Fireworks Magazine

Fireworks Magazine Online 81: Interview with Galactic Cowboys


Interview by Duncan Jamieson

In 1990 the Geffen Label had high flyers Guns N' Roses on their books but sensing they needed a new band as trends were changing, they picked up Galactic Cowboys as their next big hope and then decided they should hedge their bets and sign another. That band was Nirvana. The result left Galactic Cowboys as a footnote in Rock history and they eventually split at the turn of the millennium. However, now they're back with their first album in seventeen years, 'Long Way Back To the Moon', with the line-up who created their seminal self-titled début and the follow up 'Space In Your Face', and with the signature Cowboy sound of Metal, Thrash and big Beatles-like harmonies all still pleasingly intact. Guitarist Dane Sonnier chatted to Fireworks on the band's resurrection.


How did the Cowboys get back together after such a long gap?

Although I left in 1995 the band split up in 2000 but I always longed to play heavier music like the Cowboys again. The stars aligned for us to do a couple of shows in 2009 and 2013. After the reunion gigs we just began talking together and we started to write again. The word got out in the industry and Mascot said they were interested in a record.

So the interest from the Mascot label, were there several people involved or was it one individual who wanted to work with you?

There were a couple of people, Bill Evans and Jim Pitulski, Jim knew us from when he worked with Dream Theater. We toured with them on their 'Images And Words' tour and had a great time on that one. A&R wondered if Jim would like to work with some different bands and he said he always liked The Cowboys. Bill and Monty (Colvin, bassist) had worked together in the past so he got in contact and he was very interested when he found out we'd been writing some new songs.

I believe 'In The Clouds' that kicks off the record is actually an old song that was written when Galactic Cowboys first got together?

That's right. There was an early stage of that song from when we started out. When we started rolling again and coming up with news songs, this came up. It was the very first Cowboys song as it's the song Ben (Huggins, singer) and I had to audition with. Recording it was born out of nostalgia but it's heavy, melodic and very representative of who were as a band, even today.

Are there any other song on the new record that have been revived?

'Hate Me', that was in fact another old song. It was one I wrote and it was the very last song I brought to the band before I left in 1995. It never made their next album for whatever reasons. We reworked it a bit, added an extension to give it more legs and added more harmonies.

There's a real earthy, authentic sound to the new album. Was that deliberate?

I'll have to give credit to Alan Doss (drums) who mixed and mastered the disc. We all know what we like sonically.

How is the band different in its approach now?

We're a lot older! The song writing feels the same way as it did in the past, it feels like coming home. We were surprised how quickly it came together during rehearsals for the reunion gigs. We didn't have to work at it too hard. The sound is ingrained in our DNA. Now what we're doing is a continued evolution of what we've always done. That first album stands up well. We were young and driven at the time. Now we're a lot older but we're still driven. In comparison to the old days the involvement in the writing, recording and the business process has all been self-propelled. That's been helped by the label, Mascot, who have been great as they have left us alone to do our thing.

How do you go about the song-writing as a band?

As a band we operate in different ways. Monty might bring in a whole song, sometimes I'll bring in a few guitar riffs. Personally, for me it's the music first with the melody and vocals coming later. We said, let's just write and see what happens for this one. When we did, the sound that inevitably comes out is a mix of being heavy with lots of melody and harmonies. That's the Cowboys' sound.

How much was done old school with all of you together in the studio and how much was done using file sharing?

Monty lives in Chicago so he's three hours on a plane each way but he came across a few times and we laid down some material but it wasn't so often, but we know how we all sound like and what we want so we could file share and do a lot of it that way.

How do you feel you've changed and the band's relationship with one other has changed since those early days?

I like to think my personality has developed. Back then I was just a 19 year old kid who didn't have a whole lot of life experience to give much of a social commentary. As a band, we all feel the way we feel so there might be four different opinions on anything but in the band we have the freedom to all be who we really are. We don't judge each other and everyone comes in and adds their own twist to what we do. I'd say the relationships in the band are a lot stronger. A lot has happened between me leaving and the reunion. We've got kids now so it's cool that they can come to the shows and meet each other and hang out. At the end of the day it comes back to the music.

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In the early days a lot was made of the band being a Christian band but in fact that's not something you have done overtly...

It's not something we all talk about amongst ourselves as a band now. Life has taken different paths. It might have been talked about at the beginning but I was never one to throw that out there. If your plumber comes round, you don't care what religion he is. You want him to fix the leak. Same with us. We're a Rock n' Roll band and that's what you want to hear.

There's also a sense of humour in The Cowboys' sound. 'Believing The Hype', I imagine, is actually about yourselves.

It may be somewhat biographical. You can believe your own peers who are digging your music. In the very early years when we first got signed we got told a lot that we were going to be the next greatest thing. Then Nirvana came along and that was the end of that!

There's some real angst in songs like 'Internal Masquerade' and 'Blood In My Eyes'.

Some of those things are borne out of frustrations. The world has changed a lot, a lot has gone down since we started out. On social media, everyone airs their grievances; what's the outrage of the day. I'm all about a sense of social justice. It's difficult to watch the negativity when they are all wrapped up in their own shit. The social media platforms seems to bring out the negative side of everyone. You see people, even friends connected to it 24/7 and they share a side of themselves you wouldn't have previously seen or wanted to have seen.

Picking up on that point, how do you view the internet, which obviously wasn't around back in the day, and it's influence on how music is made and heard today?

I think it is a good thing as it allows you an opportunity to get away from record labels and others' agendas. You can put your videos up on Facebook, there are a lot of avenues to get your music out there. That's great. Two million plays on Spotify or whatever and the musicians not getting paid a lot is a a bit of a problem... I'm happy to get our music out to people.

Did you see Grunge coming?

None of us anticipated it at the time it was happening. I liked those bands like Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains. We got to hang out with those guys and they were all great. I don't think anybody saw how 'Jeremy' and 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' were going to be the only thing that got played on MTV, that and Paula Abdul! My kids have never known MTV to play music. When I was growing up I remember seeing U2's 'The Unforgettable Fire' and Maiden's 'Flight Of Icarus'. It was cool.

There are a lot of musical influences in the rich stew of the Cowboys' sound. What music has influenced you?

Growing up there was a wide range of music in the house. My dad played guitar and my mom played piano. Everyone could sing. There would be music like Merle Haggard, Fleetwood Mac, Doobie Brothers which my parents played. Then me and my brother got into Alice Cooper, Kiss and of course The Beatles. There was a wide musical palate. I listened to AC/DC and Free. I'm a huge Paul Rodgers fan. Even today I might listen to Pantera one day and 'feel good' songs the next.

Outside of the Galactic Cowboys you've remained in music with the Sonnier Brothers Band.

In 1995 the band were moving on and I left to play with my brother in the Sonnier Brothers Band, which was the easiest thing to call it. We play Texas Blues Rock and continue to do that today. We play a couple of times a month. He's my brother, us playing together is never going away so I can go back to it at any time.

When you left in 1995 you were replaced by Wally Farkas. How was it decided who would be in the line up for this album?

I don't want to get into something I wasn't a part of when they split in 2000. Wally is involved in a lot of other things so I was really happy to part of this. They made some great records without me. In fact they made more records without me than with me. Not better or worse, just different.

Your history is often intertwined with fellow Houston band Kings X. Was that in retrospect a blessing or a curse?

Being associated with those guys is never a curse. We were like their brothers. I met Doug, Ty and Gerry in '85 or '86 and we shared a lot. There's definite similarities in the sound; you know, we had the same sound engineer, producer and management team.

Do any of those old tours stand out in your memory for good or bad?

The tours with Kings X were always great with some wild dates. That Dream Theater tour was fantastic and we hung out with those guys a lot. The Overkill tour wasn't a bad tour but their fans liked what Overkill did so when we come on singing harmonies and playing a harmonica we got things thrown at us. Ben got into a fight with the crowd on more than one occasion that tour.

Are you going to take the new album on the road?

Touring for us now is a challenge. We're adamant this time round we're not giving up our day jobs. The industry's different to what is was back then and we have families and commitments now. We want to tour. We'd like to come over and do some festivals in Europe and some shows here in the States. It has to be the right situation for all of us. We really, really want to tour but with kids and families there's higher risk to what we can do.

The Galactic Cowboys are back in the saddle with a strong reunion album and here's hoping they come to a cosmos near you soon.

Fireworks Magazine Online 81: Interview with Rex Brown


Interview by Brent Rusche

His name will quickly bring to mind the bands Down, Kill Devil Hill and the legendary Pantera. However, after over twenty five years of recording and touring, Rex Brown found himself at an impasse and felt that taking a break was the only option. During his self-imposed exile, he slowly crafted songs which have manifested into his first ever solo effort, 'Smoke On This'. After a tenacious pursuit, Fireworks was awarded the opportunity to speak with this iconic and garrulous musician long associated with Heavy Metal. However, this album couldn't be further from that definition. A lively conversation ensued where we discussed the album, his influences and the people that have helped make 'Smoke On This' a reality.


Like most, Rex's musical influences focus around those nascent days as a young adolescent and provide wonderful insight as to the approach found on the album. Being of the belief that 'Smoke On This' has tremendous crossover potential, I think that fans of classic 70s Hard Rock, Modern Alternative Rock and even Grunge will find the album appealing. When asked about those influences that figured into his songwriting, Rex explains, "My influences go back all the way to when my sister left me records from The Beatles, The Stones and a lot of Turtles. I lived in a small town until I was about 11 years old and once I got to the big city it became Black Sabbath and Kiss...and this is now 1975 so 'Masters Of Reality' was on the deck. At the same time I was listening to Thin Lizzy and that progressed into this heavier Rock, like Foghat, then I discovered Humble Pie. Also, growing up in the 70s I was listening to radio in Texas, but the only thing that really 'got my goat' was ZZ Top." He then went on to mention one unlikely person in his life who was an early and constant source of inspiration. "My grandmother used to play piano for the silent movies back in the 1920s and had a little band as well that used to play in the Honky Tonks back when her county was still under Prohibition. She would tell me these stories about how they would get raided all the time. I just kept dragging her hand until she was probably in her death bed to [try and get her to] play me something. She was my musical muse."

Rex collaborated with longtime friend Lance Harvill on all songs. Being six years his junior, he brought a more modern Hard Rock vibe to the songs. The prolific pair ended up demoing twenty four tunes, with thirteen properly recorded and eleven making the final cut. When asked about his association and the writing process with his co-writer, he explains, "Dime[bag Darrell] and I knew Lance way back before Pantera was signed to Atco. He is an incredible songwriter and a Beatles fanatic, just like I am. When we do songs, I'll give him ideas that are really raw and then he'll make something cool from it. He'll then give me the stuff that is really polished and I'll strip it away. That is how we come to common ground and how we write and collaborate together. It's a meeting of the minds. His Pop sensibility is really incredible but takes on a different element when you put this raw, raspy voice on top. He knows exactly what I want and how to get it. I never have to go into rehearsal and say, "Nope, that's not the way that it goes, or nope, you're playing that wrong." Lance was influenced by his own stuff. I listen to some of Lance's music and it's definitely some of that Grunge vibe that you mentioned. He is definitely coming from that 90s sound where I'm more from the 70s and I wanted to bring those two together."

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When it came to recording and assembling the album, it is clear that it was anything but easy. "I took maybe a year off and then we started putting these songs together for the record right after Lance moved to Nashville. Then I met Caleb Sherman who also played on the record and is my producer. Having Caleb involved with this thing...he is a musician and he can play anything. There is a lot of lap-steel [guitar] on this, there are a lot of different types of organs and keyboards on the album that really make up the bulk of that inner sound. Once [drummer] Christopher Williams was done in the studio, then it was either me and Lance or just Caleb and I working at night on vocals. When it came time to mix, Caleb and I were just scratching our heads saying, "Well, which guitar tracks are we going to use on this?" You can only use about three or four before it really starts just crumbling the mix ̶ and we had up to 96 inputs of guitars on every damn song! [Laughs] Towards the end of recording, we were trying to get the vocals to sound big and loud but I didn't like my voice. Finally, we listened to Tom Petty's 'Damn The Torpedoes' album and right then I told Caleb to remove all the effects, double the vocal and see what it sounds like, raw. I think that is probably the best move we could have done for this record. I drove Caleb crazy! We must have mixed this thing eighteen times. I would say, "No, that hi-hat is just too open. Close it." I drove him insane. He wouldn't talk to me for like three weeks after we finished. He wouldn't even pick up the phone [Laughs]. I drive people crazy, but that is how you get the final product. "

Things got to a breaking point with Rex while promoting Kill Devil Hill which was the impetus for him taking a break from music. "Well, Vinnie [Appice] didn't want to tour as much so I had to get another drummer. Also, the costs of being on the road were exceeding what I wanted to do with it and I just needed a break. I needed to stop and watch the grass grow and watch my children blossom because they were [already] teenagers."

Rex is nothing short of a seasoned pro in this thing called the music business. When asked to comment, he did not hold back. "Look, artists these days don't get paid shit on a goddamn record. It doesn't matter who you are, you make your money from touring. After being on the road for all of these years, I had to go tell myself, "Well, you're going to have to do it." I had to take a fresh, fresh look at myself to see if I am up to doing this...and I was.

Rex's final thoughts are short and sweet, just like the album he set out to make and by all accounts, more music is clearly on the horizon. "I'm proud as fuck of this record. I wouldn't release something that I didn't think was 'up to snuff'. This just shows a new side of me and I've got another full record [of material] that I'm ready to go back into the studio and record."

Fireworks Magazine Online 81: Interview with Leprous


Interview by Mike Ainscoe

As Leprous prepare to release 'Malina', the follow up to 2015's 'The Congregation' and the subsequent and incendiary 'Live at Rockefeller Music Hall' album, Fireworks grabbed a few words with guitarist Tor Oddmund Suhrke and main writer, keyboardist and singer Einar Solberg. The two constants in a band which has evolved into an exciting and forceful unit over the past few years.


It's a friendship that goes back to the two knowing each other from being very young. "We actually went to kindergarten together!" explained Tor. "We were in the same class in junior high and then we made friends and started to play together aged 15 or 16. We were a couple of friends that started the band in 2001 and have been doing it ever since. I've been playing in Leprous more than half my life now!"

The 'Malina' title emerged from an interesting story about taking the word from the old Slavic meaning 'raspberry'. "We were both at Einar's brother's wedding in Georgia and spent some time there afterwards. On a day walking in the park we saw an old woman – one who looked like she'd had a hard life – and the lyrics to that song were based on the impression we got from her. When we needed a name for the song we'd composed, we remembered the woman shouting the word "malina" and thought it would be a cool name for the song and also the album title because I liked the word!"

While Einar takes on the biggest workload of composing to present to the band for them to work on, Tor has become the main lyricist. Some of the song titles are very evocative and on similar lines: 'Captive', 'Coma', 'Weight Of Disaster' all suggest some sort of despondent and sombre mood, although Tor clarified, "None of the albums are really concept albums, although I get inspired by things such as events in my life or something I hear about in news or maybe a cool phrase or word to use. In general they are usually not very optimistic or happy – not that we're miserable people, we're happy guys − but the inspiration leads me to look on the more depressing aspects of life because the music tends to be melancholic and dramatic. The song 'Illuminate', for example, is one I wrote which can have different interpretations. If you're having difficult times in life it's about a way out, although that way could be covered by obstacles so it can be difficult to find the way out of the situation. The words are about lighting your own way – the road is already there but you have to find the right light to walk it. It's a road you have to walk yourself but with help from people around you. Before the first chorus there's "you can have my torch" to help illuminate your own way – that could go for many situations you find yourself in."

The last track on the album, Einar's 'The Last Milestone', is very regal – almost like a classical piece. "It's a very personal lyric; a very emotional track that can give chills because of the music and the lyrics and the voice. You can hear an emotion that's very sincere. It's one of the most intense tracks and you get the feel without knowing exactly what it's about. The interesting thing is that we were considering not having it on the album as it's so different and maybe using it somewhere else but then we realised it was a good way to end the album with the lyric being about ending something – it's a very meaningful, complex and emotional way to end an intense album."

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

Listeners may hear an unexpected beginning to 'Malina'; the choice to open the album with 'Bonneville' suggests we're going to hear something very different. Tor admitted that it wasn't the typical way to open the album with what he called "a calm but daring opening track" when usually Leprous open albums with an 'in your face' song. Einar going on to explain how "it was a very deliberate move to put 'Bonneville' as the opening song, showing that okay, we're continuing to do our thing and push our boundaries into new directions. That song is very very atmospheric compared to anything on the previous album and represents where we're at today as a band. We wanted to challenge people by putting that first. It's that kind of song that people hear as different but it's intriguing so they don't want to turn it off – this is not what we expect! On the previous album you have 'The Price' which is straight to the point but this is a much more floating and atmospheric sound."

Ace engineer Jens Bogren has also been involved in mixing the album although Tor talked about how the band were keen to have quite an 'unmastered' and more natural sound to 'Malina'. "We did most of the work on the sound of the album in the recording process. The main technician was David Castillo who also did the recording on the last album and the live album last year. It was after that recording that we realised we would like to get more of a live feel into the new album. 'The Congregation' sounded almost perfect and we wanted to get more of a live feel in the studio and turn down distortion on the guitars to open the sound. It's an improvement as it doesn't sound as edited or as synthetic as it may have sounded before. Now it's more about the vibe rather than trying to get it perfect and over producing it and aiming for a more organic keyboard sound by using analogue effects and re-amping."

"When we sent it to Jens, who's an amazing mixer and who's done all our latest work, we told him we didn't want him to necessarily do what he'd done before but make it sound more like the raw material but tweaking where he needed to. It went a couple of times back and forth but ended up with a nice end product. With Progressive Metal it's meant to be tight and precise but we picked up from our live recording that when it's played live it has more of an organic feel. And it felt quite original for a Prog Metal band to go in that direction."

There's also a new member in Leprous with guitarist Robin Ognedal, although he's well known to the band. Einar explained, "He did the US tour last year with us and we've known him since we were teenagers. When Oysten (Landsverk) couldn't continue with the band for various reasons Robin was the obvious choice for us. He's a super technical guitarist but doesn't showcase it in any way. He plays with a lot of emotion and soul and it sounds great but not too perfect either. He met all our expectations with all he did. It's one thing to find a really good guitarist," he added, "but he has that extra touch and adds a new dimension to the Leprous sound."

It's a sound that's set to go on the road with a headline European tour already lined up to start in late October with special guests Agent Fresco from Iceland, plus Australia's AlithiA and fellow Norwegians Astrosaur. The tour includes an appearance at the Damnation Festival in Leeds and a headline London gig at The Dome.

Fireworks Magazine Online 81: Interview with PFM


Interview by Malcolm Smith

PFM emerged in the early 70s onto a burgeoning Italian Progressive Rock Scene, and are arguably the biggest name to come out of said scene. Probably best known on these shores for the 1973 album 'Photos of Ghosts' which appeared on ELP's Manticore label, with lyrics from King Crimson Collaborator Pete Sinfield, the band are beloved of the real Progressive cognoscenti for their rather romantic, elegant musing throughout an extensive back catalogue.

The band took a lengthy sojourn through the late 80s/early 90s but are now back fully loaded with their new album 'Emotional Tattoos', their first for the Progressive specialist label InsideOut. Fireworks put Franz Di Cioccio under the spotlight to answer questions about the new release and the present state of play in the world of Prog Rock.


The band's new album 'Emotional Tattoos' is your first with Prog specialists InsideOut. How did the deal come about?

InsideOut happened to know we were working on new material for an international album. They asked if they could hear some songs, so they came to Milan and heard the first four songs we were working on. They liked it and asked if they could come back and listen to more... when that happened a few weeks later they decided to sign us.

PFM are the only Italian Prog band, to my knowledge anyway, to break out globally. Is that something you are especially proud of, and why do you think this was?

We are very proud to be an international band. Since the very beginning of our career we have looked for it and it finally happened when our album 'Photos of Ghosts' went in the Billboard charts. We think this happened because of the Mediterranean flavour of the music and also because of Pete Sinfield's lyrics, which were amazing for that particular moment.

The new album seems to draw on various periods throughout the band's illustrious past. Was it conscious effort to do this or was it a natural process?

It's for sure a natural process. That's the way we have always worked, trying to put in our music everything that is in our hearts ̶ not only music to sell, but music we feel like playing. This is the reason why PFM always did different music on each release.

That early 70s period when PFM was having both UK and American success were heady days indeed. Any interesting stories you can remember from that time?

After more than 6000 concerts all over the world you can imagine how many stories we could tell. One coming to mind was when we met the Queen Mother in London during the rehearsal for our concert at the Royal Albert Hall!! The lady was great, she came on stage and wanted to know everything about the instruments and the music. We were amazed.
Another time we can't forget is when we recorded the 'Cook' live album at the Shaeffer festival in Central Park, New York City... trees and skyscrapers all around...

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The band went into 'hibernation' for a period in the 80s and 90s, although never officially splitting up. Was there a reason behind this?

After thousands of concerts and many, many miles we needed to take a break and recharge our batteries. We wanted to start again with new energies and new projects. This is probably the reason why we didn't split up ̶ we had many things still to say and to play. Music is our life and we didn't want to miss it just because we were a little tired.

Yourself and Patrick (Djivas) are the only remaining core members of the band, with a seemingly revolving door of other members coming and going. Do you see yourself and Patrick as the 'torch-bearers' of the band's name?

For sure we are riding the PFM starship as you can see on the new album sleeve. We know what our responsibility is and we do everything we can to deserve the role. This is why we wrote such an intense album with ten songs in two languages and one instrumental. We did it out of consideration for our fans, for ourselves and for PFM's sake.

This new album is being released in both English and Italian languages. Were there any issues that arose from doing this, as it's been a while since the band attempted a full English language album?

It was a lot of work obviously but with no particular problems. We wanted it to be like that because everywhere in the world, our fans can listen to PFM's music with the sound and language they prefer.
Since the last English album many years have passed. We did Italian and instrumental albums but we thought the time had come to do it again.

Although the band have always embraced melody, to my ears at least there seems to be a shift to areas occupied by the likes of bands such as Saga and World Trade. Is that a fair comment would you say?

We are an Italian band so since we started in 1972 our sense for melodies has always been very strong and always will be. We play the music we love at the time and fortunately PFM has such a wide experience and vision for many styles of music; from Classical to Jazz, we never lack inspiration.

You've announced a fairly extensive global tour. Are there any plans to include the UK in this tour?

We are working on a European tour which will include the UK and which will take place right after the world tour, which will start mid November.

What, If any, are your expectations for this new album and what do you make of the current Progressive Rock scene and PFM's place in it?

Our expectation is to reach people's hearts around the world and where to leave an emotional tattoo made of words and music, hence the album title, and obviously to do many more concerts around the world because this is what we were born to do. The current Progressive Rock scene is very exciting and PFM is happy to be in that scene with its own very distinctive way of looking at it and always bringing in new energies and sounds.

Fireworks Magazine Online 80: Sisters In Rock


By Rob Evans

Has anybody ever written anything for you, dear reader? For Joe Walsh, Stevie Nicks wrote the poignant song that forms that question, but I'm sure our other Sisters this issue have penned songs for varying objects of their desires. In this latest instalment of Sisters In Rock we'll see tales of lost love and heartache, we'll battle drug addictions and we'll be donning our best black leathers just because we can. When the Eurythmics sang about sisters doing it for themselves, they could have written the manifesto for the likes of Joan Jett et al, such was their clarion call. From Lorraine Lewis through to Stevie Nicks, these sisters have done it their way and done it in their own inimitable style. Lady luck may have smiled on the likes of Fiona and Stevie Nicks by putting them and their music in the right hands, but it was ultimately their sheer talent that kept them there. So the next time you watch Stevie Nicks live at Red Rocks and she sings 'Beauty And The Beast', remember she's not looking at you, she's looking at me and I think that's exactly where this article came in.


Born in Phoenix, Arizona to parents Jess and Barbara Nicks, Stephanie Lynn Nicks would ultimately find fame as Stevie Nicks. Alongside Lyndsey Buckingham she would turn the fortunes of Fleetwood Mac from Blues-based rockers, into Soft Rock behemoths in the space of two albums.

Having met Buckingham at Menlo-Atherton High School, it would be a further two years before the two of them would work together in the band Fritz. From here they continued to write as a duo, eventually recording the Buckingham/Nicks album in '73. A commercial failure, it saw Buckingham taking a job with the Everly Brothers, whilst Nicks waited on tables and had a stint cleaning Keith Olsen's house.

It would be Olsen who would prove pivotal in the duo joining the Mac by playing Mick Fleetwood one of their tracks. Whilst the drummer was looking for recording studios for the next Mac opus, he initially only wanted Buckingham, but it was the latter's insistence that he and Nicks came as a pair that saw the duo land the gig.

From here it would prove to be a whirlwind of activity as the band released their 'S/T' album in '75 and then the ground-breaking 'Rumours' in '77, an album that saw them elevated to stadium status in a little over two years.
It was during the recording of the 'Tusk' album that Nicks started to stockpile songs for what would eventually be 'Bella Donna'. Released in '81, it saw Nicks recording some of her best work, and began a cycle that saw her working in tandem alongside the Mac as she released a plethora of solo albums throughout the eighties.

She's often been quoted as saying that she only ever wrote her best songs when she was in the darkest of places, and with a life like hers it was no wonder she came up with so many great songs. From the timeless beauty of Fleetwood Mac classics 'Rhiannon', 'Landslide' and 'Dreams' through to her equally flawless solo material such as 'Beauty And The Beast' and 'Leather And Lace', the depressive quality to Nicks' music was strangely uplifting.
She is arguably one of the most colourful females in the history of Rock. Her alleged affairs with the likes of Mick Fleetwood, Tom Petty, Rupert Hine, Joe Walsh and Don Henley – not to mention her addictions to both Cocaine and Klonopin – have enhanced her reputation almost as much as her music.

Still a part of Fleetwood Mac to this day, Nicks is currently promoting her solo tour in the states, a tour that sees her hitting the UK in July as support to Tom Petty in Hyde Park. With a new album from Fleetwood Mac planned for some time soon, she shows no sign of letting up just yet.

A huge influence on many a female performer, Stevie Nicks remains one of Rock's true Icons and a performer of some magnitude.

BEST MOMENT: It could be the epic 'Edge Of Seventeen' or the simplistic nature of 'Beauty And The Beast', but I would have to plump for 'Rhiannon', a story about an old Welsh witch from Fleetwood Mac's self-titled album.

Stevie Nicks


When Joan Marie Larkin was born in a suburb of Pennsylvania in September '58, I doubt her parents ever considered for one minute that she would go on to be a cultural icon for women everywhere, never mind be dubbed the Queen of Rock.
Hanging around Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco in the mid-seventies, Joan Jett was allegedly discovered by Kim Fowley, who gave Jett's number to Sandy West, resulting in the girls putting the Runaways together. Alongside Lita Ford, Cherie Currie and Jackie Fox, both Jett and West were responsible for a band that was teenage jailbait at the very worst and Rock 'n' Roll genocide at the very best.

It was this classic line-up that released three trail blazing, Punk infused Rock albums. The kind that saw parents locking up their sons as these teenage Lolita's prowled the land. The zenith of their achievements came when they hit Japan to scenes of mass hysteria; they were, after all, the fourth largest imported band behind Led Zep, KISS and ABBA.

With West and Currie quitting in quick succession shortly after the Japanese tour, the Runaways limped on as Jett assumed lead vocals. A final couple of albums saw them eventually split up in '79, a move that forced Jett to start a solo career.
Hooking up with former Tommy James and the Shondell's guitarist, Kenny Laguna, would prove to be a pivotal moment as he suggested that they form their own label, Blackheart Records, after they were ignominiously turned down by twenty three record companies.

From here on in she never looked back and whilst her debut showed promise, it would be its follow up that would kick down the doors and see Jett lauded from afar. 'I Love Rock 'N' Roll' was released in '81, but it wouldn't be until early '82 that its title track would top the Billboard Hot 100 for several weeks. Originally recorded by Arrows, Jett had demoed this track in '79 with the Sex Pistol's Paul Cook and Steve Jones, but it was alongside her band, The Blackhearts, that Jett finally got the recognition she so richly deserved.

I saw Jett on this tour, playing to a half empty Liverpool Empire as she blistered her way through a set of high octane Rock 'n' Roll. On the tour bus afterwards she was charm personified, a young boy's crush for sure, signing my album, "Keep dancing, love Joan Jett."

Selling over ten million copies, Jett never looked back on those bleak late seventies years, she was now part of the mainstream. A glut of albums followed, but after her eighties heyday she never hit the singles charts again.
Still playing live to this day, her last album 'Unvarnished' was released in 2013 and limped into the Billboard chart at forty seven. A recent 'Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame' Inductee, Jett works actively as a campaigner for PETA and can be seen Stateside, alongside Boston, throughout this summer.

BEST MOMENT: The video for 'I Hate Myself For Loving You'. Did anybody other than Elvis and Suzi Quatro ever look this good in black leather? I mean, did they?

Joan Jett


Describing herself as multipersonalitied on her website, the effervescent and lovely Fiona Flanagan was born in New Jersey in the early sixties. Thanks to some pushy teachers who recognised her talent, she was thrown into school productions and the rest is history.

Fiona moved to New York and worked a day job for celebrated photographer Andrew Unangst, whose work included Andy Warhol, she cut a series of demos alongside Eddie Offord (Yes) and the Dixie Dregs.
In turn these led her to the doors of Atlantic Records and Jason Flom, who fought off a counter bid from Columbia and got the young chanteuse's signature. Liking the fact that he wanted to push her into more of a Rock direction, Fiona was quickly on-board a ride that would last right through the eighties and beyond.

Produced by Peppy Marchello (Good Rats), her debut boasted a fine supporting cast that included the likes of Bobby Mesanno (Starz) and Joe Franco (Twisted Sister). Released in '85, her self-titled debut still has a certain charm to this day and showcases to perfection why Atlantic had high hopes of her being the next Benatar.

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Hooking up with Beau Hill (Shanghai, Airbourne) for her sophomore album, 'Beyond The Pale', Flanagan would eventually marry and divorce the hotshot producer, but not before she'd managed to deliver a fine album. According to Malcolm Dome in the Rock Candy reissue, Fiona recorded a version of 'Alone' – the I-Ten song that Heart turned into a huge chart hit – but it was left off the album at Hill's insistence, much to both Jason Flom and Fiona's chagrin.
It was here that she first worked with Kip Winger, a man that would form another part of Fiona's elaborate puzzle when he worked on her third album, 'Heart Like A Gun'. It was this album that gave the New Jersey gal one of her most requested MTV songs in the shape of 'Everything You Do (You're Sexing Me)', a duet with the aforementioned Winger. Produced in the main by Keith Olsen (Whitesnake), 'Heart Like A Gun' was a commercial flop but it saw Flanagan having a hand in composing all but one of its ten tracks, something she'd never done before.

Fiona also made a semi decent stab at acting, appearing alongside Bob Dylan and Rupert Everett in the woeful 'Hearts On Fire', as well as an episode of Miami Vice.

With an album for Geffen ('Squeeze') turning out to be her swansong, Fiona limped out of the spotlight for several years. Hooking up with Robin Beck and the House Of Lords guys she recorded one of the best albums of her career in the shape of 'Unbroken' and with an appearance at Firefest in 2012, she pulled out all the stops to give an exalted performance. One of the friendliest and most charming people that I've ever met, Fiona is a class unto herself.

BEST MOMENT: Her last album, 'Unbroken', showed that not even a duet with Kip Winger could keep this girl down.

Fiona Fireworks


Admit it, you were really envious of that lollipop on the inside front cover of Femme Fatale's debut CD, but is it really nearly thirty years since that album came out? In the interim years Lorraine Lewis put her name to a myriad of projects but she'll always be remembered as the girl who was looking for the big one.

Formed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Femme Fatale was signed to MCA for their self-titled debut, an album which was released in '88. Lorraine had big ambitions of being the female version of Dave Lee Roth after she witnessed Van Halen in concert at a young age. As she said to me at the time, "I didn't want to sleep with Dave, I wanted to be Dave!"

As Femme Fatale's debut hit the streets, the likes of MTV were all over their videos for 'Looking For The Big One' and 'Falling In And Out Of Love', helping them notch up healthy sales of nearly three hundred thousand albums along the way. After touring with Cheap Trick the label dropped them as they planned their second album. Lorraine tried to keep the band together, they went their separate ways.

Landing an indie deal almost straight away, the solo career of Lorraine Lewis amounted to her releasing 'Chains' on the 'Don't Tell Mom The Babysitters Dead' soundtrack and little else. As solo careers go, it hardly set the world on fire.
From here she seemed to keep a low profile before returning in 2000 with 'Snowball', a messy collaboration that saw her embrace a Grunge inspired stance that sounded a million miles away from Femme Fatale.

After a short lived dalliance in the country music market, releasing a poorly received CD in '02, she hooked up with Roxy Petrucci (Vixen, Madame X) in Roktopus, a short lived collaboration that saw Lewis trying to re-capture her youth, but failing miserably. Poor songs are poor songs and these babies were going nowhere faster than Lewis's career at the time.

Via L.A Nookie - a band featuring Share Pederson (Vixen), Alex Kane (Anti Product) and Lisa Leveridge (Hole) – and a TV show called the "Ex Wives Of Rock", Lewis wound up back in Femme Fatale. Surrounded by an all-female cast, this version of the fatal ones has been doing the rounds in the States and is due to hit these shores later in the year at Hard Rock Hell.

All in all, Lewis's career has been colourful and exciting and although she never got to experience the musical 'big one', she did enjoy a few small ones along the way.

BEST MOMENT: The videos for both 'Looking For The Big One' and 'Falling In And Out Of Love' still make me smile to this day. Full of lewd sexual innuendo and the kind of choreography that Heaven's Edge built a career on, what's not to love?

Lorraine Lewis

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“The old Van Halen, when I was in it, makes you wanna drink, dance and screw. The new Van Halen encourages you to drink milk, drive a Nissan and have a relationship.” (David Lee Roth) - Quotes collected by Dave Ling (

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