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Catching Up With..Milijenko Matijevic of Steelheart

September 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Catching Up With..., Daily Music News

steelheartthroughworldscdSeptember 15 welcomes the brand new Steelheart album “Through Worlds of Stardust”.  Now this is the first new material since 2008 “Good 2B Alive”.  That was a very heavy record.  Is this more of a return to the magic of the late 1980’s/early 1990’s sound that longtime Steelheart fans long for?

This record is a return to the magic of that period.  What it was but still remains relevant today.    I cannot go back completely to the 80’s and that style because I’ve grown or evolved as an artist.  Music is a bit different today.   Our vision from the beginning was let’s recreate that magic again but let’s make it sound like today and be relevant today.  I hope I captured that. Read more

Catching Up With… Graham Bonnet

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Graham, let’s talk about the release of your first Live Album/DVD in 33 years Live..Here Comes The Night.  It was recorded in April 2016 in Milan Italy as part of the Frontiers Rock Festival.  Was the intent to record that night for a live record or did the idea of releasing this come later?   

We were told in advance that this performance would be a filmed live recording for a CD/DVD package.  What’s interesting about this show was that we had just come off a boat, literally had been travelling on a ferry to get to Milan.  We had been up for a whole day.  Actually, a little more than 24 hours and we had this damn show to do.  When I watched the footage for the first time I could not believe how worn out I looked.  We were all so damn tired but in the end I think the results are what counts and it sounds terrific.  I could not watch the entire show because I look like I’m about to drop dead.  

Was it tough picking a set list from your years as a solo artist along with your work with Rainbow, MSG, Impelleteri & Alcratrazz?

It sort of is but it isn’t.  What happens is as a band we all bring to the table what we feel we would like to perform from my catalog.  By the time everybody has their input we sometimes have upwards of two full sets of material so we try and whittle down a bit and get the list down to a working set.  There are so many songs to choose from for the set because I’m been lucky enough to have a reasonably successful career and a lot of the songs are known by a lot of people all over the world, which is really cool.  So we pick from not only my solo releases but all of the other band projects that I’ve been a part of which you have already mentioned.  Two or three songs from each band and then we plan to change it up again for this coming tour and revisit some other songs from the same eras.  Eventually I’d like to promote more of the newer material and less of the old stuff as the band gets more comfortable with it.         

I’d like to go back a few months to the release of The Book also out on Frontiers Records.  Talk about the writing process for those new tracks and what it was booklike to revisit some of your older material to be re-recorded?

Well, to be honest, revisiting the older material was horrible.  I always believe that the original recording is the best. Period.  Even when I was in the bands like Rainbow and suddenly we were out on tour and listened to songs like “All Night Long” I’d be like oh my god it’s not like the record at all.  It would be something different about it.  It might be better sometimes but often it wouldn’t quite meet the expectations I wanted it to.  It’s kind of difficult because I’ve been singing these songs for 30+ years and they do become a bit stale.  But for the audience at a show the tendency is to bring the song to life again like a new baby because they are all singing it with you. In other words, if your singing your heart out then maybe I should too.  But aside from the live experience, to go back into the studio to recreate that sound or that energy it took a bit of rethinking.  There is no reaction from anyone.  It’s just you and a microphone alone in a room.  Not quite the same buzz.  It seems easier live than recording.  I simply can’t listen to those recordings because I always think back to the originals and how I felt at the time recording them.  Whether it was a happy time or sad time it doesn’t matter.  Most of them were happy times because we were creating something new.    

As far as the new material goes we worked from a clean slate in terms of the arrangements and such but several of them I had been knocking them around for a bit.  To be honest, I never thought I’d be recording an album of new material.  My last solo effort was about 16 years ago and these new tunes have been in my head for the better part of that interim period.  I played them to the band and we all took it from there.  They added their parts and did the best we could do take an old-fashioned song and make it sound new.  I tend to write in different veins and styles and the band could take several jazzy parts and make them into a rock tune.  I’ve always sung different types of music all my life.  From rhythm and blues to pop to reggae to comedy tracks; you name it, I’ve done it.  If I have a song that’s somewhat light and play it for them on acoustic guitar eventually it becomes a band song and turns electric once we all plug in.  I hate calling it The Graham Bonnet Band because it truly is an effort of all involved.            

grahambonnetbandjoey_638You have some dates booked in Europe in July with your band playing some festivals and you are also going to be playing with The Michael Schenker festival again.  What has it been like to reconnect with Michael at these festival shows?

It’s been amazing. Given the circumstances based upon my initial departure from the band it’s nice to see Michael smiling across at me after my three songs in the set during these festival dates.  We did it after all these years.  We actually played live on stage when not drunk and wanting to kill each other.  It was very special and Michael was very, very pleased and so was I.  I know we have the show in Europe in July and again starting next March this may life as a full N American tour the details of which are being worked out. As long as I’m invited and available I’ll be there.  Michael truly is one of the greatest guitar players ever and I love playing with him.     

Are there any plans for your band to tour in North America at all in 2017/2018?

We are trying to get dates in North America but trying to book them is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. It’s just not that easy.  We are what I like to call a “B” band.  We are getting to be an “A” band but we are not quite there yet!  But nobody seems that interested and moreover nobody wants to spend reasonable money which is a huge factor in this.  We have had offers to play here but the money is shit.  May as well stay at home and work on a session for the next record which is under way.  We do need to make a name for ourselves here Stateside there is no doubt about it.   

Will your touring band include the same lineup as you have or have there been any changes at all?

Actually, there have been a few changes.  We are adding Joey Tafolla on guitar and Mark Banquechea on drums while retaining Beth-Ann Heavenstone on bass and old friend Jimmy Waldo on keyboards.  It’s a much more powerful line-up for sure.  Bigger sound and I think people are going to like it.      

I had the chance to speak with Joe Lynn Turner recently and he indicated that at one point there was a Rainbow reunion tour in the works that would have included not only JLT but you and Doogie White as well.  As it turns out Ritchie decided to go in another direction and tour with an all new Rainbow lineup consisting of no members from past incarnations. Based on everything that Schenker has done recently to instill an appreciation of the history of MSG, consistently inviting past members of his different lineups to play with him, is Blackmore disappointing his fans in your opinion by not opting for inclusion of past members?

Absolutely.  But you know why he did, don’t you?  I spoke to JLT fucking years ago when the first wave of Rainbow being reunited (1995) and he (JLT) told me that I should be the singer because I had the most hits with the band.  Do you really think so Joe?  It should be Ronnie (then still alive and well fronting his own band Dio) who should be the singer and as many of the original members who are still around.  Not me and not you and not anyone but that original core lineup.   I was surprised when Ritchie went out doing these shows last year and again this year given his 20+ career in Blackmore’s Night.  I think  personally that he was chucking spaghetti against the wall to see if it stuck.  To see the Rainbow name on the marquee and see who would show up.  To be honest I have not watched or listened to any of the shows.  To me it won’t be Rainbow.  Almost anyone I have spoken to who was watched in person or who have watched or listened to it said that same thing.  It’s a shame.  Russ Ballard got up and played him very recently and I heard that didn’t go that well either.  “Since You’ve Gone” was written by him and that’s what made Rainbow into the radio friendly band it became into the JLT years.    

Your longtime fans were thrilled that Cherry Red Records not only released the first Blackthorne album Afterlife with a new expanded edition but also the never before released 2nd album Don’t Kill The Thrill.  What do you remember most fondly about that period of your career? 

Well I think leaving the band was a good one!!!  That was probably my happiest day.  It was so much work in the studio getting that thing recorded.  I was away from home for almost 8 months and we were doing gigs here and there.  By the time I got home the kids didn’t even recognize me.  It was very difficult also due to the fact that family was living in Australia at the time.  The songs were wonderful and the end result was great but the agony of making that first record was diabolical.  Endless disagreements and numerous confrontations over how the songs should sound to lyric content.  I disagreed with everything and Bob Kulick didn’t like anything I did and I would often ask him what am I doing this band then? Things have changed a lot since those and he reached out to be very recently wishing me the best of luck with all of my new endeavors.  It wasn’t just me that had issues with Bob during the making of that first record.  He criticized everyone from Frankie Banali on his drumming to Chuck Wright on his bass playing and Jimmy Waldo on keyboards.  Nobody was off limits.  It’s a shame really because he’s such an amazing guitar player but he just couldn’t help himself and had to rip everyone during the process.  Everything wasn’t quite right.  He would say “No, No don’t sing it like that.” I’d be like what? I know he wouldn’t mind me saying this now because it’s all blood under the bridge and I know he’s all happy now because he released the second album which is a bunch of songs we recorded in between gigs and the first album.   We recorded something almost every day just in case a second album would see the light of day and it indeed has and hearing a lot of good things about it.                

You must get asked all the time amongst the amazing guitar players you have played with over the course of your career do you have a favorite? Is it Blackmore, Schenker, Malmesteen,or Vai?  

I’d have to say Steve Vai just because of his versatility alone.  However, I will say that Richie Blackmore did revolutionize and originate a style of playing that Yngwie Malmsteen copied and took just a little bit further. He became much better than Ritchie I think but when I worked with him he was just a kid and was very difficult to work with, an ego that couldn’t fit in a room.  I knew he would become a big success because he always wanted to be in the spotlight and the star would stop at nothing to get it.   I have ever lasting gratitude to Blackmore for asking me to join Rainbow because it was a huge turning point in my career.  I didn’t originally want to do it but I’m glad I did.   But Vai is my favorite.  More inventive.  He thought more like me.  Instead of just writing a song and do the obvious he takes it somewhere else.      

Besides touring, what do you have scheduled for the remainder of 2017 in terms of any new music or collaborations?

Well the GBB is writing new music and with the inclusion of Joey and Mark we can start working on songs as a unit while we start to tour.  If you liked the original material from The Book then you will enjoy the new material.  We are starting to develop our own sound and that’s important.  It’s not a copy of something I’ve already done but it does have elements from the past.    

What message do you have for your enduring fans  as this brand new CD/DVD gets released on July 7? 

Please go to your local promoter and request the band!  We are now being seen as old man rock or old white guys rock and it’s tough to get gigs here in the states.  I know there is an audience out there we just have to find it.  I’ve always enjoyed playing the East Coast and can’t wait to get back there.  I miss playing in America.  This has been my home since 1979 and now I find myself flying back to Europe for work.  

For more info, visit:

http://grahambonnetband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/grahambonnetmusic/

 

 

Catching Up With…Joe Lynn Turner

Scrap Metal Perform at Mohegan Sun Arena on August 5, 2011

Scrap Metal Perform at Mohegan Sun Arena on August 5, 2011

You have three upcoming shows in the New England area from May 3-5 what can your longtime fans expect from these performances?

It’s been a long time since I’ve been up there so I think that they are going to hear some Rainbow, some Deep Purple, some original material maybe a cover or two possibly Hendrix or something like that.  They are really going to see and hear a power-packed show because we got a super band and we are going to deliver for sure.

Who is in your current touring line-up?

That with lineup will be Jules Radino on drums (Blue Oyster Cult since 2004), Angus Clark on guitar (Trans- Siberian Orchestra, Rock of Ages) Rob De Martino on bass (Virgin Steele, Rondinelli) and Dr. Gary Gerber on keyboards.  All have played with me and with many other projects over the years so it’s like playing with friends.  It’s a killer band.   Read more

Catching Up With Brad Gillis of Night Ranger

nrcoverBrad, let’s talk a little about the 12th Night Ranger studio album “Don’t Let Up”.  What has changed over the past 35 years since the release of your first record ‘Dawn Patrol’?

Well, a lot has changed.  We don’t tour nine months out of the year any longer and recording costs are a lot different than in the past.  Instead of going down to L.A. and then locking down into the studio for a couple of months to make a record we (Kelly, Jack and myself) all just get together now, jam things out.  We started out at Kelly’s house in Nashville and came up with some great ideas.  We then started to pass the files along and got Keri Kelli working on it and then got Eric Levy to add in his keyboard parts.  We would then get together at each other’s studios and finish this thing off.  It took quite a while because in between we would be touring, writing new material on the fly, Jack had some vocal troubles for about a month and a half but in the end, we were all so happy with how it came out.  It’s getting great reviews all over the world and the first week it was out it was #1 on Amazon bestseller hard rock charts.  Have not had this much excitement since the 80’s!

I get the feeling after listening to “Don’t Let Up” a few times that it picks up right where “Somewhere in California” & “High Road” left off?  Agree or disagree?

Oh I agree.  I think the last couple of records had some great songs on them.  I think this record is getting a lot more action in terms of reviews and everyone seems to like every single song so I think we did build off those albums for sure.   Fans are saying they don’t want to skip over any tracks so that’s so cool to hear! It’s exciting for us to hear this because we need to start to get together more often and learn these songs for our set when we tour in support of it. Read more

Catching Up With Stephen Pearcy

Smasher777_HI_RESimage_copyIt’s been awhile since the last Stephen Pearcy solo offering Under My Skin (2008) and almost as long since the last RATT release Infestation (2010).  Needless to say, Pearcy fans have been not only very patient but also very confused with everything that has been going on in the RATT camp in the last few years.  Well, the wait is over. 

On January 27, direct from Frontiers Records, comes Pearcy’s fourth solo release Smash.  A 13-track collection of exactly what you would expect from Stephen: great hooks, solid songwriting, veteran backing band and even a little Beau Hill.  I had a chance to catch up with Stephen and get a little clarification on the current state of his solo band, Smash and all things RATT.

Interviewed by: Roger Scales Read more

Interview: Ted Poley Talks “Beyond The Fade”

tpTed Poley has been rocking professionally for more than 30 years and has always had a singular mission of entertaining his fans by giving 100% in every performance and recording he has ever put his name to.  

Whether it’s Prophet, Danger Danger, Bone Machine, Meoldica, or his solo material each album and tour showed Ted maturing as an artist.  With “Beyond The Fade” fans can expect that high level of melodic rock to continue and maybe even surpass their expectations. 

TWRY recently caught up with Ted to discuss the new record and all that is going on in his career in 2016.

Interviewed by: Roger Scales Read more

Q&A With Jean “Boomer” Grenier – A Tribute To Peter Criss And KISS – Faith And Will Vol. 1

cd_front _coverA Tribute To Peter Criss And KISS – Faith And Will Vol. 1 was released on April 4th in both digital downloads and physical CD formats.

New England rock legend Jean “Boomer” Grenier took some time recently to sit down with TWRY staff writer Roger Scales to find out more about this project.

Jean what prompted you and Vinny (Nault) to record this tribute album and why the emphasis on Peter Criss/KISS?

What happened was we started recording a couple KISS songs for fun in 2001 and only accomplished finishing two of them. They we’re “All American Man” and ‘Larger Than Life”.  Life kind of got in the way and it fell by the way side for over a decade. In 2014 my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and obviously shook our family up and my world. Vinny and I had decided to continue what we had started long ago, but this this time it was different. I suggested we finish it and do something positive with it. As time went on a few light bulbs went off and we decided to do it as a tribute CD. Some people had helped my mom and myself in 2015 and I thought this was a way to “pay it forward” and hopefully help someone or families dealing with the same devastating cancer issue our family was dealing with. Read more

Catching Up With Udo Dirkschneider of U.D.O.

February 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Catching Up With..., Daily Music News

Catching Up With Udo Dirudocoverart_kschneider
Interviewed by: Roger Scales

“Decadent,” released here in North America on Feb 3rd, is the 15th studio album from U.D.O. over a 28 year period. Your last studio album “Steelhammer” (2013) brought about some changes within the band with Stefan (Kaufmann) stepping aside and also the loss of Igor (Gianola). What was it like writing and recording with two new guitar players?

Well actually Andrey (Smirnoff) did all of the guitar work on “Steelhammer” but we were working remotely. This time we were actually working together face to face not over the internet. Now with adding Kasperi (Heikkinen) who was also working face to face in the studio they both came up with great ideas and they worked very hard on this record. The results speak for themselves with fan and media reaction so far. Because they are from a different generation and they are both young and hungry it really has given this band some new life. It’s a great mix of older generation classic metal infused with this new found energy and excitement.      Read more

Catching Up With Russell Allen of Adrenaline Mob

adrenalinemobdearlydepartedcdCatching Up With Russell Allen of Adrenaline Mob
Interviewed by: Roger Scales

Before we get started with my questions I wanted to let you know that rated “Men of Honor” my #1 favorite release of 2014. My short summary was simply explained in this formula: tight band + aggressive style x melodic chorus= enjoyment. Well done sir.

Thank you. Thanks for all that you do for us and for all the other bands that you are championing because without you doing that we just don’t stand a chance in this modern era of over saturation of media frenzy over-hyping of any new band that comes down the pike.

Now let’s get into the new release Dearly Departed being released through Century Media on Feb 10. In a departure from the first covers EP Coverta this new disc will feature in addition to 4 cover tunes, an unreleased track from the Men of Honor sessions, 3 acoustic renditions of songs from both Omerta and Men of Honor, and an edited version of the Men of Honor track “Dearly Departed”. Sounds like it has something for everyone? Read more

Getting to Know: Ragdoll

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Australia and rock n’ roll have gone hand in hand for decades – AC/DC, Jet, and Wolfmother (among countless others) have all hailed from the land down under. And the continent has another hard rocking contender on their hands, Ragdoll. Comprised of members Ryan Rafferty (lead vocals, bass), Leon Todd (guitar), and Cam Barrett (drums), the trio has a new album, ‘Ragdoll Rewound’ that was released on May 23rd, and also recently had a successful performance at Rocklahoma on May 25th on the Retrospect Records Stage, which was part of a string of dates mostly in the Midwest and south.

Ragdoll Rewound is a compilation of Ragdoll’s first two releases (Ragdoll Rock and Here Today) plus four live recordings, one of which is a new composition, “Rewind Your Mind.” The trio revisited the first EP and had it remixed and polished the way they had always wanted to hear it. Any issues the band may have had with the original Here Today master have been fully rectified here too; while the new master of “Tell Me” in particular is a lot more dynamic and more true to the original mix. I caught up Leon Todd recently and got the full lowdown.

Interviewed by Roger Scales

For those unfamiliar with Ragdoll can you give our readers a little bit of a history lesson about how and when the band started and who came up with the name?

We are from Australia and we all grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, Rush, Whitesnake and those types of bands. We have been together a little over three years now as this lineup. The name Ragdoll doesn’t have a particularly cool rock n roll story attached to it. Cam came up with Ragdoll after his cat walked into the room when we were tossing around ideas for the name of the band. We kind of all agreed and just stuck with it. Fans kept asking us “Hey, did you take the name from the Aerosmith song?” That was just a nice coincidence. I guess it would be an easy transition if ever wanted to start an Aerosmith tribute band! Just learn a few songs and practice a few moves, oh and add two members!

Has the band always been a power trio?

Essentially yes. I’ve been playing with our drummer Cam for about 8 years now. We had always been on a quest to start that ideal band. Playing in other bands previous we had never really been satisfied. The three of us have been playing with lineups for 4 or 5 years but it wasn’t until about 2011 that we meshed as Ragdoll.  

Let’s talk about your newest release Ragdoll Rewound a bit. Great idea to give new fans that may have missed your earlier recordings a chance to hear your first two EP’s which are virtually unavailable at this point?      

Yea. That was the general idea. When Ragdoll Rock was first released back in 2011 it was a promotional only recording. There was never really any intent to release that we pretty much gave them out at our early shows. We were unaware what the market for our band would be at that point. That EP ended up in the hands of a promoter here in the US. He loved it and wanted to promote us here in the states. We put out another release at that point called Here Today to coincide with that tour. Ragdoll Rewound is a collection of those two EP’s. We had recorded a third EP in 2013 called All I Want Is Everything which pretty much put us on the radar with rock fans in America so than rather go back and record a whole batch of new songs we wanted to revisit the two EP’s that basically got the ball rolling for us. I think we really found our sound on the All I Want EP so we wanted to essentially update the first two and get it in line with that release. Also do have a definitive Ragdoll package for newer fans like yourself to have and hopefully latch on to it.          

Now you have been touring in the US since early May correct?

Correct. We are currently finishing up the “Rewind Your Mind” tour that started on May 16 in Ventura CA and ending on June 13 in Las Vegas. We were lucky to get an opening spot opening for Skid Row at The Whisky A Go Go in LA. That was a great show. Love those west coast crowds!  

Looks like the dates in 2014 are all mid west and west coast. Why no east coast dates?

Funny because a lot of the bands we have been playing with here in the US that originate from there keep telling us ‘you have to get up and play on the east coast. You play music that angry people will enjoy and those areas have a lot of angry people!’ Next time we play in the US we will make sure we try and hit the east coast. There are so many iconic venues up there I have only read about and seen in videos that I want to hopefully one day play.      

What was playing Rocklahoma like this year?

This is our third time playing this festival. We got invited by the promoter right after the release of Ragdoll Rock who basically told us about 6 weeks prior to the gig that if we could get on a plane and get here he promised us a good spot on that bill. That really got the ball rolling for us then and generated a lot of buzz. For us coming from one of the most isolated cities in the world where we would play a single show every two to three months playing to such a captive audience at Rocklahoma who don’t have to paid to be convinced that they like rock music that was really huge for us. We planned this tour around that one great big gig and I think we will always look at that show as a turning point for us as a band.      

Now you have a new video for the song “Tell Me” which almost makes you guys comic book characters. Tell me who came up with that concept?

Basically as we travel and we are essentially strangers in a strange land we take a lot of photos when we are on the road. When you let loose three young guys in a van touring America we basically look at this country as the land of plenty. Walmart to us is fascinating. We wanted to share that with the fans a lot of the photos that we took across the country. We wanted this video to be more lighthearted and had some humor with it. We wanted to push the song “Tell Me” as the first single and get it some exposure. How do we take all of these photos with the song and make it something fun? Cam came up with the idea of the comic strip style approach and throw all the photos together and see what happens. We approached a good friend of ours, who also happens to be a kick ass drummer in his own right, Chris Reeve to come up with something based on our idea. Within a week he had it 80% finished. We made a few little suggestions and basically not long afterward had the finished product. The feedback we have received so far the fans all seem to love it and I’m glad.        

Are you working on new material currently for a new album?

We are playing a few new songs on this tour that we decided to roll out and get a real live feel to them. It looks as if the industry is changing and evolving to the point where bands are not always touring to support a new release but are now starting the reverse process. Having the opportunity to play them live gives us the opportunity to mold the songs into shape while taking the fans reactions to them during the show as part of the creative process. When I’m home I have my own small studio where you will often find me creating and writing new music. Not everything gets put out on a Ragdoll record but I have it. We plan to go home and continue promotion for the “Ragdoll Rewound” release and do some more touring. I mean even back home not everyone had the chance to own our first two EP’s so they are also getting the opportunity to pick them up as well. Hopefully by early 2015 put together another tour package for here in the states and play some different places as well.

 

For more on Ragdoll:
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