Fireworks Magazine

Fireworks Magazine Online 73 - Interview with Radio Exile

RADIO EXILE


Radio Exile is another ensemble of seasoned musicians worth our attention. Alexandra Mrozowska talks with Charlie Calv about the band's foundation and their first album.


Radio-Exile Interview

Is Radio Exile a super-group in your view?


It's nice to be called "super" but I think the reason why we have this line-up is more because we wanted to put something together with guys from different musical backgrounds and generations and try and create something unique; we were just lucky they were all able to commit. This is not some manufactured group of guys who never met or played in the same room together and I would like to stress that we all rehearsed together and worked out arrangements and all tracked together the old fashioned way, nobody did any recording in their home studios. I was there for every session over the course of a year and it took that long because of everyone's schedules and us wanting to do it this way with the actual interaction of working together. In my opinion that is how you create music and great records; it is the interaction between the musicians. That art is all too often lost in today's musical climate. Maybe that is why so many are short lived because they don't even get the opportunity to actually know each other.

In what circumstances was this project formed?

It's actually quite funny how we formed this whole thing. I had run in to Dave whom I have known since we were kids and we have always talked about doing something together but we could never seem to make it work, so I was pretty determined to make something happen this time. I sent him some songs I was working on and asked if he would be up for doing a record and if he knew of any singers, and he was totally up for it and recommended Chandler. We then got together with Chandler and we hit it off right away, so the three of us talked about how we wanted to move forward and who we had in mind for guitarists and bass players. I wanted to make sure it was an interesting group of players and not just your typical hard rock guys where we would just churn out this generic sounding record which seems to happen all too often these days. Jimmy was at the top of our list as he's such a versatile player and I knew he could add a lot to this record and fortunately for us he was able to commit. Then Kenny kind of came in accidentally. Chandler ran into him at a show and they started talking, and next thing I know I get an email from Chandler saying how would you like Kenny Aaronson on the record? Who is going to say no to that right? So I sent Kenny the stuff and he liked it and was able to commit as well. So that is how we wound up with the line-up.

Is it a band, or a project and do you plan it to continue?

For me personally this is my main band now. We all have other things that we are involved with but as long as Chandler and I continue to write what we think are pretty good songs than this will continue. We already have some rough ideas for the next record and plan on starting to demo them shortly. We did not know what to expect when we first put this together but it seems to have worked out really well so we are all geared up to do another one.

A common denominator for all musicians involved in Radio Exile is their vast amount of studio and stage experience. Do you think it is reflected in the way everything functions and sounds, or is Radio Exile a whole new chapter independent of all your previous work and achievements?

Well you can't deny that you are going to hear the individual influences especially from myself and Chandler from the song writing side, but I think collectively it is what everyone brings to the table that give us our overall sound and creates Radio Exile. It was intentional to get guys that had very diverse backgrounds and get us all in a room together and see what happens. Dave is a tremendous percussionist so you hear that influence all over the record. Jimmy is such a well-rounded player that he can go from tearing it up on a track like 'No Pity On The Highway' to a nice country flair on 'Feels Like Home'. Then Kenny comes from a whole different school deeply rooted in Motown and Rockabilly, I mean he has played with Hall And Oates, Bob Dylan and Brian Setzer, so you have that thrown into the mix. So in answer to your question, yes it does reflect in the overall sound but collectively it becomes what it is.

What are your personal highlights of the recently released self-titled album?

Wow, very hard question. I like the entire record for various reasons and I actually listen to it quite a lot, which is unusual because I don't really listen to my own stuff that often. But I hope that is because it is not boring and diverse enough that there is probably something on here for everyone. That makes it hard to pick a highlight, but I guess 'No Pity On The Highway' is one, because I really like that for the raw aggression; and then on the flipside I just love the way 'A Cross On Stone' came out; to have Joe Cerisano and Jessie Wagner just doing their thing on the end was just a sight to see in the studio; that was all just one take.

There's plenty of different vibes to 'Radio Exile' – from the bluesy 'No Pity On The Highway' to the gospel-esque 'A Cross On Stone' as you say. What were you inspired by while making the album and are your personal music tastes similarly diverse?

'I listen to all sorts of music; to me if it is a good song it is a good song and that is kind of the approach we took. We did not put any limitations on what could make the final cut other than if we thought it was a good song it made the record. We also wanted to make a record where hopefully everyone can take away something that they really like. I am huge Led Zeppelin fan and I love how they would intertwine all these different styles yet it was all Zeppelin, same with a band like Queen.

What was the song writing process on this album? Do you always work this particular way?

Chandler and I wrote all of the songs for this except 'Hang On', which was a rewrite of an existing idea that Chandler had. On some, I had a musical idea and he wrote the melodies and lyrics to it, like 'A Cross On Stone'; and then on some he just had a vocal melody or he had a whole melody lyric idea, like on 'Down In A Hole', and I just wrote the music around that. After that we would go back and forth and tweak stuff and work on the arrangement and do demos of them to send to the others. We then got together as a group and rehearsed the final arrangements.

It seems Radio Exile earned not only enthusiastic reviews but also some solid airplay – we talk mostly Rock-oriented online radio stations here. What's your relationship with this medium? Do you think it's still important to have your songs on the air in the era of the supposed decline of the radio?

'I am old school so I think it is still important, although there are so many more outlets to hear music these days. It's unfortunate to kind of be in that classic rock category because the only songs that get played in that format are the classics. Even if an older band releases new material you will very rarely hear it on the radio. That is kind of where we got the idea for the name Radio Exile. We're exiled from radio. The artwork just ties in with that concept as it captures an image of the old army forts, off the coast of England from World War II, which then used to house the pirate radio stations. Radio Exile, just kind of fits perfectly.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music


You had plenty of big names from the music industry working on the album. What kind of influence do you think they exerted on the recorded material? Especially Steve DeAcutis and Steve Lunt who worked alongside many Pop artists...

They all brought something different to the table. Steve DeAcutis is a more hands on type of guy, so he not only co-produced but engineered and mixed it as well. You can hear that he worked on it as he has very distinct mixing approach; if you listen to the new Vanilla Fudge record or Pat Traverse, and then Radio Exile for example, they all sonically have that same kind of warm sound and this just what we wanted.Steve Lunt is a more hands off, ideas man and just loves to try all sorts of ideas to try and find just the right direction or parts for the song that work best. Alan is just great though; he actually produced the first Shotgun Symphony record and this is the first time we have worked together since. He just added the polish that was needed during the mastering to just make the whole thing shine. Also, both Steve DeAcutis and Steve Lunt are song guys, so that is important. We are all in there together trying to give the best representation of the song. Stevie has a very organic approach and loves natural sounding guitars and drums, and then Steve Lunt comes from a more polished background obviously from developing Britney Spears and his early years working alongside Mutt Lange on the City Boy records, so the balance between the two was great. Let me tell you, Lunt knows how to pick a song or songs.... For example, he sent me the iTunes charts the other night, with what are the most popular songs from the CD, and the top 3 were all the ones he picked. Then, he did work with Max Martin quite a lot so, when you work with the guy that probably has the most chart topping songs ever, it has to rub off a bit, right (laughs).

How important do you think is the role of the producer in general and what characteristics do you think an ideal producer should possess?

They are like the ring-leader and help you to reach your artistic vision; then sometimes they can create a train wreck, lol. No, I like to think we put together a good team to work on this, and I liked that myself. Stevie and Steve all worked together to achieve this. I like to think that I, having a hand in the production myself, kept the artistic vision that I originally had and that these guys just helped take it to a whole new level and capture the best performances. I'm really thrilled with the results and there was no train wreck at all.

Just recently you've made a music video to 'No Pity On The Highway'. What's the storyline and how do you think it corresponds with the song lyrics?

'It is about someone struggling to get through life and its addictions. There is no pity for the choices that you make as you go down life's highway. In the video you can see how this young guy is struggling with his substance addictions and how you can lose what you love as it consumes you. This is a huge issue in today's society; way too many people struggle with it. You are left at the end to wonder what happens, as this guy stands on the edge of the cliff.... Stay tuned for the next video.'

Do you plan any more videos for the album then? Which songs would you like to have illustrated?

Yes. We are planning on doing at least one more, and possibly a third as well. We are working on the storyline now and plan on starting to shoot it in December. I have a pretty good idea on which one is next, but it is not 100%, so don't want to say which at the moment.

What are the current plans for you? Any chance of bringing it to the live stage?

We do have some offers for some festivals in 2016, which we are looking at right now. As far as any extensive touring goes, I don't think that would be possible because of everyone's individual schedules, but we'll see. Chandler and I are starting to work on some ideas individually and plan on taking December to sort through what we have and at least get some stuff demoed for hopefully the next album.

Is there anything you'd like to add in the end?

Many thanks to the fans and everyone at Fireworks. I go back a long way with Bruce and some of the guys and it is an absolute pleasure to be back on the scene making some new music, with what I think is a fantastic group of musicians. If we can take this to the stage there is so much material we could touch upon that would thrill the fans, I'm sure.

Read the album review right here on Rocktopia!

Fireworks Magazine Online 73 - Interview with Naked

NAKED


Naked are a Swedish four piece and their debut album came out in 2003. And that was it, nothing more was heard from them until original band mates Peter Sundvall and Mats Stattin decided to get back together and write some new material. Ian Johnson speaks with Peter and Mats about the delay in making a new album, what drives them now and their new band members Tony Borg and Paul Logue.


Naked Interview

Your first album came out in 2003 I believe. Why has it taken so long for album number two to surface?


Mats: To be honest I didn't know if there was going to be a new Naked album.
It was a little bit turbulent after making the first album so we´ve kept a low profile. I hadn't talked to Tony in a few years when he suddenly called me up:
Hey Mats I have new table (mixing) now, do you wanna come up and record a couple of songs? Of course I answered and quite fast we had recorded three demos. Tony was very impressed by what we achieved and said to me: This is the future!

What have been the biggest musical changes you've encountered in the years between the debut and 'End Game' albums. Is it the recording process, the internet or something else?

Mats: I don't think there's been any big musical changes from the first album. I think the difference is that with this album we took our time (two years) to work it through. The first album had a different singer so it was produced and sounded a little bit more "sleezey" but 'End Game' with Peter at the microphone is much more what I think NAKED is all about.

The new album could I suppose be described as Melodic Hard Rock. Yet it's musical structures and the way the songs are arranged, give the whole album its very own strong identity. Was this how the band decided to write the album or how these songs turned out during the song writing process?

Mats: I can describe the song writing process like this: I present a skeleton to Tony and Peter. Tony begins putting on the lungs, the heart and muscles then Peter comes in and dresses it with a smooth skin and turns the body into a beautiful NAKED woman (laughs) I think the three of us have found a perfect way to combine our talents, And we're having a great time doing it! Also I think Peter is a great lyricist which adds to the flavour for those interested in lyrical content

Are the songs on the new album all new ones? Or are there songs and ideas left over from your earlier album that you have used?

Mats: There are no songs leftover from the first album. The songs on the new album were all written over a ten year period. Except "Victoria Avenue". Peter presented to me a demo that he wrote for his band XVII Days back in the old days. We listened to it and agreed that "Victoria" was a great song. I added some new guitar parts and Peter added some lyrics, wrote a new chorus and it turned out to be one of our personal favourites on the album.

I'd like to talk about a couple of the new songs, firstly the lead of track 'Silverthorn'. It has a real Kansas feel to it. It also has to my ears anyway an odd time signature and arrangement. What can you tell us about it?

Mats: Silverthorn was actually the first song we recorded. I really liked the riff even though it has kind of a backbeat in the verse. I asked Tony: Can we really use this riff? Hell yeah, he said, it's cool. Tony likes to work "outside the box"; If you don't try your ideas you kill creativity. When I played it to Peter for the first time he just looked at me and said "How the hell am I going to sing this one?" The song is a little different but I think it has a lot of rock 'n' roll in it.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music


Also please tell us about the wonderful Jennie Jahns and the ballad 'End Of Eternity' on which the two of you sing. Your voices really compliment each other

Mats: I had the idea of turning "End of eternity" into a duet from the beginning and I had met Jenny a few years earlier. She's originally from the same town as me and Peter. It was not written in stone but it turned out great.
Peter: I was also surprised at how well our voices complemented each other – there are parts when I cannot make out who is who! In addition to singing in her own show band, Jenny is a very talented voice actor, doing lots of voice over's for cartoons and Disney movies in Sweden.

Can you tell us about the band and how Tony Borg and Paul Logue get involved with Naked?

Peter: Well, Tony was involved in producing the first Naked album so there was a connection already. We have to thank our record company for hooking us up with the great Paul Logue. The original demos for 'End Game' were made using programmed drums. When Mikael Wikman added real drums, Escape felt there was a disconnection with the bass guitar. They sent the tapes to Paul and we spent three-four days sending files back and forth, and the result was just great. What a player!

Talking of Tony and Paul... they are two well respected and very busy musicians, so will Naked be able to go out and tour? Or will you have to form a band specially to do this?

Peter: Naked started out as a studio project with me, Tony and Mats but we have since put together a touring band, including Mikael on drums, Conny Payne (ex Madison) on bass and Mats Hedén (ex Weeping Willows) on keyboards. Paul is a very busy man and this was a pure session job for him.

With such a gap between albums is Naked now an on going thing and will you be recording albums on shall we say a more regular basis than before?

Peter: Well I certainly hope so! We have been getting a great response to this album so far and although the market place for new bands is not that great, we hope the sales will merit some outside financing for the next one. We have already laid down a new track in the studio, and we're working on some ideas.

With the new album out any day now, are you more excited now than you were when you released the debut CD, and if so why? What does making a new album in 2015 mean to you?

Peter: When Mats released the first CD, it was on his own label. This time we have a global distribution deal with Escape Music and we have already noticed the difference in reach and attention. Also, it doesn't hurt being associated with profiles such as Paul Logue, Pete Newdeck and Tony Borg. Personally I am much more excited since this is my recording debut! As for making an album in 2015, the market is not what it was back in the early 1980s: there is no guarantee whatsoever that you will be noticed, certainly not any guarantee that you will make any money to finance a second album – at least not on record sales alone. For us, this time around was a very enjoyable creative process and it felt important to get the final product out there – and into our hands. That has now been achieved. If others enjoy and embrace it, that will be a bonus!

Fireworks Magazine Online 72 - Interview with John 'Rhino' Edwards (Status Quo)

JOHN 'RHINO' EDWARDS


John 'Rhino' Edwards has been the bass player for legendary British band Status Quo since the mid-1980s, where he has contributed rock solid rhythms, backing vocals, and several co-writes with the group. In 2000 he released his first solo foray, entitled 'Rhino's Revenge'. Now, thanks mostly to Quo's hectic schedule, some fifteen years later the sequel has arrived. James Gaden spoke to Rhino to hear all about 'II'...


John-Rhino-Edwards


I really enjoyed the album and in preparation for speaking to you, I re-read the interview I did with you in Fireworks #48...

We've spoken before have we? What was that for?

It was for the QuoFest Christmas Tour you did back in 2011 when Kim Wilde and Roy Wood were on the bill.

Blimey. They must have been fucking hard up for someone to talk about that if you ended up getting me then!

(Laughs) Nah, you were great, and you actually mentioned in that interview that once Christmas was out of the way, you were going to begin work on this album... which is now out four years later.

Really? How bizarre! Because it turns out you're my first James... this is my first interview for the new record.

Excellent – I hope I'm not the last.

(Laughs) Me too!

So back in 2011, you told me you were roping in your son Freddie, in fact several members of your family, to work on this record, but you had to fit it in around school times.

That's right! That's exactly what I had to do. My other son, Max, who is the drummer, he's got a brain the size of Richmond. He's on his fifth university now, he's done Cambridge, Harvard, UCLA, he's just come back from a year in Berlin ...

And he's been expelled from all of them?

(Laughs) No, no, no! He's twenty eight and still at Uni, he's just left to go to San Diego for five years, all that time in the sun, the little shit. So yeah, he gave me some time, I had to use him before he had to go, so I got ten days out of him before he went back to his studies. My other son Freddie has become a very much in demand guitar player, and he gave me twelve days. It was great, having them play on it with me, one of the best experiences of my life.

When Freddie started showing real ability on guitar, did you then have to tell Max he'd have to learn drums so you would have a ready made band?

(Laughs) No, it is funny, Max naturally gravitated toward drums and Freddie to guitar. When they first started playing, I think Max was eleven and Freddie was nine. I decided we could play some really simple together, so I thought about it and we played 'Waiting For My Man' by the Velvet Underground. So the first song we played together was about scoring heroin. I'd probably be arrested for that nowadays! (laughs) When we were making this album, Max asked me about a fill, and I never thought I'd ever make a Rock album where the drummer would turn around and say 'Dad, what about this?' It really was a big love in, the three of us, my best mate Mike Paxman producing, who does a lot of the Quo stuff, and one of the kid's best mates is the other guy in my band, and I got my daughter in on backing vocals. So it was very cheap!

That's the best way, and it sounds great! I also really liked the lyrics, I think some of the lyrics here are just brilliant.

Oh really? Thank you very much, I do place a lot of emphasis on that side. I don't see the point in listening to songs that sound like they were written on the back of a napkin in a nightclub. I can spend three weeks on a lyric, and I'm pleased you've listened to them.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music


They were quirky, witty, acerbic... I really liked 'Famous' because I totally agree with your views on "celebrities" in the mainstream media.

Most of them are like Christians being thrown to lions as far as I'm concerned. How fucked up is somebody going to be if they've been on 'The X Factor' or 'The Voice' or whatever, and they have a number one... or like that Irish kid, who was stopped from having a number one by Rage Against The Machine... where will his head be two years down the line, when he's playing in front of twenty people for £80, and being billed as 'The X Factor Winner!' Fuck off. And most of these acts are just re-hashing old material. Where are the new songs? I know there will always be talented song writers, but they don't get the exposure. I appreciate I sound like an old git, but even a lizard can make a record nowadays, it's not difficult anymore. I'm a luddite, I don't use a computer, loads of people do, but I think the machine is dictating what's going on, and I don't like that. I like to rant in my songs. 'New New New' is another one of my rants. Don't get me started!

I really enjoyed 'All The Girls Love A Bastard' as well, the words for that were spot on.

And I really wanted to put that out as a single. I think it's quite funny and very ironic, and I'd like to put it out simply to see if any of the po-faced brigade got hold of it and branded it disgraceful, sexist etc, when in fact it's the opposite. But I've decided I'm going to put out 'Black Widows' instead.

Good choice! 'Cougar' is a great song as well.

And that's just a peon to older ladies. I wrote a song for Quo called 'The Oriental' and that was a peon to Oriental women, I love them, I think they're gorgeous. But that's all they are, peons, it's easy for people to get the wrong idea about what I do.

With you saying you don't use computers, how do you go about writing when inspiration strikes, do you jot things down in a notebook?

No computers at all, everything was recorded using this very strange method of us all being in the room at the same time. (laughs) I rarely write when I'm on tour with Quo, I think 'Cougar' was the only thing I wrote on the road. I go walking in the park, or I walk by the river and just write stuff down. I also have a room, which my wife is constantly on at me to decorate, she thinks it's horrible, but I don't care. I have a favourite wall to stare at in there and a lot of it comes out there. An idea will form and I'll spend a long time with it, a lot of attention to detail.

With you having particular emphasis on the lyrics, do they come first and you write music to fit them?

Nah, without trying to sound glib, it's all Rock 'n' Roll to me, I have no hard and fast rules for song writing, other than I have to like it. There's one track on the album, 'One Note Blues' and a lot of my mates who love Quo are saying is really good, and I think it is, but it's nothing that Status Quo couldn't have done better.

That one was one that leapt out for me to ask you if any of them were considered as Quo tracks originally.

No, none of them. I know from working with Francis and Rick for so many years, I've written with Rick before and I've written the lyrics for him to sing, and he's found it difficult. 'Creeping Up On You' was one we wrote completely together and that worked great, but there have been other songs Rick has sung and to me it sounds like someone else had written the lyrics. 'One Note Blues' is something we could do with Quo musically, but I'm not sure Francis would believe in the lyrics, considering the idea for the song was to create a new dance craze! It's could be the new Macarena!

Well, if you do a video and it's goes viral, it could happen, look at 'Gangham Style'.

Funnily enough, I'm planning a video for 'Black Widows', and there was a funny tent scene in Austin Powers where it appears he's pulling items out of women's arses, so we want to do something like that – not women's arses, but we want to use a funny idea, I don't want one of those terrible serious videos saying 'Look at us rocking out!' I hope I can get some radio play with 'Black Widows' because it is a good song.

You started as a session musician, before joining Quo in the 80s. Did you always want to front your own band, or has that come out of a desire to find an outlet for your own songs?

Absolutely, and Quo aren't going to go on forever, I'm a bit younger than them. I read a great interview with Keith Richards, and he said that he was never going to retire, because all the Blues guys he looked up to, like John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters, they basically played until they died or were incapacitated. I love playing and being on the road, my career has taken me all over the world.

You mentioned earlier about Mike Paxman being producer, and he has done lots of Quo stuff. Aside from the obvious bonus of him being your best mate, what is it he brings to the table?

Well, he produced my first Rhino's Revenge album, and he tells me clearly if he doesn't like something. I wrote a song which was quite close to home and involved the kids and he said 'You can't put that on there.' He looks at things objectively. There were a couple on there he didn't like, but that was tough shit, because I was insistent, and he said after it was done I was right and he was wrong. He prefers things a bit more improvisational, like at the end of 'New New New', I had everything up to the bit with the trumpet, where it goes all Beatles. None of us knew where it was going after that, so we just started playing in E. I just jammed live, with my kids, recording it, and it was great, it doesn't get any better.

That's how all the greats work, Rock was built by bands who went into the studio with one or two ideas and just jammed stuff out.

Yeah, and that's great but you often find people wandering around the studio, deep in thought, saying 'How about this?' - particularly on lyrics. So I had all the lyrics done before we started, which made it all fun, most of the writing was done and anything else was embellishment. It's all happening now. We've just got a distribution deal so you'll be able to get the album, all the details are on the website, or you can just buy it from there. We've done some gigs, by the time this comes out we'll have done the Status Quo Fan Club Convention at Butlins in Minehead, that will be a right laugh. We did a little tour and I've got another one coming up. We're going up a gear, we're playing slightly bigger venues and we're supporting Hayseed Dixie, so that will be great. When Quo finish up at the end of the year, I've got some more shows in February, playing with Eddie and The Hot Rods. And as Max is in California, I've got my nephew drumming. Jobs for the boys! (laughs)


'II' is released on October 23rd. Rhino's Revenge play the following dates with Hayseed Dixie:

Tues October 20th: Bury St. Edmunds, England - The Apex
Thu October 22nd: Southampton, England - The Brook
Fri October 23rd: London, England - O2 Brooklyn Bowl
Sat October 24th: Frome, England - The Cheese & Grain
Sun October 25th: Tunbridge Wells, England - Assembly Hall

For more details, February tour dates, or to order the album, visit www.rhinosrevenge.com

Fireworks Magazine Online 72 - Interview with Saxon

SAXON


When you have been a member of a band considered one of England's most legendary Metal acts as long as Biff Byford of Saxon, you have a reputation to maintain. 'Battering Ram', the band's 21st studio release, is another slab of hard-edged Metal that does Saxon proud. Ray Paul of Fireworks spoke to Biff about plans for the new year, the new album and if Saxon will ever attempt the much maligned concept album.


Saxon Fireworks



'Battering Ram' is your 21st studio album; Saxon have weathered all manner of storms over the years, from line-up changes to new musical trends. To what do you attribute the bands longevity?

I think the songs are the key to longevity. We have consistently released great albums and 'Battering Ram', our new one, is great example of what we can still do.

So many bands these days, have all but given up releasing new music, yet Saxon have been consistently releasing albums since you first formed. What keeps you enthusiastic about releasing new material?

When you have huge songs from the 80s that are in the Metal DNA, we owe it to our fans to write great songs and continue to get the music out there.

The title track 'Battering Ram' is about the audiences at the front of your shows. You often have written songs about the fans, is this because Saxon have always been a people's band?

We don't follow rules so every album, every song, comes from the heart, so I suppose we are a people's band, yes!

There is a rich diversity of songs on the new album, my favourite being 'Top The World'. What I always love about Saxon is no matter how heavy you play, it's never at the expense of a good melody. Is this something that is important to you?

I worked very hard on lyrics and melodies for this album. It is important for me to get them to work together, not against each other and produce great music.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music


Your producer Andy Sneap really knows how to get a great sound from you guys; is he now almost becoming the sixth member of the band?

No, not really. I worked with Andy on our last release 'Sacrifice'; I produced it and he mixed it. On this album I had built up a trust with him so I gave him the job of producing, which gave me more time to work on my vocals without the pressure of producing as well.

I find some of the lyrics on your albums almost an education in history, 'Kingdom Of The Cross' being a good example. Can you tell the readers something about the lyrics and how the song came to be?

I wrote a poem about the First World War as this year is the centenary of the end of the war. It's a poem about both sides in the conflict, and the men and women who died in the war. Nigel had a synth piece he had written that he was playing around with and I put the two together, which became 'Kingdom Of The Cross'.

Ever since I first heard 'Crusader' I have always felt Saxon could write a terrific concept album. Is this something you have ever considered?

Actually we could, and I have thought about it. It's picking the right subject. There are great concept albums but there's also a lot of crap that's not very good that has gone under the banner of the concept album.

'Battering Ram' features some terrific artwork. Who was responsible for it and how much involvement does the band have in this?

The art was done again by my friend Paul Raymond Gregory, I work closely with him but something like 'Battering Ram' comes quite easy with his style.

Having written so many classics, when touring to promote a new album is it a nightmare putting together a set-list?

It's always a challenge to mix old and new into a set-list, but the next dates we do will be the 'Battering Ram' tour, so songs from that release will find their place in the set among the classics.

Can we assume a U.K. tour is being put together for 2016?

We aren't doing many headline shows this year or next in Europe. We are out with Motörhead as special guests though.

And finally, after his health issues, how is drummer Nigel Glockler these days?

Nigel is fit and well, we just arrived back from a gruelling tour of the States and all was great.

Fireworks Magazine Online 72 - Interview with Stala & So.

STALA & SO.


Stala & So. were one of Scandinavia's best kept secrets - they surely should start to get the recognition they richly deserve following a stellar review of their recently released eponymously titled album, by our very own Kieran Dargan. Mark Donnelly put the questions to singer and founding member Sampsa Astala, aka Stala.


StalaAndSo Fireworks Interview


For the benefit of those that have not come across Stala & So. before, can you give us a brief history of the band?

We started the first version of the band in the late 90s as "SO." From 2000 to 2010, I played drums in Lordi along with our bass player Nick Gore. During that period our band was more like a "therapy band". Then, in 2010, we started the band again under the name Stala & So. during which time we participated in the Finnish Eurovision song contest, with the song 'Pamela'. After that, we released two albums, 2011's 'It Is So' and 2013's 'Play Another Round', and one EP, 2011's 'Gimme Five', and we have toured Europe a couple of times. That is the long story short.

Your self-titled album has just been released. This is your third full studio album. What can fans expect?

It is a Hard Rock album with an attitude and good melodies. There is some Classic Rock, AOR and even Pop influences.

How does the new release compare to your previous albums? Sound wise, are there any returning facets that might be familiar to long-term fans and, on the other side of the coin, is there anything new that these listeners can expect to find?

There is a little more versatile stuff on this album than our previous albums. Saying that, it still sounds typical Stala & So. with big drums, loud guitars with lots of vocal harmonies. In certain songs, there are some dark elements that we have not had before.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music


On a more general front, have you tried anything new this album – be it writing, recording, production – that you have not attempted before?

We added some loops and modern elements that they are using in productions nowadays. Also, we have a ladies' choir on three of the songs. We did everything by ourselves, in our own SMF studio in Helsinki.

Why did you go down the route of having the album self-titled?

It felt like right thing to do.... and we did not have any better ideas!

I like all the songs on the album but especially 'When the Night Falls', 'I Can See It In Your Eyes' and 'You Don't Mind'. Which are your particular favourites?

I like them all as well but maybe 'Headlong' and 'When the Night Falls' are my favourites at the moment. Those songs are fun to sing.

Can you tell me who did the fantastic production on the new album?

I did it myself with help from our guitar player, Sami J., who is also a producer. Of course, all the band members had their input on each song.

Who are the principal songwriters in the band and how does the process work?

I am the main song writer and everything goes through me but everyone can bring their ideas; Nick gave us a couple of songs.

Who are the main bands that have influenced Stala & So.?

Kiss, Whitesnake, Mötley Crüe, Foo Fighters, Europe, Bon Jovi, Skid Row, Ratt, Foreigner... You name it.

Have you found reference to your previous band Lordi a help or hindrance over the years?

It helps, of course. The music is not that different; it is still Melodic Hard Rock. We have lots of fans who like both bands, Lordi and Stala & So.

How is the Rock scene in Finland?

It is pretty bad, at least business wise. Of course, there are some great bands but radio does not play any minor or Indie bands anymore.

I presume that you will be touring when the new album comes out. Do any of your plans include UK dates?

We are trying our best to come to the UK. We have been there twice and it has been wonderful. I think we need to find a good supporting slot first. Any good ideas?

You mention on your website that you are all about making music professionally but having fun whilst doing it. Does that ethos remain as strong now as it always has?

If it is not fun then there is no use doing it. I mean, we do not get enough money doing this; that is why it needs to be fun at least.


Stala & So. is available on Escape Music.

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