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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TCRS: Sounds like it was a fun project?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jh13 coverThe Musicians:

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

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

Joel Hoekstra: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter

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

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#NEWS: The Picturebooks begin their UK tour in Brighton 16th May

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THE PICTUREBOOKS start a run of UK shows this Saturday (16th May) with a set at The Great Escape in Brighton.

The Picturebooks are a rock-blues-country-soaked German duo consisting of Fynn Claus Grabke (vocals/guitar) and Philipp Mirtschink (drums). Signed to the highly regarded LA psych/stoner imprint Riding Easy, they have recently completed their first UK tour, where they went down the proverbial storm on a set of dates with The Answer to promote the forthcoming UK release of their album ‘Imaginary Horse’.

They return to the UK for the following shows:

16.05 BRIGHTON – The Great Escape
17.05 BRISTOL – Louisiana
19.05 LONDON – Barfly
20.05 TUNBRIDGE WELLS – Forum
22.05 LEICESTER – Scholar
23.05 SHEFFIELD – Corporation
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‘The Classic Rock Show’ interviewed the band recently. You can read it all here.

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

INTERVIEW: Fynn and Philipp of The Picturebooks

thepicturebooks-614x521The Picturebooks are a blues-soaked German duo consisting of Fynn Claus Grabke (vocals/guitar) and Philipp Mirtschink (drums). Recently signed to the highly regarded LA psych/stoner imprint Riding Easy,they released their first album for the label, entitled ‘Imaginary Horse’, in late 2014 in the US and are currently on an extensive UK tour with The Answer to promote the forthcoming UK release of the record.

TPB-Cover-1400-pxRecorded in the same garage where they regularly refurbish and repair motorcycles and choppers (both are enthusiastic bikers), ‘Imaginary Horse’ captures a raw, rich and real energy befitting the room’s natural reverb, industrial aura and spiritual spark. More importantly, it has begun to rev up the boys’ career.

The video for the first single from the album, ‘Your Kisses Burn Like Fire’ is a sweaty, boot-stomping affair featuring a growling Grabke, a driving backbone via Mirtschink….and some beautiful scenery. It can be seen here:

It was at Chinnery’s, Southend-On-Sea, where I managed to sit down and have a face-to-face chat with Fynn and Philipp following a 30 minute set that left those who witnessed the performance breathless, hot and sweaty.

MJ: Boys, what a tremendous show you put down for us here at Chinnery’s . I’ve gotta start with Phil firstly because it looked as though you injured your hand during that set because you were sort of shaking it and holding it and, tell us what went on there.

Phil: Ah, pretty simple, I just hit the rim of my floor tom and it hurt, so… and then it’s probably not the first time, it happens every time, you know. I’m used to it.

10645213_10152717153075775_7388073654010946158_nMJ: I’ve not seen anyone hit the drums so hard since I saw Tommy Aldridge with Ozzy Osbourne!

Phil: Thank you.

Fynn: Ya. I don’t call him a drummer, he’s a destroyer!

MJ: We were talking earlier Fynn about your start to the set, and it wasn’t the first time you tell me you broke a string. Not just one but two.

Fynn: Ya two on this, the other night I had three strings, and once… I don’t know. I, well we change the strings all the time, and they were really fresh, I don’t know what’s, something’s wrong this tour with the strings. I’ve gotta check what’s going on there. I don’t know, ya it broke I think the second chord I played.

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MJ: But hey, that’s live rock and roll.

Fynn: It is, it is, you know, our saying is always a broken cable or a broken string is half of the show you know, sometimes.

MJ: Now let’s just talk a little while about your album Imaginary Horse. What is an Imaginary Horse?

Fynn: It’s a funny story. When I was a kid I had an imaginary friend, an imaginary horse called Ponpon, and that’s what the song is about. The version that’s on the album is a very short version of it. There’s a longer version, but we decided to take a little, that version a little shorter one because it just made more sense, it was much cooler to do it that way. It’s just clapping and me singing to it, and kinda get intimate, I guess that’s the right word, intimative feeling.

RidingEasylogoMJ: And the album, which is out on…?

Fynn: Our international label is RidingEasy Records, they’re in California, Los Angeles, California. And it’s licensed to Noisolution Records in Berlin for Germany, Austria, Switzerland.

MJ: Talking of things International, I hear that you picked up an American tour through your Instagram feed?

Fynn: This happens so much lately. Our first American tour we just got through Instagram, basically, because Cedric Bixler from At The Drive-in and Mars Volta, he just liked our pictures a lot, and he became a fan of the band just through the pictures. And he contacted us, he was like just the pictures look so amazing, I wanna hear something from this band. And we send him some stuff that was unreleased, it was like… two years ago now? So he got like very early recordings of our album, and he loved it so much, and he booked us like two shows in Los Angeles, and we just went there without the right visa, and it was a big fuckup, and they tried to send us back. And it was weird, they showed us private emails, it was crazy. And after these two shows, we were booked out for two months, because they were just the right people. I think Cedric must have done something, I don’t know. And ya, it was a big success.

MJ: So Phil, where are you based, because you got German heritage obviously, but are you Europe based or are you US based?

Phil: No, we are based in Europe, ya. I’m from a small town, Gütersloh in the middle of North Rhine-Westphalia, right in the belly button of Germany. We got the British air force in our hometown. So half of our hometown is Brit. So we grew up with Brits, that’s where, you know, we got our English from.

MJ: Going back to the album Imaginary Horse, it’s got a very raw and real edge to it. How did you put that album together?

Fynn: Ya well, let’s start at the beginning. My dad has a professional studio in Gütersloh where we live. It’s in the middle of nowhere, it’s like on a farm, there’s just like a forest around it. And we always hung out there and we had a practice room next door, and a motorcycle garage where we build choppers and stuff like that. And Philipp and I wrote the whole album in there and we always loved the sound. And when we went next doors in the real studio to record it, the sound just became… ya, the whole song became clean is one word, but well but not clean as in like not distorted, but normal. And we thought we wanna hear it the way we heard it in the practice room, you know, so we tried to find how we could do this. It took us a long time of course but then we found out a technique that was in our garage, we put everything out there that we could so we get more roomy sound of it, so we cut out the carpet and stuff like that, and we put two microphones twelve feet away from us and recorded everything live, and no artificial reverb on anything, this is the real reverb that was made in that room. You know, so, that was the idea.

MJ: Was the video for ‘PCH Diamond’ shot in that same garage or was that elsewhere?

Fynn: No that wasn’t in that garage; that was in Glory Motorcycles in Los Angeles. A very good friend of ours, Justin Kell, he does all the bikes for all the movies. Funny fact, he did the bike for Indiana Jones, stuff like that, and some, he does all the bikes for Tom Cruise, stuff like that. He’s the real deal but he’s a really cool dude. He skates and stuff like that, so we know him through skateboarding.

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MJ: Skateboarding, that’s a big thing with you guys.

Fynn: Ya well, I grew up with my dad being a professional skateboarder since the 80s. So we always had friends from all around the world coming to us, and me coming with them to all these places where he went to contests, stuff like that. So, I guess that’s where my American accent comes from, because we’ve always been in the States a lot. And ya that was always a good thing.

And then, when he started doing music, he was super successful doing music. He had super big bands that toured the States and all over Europe. One band was called Thumb, and the other band was called All-Stars, and he had bands back then, Eight Days, that was like in all the skate videos. So he’s always been into music. So I basically grew up in skate parks, and in a tour van. Basically in a tour bus. He always brought me on tour. And ya, and then Philipp and I met, we met in this… you go…

MJ: Over to Phil.

Phil: That like ten years ago or so we just met in our local skate park, just hanging around and whatever, skated all day, and ya. That’s our skating background I think right?

Fynn: Ya well we still do, we still skate all the time and we just try to find something to do after we’ve skated, you know? We became best friends, and then we were like what do we do now? We skated till darkness, what do we do now? So first it was like go into the pub, but then it was like getting boring at some point. And then we started getting into my attic where all the equipment that my dad still had in there, because he used to have a studio in the attic. It used to be called Cloud Scrap, or wait was it called Upstairs Studio? Because it was all up there. So there was still some equipment lying around, an old Sonor drum set, and some guitars, and that’s how it all started.

MJ: And what are the, I guess you brought your boards out over here?

Both: No.

MJ: So you’re having withdrawal symptoms?!

Phil: To be honest, when you’re on tour you’re always afraid of like, when you go skate are you gonna break your bone or whatever, so… don’t do that.

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Fynn: Ya, the show suffered from it, you know, and that, that was like the worst case scenario because at the end of the day this is what we’re doing, you know? And skating is something that’s fun and it’s cool. That’s something I learned after being sponsored, you know? I was sponsored at one point and I lost all the fun of skateboarding because I had to be at contests and stuff like that, and I quit doing that and just do it for fun, and that’s the thing.

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Phil: We don’t want to get hurt on tour.

MJ: I wanna come to the instruments that you’re using. What have you got, what’s your setup Phil on the drums?

Phil: I’ve got a Ludwig kit, with a twenty six inch kick, a bass drum, I guess ya. An eighteen inch floor tom, and I just, how do you say, rebuilt my old drum set. I used the old bass drum kit and whatever, kick drum ya. I used the old kick drum and turned it into a floor drum, the big one on the right side, it’s a twenty four inch, and I have two snares and that’s pretty much it.

Fynn: And a bell, and the bell…

Phil: And the bell, ya of course.

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MJ: And any effects on that?

Phil: Ya you listened to our record right? So all the sounds you hear live are the same sounds we used in the studio, you know? It’s live recorded, and we try to, how do you say it, we try to…

Fynn: Get that sound on stage?

Phil: Get that sound on stage there, and I have that same feeling…

Fynn: Reuse, re-reuse…

Phil: We use some triggers to get the real bass from the recording in the studio, to get the real snare sound, to get the real chain, chim, chim, what is it called…percussion.

Fynn: Ya you know we, for Philipp said, all the instruments and something you hear on the album is something that Philipp and I always work out together. It’s not like it’s just him drumming, it’s not just me playing guitar, it feels like we’re both playing it. And so we built these pits, just go into the music store and buying normal, traditional tambourines and stuff like that, just bored us at one point. And it felt like, this sounds like every other shit that’s already out there. So we started building our own percussion instruments you know, because we’ve always been inspired by Native American music and all the tribal stuff, and it never sounded like something you could buy in a music store, you know? So we were really creative…

Phil: You can do that but it’s fuckin expensive to do that so…

Fynn: Ya, you can do it, it’s expensive first of all and it’s, again the easy way to do it. So we build them ourselves.

In the beginning, it was weird because it felt like cheating, and it was like it’s not the real thing but you have to hit it hard if you want to sound it big you know? The album was recorded in a motorcycle garage, and we used the actual reverb, and just recorded the entire album with two microphones. Not like everyone else would, close mic-ing it and then all these mix tricks that everyone has. Then when you wanna put it on a stage you realise a bass drum on a stage all of a sudden isn’t in a motorcycle garage anymore, so you get the typical bass drum sound, and it didn’t sound like what we had recorded. So to be able to do that we have a trigger that actually triggers the bass drum and snare sound to sound like that, that’s all.

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MJ: It’s an awesome sound. Sounds really cool. Fynn tell us about the rig that you’ve got set up.

Fynn: Ya well, um, I tried out so many guitars and, like, from no-name stuff to all the good stuff that’s out there, and I always try to get like newer guitars because it’s not like that complicated and you can get them everywhere, and some of them are really cheap. But they always sound very plastic to me, like, I just didn’t like it. So what I did was try out all the old stuff, and it started out with the old Gibson my dad had.

We were hanging out in Los Angeles while we were recording the, and still writing the album, and I bought this very old Gibson ES125, which is an old cut-away and almost looks like an acoustic guitar. I think it’s like from the early sixties, and I bought it for super cheap from this awesome guitar store in the middle of nowhere. Like it was in Los Angeles in this street called Santa Nella, and this dude, he was a great dude, he was the weirdest dude ever. It was a funny story behind it. Anyway, I bought it for super super cheap, and basically that’s the whole sound of the album is that guitar, a very very cheap preamp, and through a custom made amp I made. It’s actually a Marshall amp that I put into an old Jennings, which basically is Vox combo, ya.

pbMJ: And, you’ve got some stomp boxes as well which you tend to tinker around with to your heart’s content.

Fynn: Ya well the thing is on the album I really just use that, but you always have to re-create it for live, you know, because our set is very dynamic, and if you just use that setup it doesn’t come across like that, it always feels like one, it’s the same loudness, you know, the whole set. So I’ve got two of these preamps to get a one louder one, and one for the other guitar because it sounds a little different. And then I have a delay where I do funny stuff with, I got a fuzz to get it much more fuzzier, what else do I have… it’s a funny thing, it’s a handmade, like a handmade preamp too. It’s a booster, it’s called the Moon Booster from a company called Redson Effects. I wanna mention this because they’re… I just found out about these and they’re super good. I got that one in my set now. I got a Fender… ya he made it for me. That’s another thing, ya he made it for me, which is… I love when it’s custom made for someone’s stuff. I got a Fender reverb, it’s like a remake of a big old Fender reverb, with like a small pedal. And then I have another thing that’s like re-creating the roomy sound that I always have, that’s over everything. Ya it just has a little room sound to it.

Another thing I’d like to mention is for this album we forbid ourselves to listen to music for two years so we don’t get wrong influence, you know? Because it happens so fast today that you listen to something new, that’s like a new band, and you’re like oh wow that’s awesome, and you end up in the practice room sounding just like that. And to not have that we forbid each other to listen to music. So all we had was Katie Perry and Lady Gaga for like two years.

And then what happened is like, so the thing why we did it, we wanted to get the raw, raw’s always a good word, a raw sound out of it. Like, what’s us without the influence of other bands, just like from now on. And we got inspired by so many other stuff that has nothing to do with music, just being in the desert in California or stuff like that, you know. That’s why sounds like PCH Diamond happened. PCH is the Pacific Coast Highway that goes along the whole Pacific coast, and stuff like that. So that was a cool experience. I just wanted to say that.

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MJ: I take it that the tour your has been going really well?

Fynn: It’s going really well, The Answer are super cool dudes, and became really close friends with them. And ya, the other band, Bad Touch too, shout out to them, ‘cos they work really hard too. So ya, it’s a cool tour.

MJ: Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time, and all the very best for the rest of the tour with The Answer.

Fynn: Well, to everybody that doesn’t know us yet here in the UK, everybody that knows us and hasn’t seen us, would be rad, we’re coming back for sure on our own tour in May!

Go visit…Like/Follow www.thepicturebooks.com Facebook Twitter IG YouTube

Cheers

MJx

Website: www.TheClassicRockShow.co.uk
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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 Answer’s Micky Waters on their new album ‘Raise A Little Hell’

imageThe Answer’s new album ‘Raise A Little Hell’, out on Napalm Records, crashed into the UK charts with their highest chart placing ever. Making number 44 in national UK Album chart, Number 1 in the Rock Chart and Number 6 in the Indie Album chart.

the answerFeaturing larger-than-life riffs, unforgettable melodies and a return to their raw bluesy roots! ‘Raise A Little Hell’ presents a collection of hard hitting anthems that point to the spirit of AC/DC and Thin Lizzy. The album is a follow up to the critically acclaimed 2013 release New Horizon and was preceded by their first single “Red”, roundly given the thumbs-up by our listeners.

“Red” was penned by Nashville writers Neil Mason (The Cadillac Three) and Tyler Bryant and was one of two previously penned songs that The Answer very much wanted to record as part of the ‘Raise A Little Hell’ album and to give their own unique sound to. The single video was directed by Darren Lee from Maverick Renegade Productions and features uniquely designed ‘Monster’ costumes created by Belfast based Christine Boyle whose design credits include Game Of Thrones and Universal’s Your Highness.

The new album, produced by Spanish producer Guillermo ‘Will’ Maya and recorded in his Madrid studio, September 2014 was also mixed by Chris Sheldon (Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro, Garbage) in London, October 2014. Cormac Neeson from the band commented:
“We’re delighted to announce our new album ‘Raise A Little Hell’. This is a special record that reflects a return to the hard ass blues rock ‘n’ roll we hold so dear. This album truly showcases who we are and the best of The Answer in full flow. We can’t wait for you all to hear it!”

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Following on from their single release “Red”, the Irish Rockers have now released a brand new lyric video for the track “Long Live The Renegades”. The band commented on the song:
“‘Long Live The Renegades’ is the opening track on our new album ‘Raise A Little Hell’. It’s a bit of a rocker and we tried a slightly different production technique on this track by keeping it very dry. The song is about just doing what you do best and having a bit of a bunker mentality. This is our fifth album and we’ve gone back to our earlier blues and roots style with what we think are harder rockin’ grooves. Hope you like it as much as we do!”

Earlier this month (March 2015), The Answer embarked on a 40 date headline UK and European club tour followed by a series of summer festivals and soon to be announced US tour plans!

We caught up with Bassist Micky Waters down at Chinnery’s, Southend-on-Sea, where they performed later that night to an audience who were sufficiently familiar enough with songs from the new album to sing along to them.

MJ: Raise A Little Hell. It’s number 1 in the UK album charts! Congratulations!

Micky: Thank you, we’re really proud of it, actually, this record to be honest is the first we’ve been in the studio without an agenda at all. We just really had a bunch of really fresh ideas, some cool riffs, some chorus ideas, and trusted in each other’s I guess ability to put the songs together on the spot. And that was the vibe. There were a couple of songs that were almost there but even they were kind of rewritten in the studio, just soaking up the atmosphere of the four of us being up in the mountains in the middle of Spain hanging out there. Just getting stuck into it, you know?

MJ: A different approach for this album, then?

Micky: Yeah, it really is. Honestly we really don’t care anymore. We’re just doing what we want to do. In the past we had been told, “You’re too Led Zeppelin or you don’t have a song to get on mainstream radio”. We were told all these things. We listened to all those things. This time around we’re like you know what? We’re all in our early 30s now, we don’t really care, just going to go in the studio and do exactly the kind of record we can get off on. And that’s the result of it.

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MJ: This is your fifth album. It must be very pleasing for you guys to get the album sounding in such a way that everybody throughout the band is pleased with it.

Micky: Yeah this is probably the first one that hasn’t been dented by being passed along, demo a song, then listened to it, and re-demoed with it, tweak it, tweak things, add things, take things away, this one everything that you hear is fresh. The first idea that was written that was put down, that’s exactly what it is. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, we’re proud of every record we’ve ever done. We put our heart and soul and a lot of work into every single one of them, but this one in particular is a lot freer. There’s a lot more expression on it I think.

MJ: And it’s come easier this time around?

Micky: Yeah it came so quick. Was only I would say a month, two months, we finished tour last April/May time, and basically took a month to chill out, and then stuck it in and we were finished by September.

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Micky Waters

MJ: And working with Will Mayer, you’ve known each other for quite some time now.

Micky: He’s a very old friend. Again he knows us guys as musicians and personally better. He’s just very good at getting a performance out of us. And creates an atmosphere that is funny and vibey. He’s a very funny guy. He keeps us going and laughing. You know? He’s very creative. We were making Talk Boxes and setting up a strange kind of, setting up the Ampeg flight case and putting a beater on it to get a sound. Pots and pans and everything….trying everything and recording it to see what would happen. We’ve never done that before. So lots of creative things going on all the time.

MJ: “Red” has been very popular on the show.

Micky: Going down great every night. Not that it surprised me, but it’s actually going down a lot better than I thought it would. Last night, in Liverpool, Cormac was in the front row. It was St Patrick’s Day, and he handed round some whiskey and little glasses to the front row. And we started playing that song. Had a bit of a groove going. The whole place was going off. It was really good fun!

MJ: Tell us about you’ve been evolving through this tour.

Micky: Again, this tour has been really…we just want to refresh everything. We believe we’ve got strong material now that we can replace some of the older songs and create a different show for our fans to come to and I have a chat with our fans every night and actually thanking me for replacing and refreshing the set. It’s a different vibe, you know?

10995297_10153569539371102_1033716420126972622_oMJ: You’ve been ably supported by Bad Touch and The Picturebooks on this tour.

Micky: Great bunch of lads. The Picturebooks have got a really interesting sound going on. Really interesting set up. The Bad Touch guys really have their stuff together. More than most bands that have played with us before. They’re really tight, really good musicians. Pleasure to have both of them on board, to be honest.

 

MJ: Other than rounding off this rather extensive tour, what else have The Answer got in store for us in 2015?

Micky: This is really the warm up, we finish the UK, then we go to Europe until mid-May. And then we do a couple of festivals, couple of really good ones including Hellfest, in France, which is in my opinion the best festival in Europe. Pretty awesome lineup there. Really excited about that. Airborne going right after us and we know those boys pretty well. Going to be a good laugh. We’ll all be beer drinking at dawn that day. And then we’re off to the States for six weeks to tour. Some shows with Whitesnake and a lot of shows by ourselves. So it’s, you know, that will take us up to August, then after that who knows. I kind of take it one day at a time to be honest.

MJ: Well, Mickey thanks ever so much for sitting down with us today. You’re going to be running off very shortly for a sound check. Last words for the fans out there?

Micky: Thank you very much for supporting us. If you haven’t gotten it already, go get our “Number 1 Rock album” Raise a Little Hell…stick it on. turn it on really loud and enjoy.

MJ: Doesn’t that sound good saying “Number 1 Rock album”?

Micky: (Laughs) It does, actually. Cheers!

The Answer are on Facebook, Twitter, InstagramOfficial Website.

Website: www.TheClassicRockShow.co.uk
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COMPETITION: Win a pair of tickets to Winter Rocks Festival!

During ‘The Classic Rock Show’ last Thursday, we gave away a pair of tickets live on-air to one lucky listener. Thanks to the good people at The Corporation, Sheffield, we’ve another pair of tickets up for grabs in our ‘Winter Rocks Festival’ Competition!

The Corporation will play host to the first annual Winter Rocks Festival on Saturday, 6th December. The event will mix international artists with up and coming Sheffield bands playing over two stages.

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THE ANSWER will deliver their stunning live show as festival headliners.
“We’ve been rocking out in Sheffield ever since our first UK tour so we always feel right at home there. The line up looks great and we’re ready to play our part in a big way. Sheffield we’re coming for you!!”

Another coup for the festival is hard rockers HEAVEN’S BASEMENT returning to grace Corporation’s main stage.
“It’s been too long since we’ve been to Sheffield, we’ve had some epic times at Corp! Some of our favourite shit has gone down at these shows and we can’t wait to get back to see our Yorkshire friends! Let’s kick off Xmas early at WinterRocks Festival!”

Also bringing monstrous riffs to WinterRocks is Sheffield’s own BLACK SPIDERS
“One of our favourite top ten places to play in the Europas!! Many a city has seven hills, but the city of Sheffield is a home from home….”

The rest of the line up for the main stage sees a real blend of international talent: Eureka Machines, New Zealand rockers I Am Giant, Zodiac N Black, Swedish legends Stonewall Noise Orchestra, THE Aaron Keylock Band and Liberty Lies.
Goat Leaf will headline the second stage with their heavy groove rock show. New Zealand’s Rival State will be main support (Currently on the B lack Spiders tour and gaining Radio1 acclaim). With Sheffield bands The Verals, The Black Hands, Red Jester, Coyote Mad Seeds, Perfect Crimes and Regulus completing the line up on this epic day.

With Eureka Machines, I Am Giant, Zodiac N Black, Stonewall Noise Orchestra, The Aaron Keylock Band and Liberty Lies making up the rest of the main stage line up.

Goat Leaf headline the second stage with The Verals, Red Jester, The Black Hands, Perfect Crimes, Back To Verona also confirmed. This is a day not to be missed!

Tickets are a mere £18 for the full day which includes entry to both stages. Doors 12.30pm.   Tickets: www.corporation.org.uk

enter-to-winBy answering the following question, you could be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets to Winter Rocks Festival which is taking place on Saturday, 6th December!!

The ‘Winter Rocks Festival Competition closes on Tuesday 2nd December at 9pm. The winner will be announced at 10am on Wednesday 3rd December.

Good luck!

[Competition Rules: You must be 14+ years of age to be eligible to enter this competition. Only entries submitted through this form will be accepted. The ‘Winter Rocks Festival Competition closes on Tuesday 2nd December at 9pm. The winner will be announced at 10am on Wednesday 3rd December.]

Website: www.TheClassicRockShow.co.uk
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Last week’s ‘Bex Rocks’ playlist is here. Thanks for tuning in. It was awesome!

Hi

Finally got around to posting up my playlist from last week’s show.

'Bex Rocks' playlist March 6th 2014

Thanks for tuning in. See you all again soon!

Hellyeah \m/

Bex

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