot of big international bands and comedians. It's play music or freeze! and this makes us funny. Mike Myers, Jim Carey, I rest my case. Q: If you have to make some names about people to keep an eye and ear on, what names would you suggest? I?m asking you this because you are also a well known producer? :) A: I wrote some songs on the new " Die Mannequin " record and a band to look out for from Canada is " My Darkest Days " I co-wrote a song with them called " Every Lie " which was produced by Chad from " Nickleback ". Q: Can you tell us three of the highest and lowest points so far in your musical career? A: I always say that this job is like being on a roller coaster, a lot of ups and downs and your ass hurts when it's all over. High point: 1. Signing our deal with Warner. 2. Sold out tour of Japan. 3. Recording in Italy, Belgium and Indonesia. Low points: There have been so many it not really fair to just pick three, but here goes: 1. Definitely being stuffed into the back of a van for 18 hours to drive to a gig for 5 people. (That happened a lot in the early days) 2. A girl and her friend were standing beside me once and I overheard one of them say "That looks like the singer for Harem Scarem" and the other girl said: "NO! the singer for Harem Scarem isn't that ugly." 3. Signing our deal with Warner. Q: What do you think about internet and the downloading of music? A: It’s made it extremely difficult to make a living in the music business unless you were selling millions of records and were already established but I guess if you ask Hannah Montanna and Lady Ga Ga how the music biz is they would say it’s pretty dam good. Q: In closing… it is so good to hear you in such strong voice, and with a group of accomplished musicians / friends! First Signal brings us some very ‘heady’ musical expressions… THANK-YOU!!... and here’s hoping we can hear more! A: Anytime!!!!! Thank you… MRF | 5 Band: Terry Brock Album: Diamond Blue Interview with: Terry Brock Interviewed by: Fabio Mainardi Question: You released "Diamond Blue". Tell me a little bit about the recording of this album? Answer: Mike and I recorded the CD at his home studio over an extended perid of time. I also did some backing vox in Panama City Beach,and at Billy Greer's studio in Jacksonville. We had a blast,but it took quite a long time... Q: What represent for you an album as this one? A: This album is the CD that I have always dreamed of making,but never thought that I could. That is a direct result of Mike's knowledge,hard work,and guidance... Q: How long did it take to record 'Diamond Blue'? A: Forever... hahahaha Q: Was it hard to choose the songs for the album? A: Not really... Serafino, Mike and I were in agreement from the beginning on the direction, which made it easier... Q: How has your approach to Focus on: 6 | MRF writing, recording and touring changed over the years? A: I just keep trying to learn, grow as a writer and artist and musician, and work at my craft evry day... Q: What's the one track that you're the most proud of? A: I am proud of them all, but "The Rain", "No More Mister Nice Guy" and "Diamond Blue" are favorites. Q: You've had band experiences, but you also work as solo artist. Do you prefer going solo? A: Not necessarily. I actually really enjoy the experience of swapping ideas and creating music with others. Q: Could you tell me about your experience with Strangeways? A: It was a great period of my life. I learned SO much about writing and recording and experiancing different cultures. I am blessed to have been in that band... and... Q: Any plans to rejoin Strangeways? A: YES !!!! I already have. We are working on a new CD right now. Q: What's your best memory about your experience with Strangeways? A: Making such great records, and playing in so many cool places... Q: What's your opinion about your work with Giant? A: I am also very proud of the new GIANT CD... Working with John, Mike, David, and Dann was a really rewarding experience for me, as I said in the liner notes... Those guys are REAL pros, and I'd love to do it again... Q: What you remember about your experience with Kansas? A: I was very young, and was learning how to handle being a professinal from the best possible teachers... it was amazing.. Q: Are you happy with all the success you've had and what else would you like to accomplish? A: I would love to tour more,but I am generally VERY happy with my success up to this point. I'm a lucky man... TERRY BROCK - Diamond Blue (Frontiers Records) Terry Brock’s musical career started back in the 80’ as a background vocalist on Kansas album "Drastic Measures" and then joining the british Melodic Rock band Strangeways, but he is best known as current vocalist in Giant. Now he presents us his solo effort “Diamond Blue”, produced with the collaboration of guitarist / producer / songwriter Mike Slamer, they already teamed up in Seventh Key and on the Slamer album “Nowhere Land”. “Diamond Blue” shows up all the energy and capability of this amazing artist both as a singer and as a writer. We can easily consider this work as a master piece in AOR, from the roaring opening track throughout all the following tunes, Terry’s melodic vein combined with the exciting Mike Slamer guitar parts presents us a well crafted Rock album with many brilliant episodes to be remembered and to be sung along soon after. Blistering solos, epic choirs and catchy melodies all rounded up with Terry unmistakable voice, a must have for all the Melodic Rock fans out there. Take also note that Terry is in the process of recording of the highly anticipated Strangeways reunion CD to be released this fall still on Frontiers. Fabio “Deuce” Mainardi (90/100) Band: Terra Nova Album: Come Alive Interview with: Fred Hendrix Interviewed by: Marco Spaeth Question: The promo sheet says that you entered the studio in 2008 to record “Come Alive”. Now we have mid 2010. Did you really work that long on the new album? Answer: Well we did start in 2008 with the album. I had a lot of bad luck in my studio with equipment failing so I moved to the Art Sound Studio in Belgium and had Jean-Pierre Kerkhofs mix the album. The writing, recording, mixing and of course a lot of experimenting took about a year and a half. After that Frontiers took about a half year or so to plan the best time for release. Good work takes time! Besides I don’t like to rush things anyway. Q: Did you write the new material before you entered the studio or did you write any songs during the recordings? A: I always write my stuff before I enter a studio. The arrangements we do during the recording sessions. A lot of good turns up during recording and experimenting but I know the big picture of each song before we start recording. Q: “Come Alive” features the same line-up as your debut album “Livin’ It Focus on: Up” in 1996. Why did you put the original line-up together again? A: Well simply because it felt goo and all the guys were enthusiastic about it. We had big magic back then so I hope we have the same result now once more! Q: Was the chemistry right back when the original line-up was together again or did it take some time? A: That’s the great thing about Terra Nova. We all like the same things / musically so getting back together is very easy. It takes a just a few minutes and the right vibe is back again. That’s why it’s a joy to work with these guys! Q: Were there any hard feelings between the original members that you had to settle before working together again? A: No, I’m happy to say there were absolutely no hard feelings after all we see each other every once and a while, in spite of our own projects. Q: How would you describe the style of “Come Alive” compared with your previous albums? Would you call it the album “that you should have recorded after “Livin’ It Up”? A: For me it was important to make the best Terra Nova album ever. It wanted to create a cross-over between the first Terra Nova albums and a little flavour of modern style rock. Could this one have been released after the first album, I think it be very possible. Q: Did Fred’s experiences with the TWO OF A KIND album influence the writing or recording for the new TERRA NOVA album in any way? A: No, in no way. T.O.A.K. was a total different project and music but also very enjoyable to work on. Q: What are your three favourite songs on the new record and what makes them special to you? A: First one is “Fighting Yourself” which is about having faith in yourself, daring to go your own way, to stand up for one self. It’s dog eat dog world, so if you don’t bite you will get bitten! Second is “Holy Grail” which is just a great Pop/Rock track and it’s a little different than we used to do. And the third is “Under Pressure” which is a simple love song but in the real Terra Nova tradition of writing and arranging. TERRA NOVA - Come Alive (Frontiers Records) I guess that most of you, readers, know this band, right? TERRA NOVA, built around the two Hendrix brothers (Fred on vocals and Ron on keyboards), debuted in 1996 with the amazing album “Livin’ It Up”, followed by the successful “Break Away”. Their style, a classic Melodic Rock/AOR enriched by some Pomp arrangements and powerful guitar parts, appealed especially the Japanese fans, that led the group to a major tour of the Far East in 1998. Unfortunately after a slightly weaker third album, the band split up, just to come back together some years later. And here we have them again, ready and willing, with “Come Alive”, the band’s 5th studio-album and their first fulllength release over the last five years. The sound, obviously, hasn’t changed thru the years, and the first notes of the title-track immediately show us a solid and clever songwriting, with some awesome vocals and a very good production. Journey, Foreigner, Signal, House Of Lords and Ten come to my mind, here and there, during the play of this Cd, yet Terra Nova have their own sound. Very recommended if you like Classic Melodic Rock keyboards-oriented! Primo Bonali (90/100) MRF | 7 Band: Stan Bush Album: Dream The Dream Interview with: Stan Bush Interviewed by: F. Mainardi Question: What can you tell me about the making of “Dream the Dream”? Answer: We worked on the new album for a year and a half, and I’m very happy with it. The last album, “In This Life” got great reviews and though we had to work really hard, I think we’ve got ourselves another amazing album. Holger and I worked on building up the songs in his home studio with vocals, guitars, and keyboards, and later brought the tracks to a big studio to overdub the final bass and drums. After some final tweaking we mixed there as well. Q: You wrote with a lot of very talented artists and musicians, who’s your favourite? A: Probably my favorite songwriter I ever worked with is Jonathan Cain from Journey. We wrote together after Journey broke up and we discussed starting a band together. Q: You are an Emmy award winner, what this represented for you and how did change your career? A: Winning the Emmy Award for song of the year for television was amazing! It added credibility to me as a songwriter and an artist. It was big accomplishment and something to be proud of. Q: Most of your songs have a cool dynamic and cinematic feel, is that a natural characteristic of your way to write tunes or in some way you go technically for it? A: Thanks for the kind words. I try songs that have an interesting melodic twist, and especially like a big dramatic chorus. The anthemic style of the eighties kind of stuck with me I guess. For me, a songs works best when the melody sticks with you. Q: Do you normally first lay down the basic lines of your songs or do you start form the text? A: I geherally start with the chords and melody, and the lyrics come later. Once I have a chorus melody, I think a title and work backwards. Once I have the chorus nailed, the verse lyric comes together easily. Q: Together with your long time friend Holger Fath, you got to have two amazing musicians on the rhythm section, Matt Bissonette on bass and Matt Laug on drums. Could you tell us something about their contribution to the album? A: Holger Fath did an amazing job with the song arrangements as well as guitars, keys, etc... He had the rough bass and drum tracks first while we built up the songs, and then we brought in Matt Bissonette and Matt Laug to lay down the final bass and drums. They did a great job! Q: You performed really great concerts in Europe in the past. Have you any defined plan to Tour Europe in the coming months? A: Nothing definite at this point, but I would love to perform there again. Possibly another festival like the one in '07 in Germany. I really appreciate the fan support and for information, tours, etc., they can check out stanbush.com. Focus on: STAN BUSH - Dream The Dream (Frontiers Records) 8 | MRF After almost one year and a half of hard work we can now grab and listen the new Stan Bush 11th studio album, “Dream the Dream”. Produced with the long time friend and guitarist Holger Fath, “Dream the Dream” contains another cool collection of melodic rock gems penned by Stan and Holger and a bunch of big names in the music industry such as Bobby Barth (Axe, Blackfoot), Curt Cuomo (KISS, Eddie Money), Ed Tree and Lenny Macaluso. Previous collaborations with stellar artists likes the ones as Alice Cooper Ron Nevison, Giorgio Moroder, Mick Jones, Desmond Child, Peter Frampton, Paul Stanley and Jim Vallance, just to name a few have built up in Stan a self consciousness and a great capability to generate amazing powerful melodies and big guitars riff with punching drums and groovy bass lines in the back, performed by Matt Laug (currently one of the best rock drummers in the L.A. area) and Matt Bissonette (David Lee Roth, Rick Springfield). Out of the 11 new songs the opening track “Never Hold Back“, “Two Hearts”, and “More Than a Miracle” have a dynamic and cinematic feel that will launch them atop the charts without any doubts, but “Dream of the Dream” shows off also some romantic and love ballads like the title track and “I'm still here” that will make you really dream of...Fabio “Deuce” Mainardi (89/100) The collaboration between vocalist Michael Kiske (Helloween, Place Vendome) and American singer Amanda Somerville is one of the highlights of the season in Rock music. The two singers were put together thanks to the input of Frontiers Records President Serafino Perugino. ”I did a duet with a female singer on 'Breathing Water' by Indigo Dying”, explains Kiske. “It was so nice that he offered me a chance to make an album of all duet songs with a famous female singer." This exciting album sees Mat Sinner (Primal Fear, Sinner) and Magnus Karlsson (Starbreaker, Primal Fear) handling most of the songwriting (with contributions from Sander Gommans formerly of After Forever and Amanda Sormeville herself), with Sinner overseeing the production & mix at various recording studios in Europe. Amanda Somerville is the American singer-songwriter and vocal coach who was tapped to replace EPICA vocalist Simone Simons on the band's North American tour with SYMPHONY X due to Simons' health issues. Amanda was also featured on KAMELOT's latest release, "Ghost Opera", and recently toured with AVANTASIA. She last year released her long-awaited solo album, "Windows". A Michigan native, Amanda has resided and worked mainly in Germany and the Netherlands since 1999. She has collaborated with several other bands in the metal scene along with producers Sascha Paeth and Miro, and co-wrote the rock opera "Aina". Two videoclips were filmed for the songs "Silence" and "If I Had A Wish" in Nurnberg, Germany. Joining Kiske and Somerville for the shoot were bassist and main composer Mat Sinner, guitarist Sander Gommans (After Forever), drummer Rami Ali and keyboardist Jimmy Kresic (Voodoo Circle). The clips were directed by Martin Mueller of RCN TV, who previously helmed the videoclip production for Unheilig, Subway To Sally, Helloween, U.D.O. and Gotthard etc. The single, "Silence", will precede the release of the full-length CD on August 20th. Musicians: Michael Kiske - Vocals Amanda Somerville - Vocals Mat Sinner - Bass & Backing Vocals Magnus Karlsson - Lead Guitar, Guitar, Keyboards Sander Gommans - Additional Lead Guitar Martin Schmidt / Ramy Ali Drums Jimmy Kresic - Keyboards. Tracklisting: Nothing Left To Say; Silence; If I Had A Wish; One Night Burning; Arise; End Of The Road; Don't Walk Away; A Thousand Suns; Rain; Devil In Her Heart; Second Chance; Set A Fire (* Bonus track) DVD: Silence (videoclip); If I Had A Wish (videoclip), The Making of Kiske / Somerville. MRF | 9 Band: Sister Sin Album: Sound Of The Underground Interview with: Dave Interviewed by: Barry McMinn Question: Firstly let me say what through and through. band feel any extra pressure a wonderful album True Sound of Q: How has the band evolved when it comes to studio or live the Underground is. over the years, has your sound performances? Answer: Thank you! changed? A: No not really, Liv has more balls Q: How long did the album take A: Our sound hasn’t actually than most male singers out there! to put together? changed that much over the years, I Ha,ha. A: The writing process took about 3 think its important to keep some Q: Does the band have a vision of months for this one and about the kind of consistency and red line where you would like to be in 5 same to record the whole thing. We through each album. We have years time? had a lot of days off though during definetly evolved to a tighter unit A: Doing headline tours at 1000 peothe weekends and such it was prob- and sharpened the sound over the ple capacaity venues would be sweet ably only 6-7 weeks of actual record- years since we played together for so and affording to have a real tourbus. ing. long and done so many tours We have never had the goal to be a Q: Who writes the songs for the Q: The band have had some pret- huge arena band or anything so we band is it a joint effort or it one ty high profile support slots over would definetly settle with that individual? the last couple of years but will Q: What does the future hold for A: Its me (Dave) and Jimmy who you be doing a headline tour of Sister Sin anything we should writes all lyrics and music. We put your own soon? note down in our diaries? down all tracks in our portable studio A: I hope so but doing these support A: Yeah we´re touring U.S until end and introduce them to the rest of the tours with bigger bands get us of October, first with MSG and Lynch band afterwards. exposed to a lot more people and Mob and onto a couple of dates with Q: How would you compare this even to those who may not be your Black Label Society, Clutch and album to “Switchblade usual Sister Sin fan, which is a great Children of Bodom followed by a TBA Serenades”? way to expand our fanbase and a tour. Also making plans for a 5 week A: It definetly has a more Metal great promotion tool as well. Of Europe run from November til edge, more consistant and just bet- course we hope to do a headlining December... Keep checking in at ter. Some tracks on "Switchblade" tour for ourselves in a near future, so www.myspace.com / sisterssin once felt a little too soft and lacked the far it has only been for random in awhile for tourdates. Buy our aggression you want when perform- clubgigs. album when it´s out on the 23rd ing them, so we tried to avoid on this Q: As a female fronted band in July, it kicks ass and you wont be new one and make 11 kickass songs male dominated genre do the disappointed! Focus on: SISTER SIN – Sound Of The Underground (Metal Heaven) 10 | MRF My first taste of female fronted metallers Sister Sin was when the band were the support for W.A.S.P. in April 2007 and live the really impressed. They then got me really hooked with the album ‘Switchblade Serenades, which was released the following year, so I was really looking forward to the new album ‘Sound Of The Underground’. The band have really upped their game with this new release, this is great Heavy Metal full stop. The album is dominated by the excellent vocals of Liv who delivers the goods track after track and with Jimmy firing out the licks like a machine gun, this is a album for fans of pure bred metal. Tracks of note have to be the opener ‘Sound Of The Underground’, the anthemic ‘Outrage’ and the old school metal of ‘24/7’. Like I said before this band can stand up against any of the more established metal bands around and as I witnessed they not only deliver the goods in the studio, but they can also do it live. Definitely one to watch out for. Barry McMinn (85/100) Band: Wheels Of Fire Album: Hollywood Rocks Interview with: Davide Barbieri Interviewed by: B. Atkinson Question: First let’s establish just who is “Wheels Of Fire”… is it just you, or a band, duo or…. A: In the beginning the name for this project was “Dave Rox”, but in accordance with Gregor Klee at Avenue of Allies we decided to choose a more agreeable and sellable moniker for the band. So Dave Rox turned into Wheels Of Fire. Although it all started from my head and my heart, Wheels Of Fire is a real band. Davide “Dave Rox” Barbieri, on vocals, Stefano Zeni on guitars, Marcello Suzzani on bass, Fabrizio Uccellini on drums and Andrea Vergori on keyboards. Q: Teaming up with Michele Luppi must be most satisfying for you…how did this relationship begin? A: I met Michele in 2004. He was my vocal coach at that time. I remember that during a lesson he heard some demos of mine and he offered his help to record an album. His great experience made the difference in the arrangement Focus on: of the songs. You can also hear him playing grand piano on a couple of songs and bass on “Hollywood Rocks” and “You’re So Cool” and singing background vocals. Q: I realise that you started in Los Angeles, are you still there, and what are your thoughts on the city’s current music scene? A: I guess there must have been a misunderstanding Bruce. I have always lived in Italy and Italy is where I started. The first time I went to L.A. was in 2005, and it was really incredible, a dream come true. I remember that walking down the sunset strip, I felt just like I was hypnotized, I looked all around me trying to imagine how it could have been in its glory days. I spent 15 minutes in front of the Whisky-A-Go-Go just looking at it. Creepy! Q: Tell us some of your influences and musical heroes… A: I grew up listening to AOR & Melodic Rock from the 80’s. So my influence are bands such as Bon Jovi, White Lion, Europe, Danger Danger, Winger and so on. Q: Let’s talk about your new album… ”Hollywood Rocks”… I understand you have collaborated with Mr. Luppi…and it sounds like a very successful partnering… A: Michele did an amazing work, and his contribution in this project has been really significant. Through these years spent on working on the album, we have developed a great understanding, I trust him and he trusts me. I think this is very important especially in a working relationship. I expect great things from our collaboration in the future. Q: Now, where do you want to go from here? A: I consider “Hollywood Rocks” a starting point, that’s why we are already working on new songs, so you won’t have to wait so long for the second act! Plus we are planning some live shows starting in September and we hope to have the opportunity to play abroad very soon. WHEELS OF FIRE – Hollywood Rocks (Avenue Of Allies) Wheels Of Fire are actually a showcase for vocalist Davide Barbieri—possibly better known as Keyboardist Dave Rox… whom kicked around the L.A. music scene for years before settling in to singing. Teaming up with ex-Vision Divine’s Michele Luppi. Davide has produced a very up-tempo melodic collection of Rock/Power AOR. We start off with the high energy title cut “Hollywood Rocks” and really don’t get off the energy scale until the very end of the album. A very richly textured voice, Davide matches with equally rich and layered music compositions. Even his ballads can be epic in proportion. Hopefully the musicians that Davide has assembled here, will be with him for the long haul…Stefan Zeni on guitars… Andrea Zingrillo on drums and bassist Roberto Galli… as together, they create an exhilarating sound! “Hollywood Rocks” brings back the singer in AOR, you won’t be sorry when you pick this one up! Bruce E.J. Atkinson (80/10) MRF | 11 V.A. - Power Ballads Compilation Vol. 1 (Frontiers Records) This is really an amazing idea! This is what we need to enjoy our summer! Power Ballads Compilation is the first volume of the Frontiers Records ballads collection. On this album you can find the most intense and beautiful power ballads songs released durig these years by Frontiers Records. How can you resist if you have the possibility to listen to, on the same album, songs like “After All These Years” by Journey, “Master Of Sorrow” by Allen / Lande, “Can’t Let Go” (Giant), “My Guardian Angel” (Place Vendome), “Comes Down Like” Rain (W.E.T.), “Holding On” by Jeff Scott Soto, “Interrupted Melody” (Pride Of Lions), “Sweet September” (House Of Lords), “On A Day Like Today” (Winger), “Imperfection” (Glenn Hughes) and many more from the incredible Frontiers Records rooster? If you are searching for the soundtrack of your summer, this is the album you need! Vitale Nocerino ANGELINE - Addicted To Metal (Avenue Of Allies) This Swedish outfit have been playing since the 80s, but tragedy and bad luck have meant that this is their first full album. With very little expectation, I was pleasantly surprised as this is a great, modern sounding record with twelve consistently good songs. ‘Pray’, ‘Another Night’ and ‘Confessions’ are humongous melodic rock tracks, so similar to Harem Scarem that I had to check I had the right CD in the player the first time I heard it. They’re no one trick pony though as tracks like ’Fuel To Your Fire’ and ‘Love And Affection’ possess a groove Glen Hughes or Jeff Scott Sotto would be proud of. The riffs have modern crunch without forsaking melody. Jocke Nilsson wraps his tuneful tonsils round some memorable hooks. The mid album one, two punch of ‘Blackout’ and ‘Good Is Getting Better’ is terrifically upbeat and ‘Someday, Somehow’ has been going round my head for days. Bands like Angeline are helping to breathe new life into the melodic rock genre on a record that furthers Avenues Of Allies growing reputation for promoting new quality AOR. Duncan Jamieson (90/100) BREED 77 - Insects (EarMusic) Hailing from Gibraltar, the band Breed 77 was formed in London, which has remained their base ever since, and from which they have travelled all over the planet touring their 4 albums – including appearances at prestigeous european festivals such as Download, Rock Am Ring and Wacken and have shared the stage with everyone from Metallica and Megadeth to Black Sabbath and The Melvins. Mixing their native mediterranean influences with contemporary rock and metal, in a combination of English and Spanish, Breed 77 have come up with an exciting fusion that makes the band really interesting the rock and metal scene. Insects probably is the best album the band has ever made; songs like the perfect opener “Wake Up”, the title track “Insects”, along with “The Battle Of Hatin” and “Wake Up” can easly show how this band is amazing. The quality sound is really good too, the album is mastered by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound Studios and co-produced by Guillermo `Will` Maya... so buy this album and see them live! Vitale Nocerino (88/100) RANSOM - Better Days (Yesterock) Some of you might remember the band called Ransom (put together by professional producer/songwriter/musician Don Cromwell and long-time Eddie Money guitarist, Tommy Girvin), that released, during 1997, on MTM label, a great debut-album called “Trouble In Paradise”, that received some nice feedbacks from both, international press and fans. After 13 years Cromwell and Girvin return with a new record strongly influenced by the 80’s, that continues somehow the sound of the debut. That said, this is not a “classic” Melodic Rock or AOR album; the Cd opener and title-track is an energetic tune with a classic King’s X-feel, the following “Stay With Me Tonight” an acoustic and “rural” song, “Learn To Be Alone” a nice ballad that recalled me Bryan Adams, while “Heaven Knows” is a Pop-driven song that will definitely make sing a lot of people! More Rock than Hard Rock or AOR, “Better Days” is a Cd worth to be checked out if you want a good sou! ndtrack to share with friends and family during this hot summer. Primo Bonali (83/100) WILD SIDE - Speed Devil (Escape Music) “Speed Devil”, the second effort of Norway’s Wild Side… and their first on an International level, has an interesting vibe to it. First — Wild Side have filled out their sound and membership. Now sporting a twin guitar stance along with a brand new vocalist, this quintet are serious about their hard rock sound. Some very tasteful and unique guitar runs coupled with vocals that have to be heard to be believed, “Speed Devil” is full of surprises. Joachim Berntsen has a range and texture that will amaze. Wild Side may be young, but show a combined musical maturity that is beyond their years. They are tough sounding, yet melodic… heavy yet emotive and each member plays like there is no tomorrow! Another amazing thing: two of the members produced this effort, Drummer Ronni Arntzen, and Guitarist Tom Grana… what an excellent job! Escape Music obviously has seen and heard the grand potential of these five young Norwegians… now it is our turn. Ante up to eleven tracks of hard rock heaven in “Speed Devil” — an exceptional effort from the Wild Side. Bruce E.J. Atkinson (85/100) HOLY WATER - The Collected Sessions (Perris Records) Holy Water is the band compsed by members of Doro Pesch (Warlock), Quite Riot, Widowmaker, Saraya, Prong and Foreigner: David Knight (vocals), Thomas Jude (guitars), Freddy Villano (bass) and Tony Galteri (drums). Back in 1989 Al Greenwood (Spys, Foreigner) discovered this band and recorded some songs with them that never ended on any album until now. Composed by nine songs, it opens with The Green Machine Sessions, three-song set featuring the brilliantly amazing super AOR single "I'm Not Worried Anymore”. The fourth track is the Grand Slam Session “Once Is Not Enogh”, followed by the classic “If I Knew Then”, recorded in 1989 at NYC's infamous Studio 1212. The Mask Sessions presents the cover song “Crocodile Rock” and as for the two new songs, we have the Stevie Wonder cover "Living For The City" and "All I Need" (they are under the name “The Perris Sessions”). If you are a melodic rock fan this is for sure your next must-buy! Vitale Nocerino (89/100) 12 | MRF STATE COWS - State Cows (Avenue Of Allies) The name aside State Cows is the brainchild of Daniel Andersson and Stefan Olofsson, two guys from Umeå Sweden, a town that is apparently home to many West Coast devotees and this is brought forward in this self titled debut album. This album is the one for all those sunny summer days, with the car top down and the radio blasting out your favourite tunes, you know the type of thing, just look at the cover artwork, even the cows have their shades on! With that whole West Coast relaxed sound you know what to expect, stunning guitars and great mellow vocals and this one has all that, it even has a horn section that really catches the vibe of that 80’s West Coast sound. Standout tracks include ‘New York Town’, featuring guest guitarist the Grammy award winning Jay Graydon, the guy that probably started to whole West Coast movement, the stunning ‘Mystery Jane’, which includes some great horns and keyboards, and the groove filled ‘Painting A Picture’.There is a niche market for this style of rock music and a revival in parts on this album is sure to waves amongst the devotees of this style of music, and with Grayson in the mix this will also help the album reach a wider market place. Barry McMinn (75/100) H.E.A.T. - Freedom Rock (EarMusic) The brightest hope of Melodic Rock (that's what the specialists have been saying about the swedish sextet in the past couple of years) is back with their second album "Freedom Rock" which gets finally the well deserved hance of a wider distribution all over Europe. This time the band decided to go for a slight heavier and more guitar oriented approach, but no worries the melodies, hooks and good time feeling is still all over the record. Similarly to their compatriots Treat, H.E.A.T. deliver the goods in every song of the album, thus making "Freedom Rock" a really cool release, particularly in songs like "Black Night", which sees the German Metal star Tobias Sammett appearing, sharing lead vocals with Kenny Leckremo, "Everybody Wants to Be Someone", a song closer to the first album stylewise, "Nobody Loves You (Like I Do)" and the big ballad "Shelter". Still every track on offer is a clear winner and only if one really wishes to be hyper-critic, could wish for a little more variety in the songwriting. But it's just the second album and the guys have still room to improve. A really good one! Mario de Riso (90/100) JANE BOGAERT – 5th Dimension (Yesterock) Playing an active and relevant role in the music scene as back-up vocalist for artists like AHa, Thin Lizzy, Al Jarreau and Al Bano (!), Jane Bogaert releases now her solo debut-album, a very strong Work clearly influenced by the classic ‘80s Melodic Rock/AOR sound, with obvious comparisons to acts like Femme Fatale, Witness and Heart, and female-vocalists such as Robin Beck, Saraya and Pat Benatar. From a personal point of view, I love this kind of sound coupled with a passionate and strong female voice, which is fully the case here. Add to this a couple of “stellar” guests as Jeff Scott Soto (who’s singing a duet on the sweet “Still there for you”) and Joe Lynn Turner (on the rockin’ “Give It Up”), and what you have is an un-missable album! Highlights of the album are “ “Still There For Me”, “Give It Up”, the ballad “Crazy”, “The Lady Needs An Upgrade” and “Open Your Heart” The perfect Cd for the summer. In one word: gorgeous. Primo Bonali (90/100) THIRD EYE – Recipe For Disaster (Escape Music) Based on a (real?) story of a man diagnosed with the “Attention Deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder” and “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”, this very unique concept-album reflects musically the lyrical theme; so what you have here is, obviously, not an easy-listening or a traditional Melodic Rock album; on the opposite, the sound goes from the technical Progressive Metal a la Dream Theater and Pain Of Salvation to the powerful US Metal a la Iced Earth, passing thru a lot of tempo-changes and some aggressive moments (where the story tells the madness of the main character). In the clean parts, the vocals are very strong and powerful, with a good use of the vibrato (Dickinson docet), and somehow - in certain passages - the vocalist might also recall the unforgettable Midnight (R.I.P.) of Crimson Glory fame. The guitars lines are intricate and sharp like razors, the arrangements clever and accurate. All in all, a good album, yet obviously not for any of you, readers. But if you want to invest time on this, you’ll come out with an hidden treasure. Primo Bonali (83/100) FRANCIS ROSSI – One Step At A Time (EarMusic) Francis Rossi is 50% of Status Quo, the legendary British Boogie Rock band: a very recognizable voice and widely known artist which has had a career going on for the last 40 years or so. "One Step at a Time" is Rossi's second solo album and it is not at all very far away from what you would expect from him, offering just extravaganza in slightly different styles, particularly with some more bluesy ("If You Believe"), ballad (the title track) and pop-rock number. Other than that, this is exactly what you would expect to hear from him and this is no surprise since those songs have been originally written for Quo and for one reason or another never finished on an album. There is also a new version of Quo's old hit "Caroline" which is now dressed as a groovy shuffle with the famous riff quoted in the outro. Anyway the vibe is very good time oriented and this is the kind of record that you can play in the background of a nice party, particulary if the guests are in their late 30's and 40's. No surprises here, but just nice songs and rock 'n roll. Mario de Riso (75/100) 8 POINT ROSE – Primigenia (Escape Music) Heavier than Third Eye, more progressive than Third Eye and infinitely more classy than Third Eye. If you are going to spend some money on a metal release, make it this one. Swedish metallers 8 Point Rose have a really big sounding record here – with riffs, beats and progressive twists throughout. This is a seriously heavy record, yet the vocals remain ever likable. Marcus Nygren has a pleasant tone – when screaming or diving into the darker, lower notes. It makes all the difference. The band has toured a bit and it shows in the cohesive nature of the songs here. You can tell if a band has gelled, even in the studio. For a metal album, the songs here are relatively short. All around the 5 minute mark and the guys haven't forgotten choruses – take a listen to the metal anthem When Chaos Rules Our Lives. A heavier and less progressive Dream Theater might be one description, but the guys have their own sound. Like I said – seriously heavy in places, but equally melodic in other areas.A solid debut – unlike that of Third Eye. These guys will definitely be back for more and I'll look out for that. Andrew McNeice - Melodicrock.com (84/100) MRF | 13 Band: Joey Summer Album: Written In Stone Interview with: Joey Summer Interviewed by: Duncan Jamieson Question: You’ve got the most AOR sounding name of all time. Is it your real name? Answer: Hello. Thank you! I really appreciate it. No, unfortunately it is not my real name. I am of Greek descent, which you will notice when I tell you that my last name is Polycarpo. My first name is Joel. And by the way, I am a big fan of Billy Joel, just like my mother used to be. Probably that's the reason for my first name... haha. But my "nickname" comes from the school days. I got this nickname for being a big fan of the Marvel comics character "Scott Summers" (Cyclops). Also, it was kind of a joke of my colleagues because of my eyeglasses, (I’m wearing eyeglasses since I’m 6 years old.) Later I started using "Summers" and so, Joey Summer. Someone suggested that Joey sounded better and more direct than Joel. So, I adopted this nickname. I don't think that I could use Joel Polycarpo anyway. Sounds like a bishop, perhaps an actor, but definetely not a Rocker! haha Focus on: Q: This is your first English speaking album; your debut was in Portuguese. Why the change? A: Well, I always sang in English since I started out singing and playing in my first bands still as a teenager. You are correct, my first solo album, "Nascer", has Portuguese lyrics. But singing in Portuguese, I certainly would not have a huge exposure like I'm experiencing with this album, "Written On The Horizon". Q: It’s a good album full of music that reminds you of AOR’s heyday back in the eighties. What is it that appeals to you about this kind of music? A: Thanks for your kind words regarding my album! I love this kind of music. I was sad when in the middle of 90s this magic sound seemed to be lost forever in the middle of the "grunge" movement (turbulence). But bands like Whitesnake, Uriah Heep, Eagles, Chicago, Journey, seemed to defy the test of time and the musical trends. This inspired me to keep writing songs and waiting for the right time to release them. I think that we are living in a great time for Hard Rock/Metal and good vibrations comes from Europe to the world! I'm glad, because I couldn't be happy doing a different kind of music, I really love what I'm doing now. Q: Which tracks do you think best represent your music? A: I think the whole album represents very well who I am, what I want and what I believe in. Even the cover artwork which was my choise because it really touched me! But I can highlight the ones that move me the most for special reasons. I really love to sing/play "Anymore", "Rise Up", "Written On The Horizon" and "Lorea". I will listen to these songs forever with a huge pride! Q: What’s next? Is there any chance of you coming to Europe? A: Well, I hope to present the new album, "WOTH" as much as I can live on the stage. JOEY SUMMER - Written In Stone (Avenue Of Allies) Like Aura, N.O.W and Higher Dreams, Joey Summer is a new name to add to the list of great AOR coming out of Brazil. This is his second record, but his first in English. The rocking ‘Rise Up’ and Michael Bormann penned ‘Anymore’ kick off the record in the bombastic style of old Jaded Heart. Much of the album relies on mid-paced tracks with lavish choruses and a big keyboard sound that reminds you of Drive She Said on ‘Lorea’ and the best track ‘Don’t Believe’, a co-write with Goran Edman. There’s a Toto feel to soppy ballad ‘It’s Only Love’ and ‘Tables Turning’ is a good Alliance type rocker. Kee Marcello wrote the closing track ‘Rough Ride To Paradise’ and it would’ve fitted perfectly on an old Europe album. Summer adds some tasty old school soloing throughout and his emotive voice is ideal for this genre, however a few stretched vowels betray his accent at times, which detracts slightly from the fun. Like the Brazilian team at the World Cup, this could do with a bit more flair in places but overall this a highly enjoyable slice of 80s indebted adult rock. Duncan Jamieson (85/100) MRF | 15 Band: Kickhunter Album: All In Interview with: Rollie Feldmann Interviewed by: Primo Bonali Question: Hello guys! How are you? First of all, my congratulations for your new great album, some Classic Rock delivered the way as it should always be!!! How do you feel about this album? Proud of your Work, right? A: Yes, indeed, we are very proud on the new album. It’s a perfect mixture of Classic Rock / Hard Rock / and Southern Style. Put it together so you get K I C K H U N T E R! While HEARTS & BONES has been an excellent Classic Rock album we made kind of a development through LITTLE MONSTERS which turned into perfection on ALL IN to the ultimate KICKHUNTER handwriting of Rock ´n´ Roll music. Q: Your album sounds very energetic and melodic from the first note to the very last one. In my review I’ve written that your sound has its roots more in the traditional ‘70s Rock than in the 80s sound. Do you agree? Which are your most important influences, musically talking? A: I would say our greatest influFocus on: ences are good old Hard Rock and Southern Rock. That is what we have in our souls and I guess you can hear in a lot of parts. The adventure to be on tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd in 2003 totaly changed our conscience about southern rock music and I can tell these guys/brothers are a big influence in our music. But off course you know we are born and raised in Europe so there is also a lot European influences in us which is related to the whole eighties Hard Rock scene from England and I would lie if I would say we are not having that sound in our music! Q: Why have you decided to include 2 cover-songs in the album? And why have you chosen, besides the popular worldwide-hit of Blondie’s “Call Me”, the awesome Victory “Check’s In The Mail”? Great choice, anyway, my friends! A: That was what I was trying to say… by chosen a song like “Checks in the mail” you can hear our eighties Hard Rock influence. Victory and even the old Accept has been one of KICKHUNTER - All In (AFM Records) our personal heroes. Hermann Frank is a close friend to the band btw. Q: Where your monicker, Kickhunter, comes from? Honestly, when I approached this album and read your monicker, I was expecting an album of US Hard Rock / Hair Metal… and I was totally wrong! A: Hahaha….yeah the name….Stefan invented the name on a BBQ night while we were listen to our favourite southern rock music and we got aware we are just hunting the Kick… and that’s how we turned into the name KICKHUNTER. Q: How did you get in touch with AFM Records? A: Stefans call… Q: Any touring-plans? A: When our release party tour for ALL IN is over we will concentrate on our Live program. We are planning a US tour with our friends and label colleagues from CIRCLE TO CIRCLE and several shows all over Europe. We hopefully get the gig on the next Lynyrd Skynyrd cruise which you know if you ever been on board is a one in a lifetime experience. I approached this album in a wrong way; the name of the band was making me immediately think of a powerful US Hard Rock/Hair Metal, so what I was expecting here was a band delivering some sharp guitar-riffs and high pitched vocals a la Skid Row/Slaughter. My fault. In fact this Cd has its roots more in the traditional ‘70s Rock than in the 80s sound. The first two songs “Mine All Mine” (very Status Quo-esque) and especially “Revolutions” (6 minutes and a half long) speak very clear, with a good use of the classic Hammond B3, played by Pascal Kravetz (Springsteen, Robert Palmer, Joe Cocker) and the very melodic and warm voice of Jorg Wesenberg, plus two female vocalists (Melanie Black and Ela). Add to this a general Southern-Rock feel (more evident in “Feels Like Home”, “Shy Shy Shy”), some Progressive Rock arrangements (“Ocean) and some very well played cover songs (the awesome Victory hymn “Check’s In The Mail” and the worldwide-hit of Blondie’s “Call Me”), and you have a very good Cd that could appeal to most of you, readers, especially the ones into the Classic Rock. Primo Bonali (85/100) MRF | 17 Band: Tony Harnell & T.M.T. Album: Round Trip Interview with: Tony Harnell Interviewed by: Barry McMinn Question: What made you decide to do an album like ‘Round Trip’ in the first place? Answer: I was performing some shows with this band in New York and when Serafino heard about it he asked me if I wanted to record a live album. Instead I decided to record a studio album that reflected what we did live. As the album developed I saw an opportunity to bring attention to some great songs that were passed over the first time around and breathe fresh air into others. I didn’t want to outdo the original versions, I just wanted to make a fun album. Q: How did you get together with guys in the band and how did you come up with the name The Mercury Train? A: These guys were all friends of mine from the local scene in New York and of course my wife Amy. The name was taken from a project in the 30’s in New York called The Mercury Train project which was a high speed train from Manhattan to Long Island. Focus on: Q: So how did the recording process go for this new album, did you all get together in studio or was it more file sharing? A: Not much file sharing at all actually. The whole band was in the studio for the bulk of the music recording and I recorded the vocals at my home studio. Q: Will there be an entire album of new material in the near future? A: Yes, many songs are written, it’s just a matter of choosing the best ones and moving forward with it. Q: How did you pick the tracks for the album? A: I asked the fans what their favorite songs were and then put their favourites together with mine. Q: Where there any songs you didn’t include on the album that you wished you had? A: I’m sure, but I can always do a volume two in a few years :) Q: Looking back over your career, what have been the highs and lows and would you change anything if you had the chance to do so? A: There are plenty of things one can always wish they had or hadn’t done but what’s the point? Can’t change it now. So I just look forward. Q: You’ve already done a few low profile shows but are you taking to the road for more shows once the album is released? A: Hopefully so, that is the plan. If the album does well and people want to see us live then we’ll be there! Q: What is the best piece of advice you could give to anyone wishing to become a singer in a rock band? A: Make sure you are a strong person and study the business and make sure you can handle the ups and downs. Ultimately, believe in yourself regardless of what others say. Q: So where does Tony Harnell go from here, what can we look forward to in the not too distant future? A: More music and more live performing :) TONY HARNELL & THE MERCURY TRAIN - Round Trip (Frontiers Records) Tony Harnell is known to many as the original frontman with Norwegian rockers TNT, but throughout the Melodic and Hard Rock fans he is much more, with albums with the bands Starbreaker, Westworld and also his solo material. This new chapter in the Harnell story with new band Mercury Train has taken some of Harnell’s finest rock moments from all the bands mentioned and completely reworked them, some of them are almost unrecognizable and some take a few listens. This is a sort of studio jam album, almost unplugged in places with the likes of ‘Intuition’ and ‘10K Lovers’ given a real slung down funk groove feel, while ‘Month Of Sundays’ is given a simmering ballad feel which highlights what a great voice Harnell has. Then there’s the superb version of ‘Northern Lights’, which will make you want to play this version more than the original. The new version of ‘Shame’ has been totally revamped for this album and sound really good with a guest vocal by Sandi Saraya. Some say you shouldn’t mess with the original classics but Harnell and The Mercury Train have done just that and given them a new feel some will like and some won’t, but all in all a good album if you’re into the unplugged and more mellower rock. Barry McMinn (90/100) MRF | 19 Band: Yoso Album: Elements Interview with: Billy Sherwood Interviewed by: Vitale Nocerino Focus on: 20 | MRF YOSO - Elements (Frontiers Records) A “supergroup” formed by TOTO’s vocalist Bobby Kimball and YES’ main members Tony Kaye and Billy Sherwood, YOSO combines perfectly the trademark of the two mentioned bands in a new fresh and exciting sound that might be simply described as Classic Rock. Take, for example, the opener “Yoso”: you could easily think that this is a song taken from the YES’ songwriting, but the vocals, more Rock and solid, bring the song to another dimension; the following “Path To Your Heart” is more a Toto-song, yet some “classy” arrangements recall the name of Yes, and a classic Rock ballad like “Where You’ll Stay” should be an huge hit if this would be a perfect world! “Walk Away” is another gem of Rock de-luxe with awesome vocals (Kimball is in top-shape here!), “The New Revolution” a nice and fresh tune with a great keyboards-work, “To See The Truth” a Blues-influenced ballad with Progressive arrangements. If TOTO and YES mean something for you (as it should be), this is an essential purchase. Enough said. Primo Bonali (92/100) Question: Can you tell me something about the birth of YoSo? When and how did you deicide to create this new band? Answer: Bobby Kimball was frequently coming over to my studio doing various sessions, I produced a lot of tribute records and he was a guest on a several. As a result of hanging out a conversation began "let's write some songs and see where it goes..." That was the beginning of Yoso as a concept. After we had written 4 or 5 songs we knew we were onto something special and starting discussing turning it into a band. Q: What does It means the moniker YOSO? A: Yoso is combining elements we bring by proxy of who we are and where we have been and where we are going. The name is a made up word (as far as i know) and that was another reason for it, when naming a new band more often then not what ever you think of has already been claimed by another band... Yoso is an original word (as far as i know) and there by unique to us in that regard. Q: Can you tell me something about the making of â€œElementsâ€?? (song writing, recording sessionsâ€Ś) A: I wrote music... and a lot of it. I then passed that music along to Bobby who returned to the studio with lyrics and we recorded vocals. It was a very easy process working with Bobby, has has an amazing voice and a great sense of lyrics as well. The entire record was written by the 2 of us. It started as a idea with song writing and developed into something much more serious once we knew what we had created. Q: What do the lyrics talk about? A: Lyrics are always taken in by the listener in different ways... To that end people will take away from them what they mean them to be, that said they are very well crafted and up lifting in a lot of ways. I come from a place of positive thinking about life in general and the possibilities there of... Bobby's lyrics reflect the same sentiments. I did have a hand in some lyric writing on the record but the majority of it was handled by Bobby. Q: What kind of novelty or innovation a fan of Toto and Yes could find on this new album? A: Fans of both YES and TOTO will find a familiar sound and texture to it all but they will experience an entire new sound within that familiarity... and that's the Yoso sound. I'd never had imagine looking at the Yes community and merging it with the Toto community musically speaking but... it ends up being a great combination to work from. Yes and all it's progressiveness and Toto rooted in classic rock, both incredible musical, these 2 worlds colliding have created what we have now in Yoso. That said there are no imitations taking place, rather Yoso has a clear identity to it's own being. "Balancing all the elements" as the title track expresses. We are excited to share this new sound with the world and show it off live too !! Q: Did you find any difficulties or pressure during the song writing process? Did you fear the judgment of your old fans? A: Song writing was easy, as I explained above I made the music, owning my own studio I have the luxury of creating at all hours of the night and day, I got very inspired to present music to Bobby and he in turn had the same energy with the lyric and the vocals. In all a very enjoyable process and went swiftly once it was set in motion. Re: judgment's of old fans... I've never been one to worry about what anyone thinks about the music I'm creating. I learned a long time ago it's true the old saying "if you don't like it no one else will". I always approach music from my own perspective. For example I have several solo Cd's with songs 11 minutes long.... some would say "that's way too long for 1 song". I say "That's what I want to do, and so I shall". Music is after all "art" and I love painting with all the colors in the box for my art... www.billysherwoodhq.com is where my solo works can be found for anyone interested in taking the ride. With Yoso I knew to remain within the common walls of music in terms of structure and format... this 1st Yoso record is built upon classic themes and arrangements and big vocals. We plan to expand the horizons musically speaking for Yoso future but the 1st debut CD reflects the starting point for Yoso and is a solid base to build from, we will be getting more adventurous with things as we proceed, for now there is plenty of adventure waiting to be discovered on the debut "Yoso" CD. All that said there is something for Yes, Toto and most important new fans of Yoso. Q: Are you already working on a tour? A: We start playing live in August back east... there are a lot of gigs getting booked as we speak so we shall be out there playing in 2010 and beyond. Q: How did you feel in working together in the studio? Are you old good friends also in the real life? A: I've know Bobby for decades as well as TK. We are all good friends. Working in studio is easy and professional and forward moving always. What more can you ask for.... there is nothing worse than a bad vibe and slow progress in studio. Yoso has none of that, it's always a pleasure. Q: What do you think about the actual rock scene? Do you think that in the new nillenium, governed by MTV, there will be still place for a band like YOSO? A: Internet has changed the landscape for everything. I don't think any one source has ultimate power to govern anymore... You-tube has circumvented the main stream and as a result things are happening and people and talent and bands etc... are being discovered in unique ways and with unconventional methods. That's a good thing for the art of music. There will always be a place for good music and bands... people love seeing concerts. Until we are all digitized and projected onto a stage i think the song will remain the same for a long long time... yes there is a place for Yoso and we are here to claim it. Q: Do you consider YOSO as a project or like a band with a long future? A: Yoso is a band. We have been at this a while getting things together behind the scenes for what now is our official launch. With the record release on Frontiers and tours being booked, we have plans to reach escape velocity and remain in orbit for a long long time... A project is something I produce a lot of, a band requires a different level of commitment, time, energy, shared vision and most important desire to "go for it" and continue going for it... without a doubt Yoso is a real band... and a really good one :) MRF | 21 Band: Jorn Album: Dio Interview with: Jorn Lande Interviewed by: Duncan Jamieson Question: When and why did you decide to do a whole album of Ronnie James Dio’s songs? Answer: I thought about the idea to do a tribute to Ronnie several years ago. Parts of the album was recorded last year, but some of the songs were recorded in October/November 2008, during the same period as we did "Spirit Black". "Song For Ronnie James" was written in 2009 and recorded this winter. When most other artists changed their style and direction to fit a new trend trying to suit the market, Ronnie stood on the barricades and did what he believed and loved to do. Ronnie was true to his heart, and became a rolemodel and example to follow. When I was insecure about which way to go, and not sure what to do with my career, I only had to look to Ronnie to recapture my focus and fire. Because of his presence and never ending strenght, I never lost the will to go on. I also wish to give Ronnie the credit for not only making me a better singer, but also a better person. In a world of arrogance, he represents the opposite. Many people are too busy trying to reinvent the wheel, forgetting the talent, quality and Focus on: 22 | MRF originality of the people that paved the way, like Ronnie James Dio. I toured with Ronnie about 10 years ago and he is the kindest, most caring and sincere artist I have ever met. He cared for people, was lojal to his fans and showed much respect and gratitude for the loyalty that his fans showed him. Q: You’ve got a great mix of his classic tracks and some of his less celebrated songs. How did you choose the songs that made the record? A: I picked most songs based on what I liked, and not based on which ones were the most popular ones. I also thought that the original versions of songs like "Last In Line", "Holy Diver" and "Rainbow In The Dark" were too obvious to record, plus the fact that the original versions of these songs sound so good, that I believe they can't be done any better. I always preferred the darker and heavyer side of Ronnies work, plus the more uptempo classic hard rock/metal songs. A song like "Shame On The Night" is an epic dark masterpiece that many people have forgotten, and a song like "Push" is a great song to remind us of the later Dio JORN - Dio (Frontiers Records) era. Q: There’s a whopping big production with everyone sounding immense. It sounds like everyone had a blast making this album. A: Everyone loved recording these songs. We can all relate to the music Ronnie put his trademark on, whether it's Rainbow, Black Sabbath / Heaven & Hell or Dio. Q: ou sound terrific on the record. Were any of the songs a challenge for you to sing? A: All the songs were a challenge to sing. Ronnie’s dedication and perfectionism was unique. Q: Has it hurt that some people have suggested that some of the Dio tributes have been cashing in on his name? A: I try not to read too many of the comments or discussions on the internet. I'm only human, so of course It hurts me when people think they know me and say bad things. Fortunately, most people are positive and able to see things from an objective point of view and I have recieved massive support from all over the world and I am deeply grateful for that. This project was started even before Ronnie James Dio was diagnosed with cancer and definitely has the spirit of a sincere tribute and not quick cash in. Although vocally Jorn is most often compared to David Coverdale, his music does have that dark and overblown edge, unmistakably influenced by the music of Dio, Black Sabbath and Rainbow. This is certainly no karaoke record. A modern, in your face production, adds a fresh vibrancy to the twelve covers, with a storming drum sound and big fat guitars. Jorn sounds immense and suitably stentorian on the classics ‘Shame On the Night’, ‘Don’t Talk to Strangers’ and ‘Stand up And Shout’. Some less celebrated songs such as ‘Sunset Superman’ and ‘Push’ get a welcome airing and there’s one original track, the eight minute ‘Song for Ronnie James’, which starts acoustically, before a dark riff heralds in the metal. Although, sadly, no longer with us the quality Dio’s songs ensures his legacy will continue. As Dio once famously sang, “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll!”. Duncan Jamieson (90/100)