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Fireworks Magazine Online 84: Interview with Creye

CREYE

Interview by Richard Epps

Initially formed in 2015 by Swedish guitarist and songwriter Andreas Gullstrand as a classic Pop/Rock act with a retro AOR sound, their debut single 'Never Too Late', released in 2016, certainly grabbed the attention of the Melodic Rock community. The following EP, 'Straight To The Top', attracted the attention of Frontiers who promptly signed the band to a mulri-album deal, and after a nationwide search, a permanent vocalist was found in the form of Robin Jidhed. With their self-titled album due for release on October 12th, Fireworks caught up with Andreas for some further background details...


Creye Interview

So how was the band conceived?

The band was created officially back in 2015 by me as a project to kind of highlight up and coming Swedish musicians. After the success of the first single 'Never Too Late' in 2016 I knew that I wanted this to become so much more than a studio band and officially started looking for full-time members.

How did you come up with the name Creye?

I was looking for a unique name that wasn't already over-used by bands and I had narrowed it down to three names that I felt were strong. When I presented them to the logo designer he simply presented me with an additional name for the list, Creye. The name was a play on the words "Cry" and "Eye" and I simply liked it straight away and decided to go with it.

The album is a superb slice of Swedish Melodic Rock. Who were your musical influences, as it has a distinct eighties feel to it?

First of all thank you for the compliment! There are of course quite a few: H.e.a.t, Giant, Work Of Art, Survivor and FM would definitely be at the top of a very long list.

One of the highlights of the album, for me, are the vocals of Robin Jidhed. A new name to me, so where did you find him and is he related to Alien frontman Jim Jidhed?

Robin was found by our manager after a long period of searching for a permanent frontman for the band. And yes, haha, he's the son of Jim Jidhed.

The album has been on non-stop rotation with me; you must be pleased with it? Did you write all of the tracks or were outside writers used?

Very happy to hear that! We are extremely pleased with it of course and couldn't be more eager to get it out there for the world to enjoy. There were two tracks that were written entirely by external writers. One is a co-write with me and Erik Wiss (Producer) and one with Ulrick Lönnqvist (Code Red). The rest of the songs are written by me or Fredrik in the band.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

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One of my favourite tracks on the album is 'Christina'. Is this song about a real life lady called Christina?

This was one of the songs that was entirely written by external writers (Mike Palace & Sören Kronqvist). I've asked Sören about it and he doesn't know either, haha. When the lyric video was made by Wayne Joyner he portrayed Christina as a car, which was a twist that we absolutely loved. It's up to the listener to interpret it I guess. Change the name and I think it's a story that most people could relate to.

You recently made your live debut at Melodic Rock Fest Sweden. How was that experience?

It was a great experience for sure! It went as great as a live debut could possibly go. I mean there we were with a whole show of songs that nobody had ever heard before —except for the EP songs and Holding on — and still we had a whole room filled with people screaming and shouting Creye, singing along whenever they could. What an amazing welcome from the audience!

Are there plans for any more live shows? I know you are playing in the UK at Rockingham in October? Are you looking forward to playing in the UK for the first time?

We are of course always working hard on getting more gigs to continue expanding Creye but nothing that is ready to be released officially yet. We are, as mentioned, playing Rockingham in October, which we are really looking forward to —the first time ever playing in England for us. That show will be extremely exclusive as well since we are having our producer Erik Wiss joining us on stage playing keyboards. As well as producing our album, Erik played keyboards on the first single 'Never Too Late' as well.

I'm not ready to bet my life on it but this will for sure be a very rare and unique experience. The week before we're playing the Frontiers Rock Sweden event in Stockholm together with all our amazing Scandinavian label buddies. This might in some ways be considered our unofficial release party as we are releasing the album the day before, haha.

It's a real coup to have your debut album released by Frontiers, one of the leading Melodic Rock labels. How did they get to sign you and wwhat's in been like working with a top label?

Frontiers was one of many labels to offer us a contract after the success of the EP in 2017. But we immediately felt that Frontiers was the only label with big enough ambitions for Creye to match our own future plans. So, Creye signing a multiple records deal with them was a no-brainer.
Working with Frontiers have simply been amazing, they've been super supportive of us since day one so we couldn't really ask for more.

Why do you think that Sweden is such a hotbed for Melodic Rock these days?

Very interesting question for sure. One that we get a lot actually and It's really hard to answer it. To be honest I couldn't even begin to speculate, haha.

So what is next for Creye?

Next for Creye is the release of the album on October 12th and then we're focusing on the shows following. After that we're hoping that we get the opportunity to do some touring and meet all our amazing fans.

Fireworks Magazine Online 84: Interview with Dee Snider

DEE SNIDER

Interview by Sonia Waterfield

Dee Snider: Icon, Metal Legend, and a man who has lived a surprisingly healthy and honest life-style considering his long career at the forefront of the American Heavy Metal scene.

Fireworks hooks up with Dee as he shares everything from the his time in Twisted Sister and the 'intimate parts' of his life — in more ways than one — to discussing his brand new solo album 'For The Love Of Metal' and working with producer Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed).


Dee Snider Fireworks Interview

So how did you first get into Metal?

The Metal journey? Not the Rock and Roll journey, the Metal journey. The birth, the ugly breach birth of Heavy Metal. I'm old, I'm an original head-banger — day one Blue Cheer, day one Grand Funk, day one Black Sabbath, day one Led Zeppelin first album ... wasn't even called Metal, it was called Hard Rock and it was the first music form that actually alienated certain music fans. Up to that time in Rock and Roll — and Woodstock is a perfect example — everybody listened to everything. Everybody listened to everything and they shared, watched Richie Havens and they watched The Who and Ten Years After, Crosby, Stills & Nash and they'd cheer as loud for everybody. And then came this music that some people didn't like and then others of us, these angry young men and women, mainly men from suburban and rural areas, were like no, we like this, fuck Richie Havens — and I proudly swung a sledgehammer to destroy the Woodstock nation. And I just turned from Hard Rock and became more and more focused as Heavy Metal. I was right there at the forefront of the movement.

Before Twisted Sister, you were in bands that were not really, well, Metal...

Yeah, I have been in bands since I was 9, sort of Beatle bands, you know. I always leaned towards the things that had a harder edge. I remember when Sabbath arrived, I was in a band that only played Black Sabbath, that's all we played. It was because they took it to another level, defining the genre, which by the way should be pointed out, they didn't know they were defining. They were a Jazz Blues fusion band that went horribly wrong. They were like, "Oh shit, we have created a new genre of music", but you would see them live and in the middle, Tony would go into like a little jazz break and the audience would sit there and go "What's going on?" He was still in the Jazz Fusion band.

None of these bands that have made the big changes in Metal think of themselves as Metal bands. AC/DC, they wouldn't call themselves a Metal band, they think of themselves as a Rock band. Metal absorbed elements of their style but they themselves don't consider themselves to be a Heavy Metal band and neither do Black Sabbath nor Led Zeppelin.

So what lessons do you think you learned from your time in Twisted Sister?

That's a very interesting question that I've never been asked. Twisted Sister was the greatest chapter of my life and certainly the vehicle that allowed me to realise my dreams, and then subsequent other dreams. I've done so many things since then but it all would never have happened. I wouldn't have been on Broadway or Rock of Ages if not for Twisted Sister, I wouldn't be doing a National Radio show if not for my time in Twisted Sister. So it started everything.
The greatest lesson learnt from it all I learnt very, very, late. Don't wear pastel Spandex on stage. I learnt this only recently, years after I stopped wearing pastels. I met some girls who used to come see us and the boys, because my wife would make me pink and yellow and baby blue Spandex which I would wear proudly. And these girls said, "You know that we can see your penis?" [laughs]. I was like, "Yeah, the outline, sure".

And they said, "No, no. You would sweat and the lights would hit the pastel yellow and blue and you can see entirely through your pants." I said to my wife, "Did you know you can see through my fucking spandex?" She said, "Yeah, you didn't?" [laughs].

Moving on from that valuable lesson, how did you manage to stay out of the stereotypical sex n' drugs part of the business?

The drugs part, and alcohol ... my very first drinking experience was so bad. I was 14 and the first time I drank, I couldn't just have one drink at 14, I drank until I was practically paralysed on the floor vomiting and I just thought, "You can't do this because you will die. You may be that guy." So if I'd had a different experience I may not have stopped but fortunately I had that really bad one.

As far as the sex part, that is weird. Certainly I'm a dude and I had fantasies that any dude had, but I always knew that I was going to be successful. I was convinced, and I always had this concern that when I'm famous, how am I going to know if a girl likes me for me, or for my money or my success. I met this girl in the very, very, early days, literally; we had no following, no popularity ... just a weird band. Not only did she have no interest in me, but she didn't own a stereo, didn't own a record, didn't care about music. And for some reason I said, "This is my girl." She's extremely hot. You'll find her on any top ten Rock stars' wives list. I just thought, "If I can win this girl's heart, I'll know it's for all the right reasons, because she loves me and I'll know that I have someone who is there for the right reasons". Forty-two years later ... she was there when I had nothing, there when I had everything, there when I lost everything and I never thought for a minute she would leave. She just went back to work and is still here with me today. She did the costumes, she did the makeup, she did the hair, she did the bone logo for the band; she became the woman behind the man and look, if I was screwing around on her by this point it will be on YouTube, Facebook, or something [laughs].

Moving back into history, when the notorious PMRC targeted Twisted Sister, what were your thoughts at that time?

Long term it's made me into some kind of folk hero, honestly. It's added to a legendary career and it's historic and now encourages any course of censorship chapter of that moment in time. It turned out to be great long term. Short term it was not the best career choice. You know I was always open about my clean and sober lifestyle, in my belief system, in being married, having kids. You know I was on a world stage, and for the first time on a grand scale a lot of fans found out these things about me. I always thought that's the beauty of Rock and Roll, you can be what you want to be. I found out, guess what? You're not allowed. They want you to be a certain person. They want the life-stylers, the people who are just as fucked-up off stage as they are on-stage. That was disheartening for me, hurtful to our career. My phones were tapped, my mail was checked, my packages were checked. I became public enemy number one for a short time within the government. They hated the fact that I went there and made it look foolish. I'm not saying that's the only thing that damaged the band, but MTV banned one of our videos as a token gesture.

I remember after a show, meeting a fan who was wearing a Dokken shirt, saying, "Twisted Sister is my favourite band, I love you guys, almost everything blah blah blah." I ask, "Well, what are you doing wearing a Dokken shirt?" and they go, "Oh, my parents can't know that I was here." My parents can't know that I'm here?! As far as the parents were concerned we were public enemy number one, as far as the kids were concerned we were kinda the least bad of the bunch. Short term it was not a good thing, long term, I've never been one to do the smart thing, I do what I believe to be is the right thing, the thing that I want to do. So long term, I'm proud of that moment in time.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

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I remember Ronnie Dio and others, particularly Ronnie Dio. That crushed me. In a Rock magazine he went off: "Who the fuck is Dee Snider to speak on our behalf?" and the first words that I said in my speech were, "I cannot speak for the others." He didn't even hear. Ronnie Dio, one of the smart ones, didn't even listen to my speech and just passed judgement on me. That's the kind of stuff I was suffering through; no support from the community, the fans were apathetic. It didn't seem like a big deal to most of them, and they just didn't get it. Ronnie probably apologised when he found out the truth, but it was just hurtful when I thought I was doing a service and my own community, for the most part, just turned their backs on me.

No interview would be complete without talking about your infamous and iconic track 'We're Not Gonna Take It'. Did you ever think it would ever be as big as it was?

No! I thought it would be a hit. I mean I didn't know what kind of hit, but a Rock hit. I remember, we were working, we're recording a song called 'The Bad Boys of Rock & Roll' for the 'Under The Blade' album and I was telling the guys, "I've got another one, it's a killer. It's not ready yet but I already have the chorus". I didn't know it would become so big ... it's practically a Folk song now. Everywhere in the world they know the song. A lot of people don't know who recorded it, they just know the song. So it's amazing as a songwriter to see a song take a life of its own, but was it expected? No.

Moving on to your new album, 'For The Love Of Metal', how did the relationship between you and Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed vocalist) start?

I was on his podcast and he said, "I have a challenge for you." I asked what, because as far as I was concerned, I was done. Done recording new music. He said, "I challenge you to do a contemporary Metal record. Think Rob Halford 'Resurrection'. Your iconic voice with new sounding Metal" and I asked, "Who's producing?" Jamey said "I am". I asked, "Who's writing?" You see, I wrote every Twisted song. I stopped writing in the 90s, so we sound like a 80s Rock show. As much as I love new bands, I couldn't write new sounding music unless I was imitating them and that's not genuine. Twisted Sister worked because I wasn't imitating, I was in it, in the thick of it and at the forefront and it helped me to create what became a time in the music scene, the Hair Metal era. I was a part of it; it was very real, very genuine. Here, I can't do that anymore. Jamey said, "Dee, everybody's gonna wanna write for you."

So we went into the studio, recorded song one, no recording budget, no record deal and it just started to gel. It was better on both sides; better than I thought it was going to be as far as me fitting with these newer sounding songs, and better than they thought it was going to be with me fitting with these songs. Then suddenly, as Jamey started playing it for people, friends of his, people from Lamb of God, Disturbed, Killswitch Engage ... they started to think, "We want to get involved in this. How about we have some song ideas for Dee?" Everybody started contributing and working. Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) duets with me, Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage) duets with me and it became this passion project, again with no record deal, no budget, just for the love of Metal. That's where the title came from, because it couldn't have been more genuine. There was nothing in it but the passion of making a great record and hopefully we did.

You did. I have listened to it several times and it's fantastic.

You know what? People, many people are pleasantly surprised! [laughs]. The biggest compliment, and I take it as a compliment — "I wasn't expecting that."

Jamey really thought this record out. He said, "Dee, this is important to me on many levels. You're a hero of mine but I challenge many people to do this, you're the first person to say yes." [laughs]. I was like, "Oh shit, alright, you got to deliver on this."

I see it, I got the idea for it. I want it to be amazing. He wanted to bring in fans, wanted to bring newer fans, he wanted to cross-over whilst still being Metal, a real Metal record. He didn't want to just have one sound, which a lot of records do. So he worked so hard on this record, and I'm really happy that he's already been getting offers to produce other artists, major Metal artists, because people are hearing it. Somebody asked me, "What's your advice to a heritage artist who wants to make a new sounding record?" I said, "Hire Jamey Jasta" because he did not steer me wrong.

He's done an amazing job. The lyrics and the music itself are quite positive.

Again, this is the thing that I gotta be clear on. With Twisted Sister, I wrote every single song: every word, every melody, every guitar part, everything. This record I did not write one thing. Now I stopped writing in the 90s because I said I found myself trying to imitate instead of lead and I got called on it. On my last record with Widowmaker, one reviewer said "some guy's trying to sound like the younger bands," and I was doing exactly that! I thought, "Oh man." I was trying to sound like somebody else so I decided that I was just going to back away.

So I said, "Jamie, I can't write the songs". Jamey climbed in my skin. We talked a lot, we talked about what I wanted to say. He told me he listened to everything I ever did — everything. So he understood my voice, understood my range and understood where I came from. He asked, "What do you want to say now? Who do you wanna be? What are we talking about here?" I talked about bullying, I talked about being the voice of the oppressed, even though I'm a happy grown man now with family and success, I know I am the voice for others, I can be the voice for others. For the frustrated people, the angry people. I've got that tone. I've got that attitude. I can represent. There were political things I wanted to talk about. So Jamey brought songs to me. And just to show you how much he climbed into my skin, and this should blow your mind... [big intake of breath] During the making of this record, the recording which went from about September/October to January, my 85 year old mother, who was the epitome of health, as an active an old woman as you can imagine, was hit by a car, brain damaged, hospitalised, a vegetable for two months and then died. And Jamey said, "Do you want to pause all recording?" and I said, "No Jamie. Metal has always been this emotional outlet." That's the beauty of Metal, whether it's performing it or recording it or just rocking out to it. It releases these darker emotions.

The last song recording ... I'd just buried my mother and was recording a song called 'I'm Ready'. I'm recording, and suddenly I stopped recording. Jamey's not there. Nikki Bellmore (co-producer and engineer) is there. The line I was singing was, "Death leaves a sorry that no-one can heal, Love leaves a memory no-one can steal." I stopped and I go, "Nikki, did Jamey write this about my mum?" He said, "Yeah, he wrote that for you." He saw what I was suffering through and wrote a song, or a statement, for me about facing mortality and loss of a loved one. And that was the last song recorded. That's how much he was feeling Dee Snider. When he delivered this song to me, it was like his words were coming out, they were my own words, and I could sing them with such passion, which is important, and sing with such belief because there wasn't a lie on the record. There was no like, "What am I singing here?" Oh, I know what I'm singing, I believe every single word, this is Dee Snider. So Jamey Jasta, thank you.

So what is in the future for Mr Snider?

I'm gonna do some live shows starting in the first week of July, but this wasn't planned to be for the 'Love Of Metal' because there was no plan. Most record deals, albums are recorded with an entire game plan. This is what we are writing, this is what we are recording, this is the release, this is the promotion, this is the tour — a long range plan. We had no record deal. So that's why the record has been released on July 27th, what a terrible release date. We didn't plan Spring or Summer touring. So I have a handful of dates right now but with the positive reception of the record, the intention is to continue moving forward. I'm already booked for every Metalfest; Hellfest, Bloodstock, and everybody is like booking me already for 2019, because they know about this Metal record and Metal band and entering the contemporary world of Metal. There is so much interest in that album. There will definitely be a lot of live shows coming.

It has been so unexpected. I was done, I did not expect to see this happening at 63. I welcome it. It is exciting. I'm up for the challenge as I was in the studio. No-one will be disappointed. Anybody who sees me live is never disappointed. It's just unexpected. The record label has a two record deal. They've already said they are taking their option. So in our minds even though it's down the road, 'For The Love Of Metal 2' is somewhere on the horizon, so I think I found my place in the contemporary world of Heavy Metal and I couldn't be happier. I hope people enjoy the record.

Fireworks Magazine Online 84: Interview with Myles Kennedy

MYLES KENNEDY

Interview by Dave Bott

Myles Kennedy really came to prominence as the lead-singer of Alter Bridge, following the initial demise of the multi-million selling Creed in 2003. His first band, The Mayfield Four released two critically acclaimed albums and were the perfect showcase for Kennedy's vocal and guitar skills and it was as part of this band that he came to the attention of guitarist Mark Tremonti, who was looking to put a new project together alongside his former Creed cohorts Scott Phillips (drums) and Brian Marshall (bass). Alter Bridge have now released five albums and for the best part of 10 years Kennedy has also been the lead singer for Slash's recording and touring band. After almost 2 decades Kennedy has finally released his first solo album, 'The Year Of The Tiger' and taken the touring plunge as a solo artist to promote its release. Kennedy never does press during tours (to save his voice), so Fireworks caught up with him as he prepared to return to the UK for a series of intimate performances and festival appearances. He was in a very relaxed mood and keen to discuss his newfound solo success and the need to make the album.


Myles Kennedy Fireworks Interview

It was something I really had to do and I didn't have any real expectations about how it might be received. It was such a different approach for me musically, different to the sound that I have established with Alter Bridge and the albums I've done with Slash. Speaking now, several months after its release, it's obvious that people have embraced it way more than I dreamed they would. It was a wholly cathartic experience and it was only after the record was completed that I looked back and fully understood just how much it had meant to me. I had jumped in head first to write and create something very personal and as I got deeper and deeper into the process it was then that I realised just how challenging and cathartic it was. I was re-opening a bottle and re-igniting a whole bunch of feelings. I was so glad that I got the opportunity to do it and I really do feel it was the best therapy I could have asked for. Not only did I get to make a record I really wanted to, but the icing on the cake is that it is really resonating with so many people.

Listening to the album from start to finish is something of an emotional journey and the concept nature of the material would be the basis for a great show on its own. Myles has been varying the set list from night to night and the performances are generally completely acoustic, but the door is always open to plunder 'Year Of The Dragon' for all 12 songs at some point.

I did think of performing the album in its entirety and I'm hoping to do that at some point during the next few weeks. I've been playing 5 or 6 of the tracks, but when I do eventually go out with a band it's my intention to do all 12. We'll just have to see whether they are in sequence or not. I've got Zia Uddin on drums and Tim Tournier on bass. Both these guys play on the record and Zia was also the drummer back in the old Mayfield Four days.

As an integral part of both Alter Bridge and the Slash line-up there is very little room to dedicate great amounts of time to a solo career, but Myles is keen to build on the success of '....Tiger' and the current run of shows.

I definitely think I have the bug. It has proved to be such a musically rewarding experience and it has certainly helped me grow and develop as both a writer and a person. It has helped me discover such a lot about myself and that is something very important to me. It was great going back to the old Mayfield Four stuff and it made me realise just how different a place I was in when it came to writing lyrics. I was a younger frustrated man in his 20s (laughing) and I was drawing on a whole bunch of relationship dramas as the inspiration for the subject matter of the songs. Obviously I'm proud of the songs and it's a blast to include the likes of 'Eden', 'Mars Hotel' and 'White Flag' in the set now. The schedules with Alter Bridge and Slash do include lots of touring on the back of records, but I'm confident they will allow for more solo stuff. These are kind of good problems to have.

'Watch Over You' has been a solo spot for Myles for many years now, as part of an Alter Bridge show, but going out in front of a crowd knowing you are the sole focus for everyone's attention for 90 minutes must have initially proved to be intimidating? There is also the issue of knowing which songs would work and which wouldn't suit the acoustic format.

There were a certain amount of nerves, especially when I was rehearsing and putting the shows together. I had about 6 weeks at home before I first went out on tour and I spent that time just playing different songs to see which worked and which didn't, trying to figure how some of the arrangements would need to be tweaked. Until I actually got out there and played I had no idea just how some of them would go down. The first show I did was in South Africa and was in front of more than 2,000 people. It was a bigger venue than many I've been playing. Standing at the side of the stage getting ready to go out there I was feeling surprisingly good considering what was about to happen. I guess I got all the nerves out of the way before the shows began and then the adrenalin kicked in. From then on it all felt very natural.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

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Almost like one of the old 'VH1 Storytellers' shows?

I think that's a good comparison. There needs to be a personal connection during the shows. In an acoustic environment there has to be a strong relationship with the audience. The fans have been so wonderful during this whole process and the fun banter never gets out of hand. Obviously my association is with loud rock bands, so this is a brand new format for me, a new approach. I was under no illusion about how the crowds would react to just me on stage with an acoustic guitar. I went into the whole thing knowing I had to do it from an artistic standpoint, but having no idea whether anyone else would be on board for it. A few people have mentioned that the shows would make a good live record and I think we might look at doing that somewhere down the line.

Following the upcoming solo dates the focus for the immediate future will be with Slash. It's not Guns n Roses, it's not Velvet Revolver and it's not Alter Bridge, but Myles seems to have developed a healthy working relationship with the guitarist and both have adapted to each other's writing styles over the course of the last 10 years or so.

Working with Slash varies from the way I work with Mark (Tremonti) when writing for Alter Bridge. I guess the Alter Bridge stuff has something of a Progressive edge to it and Mark and I will both bring musical ideas to the table and fuse them together. Generally when I'm working with Slash he comes up with most of the riffs and chord progressions, then I'll put the melody and the lyric over the top of it. Occasionally if I see a way to arrange something differently he's cool with it. He's very aware that we are trying to do what is best for the song. We pass the ideas back and forth electronically, but we do sometimes sit down together as a band to work on arrangements. After a decade or so you could call it a science. The new record is done and will be released some time later this year. We are just trying to put the tour together and that will be my main focus, but I'll still be looking to put together some more solo shows as well.

Myles is busier than ever. Alter Bridge get together every 3 years to write, record and tour and the gig with Slash and the Conspirators seems to work to a similar timeframe. With a successful solo career now up and running it must be difficult to find time to relax.

I'm trying to learn how to relax (laughing). Over the course of the last 7 or 8 months I've discovered the art of meditation, which has been extremely helpful. I think what I love to do is create music and that's what makes me happiest. It's work to a point, but so much fun, so how can I have any complaints?

The interview degenerates slightly when Myles is asked about his long term plans and whether there is anything he like to do alongside AB, Slash and his solo ventures.

How about a Black Metal Polka record? (Lots of laughing). There's something about an accordion going through a 100 watt Marshall amp!

At the time of the interview (June 27th) Myles is just 10 days away from playing a show in Liverpool for the very first time (see Rocktopia website for review). We wind up by discussing how tour schedules are arranged and the opportunities to check out the cities before or after the performance.

I don't really get involved with the arranging of the schedules, I trust the judgement of my booking agent and management. I'm excited to be coming to Liverpool for the first time and I've been driving my wife mad lately playing the 'Sgt Pepper' and 'Abbey Road' records. Occasionally there is time to check out the city where we're playing, it generally depends on the location from the night before.

I didn't spot Myles around Liverpool before the show, so I wonder if he made it down to the Cavern Club...

Fireworks Magazine Online 84: Interview with Blue October

BLUE OCTOBER

Interview by James Gaden

Although only known to a select few in the UK, Blue October have enjoyed a long career which has seen the Alternative Rock group achieve million-selling success in their homeland of America. Vocalist Justin Furstenfeld form the band with his brother Jeremy in 1995 and while the singer has struggled with depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts throughout his life, he found salvation in his music. Fireworks talked to Justin about the band's ninth studio album 'I Hope You're Happy'.


Blue October Fireworks Interview

I've been listening to the new album and something struck me about it, which is something that rarely happens when I review albums. It doesn't sound like anything else I could think of, so where do your songwriting influences come from?


I'd have to say I like Peter Gabriel, The Smiths, The Cure, things like that, but I like a lot of old Jazz like Dave Brubek and Ella Fitzgerald, plus I enjoy the art of Urban music where you basically just have a beat and a hook. So I take elements like that and just pile it all together. I don't understand why people don't mesh genres together more these days. Everyone seems to define themselves as Rock or Rap or Alternative. I want to know why you can't just mesh the beautiful parts of each with each other?

You write the bulk of the material in the band, often drawing on your own experiences with depression and anxiety, so what is your process when writing music for Blue October?

It's different, sometimes I'll write music and then write lyrics to fit it. Sometimes I'll start with a melody in my head, if I'm walking down the street sometimes I can come up with a fully formed song in my head, I've always been able to do that. I also like to be inspired by other people's lives. A lot of my songs were written about me and things I was going through, but I'm listening more to other these days, to write about their experiences. Sometimes I'll sit and basically interview them as if I were doing a piece on them, just as you are with me now, then just write as much as I possibly can and as honestly as I can.

For this album it was fun because what I did was take little pieces of music and chop them up and use my MPC drum machine to create a track I could give to the rest of the band to play over. We wouldn't necessarily all be in a room together and rock out like we've done in the past, these songs were done more rhythmically. Instead of Jeremy setting up his full kit, I'd have him just play the kick drum until I had the microphones placed right and the sound I wanted, then he'd come back and play the snare pattern. We pieced the tracks together like building blocks.

When you mentioned putting a hook in a song, you certainly achieved that with 'Your Love Is Like A Car Crash'. Usually I don't make my mind up about something until I've heard it at least three times, but with that one, after one listen I kept singing it.

Oh, that's my favourite song on the new album, I'm so glad! I appreciate that.

That one and 'Colors Collide' were my two favourites – the latter because it was darker and heavier.

So you've gravitated to two opposite ends of the spectrum with those two, which is exactly what I like to hear. That's made my whole day better!

How long did you spend making this record?

It's hard to say, because I write all day, I'm obsessed with writing music, this album is only just coming out and I'm already writing the next one. I love writing music, getting re-inspired, I never want to go on a hiatus. When I put a single out, I already want to have the next one ready. These days people's attention spans are short so I'm always working on the next thing.

I wanted to talk a little about the band's back story, because Blue October were new to me, even though you've been around a long time. I was reading your bio and it said Kid Rock's manager spotted you playing live, and you ended up touring and playing over three hundred shows before a label signed you?

Yeah, that's right and that was an eye opening experience! (laughs) We were playing at a seafood restaurant in Houston, Texas and I was really upset about it because I didn't want to play for people while they were eating their shrimp, I thought my art was way too deep for that! (laughs) These days, I'll play for anyone, I'll play in a grocery store, I don't care. But this guy was out there and he said "Next week I'll fly you to New York" and I thought "Whatever..." but he was Kid Rock's manager Michael Rand. He helped us get signed to a label and the rest is history.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

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That's a really old school way of getting a record deal, that was how bands used to get signed, by being spotted live. Most bands send in demos, you did it almost like a 60s or 70s act.

Yeah, this was back in 1999, the band was formed in 1995. So it was back when you could sell a million records, put out vinyl and CDs and people could buy them from stores, labels gave you tour support... so we got signed by Universal, then dropped by Universal, then re-signed to Universal, now we run our own label and do it independently.

That was something else I wanted to ask you – so Universal signed you in 1999, then you were dropped a year later, and in 2002 you played a showcase for Atlantic, Columbia and Universal, and Universal signed you again in 2003. Is that right?

Yeah! You have to think of the music business like this, instead of being a jaded artist complaining about how you got dropped, think about being like a shoe company, if you make a shoe that doesn't fit people's feet, then you can't sell it, right? So you need to man up, realise that music is a business, people are investing a lot of money in you and if you aren't selling records, they will let you go. When they dropped me I didn't think 'Oh my God, I'm broken'. I thought, 'Okay, how do I get back? I'll have to make music that people will like better'. So I got myself back in the studio and tried my hardest to write music that fulfilled me but would also be the most universally themed music I could. As a result, the people that dropped me heard the new stuff and re-signed me, which is great. I only sold them 15,000 units last time. I want to sell 1,000,000 units. And I knew the team, I thought they were good people, I just made the wrong kind of record.

Well this approach clearly worked, because when you released 'Foiled' in 2006 it was huge, you had hit singles, you were on Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel's shows, the album did sell over a million because it went platinum in the US and you opened for The Rolling Stones!

We all wanted to win. It's like a marriage, if you have a period where it's not going so well you might take a break, but then you realise how much you love each other and both go the extra mile and work extra hard to make it work.

You're not on a major label now, you have your own. Were those past experiences the catalyst to make you think you would be better off doing things yourself in today's music scene?

Actually, the reason we started our own label was because in America, everybody does what's called a '360' deal now. Because people don't buy records like they used to, the label has to figure out ways to make more money, so they take 20% of your publishing, 20% of your merchandise, 20% of your touring, and then they take 85% of your album. I said no because we've been touring for so long, most of our money comes from the road and I wasn't prepared to give up that cut. So we parted ways but it was amicable and respectful, I still talk to the people at Universal all the time. It's taken a while to grow our label and now we're close to being able to compete, but it was tough. We are the underdog, but I love being the underdog.

And having your own label gives you more control over not only the music but how it's distributed?

It's complete artistic freedom, if I want to go and try something I can just go into my studio and do it, I don't have to ask for permission or ask for a bank loan to hire somewhere. I can do it myself and put it out, which generates an almost instant return, which I put straight back into Blue October. Then we can make another video, push another single on the radio, that kind of thing. I can also make sure we dot all the i's and cross all the t's, when you're on a label and somebody else is working on something, you can't always be sure of that. Songs are two minutes and thirty seconds long these days, it's aimed at a short span streaming audience to make as much money as they can out of it, which is smart if you're a major label. But when you're like us, a band that's been around over twenty years, you have to constantly recreate yourself, do what you can to get on the radio, put yourself out there.

You've had great success in America, but you do play over here in the UK. Will you be coming over to support this album?

Oh, of course! We played some shows there in March and we'll be back in February next year, we can't wait.

How many new songs are you planning for the set?

All of them.

All of them? Really?

That's why I only put twelve songs on the album. We look to play twenty-five songs in a set so we can do the whole new album and still play the stuff from the past. I want to play new stuff, we have done nine albums and have published over a hundred songs, so the set is a problem. I've given the band more input in that and tried to relinquish some of the control issues I have. (laughs)

As well as being the creative force in Blue October, you paint, you've published a book of all your lyrics and now you have a documentary coming out.

Yes, it's almost done, we've been working on it for six years but every time I want to wrap it up something beautiful happens like I have another child or we open another door in our lives, things just get better and better and better. We really want to wrap the documentary perfectly, we've got an hour and a half done, we're just working on putting a suitable ending to it. I'm super proud of it because it's not just about 'how cool Blue October is!' It's a serious documentary about how serious the disease of addiction is and how beautiful second chances, positivity and surrounding yourself with love is.

Fireworks Magazine Online 83: Interview with Doro

DORO

Interview by Dave Scott

Given it has been about two years since we last spoke to you, aside from recording your new double release, can you give us a quick insight into what you have been doing in the meantime; for example, I saw you were at the preview for 'Anuk III' recently.


doro interview

Yes, we filmed three parts of the movie. The first one was 'Anuk: The Path Of The Warrior' and then we did part II and part III. We wrote many songs for that movie. I play this character – Meha – and she is a warrior. It was a lot of fun and I love doing little movies on the side, it is always very inspirational. I am always glad that I survive it because usually it is brutal, but it is great. It is run by a great guy, Luke Gasser – he is an independent film producer, a musician and a great person – we always work together. I think we worked together for the first time in 2007 and then, ever since, we always do something together. There is one song from the movie on the first CD, it's the bonus track, 'Bring My Hero Back Home Again'. When we showed it, we had a little party afterwards and so many people came up and asked, "this song in the movie, where can we get it; is it on a CD?" I told them, "no, no, not yet. It is the movie soundtrack but we do not know when it will be out". Then I said, "look, we have got to put it on our 'Forever Warriors' CD". It became the bonus track because it was last minute, but I think it was really nice; it's a little bit A Cappella with heavy acoustic guitar – it is very touching. Amongst all the other heavy songs, this one is really something for the soul.

I love doing that on the side, but mainly I was in the studio working on this record and then touring – non-stop touring. We were making a record at the same time, that is sometimes tough. It is different from the eighties. In the eighties and nineties, we always booked a studio like one year straight, sometimes one and a half years straight, and then I didn't do anything else, concentrating on the songs and the record, and now you do both. There's never a dull moment. We also celebrated one of my favourited Warlock records – the 'Triumph And Agony' album – it came out in 1987. I called my old guitar player friend Tommy Bolan and I said, "hey, you know what, its almost thirty years since – this was two years ago – that album, shall we do a little tour where we play the whole album or where we get together again"? He replied that, "man, Doro, I was waiting thirty years for that phone call", ha-ha. We always stayed friends and he always came up on stage when we played in America; he moved to LA but he's from New York. We played together and we played the whole entire album, which we'd never done before. It was a lot of fun. We realised there are some killer songs on it that we have never played before. Most tours, you pick four or five songs and that is it.

Obviously, when you are on tour promoting an album, fans still want to hear the classics, so you can maybe get half in the set on average, from my experience anyway.

Man, it was lovely. Of course, in the encores we played lots of other "best of" tracks from the other Warlock albums, like 'Hellbound', 'Burning The Witches' and some solo stuff from the likes of 'Raise Your Fist', and it was a lot of fun. We talked together and we were laughing and it felt like the good old times because when we were doing the 'Triumph And Agony' album, it was awesome. At the time, I could feel it was a magical moment, that it might be a successful album but you never know; but I had that feeling that it could really do something. Then Tommy said, "you know, its such a shame that we didn't continue playing together" and I said "yeah, but you know times were different". Back then, the record company, the management, the agency and everybody had so much power, sometimes the band or the band members, they didn't have anything to say when there were decisions being made, and that was the reason why we didn't play together anymore.

We said, "man, you know, we definitely got to continue" so he played lots of stuff on this new album. We also wrote one song together, it is the duet with Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth and it is one of my favourite songs, 'If I Can't Have You, No One Will'. I did a duet on the last Amon Amarth album and it was great. We went to Andy Sneap, he produced it and he recorded it. I flew to Birmingham and both of them picked me up at the airport – Johan and Andy – and then we went to eat. The next day we wanted to record that song 'A Dream That Cannot Be' but I said, "you know, I would like to do it right away. Right away!", and they said okay. We went into the studio late at night and I sang it. It was the first take and immediately you could tell, that was the one. The next day we just fixed a couple of things and we were hanging out, having a great time; I love all the guys from Amon Amarth a lot and I think Johan is one of the greatest front-people/singers. So I thought maybe he could be on my record as well. We had 'If I Can't Have You, No One Will' and I thought "man I will send it to him, maybe he'll like it" because it is a little heavier, a possessive love song and not a ballad love song. He loved it and then wrote half of the lyrics, and then we recorded it. Tommy is a special guitar player because he plays very much out of the box. It is very much like... he is totally unique, high-energy, he is unbelievable – sweating and bleeding in the first song. He brought more energy to the whole record. He played on a couple of other songs, like 'All For Metal', which also has a great video.

Let's return to the beginning for a minute. You have really pulled out all the stops with your new release. When did you first decide that your latest release would be a double album and what prompted you to undertake such a project?

Actually, I started writing for this record about two and a half years ago. We had one single released called 'Love's Gone To Hell', a ballad, but that was not the start of the whole song writing process. It really started when I went to Lemmy Kilmister's funeral; Lemmy was my best friend in the music world, bar possibly Ronnie James Dio. I went to his funeral and I had this melody and lyric coming to me whilst I was on the plane. I was so heart-broken. Then I recorded it on my cell phone, I know you probably shouldn't do that on the plane but nobody saw me, so I sang it on my cell phone, and I was hoping they wouldn't throw me off the plan up in the air ha-ha! I then called my friend Andreas Bruhn, who has been a working partner for the last twenty-two years or so, and I said "Andreas, I have another melody and an idea for a song dedicated to Lemmy". He said, "okay then, let's record it as soon as you get back". We started recording it in Hamburg and then started the whole song writing process. It was just pouring out; we had about thirty, thirty-five songs, so I talked to the record company. They said, "okay, we want one album because not many people are doing double albums" and so on and so on.

So I thought, okay so I have to throw out at least fifteen songs that I love so much. Then a couple of weeks ago, somebody actually said "hey, you know, it would be great to have a double album" and I thought "oh no way, I didn't finish working on all of these songs". Somebody else, someone in charge of all these things, said "no, it would be awesome to have a double album". So we kept working day and night, I don't want to say twenty-four hours, but at least twenty-two hours every day, and then we finished all the other songs that we loved. I thought at the time, "okay, I don't know how we will finish everything with mixing, mastering and all the touch ups" but it wasn't actually so long ago, maybe two or three months ago, that somebody said, "yeah go for it, go for the double album". I was so happy because the whole spirit was like a double album and I thought every song had a deep meaning or the right beat for this record. To be honest, I don't know how long people will buy records anymore, so maybe this will be the last thing with the big package – two CDs, double vinyl. It is massive and beautiful, you can buy it as a box-set or buy it separately, but it will be visually nice and sound wise, it is the real deal.

Did you have any thought to releasing the two albums at different times or was it always your plan to bring them out together?

Yes, it was always the plan to bring them out together. I never thought it would be a good idea to release one part one year later because I like it fresh, what you hear is what you get. Maybe in one year or so, the subjects would be different, I don't know if the world would still be standing. There are lots of ideas in the album, they are talking about today, certain songs are a bit political like 'Résistance'. The world has never been in a worse shape than now and that is a song that I thought is up-to-date and that definitely had to make this album. So it was always the thought that we would have a double album now and not two separate parts.

You never thought, whilst you were doing it or even when the label then decided about it being a double album, we should finish one, get that out and then release the other later; you set your heart on a double album and set your heart on that.

Yes, exactly. I never feel the work, when they said about a double album, I thought, "ah yes, a great idea, let's get right back to work, let's finish the other songs". Usually when we master an album it takes one or two days but this time it was five days and nights to make it really nice and perfect. That is the way it should be. Somehow, I don't know who tells you or who is the judge of it, I guess it's gut instinct or the inner voice, there is something that makes you feel what is right or wrong. Usually I think the first thought or the first feeling is very powerful and ninety-nine percent of the time it is right. So whether it's music, mixing or song-writing, when it really feels good I feel it in my body, my heart is pumping like crazy, I feel like I am getting all excited, I can't sleep at night because I am thinking about the song. There is a special power to it where you feel that you have to do it and to do it right. There are other songs where everybody says, "that is a great song" or "that is a hit", but if I don't feel it, usually I don't even go for it anymore. I've felt in the past, since I have been doing this for thirty-five years or more, sometimes I thought "okay, maybe other people are right, they are more experienced, older, they know" and then I did certain things that I didn't feel one hundred percent about, but I tried it out and it really never worked out. You live and learn ha-ha.

What can fans expect musically, from the two new albums?

I think the first working title was 'Soldier Of Metal' and the second was 'Empowered United'. I definitely would like to give people positive power and energy, it sets you up with so much good energy, joy and meaning. Something that really, really feels good for a long time and not maybe just listening to the record once; that maybe it stays with you for a couple of years. I definitely learnt from the best, like Ronnie James Dio for example, they were my favourite records and I listened to them over and over, I was finding new melodies or new words where I thought, "oh man, that is great, that makes me feel so good" or it feels like another person is just feeling like you. For example, there is one cover version on the new album called 'Lost In The Ozone' (from Motörhead and Lemmy) and when you feel really lonely and really isolated, then listen to that song and you can be sure that many people feel like that, even Lemmy felt so alone. I think that is positive too. There is a feeling of unity and bringing the people and the world together, fighting the good fight, that is the message of the record, fighting the good fight, that all the good people... that they are sticking together. I think there is so much negative energy out there, I think it is of upmost importance that the good ones, that they keep on fighting. There is nothing fake; what you hear is what you get. There is nothing that has been fiddled around with, it is all coming from the heart. There were good people involved in this and good people working on this.

You have already mentioned that you had involvement from Tommy and Johan, who else did you turn to for help with this new album? For example, I know Doug Aldrich is helping out on there...

Somebody in the studio who was utmost important to me was Andy Bruhn and he is the ex-guitar player of Sisters Of Mercy. We met, I think it was in 1986 or 1987, and ever since we've worked together on many songs and he was a big part of this record. He is not playing live but in the studio he is great and very understanding. He's super talented, super sensitive and open-minded when I have an idea, I don't feel embarrassed singing it to him. Sometimes when there is an idea you really care for, you have to be careful who you play it for or who you sing it to because if somebody looks at you strange or funny or thinks that it's a silly idea, then the song is gone. I love working with him and I always feel secure when I say, "Hey Andreas, I have a new idea, do you want to check it out?" he says, "Yes, just sing it into the microphone and let's see." I can do whatever I feel and he is immediately on the same page. He might sometimes say, "Let me think about it" and he is fantastic guitar player – usually he plays guitar to it or whatever. He plays all the instruments which is great – and then we always get a result really, really quick. It feels either like "Ah, lets forget about it" or it feels like "Yes, this could be something." Therefore, Andreas was one of the main song-writing partners for me, like 'All For Metal', 'Soldier For Metal', almost everything. 'Heartbroken'... we worked on that. Then I thought, "Man, I would love to have other people involved." For example, on 'Heartbroken', ... it was two American tours ago, we played in Las Vegas and Doug Aldrich was there and we hit it off right away. We had met at some festivals and stuff. I said, "Hey Doug, do you want to play on stage, let's do something" and he said okay. Then we decided we'd do 'Breaking The Law' because everybody knows that song and it sounded so beautiful; he gave it a different touch and it was awesome. We stayed in touch and when I wrote this song 'Heartbroken' with Andreas, I thought, "Man, you know, Doug would possibly be awesome on that if he would like it."

I sent him the song and he wrote back saying, "I love it, I love it, let's do it." He played all these great solos, like the long one in the middle and the long one on the end. At first, everybody was saying that we had to make a shorter fade and I thought, "No, no, it is so great, it has to be to the very last note, until it ends" so 'Heartbroken' was with Doug. As I already mentioned, 'If I Can't Have You, No One Will' is with Johan. I love his singing and I love his spirit, most of all I love that. I saw him many times live and then I had the great chance to hop on stage at a couple of festivals, like Summerbreeze, Wacken and Rock Am Ring. We have great chemistry, even on stage, it was so much fun. I felt like I was part of the band, which usually when you are a guest, you feel a bit weird or awkward; you hope that it is all okay and that people like it, but in that setting, I really felt like part of the band. It was good and with Johan it was awesome, so I am very happy and honoured that he is on this record with his great powerful voice. I love his voice, I love his attitude and it will possibly the second or third single. We definitely want to do a video of that song too. There is then one song that is very special, you probably don't know the guest, but the song 'Backstage To Heaven' was written by Jack Ponti and myself a while ago.

There is a saxophone player called Helge Schneider and he is a comedian but very dark humour – he is really funny but really weird and unique haha – and he plays lots of instruments (he is a Jazz player, he plays piano, saxophone and stuff). We meet for the first time at Wacken, we briefly said hello, and then we meet again last year at the place where I played Monsters Of Rock Festival in Germany (it was in Mannheim). In 1986, there was the biggest day in my life when we played Castle Donington and then there were two other Monsters Of Rock festivals in Germany and one was in Mannheim, so it was a very special place. We had a great gig and then there was somebody watching the show and I thought, "He looks like that comedian, he looks like Helge" and then I walked back before the first encore and he was still hanging out and rocking out. After the show, I knew it was him and I said, "Hi Helge, what are you doing here" and he said "I am playing here the next day" because the city was doing something for about two weeks with all kinds of musical styles. We were talking and he asked what I was doing and I told him I was working on a new album and he said, "How cool, just in case you need me... you know." I said to him that I actually had this song, 'Backstage To Heaven', and on the demo there was this great saxophone solo and I asked if he played saxophone and he said yeah.

He came to the studio a couple of weeks later and he played this great saxophone solo on that song. Jack Ponti, the song-writer, he was someone who produced the 'Angels Never Die" album in 1993 and the 'Machine II Machine' album in 1995, and he is a very well-known guitar player, song-writer – he wrote 'Love Is A Loaded Gun' for Alice Cooper and many other great songs and many big hits. I think he a couple of things for Bon Jovi. We wrote it a while ago and he is still a great friend. Jack is one of the best guitar players too and funny as hell. Speaking of Bon Jovi, there is another song on this album called 'It Cuts So Deep' that I wrote with the keyboard player from Bon Jovi – David Bryan. That was a while ago too, we wrote it years ago. It was actually when I was working with Jack – because I recorded 'Angels Never Die' and 'Machine II Machine' in New Jersey – and then for many, many years I went back to New Jersey, actually a couple of songs on this album were recorded in a studio by Mike Goldberg. I met him in 1995 and we always stayed friends and work together, so 'It Cuts So Deep' was actually with David Bryan. I like that song-writing style, like we used to do it, with great verse, great b-section, great bridge and great chorus. I like that. I know in this day and age that sometimes the melodies, they don't seem so important anymore, but I like good stuff, old-school stuff.

There are two songs I would like to ask about. I see you once again have another German language song on one of the albums, 'Freunde Fürs Leben' ('Friends For Life'), for those who don't speak German, what is that song about?

It is a little bit in the same theme as 'Für Immer', it talks about deep friendship that will never, ever end and friends for life. I really mean it, actually, my true love are the fans all over the world. To me, they are not an anonymous audience; I know many, many fans personally and have done so over the years. That is what I live for, that is why I wake up in the morning, it is for the fans. To me, they are my dearest friends, they are often closer friends than my "normal" friends and that one means 'Friends For Life'. There is not the word 'fans' in the song but they will know.

You also have another cover on the album I wanted to touch upon. You have covered 'Don't Break My Heart Again' by Whitesnake; what made you record that song?

It was 1980 and I was in my first band that was called Snakebite, then it was Beast Attack and then Warlock. I was in my first band Snakebite and actually we heard that Whitesnake was playing live and that was my first Rock concert ever; it was in 1980 and it was in Cologne. I tell you, David Coverdale was so fucking amazing and it was great. It was this great line-up and he was such a God: his performance, his moves, the voice, the songs, the energy ... it was unbelievable. I became a big Whitesnake fan, I guess people in my band were Whitesnake fans too because our band was called Snakebite, so I guess there was something, this connection. Back then, you didn't have so much access, there was no internet, no sale boards. It was so hard to even see a band or to find out that a band is playing. I always drove, I drove sometimes like twenty or thirty hours to see a band, but Whitesnake, it was one of the wildest experiences. For many, many more years, I was searching for another band who would blow my mind like that, and the second band was Judas Priest and then it was Ronnie James Dio, but I waited a long time to see a show which totally blew my mind. I met David briefly one time backstage and I said hello. I haven't sent him the song yet so I hope he likes it because it was just getting mastered a week or so ago. Like I said, we have only just finished and the graphics are still in the making, and the mastering just a week and a half ago. I will send it, I don't know where to send it but I will find out and I hope he likes it.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

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There are obviously two songs we have to talk about, both of which you have briefly touched upon already. We can't talk about this album without speaking in more detail about 'Living Life To The Fullest'. That is the song that started all this. Was it just one of those inspirational moment?

I had the great chance to meet Lemmy; I think the first time was in 1984 or 1985 and it was actually in England. I was invited to a party and had to do a little showcase. I did the sound-check but it was not with my band because the record company had said, "No, no, we don't want to spend that money, just the girl goes to England and she gets some musicians and they do a little showcase" which was cover songs. I did the sound-check. I couldn't speak much English haha, but I weaseled my way through. So we did sound-check and it sounded alright. I then had a couple of hours to kill so I walked around and that was the first time I went into a pub, and who did I see? Lemmy. He was hanging out, having a cigarette and whisky and cola, and we started to talk. He said, "Are you Doro, that chick from Warlock" and I said, "Yeah, and you are Lemmy" and he had that big smile — wow it was cool. We started hanging out, really laughing and talking, like becoming great friends right off the bat. He was always pouring me whisky and colas, and after a while he said, "Doro, don't you have to do a show" and I was like, "Err yes". I totally forgot the time because I had enjoyed the time with Lemmy so much.

I came out too late and I walked out of this pub totally drunk and I realised that after, when I was talking to Lemmy, we had great fun and it was really cool, but then I thought "Oh my God, oh my God." At first, I couldn't even find the club anymore because everything looked alike, in London sometimes all the streets look alike – it was unbelievable. I eventually found it and I came back late, everybody was already so upset. It was a big deal because they all wanted to see me on stage and then decide if we would get a record deal; it was like heavy. I walked out on stage and the band started to play, and I forgot all the lyrics. I couldn't remember a word and I was so drunk, so I sat myself on the drum raiser and I waited until the band was done. Everybody looked at me and said, "You ruined your life, you ruined your career, you know that?" and I said, "Yes, but I am friends with Lemmy" and then everybody started laughing and we got our record deal. The record came out and somehow it all worked out. Ever since I loved Lemmy and we met again at the Monsters Of Rock Festival in 1986 at Castle Donington and it was awesome again. We have played many, many festivals and many tours together, and then my very first duet was with done with Lemmy back in 2000. I was on the same record label, it used to be SPV, and I wrote Lemmy a little letter and said, "Hi Lemmy, I don't know if you remember me, I am that little German girl. I am now on the same label and we are doing a record, so maybe, if you have time or are interested, maybe we could write a song together or do something together." I wrote it to the management and I never expect I would get an answer; I know how it is, people are busy. It was a couple of months later and I got a phone call.

It was a very sad day because my dad had died one day before the phone call and I was totally devastated and totally desperate. The phone rang and I didn't even want to pick up it up, I was almost suicidal, it was really bad. I was in a shop because my mum needed some clothes, she didn't have anything black. I only really wear black but she didn't have any black clothes, so we had to buy some black stuff for my dad's funeral. My mum said I should pick up the phone, the whole shop, all the people were looking at us and I said, "No, no, I don't want to pick up the phone." She told me to at least check out who it is because maybe it was important, but I said, "No, no, there is nothing important anymore." But I did check the phone and it was an LA number, which I thought was weird because I usually know people in New York but not many in LA. I picked it up and it was Lemmy on the phone. He was in good spirits and he said, "Hey Doro, I got your letter and yeah, let's do something together." I said to him, "Oh Lemmy, I don't want to do anything anymore, my dad just died." He already knew that my dad was my best friend and he said "Oh man, I am so sorry. You sound really bad, I think it is utmost important that we do something together, that you get into a different mind frame." I said, "I don't know" but he said, "Ah Doro, just come over to LA and we do something." In the end I said, "I don't know. Oh okay, I am coming." I went to LA and it was the first time I did a duet with somebody and it is on the 'Calling The Wild' album. We actually did two songs, 'Love Me Forever', which is the Motörhead classic, and 'Alone Again', another song which Lemmy wrote on his acoustic guitar. He sang it to me and I was like... man, the tears were rolling down my cheeks.

It was so touching and wow, and the lyrics were so heavy, similar to 'Lost In The Ozone' which talked about loneliness and being left again. We had a great friendship after that time, we spent many, many weeks in the studio and then we always met on tour. We toured together with Motörhead and on the last record, 'Raise Your Fist', there was another duet on it called 'It Still Hurts' and we recorded it; in fact, it was the last time we did something together studio-wise. The last time I saw him, he didn't look so healthy and he looked so thin. I thought to myself, "Oh man, I hope everything goes well." He was still touring and we had great contact. When I was England or America, or he was in Germany or America, we always called each other and met up before a show, sometimes I hopped up on stage and it was awesome. When he died, it hit me like... oh man. After the first time, like I have said before, the first time it was like that was with Ronnie James Dio, who I loved so much. We had a great, great friendship and we toured together. Then with Lemmy, it was the second time something hit me so hard; it was heavy. I went to his funeral and that was heavy too because my mum was in hospital and my mum didn't feel so good – I was just thinking, "Oh my God." I went there and, on the plane, I actually met Mikkey Dee who was flying to the funeral as well. I was sitting in my chair and thinking about Lemmy and then this melody just popped into my head; it was the melody and lyrics right away, not the verses but the whole chorus which was written in a moment. I recorded it on my cell phone and then a couple of weeks later, I recorded it. It is a song for Lemmy but it gave me so much hope and energy as well. Thinking about him, I always feel like he was a great, great person.

The word legend is used far too much these days but that does sum him up perfectly.

Totally, he was a total hero and legend, and one of a kind. These days, so many people, they go with the flow and I always felt Lemmy was always doing what he thought and what he felt. He was unique and he had a heart of gold too. He was so amazing, especially when we did those two songs, he helped me. He was so sensitive and he had just the right words to say, with my dad and stuff because I was so sad and I thought the world would end for me. He was very, very sensitive, soulful and intelligent about it and he really gave me new hope. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel by just having Lemmy at my side and talking to me. He was lifting me up again and I never, ever forgot that. I guess nobody else could have done it.

Another song that deserves a question all to itself is 'All For Metal'. I know you will be unveiling the new single and video next month. In a recent press release, you mentioned the video will include several Metal heroes. Who does that include?

Yes, it does. It includes Mille Petrozza (Kreator), Johan (Amon Amarth), Chuck Billy (Testament) and Warrel Dane (Sanctuary/Nevermore). That was the last time that I saw him, it was recorded at Wacken, and we were great friends. It was my first American tour with Sanctuary (with Warrel) and Megadeth in 1988, and we always stayed friends as well. There is also Jeff Waters (Annihilator), the guys from Sabaton, Ross The Boss (Manowar), "Rockin'" Rolf Kaparek from Running Wild, Detractor from, I think, Chile who are a young, up-and-coming, Tommy my old Warlock guitar player, Andy Brings who used to be a band member of Sodom....

Wow, you really do have some names in there.

Yes, yes. Then you see all our diehard fans and you see many fans in Wacken when they are dancing in the mud and flying into the mud. There are these great scenes of people, I don't know who they are, but they look great and they are covered in mud. There is this couple who are covered in mud and then they are flying into the mud. It was filmed in Wacken when it was raining like mad. Besides the guests, the fans... the fans, they are a big part of that video. It is done in slow motion, the people in the Wacken mud scene, it is so beautiful. You wait until you see it. It will make you feel good. It is so funny, in the end Mille and I, we are singing when the song is ending and it is so funny. It looks like two kids playing, it looks like we are six years old. You will see it, and it is funny.

In another press release you have mentioned the two albums are made up of nineteen tracks and six bonus tracks making twenty-five. Can you tell me about the bonus tracks on the album?

There is one I told you about already which was with Luke called 'Bring My Hero Back Home Again' from the movie. There is another song which might end up in the movie called 'Black Ballad'. It's a very mystical, very dark song, like a little spooky; I love it. Then there is another one on the first album called 'Be Strong', the message is just that I want to give the fans good energy and all be strong, no matter what. Whatever crosses your path, be strong, just close your eyes and go through it – that kind of theme. There is then one special bonus track and I always wanted to record it. It is a song called 'Caruso' and it was written by Lucio Dalla, an Italian song-writer and musician who died a couple of years ago. That song has been done a couple of times by Luciano Pavarotti, that is how I got to know the song, and it is my first song in Italian. On each album, I always like had a song in French, most of the time it was in French, Spanish or Portuguese. My guitar player, Luca Princiotta – who has now been with us for over ten years, he is a very talented guitar player but he is sometimes a little bit in the shadows, but he is absolutely great – he came to the studio and he was coaching me through all the Italian words so it sounds perfect and the Italian fans know what's going on haha. I think it came out really good and that is my first song in Italian, but the melody is so nice. I played it to Nuclear Blast and I said, "Wow, it should definitely make the album" but it is very unique so it not on the real album but a bonus track. I want to put bonus tracks pretty much on all records or CDs, I don't want to have a CD without bonus tracks. It will be on every format, including vinyl as well.

I read that you wanted to record that in the last recording week?

Yeah, actually it was recorded in the last week because there were three songs I wanted to record towards the end of the album – 'Lift Me Up', 'Don't Break My Heart Again' and Caruso' – and I wasn't sure if we would get it done in time but we did.

How did you go about working out which songs would appear on which album?

Actually, I thought maybe the first one has maybe more anthems, is maybe a little heavier, with songs like 'Bastardos', 'If I Can't Have You, No One Will' or 'All For Metal', while the other one is a little bit more, I don't want to say softer but maybe a little more soulful... just maybe a tiny little bit with 'It Cuts So Deep', 'Heartbroken' and '1000 Years', which is a very soulful, heartfelt song. I just went by gut feeling. I think the first one is a bit heavier and the second a bit more soulful.

You went with gut feeling rather than say I will record these for one album and these for the other. You recorded them all, sat down and went with your gut feeling?

Yes, actually it is sometimes really interesting that in the beginning you or someone might say/think "Oh, this song, this is the single", "That is a hit" or "This is great", and then through the process of recording, mixing and then even mastering, certain songs, they come alive where you don't expect it, whereas other songs they don't really quite make it; it's sometimes interesting. Therefore I always wait to the very last moment, usually in mixing you decide. Even when you do the sequence, that is always hard, it is a pain in the ass because there are so many choices but then you somehow you feel... yes, this song feels like it wants to be number one or this one wants to be a closer.

You know it is so funny, I used to do mix tapes and also some DJing, and it's not dissimilar. You have to decide that this song will start and then this one will follow that nicely and so on.

Sometimes I think about it and I write it down, even just in my mind... oh it sounds perfect. I then go into mastering and then you do it, and then the songs don't really mix even though you visualised it and heard it in your mind. Then you hear it for real and the song wants to do what it wants to do, and I am always respectful to the song and where it wants to be. I always go by feeling but it is sometimes interesting. Even when we do a set-list live, I write a set-list, then we go into our rehearsal room and we do it, and then you feel it, no... that doesn't work and then we do other things. Therefore I always usually do the set-list with the guys in the rehearsal room and it's usually different to the first thing I wrote down... then live on stage, I change the set-list again haha. The guys, they don't always like that haha, but I always feel whatever makes the show the best it can be, whatever makes it unique and whatever makes the fans happy, that is what it should be. Everybody's always ready and prepared to work on, I don't know, fifty or sixty songs, and then sometimes in a concert I feel "Yes, people would like to hear this" or when people are totally going into a head-banging move, then of course I want to play more songs in that sort of vein rather than go into a ballad.

It keeps the guys on their feet, haha...

Haha, if you ask them they would probably say, "Oh, it is hard, it is hard", haha. I feel like, since I am the front person, I am always right there where the fans are and sometimes it maybe different from where Johnny Dee is sitting on the drums, which is ten metres away, so he might feel different. When I feel the energy of the people, I can look into their eyes and know what is going on, and then, of course, I want to do every concert like they would never forget it; like I felt like when I saw Dio or Whitesnake. I want it to be "WOW!" so that they will remember it for a lifetime. That is like how I go about it because it could mean that every concert could be the last because I give it my best, give it my fullest – always living life to the fullest as the song says – there is no plan B and no safety net... just go for it fully. Sometimes people think or say, "You'll get a heart attack." In the beginning, like in the eighties especially when we toured England, I always felt it was so important because that is where Metal came from. I gave it my all and the manager always had to actually carry me off stage because my head was blood red, everybody thought the head would explode and the little girl too. It was so insane, but I like to keep it that way. Then with somebody that is old-school, like Tommy, we are on the same page so it's like... haha... he is a maniac and I always think "Man, he will have a stroke any moment" but so far, so good. We are all alive and well.

You have some of the most amazing stories; is there one particular tale from the recording of this album – be it funny, heart-warming or just a particular memory – that is special to you from the process of making this album?

Yes, haha. We recorded the album all over the world: in New Jersey, in Hamburg with Andreas – his studio is in Hamburg and most of the stuff was recorded there, and I have another studio that is actually in Germany as well; it is really old-school, it looks like the good old days with old coaches, and it is called Rock City Studio. In their logo they have a dog and it was a golden retriever. I love dogs, that is something I miss so much. I don't have a family, I don't have animals and I really would love to have them but it is impossible. This dog, I loved it and since the record was recorded for two and a half years, he was a very old dog and during that production he sadly died. The engineer, his name is Ralph Quick, he is a great mixer and he is old-school – I like that. He was so heartbroken and he was lonely – he is not married and he doesn't have kids – and I thought, "Oh man". Then he got a new dog and that is the dog people might have seen, he is a French Bulldog and he looks really cute in the pictures and I love him. However, I tell you, he is a young boy and he sometimes goes a little crazy. He loves eating my zippers and everything that is shiny and he always love to eat my shoes.

The engineer is like, "Oh, he's not doing much" but he is sometimes biting really hard because he is young and so full of energy. I was singing 'Don't Break My Heart Again' and we had to do a couple of ad-libs. I actually sang it in Hamburg but towards the end we wanted to do a couple more ad-libs so I was singing in that studio and the dog was going crazy and then he was eating my leg and I thought, "Oh no". I felt it, it was hurting and it was painful, but I thought the take I was doing was so dead on that I probably wouldn't have been to do it over again that easy and as good. I thought, "You fucking dog, you can eat my leg but I will finish the track" haha. Then the take was done and the track was done, and Ralph actually, while he was recording he didn't get it and he was so into his work etc and I said to him, "Oh Ralph, the dog, the dog, my leg, it is bleeding and stuff" and he replied, "Oh, he is just a little baby." His dog is more important than any human, haha. After that take was done, I had these leggings on – I didn't even have jeans on, I had leggings on – so the whole leg was full of blood and I still have all the things, it looks cool but that was the session where the dog ate the leg and I couldn't let up, haha.

Looking to the future, I understand you potentially have plans for a live 'Triumph And Agony' release and I also see you have started your own record label – Rare Diamonds Records.

That is true. The reason for the record label is because so many record companies have closed doors which is so heavy and so sometimes sad due to what is going on in the industry, and there are not many records anymore to sell. Anyhow, I got so many records back, like all the rights to these records, I got them back from SPV and AFM. Then I thought it is such a shame that you could not get the records anymore from anywhere. You couldn't even order them and you can't buy them in the stores – there are not that many stores left – you can't buy them anymore. We then had this idea of forming our own label to put them out again, if possible in nice limited editions to make them extra special. Last year I did this TV show and I sang a couple of songs, some other artists sang some songs and then the audience could vote which song was the best. It was not only Metal, it was all kinds of genres. To cut a long story short, the song which was the favourite of this TV show was 'Für Immer', it was that German song and it was sung by somebody else which was really cool.

I thought "Wow" and that was where I came up with the idea to do a record with only the German songs on it because some of those records you can't buy anymore. I then had, like, seventeen songs and recorded 'Helden', which is the German version of the David Bowie song 'Heroes', and two other songs that we recorded in German that used to be in English. We put it out, it was called 'Für Immer', and it came out in September last year. I thought maybe it is a nice thing for people to enjoy before the new record came out because I knew it would take a little bit longer. I always say it is coming out in a couple of months; when 'Love's Gone To Hell' was being released, I was saying, "Yeah, next year the new record is out" but sometimes it takes so much longer than you want it to. That is the reason why we formed our own label. Then I thought that 'Triumph And Agony', when we played it live, it sounded so good. We did it the first time last year at the Sweden Rock Festival and man I think it turned out really good. This year we are doing it again in Spain, at another really nice festival so we are doing it a couple of times. We also did an American tour a couple of months ago and I think it sounds great. I think the record deserves it.

Is that something you are going to do or is more hoping?

No, I want to do it. We will probably record it this year and put it out next year. I don't feel it is urgent but I definitely want to do it. In the live environment, I think some of these songs sound even nicer because of the energy and with the audiences who go crazy. It is so much nicer than the studio version which is always a little bit tame; the songs are usually a bit slower and live they are double speed. I definitely want to do it. Now, having played with Tommy so many times, it is working out great; he is a great guy. We all get along great, now we have three guitar players for that setting. It is good, no egos involved so it is all cool. You know how guitar players can get but everyone gets along great.

Well, Iron Maiden can manage it, so I am sure you can haha.

Yeah, haha, but they are the only band I know that have and can. We did it now many times and it worked out great, it felt good.

Doro, it has been an absolute pleasure to talk to you again. Is there anything you would like to add or that I might have missed?

Oh, if you can tell all the fans that I love them forever and I deeply appreciate all their support for over thirty-five years; it is so awesome. It was my dream to do music and that I can still continue doing it is because of the fans. The fans I love most in this world, in my world, they mean everything to me – always will and always have, and that will always stay that way and I hope they will enjoy the new record.

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