Page 1: Melodic Rock Fanzine #70
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CONTENTS04_Blackmore’s Night

06_Operat ion: Mindcrime

07_Voodoo Hil l




11_Avatar ium


15_Radio Exi le

16_Champlin / Wil l iams / Fr ies tedt



22_Joel Hoekstra’s 13

Melodic Rock Fanzine

The official Frontiers Music s.r.l. magazine

Year #11 - Nr. 5 / Issue #70

Editor-in-chief: Elio Bordi

Concept, Graphics & Design: Elio Bordi

Writers: Bruce E.J. Atkinson, Duncan Jamieson, Barry McMinn, Vitale

Nocerino, Rob “Ezy” Bone, Primo Bonali.

Headquarters and general contacts:

Frontiers Records - Via Gonzaga 18

80125, Napoli - Italy

Tel: +39.081.2399340/7753

Fax: +39.081.2399794

E-mail: [email protected]




Editor and publisher: Frontiers Records s.r.l.

Copyright©2015 Frontiers Records. All rights reserved.

Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is pro-


Printed in Italy.

Page 4: Melodic Rock Fanzine #70

Band: Blackmore’s Night

Interview with: R.Blackmore / C. Night

Interview by: Duncan Jamieson

Page 5: Melodic Rock Fanzine #70

MRF | 5

Question: The title All “Our

Yesterdays” sounds as a proudly liv-

ing-in-past attitude. Do you think that

the present and the future of the music

are not able to give us anything really


Ritchie Blackmore: It’s hard to give an

objective opinion. I hardly ever listen to

the music of today. What they play on the

radio is nothing I would ever buy or lis-

ten to. I have my cds and cassettes and I

tune into youtube and listen to bands in

Europe that are renaissance type bands.

Q: In there any other Blackmore’s

Night album you could compare it?

How were the songs born?

Candice Night: Ritchie always come up

with the music, he has many tape

recorders around the house with ideas

on them collected over time. Then we

work out a top line and after that I go

into another place to be alone with the

song to write the lyrics and see what

visuals the music conjure up.

RB: This cd took about 2 years to com-

plete on and off. We would go into the

studio with 3 or 4 songs and record them

over a month, then take a few months

away from them and revisit the songs at

another time. That gave us space from

them to revisit them and hear them fresh

to see if anything needed to be added.

We did that a number of times over a 2

year period. But each cd like each song

has its own identity. We can’t compare

each cd as each one is a true representa-

tion where we are at that moment time.

Q: There are three cover songs on the

album: “Moonlight Shadows” (Mike

Oldfield), “I Got You Babe” (Sonny &

Cher) and “Long Long Time” (Linda

Ronstadt). Why did you choose them?

Is there a special feeling that tie you to

these songs?

CN: No tie to them. I Got You Babe is

done just for fun and nostalgic purposes.

Long Long Time I have always loved.

Moonlight Shadow was an inspiration

for us from the beginning- even inspiring

the original cd title shadow of the moon.

But it wasnt till Ritchie tried it in uptem-

po that we felt it was the right way for us

to record our version of it.

RB: It’s very different than we do it on

stage. We get these songs from gather-

ings we do with our friends once a week

where we all get together and play

acoustic instruments and rediscover

songs from yesteryear that we had for-


Q: Candice, what has been your source

of inspiration for the lyrics, this time

around, apart from the Moon? Any

Medieval tale, folklore, or historical

event like in the past albums?

CN: Always, the other side for instance

is about the year that we lost many

friends that were close to us. Jon Lord,

Owain Phyfe, a couple of friends that

were fans. Someone Ritchie played with

in the 3 musketeers, my best friends hus-

band…and as hard as that year was we

spoke to many people who were left

behind in this realm. Yet, as they were

healing they would be getting messages

from the other side to let their other

halves know they had gone on. That song

is about 1 specific instance where the

husband who passed on, had an alarm

set on his cell that went off 2 weeks after

he died and when his wife went to check

what the message was- it said ,"Go out-

side and look at the blue moon." I

thought that was beautiful that he would

always be watching over her. "Will o the

wisp " is about celtic folklore of lights

that make their appearance known and

lead you through the forest to change

your fate.

Q: What kind of contribution do you

think you gave to the renaissance of

the neo-folk and medieval movement

in music and arts?

RB: I don’t look at it like I am contribut-

ing to anything. I am just playing music

I enjoy.

Q: Could you talk us how many instru-

ments you played on this album? Is

there any new form the last” Dancer

And The Moon”?

RB: It’s much the same as what I was

using on the last record which consists

of acoustic and electric guitar, mandola,

nyckleharp, hurdy gurdy, mandolin.

Q: At the beginning of the

Blackmore’s Night adventure, how has

been difficult for you to play new and

unusual instruments? And to arrange

songs with them?

RB: Its very challenging yet very excit-

ing. No because sometimes I will write

the song on that instrument and because

I am not that familiar with the instru-

ment I will play it differently than I

would if Im writing on the guitar. Way

back I wrote Gates of Babylon on the

cello. I would never have written that on


Q: When you watch videos of the ‘70s

or ‘80s Ritchie Blackmore, what do

you think of yourself and about your

actually way to play? Would you like

to travel back in time to change any-


RB: I don’t watch myself in videos. I find

that creepy. I would not change anything

musically. I might change the venues and

how many times we traveled and how

many days we were on the road as that

tired me out. I would also change the

management I had at the time.

Q: Have you ever find your “perfect


RB: I don’t know- probably. I havent

reached perfection in guitar playing so I

tend to blame the guitar. I have many-

but one is always searching for the ulti-

mate guitar which doesn’t really exist.

It’s down to the player to make the per-

fect guitar not the guitar itself.

Q: Last April 15th you turned into

your 70s. A lot of your colleagues keep

on playing hard rock on stage, while

you decided to re-invent yourself in a

new dimension almost a 20 years ago.

Do you think is there a kind of limit-

age to play rock music?

RB: No, I don’t think that. I think it’s

how long you can stave off the arthritic

factor. If you’re 90, without arthritis,

then play on. I get arthritis of the thumb

and finger which I have to contend with.

I think a lot of other guitarists have the

same problem. Basically comes from

overuse of the finger and thumb

although I play fingerstyle when Jim

playing this music and plectrum style

when playing hard rock. fingerstyle

requires long fingernails. Rock and Roll

requires short finger nails. So it can be

difficult sometimes going from one to the


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6 | MRF

Here we are with this new amazing

concept album “The Key”. First of

three parts. What’s the most fascinat-

ing part of this format and about

using an album to tell a story?

Answer: I'm a writer. I write music and

also stories. I have several stories in

different stages of being production and

the story I wrote for this trilogy, start-

ing with, "The Key" has been something

I have been working on for the last 2

years. Writing music is where my heart

is. Putting the story to music made sense

for me. There is emotion in music that I

feel I can't quite get with just words.

Q: How do you usually work when

“building” a concept? Do you write

the full storyline first or do you out-

line a basic plot and then build the

story and the details when you go

through the songs?

A: For this story, I had a basic plot line

and I finished the story while walking to

Camino De Santiago in Spain. It took a

month to complete that walk and I had

many hours a day to think and stop and

write things down. So in this case I had

a very full story written before I started

putting it to music.

Q: Growing up, which were the con-

cept albums that really affected your

tastes and made you want to try it


A: Sgt. Pepper by the Beatles was the

first for me, followed by Pink Floyd’s

Dark side of the Moon. Then I discov-

ered Yes Close to the Edge and The

Lamb Lies down on Broadway by

Genisis. All extraordinary albums.

Q: It’s interesting that you have a

thing for acting. Have you ever

thought which of the concept albums

you worked on would be the better

choice for a movie script? And which

actors would you pick for the main

roles if you had the chance to sign

whoever you want?

A: I always wanted to make a movie

based on Operation: Mindcrime, the

album. I think the story and mystery

have really moved a lot of people and it

would be great to see it played out with

great actors. I think if I had a choice I

would go with Jonathan Rhys Meyers to

play Nicki, Jennifer Lawrence for Mary

and Charles Dance for Dr. X.

Q: Are there any movies that you

liked to the point of thinking “Wow,

wish I wrote the soundtrack for it”?

A: Kingdom of Heaven is one of my all

time favorites. I love Fight Club of

course and Gladiator.

Q: How did you get involved with

filming The Burningmoore Incident?

What kind of experience was it? Is it

much different acting on a movie set

compared to performing on stage in

front of an audience?

A: It was really different from perform-

ing for an audience because I have done

that for years and it comes quite natu-

rally. I took a lot of direction when film-

ing the Burningmore incident. I really

enjoyed the process and would love to

do more acting.

Q: In the early 2000’s there was a lot

of buzz about a possible studio project

involving you, Rob Halford and Bruce

Dickinson, basically to have the three

greatest metal singers ever on the

same record. Were there actually any

plans for it? And if so, why didn’t it

happen after all?

A: It was something that was tossed

around and we did sing together one

night. We were just never able to get all

of our schedules to work together. It

was more of a joke really that took

wings and I have been asked about it in

interviews ever since. I respect Rob and

Bruce very much and both have been an

inspiration to me. I would love to work

with either or both of them.

Artist: Operation: Mindcrime Interview with: Geoff Tate Interview by: Bruce Atkinson

Page 7: Melodic Rock Fanzine #70

Artist: Vodoo Hill Interview with: Dario Mollo Interview by: Duncan Jamieson

Question: It's great to have you back.

The new record sounds great. It's over

ten years since the last Voodoo Hill

record 'Wild Seed Of Mother Earth'

was released. What took you so long?

A: Thank you very much, I’m really glad

that you like the cd. After the release of

"Wild Seed of Mother Earth" I've record-

ed two more albums: "The Jumping

Clown" with an Italian band "Noize

Machine" and "The Third Cage" with

Tony Martin, I produced several albums,

some live gigs with "Noize Machine" and

a tour with Graham Bonnet. Finally, I

built a new house and a new bigger

recording studio, quite a busy schedule.

During the last two Years I've written

and recorded about 35 songs, Serafino of

Frontiers called me to see if I wanted to

work on a third Voodoo Hill album after

all these years, He said Glenn Hughes

was available in principle, so the next

thing I did was to choose 11 songs

which I thought suited the project the


Q: There's a lot of craft to the songs.

How long did the writing process take


A: Usually the writing process takes very

little time, when I decide to write a new

song I turn on the recorder and after a

couple of hours the song is recorded with

a simple programmed drum. The day

after I start to fix the arrangement and I

write a better drum pattern. During this

process I improvise a solo and very often

I keep it in the final release, Waterfall

solo is just a guide solo and it’s been

quite a problem to learn it afterwards for

the video release.

Q: How was the recording process this

time? You've got a different rhythm

section on this one.

A: As usual I play my demo to the musi-

cian and I let them all the possible free-

dom to play what they like. Then I listen

the result and I try fix and possibly

improve what they have done. For this

album I've tried to have a little more

interaction with the musicians during the

writing process and the only way to

achieve this was to work with local musi-

cians like. For example the drummer

Riccardo Vruna and the bass player

Andrea Maiellano. They are very good

young musicians from a band that I have

recently produced. The drummer

Vladimir Ruzicic Kebac it 's another

story, he's an amazing professional

drummer and producer from Serbia and

he played on 3 songs in this album but

we have already recorded an entire new

album for future releases. Very easy to

interact with him via internet, he per-

fectly understand what the song needs.

Q: On previous efforts you took care

of everything and Glenn Hughes came

in and sang in his inimitable way. This

time he's had a bit more input I

believe. Can you elaborate?

A: I generally prefer to produce directly

the musicians in my studio, it's easier for

me to interact with them, it's easier to

explain what I need for that particular

song and this is what I've done for the

backing tracks of this album, but this

time Glenn has recorded the vocal parts

in his studio in Los Angeles but his

involvement in the production it’s been

very helpful for me, I’ve sent him all the

song premixes and Glenn replied with

great advices.

Q: Lyrically, with songs like 'All That

Remains', 'The Well', 'Karma Go',

'Eldorado' and 'The Last Door' there's

an existential quest going on. Would

you agree?

A: I totally agree with you, I like when

the singer takes care of the lyrics writ-

ing, they are emotionally involved and

you can tell from the feelings of their

performances. Very often lyrics are a

snapshot of their life during the writing


Q: You've also got orchestral parts on

a couple of songs. How did that come


A: For me it’s been a great opportunity

to work with Dario Patti ‘cos he’s a fan-

tastic orchestral arranger. In some

tracks having orchestral parts makes a

great difference.

MRF | 7

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Band: 21 Octayine Interview with: Marco Wriedt Interview by: Barry McMinn

Ques t i on : For tho se un fami l i a r

with the band how did you guys get


Answer : Alex Landenburg and I met

i n 2008 . We p l ayed t oge t he r i n

“AXXIS” for a couple o f years and

we real ly wanted to form a d iverse

Rock band. Not a pro jec t ! A rea l

band. We were look ing for a s inger

for two years and then we found our

s inger “Hagen Grohe” who jus t go t

home f r om a t ou r w i t h t h e “Joe

Perry Projec t” . We loved h is vo ice

and when we met , i t was jus t pure

magic . Andrew was a lso a f r iend o f

Alex and a f ter a f i r s t jam we knew

that the band was comple te . That

was in 2010.

Q: With the debut rece iv ing such

high acc la im was there any pres-

sure on you to produce the goods

with a lbum number two?

A: Not rea l ly , we were rea l ly conf i -

dent r igh t f rom the s tar t wi th the

new mater ia l . Of course there i s a l so

some pressure when your prev ious

album did so wel l bu t you don´ t th ink

about tha t dur ing the songwr i t ing

process because you put a l l what you

got in to the new a lbum. So far , the

rev iews have a lso been very good for

the new a lbum so we are happy!

Q: The band members have very

di f ferent backgrounds , how do you

fee l th is has benef i ted the band?

A: I t makes i t more in teres t ing and

diverse . Ever member br ings some-

th ing to the tab le . I t ´ s rea l ly a team

ef for t . A rea l band as I ment ioned

before . Three d i f ferent “DNA´s” that

c r ea t e s ome th i ng un ique . Bu t we

also have a lo t o f s imi lar i t ies . There

are some bands a l l o f us l i ke . Bands

l ike “Toto or Queen”… So, there i s a

“red l ine” but yeah I ´m happy tha t

we can crea te d iverse rock mus ic

wi th a lo t o f co lours . I ´m not a b ig

fan o f records where ten songs sound

al l the same. An a lbum has to be an

exc i t i ng adven tu r e w i t h a l o t o f

depth and de ta i l s you want to hear

again and again . That ´s our goal for

the present and fu ture .

Q: Your debut a lbum was re leased

in 2014 , s o how l ong a f t e r i t s

re lease was i t before you s tarted

work on a lbum number two?

A: We s tar t ed the songwr i t i ng in

augus t 2014. Three months a f ter the

re lease o f “In to The Open”. I t took

us 12 days to wr i te the mus ic . Hagen

wrote the lyr ics tha t , I th ink , are

except ional end o f 2014, ear ly 2015.

We s tar ted recording the a lbum in

February 2015.

Q: Has a lbum ‘2 .0’ been a more or

less s tress ful experience than when

you were working on your debut


A: Not a t a l l . We had so many ideas

and the v i s ion o f the record was

pre t ty c lear . The “2 .0” songwri t ing

was a wonder fu l , smooth exper ience .

Everybody in the band matured a lo t .

Remember tha t we wrote “In to The

Open” i n 2010 /2011 . The r e we re

many new ideas r ight f rom the s tar t .

Q: I just loved the debut ‘ Into The

Open’ , but how do you compare

‘2 .0’ to the debut?

A: We didn´ t want to copy “In to The

Open”. We wanted to progress and

go deeper and create more d ivers i ty .

So th i s t ime there i s a song l ike

“When you go” , a v e r y me lod i c ,

upl i f t ing mains tream rock song we

also produced a v ideo for . On the

other s ide you got a song l ike “Tale

of a broken ch i ld” that i s t en min-

u tes long wi th a lo t o f changes and

di f ferent t ime s ignatures . We wanted

to create an even more ca tchy a lbum

on one s ide and on the o ther s ide , we

wanted to explore more o f our mus i -

ca l i t y . Tha t app roach make s t h e

album even more d iverse than “In to

The Open” but I th ink i f you love

“Into The Open”, chances are pre t ty

h igh tha t you wi l l a l so love “2 .0”.

8 | MRF

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Vitale Nocerino: Does “European Journey” contain one record-

ed show in its entirety or is it composed of various concerts of

the last tour? And which shows exactly are featured on the


Richard West: We recorded a number of shows during the tour to

give us a few options once we took the recordings back to the stu-

dio. Some nights we recorded the whole band, some nights we

recorded only the vocals. So the the overall album was recorded

throughout the tour and calling it "European Journey" made perfect


VN: In times of diminishing physical album sales, it seems like a

pretty bold move to release a double-disc live album. Do you

consider »European Journey« kind of a statement pro physical


RW: Yes, I'd say all of our albums are pro physical record state-

ments. I know there are more downloads these days, but most of our

fans still buy our CD's. As an artist it's always nice to produce

something you can hold in your hands as well as listen to.

VN: When looking back on the past tour that is now preserved

in “European Journey”, is there any situation in particular that

you remember most positively?

RW: Mostly that it's so cool to still be doing this 20 years since our

first European tour. Every tour seems more precious now. Also

hopefully every year we do it a little better.

VN: You‘ve stated that you felt the need to record another live

album in order to illustrate where Threshold stand as a band in

2015, for “a lot has changed“ since your last live release. In what

way has the band evolved musically over the course of the past


RW: We've always tried to keep progressing without losing our

roots. One of the major changes is of course the return of our orig-

inal vocalist Damian Wilson. Mac's death was very sad and a huge

loss to us all, we made some wonderful studio albums and live

recordings together. But now Damian is back with us so it felt like a

good time to document this new chapter of the band's live shows.

Page 10: Melodic Rock Fanzine #70

Question: Can you tell us a little about

the history of C.O.P. and how you guys

got together?

Answer: My brother and I have been in

different bands together since 1978,

groups like Wulcan, Promotion that later

on became Grand Illusion. First time we

met Ola was when GI where looking after

a guitarist for the gods of AOR gig with

Grand Illusion, around 2003. Ola got the

gig and we all clicked very well both on

stage and in private. Ola was since then

a member of GI. We have a side project

“Hydra project” playing cover gigs

together, so we know each other well.

Christian bought a home studio in 2012

and started to make songs again. I was

there laying vocals on demo for the song

Loner, we thought that this could actual-

ly be something to continue with, so we

contacted Ola to see if he was interested

to be a part. Luckily Ola was interested

C.O.P was formed, name = Christian,

Ola, Peter.

Q: The album itself is great mix of

melodic Hard Rock and AOR, was that

the vision you had from the beginning?

A: The Vision was to make melodic

straight forward songs, with a solid base,

driven guitars, keys in good mix, with a

lot of room for the vocals.

Q: How long have you been working on

the album?

A: At first we aimed to make an ep with 5

songs included, these songs took nearly a

year, really we took it as it came along,

but when we sent the songs to George at

Aor Heaven he asked us to make an

album instead, from there the time was

about 5 months.

Q: As regards to the songwriting

process, is there a main songwriter or

do you all have input?

A: Christian has made most songs for the

album, Ola made one song, Christian and

Ola made in my dreams, I made one song

which Christian was a part of. When

recording the songs, we have put our

individual stamp to them.

Q: The world of melodic rock has seen

a great influx of new bands from

Scandinavia, what is it about that

region that brings so many great


A: Hard question, but it could be that

Scandinavians are calm and melodic in

there nature. We do have a good system

where you can learn instruments in basic

school, this makes many people interest-

ed in music, it also produces a lot of

good musicians, songwriters.

Q: I know the band is a trio in the stu-

dio, but if you were to take C.O.P. on

the road would you bring in other

musicians for the live shows?

A: Yes we would bring in a Keyboard and

bass player.

Q: Speaking of live shows, the next

question is obvious, is C.O.P. a studio

project or are you looking to develop

into a full-blown touring band?

A: C.O.P is not a project, we are looking

for live shows to preform we do love to

play live, hopefully we will have the good

fortune to come to play in Italy.

Q: What does the future hold for

C.O.P.? Where do the see the band

going from here?

A: We have started song writing for the

next album and as mentioned above we

are looking for live gigs.

Band: C.O.P. Interview with: Peter Sundell Interview by: Barry McMinn

10 | MRF

Page 11: Melodic Rock Fanzine #70

Question: I would like to start with a

brief history of the group, beginning

with the founding members of Leif and

Marcus back in 2012…

Answer: Leif contacted me in 2013 and

asked me if I could help him to record

some demos. Being a big fan of Leif’s

song writing I gladly said yes. As soon

as we started to work in the studio I

think we both felt that we enjoyed work-

ing together so we started to talk about

forming a band. Lars and Carl where

both easy choices since we new they

were great musicians and luckily for us

the said yes. Now we had a great band

and a few great songs, the only thing we

needed to make everything perfect was

an amazing singer. That is usually the

biggest challenge. Leif and I talked a lot

about different singers and we know a

few great ones that were mentioned. We

felt that we wanted to find someone with

a lot of blues and jazz feel but also able

to sing hardrock. One day Leif said

“imagine if we found a singer with a

kind of “Robert Plant feel” for this

heavy music. When he said that I imme-

diately came to think about Jennie-Ann.

So I said: “well I know a singer with

that kind of approach against music but

it is not a guy, it’s a girl”. Leif knew

Jennie-Ann but he never heard her sing.

We tried her out in the studio and where

totally blown away when she sang

Moonhorse. When I came home that

night I listened to the song maybe 10

times and I new that we where up to

something very different and exiting.

Since then we have released 1 full length

album and 2 EP’s and we have played

many big festivals in Europe and toured

as special guest for Amorphis. This

autumn we release our second full length

album and will follow that up with a

headline tour in November.

Q: Who writes for the band, is it a

combination of members, or do you

have one main song writer?

A: Leif is the main composer but me and

Jennie-Ann are usually doing the

arrangements. Also we continue to work

on the melodies and harmonies that Leif

has written so that when the song is fin-

ished it sounds quite different from the

original version. Also of course Carl

and Lars are putting in their feel in the

songs. I think that is one of the strong

things with Avatarium, the combination

of people with different musical back-

grounds but with the same feel for how

music is supposed to sound and feel. Leif

asked me to write some songs for this

album since me and Jennie-Ann wrote

Deep Well on the last EP but with the

production work all over me I didn’t

have the time to finish my ideas and Leif

has been very creative so there really

was no need this time. We have some

good ideas for the next album though..

Q: Upon listening to your new album,

everyone seems to be in complete sync.

Each performance filled with har-

monies and played so tightly, some of

these tracks must have been recorded

‘live’ off the floor, correct?

A: Yes, that’s correct. A lot of rehears-

al and live shows is the key to the

Avatarium sound. Everybody in the band

is also very good at listening to what’s

going on in the moment and we all adapt

to what the other members do. So when

someone is taking a trip somewhere

musically the rest of the band follows.

We always have that as a mantra that we

shall never be to safe and always try to

inspire each other to find new ways of

playing our music. Every show is sup-

posed to be unique!

Q: What are your hopes for this

record, and where do you see your-

selves, say in a year or so…

A: We want the band to become as big as

possible since this is our life and pas-

sion. I hope that we can take some more

steps with this album and continue this

great musical adventure for many years.

Band: Avatarium Interview with: Marcus Jidell Interview by: Bruce Atkinson

MRF | 11

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Key” (Frontiers Music s.r.l.)“The Key” is the first of a trilogy fromGeoff Tate and his new musical creation“Operation: Mindcrime”. On this first disc,“The Key”, Geoff surrounds himself withequally talented musicians and vocalists. Aset of varied Progressive runs tinged withthe sharpness of Metal. A “heady” study onthe world we live in, its technology, andhow we interact with it. Like I say, it is“heady” stuff, but we wouldn’t expect any-thing less from Mr. Tate. “The Key” is thefirst book of this extensive musical foray.Geoff takes up the journey from the albumthat he started this exploration from… Onewill hear some modern rock elementsmixed in with the more traditional, or, stan-dard Hard Rock forms. Progressive innature, and at times the music gives way tothe voices, which give us the message loudand clear. Listening to “The Key” you findyourself drawn in, completely immersed inboth the music and vocals, picking outthose lyrical messages and story lines.Close your eyes, and a kaleidoscope ofsound emerges, keeping you tied in and tak-ing you to musical heights that you haven’tscaled! Operation: Mindcrime “The Key”,this is just the beginning!! BA (95/100)


Yesterdays” (Frontiers Music s.r.l.)There are those who will never get overthe fact that Ritchie Blackmore doesn'tplay the same genre defining, incendiaryrock style he did with Deep Purple andRainbow but there are others who havewarmed to band's wispy, fairytale charm.This disc, their tenth, will continue to con-found the former and delight the latter.The album is made up of several freshlywritten tunes such as the Mediterraneanflavoured titled track, the cheery jig of'Allan Yn N Fan 'and 'Where Are WeGoing From Here' which is sung sweetlyby Candice Night. There are also a num-ber of covers such as Mike Oldield's'Moonlight Shadow' that's in keeping withthe band's style, a decent stab at LindaRonstadt's 'Long Long Gone' and a lesssuccessful take on the Sonny and Cherclassic 'I Got You Babe'. There are a cou-ple of instrumentals; 'A Darker Shade OfBlack' (which sounds like the repost toProcol Harem's 'Whiter Shade of Pale')and 'Queen's Lament' a short acousticpiece . Next year Blackmore's going to dosome gigs as Rainbow, until then it's therenaissance folk rock fan that this willappease. DJ (90/100)

STRYPER “Fallen”

(Frontiers Music s.r.l.)“Stryper” show no signs of slowing down,not with their music, nor with their mes-sages of faith! The opener, “Yahweh” setsthe tone for the rest of the album. “Fallen”,the album title and the second track on therecord continues with the groups’ hard hit-ting style of Molten Melodic Metal! Beingsome of the busiest musical artists in thebusiness today, members of Stryper seemto have re-energised themselves! Twelvescorchers that have huge guitars, giganticriffs and vocals, and a pulsating bed ofrhythm that just won’t quit! An album thatis truly inspired. With just one listen youcan hear the dedication these four have, fortheir musical craft, as well as for theirmusical mission. Whether it is with theirhard hitting molten metal or, like, “AllOver Again”, their energised mid-tempoforay, Michael-Oz-Tim, and Robert deliv-er the good news with uncompromisingmusic and words. And you will fast findout, the few surprises they have up theircollective sleeves! “Stryper”, and ‘Fallen’–a class all to themselves, truth in music,muscular and precise and only what wehave come to expect from these four sol-diers! BA (94/100)

JOEL HOEKSTRA’S 13 “Dying toLive” (Frontiers Music s.r.l.)

“Dying to Live” is the latest album fromWhitesnake and former Night Ranger six-string maestro Joel Hoekstra, and what agreat slab of melodic hard rock this trulyis. Unlike his previous solo albums underthe 13 moniker, he has gone down themore lyrical path with this album and he’sbrought in two giants of the rock to deliv-er the vocal goods in Jeff Scott Soto andRussell Allen, along with Vinnie Appiceon drums and Tony Franklin on bassduties, plus a great list of guest musicians.This is a great hard rock opus that kickssome serious ass from the off, take “SayGoodbye To The Sun” with Allen deliver-ing an unmistakable metal edge to theproceedings. The album is jam packedwith rock goodies with the likes of“Anymore”, with its more melodic guitaredge, or the massive “Scream”, with Sotodoing what he does best on this one. Otherhighlights for me include the majestic“Changes”, the dark groove filled titletrack “Dying To Live”, that has a certainDio era Sabbath feel about it, but to behonest, this is 11 tracks of pure ear-candy.This is an album that you will go back totime and time again. BM (95/100)





“Hustler’s Row”

(Nuclear Blast)“Hustler’s Row” exudes high

energy rock n’ roll. The twin

guitar attack guarantees the lis-

tener the feeling to get up and

do a little jig while enjoying the

rollicking sound scapes that

pound out of the speakers!

James, again, finds himself

behind the Producers’ role and

has offered up all the songs. As

we happily journey through the

music we can hear the maturity

of his song writing talents. Of

course, the music pulse is kept

to the front, with each member

playing at the top of their craft!

Songs like “Stress and

Confusion” are telling signs of

this maturity and why it has

been four long years since their

last album. Each song is played

with emotion and perfection!

“Hustler’s Row” is also a per-

sonal journey, but more than

this, it is an album’s worth of

Class a Hard & Melodic Rock,

with a healthy dose of funk

infused blues! Now, the title cut

is notably buried within this

album, and rightly so, simply

because just when you think

you have heard the best, there is

more! And it just keeps getting

better! “Gentlemans Pistols’

Hustler’s Row” will keep you

wanting more! BA (90/100)


“From Ashes To Wings”

(Pride and Joy)The progressive power metal band

from Colorado are back, after a

lengthy absence, to deliver a

record that continues from where

their 1996 debut 'The Illusion' left

off ( ignoring the more modern but

less satisfactory follow up 'Bent').

Taking their cue from the like of

Dream Theatre, Queensryche and

Fates Warning the band's sound is

a mix of chugging riffs, florid key-

board runs and serious soul search-

ing lyrics from the rather good and

very melodic singer Corey Brown,

definitely the star of the show here.

The songs rely on Hercules

Castro's chugging guitar, and

longer guitar instrumental sections

and decent melodic hooks as on

'Far From Grace'. 'Requiem' has an

atmospheric, epic feel and 'A New

Day' differs from the norm; start-

ing with tranquil keys, allow

Brown's voice to shine, before the

those chugging guitars come in. I

have to say though those chugging

guitars get repetitive over the

course of the album, the pace is

generally mid paced throughout

except on 'Broken Road' when the

pace picks up. This coupled with a

rather flat production means it's

not quite the rise from the ashes it

could have been. Nevertheless it's

good to have them back making

music. DJ (82/100)


“Room Experience ”

(Melodic Rock Records)Put together by italian keyboards-

player / songwriter Gianluca

Firmo, Room Experience devel-

oped into an international band /

project when british singer David

Readman (Pink Cream 69,

Voodoo Circle) had been

approached and recruited to sing

on this debut-album. A blend of

Melodic Rock and 1st class AOR

music, with incredible hooks, great

arrangements and a good produc-

tion, handled by international pro-

ducer Alessandro Del Vecchio

(Revolution Saints, Hardline, and

many more). With some of the best

italian musicians aboard, such as

Davide “Dave Rox” Barbieri

(Wheels Of Fire, Charming

Grace), Pierpaolo “Zorro” Monti

(Shining Line, Charming Grace,

Lionville), Steve De Biasi and

Amos Monti, “Room Experience”

is an exciting journey thru' the

music we all live and love, with a

stunning songwriting exploiting a

wide range of Melodic Rock styles

and influences, from classic AOR

to more up - to - date melodic Hard

- Rock. Recommended to anyone

who enjoys Lionville, Shining

Line and David Readman's amaz-

ing voice. Check out the song

"Tomorrow Came": it could have

been an "instant hit" during the

'80s... PB (88/100)


“European Journey”

(Nuclear Blast)By many considered as the

“british Dream Theater”,

Threshold's style differs from the

US “monsters” one as it's more

focused on both, dramatic/dark

atmospheres and heavy passages,

going more directly “to the point”,

without losing very often the main

path, if you know what I mean.

Their previous two studio-works

resulted in a nice success, with

especially the latest one providing

the centrepiece of the material fea-

tured on this new double-set CD,

and that will be the subject of sev-

eral in-its-entirety-based perform-

ances during 2016. “European

Journey” contains 15 live tracks

recorded at different European

venues during the 2014 tour.

Damian Wilson (who re-united

with the band in 2007, following

the departure of predecessor

Andrew McDermott) is behind the

mic and he does an excellent job,

with all of the songs here benefit-

ting of his emotional vocals. The

good (and up-to-date) production,

courtesy of keyboards-player

Richard West and guitarist Karl

Groom, adds the final touch to the

crystal clear own band's sound and

makes “European Journey” a

must-buy item for the ones who

love hi-quality Prog Metal releas-

es. PB (85/100)


“Metal Allegiance”

(Nuclear Blast)Super-group projects are ten-a-

penny these days but this is one

that really deserves its super-

group tag. The core band is

David Ellefson of Megadeth,

Alex Skolnick of Testament and

ex-Dream Theatre's Mike

Portnoy and they've created a

record that's heavier than a dia-

betic elephant. Having this core

of musicians works extremely

well as it gives the record a cohe-

sive band sound while some big

hitters from the metal world join

them on different tracks, creating

rich, varied songs and I mean

songs, not just a bunch of super-

star chums jamming and

stroking each other's egos. Lamb

Of God's D. Randall Blythe's

voice is a force of nature on the

blistering opener 'Gift Of Pain'.

'Let Darkness Fall' surprises with

a bluesy solo that morphs into

acoustic guitars wonderfully.

When Testament's Chuck Billy

joins for 'Can't Kill The Devil' it

comes across less like Testament

and more like Metallica.

Portney's drumming is, as ever,

immense, while Skolnick does a

splendid job bouncing off the

guest stars. Powerful music, as

good as the names involved sug-

gest, and a project that hopefully

has a future. BA (88/100)


“Barefoot To The Moon”

(Pride and Joy)Echoes are Germany’s premier

Pink Floyd tribute act, having

brought the music of the UK’s

progressive giants to the masses

for over 20 years. An ambitious

undertaking, but they succeeded

and “Barefoot to the Moon” is

the result. What makes this a sit

up and take notice album for

melodic rock fans is the fact that

Oliver Hartmann is leading the

charge both vocally and on the

guitars. The album has all the

classics “Money”,

“Comfortably Numb”,

“Welcome to the Machine”,

“Shine on Your Crazy

Diamond”, “Wish You Were

Here” and of course “Another

Brick in the Wall”, (which was

the first single I ever bought),

but this album is remarkable for

me as a Pink Floyd fan as they

have stripped down a very com-

plex bands sound into acoustic

format and still managed to cap-

ture the essence of the band.

And with this being available in

DVD format you can capture a

very different vision experience

candles instead of a laser show.

A string section instead of key-

board sounds. Reduction

instead of inflation. In fact the

very essence of Pink Floyd in its

barest form. BM (80/100)

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VOODOO HILL “Waterfall”

(Frontiers Music s.r.l.)More than a decade since the last VoodooHill record, it comes as a pleasant surpriseto have a third disc from Dario Mollo's hardrock project. He's procured the mighty tal-ents of Glen Hughes again and betweenthem they've created a record that keepsgood company with their two previousefforts. It has a more mature flavour per-haps and what initially strikes you isHughes rather restrained vocal perform-ance on'All That Remains'. It's as if on hisrecent Black Country Communion andCalifornia Breed albums he felt the need toshow off more to his superstar pals, buthere with an old sparing partner he doesn'tfeel the need to be as histrionic and canconcentrate on the song. 'The Well' and'Evil Thing' have the signature Voodoogroove, 'Eldorado' is pleasingly heavy and'Waterfall' stands out as the best track; aslow emotive track that starts sparsely withjust guitar and voice before the band crash-es in creating an epic track with a superla-tive performance from Hughes. While itmight not be doing anything new, it's deliv-ered in such a competent manner by Molloand Hughes that any hard rock fan shouldenjoy it. DJ (92/100)

C.O.P. “State of Rock”

(AOR Heaven)What do you get when you put togetherone of the genre’s top singers, a guitarhero and producer extraordinaire and asong writing drummer? I’m talkingabout Peter Sundell, Ola af Trampe andChristian Sundell, who together makethey are Sweden’s C.O.P. This power-house trio are about to send sonic wavesaround the melodic rock world with theirnew album ‘State of Rock’. Anyonefamiliar with Grand Illusion will knowwhat these guys are capable of andtogether on this new album, they are aforce to be reckoned with. The albumcarries on the high quality rock we havecome to expect from the Swedes overrecent year, great memorable tunes thatstay with you for days even after just onelisten. I could wax lyrical about thisalbum but this one has to be listened to,to really appreciate its splendour. A fewof the many tracks of note have to be theall our rocker ’Nightmare’, the keyboardinfused ‘I Want The World to Know’,the groove filled rocker ‘In My Dreams’and the riff fuelled Broken Heart’. If thisis the State of Rock, then long may itcontinue! BM (90/100)

GRAVEYARD “Innocence &

Decadence” (Nuclear Blast)Four very dedicated musicians that create themost tasteful groove infected rock this side ofMemphis! Joakim Nilsson’s vocals deliverin a wide reaching range, capturing the heart-felt emotions of every song. His guitar play-ing reinforces this and meshes perfectly withmate: guitarist Jonatan LaRocca-Ramm. Allthe heavy grooves swirling around“Innocence & Decadence” are perfectly per-formed by Axel Sjoberg on drums andbassist Truls Morck. “Innocence &Decadence” continues to drive the uniquesounds of this group, whose historical influ-ences are heard front and centre, but withtheir own signature stamped all over. Fromthe late sixties, with echoes of Jim Morrisonand The Doors, to the hard rock n’ bluesgreats from the seventies and early eighties,“Graveyard” deliver, and deliver with theirown style. There is no copying here, justinspirations that drive this group to createtimeless magic! Everything just gels, thevocals, those guitars, which grooved outback beat-giving us a dynamic wall of sound.When these four decide to slow it downsome, WOW! Are you in for a treat!“Graveyard”, simply a ‘must-have’ group inyour music library!! BA (91/100)

21OCTAYNE “2.0”

(AFM Records)Once again Hagen Grohe, Marco Wriedtand Alex Landenburg return with anotherdiverse modern rock album with theirlong await second release simply entitled‘2.0’, which includes enough scope tobring in new fans, while retaining enoughof the taste of the first album to pleasetheir diehard fan base. The band may bewithout a bass player at the moment, butits Not … All about the bass, about thebass … This is a great follow up to criti-cally acclaimed debut ‘Into The Open’.With the band once again taking a nononsense approach to their music andbringing in very different elements tomake this one of the most diverse albumsof the year so far. There are some greatrockers on the album from the raucoussleazy rockin of ‘Take Me Away’, theclassic rocking of ‘Love’s Just AHeartbreak Away’, as well as some mel-low moments that highlight the vocal tal-ent of Grohe, songs like the ballad ‘Lost’.Although the highlight for me has to bethe ten minute epic ‘Tale of a BrokenChild’, which is where the band show alittle progressive edge. All in all, a greatsecond release. BM (87/100)

AVATARIUM “The Girl With the

Raven Mask” (Nuclear Blast)Avatarium are about to unleash their sec-ond full-length album! “The Girl With theRaven Mask”, is a journey of great depthand majestic moments! From the openingcut one can hear the care and attentiongiven to each piece. It’s great to hear somereal recording here, performing live offthe floor. These five musicians have gath-ered to put their best performances to thefore, and one immediately hears this. Thesiren-like vocals of Jennie-Ann Smith areforceful when needed, poetic and alwayscrystal pure! She, with her bandmatesspin musical rivers that richly flow andexcite the aural senses! The whole albumsurrounds the listener with very pleasingmusical tapestries. So, be prepared toexplore with Leif, Lasse, Marcus, andCarl and of course Jennie-Ann: a musicalocean deep and rich! Bassist Leif Edlingwrote most of the songs we hear, and hisstyle of writing is very poetic and fits wellwith the music created. Whether we arehearing slow and melodic passages orrapid-fire pulsating rivers of sound, thelyrics create their own rhythms, enrichingthe experience through and through. “TheGirl With the Raven Mask”, a majesticeffort, bringing this band closer togetherand bringing us closer to them as well! Analbum full of power, a record that pushesthe envelope and a Master in its class!Three cheers and then some forAvatarium!! BA (92/100)

RADIO EXILE “Radio Exile”

(AOR Heaven)Radio Exile is the self titled debutfrom a new force in rock world, butwith a few names you might recog-nise. Leading the way on vocals isChandler Mogul, Charlie Calv onkeyboards ,along with the soulfulguitars of Jimmy Leahey and thepowerhouse rhythm section ofKenny Aaronson and Dave Anthonyon bass and drums respectively.Together Radio Exile are bringing afresh look at all things melodic andhard rock based with this debut.This album is what this genre is allabout, great guitars and keyboardsunited perfect harmony, plus a solidback beat, with the icing on thecake a powerhouse vocalist.Thealbum boasts ten great rockingtracks for any fan of the genre toget their teeth into. Tracks like thebass hungry ‘Soulfire’, the thump-ing drum filled ‘No Pity on theHighway’, the Queen like ‘HigherThan The Sun’, the classic rock of‘Down in a Hole’ and the sevenminute splendour of ‘A Cross onStone’. All very different songs allwith one common thread, they rock.BM (85/100)


EDT “CWF” (AOR Heaven)Reprising their collaboration JosephWilliams and Peter Friestedt, whomade a lovely record together in2011, are joined this time by BillChapman. This is soft rock heaven.With velvety backing courtesy ofPeter Friestedt, the vocals ofJoseph Williams and Bill Champlinrecall a day when this kind of musicwas guaranteed to go billboard top10. Unsurprisingly, this sounds a lotlike Toto and Chicago at times.Williams leads on 'Runaway' and'All that I Want'; tunes that haveenough class that you'd swear theywere Toto songs if you didn't knowbetter. Champlin is the master ofsounding stoic in the face of heart-break as he proves on 'Still Around'.Chicago would probably sue forplagiarism if it wasn't one of theirown singing on the jazzy hornassisted 'Nightfly'. 'Hearts At War'has a terrific pop rock hook at itsheart. There's also a great version ofChamplin's 'After The Love HasGone' made famous by Earth, Windand Fire. The acappella driven'Rivers Of Fear' surprises and addsvariety. Consummate musicianshipand performances, evoking thesound of the late 80s make this anessential purchase for west coastAOR fans. DJ (89/100)

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Question: Let’s start at the beginning,

how did the band Radio Exile come


Answer: It’s actually quite funny how this

came about, I had run in to Dave whom I

have known since we were kids and we

have always talked about doing something

together but we could never seem to make

it work. So I sent him some songs I was

working on and asked if he would be up

for doing a record and if he knew of any

singers, and he was totally up for it and

recommended Chandler. So we got togeth-

er with Chandler and we hit it off right

away, so the three of us talked about how

we wanted move forward and who we had

in mind for guitarists and bass players. I

wanted to make sure it was an interesting

group of players and not just your typical

hard rock guys where we would just churn

out this generic sounding record which

seems to happen all too often these days.

So Jimmy was at the top of our list as he

such a versatile player and I knew he

could add a lot to this record and fortu-

nately for us he was able to commit. Then

Kenny kind of came in accidentally,

Chandler ran into him at a show and they

started talking and next thing I know I get

an email from Chandler saying how would

you like Kenny Aaronson on the record,

who is going to say no to that right? So I

sent Kenny the stuff and he liked it and

was able to commit as well. So that is how

we wound up with the line-up.

Q: How long have you been working on

the album?

A: It took a little over a year to complete.

Chandler and I wrote for a while and then

we got everyone together to rehearse. At

first we just recorded 5 songs to see how

we all worked together, and how it would

all sound, and it was amazing. So

Chandler and I took a couple of more

months to finish writing the rest of the

record and then we got back in the studio

and did the other 5 songs. Then spent a

few more months working in the studio fin-

ishing up and doing all the mixing.

Q: So was the album written before a

band was put together or did the two

things come hand in hand?

A: Between Chandler and me we individu-

ally had some song ideas already, but we

actually had the line-up together before

we really got into the collaborative writ-

ing process. Once we had some solid ideas

we would send demos to the guys, and then

we all got together and rehearsed and

headed in the studio. This was done with

all of us together, rehearsing and doing

the basic tracks. Nobody did their parts in

their own home studios or anything like

that. We wanted to do it old school with all

of us together to capture that excitement.

Too many records these days are manufac-

tured and done remotely and you com-

pletely miss the point of what making

music is all about.

Q: There a some great tracks on the

album like ‘Soulfire’, ‘No Pity On The

Highway’ and the Queen like ‘Higher

Than The Sun’ just to name a few, but

are there any songs you’re particularly

proud of?

A: I am pretty thrilled with how they all

came out, each one is unique. I think there

is something on here for everybody. Each

time I talk with someone they have a dif-

ferent favourite which is cool. I guess ‘A

Cross on Stone’ is up there for me, when

we were in the studio doing the end sec-

tion, Jessie, Joe and Amy were just amaz-

ing and it was so much fun to watch them.

Jessie did that entire end section in just

one take, we just said go for it and she just

nailed it. Just a great experience.

Q: The album mixes a lot of different

rock elements, was this just how things

turned out or was it planned to make

this a diverse album?

A: Just turned out that way, we did not put

any limitations on what we would write. If

it was good song it made the record. The

diversity comes from these great musi-

cians, they can play anything and that was

the idea. Put all these guys in a room

from different musical backgrounds and

different generations and see what you

come up with. Dave is an amazing percus-

sionist so we took that element and let him

bring in that influence, Jimmy can play

any style, so you can hear a bit of a coun-

try flair on ‘Feels Like Home’, and then he

just tears it up on ‘No Pity on the

Highway’. Then Kenny comes from whole

different background, I mean the guy has

played with everyone from the New York

Dolls to Bob Dylan, so you get a whole

different perspective. I have always been

a big Led Zeppelin fan and always liked

how each record could be so diverse with

different styles, yet it all sounded like

Zeppelin, same with a band like Queen.

MRF | 15

Band: Radio Exile Interview with: Charlie Calv Interview by: B. McMinn

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Question: How did you write the songs and

how much input was there from Joe and Bill?

Answer: When it was time to record the album I

had around 4-5 songs that I thought was really

strong and then Bill added a few of his songs, we

both co-wrote with Randy Goodrum and Bill

also added a song that Will Champlin wrote.

Q: Was it recorded together in the studio or

did you file share?

A: We did most of the Vocal recording at Bills

studio in LA in 2012 than Joseph added some

Vocals after the Scandinavian tour we did the

same year! After that I spent a lot of time

Tracking real drums, adding my guitars and

keyboards here in Sweden.

Q: How did the recording process work?

Talk us through the creation of a typical


A: Less people have been involved in this

record than some I’ve done, and when a lot of

the work is done in our home studio it really

keeps it vital. It’s easier this way to keep the end

result closer to your original idea of what the

album should sound like and I’d do more

records like this in the future because it has so

much more! We had so much fun doing this


Q: How important do you think your tour in

2012 was in shaping the sound of the record?

A: We actually had already started the record-

ings before the tour in LA.

Q: What are Jo and Bill like to work with?

A: It’s a lot of fun working with Bill and Joseph,

a lot of jokes and not a dull moment!

Q: What do you think you've learned from

working with them?

A: I hope I’ve adapted some of their pro attitude

when it comes to record and perform and watch-

ing them work is always an inspiration.

Q: Which part of the process do you prefer;

the writing, recording or performing the

material live?

A: I love all of them to be honest! These last

years it has been appropriate for me to do a lot

of studio work as I have a young son but I´m

really looking forward to play material live next


Q: The album has, not surprisingly, echoes of

Toto and Chicago. What is it you like so

much about the music of those bands and

their ilk?

A: They are both great bands and Joseph is the

lead singer of TOTO, Bill Champlin was the

main guy in Chicago for many years so that may

be the reason why you hear a resemblance.

Q: There are lots of new melodic rock and

metal bands but this gentler AOR has fewer

new acts. Why do you think that is?

A: I have no idea! I just record the kind of music

I love and if someone else likes it that makes me

very happy. For me it´s more about good or bad

music, I don’t care what genre it is.

Q: You played a sold out tour in Scandinavia

a couple of years ago. Are there any plans to

tour elsewhere?

A: Yeah it looks like we will go back to Japan

next year and hopefully also we get the chance

to tour south of Europe next time. That would be

lots of fun.

Band: Champlin Williams Friestedt Interview with: Peter Friestedt Interview by: D. Jamieson

16 | MRF

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Question: I must say that your new

album, “Innocence & Decadence” is

an absolute breath of fresh air!...

Answer: Thank you, we like it too.

How do you do this!? I mean, at times

I think I’m listening to music from the

Blues / Rock greats of the seventies...

And please take that as a complement!

What I mean is, you seem to have cap-

tured pure interpretations and not

copying mind you, as your own signa-

ture is present…

A: I think the thing is that we even don´t

want to sound like a seventies band and

we never did. So we don´t try too hard.

The influences are there because thats

mainly what we listen to but we want to

be a contemporary band and bring

something new into the music.

Q: You and your band mates must be

detailers, as the music is meticulously

recorded and performed… And the

depth, one word: Wow!

A: Wow right back at ya. Yes we are

very meticulous when writing music but

it usually takes a long time to finish a


Q: As I journey through this record,

each song opens up strong sonic vis-

tas, so how long does it take you guys

to write such music, and then record

the material?

A: We used more than a year to write

the songs but the recording was fast. A

total of three five days sessions. During

the first f ive days we recorded ten

songs, the spent the rest of the time

experimenting on the rest of the songs

and also did some retakes.

Q: When in the studio, you must work

a lot in the good old fashioned ana-

logue fashion, it would surprise me if

you have accomplished this sound in a

pure digital environment!

A: We recorded everything live on tape.

I think we could record digital too but

we´re more comfortable using tape

cause thats what we always done.

Q: Now, to your voice, your range is

unbelievable… You sound comfort-

able in whatever manner you choose

to deliver.

A: Thank you, on this record I could

finally try stuff that wasn´t possible on

the previous records because everything

had to be high pitch and loud all the


Q: Just listening to the many styles

that you play in, your musical influ-

ences must be vast…

A: Absolutely, we are listening to a lot

of different kind of music.

Q: One more point I must bring

forth… It is very seldom that we hear

a band such as Graveyard that can

offer up as many sides of Rock music

that you guys do, and in doing so still

keep a distinct identity… Any com-


A: We always try to have lot of dynam-

ics and variation on the albums and

always really concentrating on the

songs. Sometimes it feels like when

bands find their recipe they stick to it

like glue and that tend to get really bor-

ing after a while cause everything

sounds the same.

Q: I certainly hope you are bringing

this set of songs to the masses! What

are your plans for touring?

A: Our first Europe tour on this album

starts 26/10 and we are coming to Milan

11/11 i think.

Q: Congratulations must also be pub-

lically made, so thank-you for such a

dynamic Recorded Work, and as I

started this line of questions, you and

your mates are certainly a breath of

fresh air, breathing life in so many

styles of pure Rock and Blues… May

we continue to receive these musical

treasures from you!

A: Thank you.

Band: Graveyard Interview with: Joakim Nilsson Interview by: Bruce Atkinson

18 | MRF

Page 19: Melodic Rock Fanzine #70
Page 20: Melodic Rock Fanzine #70

Band: Stryper

Interview with: Michael Sweet

Interview by: Bruce Atkinson

Page 21: Melodic Rock Fanzine #70

Question: Before we get in to the new

album, let’s talk about your involve-

ment with other projects, like your

collaboration with George Lynch.

Being involved with other high calibre

Artists, does this further your inspira-

tions in regards to writing?

Answer: Absolutely! I love to write and

every opportunity that I have I take it.

Working with George was a pleasure

and I look forward to doing it again. I

would like to think that the well is over-


Q: When we look at the members of

Stryper, we also see that others have

participated in other musical projects,

like Oz helping out with Frank

Dimino’s album. Again, this must

reinforce the creative process you

undertake when it comes to setting

about recording a new Stryper


A: I do all of the writing on my own and

then show the guys the songs. Stryper

has a very particular sound/style and it’s

very that we stick to the format.

Q: Now, for “Fallen”… The brand-

new album from “Stryper”! It seems

to me that you have delivered not only

a masterful set of recordings, but a

very strong statement as well!

A: We always try to. The message is just

as important as the music to us and we

want to inspire and encourage people

through it. “Fallen’ may very well be

our strongest message to date.

Q: As for getting the group back in the

studio, did you have a set theme for

“Fallen” or did the album progress in

the studio?

A: I wrote the album in 9 days. It came

together very quickly. I seem to work

well under pressure these days. Thank

God it came together considering the

“rush”. As I listen back to the album, it

has become my favourite.

Q: As we listen to “Fallen”, we are

taken to new levels of instrumentation

and arrangements… Expanding your

sound. Did you bring some musical

guests in to help with those passages?

A: No guests this time around. Just the

four of us. Maybe next time?

Q: I like your version of “After

Forever”! You seem to understand

what ‘Black Sabbath” was trying to

say in that song…

A: We chose the song based on the

lyrics. These are words that we could

have written and very powerful. The

song fits perfectly within all the others!

Q: What are your expectations

towards ‘Fallen’? In the 80s you

climbed the charts and sold many

records. Your previous album, ‘No

More Hell To Pay’, reached good sales

figures as well (35 on Billboard I

think). Do you think it is still possible

for Stryper to reach the same results

as 30 years ago? What is, according to

you, Stryper’s place in nowadays

music scene?

A: The music scene is in tough shape and

we’ve always been the underdog. With

that being said, we’re in a great place

right now and the fans have really come

out to support the band. It’s all relative

but if it were 1986 all over again, I think

we’d go even higher on the charts.

Q: Today more than ever, a good part

of the Metal scene seems entangled

with Satan (I think about music types

such as Death and Black Metal)

although it is only fiction most of the

times. So is the Devil taken too seri-

ously or is it still there ready to cap-

ture the weakest souls?

A: I think the devil exists and that he is

certainly not taken seriously enough.

There’s a lot of evil in this world and we

see it on a daily basis. We continue to

shine a light in the dark and inspire peo-

ple rather than create more angst.

Q: Do you think in 2015 there is still a

musical scene called "Christian

Metal" or what you (and other chris-

tian bands) preached in the 80s was

not perceived by other groups and

artists, making it too elitist and elu-


A: I hate labels. We’re a rock band com-

prised of Christians, NOT a Christian

rock band. Labels limit your potential

and separate people.

Q: Stryper quit in 1991. Can you

please tell us why?

A: We broke up in 1991, due in part to

the fact that, for a brief period in our

lives, we kind of walked away from God.

We made a record called Against the

Law and our hearts changed. It became

more about the music than the message.

We got caught up in the whole scene. We

started doing things that we had never

done and things that we had always

spoke out against, and encouraged peo-

ple not to do, like getting drunk. We

were relying on alcohol to make us

happy. We started bringing beer into

rehearsals, which we had never had

before. We had beer on the bus, which

we had never had before. One guy

would have one beer and then another

and then another. It snowballed into

something that we just weren’t and never

wanted to be. It got to the point to where

I thought we were being hypocrites. We

wound up going our separate ways. We

would have continued and made another

record. We went through that phase and

we needed to get away from one an other

to renew our minds and restore our-

selves. I am very openhearted and I

speak freely, even though it might be

uncomfortable for some people to read

those things, but it helped me to become

the man I am today. I learned a lot

through it, and from it, we all have. At

this very moment we are all in good

places in our lives.

Q: If I may, “Fallen” may well be

Stryper’s strongest effort yet, both

musically and lyrically. The messages

are clear and strong, and with what is

happening all around us... Just in time

too! And are you looking at touring

the album?

A: Most definitely! We plan to tour

throughout 2016, worldwide.

Q: In closing, I wish you and the rest

of the group much success, please

leave our readers with a few words of

wisdom, thank, you Michael..

A: Thank you all for your continued sup-

port and keeping Stryper alive. We plan

to be around for a very long time and we

couldn’t do it without you. God Bless all

of you and we’ll see you on tour in


MRF | 21

Page 22: Melodic Rock Fanzine #70

Question: Firstly and foremost con-

grats on the excellent new album

‘Dying To Live’!

A: Thanks so much! I'm very excited to

see the positive responses that it's get-


Q: Your previous solo albums have

mainly been instrumentals, so why go

down the vocal route this time round?

A: Over the last 7-8 years the fans that

have gotten to know me in Night Ranger,

Rock of Ages, Trans Siberian Orchestra

and now Whitesnake have been asking

for an album like this from me… Just

straight ahead melodic hard rock. I've

always wanted to do it as well, but I've

been incredibly busy. Over the last year

or two, I finally managed to get it done!

Q: I see you had full control over the

album, not only the production side,

but also lyrically, as well as the play-


A: Yes, I did all of the writing on it.

Lyrics, vocal melodies… The whole

thing. It's been a labor of love, but

totally worth it. The songs on this album

mean a great deal to me.

Q: Did this give you the freedom to do

the album you wanted?

A: Yes, Frontiers has been amazing to

work with. They have supported me

100% all the way on this and I couldn't

be more thankful for the opportunity to

have a worldwide release with this.

Hopefully people will give it a listen.

Q: The album finds a host of guests

including Jeff Scott Soto and Russell

Allen on the vocal side, how did these

guys get involved in the album?

A: I didn't really set out to do a "super-

band" type of album. It just kind of

worked out that way. Tony Franklin and

I had just finished working on another

project together, so I asked him first.

He recommended Vinny Appice. I mean,

what a killer rhythm section! Those two

sound amazing together. Russell Allen

had just signed up to do the Trans

Siberian Orchestra tour that I do, so

when I checked him out, I knew he had to

sing on this. When it came time for back-

ups, I thought I'd call in a favor from my

friend Jeff Scott Soto. Even though he's

totally over-qualified to be a back-

ground singer, he was willing to help me

out. Their voices together on some of

those tracks are truly special. They are

two of THE BEST singers in rock today

in my opinion. Jeff sounded so killer that

I decided he HAD to sing some lead

vocals on it as well, so he ended up

singing lead on the 2nd half of the

album. After I got done laying down my

guitars, I decided there was still room

for keyboards, so I asked Derek

Sherinian if he would play on it. The

next thing I knew, I had this ridiculously

amazing line-up. I really owe a lot to all

of these guys for bringing these songs to


Q: The album has a harder edge, was

this you intention to bring out more of

that that side of you musically?

A: I would describe the album as Dio'ish

at it's heaviest and Foreigner'ish at it's

lightest. I just followed my instincts and

I'd imagine part of it is writing for the

musicians who were helping me out.

Q: Is it good for you to have a side

project to work on outside your


A: Sure! I'm the type of musician who

likes to be productive every day. That's

how we get better at what we do. David

Coverdale is a true musician who under-

stands that and wants the best for his

players. He has given this his full bless-

ing as long as I'm ready to rock when

Whitesnake needs me and obviously that

won't be an issue!

Band: Joel Hoekstra’s 13 Interview with: Joel Hoekstra Interview by: Barry McMinn

22 | MRF

Page 23: Melodic Rock Fanzine #70
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