Download - Melodic Rock Fanzine #70
06_Operat ion: Mindcrime
07_Voodoo Hil l
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
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.
Band: Blackmore’s Night
Interview with: R.Blackmore / C. Night
Interview by: Duncan Jamieson
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
MRF | 7
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
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
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.
Question: Can you tell us a little about
the history of C.O.P. and how you guys
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,
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
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
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
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
OPERATION: MINDCRIME “The
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)
BLACKMOR’S NIGHT “All Our
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)
(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)
(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)
(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)
(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
“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)
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)
(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)
CHAMPLIN WILLIAMS FRIEST-
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Interview with: Michael Sweet
Interview by: Bruce Atkinson
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
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
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
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
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