Fireworks

Fireworks Magazine Online 82: Interview with Animal Drive

ANIMAL DRIVE

By Alexandra Mrozowska

Some Fireworks readers might have watched the Junior Eurovision Song Contest back in 2003 and are thus likely to remember the name of the Croatian winner – Dino Jelušić. More of you surely recognise his name from Trans-Siberian Orchestra's 'The Ghost of Christmas Eve' 2016 Winter Tour. Fast forward to 2018 and here he goes again... unsurprisingly for the big Whitesnake fan that he is, he does so on his own. The band Jelušić fronts, Animal Drive, has just released their debut album 'Bite' and Fireworks caught up with the singer to get all the details.


Animal-Drive

Let's look back at 2017, starting from the deal with Frontiers and ending with putting the final touches to 'Bite'...

Well, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra 2016 tour led me to meeting Jeff Scott Soto, who became a good friend of mine. He heard some songs I'd done in the past and immediately sent it to Frontiers, and as soon as they heard them they wanted to sign me and the band that I have. We were in a hurry, because the contract happened really fast and we had six months to do everything. I'm really proud how the album sounds. I've had twenty different versions of lyrics, but sometimes the rhythm of words doesn't 'click' with the song, and then I have to change them even though I was 100 per cent satisfied with the line... and so on. Ivan Keller worked his ass off with the riffs, as well as Andreas Sala, our producer, who wrote 'Devil Took My Beer' with me, and Adrian Boric put down some really interesting grooves.

Are you satisfied with the band's first effort?

I'm never satisfied in total. I think this is a great record which has all the elements to show what this band actually is, but I think after three albums you'll get to know Animal Drive and my songwriting a lot more. We already have two new albums ready, lots of different songs and lots of experimenting with genres. As soon as I got back from the TSO tour, I went for a coffee with [Animal Drive guitar player] Keller, and he had so many ideas for the next album that when I heard some of them I was stunned. I wrote about fifteen more songs after we finished mixing 'Bite' so we'll have a lot of material. Very groovy, very Progressive but combined with Southern/Bluesy stuff. I also worked out some of the ambient piano ideas I've had in mind for a long time. If it doesn't fit in 'Animal Drive 2', I'll make it as a solo record.

In spite of your Classic Rock and Metal influences, 'Bite!' has an overtly modern vibe to it.

We mix modern and old school. We love Avenged Sevenfold, Alter Bridge, Stone Sour, HIM, Slipknot, Machine Head, Gojira... but we were born and raised on Led Zeppelin, Guns N' Roses, Whitesnake, Skid Row, AC/DC ... so that side also comes out. We want to create our own style. I love ambient and Progressive stuff so we put a lot of that in our songs.

Do you feel comfortable with performing such personal songs as 'Father'?

Along with 'Hands Of Time' and 'Carry On', 'Father' is the most personal song. I do feel comfortable; I feel it every time we play it. I think it's okay to be naked with lyrics in front of the audience. That's what art is about. I don't look at these songs as, "Oh, let's write this one for the radio." It's not a factor to me. Everything has to be honest, personal and come from inside.

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Talking about lyrics, what are your inspirations?

Lyrics are very different. Mostly frustrations and all the hard work I put in all these years that didn't pay off until recently just made me write. 'Fade Away' and 'Goddamn Marathon' are perfect examples. I won't talk too much about those lyrics as I want people to experience what I tried to say in the songs, but 'Tower Of Lies' also comes into that category. People constantly trying to put you down so you don't succeed... happened often to me in the past. 'Hands Of Time' is a love song, as well as 'Carry On'. 'Lights Of The Damned' is about signing a bad contract with a record label or a bad manager... been there too [laughs]. 'Time Machine' is about all the time that's lost and also that I still feel like a kid when I should act like a grown up. It's also about greed and human perception of life...

Do you think the last and longest song on the album, 'Deliver Me', might be the future direction Animal Drive is going to head in?

I think yes. We had one more song in that direction called 'Reign Of Vultures' that didn't make it on to the album because I was afraid that Frontiers wouldn't like us being in the Prog genre. It was also seven minutes long, with very a melodic chorus and a lot of time changes. But yeah, I would love to go more that way than Hard Rock/Heavy Metal. The cool thing is that we have that kind of song and then we have a straightforward Rock song like 'Had Enough'. People will never be bored by one type of song on the album.

This year you're going to play at the Frontiers Rock Festival in Milan, Italy alongside Jorn, Jack Russell's Great White and FM. What are your expectations? The band's former guitar player Alen Luke is joining you on stage at this festival, is it going to be a one-off reunion?

We can't wait to go there and do most of this album in total for the first time. Jorn was one of my biggest vocal influences and I loved his work with Ark. His vocal chops and those songs blend perfectly. I jammed with a drummer of Jack Russell's Great White in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. A great drummer and it'll be cool to see him again in Milan.
Yes, with Alen, it's gonna be one-off reunion. He's not interested in touring at all – that's why we decided to let him go. He is a great guy and a great guitar player who had my back for five years. I love him.

What can you tell us about your homeland's local music scene and the Croatian bands worth our attention?

Everything that is Rock or Metal is very unpopular and underground here in Croatia. But we have a good Metalcore and Punk scene, a lot of bands play together and a decent amount of people come to see it. As for the bands, check out Kryn, Cold Snap, The Ralph – the singer from Kryn and myself used to sing in that band – Musle Tribe Of Danger and Excellence, Jam Ritual, Pale Origins... There's a lot of really cool bands. I could make a big list and I hope some of them make it big.

Animal Drive have some concert plans for the UK, so if you get the chance, check them out.

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