#INTERVIEW New Years Day’s Ashley Costello talks Malevolence, songwriting, recording, touring and board games!

Band Logo - New Years Day2015 has already been a monstrously significant year for the band New Years Day. It saw them play this year’s Van Warped Tour, as well as frontwoman Ash Costello hosting the Alternative Press Music Awards Red Carpet and taking an active role as a spokesperson for PETA.

Malevolence is the title of their forthcoming album, produced by Erik Ron (Escape The Fate, The Word Alive, Motionless In White, Set It Off) and is the band’s first release on Another Century Records. New Years Day will be heading over to the UK as tour support for Motionless In White, beginning November 23rd in Belfast.

So impressed were we with the single ‘Kill Or Be Killed’ when we played the track on ‘The Classic Rock Show’ the other week, we got in touch with Ash Costello and had a chat about all things New Years Day.

TCRS: New Year’s Day, formed ten years ago?

Ash: Well, if you think about just ten years. Yeah, that sounds like a long time, but then again you have to also realize that all the Wikipedia…How do I say this(?), it looks at our high school years and counts that. You know, I feel like the first five years don’t really count because we were children. I mean we were a band, but we were kids and we didn’t know what we were doing at all. So I don’t really count that. But New Year’s Day as an adult got serious and became a real band I’d say was about five years ago…2010.

TCRS: This year has seen the band play on the Vans Warped Tour. How’s that gone?Band Photo - New Years Day (3)

Ash: Well, I mean that couldn’t gone any better we weren’t originally put on Main Stage, we were put on the stage below that. But, we got put on Main Stage all the time. And you know we got put on Main Stage more than any other band that was moved around and it just went so well. You know our crowds were bigger we expected. It was just a really good place to be this summer. You know, we really felt like we’re actually making a difference here.  You know we’re doing the things we set out to do and it feels like for the first time we’re seeing them happen in front of our eyes.

TCRS: What were the highlights for you?

Ash: Every time we got moved up to Main Stage was a highlight for sure.

TCRS: How did you entertain yourself in between shows?

Ash: We play a lot of drinking games [Laughs]. Yeah, we’ve done Warped Tour before so we kinda knew what to bring, what to expect! Like, okay, we need to be the band that brings the table with the chairs and the tent so we can all hang out and invite other bands. We have board games and ping-pong tournaments and so we brought all kinds of board games and drinking games and tables and chairs and coolers. And we’d set up behind our trailer. and just invite other bands. We’d always have something to do to Escape the Fate or Memphis May Fire or Pvris; we’d just play games all day!

TCRS: So that experience from the previous tour was put to good use this time round?

Ash: Yeah. I learned, you need a tent to sit under, you need chairs to sit on and you need a table and the rest just kind of brings itself. We didn’t think of it last time, so we were all just burning in the sun, sitting on the ground.

New Years Day - Malevolence - CoverTCRS: You’ve got a new album coming out entitled “Malevolence” which will hit the streets October 2nd. It’s New Year’s Day’s third full length album and first with Another Century record label.

Ash: Yeah, we were actually signed to a subsidiary of Century Media before called Hollywood Waste Records. When they abolished that they really didn’t take any bands that were on it. Ss we had one record that we put out that was on your own, but then I guess what had happened was the owner heard the record and was like “Oh my gosh! This is so good. What do we do with this?” And we had to tell him, “Oh you guys dropped us” and he was like “What?”. They re-signed us basically and that’s pretty much what happened there. I’m really glad that we did because we were having offers come in from other labels.  I’m just glad we went back to Century because they honestly they feel like family. They really do.

TCRS: What made you all decide to go back into the studio?

Ash: It was about that time. It had been about two years since our last full length. So it’s just about that time and we were about to head on warped tour and generally before you leave for a big tour like that you want to have an album before you embark on that busy schedule. Otherwise you just get sucked into the schedule and pretty soon there’s no time. We were still recording when we started Warped Tour and I had to fly home to fly home on the days of to finish the album. So it was a pretty hectic time and it was the only time we had to do it.

TCRS: And this time your back working with Eric Ron who produced your previous album Victim To Villain. He’s been such a positive influence on the band, right?

Ash: Oh yeah. I mean he’s a genius you know. That’s why everyone wants to work with him. He’s a goddamn genius that guy! He took a liking to New Year’s Day, he also manages us and we’re the only band that he manages. And he’s like a brother to me now and has influenced me in a way or he’s made me better. He’s made me a better front-person, he made me a better vocalist, a better songwriter, better marketing, just better at everything. He has had a very positive influence and it’s really hard to find people because even though we have Eric Ron, we still branch out and work with songwriters. We are so different and so unique; I have such a specific vision that it’s very hard to find people that understand that. Eric Ron has always understood it from the get go, so that’s why we tend to stick with the people we love, that we call family and we’re very rarely branch out from that.

Band Photo - New Years Day (5)TCRS: What’s your approach to songwriting?

Ash: Oh god. I hate songwriting. I’ll just be honest I hate it. It’s the worst for me because it’s, you know, you have to go back and find the perfect way to say some sort of hellish way to say some sort of hellish pain you went through so that other people can understand it and relate to it. It’s generally not a very fun process for me. That’s why it takes me a long time to write a song, but in a way that’s a good thing because I truly care about what I’m saying. I truly think about how the person will relate and I really think about how I’m saying what I’m saying. You know, I put a lot of thought into it and with Malevolence the songs are the most honestly, purely from the heart lyrics I’ve ever done and that’s what makes me the most proud of this album. I think people are really going to relate to it.

TCRS: We played Kill Or Be Killed on the show just the other week. It sounds tremendous. Tell us about that song.

Ash: Kill Or Be Killed is about how I was pushed around a lot in the beginning and still am sometimes in the music industry, because I’m a girl. I think that doesn’t help any and I tend to get knocked around. I hit a point a year ago and it was like I’m gonna push back from now on and I don’t care who doesn’t like me. And I don’t care who gets mad or who says bad thing about my back. Like “Oh, she’s a Diva. Or she’s a this, that and the other”, I just know what I want and I’m gonna fight for that and so that’s where the saying, you know, Kill Or Be Killed…backs against the wall, bloods gonna spill…! While I was recording some of the songs, I would get emotional and cry. And I know it sounds like so cheesy and cliche, but I think if you’re not feeling what you’re writing to that degree, I would sit back and go, well, I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t push myself hard enough. I didn’t dig down deep enough and I need to go back and revisit it and try harder. ‘Cause I know that everyone is different. I know that for me, that’s the standard I have for myself.

TCRS: What’s different about this album compared with your previous releases?

Ash: I think with the previous releases, I had a vision of what I wanted to sound like. You know, who is to say that you’re gonna achieve that the first attempt out the gate? And I feel like Victim to Villian was a great record and it came very close, but it still wasn’t enough for me. So with this album, although I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied, this is a lot closer to the way I envisioned New Year’s Day sounding; it’s much heavier, much more emotional, a lot darker. So I feel like this is New Year’s Day growing up in a way. You’re always learning and I don’t feel like on Victim To Villain I was as honest as I am in Malevolence. So I kind of go there a little bit more, emotionally, you know?

Band Photo - New Years Day (4)TCRS: Is there a theme running through the album?

Ash: Yeah, yeah. Personally, I’d had a really hard year. I mean New Year’s Day was starting to take off and I really, for the first time, had never dealt with negativity in my life. For the first time, I was starting to see what losing a friend to drugs was like. Or losing a friend to money. Like disagreeing on money and losing a friend. Or, you know, watching people get greedy because they see what you have. You know people using you. People using you then stabbing you in the back. Being cheated by someone that I’ve been dating for a very long time. I mean just pretty much all the nastiest things you can of happened this year and I had to become stronger than all of it. And so the album, the reason it’s called Malevolence, is because I really identify with the character Maleficent. You know she started out as a pure person, but kind of the wrongdoings of the world turned her into this evil, vengeful, powerful being. And I just felt I related to that and so that’s pretty much what the album is about.

TCRS: What’s been the reaction to the new songs out on the road?

Ash: I’ve never had such a good reaction to new songs, in my life! Normally, there’s at least someone who’s like “Ah, I liked your old stuff better” or “I don’t get it”. You know there’s always someone, but even YouTube, where it’s like the worst of the worst comments ever, I’ve not found anything negative. You know people are just really loving it and so I was a little worried at first but now I’m like “Fuck! Okay. Let’s roll with this. This is great!”

TCRS: You’re heading over to the U.K. to tour with Motionless In White.

Ash: Yeah! I’m so excited. We’re going to share a bus. It’s going to be all nothing but board games [laughs]. I’m so excited.

TCRS: Do you have any particular favorite board games?

Ash: Yes! Yeah, there’s two  that we play. No, there’s three that we play constantly and one is called Geek Out, which actually gets us into serious fights because what you do is you pick up a card and it’ll say “Name six planets from Star Wars”. Or “Name seven comic book super villains”, and you’ll get into arguments with your friend and legitimately get pissed off. So we play that a lot. Like I’m talking hours! And then we play Pictionary and we play…oh what’s the other one? Oh, Scategories is our big one. Yeah. We get pretty serious. And then Scene It because we’re all really into movies. We play Scene It a lot. it’s like a movie trivia game.

TCRS: It won’t be your first time over in the U.K. What are you looking forward to most on this tour?

Ash: Yeah, last time out was with Escape the Fate which was our first time, they’re also our best friends. So I mean talk about the funnest time of my life. I mean honestly like I get butterflies when I think about how much fun it was. And then we came back for a week to do the Metal Hammer Awards thing. So this will be our second real tour but the third time we’ve been over. As for waht we’re looking forward to most, oh, the sightseeing! We get super into sightseeing!

TCRS: What message do you have for your fans out there for coming to see you this time?

Ash: Y’all better bring the pain. We demand a lot of audience participation. So there’s no free rides in our shows. You have to crowd surf. You have to circle pit. You have to do these things or you’re just going to get a shoe in your face. Just prepare yourself.

TCRS: And as for your album?

Ash: I would just like everyone to have an open mind and to let out the little angry monster we keep inside all of us. And usually quiet up and kind of shut down. I would like people to listen to it and kind of release that monster for a little bit.

New Years Day supporting ‘MOTIONLESS IN WHITE’ UK Tour:

23 NOV Belfast (IRL) Mandela Hall
24 NOV Dublin (IRL) Academy
26 NOV Manchester – Club Academy
27 NOV Leeds – Stylus
28 NOV Glasgow (SCO) – Garage
29 NOV Nottingham – Rescue Rooms
01 DEC Birmingham – Asylum
02 DEC Bristol – The Fleece
03 DEC Southampton – 1865
04 DEC London – Underworld
06 DEC London – Underworld

New Years Day online: www.facebook.com/nydrock | http://www.twitter.com/NYDrock

The new album from New Years Day ‘Malevolence’ is out on Another Century October 2nd. We dig ’em and we think you will too.


www.TheClassicRockShow.co.uk | @ClassicRockShow | www.facebook.com/groups/theclassicrockshow

#INTERVIEW Joel Hoekstra on ‘Snake and recording with a stellar line-up for his new album ‘Dying To Live’

joelh5Joel Hoekstra has announced the release of his new melodic hard rock studio album “Dying To Live” from his electrifying new side project, Joel Hoekstra’s 13. Hoekstra is best known to rock fans as the current guitarist for Whitesnake, and also known for his work with Night Ranger, Trans Siberian Orchestra and the show Rock of Ages.

Dying To Live focuses on struggles, potential pitfalls and the art of overcoming obstacles in life to “finally arrive where we are meant to be”. Featuring an all-star cast of rockers including Jeff Scott Soto (vocals), Russell Allen (vocals), Tony Franklin (bass), Vinny Appice (drums), and Derek Sherinian (keyboards), it will be available via Frontiers Music SRL on Friday, October 16. Hoekstra took charge of the creative process by handling the production, song writing and arranging (music and lyrics).

Dying To Live was conceived before Hoekstra joined Whitesnake. David Coverdale gave the album his full blessing. Excited how the new album turned out, Hoekstra is looking forward to the overall reaction from fans and media. The Classic Rock Show recently caught up with him for a chat:

TCRS: 12 months ago, it was announced that you were Whitesnake’s new guitarist, how has it been going since?

Joel: It’s been great! I mean my experience with Whitesnake so far has been awesome. The honeymoon hasn’t ended yet. I’m still really enjoying working with David. The opening leg of the tour here in the States went really fantastic.  There wasn’t a single bad review. The band has great chemistry and has a great line up right now with Tommy Aldridge and Reb Beach, of course David and our bass player Michael Devin and we’ve got this kick ass keyboard player from Italy name Michele Luppi, who just sings amazing background vocals and is a great guy. So yeah, we’ve been having a great time and the tour’s gone great. It was a lot of fun making the Purple album…all’s good!

TCRS: And you’ve been touring with a band from the British Isles, The Answer, a band that’s hugely popular on The Classic Rock Show. Tell us about how that worked out.

Joel: Those guys kick ass man. What a great rock band. They’re just a delight to work with, honestly man. They just come in, there’s no Rock-Star attitude. No pretentiousness, nothing weird happening, just a bunch of good guys who love to rock out and kick ass. They really won over all the crowds. I just wish those guys nothing but the best moving forward. I think they are a great band and I think they’ve got a bright future.

TCRS: You’re gonna be hitting the UK later this year. Touring with Def Leppard. Black Star Riders are also on the bill. What’s not to like?

Joel: Yeah absolutely! Sounds like a solid night of rock to me, right?!

TCRS: Back to the present, you’ve released a handful of solos up to this point, which offer the listener quite an insight into the various guitar styles of yours, but you’ve now about to release a fully fledged self-produced album as Joel Hoekstra 13 called ‘Dying To Live’. Let me begin by offering up a massive high five as it’s a kick-ass album, one which is most definitely another landmark in your established career.

Joel: Well, thank you very much. I think it’s been a real labor of love for me; it was a struggle with everybody’s schedules and everything. But it was years ago I put out three primarily instrumental guitar records that kinda just showcased my playing ability and ‘Dying To Live’ is a record that people have been asking me to do now for years. Friends that have followed me with Night Ranger or Trans Siberian Orchestra or the show Rock of Ages and now Whitesnake, everybody said how come you don’t put out an album just like cool rock songs and blah blah blah. And it sounded like a great idea, I just didn’t necessarily always have the time. But this is finally that album! For me it just was really cool, I got to do all the writing, all the lyrics. I feel very emotionally connected to it and I basically called in favors from a lots of my favorites in the music business. I didn’t really set out to have an all-star band thing, but I really just picked out my favorite guys. And they were all cool enough to play me on this for me and I can’t thank them enough. I think the end result it’s melodic hard rock a genre I’m known for these days or best known for and I would describe the album as Dio-ish at its heaviest and Foreigner-ish at its lightest. joelh2

TCRS: You’ve brought together, as you mentioned, a bunch of musicians and they’ve certainly delivered for you in their performances. The performances are simply stellar. Tell us about who appears alongside you. J

Joel: Yeah, well it all started with Tony Franklin from Blue Murder and The Firm, a great bass player. We had just worked on another project the other called VHF that was completely different than this, like psychedelic instrumental rock you know. So uhm I asked Tony hey man lets just do a rock album. Lets just write some cool vocals songs and he was into it and I said what drummer would you want to use. And he said Vinny Appice would be killer and I was like that would be super cool man. It’s like instantly having a Black Sabbath type or Dio-ish rhythm section sounded very appealing to me. And then when it came time to find a singer Russell Allen from Symphony X and Adrenaline Mob had just signed up to do the Trans Siberian Orchestra tour that I do. Now that guy is just freakin’ killer! I have got to be honest, I hadn’t really listened to Symphony X and I didn’t know what I was missing with this guy. He’s one of the best singers in rock and so I got him on the front half of the album and I called in a favour from Jeff Scott Soto, who most people know, obviously he’s one of the best singers out there, but he’s also a nice enough guy to agree to sing background on tracks for me, just cause we’re friends and we go way back. He’s obviously overqualified for such a duty but he was so great and I was like “dude, you got to sing the back half of the album, we’re going to have two singers on this”. I mean just too great to have two of the best singers in Rock today on this thing. So Jeff sang on it and then I still felt that after leering a lot of guitars there was room for some textures and to fill the gaps though. I thought it still needs keyboards and I decided to start at the top and ask Derek Sherinian if he was willing to play on it and he was amazingly enough despite the fact Derek is overqualified too; there’s only, I think, two solos for him on the album and so a lot of it was really tasteful playing on his part. I just can’t thank these guys enough for helping bring these songs to life and I think we did something cool in avoiding the whole wank-age thing there’s no real long guitar solo, no big drum solos or bass solos or anything of that nature. It was just cool songs, tastefully played by great musicians!

TCRS: Sounds like it was a fun project?

Joel: It certainly it was a lot of fun. It was a challenge to make with everybody’s schedules and I wasn’t exactly sure throughout the process what it was going to be. Like  I said in the early going I was kind of interested in having co writers on it  and with everybody’s schedules I just thought man i need to move this along. I’m just going to do all the writing. And so it kind of became what it was as it went. You know which was fun. It was fun to watch it grow and I’m very very excited about the album. Very proud about how it came out and i hope people will give it a shot.

TCRS: What was it like for you being producing your own work and what was, what did you go, what did you do in pre-production with the other  musicians and Engineers?

Joel: Well, the way I did it for the most part on this was I would lay down scratch guitar to a click and I would write the vocal melodies.  And in most cases when I write I would write a song chorus out. Like I’ll write  a cool chorus with words and everything and then I’ll just kinda come up with the melodies for the time being for the verse until i can you know have proper time to think of lyrics and what not. So I guess to cut to the chase lay down scratch guitars with my guitar also playing the vocal melodies and harmonies. And then that would go to Vinny Appice he would lay down his stuff. Tony played his parts to Vinny and scratch guitars and from there everything else just kinda fell into place basically at the same time from there. My real guitars went on, vocals went on, background vocals and keyboards. So all that kind of stuff would happen simultaneously. That’s the general gist of how it all got done. And my production style with the guys  all of them was pretty much to  let do their thing with it and say hey look here’s the frame work but play the way you want to place so Vinny Appice in particular took a bunch of these songs in completely different directions than I would have expected but that’s part of the fun because then you have to go with him and take the song in that direction. I just respond that the best production style let people play the way they would play and not micromanage that stuff. And then just your job is to roll with them on it.

TCRS: I was gonna say you’ve recorded with some of the best producers in the business over the years. Who do you look up to in getting the very best out of the artiste in this project and how did that help you when you went about recording?

Joel: Ah man, I honestly don’t have an answer in terms of like a producer necessarily that i look up to. I mean David was great to work with on the Purple album with that  in terms of getting his players to put their stamp on it. He wasn’t stressed and didn’t worry despite the fact that we were recording these deep purple song that we obviously were going to face a lot  of scrutiny and so he was great and chill about that and I just tried to be that way  with this whole thing  in terms of what people would play and then rolling with it. And I mean nowadays in the end you have pro-tools don’t you? So its like if anything really needs to be changed you could  probably change it but its a lot of fun to go with what people come up with.

TCRS: What have been the challenges you know I mentioned the scheduling challenges that putting it together what were the challenges for you as you progress in completing the album?

Joel: Well  a lot of it for me it was coming down to crunch time while I was just out with Whitesnake. So that was difficult! A lot of times I’m getting through a day off or I just feel like chilling but I spent 12 hours  not being there. A lot of the stuff nowadays is  done obviously digitally as i getting mixes from the mix engineer. He’s sending over links to them I listen give notes and type them back to them. In the old days I would have been sitting  in the studio telling them exactly what I wanted, which I think moves things along a little bit. So a lot of it is just the challenge of dealing with the technological end of the way things get done these days. Which I mean in a way it speeds it along, because i wouldn’t have been able to  probably do the mixes for the entire time I was out with the tour but it also slows down the process of getting changing some of the things that you want to change. If that makes sense. joelh4-hrTCRS: How easy was it for you to put the album to bed, so to speak?

Joel: I still haven’t, man. I struggle with stuff like that. Its really difficult for me to listen to without wanting to change things. And I probably with stay that way the rest of my life when i hear the album honestly. I guess its just who I am. I think I’m proud of it and everything. I really am, but I just always hear, I hear stuff that probably wouldn’t matter to many people and me i just feel like changing. And in the end you abandon mixes right? Isn’t that the common phrase these days? You never really finish a mix you abandon it.

TCRS: The songs will be personal Joel to you, of course, having written all of them, but are there some that are very close and personal. And if so, which would you like to tell us a little bit more about?

Joel: I don’t know that there is any one in particular, but the album kinda it has a theme. The album is essentially about overcoming obstacles in your life till you are finally  meant to be. I think all off us are kinda struggling with some things in our lives to be the person we want to be whether its our relationship at home, or whatever a vice or some people are overeating. Some people aren’t exercising. Whatever. All the things you want to do to get where you want to be and be the person you want to be. And so a lot of the  songs on the album are sung from  the standpoint of those obstacles and a lot of the songs are about overcoming them or singing anthems to overcome them. So that’s the general theme. Just the struggles in life and hence the title “Dying To Live” which is basically about doing whatever you can to be where you want to be. joelh3

TCRS: Are there any designs on a few more videos to accompany the album tracks?

Joel: Yeah, with the first one I’m not sure, I second guessed whether that should have just been a static screen or a lyric video. I felt like giving people some kind of visual to accompany was better than a static screen, but in the end sometimes you get criticized for the visual that’s there. So you go “Well was that a good idea or not?”  I’m kinda learning as I go with this stuff, but they are gonna be  a couple videos with the musicians in them coming. And I have to make decisions on a couple more as to what to release them as just audio, or with lyric videos.

TCRS: So, is Joel Hoekstra’s 13 something that we’re gonna be seeing more of in future?

Joel: Well, I think the sky would be the limit for this. I mean obviously for me this doesn’t sound like a solo album. It doesn’t sound like a guitar album. You’d kinda be expecting to hear a ton of solos and a ton of fancy guitar work. When really to me this just sounds very band-ish, but it’s not to call it a band to those guys. I did all the writing and it’s very much my music, so I thought a project name was the most appropriate thing for now – Joel Hoekstra 13. Obviously, if this was successful and it sure would be fun to hear what this lineup would come up with everybody writing together and collaborating on it as well. Potentially turning it into that, I’d certainly be open to that idea and I’m open to supporting it anyway possible with any form of live shows should they be able to be organized.

TCRS: Congratulations on the album, once again Joel. Its a stellar album with a stellar lineup and you should be rightly proud of what you’ve achieved.

Joel: Thank you I really appreciate that. Its very early in the game so I haven’t much feedback from people yet. So its good to hear man, it really is.

TCRS: Before we go, what would you like to say to your fans out there? Joel: Oh, well, I kinda come from a pretty modest upbringing and I feel pretty lucky to be as far into the game as I am here with this whole thing. So, I just appreciate the support that everyone if giving me. I appreciate the opportunity to make a living laying rock guitar and I hope people come along for the ride. And let’s just see where this all goes.

jh13 coverThe Musicians:

Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake) – Guitars, Backing Vocals Jeff Scott Soto (Journey, Yngwie Malmsteen) – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals Russell Allen (Adrenaline Mob, Symphony X) – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Dio) – Drums Tony Franklin (The Firm, Blue Murder) – Bass

Special Guest Musicians: Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Black Country Communion) – Keyboards Chloe Lowery (Trans Siberian Orchestra) – Vocals Toby Hitchcock (Pride of Lions) – Additional Backing Vocals Charlie Zeleny (Joe Lynn Turner) – Percussion Dave Eggar (Amy Lee, Coldplay) – Cello

Joel Hoekstra: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thanks for taking the time to read this interview. We really like Joel Hoekstra’s album ‘Dying To Live’ and recommend it to anyone who likes melodic hard rock. Website: www.TheClassicRockShow.co.uk Twitter: @ClassicRockShow Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/theclassicrockshow

#INTERVIEW Extensive interview with Michael Wilton of Queensryche

queensryche logoAgainst the formidable obstacles of an ever-changing cultural landscape, the rise and fall of various musical trends, and the near collapse of the record industry itself, Queensrÿche secured a triumphant legacy as one of hard rock’s most respected and celebrated acts, selling 30 million albums around the world across a 30-plus-year career.

The much-anticipated new offering, ‘Condition Hüman’, sees LaTorre deliver the performance of a lifetime on what is now his sophomore recording effort with the band. Produced by Zeuss (Rob Zombie, Hatebreed, Sanctuary) in the band’s native Washington, Condition Hüman is a new mountain towering over many of the peaks and valleys of the hard rock landscape.

The band’s name is uttered in the same breath as many of the groups they looked to as influences and others who arose as peers. Queensrÿche built a dedicated legion of fans traveling the globe on tour with fellow rock giants like Iron Maiden, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Judas Priest, and Def Leppard. In recent years, they’ve consistently delivered high-octane live shows combining the hungry fire of a new band with the tempered experience of master showmen. Even with eleven gold and platinum plaques and a several Top 10 hard rock anthems woven into the very fiber of the genre, Queensrÿche won’t relent. In fact, they’re in the throes of a jaw-dropping creative resurgence.

Michael WiltonThe band is currently touring across North America with the Scorpions (Sept 10th to Oct 9th). We caught up with founding member and lead guitarist, Michael Wilton, soon after their Wacken Festival debut.

TCRS: You’re on a break now, following your recent tour of the UK and Europe?

Michael: Yes we just finished 21 shows in 23 days. Blitzed through Europe and the UK, and now I’m just in Germany then I’m heading back to the States before we start the next tour.

TCRS: You took in a few festivals including Wacken Festival. I believe that’s a first for the band, if I’m not mistaken. How was it?

Michael: Yeah! It’s really amazing that we never played that festival and Wacken is such a huge event. It’s just, it’s mind blowing you know. How that little town just turns into this metal Mecca you know and just the crowds. I mean that was one of the biggest crowds I’ve performed in a very long time and it’s well organized and wow!, you know? And I met the owner, he’s just so down to earth and such a cool guy. And you know hopefully we’ll be able to attend and play that one again sometime.

TCRS: Before we get into the big stuff about the band and the new album, may I just take you back to 1984, when I believe it was the first that you came to the UK, as tour support for Dio on the ‘Last in Line Tour’. Am I right with that?

Dio Last In Line tourMichael: That’s right! Wow!

TCRS: I saw you at the Hammersmith Odeon [now Hammersmith Apollo]. I recall drinking with friends in the bar, as you do, anyway we heard you guys light up and we’re looking at each other and we’re like “Hey, this sound is something we’ve not heard before!”, and we all trailed into the auditorium and were all just blown away by you guys. What are your memories of that time?

Michael: Oh well, thank you. I mean that was, what ’84? A long time ago…and for us that was such a monumental tour. We were so grateful you know to be on tour and you know Ronnie was the consummate gentleman. He kinda of showed us the ropes in a lot of areas and just such a great person and all the guys in the band were great. And so accommodating to us because we were just getting our legs for touring the world. I’ve got an interesting thing: I had never had Indian food before. Ronnie had a chef out there and he invited us to eat Indian food. That was the first time I ever had Indian food.

TCRS: Was it the last?

Michael: No! I kinda like it. You know, as long as my stomach can handle it.

TCRS: Perhaps not something you recommend on tour maybe, certainly not on a tour bus anyway.

Michael: Yeah exactly! [laughs]

Queensryche line upTCRS: Jumping back to the present day, how is the band finding its way around on stage since singer Todd Le Torre joined?

Michael: It really going excellent. You know we’ve been touring on the previous recording of 2013 you know for two years now Todd is comfortable with singing a song. His voice is getting stronger and he’s just more comfortable being on stage and singing these songs. These are not easy songs for anybody to sing. So, he’s really done a great job and he’s definitely acclimated to the road life and being out here. So, everything is kind of settled in a way so we’re doing quite well.

TCRS: And I guess he brings another amount of experience to the party as well.

Michael: Well he does especially over here in Europe. You know he’s got a reputation with Crimson Glory and now he’s with Queensrÿche, he brings a whole new dimension to the live performance. He is so energetic and so passionate about the music. There’s a new energy on stage with the band and everybody is just really just having a great time and having fun again.

TCRS: The audience are certainly feeding of that energy and that gives you something to feed off.

Michael: Oh yeah. It definitely does. Especially like you know when you’re playing in front of 65,000 people, it’s just unbelievable the energy. The support we’re getting from the crowd…well, it’s just kinda like the old days.

queensryche condition human album art

TCRS: The new album, Condition Hüman, is out on Century Media October 2nd. Produced by Chris “Zeuss” Harris, who’s known for recording with Hatebreed, Soulfly, Whitechapel and has been working on the new Rob Zombie album, how did that arrangement come about with Zeuss?

Michael: We already had a few songs, but didn’t want a repeat of the last album. We wanted to evolve from it and I think this was a very important record that we needed to establish, you know, that we are the roots Queensrÿche as well as a current band. Zeuss was introduced to us by the A&R guy at Century Media. I had looked at his portfolio and it’s like, wow, you’ve done some heavy bands! When I first talked to him, he goes “Let me just tell you, I’m not about changing Queensrÿche, I’m about bringing that band magic that happened on those early records, and finding that and bringing that back out in your performances to record. I’m gonna mix this so it’s current…you’re a current band!. You know, that’s kind of how we started and we met and then it was just the whole thing of scheduling and finding somebody that was flexible. He was flexible. He had just finished the Rob Zombie album and he had a certain amount of time allotted that he could do with us. So, basically he had I believe six weeks to record 15 songs, Queensrÿche songs that is. It was a lot of hours and he is a workhorse. He got so much accomplished and it was just 16 hour days for the guy. He actually even traveled on the road. We had a couple weekend shows that we had to do and he actually traveled with us and set up in a hotel room and we recorded the guitars in that kind of a setting just to keep on schedule. So we basically finished with all the music in six weeks. We then needed a couple more weeks for Todd to finish up vocals, so he had to talk to Rob Zombie and see if we could you know borrow a couple of his weeks. Rob Zombie was very cool and let us finish the album – I just want to say that. Then it was just off to the mixing and the mastering. We’ve been just very, very busy, you know; touring, recording and like I said things have been a little more settled. There’s not too many distractions anymore and we’re just on our mark for fertile grounds of creativity. There’s going to be no stifling of that.

unnamed (2)TCRS: Sounds like you guys really do have a game plan now.

Michael: Exactly! Like I said, things are settled. We have our management. We have a proper booking agent in the Europe and the UK now. We’ve got proper booking agents in the US. We’ve got PR people in the US. PR in Europe and the UK. And Century Media  is totally behind us. They exercised their second option on the recording contract, which I might add that hasn’t happened since EMI!

TCRS: Congratulations! Just going back to Zeuss, if I may, what was he able to bring out of each of you in the recording studio?

Michael: I think he got us out of that way of thinking that everything had to be kind of structured and a pop song format arrangement. He got us out of that traditional way of thinking and you know we kind of brought the spirit of Rage for Order, The Warning, MindCrime and just let’s do things a little bit different. Let’s do some tempo changes, some key changes, some fake endings, some extended endings, some segues that come out of nowhere. He was like “Let’s just have some fun with these, so that they’re more unique and they sound more in the spirit of how you guys are”. And he really brought that out in everybody. I mean most notably Ed Jackson (bass). I mean the bass used to be so prevalent in our old recordings and Zeuss was adamant at making sure  that Eddie’s bass was featured and you could hear it on every song. And you know more of just playing with the Kick drums playing. Let’s get the old Ed Jackson back into this. And you know so  and that’s just one example. I mean he did that with everybody. He got just amazing performances out of everybody.

TCRS: You never stop learning in this business do you?

Michael: Me, personally, no. I’m constantly learning and relearning and relearning what I’ve relearned. You know it’s a never ending process and that’s what makes it so fun. You know it’s just I have such a burning desire to do what I do that I just, I can’t stop it. I’m just insane about it so it’s just I love what I do and I love the fact that I can keep learning from it definitely and I think I can say that for everybody else in the band as well. That we’re just a bunch of guys that can co-habit together.

TCRS: That’s great to hear, Michael. We played the lead single ‘Arrow Of Time’ on the show the other week and it went down a storm with Queensrÿche fans and, let me tell you, now you’ve won some new fans over as well.

Michael: Thanks for playing it! We’re really proud of that song, and that’s what it’s about, you know, we’re also a current band. The audiences are so varied and different and if we can influence  new listeners to check out what we’re doing, that’s just great! We’ve played that song every night as an added bonus, so the fans got to hear a live version of a song that’s not even out yet.

TCRS: When are fans likely to hear more of the new album in your live sets?

Michael: Well, hopefully, you know the release is October 2nd and I know we’ve got another single [Guardian] and we have some videos coming through the pipelines, so yeah we’ll be able to bring those into the set. I don’t know if we’ll do that on the Scorpion’s run, but we’ll be able to do that maybe on our own shows in between those Scorpion shows.

TCRS: What are you looking forward to most touring with the Scorpions?

Michael: Well, you know I’m a big Scorpions fan, so obviously the music is something I’m looking forward to, but it’s just the opportunity to finally properly play with the Scorpions and play the United States and Canada with it all. They’re playing in some pretty big places that we haven’t played in a long time. So I’m really looking forward to that and I just think it’s going to be awesome. I love these guys and I have all their albums, so it’s kind of a double dream come true.

TCRS: What rig are you taking around these days?

Michael: Well, what I take around with me is called a Kemper Profiler and it’s kind of a self contained amp that I can just plug into a rented speaker cabinet and all my sounds are in that along with a wireless system and my trusty ESP Signature guitars. Oh, and a foot pedal, that’s about it.

TCRS: The ESPs loaded with Seymour Duncan’s, I guess?

Michael: Oh Yeah. Love the Seymour Duncan’s! One of my guitars is a Custom ESP that they made for me and the other one a Signature ESP and that’s what I travel with.

TCRS: Have you ever done a rig rundown on YouTube, I don’t think I have seen one?

Michael: No, I never have. I think it would probably disappoint a lot of people as it’s all in this little box. All stored on a thumb drive, a little 1GB thumb drive! [laughs]

TCRS: I don’t think it will disappoint anybody. Okay, Michael, so what is the future looking like now for Queensrÿche?

Michael: We’ve got a plan that we’ve been sticking to and we’re just going to continue on with that plan. We’re gonna tour, of course, and after the Scorpions tour we go into November and December doing a few gigs in the US. In January, we start up again and we go all the way through March. We’re booking more shows and I think another summer tour over in Europe is on the cards.

TCRS: Good luck with the new album. If ‘Arrow of Time’ [and Guardian] is anything to go by, Queensrÿche have another belter of an album in ‘Condition Hüman’.

Michael: I think any Queensrÿche fan is gonna just love this recording. And if you’re not a fan, well, check it out anyway. It’s a very cool, eclectic, semi-progressive, semi-metal, semi-hard rock album. Queensrÿche is back with a vengeance!

‘Condition Hüman’ will be released 2nd October via Century Media Records. ‘Arrow Of Time’, ‘Guardian’, ‘Hellfire’ and ‘Bulletproof’ are destined to take their place among Queensrÿche’s most beloved songs. Produced by Zeuss (Rob Zombie, Hatebreed, Sanctuary), ‘Condition Hüman’ is a new mountain towering over many of the peaks and valleys of the hard rock landscape.

Queensrÿche is: Todd La Torre – Vocals | Michael Wilton – Guitar | Eddie Jackson – Bass | Scott Rockenfield – Drums | Parker Lundgren – Guitar

Queensrÿche: www.queensrycheofficial.com | www.facebook.com/QueensrycheOfficial | www.twitter.com/queensryche

Thanks for taking the time to read this interview. Make sure you check out the new album…it’s killer!

Website: www.TheClassicRockShow.co.uk
Twitter: @ClassicRockShow
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TCRS This Thursday

Classic Rock mixed with some great new music. Tune in Thursday from 7pm BST / 2pm EDT / 11am PDT

Classic Rock mixed with some great new music, that’s what we’ve got for you on Thursday’s show (23rd July) – 7pm BST / 2pm EDT / 11am PDT.

Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Status Quo, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Dio, Scorpions are more than worthy of a mention. Lining up against them are bands with some brand new music like NWOBHM’ers Praying Mantis, Thrash legends Acid Reign release their first single in 25 years, Joe Satriani who releases his 15th studio album on 24th July, Royal Hunt, Lynch Mob, Amorphis, Unleash The Archers, Audiotopsy, King King and the awesome new single from Queensryche!

unnamed (4)Not only that, we hear from Josh Smith and Marcus Bridge of Northlane ahead of their new album Node, which is being released Friday 24th July.

Naturally, we intend to get through all of your requests, which include Blackberry Smoke, Steppenwolf, Lionize, UFO, Kiss, Saxon, The Who, Extreme and Motorhead.

Old Rake competitionLet’s not forget that we will be announcing the ‘Ol Drake’ Competition Winner (click here to ENTER). Be quick, as the competition closes at 9pm BST.

Join in the chat and comment on our Facebook Group and on Twitter @classicrockshow during the ‘live’ broadcast from 7pm until 10pm BST. Listen links can be found on the Homepage.


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INTERVIEW: Damo Fawsett of Slam Cartel talks to The Classic Rock Show


Slam Cartel  are Gary Moffat (vocals), Terence Warville (guitar), Damian J Fawsett (lead guitar), Marc Neudeck (bass guitar), Steve Campkin (drums). The band have been busy in the recording and rehearsal studios of late in readiness to accommodate a few of the new songs ahead of some up and coming shows. We took the opportunity between rehearsals to grab a few words with their lead guitarist, Damo Fawsett, and ask about the new music.

Damo: Yes, we’ve got a new single ‘Storm Seasoned’, we’ve just finished all the final recording on it now, just put the last bits down. It’s got to be mixed and mastered and then it will be ready to go.

TCRS: How to the mixes sound so far?

Damo: Yeah, it sounds great, it’s still pretty much the Slam Cartel you know. Still in the same vein, so the die-hard fans won’t be disappointed. The people that have heard it, the rough, the lucky few that we’ve played it to have said ‘Storm Seasoned’ is a beautiful song.

TCRS: What’s ‘Storm Seasoned’ about?

Damo: It’s a love story. It’s Terry’s lyrics, so you know the guy is a poet anyway, so he writes great lyrics and he’s probably the best one to explain the story of the song. Everyone has got their own interpretation of it and I don’t want to do him an injustice by telling him my interpretation of it, but no it’s got a great vintage feel to it as well, it’s like, I’m not going to spoil it because I want people to be surprised, but it’s kind of got an early Who, Floyd type vibe to it, you know it’s a beautiful song with a kind of dark vibe.



TCRS: You’re one of the new boys in Slam Cartel.

Damo: I’m the last one in, yeah so hopefully I won’t be “last one in, first out” [laughs]. I’ve been in the band probably about 18 months now and I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve had to prove my worth, you know they don’t just take any old crap, I have to work hard to stay in the band. It’s great we’re all a good bunch of mates, we all get a long, we socialize as well, it’s quite unusual in bands these day to get along and have a good time together and we still do and that’s what it’s all about is enjoying yourself, enjoying the music you’re playing.

TCRS: Guitar-wise, what is your go-to guitar in the studio and does that find its way on stage?

Damo: For years and years I use to hate Fender Telecasters.  I just thought they were just a country and western guitar. It wasn’t until I saw a local guy that I know, a session guitarist Jeff Whitehorn, who has played for Paul Rogers and Elkie Brooks, I was chatting to him at a gig and he showed me this hollow bodied telecaster and I was really turned off by the idea of a hollow body Telecaster. You know the fact that they feedback and it was sounding like a Telecaster, he played it and it was amazing.

TCRS: A Telecaster Thinline?

Damo: Yeah. Jeff can make anything sound good, so I got a hold of one made by a company called ‘Fret King’, and played it and I use it for everything. I’ve got loads of other guitars, but the Fret King ‘Country Squire Semitone’. For guitarists that want to know what the spec is it has two humbuckers on it, and you’ve got the ability to turn it into single coils like an old style Telecaster. I’ve used in the studio with Slam Cartel recently and I use it live on most of Slam Cartel’s stuff as well. I’m endorsed by Fret King and Vintage. Vintage used to be a budget range and now they’re producing real high-end guitars and they’ve got Les Paul style that I use as well and its better than most guitars I’ve ever played including the Gibson Les Paul.

TCRS: And you’re running them through Marshall stacks?

Damo: I use to use Marshall years ago and then I went off and tried all sorts of different amps and a lot of these other amps sound great you know, Engl, Black Star, whatever, all these different things. I used a Cornford for years which sounded great as well, but there’s only one that will work in Slam Cartel and that is a Marshall. You just need that grit and the sleaze and only a Marshall can do that.

TCRS: You’ve got some more gigs lined up as part of this tour.

Damo: Last year, we talked about two rounds of gigs, you know we did a lot in the first part of the tour earlier in the year and then later in the year, from the summer on through the winter, we do like a second bout of the tour. We just announced a hand full of dates for the second part of the tour, there’s quite a few more coming in and hopefully we’ll have a few nice big support slots as well like we did last year.

TCRS: So the singles, not quite in the can yet but very close to?

Damo: Yeah

Damo Fawsett of Slam Cartel

Damo Fawsett of Slam Cartel

TCRS: Tour and dates gets lined up, what else can we expect from Slam Cartel this year? Are you likely to do some more recording or is that already in your back pocket so to speak?

Damo: Yeah, there’s no doubt we’ll go back in the studio, we’re as good in the studio as well as we are out on stage… you know if the influence is there and the will is there to keep writing, then we’ll keep doing it. We’ve got a good team we work with, we use George De Angelis (Producer) and Mandy Parnell masters our stuff as well, so you know we’ve got the right people to do the gold dusting as well.

TCRS: There may be a few people reading this who might not make the connection with the two names you’ve just mentioned and what they have probably heared on the radio.

Damo: Yeah the best way of explaining it all, the best advice I could give to our producer and the lady that a masters our recordings is just to Google them because I could go on for hours about this stuff but George De Angelis, great producer, I probably wouldn’t like to work with anyone else as a producer now, you know the guy is an absolute genius.

TCRS: He used to be Trevor Horn’s Engineer?

Damo: Trevor Horn, yeah that’s right. He knows his stuff. We’ve Mandy Parnell, she’s received a Grammy nomination. She gold dusts everything and she’s won countless awards for what she does and you probably couldn’t get better than her to be honest.

TCRS: Plenty of stuff coming up for Slam Cartel, then. Potentially an EP at some point?

Damo: Yeah we’ve got a few options, we can keep putting out singles if the demand is there. It’s something that we need to all sit down and discuss really, the way forward, we might go away tail end of the year and start writing an album. That’s the good thing about writing music and releasing music these days, if you’ve got the backing behind you and the financing, you can go and do it, but it’s something we need to look at. We may put all the singles together on an EP and put out a five-track EP later in the year or we might just keep releasing a few more singles, but there’s probably going to be a video as well. We’ve got some ridiculous ideas (Laughing). We haven’t approached anyone yet about doing a video, but we have sat and discussed it and some ideas have been muted, so needless to say the video will be as epic as the new single, it may be ridiculously epic but it will be great. We did a little live studio session a few months back at a local studio. They did a little video for us, we recorded ‘Hypnotize’ live and they recorded us doing it and they sort of synced the track and video together and it worked quite well. I’m quite proud of it, but I think you can’t really beat a good music video. Yeah, I mean basically just keep an eye on Slam Cartel on Twitter and Facebook, there’s always stuff going on and we’re always full of surprises as well, I mean a lot of stuff goes on behind the scenes, we’re always talking to people and getting offers on things and we now this is something quite high profile I’m discussing at the moment, so it’s really just keep an eye on us.

Forthcoming Slam Cartel gigs can be found here.

Slam Cartel links: WebsiteFacebookTwitter

Thanks for visiting.

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INTERVIEW: Diff’rent Strokes for different folks. SOiL’s Tim King and Ryan McCombs talk candidly.

SO_W-P07_smallThe album “Whole” (AFM Records, 2013) redefined what Soil was all about. Ryan McCombs, having returned to the band in 2011, bringing back his trademark punch-in-the-face vocals and lyrics, matching the killer riffs and rhythms of Tim King (Bass) and Adam Zadel (guitar).

Last year (2013) following a more than successful tour with Skindred, the band returned to the USA only for Ryan to then suffer a Stroke while at home. Not unsurprisingly, Ryan’s stoicism and dry sense of humour held fast throughout this episode. His recovery has, thankfully, continued to progress well, such that the band have been able to use the unforeseen time out, to focus on their own health, family and friends. 

Soil have now made a welcome return to the UK in support of Coal Chamber’s ‘Rivals’ tour. We sat down with Tim and Ryan before they took to the stage at The Waterfront, Norwich. As usual with Soil, there’s a lot of humour and laughter in the room.

TCRS: Welcome back to Norwich. The last time we saw you in the city was with Skindred back in January 2014.

Ryan: That was a great tour.

TCRS: ‘Whole’, your last album, had certainly gained a lot of traction with the fans by then.

Tim: Yes, it’s actually done really well for us. The fans received it really well and it sold well. We couldn’t have asked for anything more in this day and age.

Coal Chamber UK tour dates

Coal Chamber UK tour dates

TCRS: You continue to move your setlist around, keeping it fresh.

Tim: Yeah, we’ve been throwing in something a little special each time we come, so it’s not the same show.

Ryan: There’s a handful of songs we have to play, otherwise we’ll get lynched afterwards! [laughs] If we didn’t play ‘Halo’, somebody would’ve definitely poked my eyes out after the show. So there’s a handful of songs you have to play, but we always try to throw in a little something different here and there depending on the length of set.

Tim: Like in this one (tour) we threw in a song off the Redefine album called ‘Pride’ and we haven’t played that in awhile [Editor’s Note: 10 years?] and we brought ‘Black Betty’, the Ram Jam cover, back in on this one too. A little something special.

TCRS: How’s your health, Ryan?

Ryan: Shit! It sucks!

TCRS: But you went through a bit a spell last year where things weren’t…

Ryan: Last time I was here, I went home and decided to have a stroke.

TCRS: How are you now?

Ryan: I’m fine, until we get tired, my speech starts to slur a bit. I get tired and I got this stupid right leg that it doesn’t let me run really, so if a bear jumps in the room real quick, all it has got to is outrun me because I brisk walk it will outrun me at this point [laughs]. But I was so lucky, the type of stroke that I had, the recovery time that I had from it, doctors were just amazed by it and didn’t understand it and so I was really blessed by the after effects were so minimal in my case… so yeah I went home, I went to bed that night, straight from getting off the plane from being over here and woke up with a stroke! But it’s been cool, because I’ve had a good surroundings, you know whether it’s at home or whether it’s the band members and stuff. We took the needed time off to make sure that I could do it without my brain blowing up. It’s just a matter of being smart about what I do and taking life in moderation, dealing with the old chest thumper and the head jelly and making sure everything is going to be fine.

TCRS: Tim, seeing Ryan the way he was, what was your immediate reaction?

Tim: It scared the crap out of me! My long term girlfriend, she also had a stroke, so I…

Ryan: My ‘Stroke buddy’.

Tim: Yeah, I mean it hit double as hard, because I had to deal with her stroke and then Ryan. But it actually kind of helped me, because I knew what she went through, so I was able to know what Ryan was going through and really try to be there as much as I could for him and figure out stuff for the band.

Ryan: Yeah he sent me a book ‘Dealing with a Stroke for Dummies’ [laughter]. I think what we really need to pay attention to though is the one common factor here, there’s two people that had strokes and Tim knows them both! [more laughter]

Tim: We didn’t really know what was going to happen to the future and we kind of looked at it as, you know, “What if it is over? We have had an amazing time, but if it’s not, we’re just going to change some things and do whatever we need to make it to where we can keep on doing it” and that’s kind of the approach we take with it.

Ryan: Luckily my time away from the band there was a couple other singers though, so if I do happen to stroke out, there are always replacements [laughs].

Tim: No we’re not coming back. When one of us has gone off the list, I think it’s time to say “Sayonara”.

Ryan: Not the way I see it, I’m getting cardboard cutouts of you guys! Can we do that next tour? I’m getting old [laughs]. Seriously tho’, one of the great things about these guys is that they go into every run with the knowledge that I need to take life differently than I use to. So when it usually comes down to sleeping I make sure that I get my sleep. They’re being mom and dad, making sure I take my medicine and stuff. Everybody is very conscious of the situation, just really helping to make sure my butt is in the quietest place in the bus and I’m getting some rest.

TCRS: Ryan, I know you’re huge Football (American Football) fan. How was the draft for the Browns (Cleveland Browns)?

Tim: They’re an awesome basketball team.

Ryan: That’s his knowledge of sports right there!

Tim: That’s my cue to exit! [laughs]

Tim: I loved it. The two players that they took in the first round, Danny Shelton and Cameron Erving, were two of the three guys that I had said like a week before that I would take, so I couldn’t have been happier. First, I got to go for the first me and my brother talked about going to the draft for 25+ years and actually be there and I won my pass and I won. I’ve never won anything in my life, so I got to take my brother. So after 25- 30 years of talking about it, we were finally there, at the draft and it was a really cool experience! But I think even in the later round picks, I liked the kid from Washington State (Xavier Cooper), the defensive tackle. I couldn’t complain, even their 7th round pick to take the Cornerback out of the Cardinals…should’ve been the first round pick because he was still healthy last year. So I think they really filled a lot of holes.

TCRS: And “Deflategate“?

Tim: Man, I’m so… so tired of it. If something was right, I’d say it was right. If something was wrong, I say it’s wrong. In their (New England Patriots) case, if you broke the rules, you pay the price, it’s that simple. When you refuse to give items up, to be looked into, such as in his case, they wanted to take a look at his emails and take a look at his cell phones, text messages and stuff, and he refused to do that, to me when you refuse to show that you’re innocent, that means you’re hiding something. It’s like all these guys in sports, regardless of the team, regardless if they get in trouble for something and they pay the situation off. If you’re innocent of something bad, you want to be known that you’re innocent. At least I would want to know. If I’m getting blamed for jay-walking and I wasn’t jay-walking, I want to be known that I’m innocent of it. I’m not going to go pay somebody off to show that I’m not innocent or not give you the stuff that would prove that I’m innocent. To me, when people do that, you’re guilty, it’s done.

TCRS: Tim do you think that question has got it out of this system for this tour?

Ryan: He heard “Football” and his mind was like *Ping* [holds up a bottle of water] “Man this is the best water I’ve had in ages, this is really good water…I wonder what’s in this water, where’s this water from?”

Tim: I mean you guys may have just been talking Spanish for all I know, I just kind of shut the switch off and turned it back on.  [laughter]

Soil-TourTCRS: For Soil, obviously you’ve got this tour with Coal Chamber here in the UK, and then Europe. Straight after that, it’s back to the States?

Tim: We do the UK and then we have four European shows with Coal Chamber and then we’re going back to the States for two weeks, then we start up with Powerman 5000 on a tour of the States. So it’s just kind of like this is a proper third leg of the whole cycle [with ‘Whole’], so we actually did like three proper UK, Europe and States tours in this, so it was kind of cool to have it like that instead of non-stop tour. We’ve been out for a long time on this record.

Ryan: We had to sit still too long while I was wrestling around with the brain. These doctors are sucking my wallet out clean. We’ve got to get out of that place and get some air!

TCRS: And put down another record?

Tim: Funnily enough, right before this run, we were talking about doing new songs and stuff and throwing some rough ideas and discussing it. So we’re a little strapped for time right now because we do this and then go into Powerman, but you know definitely after that we’ll work on some new stuff. It’s kind of like the age old, it’s so weird nowadays in the business, whether you put out a few songs, put out a full length record, so we’re just going to see where it takes, see how many songs we get and more likely there’ll at least be some EP of some sort.

TCRS: Well listen fellows it’s been an absolute joy to catch up with you guys again and get to see you perform back in the UK. You’ve got a strong following here.

Tim: It’s been a blessing. The UK crowd in particular, has just embraced us from day one. It’s always fun. We were laughing earlier, we’ll come here as long as they let us and even after they stop letting us, we’re coming back to annoy the shit out of everybody.

Soil are currently touring the UK with Coal Chamber, along with the Defiled and Dope.

Official Soil links: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

UK Tour w/ Soil, the Defiled & Dope
20.05.15 UK – Leeds / Stylus
21.05.15 UK – Norwich / The Waterfront
22.05.15 UK – Warwick / Copper Rooms
23.05.15 UK – Nottingham / Rock City
24.05.15 UK – Glasgow / O2 ABC
26.05.15 UK – Bristol / Motion
27.05.15 UK – Exeter / Lemon Grove
28.05.15 UK – Brighton / Concorde 2
29.05.15 UK – Wolverhampton / Wulfrun
30.05.15 UK – Manchester / The Ritz
31.05.15 UK – London / Koko [Sold Out]

Thanks for visiting.

Website: www.TheClassicRockShow.co.uk
Twitter: @ClassicRockShow
Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/theclassicrockshow

#INTERVIEW: Coal Chamber’s Mikey and Meegs on proving themselves over again

“It’s been 13 years since Coal Chamber put out a record. We all worked so hard on this music to make sure the whole album was a stellar push forward for the band and not some nostalgia trip! If you like it heavy and unique you’ll love ‘Rivals’! This record is full of crushing huge hooks and big down tuned riffs to move ya. Support Heavy music in all its forms!” says Dez Fafara on their new album.

When we eventually come to look back on this year, 2015 will be marked down and under-scored as the year in which the reformed NuMetal band Coal Chamber made a welcome return to the world stage. Not only did they return to the stage, but they came armed with a highly anticipated and stunning new album – ‘Rivals’ – released on Napalm Records.


If you thought that Coal Chamber were just going to go through the motions and regurgitate the sound from their previous two albums ‘Dark Days’ and ‘Chamber Music’, then think again. ‘Rivals’ is truly invigorating, helped, not least, by Mark Lewis’ (Producer) deft touch in the studio and the bands’ maturity in their songwriting, as well as how they now handle their own personal relationships. The latter had undergone such extremes, it ultimately lead to the band’s break up some 13 years ago.

We caught up with Mike ‘Mikey’ Cox (drummer) and Miguel ‘Meegs’ Rascón (guitar) at The Waterfront, Norwich, on the second date of their UK tour. We began by asking about how the album was put together and the reaction to the release of ‘Rivals’.

Mikey: Yeah, like the response has been crazy! You know, we kind of just write, we don’t plan on “Oh my God that’s right”, like we tried in the past. You try to write a certain way to try to envision what people want to hear. You write it, and you’re like “Yeah, this sounds like us”. With the new record, I think a lot of it is the fact that we’ve all matured as musicians. We just got older, wiser and me and him (Meegs) spent more time on really locking in all the individual parts, but it still sounds like us.  Our Producer, Mark Lewis (who has produced from Whitechapel and DevilDriver), helped us a lot. We wanted a live, nasty, not perfect record; we didn’t sit and make everything perfect. We did Click Track on the record like we always do, but our tempos go up and down like live, you know? We tried to do it with one tempo and it sounded horrible. It sounded boring, because we’ve always been a band that pushes and pulls. When parts get heavier, we go! All the tones on the record, all his (Meegs) wacky guitar shit, we spent four days just getting drum tones alone, which is crazy! It’s a nightmare going through the process, but in the end you know it just sounds nasty. We wanted a nasty record, that’s my best term for it, ‘nasty’.

TCRS: If I can turn to Meegs – Mike’s been talking about what’s gone down in the studio, but could you explain to us what is so different between how you put this album together and for instance ‘Dark Days’ and ‘Chamber Music’?

Meegs: Well on a personal level, the comradery and the way we treat each other is obviously like night and day. Back then, it was all wacky and fucked up and that definitely kinda like penetrates into your music, you know it definitely affects your music, whether it’s bad or good, but now it’s like you know we get along. We’re great friends and on a personal level it definitely shows in the way we write and also from ‘Dark Days’ to Rivals there’s a big gap. Musically, its progressed to the better, so yeah, so just personally and musically it’s just like night and day, definitely.

TCRS: We were catching up with Dez (Farfara – vocals) earlier, and he was recalling the time all got together and listened back to the final mix of ‘Rivals’, and it was quite an emotional moment for you all?

Mikey: Yeah, I mean when you’re writing the songs… you know, we holed up in a shitty rehearsal space and just do it old school. So me and Meegs always had the vision of how it’s going to sound recorded. Other people walk into a rehearsal space and you’re just jamming this loud, it sounds like shit and you don’t envisage how it’s going to sound polished on the record. When I got that music back, even before Dez did any vocals, I used to work for Snoop Dogg and I would travel four hours total in the day, two hours in the traffic and two hours back, and I listened to it on repeat for months and months and every day I was like I can’t believe how good it sounds and it captured everything we were trying to get and the ones Dez laid vocals and I got just the rough, I was like holy shit! To this day, I can’t believe it came out as good as it did. I’m not saying we’re not capable of it, because obviously we are, but you have a vision of where it’s going to go. Sometimes you get a record and oh shit it’s not as crazy as I thought it would be, you know This song is not as heavy as I thought it would be. With this record, I was like every song, top to bottom, I was like “Holy shit! This sounds good!”. Once we heard the final – we only changed the mixes just a little bit, perhaps three or four times with Mark (Lewis), it was very emotional, because I never in a million years thought we would be sitting here, let alone do a record ever. Mark (Lewis) really helped us and every really stepped up their game. To finally get it to happen, it was very emotional. We’re really proud of the record.

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TCRS: You’re currently on tour here in the UK. You’ve certainly got some fond memories of the UK, right?

Mikey: Yeah first time we did a signing here was at the Virgin Megastore in London. I was 19 and we were there for like five hours. Got in the cab and they were chasing us down the street in the cab! I called home and I was like “Mom I’m a Beetle, I’m famous!”. I’m so famous, I’m not rich but I’m definitely famous over here.

Meegs: Definitely not rich! [laughs]

Mikey: Yeah. It’s been really good here. We’re looking at it as starting over. We have the old songs we have to play. We love those songs, but for taking that much time off you have to reinvent yourself and you have to prove yourself all over again. You can’t expect to have the same fan base as when you broke up. 13 years is a long time and a lot of bands come back after two years and don’t do shit!

TCRS: No doubt you’ll be introducing a few more new songs to the setlist, but for the time being you’ve got ‘Rivals’ and ‘IOU’?

Mikey: Yeah. We don’t want to play songs that people over here haven’t heard through someone’s iPhone recording and then post it and people think that’s how the record sounds through someone’s phone. Once this tour is over, we’re going to add four more new songs to the set.


Coal Chamber’s Meegs and Mikey at The Waterfront, Norwich

Meegs: The fans that we do have, obviously, they’re here to see us preform the old songs. But we want to expand the fan base and have the people really hear what we’re doing now, than what we’re doing in the 90s.

TCRS: You’ve moved on?

Mikey: I think with our area of music, with all the bands that grew up with and toured with back in the day, we all turned into crazy assholes and the bands couldn’t stay together and now I think everyone is growing up…

Meegs: We’re no longer in our 20s, so it’s like you’re kind of invincible, you know, in the head space and physically in your 30, 40s.

Mikey: I mean we pretty much lived the life of 50 people, with all the shit we’ve done and experienced in travelling, that’s more than 50 people combined do.

Meegs: Yeah, like here we just became normal and just we’ve done so much that you’ve lived like a couple lifetimes, so we’re good, we’re not going to be old people going oh we should’ve done it, like “No, we did it!”.

Mikey: Yeah, we’re still a bunch of nut cases, we got our things you know… I think every musician is a fucking nut job, all of them.

Meegs: You kind of have to be.

Mikey: We all think way differently from the rest of the world and you know stuff is not realistic and you’re living in a travelling submarine, so your grasp of reality is weighed. When I get home and I do normal stuff with my son. It takes me a second to go “Oh wow! This is normal!”, because you literally in airports and throwing around and pointing in one direction and but it’s definitely a dream come through.

Coal Chamber’s tour support comes from as. These three bands are worth the admission price alone and didn’t disappoint the Norwich faithful on Thursday night (May 21st, 2015).

Coal Chamber came, saw and conquered, rounding off a splendid evening with 13 songs, all delivered with aplomb.

Take it from us, these guys are more focused than ever before…go check ’em out on tour and pick up a copy of ‘Rivals’!

UK Tour w/ Soil, the Defiled & Dope
20.05.15 UK – Leeds / Stylus
21.05.15 UK – Norwich / The Waterfront
22.05.15 UK – Warwick / Copper Rooms
23.05.15 UK – Nottingham / Rock City
24.05.15 UK – Glasgow / O2 ABC
26.05.15 UK – Bristol / Motion
27.05.15 UK – Exeter / Lemon Grove
28.05.15 UK – Brighton / Concorde 2
29.05.15 UK – Wolverhampton / Wulfrun
30.05.15 UK – Manchester / The Ritz
31.05.15 UK – London / Koko [Sold Out]

Coal Chamber band links: Official Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Thanks for visiting this site. We hope you enjoyed reading the interview.

Website: www.TheClassicRockShow.co.uk
Twitter: @ClassicRockShow
Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/theclassicrockshow