Fireworks Magazine

Fireworks Magazine Online 74 - Interview with SIMO


Interview with JD Simo by Mónica Castedo-López

Having first heard their material at an intimate showcase for their second album, 'Let Love Show The Way', in central London back in November, Fireworks was instantly taken aback by the quality of Simo's musicianship and the heartfelt tracks they created. The Nashville-based trio formed by singer/guitarist JD Simo, drummer Adam Abrashoff and bassist Elad Shapiro offers an amalgam of Blues, Fusion and Psychedelic Rock, and has the blessing of the institution that is Joe Bonamassa. In early January Fireworks called frontman JD

.SIMO Interview

To start with, please give us some background on the band.

I'm from Chicago, started playing guitar when I was five and playing professionally at clubs when I was around ten. I left home early to go on the road, travelled all over and ended up in Nashville right before I turned 21. Here I played on records for several years. Adam is from Ohio, grew up playing in local bands and ended up moving to Nashville about nine years ago backing other artists and being a sideman. Elad is from Tel Aviv, Israel, relocated to the States to become a recording engineer and ended up working at one of the most prominent studios here in America called Blackbird, which is a studio that I worked at all the time when I was a session musician, and we met that way. The group formed basically out of improvisation when we got together and jammed. It felt so good and all of us were at a place where we kind of wanted to be part of something, but didn't know what we wanted to do necessarily. We just didn't want to continue in the avenues that we had already found employment in, so we found each other, we started playing with one another and we've been at it for several years. Last year in particular has been incredibly exciting because a lot of things started to line up for us business-wise and otherwise. At this point we're really grateful of the opportunities being presented to us. We're trying to do our best and play music that means something to us and leave it to people to like or not like.

Joe Bonamassa actually endorsed you. You must be thrilled! Tell us how that happened.

My goodness, yeah! Joe and I became friends several years ago. We had some mutual friends and first became email buddies, where we would email each other all the time. Then we became song buddies where we texted or called one another, and then we finally met in person and hung out about four years ago. We just hit it off like two peas in a pot. We're very similar in some ways and really became good friends. He's like a brother to me and we've got to know each other very well. Through the whole process of the building of the group he's always kind of been there. He and his manager recommended us to the president of our record label. Obviously he didn't need to do that, but I love him a lot and I am grateful I have him in my life.

You are now releasing your second full-length album, 'Let Love Show The Way'. Can you give us an overview of it?

Some of the songs have been knocking around our repertoire for the last couple of years and some are brand new, like the song 'Two Timin' Woman', which we wrote the day before we recorded it. We're very much a band that are always writing. There's never really a period when we're not cultivating new material, and usually we play new songs live to see how they're shaping up because that's a good way to know. Recording this album was really easy because we had a lot of material to choose from.

The album was pretty much recorded in a live setting, wasn't it?

Oh yes, overdubs are extremely minimal for us. I always sing live and obviously we all play live. If the take isn't a good take, we don't use it but we don't go back and fix things. We get a really good take from all three of us and then I'd put on an additional guitar part, or a percussion of some sort, or a background vocal. For us it is trying to capture a complete performance, much like they used to do. It's harder, but it yields better results.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

At the end of last year Simo supported Walter Trout around Europe, including the UK. How was it?

It was wonderful! First of all, to get the opportunity to play some of the prestigious rooms the first time over there was amazing. Walter was incredibly gracious, his crew and band were very kind and welcoming. I'll forever be grateful to them for allowing us to come along.

Are there any plans to come back soon?

Yes. Our US tour starts in a week and a half and will take us to the middle of March. Then we do England, France, Germany, Holland, in March and April. I believe we come back a second time in the summer to do a bunch of festivals.

I guess being this busy you had to leave your jobs?

Oh yes. It was a decision we all made a while ago. You really can't serve two masters. In the very beginning it was a difficult decision because basically you're choosing to give up your livelihood and that's a very scary thing, but this past year has been really wonderful for us with doors finally opening up.

You used the Allman Brothers Band's old house as your studio and played Duane Allman's 1957 gold-top Les Paul to record this album. How was the experience?

It was incredible. I have some really great friendships that I've had for years now with people in that camp. The opportunity to go set up in their old house and record...I didn't really think we'd get to do it, but it worked out. I met the gentleman who owns that guitar ten years ago and we've been friends since. He's been very kind to let me use it four times now.

Is there anything else that is important to get out there?

Aside from the promotion of the record and hoping someone likes what we do or comes to see us play. I think the world is a beautiful place and if we can share something positive, and that is, if we all just took a couple of minutes every day to try and do some random acts of kindness to people around us, I really think that this planet would be a much better place. I always say take care of yourself and take care of the people around you. It's up to us individually to decide to be happy, positive and kind, it's not a hard decision, really, and it feels good to do.

Fireworks Magazine Online 74 - Interview with Stone Broken


Interview by Mike Newdeck

Walsall Modern Rock band Stone Broken has caused quite a stir on the British Rock scene: an upcoming appearance at Hammerfest, a newly released debut album, airplay of first single 'Not Your Enemy' on Planet Rock and a nomination as best new band in the awards for the same radio station. The future looks bright for the band. Fireworks chatted to lead singer Rich Moss about the debut album and the band's well deserved exposure.

Stone-Broken Interview

Why have you decided to include the whole debut EP, 'The Crow Flies', on the album and not record totally new music?

When we went back in to the studio we had every intention of recording a second EP. It wasn't until we received the mixes back from Romesh Dodangoda (producer) that we thought we would listen to them back to back with the tracks from the first EP and see how it sounded. After listening to them it just seemed obvious that we needed to release it as a full album rather than two EPs, the songs just married together so well... it was quite an exciting moment actually.

What's your reaction to the criticism that you sound like Nickelback/Theory of a Deadman? Isn't that really a positive?

I think that these days it's difficult to listen to a band for the first time without trying to draw similarities to other bands, especially as music is more accessible now than it has ever been. Do we think that our music being compared to the likes of Nickelback, Theory of a Deadman and others is a bad thing? No, most definitely not.

Have these bands influenced you or are the comparisons purely luck?

As a band we have a huge range of influences, probably much wider than you'd imagine; and it does include those bands mentioned earlier. We don't intentionally lean on any one of our influences, we just write music that we love, music that we would want to listen to ourselves.

Do you think that there's a niche in the UK for a retro modern sound?

There is definitely a market for our style of music out there. Our fan base is growing day by day, so it's either that we are doing something right or people dig the genre per se.

How much attention do you pay to what critics have to say?

We always listen to what our critics have to say, whether it's the good points or not so good points, and I think it's important to do that. Whether we act on them is a different matter, of course. We are only one album into our career so there is still so much more for us to naturally discover when writing future albums, so for now we just need to keep doing what we are doing.

How did you get Romesh involved producing the album, and why him?

We first made contact with Romesh when we were looking to record the first EP; he liked how we sounded and we were all fans of his work. The EP turned out much better than we could have imagined at that time so it was a no brainer to go back to him for a follow up. One great thing about working with Romesh is that he will put ideas forward, even if those ideas don't work out. It's important to have that sort of input because it makes you really think about song structures and layers.

You're one of the few Rock bands with a female drummer. Is that helpful to the band do you think?

I think people are always intrigued when they find out that we have a female drummer... purely because it's quite a rare thing. People soon realise that she hits 'em as hard as any guy on the circuit and it's always cool to see their reaction. Robyn has her own group of fans but I don't think it's just down to the fact that she is female, it's because she is awesome at what she does.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

How did the band form?

The band started with just me, Rich and Robyn. We had been in a couple of bands together and we wanted to begin something new, so we started jamming out new material whilst looking for the other members. We heard via Robyn's parents that there was a guy [Kieron] who worked in the local rock pub who played bass and had just become available, so we got him in to try out and it really worked. Kieron had just come out of a band and he called his old guitarist [Chris] to see if he was interested in this new project, so he came along and completed the line-up in 2013.

How did your management deal come about?

It was late September/early October when we were playing with the idea of seeking management but we weren't actively looking. Our manager [Peter] happened to approach us and said that he was looking to take on a band to manage, having had many years experience in band consultancy and journalism, but this time he wanted full management. We have known Peter pretty much from Stone Broken's inception and knew that he knew what he was doing, so after a couple of conversations we agreed that it would be great to have him onside and we signed a deal in October 2015.

Modern rock from Walsall. It's not something you hear very often is it?

Haha, that is very true, and it's a reaction we get quite a lot when we get asked where we come from... which is cool because it means that at least we are doing something different and I don't think there are too many bands out there at the moment who are playing this genre, especially in the UK.

How did you get the call for Hammerfest and how did you feel?

It was actually last year that we knew that we would be playing the festival. We were entered in to a competition by a friend called Simon Yarwood, who was the scout for our area for Hard Rock Hell festivals. After getting through a private vote we were invited to take part in the Highway To Hell live final in Sheffield and we won the spot at the festival! It was a great weekend and we are really excited about opening the Mainstage at Hammerfest!

What can people expect from one of your live shows?

We exist for playing our music live, there is nowhere else we would rather be than on a stage! It's really where we bring the album to life. The audience soaks up the atmosphere and really get involved, which is awesome! We make the audience feel as though they are part of the whole thing and the energy is incredible!

Gigging low down on the small venue scene can be pretty unforgiving. What has the support been like and how have you coped with any apathy?

The support has been incredible, we have been blown away. I've said it quite a lot in the past that we seem to have been embraced by fans; and other bands too for that matter, which has made it a lot smoother for us. We go in to every new area knowing that we have got to make an impression and win over the new audiences and so far, so good.

Planet Rock has had 'Not Your Enemy' on rotation. How did you feel when you first heard it on there?

It was quite surreal. I mean the very first time we were played on Planet Rock it was on the breakfast show with Paul Anthony; drive time gets the biggest audience. I was busy and I just remember my phone going crazy with everyone telling us they just heard us on the radio.
The first time that I actually heard it was a couple of weeks later as I was getting ready to go to a gig. I just stopped what I was doing and listened to it from start to finish, it was great.

What's in the future for Stone Broken? Is it your ambition to share stages with the likes of Black Stone Cherry?

Tours, tours, tours! We will be hitting the road hard and I can't see us ever stopping. we are already making plans for our first year of touring and they are shaping up nicely. Of course it's every musician's dream to survive by playing music and that's exactly what we want. We are work horses and we love what we do, so why hold back?
We would love to get to the stage where we are presented with the opportunity to play shows with the likes of Black Stone Cherry, it would be a dream come true — especially for Robyn, she idolises John Fred Young!

Stone Broken are currently on tour in the UK.

Fireworks Magazine Online 73 - Interview with Voodoo Circle


Ian Johnson talks with Alex Beyrodt

Alex Beyrodt's Voodoo Circle return with their new album, the enigmatically titled 'Whisky Finger'. Fireworks talks with Alex about the new release, what the title of the album actually means, his love of the Blues and what a being 'Rock Star' means to him.


Could you tell us what the title of the album actually means Alex? 'Whisky Fingers' conjures up all sorts of images.

It was something I remember reading about, a conversation between Eddie Van Halen and Steve Stevens, who were talking about who they admired as guitar players, you know like Jimmy Page, Clapton and Hendrix and Steve asked Eddie why he thought these guys stood out and he said it's because they have whisky on their fingers. He then explained to Stevens what he meant by this, which was the fact that all the guitar players they liked had spent years playing small shitty clubs, getting no money and getting whisky on their fingers because of all the hard work they put in to make it. I think I have that thing too, whisky on my fingers. I've played shitty clubs everywhere over my thirty-five years as a musician and for me a lot of today's band's don't put in the graft, don't work at learning their trade as a musician and because of that they miss out on a lot.

This is the fourth album from Voodoo Circle and I was wondering if you now have a settled sound your all happy with?

To tell you the truth I think we always had our sound nailed from the first album onwards. We all love 70s Rock and that was what we aimed for when Voodoo Circle first started out and I don't think we've strayed far from that sound since then. We all know the feel we want to get on the album and everything is on the table when we start to write an album, so we can all have a say in how it turns out. Which shows I think that all of us are on the same page when it comes to V-C music. We write honest mature Rock songs and we write songs that we love to hear and play.

Having band members like Mat Sinner, Alessandro Del Vecchio, David Readman and Francesco Jovino, I suspect also helps with the writing and recording process?

Oh definitely yes. Everyone is a true professional musician and they all know what they are doing. Each of them is very experienced as a song writer and in the studio, so it's a real pleasure to work with these guys.

'Whisky Fingers' has been getting some great reviews around the net and Rock press. You must be very pleased with that?

Absolutely. It's actually a little scary for us because when the first album came out it got great press, then the second and third albums got great reviews and charted for us. So when we came to do this new album, we just hoped that people would like what we'd done and thankfully they seem to love it. We are blessed, that's all I can say.

I wondered because of the amount of Bluesy guitar work on the new album if you're a fan of the Blues in general and the guitarists especially?

Well more and more I am. I'm actually going back to a style of guitar playing I had when I first started playing. At that time players like Rory Gallagher, Alvin Lee, Jimi Hendrix, Clapton, etc. These guys were my idols and I wanted to play like them. Then I found Heavy Metal and fell in love with Blackmore, Schenker and from then on it was Metal guitar playing for me. Voodoo Circle gives me the chance to go back to my Blues roots and play like I used too. In fact I'd say that when you here me play on a V-C album, you're hearing the real Alex Beyrodt, the real me.

Keeping with the Blues theme, Alessandro Del Vecchio's Hammond Organ gives the songs on 'Whisky...' a real depth and retro feel.

(Laughs) You're so right and what's great is it's a real Hammond, a B3, so you get that authentic Hammond growl which gives the songs a colour and vibrancy that sometimes you lose on other records. Also I think the production helps to give all the instruments a place to breath. Alessandro mixed the album for us and he's done great a job, he just knows what to do and how to give a song what it needs to make it sound great. Personally I think the CD sounds wonderful.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

I have to ask about David Readman's vocals on the new CD. As a big Pink Cream 69 fan, I think that he's out done himself on 'Whiskey Fingers'.

A lot of people have said so, but they have been saying that since the first album. With no disrespect to his other bands, I think when you hear David sing on a V-C album you hear the real David Readman. He loves the Blues, he loves Classic Rock and in this band he can show off his musical roots and show how he really sounds as a singer.

With you and Mat both being in Primal Fear and the new Primal Fear album out early next year, which band becomes a priority for you?

Actually, what's going to happen is we'll be doing a small tour with Voodoo Circle in March of next year, then if all works out a bigger one towards the end on next year. The beginning of the year is actually packed with dates for Primal Fear and the Rock Meets Classic Project. So Mat and I will actually be playing over 100 dates between January and March, and we'll be all over the world, Japan, America, Europe, Canada, which will be tough. Maybe we could do a DVD of the V-C tour, it's something to think about for the future. Having the two albums out so close together is a problem but we'll work around it. Luckily we're German and everything is already planned for the next three years (laughs). That's German efficiency for you.

Talking of your other bands any chance of a new Silent Force album?

Why not? I was talking about this only the other day. I have the intention to do another one but I also have to find the time to do it and also find the right time to do it if you know what I mean. The trouble is you see that I'm not only a member of Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle and Rock Meets Classic, I also have my own business to run. I sell guitar parts and that takes up a lot of my time too. So wanting to do a new Silent Force album and getting the time to do one are two different things and if I make an album I have to do it right, no half way with me, I have to give 100% to each thing I'm working on. So the answer I suppose is we'll have to wait and see.

Back to the new album Alex, do you have a favourite song and if so why?

I do it's called 'Watch And Wait (I Got My Eye On You)'. The reason I like it so much is because I think it is the perfect Voodoo Circle song and it has the perfect V-C sound. It has that slow acoustic start, a groovy bass-line and I worked really hard on getting different guitar sounds for the song. I think 'Watch And Wait' is my Voodoo Circle masterpiece, it's a the song I've always wanted to write.

Finally Alex you mentioned that you've been a musician for thirty-five years, how has Rock music changed over that time and did you think you'd still be making music all these years later?

Well I don't think Metal has changed that much over the years. I think you have to acknowledge that Rock music never went away. It had its bad period when Grunge came in and everyone dressed the same but Metal or whatever you want to call it has always been there. Look at Wacken and Sweden Rock, hundreds of thousands of people every year turn up for these shows. What I think happened was, that in the late 80' early 90s and onwards for a few years, musicians just couldn't be bothered to dress like a Rock Star. If your in a band and dress like you've just come in off the street, why should any one bother to come and see you? I've always felt that if you're putting on a show and you're on stage then you're a Rock Star, so you should at least dress the part and now I think a lot of the new acts are getting this. So long answer to your question is I was hoping I would always be a musician. Ever since I played 'Smoke On The Water' on my guitar for the first time, I've wanted to play music for a living. I was addicted to that Heavy Rock sound and who knew that one day through Rock Meet's Classic, that I'd be on the same stage as Ian Gillan and Glenn Hughes and all my other Rock idols? I've been a very lucky man.

Fireworks Magazine Online 74 - Interview with The New Black


Interview by Dave Bott

The New Black are a German Rock five piece who have been together since 2008, releasing albums on a regular basis and touring with a host of big names along the way. Their fourth album 'A Monster's Life' is about to be released and is a great collection of songs comparable to a number of other artists but ultimately unique. They may be something of a new name to many people so it is only proper to find out more. Vocalist Fludid is the man with the answers...

The-New-Black Interview

'A Monster's Life' is a bold musical statement that brings together a number of styles yet still manages to sound fresh and relevant. Just what are the musical influences of everyone in the band and do you think they come through in the songs on the album?

They definitely shape the album, that's for sure. Our different musical influences have all helped to create what you hear today basically. Over the last six years, the music has changed a little bit. Most people can probably hear that the vocal lines aren't as Metal as the guitar sounds now. But for me, if the combination of it still feels bold and fresh, which it certainly does, then I suppose we've done something right?

You've toured in the past with the likes of AC/DC, Volbeat, Alter Bridge and Black Label Society but your profile in the UK is relatively low. How do you think the new album will change that and will you be doing your own headline tour to promote it?

That "Headline Tour" tag always conveys the impression of showing up in big arenas, no? We actually start our own 'headline tour' straight after the release of this record but this will happen in small clubs throughout Germany and Switzerland primarily.
In today's social media times the chance to sell your tunes abroad increases. However you never get a real overview of how you can push that. We were pleasantly surprised when we packed our crowd-funding mail out this time; a lot of those packages went to Australia, the UK and other neighbouring countries. Help us spread the word in the UK and we´re coming definitely.

Some of the songs on 'Monster's Life', I'm thinking 'Buddha Belly', 'The Beer Of No Return' and 'A Pill Named Ting', have quite a quirky subject matter, so I'm guessing you don't take yourselves too seriously?

Leim-sen' (Christof Leim – Guitar) and I share the job of writing the lyrics. During my whole career as a musician I've never seen myself as a role model, with a raised finger, pointing out grievances in our society. I think making music and especially performing on stage should be more about entertaining than preaching. Quirky is just fine by me.
We've changed the working process on this album a little bit, compared to previous records though. This time Fabian (Schwarz – Guitar) wrote all the music to the lyrics, so we've had to meet deadlines. For me it was the first time that I've really sat down, made myself comfortable, poured some scotch and started just writing...

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

In my opinion your sound is actually more American than European and I've mentioned in my review of the new CD that if I hadn't been sent the bio I would never have known you were from Germany. Do you think that is a fair assessment?

We can live with that, yes. I think it is really cool and important these days to sound international. Even though we've never tried to consciously go for an 'American' direction, I am relieved with your assessment because there is nothing worse than a German singer who sings English lyrics with an accent!

'A Monster's Life' is your fourth album in just seven years, which can almost be considered prolific in this day and age. Does that mean ideas are being developed all the time or does the creative process just begin when you feel it is time to go into the studio again?

Actually both. We have undone and changed some parts of old songs which we already recorded for demos years ago, and yet we've also had fresh inspiration along the way as well. The creative process really starts with the idea of making a new album. With TNB it's a logical cycle I guess. We make a record, perform it as often as possible, then want to restart the fun all over again. It can soon get pretty boring playing the same stuff over and over again. We had a load of fun rehearsing these songs and can´t wait to get them on stage now.

How do you think the band's sound has changed from album one to four?

Even though it still sounds like TNB, the arrangements have definitely changed over the years. Everything is much clearer and more to the point now. Jacob Hansen (producer) did a great job pushing our sound to a higher level and showing us new perspectives concerning the song writing. It all seems fatter and more concise.
Of course, it took three albums to get to this point. From starting with self-recorded songs in Fabian's cellar, to putting out a high-end, fat-sounding album with a great producer on the current album. Being in a band is not always about "just rockin´"; it can be even more exciting if you learn how to develop it further and further.

You've worked with Jacob Hansen on the last two albums as you say, and he is definitely a producer with an established pedigree. So what else does he add to The New Black sound and how did you get to work with him in the first place?

Yes, we've known Jacob since album number three. On that one he actually mixed our stuff in his studio in Denmark. We were so impressed by the result that after deciding to work with a producer, it was clear to us that we had to get him on board. A lot of people at the time told us that there was much more power in our sound when we play live and our advantage was that Jacob already knew how we sounded on stage, so it was relatively easy to find a suitable compromise sound-wise on a studio album. Jacob transposed everything we wanted and looking back, it was definitely the right thing to do.

Where is the biggest market for The New Black in terms of sales and touring?

Well, I guess we'll have to find out. We´re ready to hit every road on this planet right now. We are still increasing our fan community in Germany but the international feedback is awesome and we still hope to play more in foreign countries. We can't wait to bring these tracks to the stage now. Of course, we need to promote 'A Monster´s Life' with a tour right away but it's also much more than that. The album release is relatively late, so unfortunately we probably won´t play too many festivals this year. But after a few months we'll see how the people like our work, then we can plan further and play as much as we can, nationally and internationally. Then, when we feel it´s time for album number five, the fun will begin all over again.

Fireworks Magazine Online 73 - Interview with C.O.P. UK


Ant Heeks speaks to Kev Tonge

Sheffield-based Crimes Of Passion are gearing up to release their excellent third album 'No Place For Heaven', produced by Sascha Paeth (Avantasia), through German label UDR. The line-up of vocalist Dale Radcliffe, drummer Kev Tonge, guitarists Charles Staton and Andrew Mewse and bassist Scott Jordan have recently been augmented with former Jaded Heart keyboard player Henning Wanner. To find out why they have slightly re-branded their name and headed in a more commercial direction to their previous work, Fireworks got in touch with drummer and founding member Kev Tonge.

COP-UK Interview

'No Place For Heaven' is an absolutely phenomenal album, you must be extremely proud of it?

It's taken three years of seriously hard work and compromise because it's the first time we've worked with a producer to this extent, where we write the songs in our normal way, sent them to Sascha and in some cases he's ripped them to pieces and then sent them back, and we've thought "Oh God, what's he done?!" You look at each other in the rehearsal room and think, "We preferred our version!" But that's because you get so attached to what you've done as a song-writer, you don't look at the bigger picture. Then you begin to realise that Sascha has done the right thing and you go with it. So Dale was flying backwards and forwards and finishing the vocals, adding bits, choirs were going on, then when the songs came back we realised we had learnt a valuable lesson ̶ you've got to trust a producer that you're paying a lot of money to work with, but when the guy's done Avantasia, Edguy and Kamelot and they keep going back to him album after album, he knows what he's on about. He's the nicest guy you would ever want to meet, he's so down to earth and he loves the British! That's kind of the reason we got to work with him in the first place, because he'd never worked with a British band before. He's really behind the album, he's done a lot to help us get to where we are.

Would you say it was a lot more accessible than your previous album?

It's commercial. There is some heavy shit on there which our manager Leo wasn't too fussy about, but we said, "But it's not us if we don't put the Avenged Sevenfold-type stuff on there that we love and that we're known for." Admittedly it's not as heavy as the last album and there's a lot of orchestration and backing, but you've still got the Avenged sound and the riffs that Charles comes up with, but some of the slower songs are very anthemic in places.

Was that intentional?

Because the last album was well received and we loved it, we kind of set off on this album with the same approach, like "we need to write another 'Blown Away', we need to write another 'Body And Soul', what we didn't have on the last album was "this" type of song so we need to make sure we put that on." So Charles went away and came up with the riffs and worked them into the songs, Dale put the melodies to it, humming nonsense before he gets the lyrics like most bands do, then we jam it up and structure the songs. I'm a big Melodic Rock fan, but A7X are my favourite band in the world, and I looked at what we've got and thought we were missing a couple of heavier tunes, we needed to concentrate on those. But when they came back from Sascha they were more commercialised and had the heaviness taken away. The overall plan from Leo, hence the name change to C.O.P. U.K., was to aim for the German audience with this album, the management, the label, they're all in Germany, the market's there for a British band so that's the angle they're aiming at, that was Sascha's brief from Leo – aim at the German and Scandinavian market predominantly. So Sascha changed a lot of the songs substantially to make them more commercial, and then he came back with what will be the single, 'Catch Me If You Can', a real up-tempo, catchy tune, that was Sascha's song. He wrote that for Kissin' Dynamite but they didn't want to do it, then it was offered to Saxon but I phoned Biff and asked if we could have it! So it wasn't intentional, it just panned out that way.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

So how exactly does the name change work for you?

We're still Crimes Of Passion but we've just abbreviated everything into C.O.P. U.K. It's purely to target the German market, the German's particularly love British bands because in their eyes it's where it all started. Let's be honest, if you take The Scorpions, Helloween and Rammstein out of it, they've not a lot else, so there is an opportunity there for a new British band to break through. C.O.P. U.K. is easier for people to remember, the logo looks great on a T-shirt but we're still Crimes Of Passion to those who already know us.

Why did you decide to bring in a keyboard player?

Dale and I have been friends with Henning since our first European tour in 2006 with White Lion when Henning was the keyboard player. He's such a nice, down to earth guy, first an foremost he's got a great voice. A lot of the stuff that Sascha was sending back to us had all this orchestration, keyboard parts and choirs on, and we decided we didn't want to be playing live to backing tracks but we want to be able to replicate the sounds as much as possible live, so we decided to ask Henning and all the stars aligned. He'd finished with Jaded Heart, he's now playing with Circle II Circle, but he's not doing too much with them now as Zak Stevens looks to be involved with the Savatage reunion and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It just felt right.

So what touring plans have you got?

The album will be out January 22nd, and we're doing an album release party at the Corporation in Sheffield on the 23rd. Then we go out with Helloween throughout Europe at the end of January into February, we've got the Full Metal Mountain which is a new concept where they take over an Alpine Ski resort in the Austrian Alps where you get three thousand Metal Heads drinking beer, trying to ski, breaking legs and watching Metal bands! We're trying to play the same day as Avantasia so Sascha can get up with us and do the single. We've also got a lot of the festivals coming in, we're doing the Wacken Cruise in September and we've also been confirmed for Wacken 2017.

The UK hasn't really woken up to what C.O.P. have to offer. Why do you think that is?

Good question. When we toured with W.A.S.P. in 2012 we were the only support and we were playing to two or three thousand people every night. We shifted twelve hundred CDs in thirteen shows. People were coming up and saying, "Fantastic band, we'd never heard of you before", but it's probably our fault that we've never really done anything since then to keep that momentum going. We still keep getting people on FaceBook now we're doing the social media push saying, "We saw you with W.A.S.P., you were awesome, good to see you're going again." With getting this album done we need to push over here now. There are people that have heard of us so we need to re-connect with those people and get them to come and check us out again. It will happen, we're not going to leave the U.K. alone and concentrate on Mainland Europe because it's where we live, it's easier for us to tour over here than Europe. There will be shows next year, it just depends on how well the album does.

The song 'No Place For Heaven' is a wonderful duet, how did that develop?

Again, it's purely the Sascha connection. Cloudy Yang, who sang with Dale, is the Avantasia vocalist on their last single 'Sleepwalking'. She lives close to Sascha in Wolfsburg. Years ago she was in a band but something went horribly wrong in terms of the record label and it put her off the music industry and she's now a Primary School teacher. They coerced her to come out of retirement to do 'Sleepwalking'. 'No Place For Heaven' was written with a duet in mind and Sascha asked Cloudy to sing on it and she jumped at the chance. It is the lyric video for the album. I would have loved to have it as the single but the issue you've got is you need to able to perform your single live and we couldn't replicate the female voice live, unless we get Henning to wear a skirt!


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