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John Payne Talks “Raiding The Rock Vault”

February 25, 2013 by  
Filed under Interviews


Ever wish you could have seen rock legends in such a room like Elvis played in his heyday? Well, now you have a chance to! In the world-famous room in what used to be called the Las Vegas Hilton – now named the Las Vegas Hotel or LVH – where the likes of Elvis, Liberace, and Barry Manilow have graced the stage, there is a new show beginning a one-year residency.

Named Raiding the Rock Vault, it is billed as the story of classic rock. Featuring classic rock legends from some of your favorite bands.  I recently had the opporunity to speak with John Payne, bassist and frontman from Asia (you started singing “Heat of the Moment” just now, didn’t you?) and he gave us the skinny on how this show came together and what the audience can expect.

Hi John! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today! I have to tell you, as a child of the late 70s and 80s – as many of my readers are – I am SO excited for this show! How did it come together?
Today is our first day of rehearsals. It’s a really exciting time. It came together because  had been asked by an old manager of mine, a guy called Harry Cowell and another guy called Simon, they both managed me when I joined Asia, back in ’91. They both asked me to work on this project two years ago, the standard offer of me just getting together basically a group the best musicians I could find to go out and tour what was then deemed the greatest setlist ever, songs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and we recorded as well. I got together with some great musicians, did all the backing tracks for these great songs in the studio. We decided to finish those tracks and put a tour together. Problem with that being it would just be a great band doing great songs. Kind of like the ultimate covers band. I didn’t quite want to do it that way. I kind of went back to the drawing board with it. I made it a bit more theatrical, a bit more of  the history of classic rock. Fashions, all those things that happened at that date to make it a rockumentary. Make it a documentary of those eras of time. I took that to my friend David Kirschenbaum and we put the script together and it just grew into what has now become Raiding the Rock Vault, and we ended up in Vegas, quite surprisingly. It’s almost two years ago to the day that this just went down on a piece of paper in a bar. It’s kind of the right time to do this.

Im hearing it referred to as the story of classic rock, Is there a story we are going to follow or are we just going to get awesome music just for the sake of enjoying it?
It starts in 1948. It talks about the social unrest, but there is also a side story that happens in the future, in the year 3012. People leaving the planet and coming back into the year 2012 and finding all these time capsules of music that has been lost. When they find the time capsule in the Mayan castle, it starts the story. The actual chronological songs, it starts with The Who’s “My Generation” and goes right through to “Jump” by Van Halen. The cool thing is that there is also a satellite story as well. There is a narrator on the front of the stage who discusses AM radio, which evolves into FM radio, where all the classic rock albums are, which turns into the 80s, which is the second part of the show and it goes to MTV, and we have a VJ there. Kind of looking back into the past through this time capsule. For those people who lived it, it’s a great trip down memory lane.

Now, I know some of the guys in the show have other projects going as well – are we looking at differences in the lineups each night or will there just be substituted out here and there with special guests?
e have the core band. Certain people have other responsibilities throughout the year. We have a few guys who will fill in for the other guys when they’re out, but mostly the core band is pretty solid. We are also going to have special guests every few weeks. Joe Lynn Turner is coming in. I spoke to some really high level people. I want to keep a few surprises as well! Even if you have seen the show a month before, if you come in a month later, it will have different songs and some different people. However, the core of the band, which is myself, Jay Schellen (drums, Hurricane, Asia), Howard Leese (guitar, Heart, Paul Rodgers Band/Bad Company), Paul Shortino (vocals, Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot, and he’s DUKE FAME!) Michael T. Ross (keys, Lita Ford, Missing Persons), Andrew Freeman (vocals, Lynch Mob, the Offspring, Last in Line). These people are going to be the core. It’s going to be pretty much an extravaganza of these musicians playing these tracks. Plus we have a 50 foot stage screen featuring the work of four or five of the best rock photographers at the back of the stage, plus facts coming up on the screen. You’ve got the visuals. You’ve got the acting.

In a legendary room…..
In an incredible legendary room. I didn’t realize until I did some research. I obviously knew Elvis was here. Liberace was here. Great, great people. Johnny Mathis. It’s one of the most incredible stages in Vegas. When you come in, you will see a forest, and a Mayan castle. We’ve got a great production designer. The guy has done a phenomenal job!

Its a Vegas show turned up to 11!
That is a great tagline!

Its true! If you take an old-school Vegas show, with their larger than life production, and you add in incredible music…. I think I am going to see if they offer season passes or something!
The show won’t change. But come as often as you want to come.

Fore more info:

LIKE Raiding the Rock Vault on Facebook
Follow them on Twitter (@Rock_Vault) for the latest news and updates

Heading to Vegas within the next year? Get your tickets here or by calling the LVH box office directly 24 hours a day at 800-222-5361. The show is dark one day a week, and judging from the ticket availability, it is generally either Thursday or Friday. Tickets range from $49-$100 and they have VIP packages available which seats you in the first five rows, and you get all kinds of signed goodies like a program and album, and a meet and greet. Not a bad deal, considering that other acts charge a heck of a lot more money and you don’t nearly get as much. Plus, the theater isn’t like Madison Square Garden – it is much more intimate and doesn’t have a bad seat in the house.

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