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

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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.

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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: Cancer Bats’ Liam Cormier talks about the new album, Reading and Leeds Festival, gigs and fans

Produced by legendary multi-platinum producer Ross Robinson (At The Drive-In, Slipknot, The Cure, Sepultura, Glassjaw) Searching For Zero is simultaneously the most melodic, yet menacing Cancer Bats release. The record incorporates the crude hardcore punk of their 2006 debut, Birthing The Giant and more metal leanings of 2008’s Hail Destroyer, while pushing the heavy hybrid sounds of 2010’s Mayors Bears Scraps and Bones and 2012’s darker Dead Set On Living to a new plateau. The choruses are hookier, the screams more savage, the riffs more vicious, the songs more powerful. This is Cancer Bats at their pinnacle – their ‘True Zero’.

We caught up with Liam Cormier ahead of their gig at Norwich UEA to get a little more insight into how the album was written and recorded, but began by asking how the current tour has been going.

TCRS:  Liam Cormier, welcome to The Classic Rock Show, and welcome to the Norwich UEA.

Liam Cormier: First time attendee to the show, but long time fan of Norwich.

TCRS: You’re here with While She Sleeps as part of a co-headline tour which began over on mainland Europe a few weeks ago.  And this will be your third night in the UK, following Birmingham and Manchester. How’s it been going so far?

Liam Cormier: So far so good.  I mean the shows have been crazy. Birmingham was packed out.  Tons of kids going off. The nice part about this tour is that there is While She Sleeps fans and Cancer Bats fans, as well as Hundredth and Oath Breaker, but everybody is sticking around for like a really good night.  Sometimes when you do you know shows people will only kinda around to watch the band that they want to watch then they take off.  Whereas this everyone is excited about the whole package and it makes for just such like a party.

Cancer Bats band

TCRS: This will be, for most of the audience that you are playing to tonight, the first time that the audience has heard tracks from your new album, your latest album, “Searching For Zero”, tell us what you have been playing and how, how has that been going down.

Liam Cormier:  It’s been going down great.   I mean we’ve been playing a lot of stuff off the new record.   I mean we definitely wrote this album with like playing it live in mind, so we were pretty excited to try out like as many of the tracks as we could, but obviously we want to still mix it up and play stuff off of all of our albums, just to have a party, you know.  So make sure that kids who don’t have the new record as yet can still have a good time.  But it’s been rad, obviously people know “Arsenic” and “Satellites” and “True Zero”, we play those three and people sing along.  But we’ve been playing like “Devil’s Blood” and “Beelzebub”,  and the response of those has been just as good.  We’ve been playing “Buds”,  people have been just like headbanging super hard so it’s been really cool to see that like the whole record is getting a response and not just a couple songs that we have on the Internet.

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Cancer Bats – Norwich UEA LCR – 24th April 2015

 

TCRS: The album sounds absolutely awesome. You seem to have drawn on energies captured on previous albums.

Liam Cormier: Yeah, I feel like, I mean with this record we definitely had like a chance to really reflect on, you know, what we had done like you said, kinda taking all of our favourite pieces from, you know, all of our past records.   But especially looking at, I mean we’re such a live band, I think that’s almost predominantly how we’re known, and we’ve  put out records that we obviously try and reflect that.  When we’re writing an album, we look at, you know like why do we put these sixteen songs like in our set list every night?   Why are these the songs that like kids always ask for? So it’s like using that almost as a jump off point for like where we are going to start writing.   Not to try and copy those songs, but to have that like okay this really works when we leave this live, or this like doesn’t work so well, this is more of a studio track.  So our goal is to have like the whole album be like you know a live set-list that we can play, so it’s like trying to like incorporate those kind of ideas of flow and like pacing in terms of like how we would even put a record together now.

TCRS: You worked with Ross Robinson, who’s worked with just about everyone who is anybody.

Liam Cormier:  Oh. Absolutely, yeah!  And then The Cure on top of it, yeah!

TCRS: How was that experience for you guys?

Liam Cormier: It the first time we had ever recorded even outside of Toronto. So for us to go so far down to like Venice Beach, California, instead of an industrial park in Toronto, it was amazing. I mean the best part about the whole experience was that we came to Ross with like a finished record; we’d been jamming it like all the songs were finished, I had finished vocals, everything was ready to go.  So then it was his input you know on how to take that the step further.  And we look at it like, we could have you know, stayed in Toronto and recorded there but this is I feel like the big difference between like “DSOL” and “Searching For Zero”;  it’s having the input of someone like Ross, who has so much experience, who has such just like a passion to like bringing out the like energy of an album of a live band,  of like a real band that wants to like,  just let forth  like aggression.  You know what I mean?  So to have all that,  but then to have someone like Ross who knows how to transfer that on to a record who is, like you said, he’s done Heavy Drive and Blood Brothers, Norma Jean, Glassjaw, so many bands that I love and respect and it’s like, okay he’s going to use all of those tricks with like our band to now like capture it on an album and be super stoked while we’re doing it. It’s just like we couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

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Cancer Bats – Norwich UEA LCR – 24th April 2015

 

TCRS: Was it a pretty compact session with Ross?  Everything was mapped out pretty much before you sort of got there?

Liam Cormier: Yeah, I mean we definitely had a lot of ideas about how they wanted to approach the studio with him. One of the things that our friends in Comeback Kid had just finished recording their new album and they told us they had done a different song everyday; so they would do vocals, bass, guitar for like a different song which we really liked that idea of having like every song has its own setup of guitar bass, tones like vibe and we brought that to Ross and he was just like, “Ahhh, that’s of that’s a great idea!”  Like even though he’s got all these tricks and he knows all these things to do it like here we’re kinda even shaking things up for him.  And then on top of it we had like zero time to do with it.  We’ve always recorded in three weeks that’s just like what we know about recording albums and Ross has only ever recorded for like 6 to 8 weeks.  So, right off the bat he was just like, “This is awesome! We’re gonna cram everything that I’ve ever done into like half as much time.”   But he was really up for like that energy and what that would produce, almost like a franticness where you can’t really over think anything that’s happening. You just kinda have to go with your gut reaction on like basically everything; which we were really up for as well, like,  “Oh this is so cool!”.   So it meant that we were working like 14 hour days and we never took any days off.   We were there for a little under a month, working 14 hours a day, just like crushing it. We’d work from Noon ’til three or four in the morning every single day. And then it would be like, “All right, see you guys in the morning.”  And like Ross would go crash and like the rest his ears.  We would all pass out and then we would like wake up in the morning, go get coffee, hang out on the balcony, watch people surf, eat our breakfast and then be like laughing and making noise and that would wake Ross up.  And then he’d come down be like, “All right”. He’d like walk his dog and then it was just like back into the studio, it was like crushing all day.  It was the best vibe ever.

TCRS: And that’s certainly picked up on what’s come out on the album.

Liam Cormier: I think that’s the thing, yeah. That energy and that’s franticness I definitely think translates.  And the nice part is that I feel like people seen us play in like you know crazy venues and in these small places and you know wild shows, those are the ones that are like picking up on that energy and being like, “This makes me think of when you played like “The Mole” and like “Bath”.  “This makes me think of when you played like in Morecambe and like, “This is like when you played The Barfly in 2008” .  You know and like that kind of response from long-time fans that gets me excited cause I’m like, “Okay cool”, like  “That was the idea”, like,  “You get it”, like “Wicked!”  So yeah it’s definitely been a like awesome to get that feedback from people.

TCRS:  And 2015 is already mapping out to be…

Liam Cormier: Pretty hectic. Yeah! We’ve got  Leeds and Reading that we’re coming back for which we are super excited. The Pit is looking awesome, I’m really excited about that. We’ve known Daniel P Carter for a very long time, so we’re even like super pumped when he got like his own stage and then to like soon after be asked to play it, it’s just like the best thing ever. I think it’s going to be such a good day. We definitely have like a ton of tours that are coming up. Nothing planned for the UK yet other than Leeds and Reading but definitely like more European stuff. We have tons of e-mails every day to come to Australia and how bummed they are that they live far away from us, so we’re trying to figure that out to get to Australia straight as soon as we can. For us we love like just playing like small gnarly bars and that’s what we’ve done all over the world and we’ve been fortunate to play some great shows in Australia but for us it hasn’t been enough.   Like coming from Canada we know that there’s more than just five cities.  You know we’re used to like, in Canada there is like thirty places that you can play, and it’s not just Toronto, Montréal, Winnipeg, Vancouver, you know,  so we kind of sympathize with Australia where most tours only hit like your five major cities and then you have like 12 hours or 24 hours of country in between that have great scenes and have places you can play. So that’s our whole goal is to try, I mean we want to try and do that everywhere but I mean, it’s even like, I know the drives aren’t like that, but the same idea applies in the UK. Like we’ve done twenty six-day tours in the UK and hit like every city you know that’s why we have friends in Newquay, we have kids from Morecambe that I like, “Your show was my first show I ever went to!”  And we’re like, yeah, we get that.  I didn’t grow up in Toronto you know, I grew up an hour and a half outside of it and I went to like shows in halls and like that’s how I got exposed to punk rock and that’s how I got exposed to hard-core. It’s like,  if it wasn’t for those bands making that effort, it’s like I wouldn’t have you know been in this position right now. So it’s like I didn’t want to try and do that as much as we can in these other places.

TCRS: Liam Cormier, thanks for chatting with The Classic Rock Show. We’re looking forward to the show tonight.

Liam Cormier: No worries. Yeah! I’m so excited for tonight. I think it’s gonna be wild!

Cancer BatsLater that evening, Cancer Bats went on to take down the Norwich UEA LCR with a stellar performance, comprising 16 song setlist and a high-octane fueled delivery that rounded of the night perfectly.

There are three remaining dates on their current co-headline tour with While She Sleeps:

APR 28th – Newcastle, University
APR 29th – Glasgow, O2 ABC
APR 30th – London, Forum

Website: www.TheClassicRockShow.co.uk
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ClassicRockShow @ClassicRockShow
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INTERVIEW: Bad Touch discuss their debut album ‘Half Way Home’

A Norfolk five-piece who are turning heads and going places in the industry, Bad Touch blend together elements of classic, 80’s rock with blues licks to create a powerhouse of melodic rock. Listing Led Zeppelin, Black Crowes and Rival Sons amongst their influences, they are a band who love to turn up the volume, but also infuse their songs with subtlety and melody.

It bodes well for new album ‘Halfway Home’, due out at the end of April, and we got a taste of their style when we played their lead single ‘Wise Water’ on the show last week

https://soundcloud.com/bad-touch-demo/wise-water-1/s-h6g57

The album has been a long time coming for Bad Touch as it’s been 5 years since their inception. Having started with cover songs, their set has evolved into their own material. Which they have taken the time to hone and mould into their own style. Patiently working on their own material before launching into a debut album, the result is truly impressive.

Bad Touch are currently supporting The Answer on their UK tour and prior to them taking the stage at Chinnery’s, Southend-On-Sea, last week, I sat down with all five members of the band and began by asking about the length of time it’s taken them to release their debut album.

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MJ: ‘Half Way Home’ is your debut album. It’s been a long time coming. We played the lead single ‘Wise Water’ on the show last week and I can tell you that it went down really well with the listeners.

Stevie: I’m glad that you say your listeners like Wise Water. Yes, it has been a long time coming. Well, it was just that we all wanted to make sure that, when we got this album out, we wanted to do it right. So, you know, we wanted to make sure that people wanted it. We’d done a few UK tours, and we got our name out there. So, we thought, let’s do the album because people want it.

MJ: There’s a lot of people that have seen you fellas play. They like your music and we get requests to play Bad Touch. Seeks, how’s that sound to you with the reaction that you’re getting from the album?

Seeks: It’s lovely. It’s great that people are asking for us to play our own music. It’s fantastic. I mean I don’t know how anyone else would feel about it, but just for people wanting our music being played is the whole point we do it, you know?

MJ: Let me turn to Bailey. What is it you’re enjoying most about this album?

Bailey: I’m loving it. We spent ages writing it, recording it. And it’s now actually out there for people to listen to. That’s nice to actually hear them say that they’re enjoying it as well.

IMG_3459MJ: George, tell us about the songwriting on this album. Have you all taken a share of responsibilities?

George: We sort of write each song in a different way. Like on some of them one person might have written 90% of it, but other songs you might just get a guitar riff and then we all sort of collaborated together. But, in general, it’s hugely more or less one person has the germ idea, and then we all take it away, and then we all write our own parts to it. And lyrics can be done in one night or one year, you know?

Stevie: That’s one of the things I love about being in Bad Touch the best is getting everyone else’s ideas and going, “Wow. That sounds awesome. I’d have never have thought of that.”

MJ: Rob, you’re obviously testing out the new songs on this tour?

Rob: On the set at the moment is all the new stuff from the album. There’s no sort of old tracks from the old EP. But, we’ve got a couple more experimental tracks on the album where we sort of do our thing where it goes on for a little while. They’re blues-y, slower. So, we try to keep it more upbeat with the set that we’re doing. But, obviously, we’ve got half an hour set, so we sort of want to get on there, do our thing, and then come off. So, it’s going well at the moment. The Answer guys, they sort of pick the particular tracks they like, and they’ve been really cool about it. So, it’s all going well.

MJ: And the feedback, Stevie, on this tour with The Answer has been really positive.

Stevie: Yeah. It’s lovely to have all these people saying how much they’re enjoying it, both the album and the live performances and stuff like that. I mean, but we take criticism where criticism is due just like we take credit. We’re quite aware that we’re not breaking any sort of boundaries with regards to musical experimentation. We’re quite happy doing what we do and it being feel good, rock music, you know? I think too many times people are caught up in it and the brains behind it and think, “Oh, we’ve got to be new. We’ve got to…” It’s like, if it sounds good and you enjoy playing it, then that’s all that matters. And, if people enjoy it, then even better, you know?

badtMJ: You seem to have found your feet with this album.

Stevie: Oh, that’s very kind of you. No, we definitely wanted to make sure that you say that. The thing with this album, which I’m most happy is that it sounds like us. If you came to see us and bought the album, you wouldn’t get the album home and go, “This doesn’t sound like them.” It captures us or what it is to be Bad Touch, you know?

George: In the album, we’ve tried things on the album that is different, but that’s the whole point of an album. But, it’s not like we’ve gone synthesizers, and electric drum kits, and things. It’s basically a five-piece rock band doing what they do, you know? And we did everything on the album.

MJ: Well, we’re going to leave it here because you’re off to sound check. Thanks so much for chatting with us on The Classic Rock Show. Last few words from you guys for the fans out there?

Seeks: A big thank you everyone and to your listeners for the support.

Rob: Yeah. Thanks a lot everyone. You’ve been great.

George: Yeah. Keep coming to the gigs and keep rocking!

Bailey: If you haven’t heard the album yet, we hope you enjoy it.

Stevie: Just want to say thanks for listening and, even more so, thanks for wanting us. And thanks too to The Classic Rock Show for putting us up.

Bad Touch on Facebook, Twitter, YouTubeInstagram and www.badtouchrocks.co.uk

Cheers

MJx

Website: www.TheClassicRockShow.co.uk
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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
UPDATE 30/04/2015:
Richie Ramone / Venrez Tour:
Spain:
21st May VALLADOLID – Porta Caeli
22nd May VITORIA – Jimmy Jazz
23rd May BILBAO – Stagelive
24th May ZARAGOZA – Sala Lopez
UK:
25th May NORWICH – The Owl Sanctuary
26th May NOTTINGHAM -The Doghouse
27th May SWANSEA -The Scene
28th May YORK – The Basement
29th May RUGBY – The Vault
May 30th LONDON – Camden Rocks Festival (The Purple Turtle)
1st June WAKEFIELD – The Snooty Fox
2nd June CAMBRIDGE – Portland Arms
Hit ’em up!

INTERVIEW: Crobot’s singer Brandon Yeagley talks to The Classic Rock Show

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Since the release of their debut album ‘Something Supernatural’, US retro-rockers Crobot, hailing from Pottsville, Pennsylvania, have been steadily winning over gig-going rock fans; struck by their energy and the super solid rhythm section of Jake Figueroa on Bass and Paul Figueroa on Drums, trick-heavy riffmaster Chris Bishop on guitar and dynamic singer Brandon Yeagley who’s not only a great vocalist, but a very switched on frontman.

Crobot stepped in front of UK audiences for the first time last year when they came over to support the Virginmarys. Such was the feedback that they were soon booked to support for the current Black Label Society tour along with Black Tusk (interview with James May here).

Crobot

Before they took to the Norwich UEA stage (18/3/2015), I met up with Brandon for a quick chat:

MJ: Welcome to The Classic Rock Show. You’re here on tour with Black Label Society and Black Tusk. You had a day off yesterday, what did you fellas get up to?

Brandone Yeagly CrobotBY: We just walked around Leeds and eventually ended up crawling through a few pubs. And making our way back to the  hotel. It was a nice day. We just walked around, checked out some really cool buildings and the local market. Really reminded me of back home, we have a similar market. Market stalls everywhere, people selling everything from meat to fly-swatters and everything in between. So it was really cool to see.

MJ: What do you think of the beer over here compared to what you’re used to over in the USA.

BY: I’m not much of a beer guy. Bishop tho’, he’s into the beers.

At this point Bishop looks up from his warm-up guitar exercises…

CB: Little weaker, a little bit weaker, but you still find some Hoegarten’s and stuff like that. These things are very high quality, I have to say.

BY: I guess that was our fifth day in a row, so it was nice to recharge the batteries a little bit and get some z’s in there.

Photo credit: Joe Winn

MJ: What’s in store for the guys and girls turning up tonight?

BY: It’s going to be sweaty. It’s going to be dirty. Going to be riffy. Actually don’t know what the set looks like yet, so I’ll be surprised as well to see what goes on the set list.

Something-Supernatural-CrobotMJ: You have been allocated a 30 minute set…how easy is it to keep a set sounding fresh?

BY: Not too bad at all, it’s more like oh man we only have thirty minutes. “What do we cut?” We’ve got a pretty strong set though, regardless of how many we can fit in there.

MJ: I guess you’re really pushing Something Supernatural?

BY: We have some new songs floating around in there in the rotation. In a few months we’ll be releasing a deluxe version of the album which will include some tracks that didn’t make the album. One that actually is a new song all together, a live version of it, and we might start throwing some of those songs in the set.  Maybe tonight we’ll throw a curveball.

MJ: How have the UK audiences been so far for you?

BLS_Black_Tusk_tourBY: It’s been great being out with Black Label Society. First off, we heard that we got the tour and we’re just ecstatic about it. They’re huge over here and they haven’t been over in a while so we knew that their fans would be out in numbers to see them. It’s cool to see so many of their fans coming out early and checking us out as well. So, the reaction has been pretty positive thus far, from the start to finish. We see more heads bobbing as the night goes on, so that’s always good to see.

MJ: A USA/Canada tour next with Volbeat? That’s quite a matchup, Crobot and Volbeat. And, of course, not forgetting you’ve Anthrax on the bill too.

BY: Yeah, Anthrax is also on the bill, that’s right. Going to be a huge tour for us. It’s a big year, from this tour with BLS to that tour is going to be a crazy year. Volbeat are huge in the states and to be picked to play with those guys and Anthrax is really an honour. The return of that legendary band is something we’re really excited about as well.

MJ: You’ve got to get back to the UK a little later on in the year, surely?

BC: Hopefully, hopefully. We have our fingers crossed for festival season that we can make a run happen.

MJ: You’re taking in quite a few countries across mainland Europe. That’s going to be quite an experience. And of course a different vibe with the crowd, as well. I think is fair to say, the audiences here have loved you and really gotten into you and from the feedback I’ve been getting, I think they are really going to stick with you.

BC: That would really be cool. You know, we’d love any excuse to come back over, really.

MJ: We’re going to leave you fellas to it, to unwind a little bit. Thanks ever so much for chatting with us, Brandon, on The Classic Rock Show. Good luck with that and the rest of the tour. We’ll look forward to seeing you a little later on in the year.

BC: Thanks, we appreciate it.

Later that evening, Crobot went on to entertain the Norwich crowd with a thoroughly engaging set.

Check ’em out: Crobot Official Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

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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’.

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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