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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NEWS: YES ‘LIKE IT IS’

PromoImageAmong the world’s most influential, ground-breaking, and respected progressive rock bands, Grammy Award winning, Yes, has a new live album, ‘Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome’.

In Spring 2014, Yes performed in their Canada, UK and European tour a true classic rock header by performing two of their most popular albums in their entirety, all in one concert: 1971’s ‘The Yes Album, and 1977’s ‘Going For The One’.

Music audiences across the world experienced the albums – each representing an important milestone in Yes’ career which encompasses sales of close to 50 million albums worldwide – performed from beginning to end.

Yes are:
Jon Davison – Vocals
Chris Squire – Bass
Steve Howe – Guitars
Alan White – Drums
Geoff Downes – Keyboards

Tracklisting:
Cd1: Going For The One; Turn Of The Century; Parallels; Wonderous Stories; Awaken.
Cd2: Yours Is No Disgrace; Clap; Starship Trooper; I’ve Seen All Good People; A Venture; Perpetual Change.

Dvd / Blu Ray: Going For The One; Turn Of The Century; Parallels; Wonderous Stories; Awaken; Yours Is No Disgrace; Clap; Starship Trooper; I’ve Seen All Good People; A Venture; Perpetual Change.

The album is available through Frontiers Music here.

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NEWS: Crazy Lixx have a new video + further news on self-titled album release

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Every rock band needs a self titled album – The kind of album that really does the band’s name justice –The kind of album that shows both old and new fans what the band and their music is really all about – The kind of album that is the essence of the band and their sound and the kind of album that is the total sum of years of experience from playing, recording, writing songs and touring. This is that album for Sweden’s Crazy Lixx.

“We were discussing possible titles for the album and we didn’t really feel like any of the suggestions were quite right. Then I came up with the idea of a making it a self titled album and we all agreed this was the right time for one. You know, bearing the very name of the band, a self-titled album does have a lot to live up to, but we all felt that this album has what it takes to represent the band as a whole, both in terms of the songs, the sound and the performance.” – says lead singer and producer Danny Rexon.

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With their fourth release, Crazy Lixx have grown as a band and perfected their personal sound into 11 anthemic rock songs that will satisfy both the hard core Lixx fans as well as fans of melodic hard rock and hair metal in general. By combining the strategies of recording and producing the album themselves along with utilizing the mixing qualities of the great Chris Laney, the sound of the album has once again returned to the bombastic sound of Crazy Lixx’ earlier work while at the same time adding the improved song-writing and playing qualities of today’s Crazy Lixx.

“We’ve learned a lot through the years, especially when it comes to the recording process and we’ve put all that knowledge and experience to use on this album. We used many different studio settings to record different parts of the album and didn’t rush the recording but made sure everything was as good as it could get. At the same time we didn’t want to be too nitpicking with details, I mean we’re still in the business of rock n’ roll, right?”– adds guitarist and co-producer of the album Andy Zata (formerly Dawson).

Crazy Lixx have just released a new video ‘Hell Raising Women’, the opening track of the new album.

In addition to returning to the old Crazy Lixx sound the band has also re-recorded fan favorite “Heroes are Forever” which was originally on the band’s first, now out of print album.  “It’s this one song, that was our first single back in around 2006, that we’ve played on almost every live show we’ve done since then, but when we started to think about it, it was a song that a lot of our fans had no chance of ever listening to. The first album, ‘Loud Minority’, which was released on a minor independent label, was only released in a limited printing which has long since sold out, and it isn’t available digitally either. Still we felt that the track was one of those songs that had a really fundamental Crazy Lixx vibe to it, so we decided to record it again and give the fans a nice treat. If you ask me, it came out way better this second time around.” – says drummer Joél Cirera.

crazy lixx lWith the addition of bassist Jens Sjöholm and the return of original drummer Joél Cirera, Crazy Lixx Mk III has been proven to be the best constellation to date, both in concert and on a recording.“I think the fans will really enjoy what we’ve got in store for them with this album. Killer songs, great sound and memorable hooks combined with a bit of the twin guitar action and riff-based approach that we added to the sound on our last album.” – says guitarist Edd Liam.

 

Newest and youngest member, bassist Jens Sjöholm adds: “Being my first album release with Crazy Lixx I don’t really have any special expectations, but hearing the final result and seeing how fired up the guys are about it makes me look forward to seeing the reactions of the fans and media.”

It’s really a bit of a do or die, no guts, no glory situation – after all, you only get one chance to do a self titled album, so make sure you do it good.” – concludes Danny Rexon

CRAZY LIXX are…DANNY REXON Vocals, JOÈL CIRERA Drums, ANDY ZATA Guitar & B.Vocals, JENS SJOHOLM Bass, EDD LIAM Guitar & B.Vocals

‘Crazy Lixx’ release date (Frontiers Records): EU: November 7th, NA: November 10th 

Tracklisting: Hell Raising Women; Sound Of The Loud Minority; Outlaw; Girls Of The 80’s; I Missed The Mark; All Looks, No Hooks; Ain’t No Rest In Rock N’ Roll; Call To Action; Heroes Are Forever; Psycho City; Wrecking Ball Crew.

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NEWS: Four heavy-hitters of American Hard Rock are Rated X

RATED X is an exciting and fresh new band built around the talents of four heavy-hitters of American Hard Rock. Comprising of vocalist Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Deep Purple, Yngwie Malmsteen), guitarist Karl Cochran (Ace Frehley), fretless-bass monster Tony Franklin (The Firm, Blue Murder, Whitesnake, Kenny Wayne Shepherd) and iconic drummer Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne, Blue Murder), RATED-X came about when Frontiers’ President Serafino Perugino suggested to Turner that it was time to put together a band that could highlight his abilities in a classic Hard Rock musical environment.

Rated X

Appice was the first one who was called in to be part of it, given the long history of friendship and musical camaraderie with Turner. After a quick search, Tony Franklin soon agreed to be part of the band – thus reuniting the rhythm section that was featured in the legendary “Blue Murder” debut album. It was finally necessary to find the right guitarist and who could have been better than long time Joe Lynn Turner collaborator, Karl Cochran: a flamboyant guitar player that can masterfully handle the Arena Rock style, with a Classic Hard Rock sensibility second to none.

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Under the executive direction of Perugino and the hard work of Frontiers in-house producer Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Livin’ Out Loud, Voodoo Circle) songwriting demos were laid down during the last months of 2013.

With ties to some of heavy rock’s most seminal bands – Rainbow, Deep Purple, Blue Murder and Vanilla Fudge – RATED X is a modern day supergroup who can literally light up a fire in the music fans with its class and gusto, with a nod to the roots of the classic British Hard Rock sound!

RATED X are…
Joe Lynn Turner: vocals
Carmine Appice: drums
Tony Franklin: bass
Karl Cochran: guitars

Release date: EU – November 7th, NA – November 10th

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#Gravitas A new album from @originalasia and a new lease of life. John Wetton tells us why.

A new album from Asia and, seemingly, a new lease of life, that’s what John Wetton tells ‘The Classic Rock Show’.

We spoke to John not long after the release of their sensational new album, out on Frontiers Records, called Gravitas. John talks about the Wetton-Downes songwriting partnership, the writing and recording process, how they came to choose guitarist Sam Coulson, the choice of album title and the video for the album’s opening track Valkyrie.

Asia is a band which has, since its formation back in 1982, continued to create some of the most inspirational and catchy songs ever to come out of what is often described as the genre of Prog Rock. Their latest offering – Gravitas – has all the ingredients Asia fans have come to expect and enjoy, but there’s something else at work here.

Listen to the interview and it will soon become apparent that the band has a fresh outlook, rejuvenated by the new line-up, and they are keen to get back in front of fans across the world.

The album Gravitas, produced by Wetton and Downes with John Mitchell (It Bites, Kino, Arena), is being hailed as Asia’s punchiest and freshest album since its classic early 80’s releases.

Keep ahead of all things Asia by visiting their website, and via Twitter @originalasia

You can listen to the interview here…

 

Thanks for listening.

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Happy New Year!! #HNY2013 #HNY #ClassicRockShow

Thank you all for a simply awesome 2012!

Got some exciting things planned for 2013 so stay tuned…

In the meantime, Happy New Year and keep on rockin’!!

MJx

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