Fireworks Magazine

Fireworks Magazine Online 79 - Interview with Bob Young

Unsung Heroes: An interview with BOB YOUNG

Back In Quo Country


Interview by Steven Reid


Only two men can say they wrote two of the first three songs performed at the most famous concert ever, Live Aid. Those same two men can also lay claim to a number one hit single in the UK and to having contributed songs to ten consecutive top five UK studio albums and a live album that climbed up to number three. One, Francis Rossi, is a household name, having sung on countless hits and even appeared on Coronation Street. The other is Bob Young, the man who co-wrote the majority of Status Quo's best known hits during the seventies, mainly with Rossi, but also with the band's other singer and guitarist Rick Parfitt. However Bob also played harmonica with the band and worked as their tour manager for many a year. Not satisfied with that, he was also half of the band Young & Moody with one-time Whitesnake guitarist Micky Moody, is the author of respected books on Status Quo and beyond and has just had his excellent 1985 solo album, 'Back In Quo Country' reissued through HNE/Cherry Red Records.


Bob Young Interview 1

Music had been important to you since you were a boy, but how did you start working for the likes of Amen Corner, The Nice and The Herd, which of course featured Peter Frampton and a young Andy Bown?

When I first moved to London in 1967 from my hometown of Basingstoke I lived in a five-story house in Notting Hill that was divided into a flat on each floor. Art students in one, various musicians in a couple of others and myself and some friends in another. It was just around the corner from the Portobello Road market where a mate and I would busk and could make enough money on a weekend to eat and pay the rent. I also did some driving for one or two groups and in particular the Welsh band Amen Corner featuring Andy Fairweather-Low who were enjoying their first hit single 'Gin House'. In 1968 I went along with them to the Hammersmith Odeon where they were on the Gene Pitney package tour. Also on that bill was The Status Quo and during their sound check in the afternoon I got chatting to Mike Rossi (as he was then called) and remember him complaining, and us both laughing about, how long their bass player Alan Lancaster took to tune up. He asked what I did and I said I was a roadie for one or two groups. That was pretty much the extent of our first meeting.

I believe that you were lined up to work as a roadie with Jethro Tull after that, so how did you come to hit the road with Status Quo - and did you hit it off with the band straight away?

A couple of weeks later I was in Nottingham driving the gear for The Herd when Quo's then managers turned up at the gig. They said they'd tracked me down and wanted to offer me a job as the roadie for The Status Quo as they'd just sacked the one they had for nicking some gear and 'Mike Rossi remembered meeting you at Hammersmith and liked you and thought it might be worth checking you out'. I told them I'd just been offered a job with Jethro Tull for £10 a week and they immediately offered me £15, the same as the band members, if I could start at the end of the week. It was an offer I couldn't refuse and thought if it lasted a few weeks I'd be very happy and a few quid in. I soon found out that by getting married I could get an extra £5 a week. Sue and I married two months later...

Once you'd started spending time with the band it didn't take you long to start getting involved with the songwriting for their next album, 'Spare Parts'. Initially it was bassist Alan Lancaster that you struck up a working partnership with. What do you remember of working and writing with Alan for that album?

I began with Quo in 1968 as the lone roadie setting up the gear, doing sound and lights, driving the 17cwt Ford Transit van jam packed with all of their equipment, amps, guitars, drums, Vox Continental keyboards, PA and lights (I still have the drawing I did on the back of an envelope on my first day saying which order to pack it in the van and showing how to set it up on stage). They also had a car and a driver/tour manager but one or two of them always liked to travel with me in the van. In fact on the first day I was quite amazed when Rossi and Rick Parfitt jumped in with me to go to my first show as their new roadie in Bristol. On reflection I think this was to find out more about me, what I'd done, who I knew and where I came from etc. At 23 I was three or four years older than them and they maybe saw me as just a little more worldly. It was definitely that first few hours journey together where we bonded, laughed a lot and talked about the various music we all loved and artists I liked and we began a friendship that day that's lasted, along with Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan, for fifty years. Over the course of the next few weeks Alan occasionally joined me in the van and by then the band knew I also wrote poems and songs. On a drive to a gig through the West Country he suggested we write a song together and with him strumming a guitar and me driving, by the end of the day we'd written 'Antique Angelique' which, although very much in the poppy/semi-psychedelic style of their first album 'Picturesque Matchstickable Messages From The Status Quo' (and a long way from the folk and blues I loved) made it onto their second album 'Spare Parts' along with three other songs we'd written together.

However by the time of 'Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon' it was Francis Rossi that became your main writing partner. How did that come about and did you click as a writing-team straight away?

I was very pleased when their driver/tour manager John Fanning left a year or so later to live in Australia in 1970 and, when we brought in another roadie, Malcolm Kingsnorth, to do my job, I got promoted to tour manager driving the band in their big old red American Pontiac Parisiene car. Money was still very tight and hotels cheap and we all shared rooms. Francis and I roomed together for a few years, and longer than the others even when we could afford better hotels and single rooms, and this meant we would write together pretty much every day and night on the road. After the keyboard player Roy Lynes got off the train we were travelling on up North to a gig and never go back on, the band became a four piece and the music quite naturally harder and tighter. They had started to rebel against the style of music the management felt they shouldn't change and play more of the rockier stuff they would play in sound-checks and back in the Butlins Holiday Camp days. Francis and I, once we started writing together, clicked immediately and found our own way of working in an unforced and enjoyable way (probably helped along by the wacky-backy we'd started smoking). Our songs like 'Spinning Wheel Blues', 'Shy Fly' and 'April Spring Summer and Wednesdays' started to flow as did those of Rick (Parfitt) and Alan (Lancaster). The songwriting and music floodgates for all of us were beginning to open by 1970 when we recorded the third album 'Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon'. With no money and the frilly shirts and flared colored trousers gone, Quo played any gig that would have them and with any cool band that would let them support them, in by now the only clothes they owned - jeans, t-shirts and dirty trainers. The band and myself had never been happier...

It was at this stage that the signature sound of Quo began to develop and take shape. However that sound and feel didn't just come from you and Francis, with everyone embracing the new direction. Was the change in style discussed and worked out, or was it just a case of synchronicity, where everyone somehow was pulling in the same direction without realising it?

Synchronicity. 'Ma Kelly's...' album is definitely where the real foundations, signature sound and tougher attitude of Quo started to shine through and come together. The sleeve was totally against everything that had been dictated to before by the old management and label, Pye Records. In black and white and with no photo of the band anywhere and the shittiest, roughest looking cover possible. It really pissed off a lot of people but was a statement saying 'This is Status Quo. Love us or hate us. Take it or leave it'. It would be one more album, 'Dog Of Two Head' in 1971, that would continue to cement the sound and direction before the band could, with the help of new manager Colin Johnson, who believed in what we were doing, get out of the awful Pye contract and sign to the very cool Vertigo record label headed up by Brian 'Shep' Shepherd, another believer and very important person in the band's history. He was prepared to take a chance on a band that still had a bit of a hangover around it from the Pop 'Matchstick Men' hit, Top Rank circuit days. He could see the honesty and total belief and dedication that was there and the build up of the live and faithful audiences being gained through the constant touring over the previous couple of years. With a manager, label boss, band and even the road crew that would stay another decade, we were off and running and the non-believers were either left behind or would eventually join the Quo Army. It was also a big plus when DJ's like John Peel, Kid Jensen, Bob Harris and Johnnie Walker started flying the Quo flag. I was very made up when John Peel wrote the foreword to my first book of poems later in 1978.

Some of the tensions between band members during those years have (true or not) become the thing of legend. How challenging was it to deal with the different characters in the band out on the road?

I defy any band that started out at school, stayed together and became hugely successful as teenagers and then spent at least nine months of the following dozen or so years on the road together as they grew from kids into men of the world, to not have a few tensions along the way. By the mid seventies everyone had changed and I believe mostly for the better. By then we were continually travelling around the world, seeing new places and faces with money in our pockets to support our families back home and definitely having fun in more ways than many can imagine but, importantly, the band had quite rightly earned a reputation for being nice, friendly down to earth people with a great sense of humour....a 'Band of the People'. Basically my job was to be the last to bed and first up and to make sure everything ran as smoothly as possible every day. In 1976 Ram magazine in Australia headlined an interview I did as 'The man who gets them up in the morning, gets them to the gig on time, then writes songs and plays on stage with them...'. They easily could have added 'doing the best job in the world'. Just as it was back then and still is today for Quo and most other artists out there on and off their tours, the importance of having a great road crew and loyal team around you can never be underestimated, which certainly made my job a lot easier.


Bob Young Interview 2

How did your job evolve as the band went stratospheric in terms of success in the UK, Europe and Australia? It must have been night and day compared to those early days?

It was totally night and day. Another of my jobs was playing harmonica on stage every night after my teenage folk and blues playing days came in handy when in 1970 they needed 'harp' on 'Down The Dustpipe'. This was the first single that moved away from the sound and style of any previous releases and gave an indication of the harder edged rock/blues direction Quo were now heading in. It reached Number 12 in the charts and that meant the inevitable television promotion in the UK and Europe and somehow I ended up with the crazy distinction of being 'the roadie with the most TV appearances under his belt'. This carried on for the next decade throughout my time on the road with more songs such as 'Roadhouse Blues', 'Break The Rules', 'The Price Of Love' and others. I think being there from their first taste of success in 1968, I had the unique opportunity to grow with them as friends while learning about writing, recording, the music business and looking after people as I went along. So going from the band playing to twenty people in the Top Rank in Bristol to just a few years later headlining to 30,000 fans in Sydney Australia and arenas around the world wasn't, in fact, such a big leap providing you lived in the Quo bubble. Technically I was a rubbish roadie but immediately became a part of the family by simply getting along with everybody and sorting out any problems that came up and later talking to all of them when they didn't necessarily feel like talking to each other. It was easy because I wanted to be there and not because I had to, which is pretty much a rule I've always tried to follow. Not always easy but worth the effort, add in a slice of good luck and almost anything is possible.

'Paper Plane' from the 'Piledriver' album suddenly took the band back into the top ten in the singles chart. How much of a thrill was it to see one of your songs making such an impact?

Following 'Dog Of Two Head', the last album to be released on Pye in 1971, Shep and Vertigo's faith in Quo was rewarded in 1972 with their first release 'Piledriver', a Number 5 album that many describe now as 'Quo defining'. Containing many of the songs that have well stood the true test of time such as the Doors 'Roadhouse Blues', Rossi/Parfitt's massive 'Big Fat Mama' and three Rossi/Young songs that included the only single from the album, 'Paper Plane'. It was a big thrill for me personally as a writer to see it chart at Number 8. That album and single gave us all such a boost, the band, label, management and crew and was the start of a lengthy series of big hits worldwide which all led to bigger and more successful tours everywhere (other than America which, despite several excellent lengthy tours and gigs throughout the seventies with great bands like ZZ Top, Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath and Aerosmith etc, Quo never managed to crack...but that's another story).

However, with the likes of 'Caroline', 'Down Down', 'Mean Girl' and 'Break The Rules', amongst others, you also had a hand in the writing of a host of songs that established Status Quo as one of the most well-known and successful bands in the country. That must have been quite wonderful for you, but I wonder if it created any friction with some of the other guys in the band, or were they very much as excited with how it was all coming together?

In the early seventies, as the band was going through its transition period from one hit wonder pop stars with a dwindling crowd of screaming girls to bona fide 'rock' stars playing to a more critical and discerning audience, it wasn't too important who happened to write the songs so long as they worked live and on record. On reflection maybe at one stage it did feel a bit like Francis and I had a bigger output of songs but we were writing at every opportunity whether on the road, at home or on holidays. Most songs, whoever wrote them, were put forward in rehearsals and everyone would quickly have a good idea as to whether they were likely to work live or not. New contenders were usually road tested before they got to the recording stage and I'm sure that helped a lot as the band tended to pretty much set up too much gear in the studio, plug in and go for it very live. And also producing themselves was definitely the best thing to happen back then and would have helped shape their sound and style. They could break the rules and enjoy the recording process and mostly it worked. Many songs Francis and I wrote became singles but it shouldn't be underestimated the importance and success of the early songs Rick and Alan were also writing. Songs like 'Backwater', 'Blue Eyed Lady', 'Big Fat Mama' and later 'Little Lady', 'Is There A Better Way', and 'Rain'.

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Over the next few years you also had a couple of really successful songs with Rick Parfitt, with 'Mystery Song' and 'Living On An Island', although your partnership with him was never as prolific. Did the writing process differ with Rick from how you worked with Francis?

With the very sad and tragic passing of Rick over Christmas I'm sure everyone who knew him will reflect on the time they got to spend with him whether a fan with a few brief words outside a gig or those of us fortunate to have shared a lot more of his life over the past five decades. Personally speaking I'm glad to have the few songs he and I wrote as a permanent reminder of our friendship and times together. Our writing process differed a lot from that with Francis in so much as it certainly wasn't as frequent, never on tour and there were a lot more distractions in Rick's world. The last thing we wrote together was 'One By One' in 2007 for the 'In Search Of The Fourth Chord' album, a song quite non-Quo in the same way our 'Living On An Island' shouldn't really have worked for the band but somehow it did.

Although Quo have always been anti-heroes in the eyes of the press, during that period from 'Piledriver' to 'Whatever You Want' in 1979, the band could do no wrong in the eyes of the fans. However from there things seemed to change, the dynamic and sound of the band evolving. 1980 also saw you moving on from being the band's tour manager. You've always been quite magnanimous about those events, but looking back now, how did someone who seemed to be right at the heart of the band, both in terms of songwriting and management come to end their association with them and how did you feel about it at the time?

The whole of the seventies was a rollercoaster of events. 'Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon' and 'Dog Of Two Head' were the springboard and 'Piledriver' the lift off for the massive success of the next dozen or so albums when a million UK, plus the huge rest of the world sales of each release began to feel very normal. After the success of Quo's first live album in 1977, recorded at the legendary Glasgow Apollo Theatre, it was decided for a few reasons that it was maybe time to consider bringing in a producer for the first time in many years. One: to record an album that might be more American radio friendly and two: to have someone in the room to mediate between the band that by now each had there own firm ideas. Pip Williams was brought in to produce with his engineer John Eden for the 'Rocking All Over The World' album, that was eventually recorded in Studio Bohus in Gothenburg and it all worked really well with songs mostly written by Francis, Rick, Alan and myself. The production was certainly noticeably different to the previous band self-produced albums, having knocked off a lot of the rough edges and the certain spontaneity associated with them. The reaction to it was divided with many fans, but there's no denying its huge success, helped in no small part by the title track single and the subsequent massive RAOTW world tour. While we all tried to keep our feet on the ground it became more and more difficult as various casual substances became a regular habit and without doubt this contributed to the bands attitude to all manner of things going on around them. That solid bubble was beginning to show cracks.
In 1979 in Lyon, while on a French tour, I wrote a confidential letter to Francis, Rick, Alan and John expressing my views and displeasure at the state of things going on. The changes in them and their attitude that was not good for them, the shows or their audiences and why I considered moving on to be the best option for me if we were to remain friends. There was management things going on which I didn't agree with and I wasn't enjoying touring in that atmosphere. Nobody else has ever got to see that letter and maybe one day it might see the light of day. I was unhappy and looking back now it was the right thing to do. It gave me the freedom to do many other exciting things with my life using whatever skills I'd learned over the years whether songwriting, recording, tour managing, management, writing books and documentaries and, importantly, seeing the world at my own pace. It would be another year or so before I finally made the move off the road with Quo and soon after my leaving drummer John Coghlan was replaced. Just three years later Alan Lancaster was ousted from the band after Live Aid.


Bob Young Interview 3

However you still contributed a co-write with Rick for 'Just Supposin' ('Coming And Going') and with Rick and Andy for 'Never Too Late' ('Falling In, Falling Out'). Were these songs written before you moved on from working with the band, or did you continue to write with the guys during that time?

Because we all remained friends, although not seeing each other on a day to day basis, there was no pressure, but I could still see the way things were heading and the problems inside the Quo camp. Rick would still come over to my house and we'd write and drink and... 'Coming and Going' was written over a couple of long sessions, him on electric guitar, me on harmonica and both of us singing along and was I so glad it made it onto the 'Just Supposin' album.

And, of course, you performed with the band at their 1984 'End Of The Road' show in Milton Keynes. That must have been an emotional time - did you have any inkling that Francis and Rick would reform the band without Alan not long after?

I was totally made up to be asked to play harmonica again on 'Roadhouse Blues' on that show. It was very special to look out from that stage and see that amazing crowd of 50 or 60,000 fans going crazy. And very emotional for them genuinely believing it was their last live show together. Just a pity John Coghlan wasn't in the band and there to enjoy it. I don't think anyone could have predicted they would reform without Alan after Live Aid although there was, as I said before, a lot of tension that had been building over previous years due in no small part to the amount of drugs and alcohol around.

Amazingly while all this had been going on, you found the time to form a formidable writing partnership with guitarist Micky Moody, forming Young & Moody, which went on to become The Young & Moody Band. How did the two of you meet and when did you start song writing together?

Micky and I first met on a European tour in, I think, 1974 when his band Snafu was supporting Quo.
We immediately hit it off with a shared taste in music (blues) and humour (very silly). Soon after that we began writing whenever we had a chance to get together which, because of our separate touring commitments, meant not as often as we would have liked. Deep Purple's Roger Glover eventually heard a few of our songs and demos and suggested he produce an album for us.

You released the self-titled Young & Moody album in 1977, which never quite achieved the success the songs deserved. With your Quo links and Micky's time in Juicy Lucy and Snafu, do you think people were maybe a little surprised by the direction you took with the album?

Maybe one or two people were a little surprised but I think, because it reflected the roots of Quo and the bands Micky was with, it was easier to accept and enjoy than had we done say a jazz, pop or soul record. That album was an absolute dream to write and record. Very bluesy and laid back with just Micky and I, Kokomo drummer Terry Stannard and the multi-talented Graham Preskett on violin, bass, keyboards and mandolin. Roger is quoted as saying at the time "It's most enjoyable and fun album I've had the pleasure of working on". It got a lot of excellent reviews and we spent a very funny and memorable couple of weeks going around the UK on a national radio and press tour. We're both very proud of that album.

Micky was then asked to join David Coverdale's new band, Whitesnake - an offer he couldn't really turn down. Did that scupper the Young & Moody plans for further albums?

No not really as I was so busy anyway on the Status Quo continual world tour and Young & Moody was never meant to be our priority. Whitesnake for Micky was a brilliant move and I loved that band and especially the great songs he wrote with them. David Coverdale is a born star. The three of us even got to write a really nice song together. Micky and I still write the occasional song but it's our friendship that's the most important thing to us. I think we now have a catalogue of well over a hundred songs and are planning to do something live as Young & Moody later this year.

However you continued to release a few singles between 1979 and 1983 - the last one being a 'maxi-single' with Motörhead, Cozy Powell and The Nolans! That's not the most obvious combination. How did that come about?

'Don't Do That' was just one of the many songs we were writing at that time and it had quite a Quo-ishness to it. When we came to record it we wanted our friend Cozy Powell on drums - and he came on board. I didn't think my voice suited it so we pulled in another mate, Ed Hamilton, who had that rock type of voice we felt it needed. Lemmy was an absolute first choice for bass and he agreed immediately, especially when he knew we'd asked the Nolan Sisters to do backing vocals and we'd be doing a video. It was a crazy idea that worked and another memorable moment in the crazy world of Young & Moody. It's still up on YouTube and worth checking out.

During this period you also published your first book, 'Alias The Compass', a book of poems, ideas and observations on the life you were living. The book was enthusiastically received - what was the thought behind the book and were you pleased by how well people reacted to it?

As long as I can remember I've been scribbling notes, writing words, lyrics and poems and, being a bit of a hoarder, have kept everything. I hit my thirtieth birthday in 1975 and decided it was time to stop dreaming about putting a book of poems together and get on with it. Quo by then were flying high around the world in more ways than one and I thought there might be a few people out there interested in checking it out. Eighteen months later I'd pulled it all together and asked DJ John Peel if he'd write the foreword for me, not really expecting him to agree. I sent him quite a few samples and to my very pleasant surprise he agreed and that for me was the icing on the cake. Several of the poems became the foundations of a few Quo and Young & Moody songs, probably most notable 'Paper Plane', although it's a bit of a misconception that I've always just been the lyricist in any of my writing partnerships... It's taken me another thirty years to put the follow up book together and that's now in the making....

You and Micky also contributed three songs to the excellent 'Line Up' album by Rainbow/MSG singer Graham Bonnet - an album featuring the likes of Russ Ballard, Cozy Powell, Jon Lord, Mel Collins and of course Francis, Rick, Andy and Micky. Were those songs written especially for that album, or did Micky bring them to the project after you had written them previously?

We were with the same management company as Graham and when he was going into the studio to record a new album we were asked if we had any songs that we'd like to put forward. Fortunately we had plenty and three of them happened to suit Graham. They weren't written especially for him but we knew they might work okay as we'd previously used Graham to sing the song 'These Eyes' that we'd written and recorded for a big Levi's commercial and which went on to win us a British TV advertising export award in 1981.

You wrote two books in the 80s, 'Again And Again', focusing on your time with Quo. How was it looking back on your time with Quo - in a way from the outside looking in - at that time?

On the road I've always collected various bits of what we now call memorabilia i.e. old backstage passes, itineraries, photos, hotel room keys, demos etc etc. I'd throw them all into my suitcase as we went along and when I got home at the end of a tour would put it all into boxes and basically forget about it. I was the only one really to do this on a regular basis and I'm glad I did. I've always been the go-to when rare things are needed for tour programs, books, documentaries, re-releases and the like. Putting together books on Quo was a natural progression and always an opportunity to dig out old memories. There's been a couple of excellent coffee table books I've worked on over the past few years too.

And 'The Language Of Rock n Roll' with Micky, a sideways look at the phrases and language musicians use that may not be so obvious to those outside the business. It's a wonderful idea, where did the notion behind that book come from?

That particular book came out of our very silly 'joint' sense of humour. First published in 1985 it soon caught the imagination of a lot of bands and road crews as it was speaking their language. Our descriptions of everything from Backline to Being in a support band: Jobsworths to Japanese Hospitality: Unknown Warriors to Unwinding after a gig. Not much was out of bounds and the sillier the better. I wish we had the time to do a 2017 follow up. Maybe it's time to hand over the baton...

1986 saw you release your, to date, only solo album, 'In Quo Country', where you focused on the more country side of some of the songs you wrote with Quo. Was this, in a way, how you'd always heard these songs as you were helping to create them?

This album had long been something I'd wanted to do and it took coming off the road with Quo to actually get on with it. I'd left with quite a list of ambitions and objectives and fortunately, with time now being my own, have been lucky to tick many of them off along the way while always adding a few more dreams to chase. A lot of the co-writes with Francis were usually started on acoustic guitars and some would have a bit of the country blues thing about them such as 'Claudie', 'Caroline' and 'Dirty Water', as have one or two of the ones with Rick Parfitt such as 'Living On An Island'. I've always felt there's more than one way to arrange and produce just about any song and the idea I had for 'In Quo Country' was not to try and better the originals, because that's not possible with definitive Quo tracks, but to re-record and arrange some of those I'd been involved with using musicians and friends I thought would work well together in a studio and record a selection of my songs but with a bit more of a country flavour.

The album also features a host of respected, talented musicians. Can you share your memories of recording the album and the people involved?

With much help and enthusiasm from Micky Moody, who co-produced the album with our producer friend, the late Stuart Taylor, we pulled together a very special bunch of musician friends all of who we believed would work well together. They didn't take too much persuading and we soon moved into Phonogram Studios in Marble Arch, and the first thing we did was hire in several eight foot tall cactus film props. That immediately set the tone for the week and we were off. With guitarists Micky, Albert Lee and Billy Bremner, BJ Cole on pedal steel, Kokomo drummer Terry Stannard, Graham Preskett on violin and keyboards and Mo Foster on bass, plus various other musicians in and out it to add their bits, it couldn't have gone better or been more fun. A really memorable week...

The album has just been reissued under the title 'Back In Quo Country', featuring eight bonus tracks. What can people expect to find on this new expanded edition?

The 'In Quo Country' ten tracks have all been re-mastered and I've added several songs written and recorded in and around the same period as the originals and which I felt were in keeping with everything else on this re-release. There's three Rossi/Young songs, three with Micky and a steaming version of the Charlie Daniels song 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia' with Micky's slide guitar replacing the violin solos featured on the original and Francis on backing vocals. There's also a rare recording of Francis and I writing 'Down Down' in our bedroom in the Travelodge Motel in Hollywood in 1973. The whole CD package is completely new with photos, biog, info and track listing etc. There's been a lot of enquiries about also releasing the album on vinyl and I'm really hoping that works out.

Since coming off the road with Quo you've turned your attention to a variety of different things, as well as managing bands and artists like Relish, Leya and Joe Echo. How much did you enjoy going back to the start with bands to help them build from the ground up?

My very good friend Marc Marot who was MD of Island Records for many years started his own management company for artists including Paul Oakenfold, Richard Ashcroft and Cat Stevens.
He invited me to work with him and as well as helping develop new artists one of my roles was looking after Richard Ashcroft on a day to day basis on and off the road. We got on well, there wasn't really a dull moment and I really enjoyed those three of four years with him. I liked one of the nicknames he called me...WD40 because he reckoned I could get anything moving. He also called me plenty of others names too... Prior to joining Marc I did a lot of what I've always enjoyed doing and that's looking after artists. I tour managed violinist Vanessa-Mae all over the world for a couple of years and also did a couple of really nice ones with the legendary Hank Marvin. Over the past few years I've also done several tours of China, Japan, and Korea with Croatian classical pianist Maksim, in fact all over Asia where he has superstar status. And for fifteen years now I've guided the career of the hugely talented singer songwriter Ciaran Gribbin who became the singer of INXS and now lives in Australia and has written songs for movies, Madonna and Al Pacino amongst others.

And of course, you continued to write books on both Quo and the history of the Fender Stratocaster, and you also were one of the driving forces behind the TV documentary, 'The Story Of The Fender Stratocaster'. That must have been a really great project to be able to bring into being?

Yes that was great to work on with Frankie Miller guitarist Ray Minhinnett. We had this idea to write and produce a documentary on the forty years history of the Stratocaster. We started by drawing up a big list of all the guitarists we'd like to include in the film - Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Mark Knopfler, George Harrison, Keith Richard, Bryan Adams, Nile Rodgers - the list just went on and everyone pretty much suggested we'd be lucky to get a quarter of them and that's if we could ever raise the money to do it. But never say never and eventually EMI decided to give it a shot and provided us with the funding and an office in Manchester Square. It took us two years to not only pull it off but also interview and film both here and in America, all of the players and people on our original list.

However the call of Quo was never all that far away, drummer John Coghlan asking you to be part of his band Diesel in the late 80s. How was it getting back together with John after so many years - and are you disappointed that those songs remain largely unreleased?

John's Diesel Band actually did their first gig in 1977 at the Marquee Club in Soho. The band included myself, Micky Moody, Jackie Lynton and Andy Bown and over the years various other members came in and out such as Alan Lancaster, Rick Parfitt (who particularly loved coming out to play), John Gustafson and loads more. A lot of fun which is why Diesel formed in the first place.... We recorded an album in Sweden and the band by then was John Coghlan and I, Ray Minhinnett (Frankie Miller), Phil May (Pretty Things), Chrissy Stewart (Spooky Tooth/Frankie Miller Band) and Hilly Briggs on keyboards. It was never released as the record company went bust - not our fault! - although it's likely to be out now sometime this year.

Out of the blue, Francis got back in touch with you prior to Quo's 'Heavy Traffic' album. Was that a big surprise to you and was it easy to put some of the things from the past behind you? It must have been good to rekindle that old friendship?

Yes it was an unexpected call from Francis seventeen years ago to suggest we get together and see where it took us. We'd never actually fallen out, just hadn't spent much time together for many years even though we've always lived very close to each other. So we did get together and started talking pretty much every day for the next three months and slowly, quite naturally the old writing habit started falling back into place and we've carried on where we left off and have since written around fifty new songs.


Bob Young Interview 4

Were you surprised at how quickly your song-writing partnership clicked back into place with Francis? After such a long time not working together, you must be very proud with the songs you two have contributed to the albums 'Heavy Traffic', 'The Party Ain't Over Yet', 'In Search Of The Fourth Chord', 'Quid Pro Quo' and 'Bula Quo'?

I'd say we were pleasantly surprised as we had no game plan other than getting together and chatting as old friends do, but I do know it felt good to talk about many things that had happened over the years and maybe work out just why some of them had happened. Eventually seven of those first new songs made it onto the 'Heavy Traffic' album in 2002, produced by Mike Paxman and really well received by both critics and fans, which was very satisfying. On reflection yes, very proud to have contributed and played a small part in those albums.

However, would it be fair to suggest that one of the highlights of recent years must be getting back on stage with the Frantic Four during their reunion tours. Those must have been some really special moments?

I'm so glad those two recent very successful re-union tours with Lancaster and Coghlan came together and that I was asked to play harmonica with them again on the road and particularly now in the light of Rick's recent tragic death. The fans really loved it, having always hoped but never actually thinking it could happen. There were some really special moments on and off stage. Hammersmith Odeon (Apollo) for me was one of the many highlights. Standing on that stage I really did think back to first meeting them almost fifty years earlier on that very same spot on the Gene Pitney tour.

And finally, in what has been a long, fruitful and eclectic career, what's lined up next from you Bob?

I'm currently helping put together a big coffee table book on the 60 years history of the world famous Cavern Club in Liverpool. For over twenty-five years I've been what you could call their music industry consultant and have been involved in many of their interesting and rewarding projects including organising, on their behalf, the Hillsborough Justice Concert at Liverpool's Anfield Stadium, which raised over £400,000 to help the Families continue their fight for justice. I'm working too on my 'autobiographical scrapbook' that tells my story through letters, poems, lyrics, stories, photos and memorabilia. Francis and I will probably get to write a song or two this year and I'll continue to do lots of travelling to places around the world I haven't been to and to places in my passports I can't remember going to before. That should keep me quite busy...


Bob Young Interview 5

Fireworks Magazine Online 79 - Interview with Devilskin

DEVILSKIN

Interview by Dave Bott

It is difficult to bring to mind too many acts from New Zealand, especially those with a high profile. Devilskin are a female-fronted Hard Rock four-piece from Hamilton, New Zealand, who have been together since 2010. They have released two full-length albums to date (both reviewed in Fireworks magazine), 'We Rise' (2014) and 'Be Like The River' (2016), as well as a live CD/DVD set entitled 'Live At The Powerstation'. Somewhat under the radar they have toured the UK, drawing favourable comparisons to Halestorm (with whom they have also shared a bill) along the way. They are due to play Download in June 2017 so Fireworks thought it was time for a catch-up. An easy-going 20 minute slot with guitarist Nail and lead-singer Jennie Skulander, before the Nottingham show on the recent UK tour, was, despite rumbling tummies, the ideal opportunity to find out more about 'Be Like The River' and their visits to England.


Devilskin Interview


N/JS This current tour of the UK has been one of the easiest tours ever. Everyone is so chilled and we get along really well with the guys from Sumo Cyco (co-headliners). Audiences in the UK are certainly different to the ones back home. Obviously we're still in the process of building a fan base here, whereas the New Zealand fan base is already established. People may come to see the other band on the bill but we make an impression and they buy a CD or t-shirt, that's how it begins. We are not expecting to be playing arenas in front of huge crowds, we're just trying to win people over. We've done festivals before and played with some pretty major bands in the past, but Download will be huge for us and we've no real idea what to expect. We'll try and bring the good weather with us but will have gum-boots just in case. The music scene in New Zealand is healthy enough but you have to remember it is quite a small country. There are tours coming through all the time and we have radio stations dedicated to Rock music so we get exposure from them and get to know if our songs are being played. We decided to record a live CD/DVD on the back of the debut album. It seemed silly not to capture the moment and it also seemed like a good way to make an impact in America and Europe, present a live show so people could see what we're all about.

'We Rise' was recorded in New Zealand but mixed in England yet Devilskin changed tack for 'Be Like The River' and the whole process took place in England. It would seem Jennie's condition at the time dictated proceedings though the end results were no less impressive.

N We were touring in the UK this time last year and Jennie was actually pregnant. We recorded 'We Rise' at York Street studios in New Zealand but it has been knocked down now and made into apartments. Our album was the last to be recorded there. Our producer Clint Murphy is a Kiwi who lives in Tetbury (Gloucestershire) and he came over to work with us on the first album whilst visiting family. Last year we thought why not stay here to do the album rather than making trips back to New Zealand.

JS I was in the process of getting fatter and fatter whilst the mixing took place. We were back on the road when my daughter was 3 months old and opening for Disturbed. She comes on tour with us and when we're in the UK she stays with her dad, with friends and family who live in Derby.
N There's no such thing as a free ride so when she's old enough we'll have her working on the merch stall or as a guitar roadie.

The writing and recording process can vary from album to album for many bands but at the end of the day the old-fashioned way, with all band members together in a room, seems to work best for Devilskin.

N When we recorded 'We Rise' some of the songs were quite old anyway. We'd already been together for a number of years so they had been written over a period of time. This time round we demoed a lot of material with Clint and in the end had around thirty songs that were worked on. We didn't discard all the ideas or songs that didn't make the record and we may decide to return to some, work on them some more and see if they eventually work out. It wasn't that the songs weren't strong, it was just that we could only use so many and the record had to have a balance. Hopefully we can use some of them on the next record.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music


It's interesting that there is a song featured on 'Be Like The River' called 'We Rise'. A leftover from the first album's writing sessions perhaps and may be the beginning of some kind of trend from album to album?

JS We did write a song called 'Be Like The River' for this album but it wasn't included. The general theme and lyrically the song is based around 'Be like the river, cut through the stone'.

N 'Be like the river, cut through the stone' is kind of our outlook on life. It means forge your own path, take no shit. Similarly 'We Rise' reflects our journey so far, the growth we've made as a band and as people, from one record to the next. It was a natural and obvious decision to include the song on the album. It wasn't a conscious decision to leave out the title track from each record and then include it on the next one.

Lots of bands forge long working relationships with the same producer, but even though Devilskin have worked only with Clint Murphy so far the door is always open to a change.

N We've worked with Clint on two albums so far but who knows what the future holds. We'd like to keep our options open and it would be cool to record an album in America.

JS There is some stuff in the pipeline and there have been offers we can't really talk about just yet. I was approached by someone from the band Snot, who were prominent a while back, and it would be a fantastic opportunity, being such a fan of the band. They were very influential and maybe the main reason I'm doing what I'm doing now.

Lyrically Devilskin deal with a number of themes and cover a number of topics and inspiration for the subject matter can come from a number of sources.

JS Myself and Paul (Paul Martin, bass player) are primarily responsible for the lyrics to our songs and Paul did a lot of writing on this album. 'Voices' was a song written about our fans, the Devilskin Army and the lyrics reflect their importance in our lives. There is another song called 'FYI' which is aimed at our frustration with the music industry in general. It's an angry song, probably the angriest on the album.

Devilskin use strings in several songs on 'Be Like The River', to great effect and are not afraid about the inclusion of orchestral enhancements, even though there may not be strings in mind during the conception and writing process.

N We never use keyboards or programming in our music and everything is written using a guitar, hammering out riffs and seeing where they go, with us all together in a room, kind of old school. We sometimes realise that adding strings will make the song better and have more impact and we were lucky that Clint could make that work for us. We were back in New Zealand and he Skyped us so that we could watch the strings being recorded. It certainly makes the songs more powerful. It's all about drama and emotion so we'll do what we have to, to make the song the best it can be.

First impressions of 'Be Like The River' are that it is a less intense or aggressive piece of work than 'We Rise', even though Jennie's vocals and the big guitars and rock hard rhythm section are all still present and correct.

N/JS I guess 'Be Like The River' is a more mature piece of work at the end of the day. The four of us were involved as a collective this time. We've obviously spent a lot of time together during the last few years. We know each other better and the developments in those relationships come out now in our writing. When we write we try to push ourselves and we want it to sound different to the things we've done before. The song 'Be Like The River', for instance, which didn't make the album, is quite a Bluesy track and it would be great if it featured on the next one.

N I'm forever trying to make it completely different and it keeps things interesting.

Plans for the remainder of 2017 revolve around writing and that show in June, but there should still be time for more touring.

N/JS After this current tour we'll be doing a block of writing, before returning to the UK for the Download festival. We'll then concentrate on more writing with a view to getting a record done for 2018. Hopefully we'll be out on tour again in September or October this year. Writing goes on all the time but it is hard to find time when touring to sit down together and work on ideas. We actually did an acoustic performance the other day, whilst in London. It's something we've never done before so we had to find time to rehearse. Fortunately when we're in the UK we do get some down time and that's when we can visit the relatives and make use of their hot-tub! (Check out the photos online)

Fireworks Magazine Online 79 - Interview with No Sleep For Lucy

NO SLEEP FOR LUCY

An interview by Mike Newdeck

Sweden's No Sleep For Lucy has been kicking around the music scene for a few years now, seemingly unable to get things together for a debut album release, they had a few songs here and there but nothing of any substance − until now. Choosing to finally release their debut album independently is a double edged sword. On one hand we get to hear this wonderful debut, reviewed in this issue, and yet the fact that the band remain label-less ultimately means that it won't get the exposure that a release of this calibre deserves. Fireworks caught up with vocalist Lukas Meijer to chat about the band and how the future looks.


No Sleep For Lucy - Interview


Why has it taken so long to get this album released?

It has been different bumps on the road that has been holding us back for different reasons. Let's just say it's much easier when you don't have anyone else to listen to but yourself and the band. We think it's all worth the wait.

Why have you not got a record label?

We're really proud of our material and everything with the band. We've been talking to some labels but nothing turned into a full commitment. We're really committed to our music and expect the same of whoever would be our partner, which maybe makes it harder to find the perfect match. I would say that what we would be looking for is a really good partner, rather than any record deal just for the sake of it. Hopefully we someday find someone who is willing to take this project to the next level.

It's a real labour of love, this band. What keeps you all going?

It's all about that feeling when you write something and feel, "Oh hell yes!" You imagine 10,000 people singing along and just freaking out. I think we all have that image in our heads more or less and it keep us motivated. All the good feedback from our fans feels incredible too and has a great impact for us as a band.

How did you get involved with the band?

Lukas met Christian and Kristoffer through Christian's sister. They had the same class at the University and she told him that her brother was searching for a singer. Christian and Kristoffer, who've been working as songwriters for a long time, wanted to go back to their roots and start a band, and there he was, a singer looking for a band as well. First time we met, we wrote three songs together and the journey began.

Why are you only a three piece?

It's all because we were the ones who had the most time for song-writing, photo and video shoots and other band stuff like that. We have a lot of talented musician friends so we knew we could make it work as a three piece and still turn up with a really solid band on stage.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music


The album is expertly produced who did it?

Our guitarist Christian Rabb has been the main producer of all the songs except two of them, 'Feel Alive' and 'Going Down'. Chris is a phenomenal producer and really nailed every element on this album. The other two songs are produced by Mats Valentin.

How did you finance the album?

We've paid for every little penny ourselves. It has cost us a lot of money but more especially time. But we think it's worth everything. We have our own studio here in Stockholm where we tracked all the guitars, bass, vocals, live strings, except the drums. We went to another studio for drums.

How would you describe the band's music?

No Sleep For Lucy has its base in the melodies. It's an epic, big sound where we want to blend sophisticated and catchy melodies with a modern, alternative touch.

What's the plan now that the new album is done?

After this release we want to come out and play more. A support act tour in Europe would be wonderful. We're now working on a live production so we are ready when the right opportunity comes.

I think it's one of the best albums of its kind ever recorded. What is your opinion on this new album?

That's just so fantastic to hear. After years of hard work those words really go straight to the heart, thank you so much! We're really proud of this album and this is really No Sleep For Lucy at its best. We think 'Until The End' contains a mix of all the elements we've been searching for. You find punch, aggression, vulnerability, all surrounded by the big melodies which glue it all together. We put in a lot of effort so to hear words like that make it all worth it.

There's all sorts of influences in there: U2, 30 Seconds to Mars, Lifehouse ...are they bands that you like?

Yeah, that's right. All of the band you name have always been an influence for us. Especially 30 Seconds To Mars who we think is the band nearest to our genre. They have the balance of great melodies, epic sound and a modern rawness. That's kinda what we're also looking for regarding sound. A bit of fun information: our latest single 'Don't Let Go' is co-written with Stevie Aiello, bass player of 30 Seconds to Mars!

Are you a Christian band? 'The Source' and 'Leaving Ground' seem to refer to Christ in a subtle way.

No, we're not a Christian band, but I see what you mean and I think that's the beauty of good music and good lyrics. It means different things to different people. For instance, 'The Source' is written as a tribute to Lucas's family and was actually the song that got Christian and Kristoffer really interested in Lucas as singer in the band in the first place. Eventually the song was tweaked and became more of a No Sleep For Lucy song than it originally was.

What's the long term plan for the band?

Our first mission is to come out and play this new material for everyone. We need to do the best we can regarding promotion and stuff like that. Hopefully more people find out about the band and maybe we get some extra motivation for a new album.

The debut album 'Until the End' is available now at Amazon and iTunes.

Fireworks Magazine Online 79 - Interview with Sumo Cyco

SUMO CYCO

Interview by Dave Bott

Canada's Sumo Cyco have been around since 2011, though they may be an unfamiliar name to many. Their debut album, 'Lost In Cyco City', was released in 2014 and by the time you read this, sophomore release 'Opus Mar' should also be available. Both albums have received favourable reviews in Fireworks, in the process generating comparisons to both No Doubt and Skindred. Lead singer Sever (Skye Sweetnam) was something of a Pop music sensation thirteen or fourteen years ago but decided her destiny lay in a totally different musical genre. Fireworks caught up with Skye in Nottingham, before a show that formed part of a co-headline tour of the UK with Devilskin, to find out more about 'Opus Mar' and her musical influences.


Sumo Cyco Interview


You know, UK audiences really seem as though they want to have fun. It's a night out, as though the band is a bonus. We've been here before and so have Devilskin but I think having a co-headline tour takes the pressure off both bands. We're getting on really well together and there has been a lot of mutual love and appreciation. Sometimes on previous tours we've been the support, or even third on the bill and you don't get much time. You have to make the most of the time you do get, hit hard and make an impact. Having a co-headline tour means both bands get to play a full set to show what we're really all about.

Sumo Cyco opted to crowd-fund 'Opus Mar' independently and realised more than double their goal. Skye discovered she even had a business sense during the process and would be keen to take the same route again.

Wow, it was such a time consuming process. As a band we know what we are striving to achieve creatively but from a business point of view it is such a very steep learning curve. I learned so much during the pledge campaign. We were trying to do so many different things for the fans. For example we created a deck of cards with a different Sumo Cyco character on each one. You have to judge how much time and money the things you are offering cost compared to how much you are charging for them. At the end of the day the fans get a really cool experience and it is so humbling for us to see just how many people enjoy what we do. For us, being independent is very important. I've been with a major label before and you can be a small fish in a big pond and they can only dedicate so much time to you. We do all our own social media, create all our own videos and produce our own music. The pledge campaign is basically the way we fund all that and is just a case of taking destiny in our own hands.

Whilst trying to find out more about the album title and the creation process behind the songs it came as something of a surprise to learn that there is more to the album cover than just a picture of a train.

We wanted a cool name for the album that would also be a cool name for a train. An opus is obviously a collection of music and to mar something is to ruin its perfection. The heart of the idea behind the album was a non-stop train, barrelling through and creating the equivalent of a scar on the landscape. The songs deal with a number of social and environmental issues and highlights that as humans we are flawed and like a scar on the planet. My dad had an old toy train lying around the house and there was a lot of work involved in getting it back in good condition, then using it in photos for the album and also in some of the videos for the songs. The thirteen train carriages are represented by the thirteen songs on the album. The creation process was a lot faster than the debut because we had the pressure of the pledge campaign and our management required us to stick to a schedule. The first record took a long time to bring together but we had built up a lot of momentum whilst touring and 'Opus Mar' captures a twelve month period in our lives. We'd played a lot more shows together so had a better idea about what things worked and what didn't. For us a live show is not just about playing the songs really well. It's everything involved in the performance and the connection with the audience. When we were writing the songs for the new album we always had the live translation in mind.

The Fireworks & Rocktopia review for 'Opus Mar' implies that the material it contains is slightly heavier than that on the debut and somewhat less commercial. Skye agrees to a degree but indicates that the songs take on their own identity without necessarily writing with a heavier direction in mind.

There are certainly heavier elements to 'Opus Mar'. During the first couple of songs I scream a little more. Since the debut I've become a lot more comfortable with the intensity in my voice. It is part of my repertoire that I'm not afraid to use now without feeling I may be doing some damage to my vocal chords. The album contains moments of chaos for sure, but to me both albums seem to sit well next to each other and there is a natural progression from the first to the second. I love trying to fit crazy fast rhythms into the songs, to try to make them different and interesting. Matt (Drake, guitarist/producer) always says that one listen to our CDs is never enough because there are so many things that will be missed.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music


As well as being the guitarist and co-writer of the songs Matt Drake is also Sumo Cyco's producer. Skye appreciates that an element of objectivity may be lost by not having someone who isn't so close to the band producing, but is also keen to emphasise that she has complete faith in him.

Matt did a lot of pre-production. We had James 'Lerock' Loughrey co-produce and mix the album, so he was like the outside opinion for the music. He took the songs away and then made us cut or re-work certain things. We are usually quite self-sufficient in that respect so there were a lot of mutual decisions that had to be reached and a lot of ideas batted back and forth. I love that Matt can do all the things he does because it is not only great for the budget but also for creativity. We have our own studio in which we can record, rehearse and do videos. It's far easier to set a schedule and also be spontaneous when everything is done in house.

The song 'Move Mountains' features a contribution from Skindred frontman Benji Webbe and Skye finds it difficult to disguise her excitement when talking about his involvement.

Skindred and Benji have been a huge influence on Sumo Cyco and me in particular. It was always the intention to collaborate but initially it was only with touring in mind. It was suggested that we should actually do a song together so I contacted James (Lerock) because he has worked on the last three Skindred records. We managed to get it to work even though it involved firing files back and forth electronically whilst we were on tour. I remember being in a coffee shop in Manchester, downloading and listening to the finished track. We only got to meet in person when we did the video for the song.

Sumo Cyco have released nearly twenty songs digitally, alongside some striking videos. A novel approach for sure and Skye is keen to elaborate.

We like the idea of being spontaneous. When we create something we want to get it out there straight away, without having to wait for the album to be fully completed or the whole marketing side of things. There was a video for every song on the first album and they followed on from one another with a thread. Creating videos for every song is hard work but a lot of fun and we have no rules, we can do everything our own way. It means every song gets its own chance to shine and it doesn't get lost somewhere in the album.

Skye's change from Pop music sensation to lead singer in a Rock band has been well documented but it was good to get the chance to hear about the change first hand.

To me it doesn't really feel like a change. Obviously the musical style is different but it is something I'm very comfortable with and it feels so natural, a progression of sorts. Matt and Ken (bass player) were both involved with my backing band so I have known them since I was 14 years old, for the best part of fifteen years. We make and create music together now and they are not just hired musicians for a backing band. They have a bigger role and receive greater acknowledgement. When I was doing Pop music I got to work with some really cool people. The first producer I worked with, when I was 13, was actually a guitar player and I was always insisting that the guitars needed to be featured prominently in the music. I got to work with Tim Armstrong from Rancid and also with Matt Wilder who produced the No Doubt album 'Tragic Kingdom'. I was getting nowhere with my record label so I decided to take control of my own career rather than wait until they had something for me to do. I took a couple of years off and tried a few song-writing sessions. Matt sent me away with a few CDs to see if I could get any inspiration and 'Babylon' by Skindred struck a major chord.

The Sumo Cyco calendar is pretty packed right now and there are so many things happening. When the band are not touring or making music they are creating videos and Skye wouldn't have it any other way.

We have festivals to do in the Summer and hopefully we'll be back in the UK before the year is out. My little sister is getting married when we get home. Who knows, maybe there will be the chance to do a song.

A short while after the interview the band took to the stage and blew everyone away with their energy and enthusiasm. The crowd may have been small but that made little difference, the performance would have been identical if there had been 10 or 10,000 in attendance and that highlights just how much Sumo Cyco love what they do.

Fireworks Magazine Online 79 - Interview with Sumo Cyco

Fireworks Magazine Online 79 - Interview with Harem Scarem

HAREM SCAREM: An interview with Harry Hess

Interview by Brent Rusche

For the loyal readers of Fireworks and those who frequent Rocktopia, little introduction is needed regarding this artist. Frontman for the iconic Harem Scarem (who still remain woefully unknown to lifelong Hard/Melodic Rock fans) and owner of Vespa Music Group, Harry and Co. have procured and nurtured a modest, yet significant and passionate fanbase spanning more than three decades. Starting with their self-titled debut in 1991, each of their first five albums for Warner Music Canada illustrated a shameless pursuit of experimentation. That same restless and creative spirit influenced a self-imposed rebranding as Rubber in the mid-90's to separate themselves from exactly that, themselves. Regardless of musical trends or labels imposed on the band, what remains is a consistent commitment to crafting quality and memorable songs. To the fans' delight and an outright unwillingness to terminate the band, May 2017 marks their 14th studio album and another brilliant one at that titled 'United.' Harry was kind enough to take time out of his schedule and chat about a plethora of topics. Losing power literally minutes before the interview was to take place, I was able to cobble together a setup by recording his audio broadcasting from the speaker of my mobile phone. Not the sexiest way to work, but work it did and what follows is an interview for the ages. The lengthy and (hopefully) satisfying conversation is something that I can now check off on my "bucket list" of musicians I always anticipated interviewing.


Harem Scarem Interview


Congratulations on another excellent recording with 'United.' Were all the tracks recorded at Vespa or did (like many bands these days) each member send you their tracks over the Internet and assemble the songs that way?

Well, no. Pete and I are basically the guys who sit there every day and work on the record. I have a studio and Pete has a home studio. We don't live that far from each other so it is not too inconvenient for us to get together. I know what you mean. A lot of bands are just working long distance who have never met, let alone been in the same room together. I've actually been involved with records like that where nobody has ever been in the same room but no, not for Harem Scarem. We're actually all in the room together, even when we are cutting drums. We're all there, chiming in on parts and fills and stuff like that. Pete and I do the demos beforehand so the structure to the songs are pretty much laid out. I will say, Pete does lots of guitar parts at home...about 99% of his guitar parts are done there. We have done this so many times together that now we can just branch off. I'll go home and record vocals or be in the studio doing my thing. We just attack it more quickly. I don't need to sit on the couch while he works on guitar solos and watch him do that, [Laughs] but we used to. When we did our first few records, we would both be there for every second of every part being recorded. Now, experience has led us in this direction of at least knowing what the other guy is going to do and trusting the other person's instinct.

Are you and Pete the principle songwriters on 'United' or did Darren, Stan and/or Creighton also have creative input with regard to the songs?

No, not with the writing of it. It has really always been Pete and I that have handled most of the songwriting. It's basically been like that since the beginning but there have been a few exceptions. In the beginning, I used to do a lot of co-writing and is really how I first got into the music business. The co-writing is what ultimately led into doing Harem Scarem and that is how the songs were written on the first record. By the time 'Mood Swings' came around, it was basically just Pete and myself and we've continued that tradition throughout the years with just a couple of co-writes along the way.

To use a simile, songs seem to flow out of you and Pete like lava from a volcano. Where do you find the inspiration to write consistently strong material that either supports or ultimately shadows the excellence that precedes it?

First of all, thank you. That is our goal when we are writing and talking about making a record. We are not going to bother unless we love what we are doing and by "love," I mean love the output. It is not just enough to say we have a collection of songs to record and release them. If that were the case, I'd rather not put them out at all. We try and raise "the bar" high but you'll still read comments from people that say they don't like it. There are too many people making records in 2017 that in order to make any kind of impression, you can't do anything less than you are capable of and what you think is perfect. We strive to write songs that we can't do any better with at that point in time. You are only left with the ideas that you have at the moment. We have probably spent the most time that we've ever spent making a record by working on the songs beforehand. I think this is literally the first time I ever had 10 or 12 choruses alone with song titles. Then I would put together pieces of guitar riffs and musical ideas that Pete gave me which is not atypical of how we've always worked. It's just that the more you do this, the better you do get at it. You learn from the last time you wrote and recorded and things that you end up thinking, "Ahh, I don't know if I like that or if I would have gone down that road again..." It's an experience driven goal of where if you can't learn from the last 15 times or [for us] over the last 25 or 30 years, you are not doing it right. I'm happy to learn that people think that 'United' is one of our best. We think so as well but everyone thinks that when they finish a new record! [Laughs] We are happy to hear that people seem to be agreeing with our feelings about the new record.

As far as I'm concerned and if my feedback means anything, it is absolutely one of the best in the Harem Scarem canon.

Awesome, good to hear.

Being that his voice is so identifiable, how did Jeff Scott Soto come to contribute background vocals on 'Bite The Bullet'?

He also sang on 'Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow.' I like Jeff, have been a fan of his voice and have always placed him on another level...not just an ordinary Rock singer or some guy in band just going through the motions. I've always thought that he was a special artist and special singer. There are a couple of guys that I really love...Tony Harnell is another one as well. Glenn Hughes and Nathan James are two other great singers. Guys that you just say, "Oh my God." [Laughs] Over the years, I have gone out of my way to make connections with some of these people. We kept running into Jeff at festivals and immediately hit it off when we were hanging out. It just popped into my mind when I was thinking that we should get some more people involved. Honestly, those are the most exciting parts of the record for me. Although I love working with the guys in Harem Scarem, it's kind of the same thing every time. Everyone has their own set of skills, unique sound or whatever else they bring to making a record. To bring in another voice, especially when you can clearly pick him out during his callback parts...we've brought in other singers in the past to sing backing vocals but it all becomes a blend and in the end, can't even tell that they are in there with so many singing. I told Jeff that I really wanted him to sing some callbacks and some end vamps. That would be the whole point of having a guest sing on a song...so that we can actually hear them and their parts. I've had Eric Martin do some backing vocals on solo records and my favorite part of the song is when I can actually hear Eric singing or Tony Harnell on the 'Human Nature' record. You can actually hear the guest that you invited to participate on the song. In Jeff's situation, I just called him up and he recorded his bits at home. He sent the recordings back to me and it was really just that easy. He's a real pro and did a killer job.

The sonics on the last few albums have really been standout. What equipment in the studio do you employ to achieve such a massive sound?

Mixing and mastering is really what I do every day. I work on other musicians' records where I can hone my skills and after all of this time just being in the studio get better at doing it every day. The only other time a lot of other bands are in the studio is when they are making their own record but for me, I am in the studio every day and working at this craft. It is a combination of having a great studio, great equipment and being there all the time and striving to make the new album [sound] better than the last. That is really the reason that I keep doing this. Every time I go to record or write a song, I am literally thinking that I want to top the last thing I've done. I'm trying to do everything better than what I did the last time and is why I keep at it.

What is the brain of the studio, is it a Pro Tools setup or are you using another DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)?

We do use the Pro Tools DAW software but other than that, it is a traditional, analog studio. It [Vespa Studio] was built 40 or 50 years ago by Westlake Audio [located in Los Angeles]. At the time, there weren't any music studio designers in Toronto so they flew here. I bought this studio from Arnold Laney who was the main singer and songwriter in a band called Frozen Ghost. You may remember them from back in the '80s and '90s. They were a Canadian band that did very well and went on to produce bands like Our Lady Piece, Simple Plan and Finger Eleven. The studio really has a deep history of turning out records in Canada that have done very, very well with multi-platinum sales. At the time I bought it, we were doing Harem Scarem records and I was also involved with other projects. It has now turned into one of the top studios in Canada with regard to recording bands and releasing records. I am not even involved with a lot of what happens here. We're recording a lot of Rock records that do well here in Canada. We've recorded bands like Billy Talent, Three Days Grace...another Canadian band called Monster Truck that does very well and a band called Arkells who also do well. It all becomes, more or less, a part of what I enjoy about being the studio owner. To me, it is a world-class and traditional recording studio which features a large SSL [Solid State Logic] console. If you have the skills, you can make great sounding records on a laptop at home these days but for me, I am pretty "old school" when it comes to the tradition of being in a studio with a band and recording live. What you hear [on 'United'] are actual people playing instruments together in the same room. When it comes to a lot of Rock records these days, they don't have real drums and sometimes even bass. [Laughs] That so-called "Producer" is making that record on his own and pulling .WAV [industry standard, audio file format] files in from people that have never shared the same room together. That is all fine and cool to do but when we specifically say that we are going to make a Harem Scarem record, we want to make it in a certain way so that it is exciting and still has meaning to us. For me, there is no meaning in just everyone do everything on their own and then slamming it all together in the end and hoping that it turns out well. That is generic to me. The most interesting moments are when you are sitting in a room with someone who specializes in what they do...whether it be a bass player or a drummer and getting the best performance from that person and have them contribute to what you are trying to accomplish. When you are bringing in professionals at their craft and no single person making all of the decisions, that is when you can ascend to another level of making records.

As a fan, I am particularly thrilled that you continue to write and record for Harem Scarem (not to mention the quality with which you deliver new material). What keeps you and Pete both motivated doing this when the return seems minimal in terms of record sales, tours and outright exposure?

Yeah, you're right. It is a strange time in the music business and it just keeps getting stranger. Not only for Harem Scarem but every record I've worked on...especially new artists. You just wonder as to what the point of all this is! [Laughs] How are you going to find an audience? I'm speaking to a new artist that I may be recording or someone who wants to make a record or even a single and you can't help but think, "How are they going to fight through the millions of things coming out?" It's weird because there is more recording, writing and musicians trying to do whatever it is we are all trying to do than ever because there are no "gatekeepers" anymore. It is not like 15 or 20 years ago where if you didn't get a record deal then you weren't going into a quality studio and weren't going to get a quality Producer, Engineer, Mixer or whatever since there was no funding. Back at that time, "the bar" was set so high with regard to what you had to put into [making a record] financially that it made it nearly impossible to get any kind of quality from something done independently. You were left either recording demos with friends in your basement or in small studios or you were making quality records with quality people. Now, all of those lines are blurred and everyone is able to do whatever they want. Like I said...you can now make a record at home with your laptop but 99% of those recordings will never see the light of day because they will simply not be good enough [to make an impact]. I say to people that every great song that you hear on the radio, regardless of style...Katy Perry, Lady Ga Ga or even John Mayer...there are professionals involved, I guarantee it. There isn't someone who just decided that they wanted to start making records and end up making hit songs. Those people involved [writing those songs] have all been doing this a long time, are really good at what they do and who you are competing with whether you realize it or not. There is a complete culture of people making records that are amateurs while trying to be professionals. They now have the same advantages as everyone else these days which I think is great. I think that everybody should be able to make a record, release it, upload to iTunes or whatever...but it really "muddy's the field" for fans trying to find something who feel is quality and not waste of 3 or 4 minutes of their lives. That ultimately turns people away and as a result, fans will start to lump a lot of those bands into a similar pile [of rubbish]. To this day, the motivation for me and like I said before, is to do better work than I did the last time. That is the "crazy person" in me. I don't know, I really don't. I think it is weird as well [to think there are all these musicians] that maybe cannot make a living doing this. You say to yourself, "Nobody has a gun to my head, [Laughs] so why don't I just go and get a day-job and do this as a hobby or call it quits?" There is something in a musician's brain that won't allow them do that and keeps doing it even against their own better judgment. I have friends that know that things aren't working and know that things won't change. They are pushing 50 [years old] and haven't had the success in the past or even currently to make a living doing music but they can't stop. This is all they know and it is all they have ever done. There are guys playing in bars for $100 a night who maybe can eat and make their rent but when is that going to end? That is something that I think about quite a bit. I've been fortunate enough...I mean, Harem Scarem has sold well over one million records and I've also been involved with other albums that have done very well, so life has been great for me in the music industry. However, that is only because I am working at it every day and I've been lucky. However, I know that a lot of other people that haven't been as fortunate for whatever reason. Being a musician now in 2017...I don't even know what that means...I really, really don't. Unless you are one of the less-than-1% that is out there selling records and touring...but who is that in this world of [music] streaming? People aren't [working to] sell records anymore. They make them so that people attend the live concerts where they will buy a $40 tee-shirt. This is all what makes this a really strange time in music and to be a [professional] musician today.

Based on your philosophy that you shared in the last few minutes, would it then be correct to assume that your motivation to continue to do Harem Scarem is a completely selfish endeavor and done simply out of the love of for the band's legacy and your current fan base?

Yeah, that is exactly right. I've said this to Pete and other friends or guys in the band, I say, "Isn't it stupid to spend your whole life to try and become great at doing something..." and we'll use Harem Scarem for an example...we've spent 30 years of our lives trying to achieve and get great at something to just stop and quit!? It's counterproductive to continue if it [what you are doing] is an outright failure or going downhill but at the same time. It feels really strange to spend your whole life trying to get great at something just to stop doing it because of an outside influence which might be due to not selling enough records or that it is not making you the money that it used to make you. For us, we still do well enough so that it's worth our while to do it along with making a bit of money with Harem Scarem. That's all cool because we've built up a dedicated fan base over the course of 30 years. We sell enough records around the world that it's worth everyone's time to get involved and make a record. Again, we are both unique and fortunate in the sense that those circumstances are our reality but it is certainly not what it used to be. I tell people that I thought we were losers getting $140,000 from Warner Bros. to make a record back then. No one gets $140,000 to make a record anymore! [Laughs] That was literally the cheapest, smallest budget from anyone I knew making records [at that time] but that was what we received. We were in Canada, hadn't "broken" internationally and weren't anything special...just a new band with a record deal and we just wanted to see what happened. However, we had friends that were awarded million dollar budgets...and I'm not exaggerating...$1,000,000 to make a record but that was over 20 years ago. However, those same musicians today are trying to figure out how I make a record today if I no longer have that [record label] support or budget? Fortunately for us (believe it or not), we never did well enough to ever rely on other people to help us. As a result, we started to learn how to make records. At the time, I was into recording and started building a recording studio and in retrospect, all those things led us to where we are today and make it possible for us to continue to make records because we don't need to go to outside people for help. If you look around, that is the situation with a lot of the bands still making records in 2017. Someone who has the ability to get production accomplished and get across the "finish line" without ever spending $100,000 is required because that [type of budget] is just not possible anymore. I think that a realistic approach to making records is having to find a way to make it feasible to sell two, three, maybe 5,000 records worldwide and make that work for you but only a few people can do that.

Speaking of Harem Scarem selling records around the world, what are the top three largest markets for the band?

Well, as far as sales go, you would definitely start in Japan and then just pockets of Europe. We used to sell pretty well in Germany when we are Warner Bros. Since we've been independent, things have picked up for us in the UK, Spain and Portugal...smaller territories. But when you add it up around the world, we just have a small, underground fanbase. Even in America, we have a small underground following. When you add it all up, it is still meaningful compared to a lot of other things going on. Like I said, I wouldn't want to be starting from zero today because it is just so hard. For us, we used to release a record and sell 100,000 copies of it quite quickly around the world. Now, that has turned into 5,000 to 10,000 units sold around the world. You just got to figure out a way to make that work and we more-or-less have been able to do that.

It's great to learn that you are actually selling units...and by that I am assuming you are referring to sales of physical product as opposed to digital downloads or streaming.

Yeah. It's funny because I think our demographic and the people that buy our records and that are into what we do still like to have CDs. They have bought them their whole lives and that is the way they acquire and consume music. It's very different for Pop artists whose fans are 15-16-17 years old...there will come a time pretty soon where there is a generation of people growing up that won't even know what a CD is! I master records for a living and I don't even bother making physical CDs anymore for masters because typically, what is happening is that you are mastering digital .WAV files, sending those back to the client, they are uploading it to iTunes and people are downloading directly into their phone or laptop...they will never "burn" a physical CD. When you are talking about people, say 45 [years old] and up, they like physical CDs. They like collecting them and that is why vinyl has made a bit of a resurgence over the last few years. It is a nostalgic thing for them to hold something in their hands that they've paid for. It doesn't have anything to do with music in that sense other than people's buying patterns and what they think they should be getting when they pay money for music. I think that our demographic and the people that like what we do still like to buy physical CDs and you still see that pattern of people doing that.

I couldn't agree more. I am 40 years old and have my collection of 3,000 CDs which continues to grow. As a matter of fact, I recently purchased the Harem Scarem CD/DVD 'Live At The Phoenix.' I really enjoy it and will purchase CDs when and wherever possible. I don't even have an iTunes account because I want the whole package. From the music to the artwork and the liner notes. What I think an artist is trying to accomplish when they release an album is to deliver a unified piece of work. Like a painter, he is not going to release just 1/3 of a painting, he is going to present the entire image.

Yeah, you are absolutely right. Again, if you are of a certain age and that is how you listen to and how you bought music...I grew up buying vinyl and then made the transition into CD because I didn't think that was too much of a leap. You still were able to hold it in your hand, you could read the liner notes...it's weird. I have people who email me and say, "Hey, I just downloaded the song but what are the lyrics?" or "What does the artwork look like?" I just think, "Wow, that is so strange!" It's a struggle for people that work on records because their names aren't out there anymore as Producers, [Recording, Mixing or Mastering] Engineers. You don't even know who worked on their record. If you just buy and download the track 'Bite The Bullet,' how would you even know that Jeff Scott Soto is on it? Again, I don't think that is our audience. I think our audience is what you just described...people that are real fans that want a certain experience. They are buying the CDs because they love the whole idea, not just a moment in their day or frivolous thing. It is serious to them where a lot of kids that are much younger just don't care that much about music. They will download a track "throw" it into their phone and they listen to it for entertainment purposes where it is "flavor of the month" or what have you. I find that fans of Rock music and the kind of music we make are pretty serious about it, love it and are die-hard fans. That is who we see left in this genre and thank God for them because they are very supportive, keep coming back and who are very loyal. Without them, you really wonder who you would be doing this for. I say good to all of those who are still buying CDs, cares enough to have a collection and enjoys them.

Yes on all your points. I really appreciate all of your insight with regard to that topic. I am going to get tangential for a moment and the word "unprecedented" has entered our lexicon with alarming force. Getting political for a moment [Laughs]...and to the best of your ability, what is the general feeling of our new President in the eyes of fellow Canadians? Has it created massive divisions or has it been met with a complete uninterest?

Well, you would have to be of a certain age...I never paid attention to politics, never, ever, ever. To be honest, it's funny because I now know the names of Congressman in America! [Laughs] It has really heightened everyone's awareness of what is going on. It's been a pretty serious civics lesson over the last few months because...and if I'm being honest...looks like a complete "train wreck." [Laughs] I'm glued to CNN like it is my favorite Reality TV show. I feel like my friends are on TV because I am getting to know, like I said, Senators and Congressmen from another country. We've always watched closely to what goes on in America...even musically. I tell Americans that Canadian radio is just a mirror of what is happening in America. With regard to population, we are a small country but we take our cues from America about what music is cool and hip and what we like. We have a few Canadian bands that come out, do well and they live in a little bubble in Canada. For the most part, it is 99% American culture which we grab onto and make our own. Politically, it has been very interesting. Canada is a very liberal, diverse country based on the premise that everybody is welcome and we figure out how to make it work with whoever comes in. Anyone that knows Canada knows that it is the premise of being a Canadian. We don't really feel overly patriotic because everyone feels like we are sharing a country that they came to...it is not the "This is my country, get out!" type of vibe. I think that is where our politeness comes from. Everyone feels that they are kind of "renting" as opposed to claiming ownership over a specific area and saying, "This is mine and no one else is welcome." That is more-or-less our view and is shared by everyone that I know. I socialize with musicians and typically, they are very open minded. If you travel and you've been around the world...and I learned this when I was 19 or 20...Guess what? There are assholes in Japan and there are awesome, great people who I consider some of my best friends in Japan. Then I would go to Spain and I'd meet assholes in Spain and then I would meet some people that are still, some of my best friends today. When you travel around the world, it opens your eyes to see that there are idiots everywhere and there are fantastic people everywhere. So, there is no point pigeonholing a race or people from a specific ethnicity or whatever. When we look at what is happening in America, I think it is pretty shocking to Canadians. Honestly, we can't believe it. First of all, we can't believe that Donald Trump got elected because he got elected, to us...or to me and will speak for myself...it looked like he was a fantastic game show host and people got tricked into buying the idea that this guy is going to help us because he is a billionaire, a successful person and not beholden to "the swamp" in Washington D.C. I also think people bought into the idea that he was going to help people get out of a horrible situation because a lot of people find themselves struggling so it was the "What do I have to lose?" type of mentality. Now, it feels like it is backfiring because I don't believe that he has a whole lot of interest in helping individuals. He spent his whole life becoming a billionaire and you don't become a billionaire without worrying about yourself and how much money you're making. You're not a philanthropist if you are out there every day padding your bottom line and making sure you are on the winning end of most deals. The idea is at odds with itself that he would come in[to office], help hundreds of millions of people when he spent his whole life just helping himself. That's where we, and I especially, are very critical about that because I was never sure how this was ever going to work. Now, it is not working too well and his credibility is really on the line. Media outlets are going to throw whatever the flashiest thing they have out there. So, a lot of the stuff that we see is him acting like a buffoon. I don't know how fair that is and to be fair, I'm sure [what we see] is everything of who he is, what he is and what he stands for but that is what we see. So when we turn on the TV here in Canada, all we see are these ridiculous one-liner comments and see the most ridiculous s&!t. Nine times out of 10 you can't trust what you see on the Internet, so we tune into what we think are reputable media outlets like CNN or FOX News...even FOX is turning against the guy! [Laughs] That is kind of our take on things right now. We are standing back saying, "Oh my God, I can't believe what is going on!" If I talk to friends in other countries like The Netherlands, Germany or whatever, it is the same thing. Everyone is standing back and saying, "I can't believe what is going on." Absolute shock is what it is...what's your take?

I completely agree. Thank you for the feedback to that question. What I wanted to add is that you don't achieve the success he has in the business world without stepping on some, if not a lot of toes in the process.

Absolutely. Even to my surprise, I didn't know anything about American politics because it is just not something I have spent a lot of time thinking about...or even politics in general. I don't think he knew what he was up against just like any guy walking in off the street saying, "How many people do I need to now make happy?" The news is joking about how he wrote [the book] 'The Art Of The Deal' and is the big "deal cutter." When you are looking one person in the eye if you do have to cut a deal, that is very different than making hundreds, thousands, if not millions of people happy with whatever you are trying to sell. You can [easily] see why politics are so complicated and so divisive because you are not going to be able to keep everyone happy and you are not going to be able to do what you did before. You can't walk into the boardroom and say, "I've got 10 billion dollars, what I say goes..." and everyone just says "Yes" and follows along. That is not what this thing is. I think he mistakenly thought he could do whatever he did in the past that got him to where he is today. Arguably, he is a successful person and you can debate that...but the same rules don't apply [to each situation] and you just can't do what you did before...so what are you left with now? He has no experience in politics! [Laughs] People were saying with the latest [Health Care Reform] bill he tried to pass, politicians in the Republican Party are saying that they don't think that he even read the bill and don't think he knows what is in it. How would you? If it is not something that you've spent you're whole life doing...everyone can criticize career politicians but what you have to give them credit for is that they probably know what they are talking about, whether or not you agree with them. Whatever they are trying to accomplish...they probably know their job and I don't know why anyone would have thought that he [Donald Trump] would know anything about that since he hasn't spent even a minute of his life diving in, reading and learning everything that is contained in these bills and all these [executive] orders that he is passing. It's going to get strange, isn't it?

It's well beyond strange from my vantage point.

Yeah. Look, I don't know a lot of Trump supporters. I know liberal musicians who are very laid back. People that I know in New York and LA...I don't know a lot of people from Middle America. I'm not saying it is a good thing or bad thing...that is just my experience. I just know these liberal musician-types so the feedback I typically get is that this is a "s&!t show" and we don't agree with it at all. I'm sure that the truth lies somewhere in the middle because everyone has their own perspective and reality that they are trying to deal with and live through and I don't doubt that things can be better for a lot of people. I just don't know how you would make that leap and think that this guy is going to be [the answer]. It's a problem and we'll have to see what happens. America is an amazing country and I just hope that somehow it all gets straightened out and everyone gets back on the proper path. I kind of hoped that once he got into office he would have been quiet and he would just get his job done. The economy responds well to big business and it could have been a great thing and I just don't know where this is going to go because it is all about creditability right now and don't think a whole lot of people have faith in believing a word that he says. I think it's going to get worse before it gets better but we'll have to see what happens, right?

I think you are absolutely correct when you say that things are going to get worse before things get better but I really appreciate your candid response and think that is some great feedback from you.

Cool.

You probably don't remember, but had an in-depth conversation that evening in the hotel cafeteria during Melodic Rock Fest 3 when we sat back and watched all of the drunken debauchery on display! [Laughs] We spoke at length about the fate of Harem Scarem's Master Tapes currently in the hands of the mighty Warner Bros.

Right...right, OK...

..so maybe you do remember!

Yep, it's ringing a bell!

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music


Refusing to release said tapes back to the band, you were forced to re-record Mood Swings to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Have you been active pursuing gaining the rights to those masters and do you know how Wounded Bird Records has been allowed to re-release all of these albums from the Warner years?

Yes. They are affiliated with Warner Bros. They are distributed by the Warner Music Group through...Rhino records, I believe? So, there is some sort of affiliation through Warner Bros. because I was contacted by Warner Bros. to be involved with a few of the re-issues they released because nothing of ours was ever officially released in the US. Rhino came along with this [subsidiary] called Wounded Bird Records and re-released a few titles that you know. So yes, that is a Warner Bros. affiliate. All they have to do is call up Warner Bros., state what they want and 9 times out of 10, Warner Bros. will just "rubber stamp it," for its release and remains in the same family. We're actually putting together an idea right now with Harem Scarem specifically around the Warner Bros. material and am currently chatting the idea with them. I would like to do a remastered, box set of all our records and put it out so everything is in one place. That is my goal to sort that out over the next few months so I have my fingers' crossed that they will allow us to do something [like that]. It is something that I'm trying to do right now so it is funny that you mention it.

Wow, that is wonderful news. I am happy that I've mentioned and yet forever upset that I never asked to get a photo with you since our conversation that night was going so well.

[Laughs] Well, next time...

...and yes, there will be a next time!

Good, good...awesome.

How much, if any, disappointment did you and/or the band feel with Warner Bros.' seeming unwillingness to promote the band in America. Did the band ever think of relocating to the (at the time) Hard Rock, Pop Metal mecca that was Los Angeles?

When we first started out, we were 18-19 years old so we were all still living at home when we started Harem Scarem. The reality of "picking up and going" was a little bit harder than [actually] doing it financially since we were just kids. It was, "the thing to do" [at the time]. There were older musicians that were in their mid to late twenties that we knew who picked up and moved to Los Angeles and they all had great success. Whether they were producers, engineers or musicians, everyone that left Canada to go to LA all did very well. I remember us talking about it quite a bit. We ended up signing the [record] deal with Warner Bros. Canada out of ignorance of not understanding what our deal outlined. We had a worldwide deal Warner Bros. but didn't understand that the only territory we were guaranteed was Canada until after our [first] record came out. We said, "What do you mean that it is not going to be released in this country or that?" They explained to us that although you have a worldwide contract, it is up to each individual territory as to whether or not they want to release it. It can't be forced upon them even though they are part of the Warner Bros. family. While we were making our [first] record, we were actually making trips down to LA and having writing sessions along with great meetings with Warner Bros., Geffen (who was distributed by WB at the time), Hollywood Records and a couple of others. We had great meetings with all of their counterparts in America who all loved what we were doing. They told us to inform them as soon as the record is finished and then they would chat with the guys in Canada and schedule a formal release date. The entire time that we are working on our first record, we were completely under the impression that it is going to be released in America, they will help us out and it's all going to be good. Then, Nirvana's 'Nevermind' was released and [what is now known as] Grunge clouded over anything that resembled Hard Rock at the time. We were doing dates in Canada with Foreigner who were signed to Atlantic (another Warner Bros. affiliate) who released A LOT of big Rock [acts] as you know. They ended up dropping Foreigner when while we were on tour with them! We were also getting word from Warner Bros. management the same news and I immediately thought, "Well, what does that mean for us?" Foreigner sold 60,000,000,000 records, we've sold zero...so what is going to happen to us? To make a long story short, they never even bothered with releasing records that they thought resembled this style of music. If they couldn't sell Foreigner records then they certainly couldn't sell Harem Scarem records so why would they even bother releasing our [first] record? That is how that all started. Our career began under the cloud of Grunge and we were defined as a "Hair Metal" band. It was very weird and confusing for us because we spent our whole lives [Laughs] making that style of music. Probably out of self-preservation (but being honest), we actually liked a lot of different styles of music and we liked that Grunge style. I loved Alice In Chains...I didn't love all Grunge. I never really got into Pearl Jam but I loved Alice In chains because I loved Layne Staley's voice and I thought there were elements of [the music] that I thought were awesome. I love Metallica and heavier music. I grew up listening to Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and was a "metal head" as a kid but when I wrote songs, they were way more melodic which probably comes from...Def Leppard happened to be very popular when I started writing songs. So, I was probably listening to 'Pop Metal' at that time and if you remember in the late 80's, that music was on the radio. Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Scorpions were broadcast...that was Pop music at the time. When we started looking at our career and moving forward, we thought that we better get on board [with that vibe] so we started experimenting with detuning and a heavier sound which is where 'Mood Swings' came from. It was always melodic, but with a heavy edge. It went even darker after that. We were lost at that point because we thought that we're not a Pop Metal band and we're not a Metal band so we are... kind of, whatever. We really got lost in that shuffle in that changing musical climate. It's big, corporate business. It's not about the love of music when people are deciding whether or not to release a record or even support it. They are getting behind records that they think are timely and that are going to sell [units]. Fortunately for us, we started to sell units in Asia, Japan, pockets of Europe and that made Warner Bros. Canada think to keep us on and let us keep making records but with no mandate or really giving "a s&!t" what happened...even locally in Canada! [Laughs] After our third record ['Voice Of Reason' and criminally underrated], we didn't even bother "working" the record in our own country, let alone in America. We just went to where it was working which was Asia and pockets of Europe. That is our little story and game behind it. In retrospect, I see how it happened but at the time, it was very weird and confusing.

Yeah. The story that you just laid out is 100% congruent with the remarks and story that Danny Vaughn from Tyketto said during a recent interview with Eddie Trunk on his satellite radio show. My next question is something that you clearly answered a few minutes prior, but the question is...Harem Scarem's S/T debut was released in the nebulous year that was 1991 just one month prior to Nirvana's 'Nevermind.' By the time the album was out and in full distribution, do you think that Warner Bros. deliberately pulled back on support for the band once they saw the success building around 'Nevermind' or is there simply no correlation between the two?

No, that is 100% what happened. The music industry is like any other who will pursue [the current trend]. If what you said wasn't true then there would have never been another Grunge band that got popular or get signed...and we all know that is not the case. The music industry started to follow the trend that was happening and working. Again and in retrospect, who can blame them? That was where things were headed. Corporate Hard Rock, Hair Metal or whatever you want to call it was over and it's just unfortunate that it was over before it started for us. If we released our first record three years earlier, we might have sold five million copies. For us, it was literally within 24 hours [that it was over] and I'm not joking. There is a funny thing on Facebook that someone posted on my "Wall" where our album release party for the first record was at a club called The Opera House in Toronto. The flyer reads, "Warner Music artist Harem Scarem album release party." That happened on a Friday night and the next night...Nirvana. [Laughs] So, it literally points it out. Our career was, in a way, 24 hours long. We had all the hope and [the reality] is staring at you, right in the face...Harem Scarem is Friday night, but do you know what's coming Saturday night that is going to change everything?...Nirvana. It is hilarious when you look back at it now. You say, "Yep, we had a 24 hour career (or hope of a career)." When Nirvana came out and it started taking over, it completely overshadowed anything that came before it and that became the direction for labels, musicians...anyone who had any hope of moving forward doing Rock music was going to be in that style or something similar. Labels...and again, you can't fault them but they were thinking, needed to get rid of all this other stuff and have to start signing these types of bands because that is what is going to be the new direction and the new music trend. Warner Music Canada was no different. We had friends that worked at the label who were sympathetic to what Harem Scarem was doing and they wouldn't have kept us if we weren't selling records...but we were (which was the strange part). We did so well in Japan, Asia and parts of Europe that they couldn't get rid of us...well, they could have but it would have been dumb [on their part]. Again, they are in the business of selling records and we were actually selling records. It was very weird because we weren't doing anything remotely popular or even what they wanted to support. So, we weren't working singles through radio and the band wasn't really on the tip of anyone's tongue working at the label saying, "You've have to check this out." If anything, it was best to just keep it quiet and they [Harem Scarem] go on their own and make these records that happen to sell...very weird.

What incredible timing with regard to the record release party and the Nirvana gig...you couldn't script that!

Yeah. You can feel sorry for yourself but like I said, we were selling records in other countries where friends of mine who also had record deals and doing what we were doing and just got dropped. Their careers were over and they never got another shot at music because you just wouldn't, right? You don't get to try again when you're 30 just to start all over again. You don't know these things at the time. When you're 18 or 19, put a band together, writing in a certain style of music and you're trying to get a record deal, you don't realize that is your window of opportunity. You are going to be judged at that moment of who you are, what you do and what you are potentially capable of doing. You don't know [these things] because you are just doing it out for love of doing it and you're stupid. However, there are 30-40-50 year-olds working at record companies saying, "What do these guys look like, what are they doing and could this possibly sell some records?" That is the point at which you are being viewed and judged and we didn't realize any of it. We were just doing what we liked to do, having fun and of course, had high hopes of selling records and having a career. In many respects, that is what we did. We got to travel the world, we sold records and still do it to this day. It's hard to complain about it and even looking back, it's hard to see what we could have done to make things any better for us. We would have to have been older and had to have been signed 3-4 years earlier. Our first record would needed to have been released in the Mid-to-Late 80's, not the earlier 90's to have the success doing what we grew up learning how to do. We didn't have the luxury of being a Bon Jovi or Aerosmith or a band that sold 20-30 million records. Even though the industry changed dramatically, if you were a band like Aerosmith and had such a large fan base...I remember going to an Aerosmith concert in 1995 or 1997 and thinking, "There are 20,000 people here...where are these Rock fans because we can't find them!" That is the strange part about music. You can have fans that like a certain band and a specific style of music that [even though] is not popular can still go and fill an arena. Bon Jovi can fill an 80,000 seat venue in Europe...80,000 today! You say to yourself, "How is that possible when it is so-not-cool to be Bon Jovi in North America!" [Laughs] He has a fan base and has sold hundreds of millions of records...but if you never had the luxury of selling all those records like a band like us or Tyketto... I remember being in Belgium and being in a club that held about 150 people...I was producing a record for a Belgian Rock band and we went out one night and one of the guys said that is awesome band called Tyketto is playing. But they were an indie band, I don't think that they were ever on a major...

No, they were signed to Geffen. Their first album, 'Don't Come Easy' was...

Oh, you're kidding? I didn't know that. I only had heard of them as an indie band.

Tyketto's first album, 'Don't Come Easy' was released on Geffen and they had John Kalodner as their A&R representative who was a big league guy in the industry.

OK, I didn't know any of that...that's interesting. They would have felt what we felt, but 10 times more. In America, it would have been all or nothing, right? In retrospect, if we would have been signed to an American company, we just would have been dropped right away because they wouldn't have been able to invest the money, time and effort into dealing with a band that is selling a few records around the world, specifically in Asia. For Canada, a small territory, any sales [no matter how small] were good. So, they had this band that they were probably a bit embarrassed about but we were selling records and making them money and (at the end of the day) that is what they are in business for...to make money. That is another reason that we got to continue to make records on a major label when no other Rock bands were getting major label budgets to make records. Again, that was very different than most people's paths at that time.

The 'Extras portion of the 'Raw And Rare' DVD show you backstage warming up for the gig at 'Coconuts.' 1-How do you keep your voice so strong, 2-Do you still use those warm-ups when preparing to sing and 3-Can you still hit that insanely high note in 'If There Was A Time?'

[Laughs] Yeah! The problem for me...it is a two part answer. Yes, I still do the warm-ups and I think I'm a better singer now because I think I understand my voice better than ever. Again, it all has to do with experience and just knowing what to expect. I haven't lost my voice singing live in 20 years but in the first five years it would happen all the time. I remember doing gigs where I literally couldn't "eek" out a line because I was just abusing myself. We were playing a lot more back then so now, my challenge is getting into "vocal shape" to be able to pull it off. The last thing we did in Europe, I think we did 15 shows...we did something like 15 countries in 18 days. We were getting up at 5 or 6 every morning, getting to an airport, flying to the next place, doing the show and repeating that process. I had no idea how I was going to get through this but in the end, was the best vocal experience that I ever had. I was able to calm down and temper myself through the whole process and not overdo it in the beginning and lose my voice. If you can get over the hump of those first four or five days without losing your voice, what will happen is like a muscle. You start to build it up and it gets stronger and stronger. By the end of the month [of shows] that we were doing, those were the best nights that I ever had and never worried for a second going out there...I could pull it all off and do it. It is when you haven't done it in a long time...I just won't sit around singing. People call me and ask if I can do some background vocals or even when I'm in my own studio where there is a band recording and say, "Oh, Harry is here. Why don't you sing a line?" and I tell them "No, I can't...I haven't opened my mouth in two weeks to sing anything so it won't be good." You really have to work your way up to where you want or need to be and it is not an overnight thing. When we're rehearsing to go out and play live, it's a very regimented thing build up, even to get through a rehearsal because I am not singing every day. It's not like this is all I do where I am a singer that is it where I sing every day where I constantly have the muscle fine-tuned...it's not like that at all! [Laughs] When we go out and perform at festivals, it is a bit of a drag because sometimes it will be the first gig that we've done in two months and I am not where I want to be vocally. Even the 'Live At The Phoenix' gig...it was good but not great...it was just OK but I can live with it because that is the reality of it. I didn't do two weeks of preparation before that [gig] and get to the point where it was easy for me. It was a bit nerve-wracking to get up and record like that. It's a [slow] building process of getting to where you want to be vocally and having enough experience to not overdo it and blow out your voice. When you're young, that is where you get into trouble. You just run out there and everything is on 10 and five songs in you say, "Uh, oh..." [Laughs] It would happen a lot.

Again, it all comes down to experience and suffering through those gigs where you lose your voice and like you said, you learn more about physical yourself and what you can and cannot do, how to do it and you get better at it as you get older.

Yeah. My only regret now when we get up and do shows is that we are not doing enough of them to get the best out of who we are. If you do ten shows and then play the eleventh, you are obviously going to be better than if you show up for the one night and it's a "one off" for you but that is the reality of the music industry for a lot of bands. A lot of the bands that are even playing at the festivals have day jobs! [Laughs] They are rehearsing a couple of times before doing a festival and that can't be the best version of that band, it just can't be. A lot of people are in that situation. It is just the reality of what you're dealing with because these bands aren't doing music full-time and out there on the road and doing their thing which was more typical say, 20 years ago. [Back then], that is all we did. My job was [being] the singer in Harem Scarem and that is all I did so...it is very different now.

Although you ended up singing 'Sentimental Blvd.' on your solo album, how did it come to pass that a tune that you penned resulted in Darren [Smith, drums] singing the lead vocal on 'Mood Swings' and when performing live?

I like the idea (not unlike Queen) where you would have different varieties of not only [musical] styles but singers on a record. I thought that it was kind of boring to do the same thing over and over again even with regard to a vocalist. I've always enjoyed a lot of variety in other bands. In retrospect and when I was a kid so when I think of a band like Queen, there is a great example of a drummer that can sing like crazy. Darren has always been a great vocalist and a part of our sound. You can always hear him singing in the chorus' and the two of us singing together don't sound like either of us singing individually. It is the combined sound to make it what it is in the end so to me, the chorus' for Harem Scarem have a very specific sound and that is due to us singing together to achieve that. I wrote 'Sentimental Blvd.' but I thought to get some variety in with Darren being featured as a lead vocalist because he is a great singer. I've never been precious about being the guy in the spotlight or even wanting to be. If anything, I'd be happy to hide in the background and let someone else stand up there, do the talking and jump around like a monkey! [Laughs] I've always liked hiding behind a mic stand, a guitar or something like that. I don't like being front and center so this was, perhaps subconsciously, a way to deflect a bit by getting other people involved. Barry [Donaghy, former bassist] sang on a track on one of our records ['Sometimes I Wish' from 'The Big Bang Theory] and Pete [Lesperance, Guitars] has done it as well. They are all great singers and that was always the premise of Harem Scarem...putting a band together and being involved with very well-rounded musicians. Darren is a great guitar player...he can do anything and is a great musician. I like to surround myself with people that are not one dimensional but can also understand and anticipate what the other person is trying to do. [Those attributes] make it a better band and I think it would make it more exciting as well. When it comes to Darren, we have similar voices and a lot of people didn't even know that it was someone else singing that song. We would get comments of people saying that they had no idea that wasn't me [singing]...

I am for one, one of those very people.

Yeah, OK. We sound very similar and oddly enough, that is when Jeff Scott Soto sings backing vocals on 'Here Today, Gone Tomorrow.' I don't think I hear a giant difference on the low harmonies with him and me singing in that chorus. We have a similar timbre when we're singing [in unison] but when he is doing his solo lines, he has a style that is unmistakable so you know it is Jeff. In a cluster of voices however, it is very hard to pick out one individual voice like I was saying before. With Darren, since we have been working together since we were 14 or 15 years old, we have melded into a style that is very similar with what we are trying to do. We sat in the studio singing harmonies we were trying to do and make sound like one part where we are starting and ending at the same time...the bends, the nuances, the approach and the way we sing...we are trying to blend together and I think when we go and sing individually is probably why it is not that much different.

Since you mentioned them just before, Cheap Trick and Queen are obvious influences, who else does the band site as directly (or indirectly) informing the sound and direction of Harem Scarem?

Everybody's got a thing. I always say that when I open my mouth, I sound a certain way. I think if you are going to write songs, you have to write them to suit what you do best and be aware of that [fact]. Because I love Queen doesn't mean that I can sing like Freddie Mercury. You have to differentiate between what you love and what you do best. [You need to] write, record and cater to your strengths...not your weaknesses or even what you love. Yes, both were major influences as well as bands like Boston. I've always loved big harmonies...big singable choruses and that has been my thing. I have also always loved the quirkier side of Queen and the fact that they weren't just a one-trick-pony band. That has heavily influenced me with regard to what I like and style but again, if I want to stay true to what I do best, that's what Harem Scarem is [by writing to what suits us].

Did you or the band ever get consulted when it came to the release of 'The Essentials' compilation which stands to be (at least here in the USA) the most accessible collection of those earlier recordings?

No, not really. They kind of floated it out there and what I noticed was that it was just a collection of singles that we released. It looks like someone who didn't really know anything about the band just went through the list of singles that we released domestically and figured that would be their "essentials" package. That is what it felt like they did. Being Warner property, they don't even really have to ask my permission but they were kind enough to involve me. I think I did remaster a bunch of that material that ended up going out just for myself because I thought that I could make some of it sound better. Other than that, it was all at very "arm's length." They told me they were thinking of doing this and unless I had a problem with it...I would just say, "OK, cool." Again, you are just trying to release as much stuff to expose the band to as many people as possible so I would never say, "No" to anything like that. We've been involved in probably 50 compilations over the last 20-30 years. We are on "Essential Ballads" in Philippines, we're on "Rock Classics" in the UK...we're on records that I don't know what they are or what they are called. I've signed off on them and used to keep stacks of paper from Warner Music that I signed off on and allowing them to include a track on some sort of compilation. In this day in age of where people are just downloading any song(s) that they want, people no longer buy compilation CDs since you can now make your own compilation of your favorite songs. We've been involved with lots of things like that and a lot of them that I've never seen or heard. I just know that there have been tracks that have gone out on these things around the world and the Wounded Bird releases in America is really not that different except it is probably a bit more involved than just one song on a compilation. It is a concerted effort of putting things together that they thought would represent us well and that probably debatable as to whether it does that or not! [Laughs]

I can only assume that you have asked him over the years, especially when it came to re-recording the seminal Mood Swings album so what ever happened to Mike Gionet, Harem Scarem's original bass player?

It was a strange thing. He was never into Rock [music]. We got him into the band because we had heard from mutual friends that he was a great bass player which, if you are assembling a band, you want the best players possible. Stylistically, he never liked that type of music where Pete, Darren and I grew up liking Hard Rock and Metal. The three of us were very much on the same page musically but Mike was not. He liked being in the band because he enjoyed the musicianship. He liked the fact that everyone could play, everyone could sing and that was our common ground. But that was all short-lived. We did our first record, we toured a lot, did the second record, toured a lot but by the third album...before 'Voice Of Reason' was even released, he was off and doing other things. I specifically remember calling him when he was over in Europe and I said, "Hey, we are going to shoot a video for our single, 'Blue'" (despite him only playing on a couple of songs on the VOR record). Pete and I were in such a tunnel-vision headspace that Pete ended up playing bass on most of that record. We were just right there and wanted to keep going with what we were doing while Mike was not even in the country. Since he could play [bass], let's get Pete to do it and we trended on doing that moving forward. When I called Mike and said we were going to do this video, he told me that he didn't think that he could make it back in time. I knew it was over when he said, "Just do it without me." [Laughs] I said, "What?!" and he said, "Yeah, no one will notice, just do the video without me." I said, "Do this video without one of the guys in the band?!" That is when I could see where this was heading. My next correspondence with him was when we were filming the video on whatever date and if he couldn't be there, then someone else is going to be in there. That was the ultimatum I gave him and obviously, he was happy with that and didn't show up and that's when we got Barry. We knew Barry as a friend. He was from another local band and we loved his bass playing and he is an incredible singer. He was a perfect fit for us and Barry was happy to join and be a part of the band. I ran into Mike at a New Year's Eve party a couple of months after that and there was nothing weird...no tension at all. Nothing was ever said or brought up about the way things ended. He was just out of the band, seemed happy and couldn't be less bothered by the whole thing. I wasn't going to make a big deal out of it because I was happy that we had a guy in the band that wanted to be there and liked what we did...someone who was more like one of us, musically. That was it for Mike. He ended up moving to LA and I didn't see him for 10 years. When he came back, he visited me in the studio. Our interaction has always been pleasant, there has never been anything weird and still have never really discussed it [of his leaving the band] face-to-face. I think that he always felt like it was not his thing, Being never really into it, whenever it ended...it ended. Obviously for us, it was much more important. The band was our baby and [we] cared very deeply about what we were doing and where it went.

Wow, what an incredible story!

Well, we've got lots of them! [Laughs]

It sounds like he didn't have the "balls" to say that he wasn't into the band and was leaving. He let you figure it out for yourself!

I don't think that he had some great plan in mind. I just think he was literally not willing to change his plans at that moment to come back and do something that he really didn't care about. What other conclusion can you come to? When you are making a record or shooting a video, think of how many people have to be on board and commitments to certain things and dates. It has always been that way in a band situation where you have to put aside what you are doing personally and agree to be there...rearrange the other things that are getting the way and not the other way around. You would end up just changing dates all day long and never getting anything done. If you are serious about being a musician, you have to prioritize about what you want to do in order to get things done. We have always been very serious about getting to work and doing things that we needed to do. We weren't going to wait for him to come back because it didn't suit the album's release date or when the Director of the video could be there. All of those things were rolling and you have to just get on board or we are going to keep moving without you. That simply has to be the way that it is. To me, that was his decision, not ours. The only decision we made was to stick to our schedule and get things done that we agreed to get done. We're not calling the record company to tell them that we aren't filming a video or it's not going to happen for a couple of months because our bass player doesn't feel like coming back and won't be in it...that's just not going to happen. [Laughs]

Well, you have been wonderfully candid with all of your previous responses so you have to be as candid with this one...With such an impressive catalog to choose from, what is your favorite Harem Scarem album and why?

[Pause]...There are more moments on records rather than entire albums. Whenever I hear a collection of songs that we called a record, there are always things on it that I don't like and there are always a couple of moments on it that I think are really great and I'm proud of. I think about it more in terms of songs rather than records. For me, the standout moments were our records where we achieved something beyond what we thought we could do. I know a lot of people hate our third album, 'Voice Of Reason' but for us, it was a real triumph. We achieved doing something stylistically that was something that we had really never done before. It is the same with the Rubber albums. Songs like 'Sunshine' and those very Pop-inspired songs [we wrote] were things that we had never done before. We were proud of ourselves as musicians, producers and our ability to be chameleons and make what sounded like Metallica-meets-Queen on 'Voice Of Reason' and then go to something very Pop-influenced and with an almost Country sound at times. We prided ourselves on being able to do lots of different things and pull it off. Musically, those have been the highlights for me. If I had to pick a record, I'd say 'Mood Swings' because it really was the record that catapulted us into another league and another level. Internationally, it was the one. On our first record, we had three territories...Canada, Spain and another that I can't even remember. With 'Mood Swings,' we had around 50 territories that released it. For me, I think back to that time fondly because it was really the album that broke us [internationally] in that way.

Do you have any interest or designs making another solo album to compliment 'Just Another Day?'

Yeah. I actually did one...Geez, how many years ago was it now? 'Just Another Day' was I think about 10 years ago...maybe even longer? Honestly, I'm horrible at keeping track at what've I've done. I released a second solo album...what was it called? Oh yes, Living In Yesterday'...about five or six years ago. I do have almost enough material for a third solo record. That is all just a bunch of co-writes that I've done with people over the years that haven't be suited for Harem Scarem. Like I said, the band is not really interested in co-writes that I've done with outside people because to me, Harem Scarem is Pete and I doing our thing and obviously involving Darren, Creighton [Doane, Drums] and Stan [Mizcek, Bass]. Some of the co-writes that I've done were for other projects...other bands or pitches that never went anywhere but I like the songs. It's just creatively and getting other ideas out that you've done that you think people would like. I probably have seven or eight of those songs [compiled] and when I hit ten, I'll record that record and get it out there to add to the pile of things that I've done.

In other words, add it to the resume...

Yeah, why not! [Laughs]

Vespa Music Group is obviously busy recording, engineering and producing musical talent outside of Harem Scarem. What projects are you currently involved with that excite you the most?

There is a band from Australia called The Lazies...lovely name [Laughs] that we are working with. It is a Production deal that we are doing with them and that is an exciting thing. Next week, I'm going to attend the Canadian version of your Grammy Awards [in America] called the Juno Awards. The bands that we are working with and have had some sort of luck in the last few years is a band called Monster Truck, a very cool Hard Rock band. They are actually on tour with Nickelback in Europe and I think they are doing some dates with Deep Purple in Europe...they are definitely one to check out. We've recorded most of their records and I've Mastered their music as well. When I say "we," it is just a bunch of Producers and Engineers that work out of my studio...not me specifically. The only thing I did specific to Monster Truck was that I was the Mastering Engineer on the record. Another band called the Arkells who are a Pop/Rock band and have had Gold and Platinum records here in Canada are another band that we have worked with. Those have been the two of the latest projects that we've done that have gone on to do very well.

Harry, this has been a bucket list interview for me...it truly has. Ever since that evening talking to you very casually down in that hotel cafeteria seven or so years ago, I've always wanted to have the opportunity to have a conversation on record and this has been an absolute dream. I don't want to take up any more of your time, so I want to thank you on behalf of myself, the magazine and the website. I hope to do you proud with what gets published in the next issue of Fireworks.

Awesome.

Is there anything else that you want to add that I haven't asked that you thought I should have or go tell me to pound salt?

No, I think that we've covered a lot of ground. People who are into what we do have known about us for a long, long time and we are just grateful to keep plowing away and continue to do stuff that people like. If anything, a thank you to fans and everyone that keeps supporting it...that is the final message.

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“So I'm in the shower washing me hair, then I feel this stinging pain and hear this sudden plop. And I see this lump of flesh going down the plug-hole. Fucking ‘ell, my nose has fallen off!” (Status Quo’s Francis Rossi rues nostril-related cocaine damage) - Quotes collected by Dave Ling (www.daveling.co.uk)

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