rock music

INTERVIEW: “Oh-Hell-YeeHaw!” WhiskeyDick are coming to the UK!

Cult favourites WhiskeyDick return to the UK this March to blow minds with a double barrel blast of dreadnaught shredding and hillbilly bellowing that makes you want to knock back a shot, stand up tall, and holler “Oh-Hell-YeeHaw!”

The Fort Worth duo carry on the Texas traditions of super-powered guitar slinging and clever songwriting that make lone star music a worldwide curiosity, except Reverend Johnson will remind you more of Dimebag Darrell than Billy Gibbons and Fritz remains more lyrically akin to David Allen Coe than Robert Earl Keen.

WhiskeyDick’s live show is a true spectacle: two giant, tattooed, mean-looking dudes saunter on stage and sit down on 2 chairs, then pick up acoustic guitars and proceed to amaze everyone by generating more power than a full band by means of Fritz’s deep, rich vocals, Johnson’s unapproachable acoustic guitar heroics, and their triumphant songwriting.

It’s their approach to music and the message they carry that’s resonating with the legion of Dimebag Darrell’s fans and viewers of hit tv show ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ which has resulted in the duo’s song ‘Drunk As Hell’ fast approaching 1 MILLION views on Youtube.

WhiskeyDick release their best of album ‘Welcome To YeeHaw County’ 24th April 2015 via record label Rusty Knuckles. We spoke to Fritz ahead of their forthcoming UK Tour.

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MJ: Welcome to the Classic Rock Show, Fritz. How on earth does a name like WhiskeyDick come about, firstly?

300x300F: Thank you. Man, I appreciate it. Yeah the band name. Well, we kind of did some drinking a couple of nights in a row and we were playing some shows and didn’t really have a band name, this was about ten years ago, a little more than ten years ago, actually, and after one night of the heavy drunken debauchery, we had a couple of names floating around in our heads and we knew we liked whiskey, and we were on our way to a show, actually, and I was sitting in the back seat of the vehicle and it just kind of hit me and I blurted it out real loud as we were going down the road. And actually Reverend Johnson (Whiskeydisck’s lead guitarist) wasn’t really happy, didn’t really like the name right off the bat, but kind of stuck after a couple of minutes and then kind of I called the venue right then and said we’re coming, we’re ready to play, and we’re Whiskey Dick and it just kind of stuck. And here we are ten years later with the same band name.

MJ: We’re talking via Skype and I can’t help noticing a poster behind you of the big man himself Hank Williams. I guess you are a big fan of Hank and of country music in general. I dare say there’s a Doc Watson photo or poster somewhere in the Fritz household.

F:  Yeah, there is one out in the studio somewhere. This is a gift. I am a huge fan of the [Hank Williams] Senior and we come from metal roots but we always loved our Country [music] that we’ve grown up with and it’s kind of a way of life around here, where we’re from, so kind of born and bred into it.

10250038_855339887864339_3721610910997277075_nMJ: How much of those guys influence you?

F: I tell you, I’m very heavily influenced in the old country stuff, Hank Williams and Waylon Jennings, and I think a lot of it comes from growing up and listening to the music on old vinyl records. Wasn’t just the old country, but it was Allman Brothers and Bob Dylan and a whole slew of amazing artists growing up. And I think that my vocal range was more in that register, you know, with the way I have a very low twang, I guess, I think I mumble, [laughs] but the old sound and kind of really honed in on that. So I try to surround myself with all of the music that I’ve been influenced by my whole life. My writing style and all that stuff and taking shape and mould it into my own. But there’s always a little piece of Hank Senior in my head and Waylon Jennings floating around there too. Heavily influenced by those guys and the way they lived, they lived their music. So that’s what me and Reverend do. We live every minute of it. So, the night I spoke it and it kind of goes hand in hand.

MJ: You share song writing duties?

F: Yeah. The way we write, you know, we take life experiences that we’ve lived through, you know, and take them and sometimes alter them a little bit so they don’t sound so drab or anything. But you know, things that we’ve lived through and come out alive still, are amazing, some of the stuff that we’ve gone through and try to take some of that and use it to our advantage and our music. And I think that’s another reason why when we play live it’s more of an emotional thing for us because we’re really tapping into some stuff that we’ve been through all together and being apart and being together we’ve gone through a lot of stuff. And to me, real good soul music, music from the soul, is good for the soul. And we try to incorporate that as much as we can in our music. Because I mean it’s all we do. We live it and then we write about it. You know? That’s the way they did it back in the old days.

MJ: “Drunk as Hell” written some few years ago now, has really came to prominence on the back of having been on the soundtrack to “Sons of Anarchy” episode. For a two-piece band to get a song on a mainstream TV show, tell us about how you felt the reaction yourselves?

F: You know, it’s still kind of shocking. Just for them to even contact us and want to use our music was mind-blowing to us! We’re just two dudes and you know for someone, for anybody, for that matter, to take something that we’ve written from in here in our souls and our hearts and actually like it enough to want to use it for a show was, we were floored by that, you know. We’ve always been a two-piece and so it’s just the two of us and kind of look at each other like, wow! [laughs] I don’t think some of it has even set in all the way yet, you know, all together, how far we’ve come and just doing it with hard work and lots of hard work and sticking with it. And fighting through whatever it is that comes our way and got to overcome all of that stuff. So I think as a two-piece we’ve been able to do that pretty successfully.

yeehawcountyfrontgoodMJ: You guys have been together for not far short of 10 years. Five studio albums and a live album as well, you can rattle through quite a number of tracks, what can the audience look forward to?

F: We try to mix it up and do a little bit off of every album. We’re doing a lot of songs, like I think four songs and five songs in our set from our Drunk as Hell album which is our third release that we released in 2010 and “Drunk as Hell” is actually the title track of the album. So, that one we always try to incorporate in our set just because it’s fun to play and the people seem to really like it and relate to it. We have a couple new songs off of the Devil’s Boots album that we’ve really been playing live a lot, “Yee-Haw” is one of them and it’s another acoustic metal kind of feel to it, over here in the States we call it like a Southern Metal groove kind of song. There are some songs from our Wicked Roots album which is our fourth release that we released in 2012 and that was more of an acoustic-driven song. There’s no distortion or anything on that whole album. “Murder Love Song” is one, “Mountain Town,” from the First Class White Trash album. And we do “Train Riding and Gun Totin’” [laughs] and that one is always good because it gets everyone moving and wanting to drink some beers with us. So we try to mix it up a little bit. This tour we have got a compilation album that we’re putting out called ‘Welcome To YeeHaw County’, only released over in the UK and it’s 13 songs and I believe we’ve got at least 3 songs from each album. So we’ve been playing a lot of those songs, too. We’ve got some old songs that we’re going to pull out that we haven’t played even in the States in a while and as we realised the other day, as of right now we’ve got 74 original songs so we’re trying to weed through them all and pick out the ones that we really want to focus on and play them to the best of our abilities.

MJ: You were over here in August/September last year [2014]. What are you looking forward to most when you come back to the UK?

WDUKTOURPOSTERF: We’re really looking forward to getting back over there and playing some music and meeting the people and having a good time. It’s what it’s really all about, you know? We’ve had a boost of fans from our last tour online and stuff and a bunch of them are planning to come out to a lot of the shows and we’re just really looking forward to meeting the people and playing and putting on a good show for them and really kind of putting our foot down and saying here we are, we hope you like us, and let’s have a beer. That’s the goal of ours, to frequent over there and tour over there as much as we can. It’s a new area and we’ve been touring the States here for almost the last five years pretty much non-stop. And it’s a whole other world over there. The first time we went over we absolutely fell in love with everything about it. So we’re really looking forward to getting back over there and putting on some good shows and having a good time with everybody and raise a little hell.

MJ: Great to finally hook up with you Fritz. Good luck with the UK Tour and the compilation album

F: Yeah, I believe we’re playing, we haven’t really set everything in stone yet but we’re already trying to come back in the fall.

F: Just want to thank you for having me on and really, really appreciate it and we’re looking forward to getting over there and playing some good ole southern acoustic metal/country hillbilly yee-haw music. We are going to have a lot of new merchandise with us on this tour. Some hats, some shirts coming with us and some of the new compilation album which we’re really happy about. Just looking forward to getting over there and doing out thing, man. And like I said I really appreciate you having me on, MJ.

WhiskeyDick release their best of album ‘Welcome To YeeHaw County’ 24th April 2015 via record label Rusty Knuckles.
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WhiskeyDick March 2015 Tour Dates:
Thu 19th – LONDON – The Big Red
Fri 20th – PETERBOROUGH – Iron Horse Ranch House
Sun 22nd – SHEFFIELD – South Sea
Mon 23rd – LIVERPOOL – Caledonia
Tue 24th – DARLINGTON – The Quakehouse
Wed 25th – EDINBURGH – Bannermans
Thu 26th – BRISTOL – Maverick Studios
Fri 27th – CARDIFF – The Moon Club
Sat 28th – BOURNEMOUTH – The Anvil
Fritz and Johnson return to the UK in May 2015:
Sat 2nd – OXFORD – The Wheatsheaf
Sun 3rd – MILTON KEYNES – Craufurd Arms
Hit ‘em up!

INTERVIEW: The sound and philosophy behind Venrez ‘Children Of The Drones’ + March UK Tour news

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Los Angeles hard rockers Venrez caused a buzz with their 2013 album release, ‘American Illusion’ which saw the band tour across the USA and UK/Europe with Slash, Alice Cooper and Buckcherry.
They’re now set to go over the top with their forthcoming new album ‘Children of the Drones’ and new music video ‘Hang The Predator’, Directed by Christopher Coppola (nephew to ‘The Godfather Trilogy’ Director Francis Ford Coppola) the new video and song serve as the perfect taster for Venrez’s forthcoming album.
I managed to catch up with Venrez singer/songwriter/frontman Ven before he, together the rest of the band, flew out to begin their UK tour.
Jason Womack [L] and Ven [R]

Jason Womack [L] and Ven [R]

MJ: I’ve been listening to the new Venrez album Children of the Drones [set for release on 24th April 2015 via Monarch Music Group] and it’s got quite a feel to it. Take us through how the album came about? V: This is our third album and there were some unique differences with it that I’ll get to, but I think that the biggest difference as far as being a great natural progression forward is that the lyrics are still dark that I’m writing, the melodies are still there, it’s heavy but we’ve added more of a psychedelic sound. On the first album, Soul Alive, the outro track, “My Only Light” had a kind of Pink Floyd-y feel of psychedelicness to it. We did it again with “Temptress of the Moon” the outgoing track on the last album, American Illusion. And we just kind of sprinkled a little of psychedelicness into the heavy kind of 90s groove that we had for Children of the Drones. And I think finally stamped a signature on the Venrez sound with this album.

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MJ: What does Children Of The Drones mean?

V: Well, my wife and I actually turned vegan a year ago, after watching some different videos and the cruelty to animal factory farming. And then you know just what’s going on in society and how important bees are to the ecosystem and things of that particular nature so I wanted to write a song about it. And Children of the Drones talks about it: “Concrete for the trees as they poison the bees”. And you know there’s a message and we put it on the album cover and besides those messages, the biggest message is, on the album cover the drones have a barcode on the back of their heads and there’s talk of us all having chips in our bodies at some point. I look at it like stepping out of that line. If you’re looking at the album cover you’re in line with the drones heading to the pyramid. So the message is step out of the line, be independent, think for yourself and don’t be controlled. And you know, that’s the song that I take a shot at corporations and government on every record. On this record it’s “Children of the Drones.” I think the world is the most dangerous world it’s been since World War II. And if there’s ever been a time for the younger generations of people around the world to step up I think now is the time to be doing it. And you know I could cheapen up the lyrics, we could go real poppy and crack into corporate suit control pop radio and pop rock, you know, but I haven’t sold out and it’s taken us a long path going into our 6th year now to really start getting somewhere but I’m proud of it because we’ve stuck to our guns, we haven’t sold out, we continue to write songs that we feel teach lesson and deliver messages that need to be delivered and I’m just not going to stop doing it.

MJ: Accompanying your lead single “Hang the Predator” is a video directed by Christopher Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew. How did that collaboration come about?

V: I might add that his brother is the famous actor Nicholas Cage. It’s really kind of a funny thing. US actor comedian, Andy Dick, is a very good friend of mine and he wanted me on the Andy Dick Live show. He flew out to Ohio to see us open for Alice Cooper back in 2012 at the France Pavilion in Dayton. He wanted me on the show to promote Venrez and the producers had wanted to book Chris Coppola, the comedian but by accident they booked Christopher Coppola, the director. And so he was on the show with me and we just instantly hit it off like we were past life samurai warriors or something together. And we became best friends. So when it came to wanting to start getting some good videos directed, I asked Christopher to direct them. And I think he just did a great job with this new video, “Hang the Predator.”

MJ: It’s got quite a dramatic beginning, with ants attacking a scorpion. Can you explain that metaphor?

V: “Hang the Predator” is my shot at corporate greed and government control. So the predator is who tries to control us and take our freedom back. And so that is my biggest shot at it. With what is going on in the world with North Korea and even our country with police brutality, I’ve seen plenty of craziness going on in the UK, you know the issues in Syria and Iraq and with ISIS…these monsters we’ve created we now have to deal with. Ee need to step up and do something to change the world for the positive. I really do think that we’re facing some serious dangers throughout the world based on human kind being out of control in an aggressive manner.

MJ: There’s an interesting story, is there not, behind the lyrics to “Hang the Predator” because by all accounts these were quite old lyrics that you had sent to your guitarist Jason Womack and he found them one day?

V: [Laughs] Yeah, they were. The way I work is I write lyrics and send them to Jason he puts music to them and sings the demo and then we work it out with the band. The other way is he sends me music and I write lyrics to the music. Now, what happens is I’m usually writing in my studio office at my house , I immediately email to him and save it to a file. But sometimes we’re on the road and when we’re on the road and I’m writing I use my iPhone and what I usually do is copy, paste, email it to him and save it. For some reason with “Hang the Predator” it was the one out of a few hundred songs that I forgot to do it with. And as we were about to record this record Jason had an old phone, cause I wrote the song probably two and a half years ago, and before he was going to dispose of the phone he booted it up just to make sure there was nothing on the phone that he wanted to make sure he saved. And there were the lyrics! He sent them to me and of course I had never saved them and it is pretty funny and ironic that it ended up being the single to the new album. A lot of times we’ll be jamming and sometimes we’ll record it and sometimes we don’t. Usually every time you’re not recording, you come up with something great and say I bet you can’t remember, and you say ah we gave that one to the gods. Well we tried to give this one to the gods but the gods gave it back! [Laughs]

MJ: Is it fair to say that Venrez have now found their sound with this album?

V: Yeah, I think so. I think so. We have four records now, but what happened when I formed the band in 2009 we had a very different lineup and it was another guy on guitar who was writing the lyrics and the sound and it became evident to me that we weren’t going to go anywhere unless I started writing my own songs. So, we had a change around and Jason stayed and we made an agreement to work together. Then I brought in the guys who had toured with us up until now, Alex Cane and Michael Bradford on bass, and Ed Davis on drums, who were not in the band at that time. And we went on a hodge podge of writing at the time called Witch’s Brew, which is a lot of different types of songs and sounds. And then we started trying to tailor it from Sell The Lie to American Illusion and so it’s been a four album process. I say this is our third record because the first one, Witch’s Brew, was just a different band and sounds and songs that are good but not really where Venrez was going. So I think with Children of the Drones, it’s evolved. In other words, Sell The Lie was the baby, American Illusion was the teenager, and Children of the Drones is the full-on adult and we’re now 28 years old and for the next 10 or 15 years we’re going to give you a whole lot more of that kind of stuff.

Ven and The Coop

Ven and The Coop

MJ: You’re going to be opening a UK tour on the second of March down at the Windmill in London. It’s not your first foray into the UK, but this is your first headline tour.

V: This is our first headline tour anywhere in the world! And you know, there’s a few really nice club venues we’re heading to. Some of them are pubs and bars, you’ve got to start somewhere. We’ve been playing arenas and huge venues with bands like Slash, Alice Cooper, the last tour of Europe with Buckcherry, we were at Koko’s in London. The thing about going back to a smaller club tour it is so intimate, we do have a lot of fans in the UK, we’ve been there four or five times on tour, and I’m really looking forward to showcasing the band in a smaller, intimate venue-type situation and I look forward to it being very successful. We’re very excited about it. We leave in two days. It’s Wednesday here today and we’ll leave Friday and land in London Saturday, the 28th February and that we’ll start on the 2nd March in London and end up at Bathgate, Scotland on the 12th.

MJ: What are we going to be hearing?

V: You’re going to get the full-on Venrez show! And you’re going to get a good smattering of five songs off the new record and then some of our fan favorites, from Sell The Lie and American Illusion. Some songs we haven’t play in 2-3 years live, and I think Jason put together a brilliant set. It just rocks from the first to the last song and it’s going to give fans a nice mixture of the current album and the last two records.

MJ: Ven, thanks for chatting with The Classic Rock Show.

V: You’re welcome. I’m really looking forward to coming back to the UK. I just want to thank all of our fans for supporting rock and roll. I think a lot of artists forget they wouldn’t have a career and wouldn’t be able to enjoy what they do without the fans. The first thing I always want to do is thank the fans for supporting rock music. Without you, there is no rock and roll!

‘Hang The Predator’ is now available on iTunes. ‘Children Of The Drones’ is released 24th April 2015 via Monarch Music Group.
Venrez UK Tour March 2015:
2nd – LONDON – The Windmill
3rd – SWANSEA – The Scene
4th – NOTTINGHAM – Old Salutation Inn
5th – BIRMINGHAM – The Asylum 2
6th – BOLTON – Railway Venue
7th – MANCHESTER – Bangkok Bar
9th – GLASGOW – Audio
11th – INVERNESS – Mad Hatters/Hootananny
12th – BATHGATE – Dreadnought Rock
Venrez are:
Ven – Lead vocals
Jason Womack – Guitars/backing vocals
Nico D’Arnese – Bass
Ed Davis – Drums
Hit ‘em up!

AUDIO INTERVIEW: Danny Bowes and Luke Morley on the making of ‘Wonder Days’

thunder-wonderdaysThunder are to release their latest album ‘Wonder Days’ through earMUSIC on February 16th (UK/EU). Fans have had quite a wait for anything new to come out of the Thunder camp, but the wait was worth it. Judging by the reaction our listeners gave when they heard the single ‘Wonder Days’, it’s clear to anyone with a pulse that they are back with a belter of an album.

Recorded at the infamous Rockfield Studios, from start to finish, the songs on the album seem to have this ability to form an instant bond with the listener, grabbing your attention right from the opening riff, through to the dying notes. It’s this rare gift that has served them well, ever since the day they recorded as a band and in Luke Morley, us Brits have a songwriter we can be rightly proud of.

1423648496mzdI sat down with Danny Bowes and Luke Morley at a studio in London to ask how ‘Wonder Days’ was put together. Always willing to fully answer any questions thrown at them, we began by asking after Ben Matthews’ health. Listening to their answers, you immediately sense that their ambition is as strong as ever it was and that they are proud, rightly so, of the way they have adapted to the new approach to recording an album and what they’ve achieved in the studio with ‘Wonder Days’.

INTERVIEW: Danny Bowes and Luke Morley of Thunder on the new album 'Wonder Days' by Classicrockshow on Mixcloud

There are very few rock bands out there, less than a handful in my experience, that can ignite such a positive reaction from listeners when played on ‘The Classic Rock Show’ as Thunder can…and I’d put them at the top of that list. ‘Wonder Days’ will only ensure they stay there for a long time to come.

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10974271_10205462304024229_8031492333728492368_oReach out to Thunder via Facebook, Twitter and their Official Website…grab a copy of ‘Wonder Days’ while you’re there. MJx

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NEWS: 1983 revisited with ‘Back To The 80s’ Part 4

This week’s show takes you on another trip down memory lane, back to the year 1983, with Part 4 of a series of shows celebrating Rock Music through the 80s, year-by-year. “Oh yeah….looking through those rose-tinted spectacles again, are we?”, but those of us fortunate enough to have lived through the early 80s can be forgiven for thinking it was an era where rock music, not for the first time, took on an energy all of its own, providing some notable highlights and in some case, breaking new ground.

Just look at a few of the bands we’ve lined up for you to rock out to in the first hour of the show! Motley Crue, Dio, Y&T, Quiet Riot, Yes, Genesis, Alcatrazz, Thin Lizzy and Gary Moore.

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And if that’s not enough, we’ll be hearing from the likes of Queensrÿche, Metallica, Kiss, Molly Hatchet, Hanoi Rocks, Magnum, Bryan Adams, AC/DC, Rainbow, Journey, Saxon, Iron Maiden, Hawkwind, Marillion, Status Quo, Accept, Dokken, Ozzy Osbourne, Slade, Def Leppard and ZZ Top.

Three hours of great music, anecdotes and news headlines from the year 1983 – 7pm Thursday, 12th February.

Listen links are on our homepage www.theclassicrockshow.co.uk

Cheers!

MJx

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INTERVIEW: ‘We Are The Brave’ is the new EP from Skarlett Riot. We hear all about it from Skarlett herself.

sr_logo_jpg_hi_resIt’s fair to say that UK quartet Skarlett Riot don’t lack confidence. As anyone that’s had the pleasure of witnessing this young four-piece live will attest to.

In an already jam-packed career Skarlett Riot have wowed audiences at Download (earning a 4K live review from Kerrang!) and Bloodstock, and have shared stages across the UK with the likes of Wednesday 13, D-A-D, Reckless Love, Heaven’s Basement, Periphery, Firewind, Black Spiders, Edguy, Taking Dawn, L.A Guns, Glamour Of The Kill, Crashdiet, Vains Of Jenna, Deaf Havana, Francesqa plus many more, including the prestigious Reading and Leeds festivals to their live resume.

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The band’s debut EP, the critically acclaimed “Villain”, set the benchmark high and led to glowing praise within the rock community. In 2013, they released their first album ‘Tear Me Down’, once again, it was received well by press and fans. Now, they’re about to release another EP entitle ‘We Are The Brave’, a collection of songs with big riffs, and strong themes.

I recently got talking to Skarlett, the lead singer, about the EP and I began by asking her about the new video which has been circulating on Scuzz TV.

MJ: Skarlett…welcome to The Classic Rock Show. How are you doing?

S: Yeah, I’m good, thank you.

MJ: Busy time for you all. You’ve a new video out for the song “Rising”.  It’s a track off your We Are The Brave EP which is out on February the 16th. Tell us about the video.

S: Basically, we filmed it about six months ago. And we wanted like something silhouette-y, so you can only see the band at the end of the video. So it’s all blacked out, and the idea of it is the song is called “Rising,” obviously, and the lyrics are about getting revenge on someone, saying you’ll be back again. Having power in the lyrics. So we wanted to keep it all silhouetted out, and then at the end have the world kind of exposed so it looks more powerful, at the end, I guess. So we just got it on Scuzz TV as well which we’re really excited about too.

MJ: How long has the We Are The Brave EP been in the making?

S: I would say about a year. We’ve just been writing as much as possible since the Turn Down album in 2013. We had been thinking of doing a second album, but we said no, let’s put the best of what we’ve written so far into one EP. So we wrote about 10 songs and we picked about five to go on the EP, which has brought us up until now, really.

Riot Individual1MJ: We’ve talked about “Rising”, but as you mentioned there’s five tracks on the EP: “Divide Us,” “Cascade,” “Wake Up,” and “Are You Alive?” Take us through each of those.

S: All the tracks, apart from “Rising” are about living life to the full and not wasting any time. Like “Wake Up”, “Are you Alive?” and “Cascade”. The lyrics to “Cascade” are about time slipping through the hourglass and having no time to spare. You know, it’s the sand in the hourglass is never going to stop, just like time itself. So, the back message is live your life and enjoy it and don’t listen to what anyone else says…just do what makes you happy.

MJ: Last year, of course you were seen at a number of festivals and on tours. How is 2015 looking for Skarlett Riot?

S: Yeah, we’re continuing to raise our profile and get as many fans and people knowing the name as possible. We’re touring with Gus G in February and then we’ve a few headline dates. We’ve got a sold out show at the O2 Academy Islington with Kamelot and Gus G in March. We’ll be with Slam Cartel in April…and a couple festivals here and there…so far, so good.

MJ: Going back to the EP, the front of the EP is a depiction of a lion’s head, which has been hand-drawn. Is that Helen Hebenton‘s work again?

S: Yeah, that’s right. We’ve known Helen for quite a while and worked with her before, way back to the Villian EP cover and the Villain t-shirts. She’s also responsible for designing the band’s new logo. We wanted the style of the new EP cover have a vintage look, with black and gray artwork. Helen was a perfect choice. She did a great job with the EP, the cover. It was largely her idea to use the lion it would best represent power and strength. I think it has come across really well.

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MJ: You’re obviously going to be pushing the tracks on the EP in your ‘live’ set?

S: Yeah, we’ve been practicing like crazy. It’ll be like three or four of the new EP tracks and then we’ll be mixing it in with a couple of the Tear Me Down tracks. So, they’ll be a lot of new material in there, but we’ll be putting in a couple of what we think are the best tracks from the Tear Me Down album as well.

Riot-5 copyMJ: Any plans to release an album, or more videos on the back of this EP?

S: Yeah, I think we’ll be releasing a couple more singles off of the back of the EP. We wanted this EP to last the full year. But in between that we’ll be writing some more while the EP is circulating. We’re hoping to be writing an album, too, but we’re not sure when that will be released yet. For the moment, we all feel that we need to have the right material in place first. Make sure it’s 100% and that we’re all 100% happy with it.

MJ: Any last little things that you want to get over to the fans?

S: Just thank you very much for supporting us. We had such a great response to the pre-order for We Are The Brave. You can order it on www.skarlettriot.bigcartel.com. Yeah, thanks for the support and we’ll see you on the road!

You can reach Skarlett Riot through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the official website.

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INTERVIEW: Perttu Kivilaakso of Apocalyptica explains “‘Shadowmaker’ is a strong journey”

 

logoApocalyptica is a Finnish cello-rock band from Helsinki, formed in 1993. The band is composed of classically trained cellists Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen, Perttu Kivilaakso and drummer Mikko Sirén. Their music borrows elements from a wide variety of genres including classical music, metal, world, folk and progressive rock. They have sold over four million albums to date. The band’s recent albums included both instrumentals and collaborations with various singers, such as Corey Taylor, Adam Gontier and Cristina Scabbia.

Apocalyptica have recently recruited an official vocalist, Franky Perez, who was part of Scars on Broadway, Pusher Jones and appeared on Slash’s first solo record.

apocalyptica with frankyThe band will release their eighth studio album ‘Shadowmaker’ in April through Eleven Seven Music. We have had a taste of what’s to come as a lyric video of the album’s title track has been released. They’ll be releasing a single, ‘Cold Blood’, mid-Feb along with a video directed by Lisa Mann who has directed a number of Apocalyptica videos.

I got to speak with Perttu Kivilaakso the other day after they had shot a new video for a future single release ‘Cold Blood’ out mid-February.

MJ: A very warm welcome to ‘The Classic Rock Show’, Perttu.

PK: Thank you!

MJ: Bands such as Electric Light Orchestra, Eloy, Genesis, Emerson Lake & Palmer, The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Sky, etc., have all used heavily orchestrated arrangements within their work and have been cited as having influenced many an artist/band both then and still do so to this day. What music being created today influences you and how has it manifested itself in the music you have written and recorded?

PK: The band have a large taste when it comes to all kinds of music. We cellists naturally grew amongst classical music, symphony orchestras. I personally have loved opera, especially 19th century Italian, my whole life. I would say that everything we have listened to and loved has had an influence to what we are doing. I still listen to opera and bands like Arch Enemy, Slipknot, as well as Muse, Ellie Goulding, Owl City.

MJ: Apocalyptica perform live shows the world over, and to a heavy schedule. We all think that guitars, keyboards and drums are pretty robust instruments these days. How do the Cellos bear up to the stresses and strains of travel by air/sea?

PK: We have such a great flight cases for the cellos that ever since years back when we started using them, none of the instruments has been destroyed in cargo.

MJ: Do you have any tips on how to keep them in shape and what do you need to look out for?

PK: Cellos are very sensitive instruments and usually need careful handling,keeping them off from heat/cold etc…BUT we are not really a good example for that, so if you watch Apocalyptica banging them cellos, try to avoid all that and you’ll do just fine! [laughs]

apocalypticashadowmakeralbumcoverMJ: Your new album, entitled ‘Shadowmaker’, was recorded in Nashville, TN; not somewhere you’d instantly recognise as a haven for Symphonic Rock bands. Why there?

PK: We went to Nashville just because of Mr Raskulinecz’s studio. We had a clear vision how we would want the album to sound and approach and our choice for producer was very obvious for us.

MJ: As you have mentioned, Nick Raskulinecz has produced the album. He’s previously worked with the likes of Rush, Alice In Chains, Evanescence, Mastodon and Foo Fighters to name but a few. What was it like working with him and his team?

PK: Nick is definitely one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever worked with in the business. He was able to help us find an entire new level for our group, in ways of playing as well as our thinking. This time we were better prepared for the recordings than ever, after months of rehearsing and pre-production, practicing and yet more arranging and jamming together. So, when it came to the final recordings, everything was clear. And Nick concentrated to achieve magical performances from all of us.

MJ: Can you share any instances that occurred in the studio where he got you to think differently about your approach, for example, to a certain section of work?

PK: He had a big impact in how we set out our arrangements. We discovered many cool progressive and brave solutions. In fact our motto for this recordings was “Be Brave”.

MJ: How soon into the recordings was it before you came to realise that you really had made the right choice with Nick as your producer?

PK: I think we all realised it already in pre-production, We had a strong vision for the album, but already from the start Nick encouraged us to follow our hearts and not to worry about anything else, like pressures from outside our band. So this time it is easy to say that the album is absolutely as we felt while composing, arranging and recording. Nick was able to set us on fire!

MJ: How would you describe the album?

PK: Shadowmaker is a strong journey, a story that brings you through various emotions. The album is somehow more serious, it is also totally a “band record”…we wanted to have just one voice, one vocalist, to bind all…better together.

MJ: You’ve already given us a taste of what’s to come by releasing a lyric video. Tell us about how the title track ‘Shadowmaker’ came about?

PK: The Shadowmaker song was so determined; one of the most powerful tracks we did that we wanted it to be album title as well. It is a cool example of the musical variety we have, from sweet vocal choruses to dark metal, pure cello sounds collapsing with horrific distortions. That pretty much sums up what it is to be “Apocalyptica”.

MJ: As on previous albums, you’ve chosen to work with other musicians. How did your collaboration with Franky Perez come about?

PK: We really wanted to concentrate on our band this time around and not to focus anymore with all the “featuring stuff” etc. We wanted to bring in a vocalist who is able to join us for all tours ahead; one guy to sing the album and perform with us ‘live’.

We had quite a big closed audition to find a person who would fit in perfectly. I have to say that we are more than happy having Franky, as besides him being an amazing vocalist, so versatile, handsome and stuff, he is also the nicest guy on earth.

Perttu on set of Cold Blood videoMJ: Which songs from the album will you look to play ‘live’ and do you have a personal favourite?

PK: Of course we’d like to play most of them, if not all ‘live’. I think the whole album is just so cool. As for a personal favourite; I have a close relation with ‘Dead Man’s Eyes’, and that will be so emotional to play ‘live’ as well. I feel like I sacrificed a part of my soul while composing those melodies and making them come alive!

MJ: We’ve come to the end of our chat. It’s clear to me listening to you that the recording of this album and the prospect of what lies ahead for Apocalyptica, has had a significant impact on both you and the rest of the band. I’m curious to learn, therefore, what have you taken from this experience?

PK: Personally, I once again found out few more tricks to play cello differently than I’ve ever done before. Some ultimately fast passages which felt impossible at the time [laughs].  This experience has made me love music even more. I am so excited for the band, for the release of Shadowmaker, all the forthcoming tours, my other musical projects and life in general!

You would have to be brain-dead not to have picked up on Perttu’s enthusiasm. He certainly left me in no doubt whatsoever that the band are a strong outfit. What they’ve seemingly accomplished with this new album is something more than just a great piece of work, of which they’re rightly proud…I sense it’s a new beginning.

The album ‘Shadowmaker’ is set for release in April 2015…and we can’t wait to hear it!

Want more Apocalyptica? Check out the following links: Official website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube

Cheers!

MJx

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INTERVIEW: Huntress guitarman Blake Meahl talks to ‘The Classic Rock Show’

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Huntress captured the hearts and minds of Metalheads with their ‘Starbound Beast’ album. On the back of it, the band have been regularly seen alongside top-line touring acts across the US and Europe, and have made a major impact on the festival circuit. They’re currently touring with Amon Amarth (w/ co-support act Savage Messiah), taking in the UK, France, Portugal and Spain to sold out shows. I caught up with guitarist Blake Meahl to chat about all that’s happened to them since their 2013 album release on Napalm Records, gaining some insight into how they’ve progressed as a band.

starbound-beast-51ee46bb149b9MJ: Blake, welcome to The Classic Rock Show.

BM: Right on, thanks for having me.

MJ: You’re here in Colchester tonight. A town steeped in history.

BM: I hear it’s the oldest recorded town in your whole freaking island!

MJ: Absolutely, the Romans have been here. Boudica, Queen of the Iceni tribe took them out.

BM: I heard they got their asses kicked, right? Jill went bat-shit crazy when she heard all about her! [laughs]

MJ: Starbound Beast was received so very well in 2013, you’ve a new line-up as far as band members are concerned. It’s been a busy time for you guys. You’re currently touring with Amon Amarth on their ‘Deceiver Of The Gods’ tour and what a tour it’s been thus far! And such a cool story on how it worked out.

1413563433BM:  Yeah! It’s a fitting tour for us, it’s been awesome. I mean, we’ve toured with a lot of incredible acts. We’ve just been so lucky and blessed to have so many crazy tour opportunities, but Amon Amarth has been on our list of, like, it would be so perfect. We first played with them on the Mayhem tour in the United States, which is like a month-long festival circuit. But before that we were at the Metal Hammer Awards out here because we were at Download for the first time and Amon Amarth was there also, and I run into Olavi and he’s like, “I know who you are!”. I was like, no way, what are you talking about…you’ve never heard us! And he’s like, “Oh yes I have! I have! You’ll see. I really like Huntress.” And sure enough he goes, “You’ll find out by the end of the tour. I did an interview and mentioned you”. And it turns out it was in Guitar World magazine and he’s was asked who are you looking forward to? And sure enough, he says it’s Huntress. And of course we don’t read it until after the Mayhem tour, and then we got to do a handful of one-off shows with them and here we are now! One of the things that I’d like to think we have in common is a really high priority of melody and songwriting. He was saying in that same interview, “People are always asking me like, what’s your secret? You wrote that song? Incredible. It’s not that hard! I just write songs. You know, I’m just writing melodies.” And when you see them and you see the crowd they are singing along to the guitar lines, just ‘whoa-ing’ away. And that’s all it comes down to is the fact that they’re not just trying to jerk themselves off like a little 12 year old kid trying to play as fast as he can. I’m actually going to make some music that people want to hear and remember. And that’s our goal also.

MJ: You’ve been in lots of bands prior to Huntress. Is there any difference in the way you write when you have a female vocalist as opposed to a male vocalist?

Huntress by Robert SuttonBM: Well, that’s an interesting question. In my former bands I was the vocalist, so I would probably just torture myself and put myself out of my range and try to scream my voice out and it would work out, maybe. I was trying to write stuff for myself and I was very inexperienced and I’ve never played at a professional level band like this before. It was always a hobby with my best friends. You already mentioned we’ve had some turnover in band members – our current drummer is my brother. We played together in high school and then we didn’t play together for about eight or ten years and only recently have reconnected with it, so all these bands I’ve been in have been such minor leagues. We never aspired for much, it was just we’re playing metal and we like to keep it weird and progressive and we always figured we would be in a van and just figured we would get some crappy label deal that we would be bound to for the rest of our lives and we didn’t care, that’s what we did. And as this band came together and we realized the potential of it and also our tastes and maturities changed, like a lot of the song writing has progressed not because of it being a female vocalist but because of what I realised I should have realised a long time ago, which is that the song is what’s important, not the riff. As much as I love riffs, and as important as they are, string 50 of them together as fast as you can is not a song. You know?

MJ: We just heard you play a new song, called ‘Flesh’. Yet to be recorded, I’m guessing.

BM: Basic tracks are done, but Jill has not done her vocals yet.

MJ: It sounds killer and it’s already one of my favourites of yours.

BM: Awesome, thank you. Really excited to hear that reaction. That song is one of the ones our producer is really excited about too. We’ve been playing four new ones in our set and that’s just one of them.

MJ: So tell us about the album. Has it got a name yet?

BM: Not that I’m allowed to reveal, but it’s going really well. It’s a strange process this time, because we stopped in the middle of it to come out here. And we stopped in the middle of our writing, our pre-production process to go on our last tour with Arch Enemy and Kreator in the States, so it’s been stop-start. It’s turning out really good though, and I’m very excited about it. As I said on a previous question, it’s focusing further and further on the songwriting and always knowing, Jill’s the vocalist. The vocals are what sticks with people and we can’t all be trying to compete for center stage and I feel like that’s one of the mistakes we’ve  made in the past, one of the mistakes I’ve made as a guitar player…I’m just the fucking guitar player! As much as I love these lead guitar riffs and I’m going to have my space, you can’t always be competing, putting in double kick and a fast riff over a vocal. Metal bands sometimes get away with it, because there’s a lot of growling and all that. But when there’s too much melody fighting for center stage, it doesn’t really equate to a catchy song, you know? Or something that really sticks with people, and that’s the main goal here. So we’re just getting smarter and smarter about our songwriting and hope it’s going to open a lot of doors for us and that a lot of people are going to love it, and maybe some of the fans that have been with us for our extreme riffs and stuff, maybe they’ll long for that first album to be repeated here, but I think we’re making a much, much better product now as a result, you know?

Huntress by Mike Lockheart

Photo credit: Mike Lockheart

MJ: You’re working with some incredibly experienced and talented people on this album. Where did you record the album?

BM: Well, it’s being done in Burbank with a production team, Jim Rota and Paul Fig. Jim has played in a band called Fireball Ministry and is now doing a lot of video production. He did the Sound City movie for Dave Grohl and this whole new Sonic Highways thing and is the producer of that stuff. Paul is a badass engineer. He just did the last two Alice in Chains albums, he did the new Ghost album, he works with Nick Raskulinecz all the time who does a lot of big production stuff. We’re in really good hands. It’s cool because we have this most incredible engineer who is capable of whatever we need and a guy that’s constantly making us sit back and think about the song, and remember that the big picture and what the sum of all parts is what is important, not what each individual instrument is doing.

MJ: You’re making space for all the musicians!

BM: Yeah, it’s so important, it seems like such a stupid, obvious thing but especially in the metal world it’s easily forgotten.

MJ: Well, Blake it’s been a real pleasure sitting with you talking about the tour, the new album, the music and the songwriting. We wish you well on the rest of the tour, and every success for 2015. We are really stoked to hear that we have a new Huntress album this year.

BM: Thanks man. I really enjoyed it. Thank you for supporting us over the years and playing our music. To the guys ‘n gals reading this who haven’t heard of us, go watch the Zenith video and then come back and talk to me. To our fans who come out to our shows, we so appreciate your support. Make sure you tune into to ‘The Classic Rock Show’!

So there you have it…by the sounds of it, we’ve one heck of an album to look forward to from Huntress later on this year.

Show ‘em some love by checking out Huntress’ website, Like their Facebook and Follow them on Twitter @HuntressKills…but whatever you do, go see this band ‘live’ as they are killer!

Cheers!

MJx

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