Russell Peake (Electus)

posted 17 Apr 2017, 08:06 by Paul Woodward

‘Rock N Roll Incarnate part one’ is the second Electus album, but for those yet to discover you, can you tell us a little about the bands formation and its original musical aims?


I've been in many bands over the years and decided to concentrate on acoustic shows to develop as a songwriter, by around 2010 I got the “Itch” back to be in a touring band again, but this time on my terms, with focus & conviction, with the aim to play around the world pure and simple Hard Rock unvarnished, as interpreted by ELECTUS!  The songs were getting great feedback on an acoustic level, so I started recording the first 9 songs for the ELECTUS debut studio album “The Dark”. Then the search began for the right musicians, Dan Smith on Bass Guitar was the first on board.


You are the principal song writer and you have a unique sound, who are your influences and what is your own personal design for the sound of Electus?


I've always loved the 70s, 80s, 90s rock guitar sound, when we add the second guitars of Pete Checkley, who generally goes for a crisper tone these days, you kind of get close to the sound of ELECTUS, the song’s start with a melody I come up with and build the song from there.  I was in the school choir as a kid, however I'm no David Coverdale, & rightly so. My influences musically are far & wide; however, KISS is the reason I picked up the Bass Guitar originally, I'm a lover of great music whatever the genre, currently though my turntable has the pleasure of Opeth, Vinnie Vincent, Von Hertzen Bros, Steven Wilson, & Monster Truck.


So, with this album been part one, does this mean part two will be released hot on its heels and will it have a connection to this album?


Sure, it may do, but I’m not tied to the idea, with this album I wanted to explore my influences a little more and not be boxed into a specific genre, it's all rock & roll from where ELECTUS is today, from our perspective and you're all invited to come and join in the fun.


Can you tell us about a few of the songs on ‘Rock N Roll Incarnate’ any meanings or stories behind the songs you think people will be interested in?


lyrically the songs revolve around relationships, good or bad, the first single & video “Ticket to nowhere” aims to take control of one's life, sometimes we can feel like we're living in Groundhog Day. Our 2nd single “Saved” is a classic rock anthem saluting the fallen rock stars of our generation, 2016 took a lot of great musical artists from us so I had to make comment. “Freak out” is based around an alien orgasmatron delivered to us on earth, unfortunately another alien who happened to be on our planet was incognito as a human at the time, and so the humans never got to try out the machine of pleasure. (Maybe there’s a B movie there somewhere).


Having seen Electus live a couple of time I know how well your songs come across live, when you’re writing and evolving songs is this a factor you push for?


Most definitely, I’ve always liked a good riff, to stomp to, along with a melody that plays on your mind. our songs have a classic formula verse, chorus, guitar break etc. The addition of a visual element, to give an added perspective helps the whole live experience, were fortunate people leave our shows with something to talk about and hopefully feel like they were entertained.


I know you’ve got a show lined up at The Robin in Bilston on the 5th July, but do you have any other shows in the works you can tell us about?


We are currently working on a UK tour in the summer and we are going to be touring with a few bands as part of something very special, touching base in Wales, Scotland, England, North & South, plus Winterfest 2017 in Coventry, Dementia Aware festival at the Roadhouse in Birmingham April 30th, where we will be doing an acoustic set. Plus, we will be doing a couple of dates in the USA & Europe. the dates should be confirmed by the time everybody reads this interview, so I would definitely check out our web page for details.


What does the future hold for Electus?


we have a couple of promo videos to complete, for “Ticket to Nowhere”, “Saved” & “Slip Away”, as well as the touring, while we promote ELECTUS across the world, we will also be prepping for our 3rd album for a late 2017 early 2018 release, so more music, more touring as far & wide as possible, stick it up the flagpole and see who salutes it as they say.


As an underground band working hard to break out are there any bands in the underground scene you feel we should keep an ear out for?


there are so many, I make a point of checking out bands from all over whenever possible, all genres, as for bands we've had the honour of playing alongside check out - Tyrannosaurus Nebulus, Ghost of Machines, Edenfalls, Novacrow, Splintered Halo, Daxx & Roxane to name a few.


Is there anything else you would like to add or say to Fireworks readers?


Thank YOU for listening, & your support, the fans are everything, so if you still like your music with a “Back to basics” kinda feel, checkout R&R Incarnate Part One, then come and see us live, there’s a hook or two for most lovers of this beautiful genre of music we all know and love.

Licia Missori (The Dark Side Of Venus)

posted 11 Feb 2017, 06:11 by Paul Woodward

Italian’s The Dark Side Of Venus have recently released a new and impressive album entitled Power To Victims. I caught up with principal song writer and composer Licia Missori to talk about it.

Hey Licia, can you tell us a bit of history about how The Dark Side Of Venus was formed and what your musical aims were with the band?

Back in 2009, I had already recorded three solo albums as a pianist composer and written hundreds of unpublished songs, but I had never had anything that I could call “my band”. I started feeling the urge to write rock songs and play them on stage. One year later, the band was ready to start this adventure. Making music for this project is an amazing kind of therapy, it sort of heals my mind.

How did you decide upon ‘The Dark Side Of Venus’ as the band’s name, is there a story behind it?

I would say that the story behind it is the story of my life. When I was younger, people around me used to think that I had a peaceful, “normal” life, that I had no problems at all, just because I was an introvert and I couldn’t really express my feelings. I appeared to be a quiet, talented and good looking girl. Everything looked fine from the outside. The truth was that my life was a mess, and I went through some serious trouble. Music allowed me to express my darkest emotions, despite my life appearing shiny, perfect and beautiful to everyone else. So, the name of the project refers to the hidden side of a planet whose name is anciently associated with beauty, love and femininity.

You are the bands principal song writer and composer what is your song writing process like?

It’s mostly unconscious: songs write themselves. I listen to the musical ideas flowing in my mind, then I shape them, I play and sing them, I record them and – if I still like them after some time has passed – I send them to the rest of the band.

When It comes to your lyrics what inspires them?

Most of the times, they’re inspired by my own life and emotions, so they can be very straight and sincere. I’m very interested in nonconformity, subversion of injustice, freedom of expression, self-empowerment. I find myself empathizing with minorities, outcasts and weirdos; my lyrics are often permeated with a yearning for liberation, and this is why the band’s debut album is called “Power to Victims”.

The Dark Side Of Venus have a very distinct sound what and who are you’re influences? And when it comes to creating songs is anything off limits?

The hardest part of introducing my music to others is answering the question “What does your music sound like?”. When I compose I never try to sound like anyone else, so it seems to me that my songs don’t resemble anything else. That said, my music has a lot of influences from different genres, because I’ve listened to a lot of different stuff throughout the years: mainly alternative rock, pop and classical, but also dance, jazz, punk, gothic, new wave, celtic and electronic music. Moreover, my bandmates have totally different musical backgrounds and tastes (e.g. fusion, funk, progressive, metal), and this is amazing because they can add something special and unexpected to the songs. So... actually, nothing is off limits.

Given the structure and flow of your songs it feels like you come from a classical trained back ground? How did you get into music and more importantly into creating your own music?

You’re right, I’ve been studying classical music for more than 20 years; but I’ve also been composing my own music since I was a child. My parents had given a small keyboard to my brother, but he wasn’t interested in playing music so when I turned 3 they gave it to me and I spontaneously started playing it. I compose music because I need to, I have to. It’s not even a choice, it’s just the way I am.

The album as a whole has a very Avant Garde vibe was this always your intention or just how your songs come together naturally as a writer?

First of all, thank you so much for noticing this. When I write songs for this project, I keep only the most original and fresh ideas and throw away anything that sounds too “ordinary” to me. I’m interested in creating something modern and new.

Can you tell us about a few of the songs on your latest album ‘Power To Victims’ and stories or meanings behind them that you think would interest listeners?

My favourite “story” is the one behind “Heal me”. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with a chronic pain disorder called fibromyalgia, that would deeply affect my everyday life and my relationships. I was very depressed. But in the same period, Elayne joined the band: she became our singer and also a new reason for me to love my life. Even though she couldn’t heal my body from fibromyalgia, she would heal my soul from hopelessness (“save me from myself”). I wrote “Heal me” for her and, when we play it live, somehow, we dedicate it to each other.

I know you perform frequently in your homeland of Italy, do you have plans to come further afield or even to the UK?

We have a special feeling for the UK, we’ll do anything we can to come and play there. I’ll keep you informed!

What does the future hold for The Dark Side Of Venus?

We are about to release a new video. We’re going to open Goblin’s live show next week here in Rome. And I have already written all the songs for the next album. This is all I know for now!

Is there anything else you would like to add or say?

I would like to thank you Woody and anyone who’s reading this nice interview. Please like our Facebook page ( so we can keep in touch! And – especially if you readers are British – spread the word so we can have an audience when we come to play in the UK!

Eric Montoya and Jareth Grealish ( Hit N Run)

posted 8 Feb 2017, 14:03 by Paul Woodward

Hit N Run hit the burgeoning melodic rock scene in the early ‘90’s but also fell afoul of the onset of grunge so their debut album never got released at the time! Fast forward to 2016 and their debut album finally hit’s the shelves and I thought now was the right time to quiz Jareth Grealish and Eric Montoya about the bands past and future!

Hey guys, I suppose the obvious question is how come the album has been released now so many years after it was written?

Jareth: No quick way to answer this one. There are a lot of reasons it’s taken this long. For starters, the band originally broke up in 1995 without ever landing a record deal. So at the time we split up we had a demo, another 5-song EP that we had released on cassette independently, and some “lost tracks” that we never completed in the studio.

After the break-up, we kind of all went our separate ways and pursued things predominantly outside of music for a decade or more. We did stay in touch though, and actually got together for a jam/writing session around 2003. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to keep that momentum going and never got the band back off the ground.

Eric: Then, in 2009 we launched a MySpace page with some of our songs loaded in the music player and several small record labels approached us about putting out an album. It really got us motivated, so we went back into the studio and finished up those “lost tracks,” which became “King of the Fools,” “Piece of the Action,” and “Wild and Crazy Days.” With a little remixing and remastering of our other recordings, we had the 9 tracks that became our debut album.

Jareth: After the recordings were finally finished, there were some other delays due to disagreements within the ranks and negotiations with different labels that stalled things for a few more years. Eventually, it all worked out, and we released the album digitally in 2015 and then signed with Lions Pride Music out of Denmark in 2016 for the physical CD release in Europe.

Hit N Run were part of a burgeoning melodic rock scene in the early 90’s, what was that like?

Jareth: There was such an excitement to everything when we first hit the scene. It truly seemed like “making it” was possible. Philly bands like Britney Fox, Heaven’s Edge and Tangier had gotten signed. You had Trixter, Tyketto, and Skid Row from New Jersey…and we operated very close to those music scenes.

Eric: There was also a growing original music scene in our home town, Scranton PA at the time, which was awesome to see take shape in a scene typically dominated by cover bands.

When the music industry changed dramatically and Grunge and Alt Rock became king how did this affect Hit N Run? And what was it like been a melodic rock band at that time?

Jareth: It was incredibly disorienting for us because it happened so rapidly. In ‘91, when Eric came aboard as our lead singer, melodic hard rock was utterly dominant. Warrant was huge. Skid Row was huge. Slaughter was about to release their second album. We thought we were going to ride that wave to rock stardom. Yeah, we were aware of the Seattle bands, but we really didn’t think they had anything to do with us. Their scene, their genre seemed so different from what we were doing.

Eric: Yeah, by 1992, we knew something was changing. The only hard rock songs getting airplay were power ballads. MTV’s Headbangers Ball had become overrun by thrash bands and “alternative” bands like Sound Garden and Alice-In-Chains. The winds of change were upon us.

Jareth: I think maybe the worst part of it was that it had suddenly become cool to ridicule “hair bands.” At least in the US it did. It was like a switch got flipped and suddenly the millions of people that had been fans were now poking fun at bands like us, even though 6 months earlier they were rocking out to Warrant’s Cherry Pie.

Eric: It was pretty discouraging, but we kept going. Even into ’93-’94, we were still doing really well in our home club scene in Pennsylvania.

Did you adapt the band’s sound in order to stay relevant like many other bands did at the time?

Jareth: For a long time we resisted, but late in ‘94, after a brief hiatus. We regrouped without Mark, our second guitarist, and started writing new music. Thinking back, I feel like we had become very uncertain of ourselves because of all the changes in the music scene. We tried being heavier, bluesier, adding in more “unplugged” elements, but nothing seemed to really click for us. I think we were just working against ourselves—not being true to the music we loved creating and doing what came naturally. It just wore us down, and we eventually called it a day sometime in early ‘95.

When the band split in 1995 did any of you carry on in music? Anything we should check out?

Eric: I’ve done some voiceover work for some radio commercials and I’ve done a lot of session work with other artists, including Grammy award winner Christopher Cross and guitarist B. Christopher. ( I also recorded a solo album in the mid- 2000's that was a departure from my hard rock roots. In my opinion, the project went south. A bit of Google sleuthing and you may eventually come across it, that’s all I’ll say about it (laughs).

Jareth: I’ve had a few false starts here and there over the years, but nothing that resulted in any new recordings. However, I have been actively involved in guiding my daughter Bren’s developing music career. She’s an amazingly talented singer/songwriter. My brother Beckett, our drummer, has a new project in the works that’s in a heavier vein than HitnRun. Mark released a brilliant Christmas album several years ago, “The Sutorka Clause,” that’s available on iTunes ( Be sure to check that out. Dan isn’t active in music, but runs a successful lawncare company and has a wonderful family.

Reflecting on the album, which songs do you feel most proud of and why?

Eric: I love “King of the Fools.” It really depicts the journey of bluesy rock and hook-oriented song writing that this band has always embraced. I just think it all came together in that tune.

Jareth: I’m a big fan of “Piece of the Action.” I love the main riff and I think the song truly captures how dynamic we can be within the context of one tune. I’ll also always have a place in my heart for “Forever.” Even though we wrote it before Eric was in the band, his performance on that tune really took it to another level.

With the band reforming with the two of you (Eric Montoya – vocals, and Jareth Grealish – guitar) being the only original members in this line-up, is there a possibility that live shows could happen?

Jareth: That is definitely part of the plan. Our goal is to recruit new members before we go back into the studio, and we definitely want to perform live again as well. We’re hoping to land some choice opening slots in our area, maybe get on the bill at some rock festivals. We would love to one day get over to Europe to tour a bit.

I know you are working on a brand new album together. Can you tell us anything about it? What can fans expect style wise?

Jareth: The new songs are still taking shape, but I can assure you that it’s going to rock, and it’s very much going to sound like HitnRun. Eric’s voice, my approach to guitar, and our songwriting together were integral to the band’s sound back then. Fortunately, that creative partnership is still very much intact and evident in the new music. I think you’ll hear some more maturity in the lyrics, a bit more experimentation in the arrangements, and perhaps some unexpected influences shining through here and there. But we will remain true to what we created together back in 1991.

Eric: From my standpoint, I think I have become a stronger vocalist. Time and experience will do that. We have both been through so much since the first album that some tunes will be a bit heavier, without losing our first album’s roots. Subject matter will, of course, reflect our lives and the world around us.

Is there anything else you would like to add or say to readers and fans?

Jareth: I just want to thank each and every person that has given our music a chance and supported us by purchasing the album and streaming it. It really stirred something in Eric and I—to realize that there are people all over the world that truly love this type of music and were willing to take a chance on this unknown band from Pennsylvania. Please continue to spread the word about HitnRun and follow us on Facebook and Spotify, so we can keep you informed about our progress on the new record and whatever else we have developing.

Eric: HitnRun listeners worldwide have proven to me that this is in fact a strange, strange world. Doors once closed can indeed be opened again. If you believe in what you’re doing, people will always respond...though sometimes not in the timeframe that you had hoped. I can’t thank our fans enough for proving to me that rock truly is forever. And that we weren’t wasting our time all those years ago.

Phil Vincent

posted 19 Jan 2017, 11:55 by Paul Woodward

Phil Vincent’s D’ercole have just released their fourth album No Place Like Home so I thought now was the perfect time to catch up with him. As a prolific song writer I was keen to ask him about his processes and influences as well asking about his various bands and upcoming projects. Oh and Paul Sabu!

You are one of the most prolific song writers I know, you must be constantly writing? Do you ever suffer with writer’s block or fell burnt out?

Thankfully no. My constant drive to try and make this my sole profession keeps me very productive. I know people would dig this music if they had the chance to hear it so my “campaign to be heard” is motivation enough.

What’s the song writing process for you, how do your songs come together?

Different songs have different processes. “Talk to Me” from the new D’Ercole CD was written on the guitar, “The Walls are Closing In(On Me)” was writing on the keys. It constantly varies. And sometimes the words come first, as in “Stand Up” or the music is written first, like “Epic Failure”.

What are your song writing inspirations and influences both lyrically and musically?

The Beatles and Paul McCartney cover both music and lyric inspiration. I know the probability of this is zero, but I would love to write and record an album with Sir Paul McCartney. He was such an inspiration to me growing up as I listened to him play all the instruments on his solo albums. That’s why I do the same on mine. Sir Paul is the reason I exist musically. He’s in my DNA.  In addition to that, I listen to so much music and have so many Cd’s and albums that it’s safe to say I am very drawn to great song writing. Foreigner, Boston, Queen, Winger, Dokken, Priest, Sabbath, all have a place in my mental musical file folder.

Off the top of your head from your extensive back catalogue what songs are you most proud of and why?

The Cranston album I did with Paul Sabu was VERY special for me. I have all his albums and to be able to work with someone as talented as him was just such a gift. I’m very proud of the first 5 Legion albums. After that, there were legal issues that put a cloud over our output. The last two albums were released without my permission. I had released all those songs as Phil Vincent & Vince O’Regan as “Unreleased”, “Unreleased II”, “Unreleased III”, and “Melody & Madness”. Vince and I wrote those songs and they are published by Songs of Purley. Z Records violated copyright law by releasing them as Legion. NO ONE should be able to do that without compensating the people who created the music in the first place. And so the legal battle begins.

I was really impressed with Cranston, an album you worked closely with AOR legend Paul Sabu on. How did you hook up with Sabu and what was it like working with him?

Thank you Paul. Much appreciated. Well, one of the few good things to come out of my association with that label was some of the great friendships I made. Paul and I met in 2012 in England and we immediately hit it off. We planned to work together from that point and because of our busy schedules the Cranston CD took a while to finish. I learned so much from Paul on the recording and production side of things. I just wish more people would listen to the album because it really contains some of my best song writing and vocals.

Is Cranston a one-off project or will there be more in the future?

Paul and I have 4 new songs that we will work on as soon as we can coordinate all the logistics. I never wanted it to be a one off. So to answer your question, there will be a Cranston II, it’s just not definitive as to what content it will include. Paul is a very busy producer and he’s working on the new Danny Veras album at the moment.

Your latest album is with D’ercole, can you talk to us about a couple of the songs on it, are there any stories or meanings behind the songs that would intrigue listeners?

This album was written while I was going through the worst time of my life and if “The Walls are Closing In(On Me)” and “Epic Failure” doesn’t sum it all up, then I need to be more descriptive. HAHAHA!! Lyrically, I was in a very dark place and I’ve always found writing songs was my best therapy. Not to get too heavy but depression can make a person think of doing things they would normally never even consider, and that’s where I was mentally. Coincidently, I wrote “See You on the Other Side” from the Cranston album around the same time as the D’Ercole CD so there is some darkness on that album as well. Basically, the song was a suicide note from a dear friend of mine and Paul happened to send the music as I was reading the note. That’s exactly how that song came together. Very strange and spiritual.

I know you’re probably already working hard on something new, what new music/bands can we expect from you in 2017?

I have contributed vocals for a band called Forest Field and the album is called “Lonely Desert”, as well as their first few releases. Rock Company Records will have all the details/samples. I sing “King of the World” on the TOTO Fanfields Tribute CD which has just been released and I have just completed my next solo album called “XX”, which refers to this being my 20th solo release. 20 years, 20 solo albums, not too shabby!! HAHAHAHA!!! It’s a very rocking disc with a lot of guitars and a lot of vocals. Paul Sabu plays a solo on one of the tracks. He’s an unbelievable guitarist. That should be out in March. I don’t know if it will be self-released or if it will be shopped around. It’s so difficult to make any profit on physical CD sales. The digital domain has really taken over. The streaming sites are popping up everywhere and they’re a great promotional tool so I don’t know what form “XX” will take. D’Ercole was self-released and we’re hoping those sales will generate the next Phil Vincent or Tragik releases, whatever they may be.

Is there anything else you would like to add or say to readers and fans?

Thank you so much for allowing me to talk about the music. I really appreciate it Paul and I hope your readers go to, to listen to samples, download free songs, and just check out the bands.

Stefan Blomqvist (Black Paisley)

posted 17 Jan 2017, 12:22 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 17 Jan 2017, 13:14 ]

Black Paisley are a new band I think many fans of melodic rock and classic rock will really enjoy. So, I talked to main man Stefan Blomqvist about the emergence of this intriguing new act.

Hi Stefan, you were part of a successful covers band what inspired the move to form Black Paisley? What’s the story behind the birth of the band?

It was more of an evolution. We (the cover band StephMetal) had been playing together for many years and when I played some of the new stuff I had written, during the breaks in the rehearsals, the rest of the guys said: Listen – we should really do something with these songs, they’re great. The formation of Black Paisley was 3/5 of Stephmetal; Myself, the bass player Janne and our drummer Robert. We than added 2 former studio musicians (Ulf and Robert) we knew from friends, and who had recorded several albums before, to upgrade and to get some more experience into the project too.

Who writes the songs for Black Paisley and what was the song writing process like for your new album?

Most of the stuff is written by me. It usually works out that I present an idea of a song that is 80% ready, as a simple demo on guitar and song.  Then we jam, arrange, and finalise the song together as band. It’s an interesting process because a song that started out as a slow ballad could turn into an up-tempo riff rocker during the jam process.

There is a mix of styles in your sound which really does give Black Paisley a broad appeal. What and who were your influences during the song writing?

It’s an interesting comment – because from the beginning the album was meant as an AOR, Classic Rock record – but I realise listening to it myself now that it’s broader than that, touching towards both bluesier heavier rock as on Ordinary day and also towards some modern country rock in tunes like Easy and It Ain’t Over.

I grew up listening to bands like Whitesnake, AC/DC, Zeppelin, Scorpions and Triumph, but more recently I listen a lot to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Dire Straits – so I think that is the base of influencers for myself.

Can you talk about a few of the songs on the album, any stories or meanings behind the songs you think would intrigue listeners?

I like to think that every listener could create their own story when listening to a song, even if that’s a bit of a cliché 

Some of the songs are based on live happenings like Kickin’ which I wrote about the time I lived in the UK (good old Maidenhead) during the London riots.

The riff to Run Run Run was written trying out a small Orange Micro Terror amplifier in a small shop, which I evidently had to purchase then!

Will Black Paisley be a live act and is there any plans to play in the UK?

Absolutely a live act – and hope fully in the UK too. We have some smaller gigs planned now in Stockholm and at some local festivals.  It would be great to play in the UK at some point – we played with StephMetal there once and it was great fun.

Given the mix of styles in your brand of melodic rock will future music diversify and throw even more styles into the song writing process?

Could be. My band colleagues have a lot of experiences from other genres too. My personal hope is to make the next record perhaps a little rougher and heavier than this one, but still keep the sound and style.

Is there anything else you’d like to add or say to readers?

Being a debuting band like we are it is always great to get feedback both on the songs and on their listener’s favourites to also help Black Paisley in our future direction a bit.

Our humble ambition with this album is to raise enough on sales on Streams, CD’s and merch to fund the next record.

Mick Devine (Seven)

posted 3 Jan 2017, 04:57 by Paul Woodward

The unexpected return of multi-national melodic rockers SEVEN has been met with positivity and excitement from critics and genre fans alike. With the recent release of the bands stunning second album ‘Shattered’ we talked to lead vocalist and original member Mick Devine about the new album, new writing partners and the reemergence of this cult act.


Interview by Woody


What inspired you to write a brand new Seven album after so many years? Correct me if I’m wrong but your debut album was songs originally demoed by the band back in the day, so was writing all new Seven songs after twenty plus years difficult?


The first Seven album’7’ was really a tribute to the band as it was back in the 80’s and 90’s, all of the songs were the ones that we wrote and played in all of our tours back in that time. The response we got to the first album was so good that it inspired me to push on and start writing again.


When you sat down to write the ‘Shattered’ album did you feel pressure to give the songs a specific feel or sound that fans would instantly identify as Seven or did you enter the song writing process with an open mind?


After we finished recording ‘7’ I started to work on some musical ideas that were sent to me from Fredrik and Lars. I had no real focused idea on where these songs were going or if they would turn out to be any good. All I did was try and come up with the best melodies possible and I had help with that from Keith on the first few songs we wrote and I then really focused on writing lyric’s that had real meaning for me. Nothing was written to a formula; we just wrote what felt right for the track and thankfully it turned out well.

‘Shattered’ see’s you working and writing with an all new team – some fantastic names are involved like Lars Chriss and a personal favourite of mine Keyboardist Fredrik Bergh. What was it like working with these guys on the songs and the production of the album?


Well they are not a completely new team as they all worked on the recording of the first album and so it made sense to work with the same guys on the new Seven project. The guys started sending me ideas to work on soon after we finished ‘7’ and it took a while to get back into the swing of writing songs again but we really got into a good rhythm and the songs kept on coming. Working with them was a true pleasure, they are all fantastic musicians and writing melodies and lyrics to their musical ideas was a real labour of love. I really enjoyed it. The recording process worked in the same way as when we recorded ‘7’ and under Lars production the result was even better on this album.

You’re the only original member of Seven in the band now, did you ever worry about negativity or using a different band name? Hardcore music fans can be extremely precious and unforgiving when it comes to line-up changes.


I wasn’t really worried about that as all of the former members of Seven had a chance to get involved and only Keith really contributed when he had the chance to give the time. It ended up that I was the only former band member available to form the new project, and as the 2016 line up all worked on the release of ‘7’ it was a natural progression to formalize them as the new line up. We did get a few negative comments when the new album was first announced but that was soon forgotten when they started to hear the new material and realized that the true Seven sound was still there in the songs and even improved on ‘Shattered’.

What are your initial feelings on the reactions and responses to the return of Seven and the two albums you have released on Escape Music?


I was firstly so surprised at the quality of the production and recording of the first album and Lars really managed to take the sound of Seven from back in the day and breathe new life into it, bringing it up to date. This continued in the recording of the second album though I think that the writing and the performances have improved even more as we progress.

The reviews for both albums have been fantastic, more than I could have ever hoped for and on my Facebook and Twitter sites the comments have been awesome. The links to my pages are @MickDevineMusic on Facebook  & @DevineMichael on Twitter. Look me up.

Do any of the songs on ‘Shattered’ have any messages or meanings you’d like to share with fans or stories you’d think would interest people?


I always try and write lyric’s that mean something either personally to me or about a situation or comment on the lives we all live today.

Light of 1000 Eyes – From the first guitar chord you know what you are going to get with this track. It really kicks!

It is written about the celebrity culture that we live in today and I am telling it from the point of view of someone who is living in the bright lights of the world’s media. On the surface, it seems that they have everything at their feet, riches, fame etc. but in reality, they are prisoners to the characters that they have created and very few of them are able to have any true freedom when they are living in ‘The light of 1000 eyes’!

A Better Life – Lars and I wrote this track and at its heart is a tight chugging guitar, which I love the sound of when the track drops out just to the guitar after the chorus! It is written simply about never giving up on your dreams. No matter what stage of life you are in, nothing is impossible if you can open your mind to it. The only thing stopping you from living out your dreams is you!

Fight – We spent the longest time writing the melody for this track. Each time we came up with a new a new version it just felt like it needed something else. In the end, we got in touch with Jeff Paris who brought in a fresh and interesting melody with a killer chorus. Writing the lyrics was really easy after that. Fight is a classic song about a broken heart, but in this case the ‘Fight’ is to keep that person out of your life and not a desire to get them back.

Shattered – There is so much going on vocally with this track, I think that Lars nearly lost his mind trying to get the mix right in the chorus but it sounds huge! It is a song about a love lost and is a defiant commentary saying that no matter what you have done to me I will survive. I may be ‘Shattered’ but I am never broken.

Live This Life – This track is a great thumping rock track and is written about how life is so short and no matter what situation you may be at the moment you need to make the most of every minute. This is a song about ensuring sure you make the most of the time you have… None of us know how much of it we have left. Make the most of it.

Pieces Of You – This is a track full of luxurious keyboard pads and driving guitars. It is a bitter commentary from a place of real hurt. It is a story about someone who gave everything they had to someone but received only ‘Pieces’ of them in return.

Broken Dream – This is a classic melodic rock track in a Foreigner vein. It has a real classy feel and is one of my favourite tracks. It is a song about living your life as if you have missed out on what you were always meant to be!

High Hopes – Is a track that has hints of Journey in the music production, though I wish the vocal was as good as Steve Perry’s…. and that is really what the song is about. It’s about always setting your sights high and never giving up. I may not be as great a singer as Steve Perry but I am the best version of Mick Devine I can be right now.

I Needed Time – This was the first track written for the album. Keith and I started working on a backing track from Fredrik and we came up with ‘I needed Time’. It is a laid back groovy melodic track that gives loads of space for the vocal to pop through. I am really proud of this track as it was the first we wrote together and it turned out to be awesome.

Taking Over – This is another track that Lars and I wrote together. It is about not always towing the line in life. Sometimes you have to say enough and take control, and then once you have done that you need to hold on and see it through. It is a bit of a commentary of my life and where I find myself now. 

Last Illusion – This track has an awesomely deep and dark backing track with a rhythm that is almost a shuffle beat, that really appeals to my ‘Toto’ loving roots. It is about breaking down the barriers and restrictions that we place on ourselves in life, it’s like we walk around with a mask on to disguise who we really are.

Do you think there is any possibility of Seven ever performing live? I know the current line-up makes live shows a little awkward logistically but do you think a one-off appearance at a Festival could ever happen?


I think that there is every chance we could play together. All of the musicians live in Sweden and I live in the UK but as you say if the right opportunity came along I know we would love to do it.

I think most people were shocked to see Seven return and even more shocked with the release of ‘Shattered’. Is this just a one-off for you or do you intended to keep going with Seven or even working on other musical projects in the future?


This is definitely not a one off. The release of Shattered has proved to me that the Seven sound can progress and get better and better. I am certainly committed to doing another album as long as people want to hear it. I am also involved in other projects so please look out for me in the near future.

A lot of musicians talk about their experiences in the music industry especially pre-2000 of been really negative and become disillusioned with the whole industry. What was your initial taste of the music industry like back in 1990, was it a negative or positive experience for you?

There were so many things going on when Seven were signed to Polydor, the music industry was changing, the popular music world was changing and rock music like ours became out of fashion and so when we were dropped by our record company there was nowhere to go. These days you have the ability to record at a high level and release your own material even without a record label backing, so there is much more opportunity nowadays to keep going. It is awesome to see so many great bands having the opportunity to come back after so many years and that is due to great music lovers and record labels like Escape who are willing to release new material from bands they loved back in the day. They are some of the most committed fans there are!


Is there anything else you would like to add or say to Fireworks readers?


I would like to just say thank you to all of the Fireworks readers who have bought our album and I hope you really enjoy it. For those who have not bought it, if you like to listen to good melodic rock music with a modern heavy edge, I am sure you will love ‘Shattered’. Why not give it a try?

Most of all keep rocking and keep the music alive.

Nick Workman (VEGA)

posted 3 Jul 2016, 10:17 by Paul Woodward

So the unusual album artwork for ‘Who We Are’, what’s the story behind it?

We knew it would be equally loved and disliked and that much is true. Hey, the best covers are all like that. But we just wanted to do something eye-catching that we liked and to be honest with you the feedback we have got has been mainly positive. Some of the negative comments were pretty predictable so they are water off a ducks back.

Harem Scarem’s Harry Hess come over to the UK to go into the studio with you guys to produce the album. How did this come to be and what was it like working with Hess in the flesh and what did you think he brought to the process?

We hooked up with Harry at the Frontiers Fest back in 2015. We were nattering away and it literally went like this: “Hey, you should produce our next record” “Hey, I’d love to” “ok, lets Skype nest week” “Ok” “burp” haha. Harry was great. He is so chilled and really knows what a song needs and what it doesn’t. We got around a piano before each track and made sure we were all happy with the structure and arrangements and just went for it.

‘Who You Are’ is the band’s fourth album and yet again you have surpassed the impact of your previous album. When you were writing the album did you ever get nervous or frustrated that the next batch of songs would fall short of your fan base’s high expectations? How do you as song writers manage to keep these high standards up?

Yeah, we started off a little nervous because Stereo Messiah had gone down so well. But to be honest by the time we had written a few songs we knew it was going to be ok. I came up with the chorus to White Flag the morning after Frontiers Festival and was singing it to Tom at the airport. He had the music from that idea down the next day and I finished it off the day after that. For Our Sins and Nothing is Forever were already written as they came too late for Stereo Messiah.

Nick as a lyricist you always like to work outside the box and frequently use ambiguous lyrics to allow listeners to make their own connections or meanings up. Can you tell us about the inspirations about a couple of the songs lyric’s especially ones you may feel people will mistranslate from your original idea on the new album?

That’s a toughie cos they all make sense to me haha. Let’s see, White Flag is about NOT surrendering. It was inspired by things like the Invictus Games and seeing people overcome the things that could be the reason they would normally give up. We all go through crap on different levels but if you can come out the other side you will be stronger for it. Most of the songs are about the fight we are all in at the moment. Explode was a little simpler….it’s a love song with attitude and a hand grenade haha.

For me on the new album the song ‘Hurt So Bad’ is huge in many ways and has me thinking this is the sort of song that wins awards as well as critical acclaim from the lyrics to the melodic hooks it’s a perfect song which also manages to have an extremely radio friendly feel. Have you ever listened back to a song after it’s recorded and think wow this is going to really hit people? Or do you only get the sense of the impression a song makes once a fan has told you it has and why?

We always write a song that appeals to ourselves first because we have to love it to give it the passion it deserves. We knew that track was a little different but there was no agenda when we wrote it. As with all the songs, it just happened. We spent ages trying to come up with the album title and then the whole cover /title thing clicked in one go. That song lyrically sums up the whole album. But as you know, everyone has a different favourite song. I’m glad it hit the spot with you though.

I’m a massive fan of the band and the new album is to me even better than the last but I’ve tried not to repeat myself in my review so rather than going nuts like I usually do declaring it the best album ever (which it is!) I’m trying to focus on the why I think it surpasses your other albums. One of those things I feel is your vocals are more diverse than previously, there’s a couple of vocal melodies or styles you’ve thrown into the album that are not stereotypical of you. This album does see your finest overall vocal performance, did you push yourself more, experiment more or was this just naturally how it came out?

Wow, thanks mate. Very kind of you to say so. Once again, it’s just how it comes out, but at the same time I am always inspired by different types of music and vocalists not all from ROCK so that will have an impact. Don’t get me wrong, my fave singers are people like Ray Gillen, Joe Elliott (of course) and Dan Reed etc, but you can’t just copy what these guys have done. I also love singers like SEAL and Pink. During recording I was taken into hospital and out of action for 3 days. This meant that when it came to my vocals I couldn’t fuck about as time was precious. I am quite obsessive in my pre-production though so I was well prepared. Each song was recorded in about 45 minutes to an hour and then me and Harry put together the best bits. But you know what the biggest help is? I bloody love doing this and loved the songs, the band and my brothers in the band.

All bands declare their latest album as their greatest, even it’s a steaming pile of poop! But from your angle, what is it about ‘Who You Are’ that you think makes it your best album to date?

Easy. With each album, we won’t even think of going into the studio until we know in our hearts that we have 12 songs better than the last album. We can only go off our own quality control really. We can’t predict what people can like. All we can do is our passionate best.

I’ve just seen the video for ‘White Flag’ and extremely impressive and professional it is! I know you guys always put a lot of effort and money into creating as high quality video’s as you can – can you tell us about the video and why you find it important to produce a pro video, in a time when it can be quite cheap to get a video up on YouTube?

It certainly wasn’t cheap in this day and age but when I discussed this with Joe Elliott he told me that the food budget alone for the “Let’s get rocked” video was double what we paid! We just thought that the song deserved some special treatment. Who knows if it will make any difference but we really are at a stage where we just want to do things that we can be proud of. If it fails, then we have failed delivering some special in our eyes. But we will always continue to keep raising the bar for ourselves, working hard and enjoying what we do.

Anyone who knows or has met any of the band members of VEGA will know you are all very down to earth and relatively ordinary guys – whilst on one hand a lot of fans love the approachable nature of the band, do you ever think it affects people’s perceptions of you as a band in a negative way? as there is no mystery, aloofness or rock star bullshit with you guys – do you think this could affect your success or how people view your music?

I don’t know mate. I don’t think that being aloof will make someone want to buy our record. They may think we are a bunch of twats though haha. We can’t fake it mate. We are what we are or rather we are “who we are”. We let the music do the talking. I think we are pretty good blokes and other than Tom, we are all doting Dads now, but we are going to make mistakes etc etc. But you don’t have to be in band to do that! It’s just the way life is.

VEGA have always played live a lot and have toured, played Festivals and even supported some big name bands like Joe Elliott, Magnum and FM. Is it important to you guys as a whole to perform live regularly especially as touring can be very expensive?

For sure. Playing live is where the fun is. We write the songs so we can play live. Yes, it is an expensive game but playing live is what being in a band is all about. I said it before, but we LOVE doing this. That’s why we do it. It can’t be about No.1 records now and all the stuff we dreamed about back in the 80’s and 90’s. The industry is unrecognisable from those times now. We have to enjoy what we are doing in VEGA because that is what makes Vega, VEGA. We don’t intend on recording anything new now for 2 years. We just want to tour and gig as much as we can in that time and see where we are at the end of it.

You’re just hitting the road with Midlands legends Magnum with a headline show squeezed into the middle – do you have any other shows and or Festivals in the pipeline you can tell us about – anything as a band you are particularly looking forward to?

We are also doing Steelhouse in July and Hard Rock Hell AOR next year. We are playing in Italy and Spain this October. We are working on Germany as well.

Rather than me getting rather excitable and dribbling everywhere waxing lyrical about VEGA as a live act – from your perspective what can fans who have never seen the band live before expect from you live?

Lots of opportunities to sing some woh woh’s and hey hey’s and now with the added yeah-e-yeah-oh from Saving Grace. Haha. Loads of energy, good fun and a band on stage who just want you to walk out of the venue hot and sweaty but with a big smile on your face.

Is there anything else you would like to add or share with the Fireworks readers?

Dan has had a rash for a few weeks now, any idea what it is?

Steve Brown of Trixter

posted 6 Jul 2015, 09:56 by Paul Woodward

Trixter rose to fame in the early nineties with hits such as ‘Give It To Me Good’, ‘Surrender’ and ‘One In A Million’. But when the rock scene shifted drastically a few years after they sprung onto the scene the band went their separate ways and after a long absence they reunited for live shows and ultimately recording new music. Following hot on the heels of ‘New Audio Machine’ their new album ‘Human Era’ is poised to keep rockers happy upon its release. Woody talks to lead guitarist Steve Brown about the new rejuvenated era of Trixter.

Trixter had been absent from the music scene for over twenty years prior to your comeback album ‘New Audio Machine’ and here we are anticipating the release of the follow up ‘Human Era’. What inspired the bands reformation and song writing productivity?

It was only a matter of time before we got back together after taking a vacation. 2007 brought us back into Trixter world. It was very easy putting it back together because we never had any personal issues to deal with. I made a few phone calls and then we were off  to the races. Our first shows were in 2008 and the band was really kicking ass. I knew at some point we would make a new CD. As a producer and songwriter I'm always working on music. When I came up with song ‘Dirty Love’ I knew that tune would launch the new Trixter and it did. ‘New Audio Machine’ was a great record and it gave us a renewed confidence to keep making NEW music!

Now the new album is ready for release has it turned out as you had originally hoped?

Human Era’ came out better than we all imagined. As we were working on it we knew we had some moments of brilliance but it wasn't until it was done that we knew we made a kick ass record. We are so proud of it!

During song writing do you feel pressure to write in a style similar to the bands early days? Or does the writing flow more naturally?

With Trixter we don't kid ourselves into thinking we are something we are not. We are a Classic Melodic Hard Rock Band, this makes writing easy for me. It's my favourite kind of music to write and that awesome is on the records. From our debut in 1990 to our latest "Human Era" We sound like 100 proof Trixter. All killer no filler

I do hear a lot of modern pop rock touches in your new albums, is this an intentional updating of the Trixter sound? 

 It comes from the fact that we all have different influences and we like to throw in some of that. To be honest I’m just trying to be Mutt Lange. Always trying to get to ‘Hysteria’ level with our production! Modern Pop was designed by Mutt ya know!

 Can you tell us about a few of the songs on ‘Human Era’, the meanings behind them or any stories of interest to fans?

‘Rockin’ To The Edge Of The Night’ is one of older songs from 1987, the show opener back then. I revised it and it's now 3:52 seconds of Trixter perfection, like ‘Give It To Me Good’ it's an instant classic. ‘For You’ is inspired by the mighty Van Halen. It's total drum and guitar mania. Our first ever double bass drumming tune, Mark Scott kicks ass on it. The song is about how lucky we are to be in Trixter it's a song for our friends and fans.

‘Beats Me Up’ is a very heartfelt power ballad. Pete Loran sings an incredible vocal on it. A song about being away from the ones you love. ‘Midnight In Your Eyes’ is one of the heavier tunes on the CD. Big riffs, Def Leppard inspired vocals, crushing to say the least.

I’d love to see Trixter live here in the UK? Is there any chance of that happening?

 We would love to tour the UK, but we haven't been given any solid offers from Promoters. I was given my first UK experience this past September when I played the legendary Wembley Stadium with Def Leppard. I loved London and hope Trixter gets a chance to rock out there again!

When you do play live what are your favourite songs to perform?

I love playing all of our songs, they are all written with the live show in mind. We are playing some of the new tunes as well. They fit in perfect. The fans will love them.

Is playing live important to you or do you prefer the song writing and recording process?

 I love both, you need both to survive. Without a stellar song and recording you won't get the chance to play live. Trixter gives 200% in what we do.

Which Trixter song from the early days are you most proud of and why?

 I would say ‘Give It To Me Good’ it was the song that turned us into rock stars and changed our lives forever. It's the reason after 30 years together we still get to play live and make records.

What are the plans for the band following the release of ‘Human Era’?

Play live and rock the masses. We have about 15 dates booked so far in USA.

 Is there anything else you would like to add or say to Fireworks readers?

 Thank you for all the years of support and cheers to all of our fans. We are so proud of ‘Human Era’ we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Gianluca Firmo of Room Experience

posted 6 Jul 2015, 09:52 by Paul Woodward

Italy has become a little bit of a hotbead for emerging AOR and Melodic Rock bands in very recent years. Another Italin song writer to emerge this year is Gianluca Firmo the mastermind behind Room Experince who have just released their debut album on MelodicRock records. Pink Cream 69 front man David Readman provides the vocals and fellow Italians and respected song writers Pierpaolo Monti and Dave Barbieri are heavily involved in the production and recording. Woody was keen to learn more about this intriguing AOR project so he got in touch with Gianluca Firmo to get the lowdown on Room Experience!

The Room Experience lead singer is popular English vocalist David Readman. How did you hook up with David and get him to join the band?

To make a long story short, the three-words-answer is Alessandro Del Vecchio. The long version is this, David was on a very short list of singers that we (me, Pierpaolo and Davide) thought had the right skills to deliver a warm feeling on a complete track list of songs that sound quite different, Im thinking of One Way Out and No Signs Of Summer or The Only Truth. You know, when I listen to awesome songs where everything is perfectly played, but i have a feeling that the singers voice is out of place or not delivering enough passion, to me is a total turn off. It turns a great song into a great technical exhibition, to me.

The problem was, as you correctly said, that hes very popular while Im a total newcomer. Alessandro Del Vecchio, though, had been already contacted by Pierpaolo ,they are long time friends, to take care of the final mix and master. By luck, Alessandro is also friends with David who is his band mate in Voodoo Circle, so he kindly agreed to get us in touch. David of course wanted to hear the songs before jumping on board, and when we got his positive response, we were on cloud nine.

Had you got all the songs written prior to David joining? How long have these songs been written or were they composed once David was onboard?

Yes, all the songs were written before David joined and over the course of many years. Shock me is one of the oldest written almost 20 years ago, No Signs Of Summer, instead, was finished just a month before everything started.  Anyway Wounds of love which is only featured in the Special Edition was completely rewritten together with Pierpaolo and Davide. Also we re-wrote together the chorus of One Way Out and Sirens song again, only featured on the special edition, we added the coda of Only Goodnight, after Davide and Pierpoalo had the idea for that beautiful ending part.

The arrangements for all the songs, instead, have been rewritten and every single instrument has been replayed from scratch. We saved all that was good in my old arrangements, but completely got rid and rearranged all the parts that we thought wasnt good enough. And despite of the struggles between us to save this or trash that, were still alive and no blood has been shed.

You also work with two Italian musicians Im an establish fan of due to their work with various projects including Shining Line and Charming Grace. How did you join up with Pierpaolo Monti and Davide Barbieri?

Oh well, Im myself a fan of Shining Line, Charming Grace and Wheels of Fire which is the band Davide sings lead vocals on.

First I met Davide,  we both are long time Bon Jovi fans and beside Wheels of Fire, Davide also sings in one of the best Bon Jovi tribute bands Ive ever heard. Ive met him at one of these shows at a Bon Jovi Club Italia fans meeting. Since then we kept in touch and he had the chance to listen to some of my songs and told me he wanted Pierpaolo to listen too. So we managed to meet all together and given their positive thoughts about my songs, I officially asked them to produce my album.

Has the Room Experience album turned out as you had hoped and originally envisioned when you started writing the album?

Definitely! No album is perfect, and thats good, so theres always room for improvements, but were all very demanding and If it hadnt turned out the way we wanted, we would still be working on it. Of course there were compromises to accept on both sides, I still regret that I had to get rid of a bridge I loved in Tomorrows Came, to say one and Zorro and Dave probably regretted a few times that they accepted to be my producers *laughs* but we always spoke about everything honestly and we never left a doubt unsaid even if it meant to have 20 minutes discussions about the right time for one single kick drum shot.

I can be very stubborn when it comes to arrangement and so is Pierpaolo and Davide but in the end weve found a very good balance and enjoyed working together a lot. They have been both fundamental for the album, Davide is a really high class arranger and Pierpaolo  has definitely lots of great ideas and a great taste to spot the right musicians to get for a certain sound. In fact, every single musician got the best out of the songs he (or she) had to perform. I have already told you about David, but the same goes for everyone: Amos, Steve, Ivan, Aure all of them. Let me just spend a further word for Nicoletta and Andrea, who are not playing in any major rock band, but delivered awesome performances.

Can you talk to us about a few of the songs on the album? Any meanings or stories behind them that fan's may be interested to hear?

You dont know in what kind of trouble youre getting if you ask me things like this! i could talk for hours about each and every single song of the album. I think this is one of the most charming subjects you can stumble into, when you talk about music and art in general. Yes, theres a story and a meaning behind every song, but not necessarily the one that lyrics literally tell. And it might not even be the main reason why a song was written. Run to you, for example, was written back in 2007 to help a friend in a project with her 12 years old students, who had to write lyrics, sing and make a video out of the song. They gave me two different 4 chords sequences to work with: one from their music teacher and one from the kids. Well the one from the music teacher was boring, while the one from the kids is almost the same that you can hear in the verse.  I also had a lot of input from them sometimes too much at times, about the kind of song, the volume of the snare drum, the length of a note can you change this, can you do that. It was very funny to work having 20 kids to produce on one song. The only problem in the end was that I forgot to write in their key and when we had to record their vocals they had a hard time, because it was too low. Somewhere I still have the song-video with their lyrics and their singing. Anyway that was the reason why it was written, but the meaning behind it is something that goes beyond that, and that is more relating to my own feelings and thoughts. Ive always thought that a good song should have meanings on different levels, one that the songwriter had in mind and that probably will always be his and only his. And then another thousand different ones, determined by the listeners, according to their own perception of the song.

And you know what? after writing down this answer my mind keeps stumbling on the thought that Run to you, in the end, is just a song for kids!

I always find lyrics very important and music always has a deeper impact if I can relate to it. I have to say I really like many of the lyrics throughout the Room Experience album and it gives the songs deeper meaning and lasting power with me. Are lyrics important to you and do you write from experience or do you approach your lyrics from a third person perspective to create different styles of songs?

Thank you very much for the compliment its very appreciated, especially considering that writing lyrics is the part of songwriting that i like least. But since they have to be done, i try to do the best i can. Id be really happy if i could only sing Nah Nah Nah in all of my songs!

But of course they are very important. First of all because of the sound of the words you choose. I strongly believe that singing an o instead of an I can make the difference on the impact the melody may have. 

Also, sometimes i hear songs where sentences are split on different music phrases: I hate to hear that. Otherwise when you listen to the song lyrics takes you in a different direction than music does and the songs have a less meaningful impact. As you correctly said, when lyrics fit, music hits you stronger.

About the meaning of lyrics, all my favourite lyricists have the incredible ability to make you visualise something as it was tight before your eyes, maybe with just one sentence in all the song, one single sentence can make a song great, to me, regardless the overall meaning of the lyrics. But as i said earlier, i think that anyone who listens to a song should be allowed to give a different meaning to the words. Everyones life, culture, fears, hopes are different we wear different clothes and its unfair to think that my own clothes will fit others people perfectly, so i always try to write lyrics that save a bit of indefiniteness.

I write starting from my own experience, but often it can be just the thought of an instant that gets stretched inside my mind till i make a complete movie about it. Queen of every heart, for example: ive been actually to a few boring parties and damn!!! not a single time a girl like that has came in. Not alone, at least. But the thought of it happening kept tumbling in my mind, so i made my own movie about a situation like that.

No signs of summer, instead, came out on one of those beautiful summer days that make you miss your childhood holidays spent playing in the sun. One of my favourite song is Boys Of Summer by Don Henley and i was looking for that kind of bittersweet feeling, even if the subject is different. In my mind No Signs of summer is not a song about the end of summer, but about losing our innocence as we grow up. And even if this is one of the lyrics that i feel more personal, it could sound as if it was only a description of a time of the year.

Maybe someone will think i just miss building sandcastles. Who knows!

Obviously as youre a keyboardist there is a strong and diverse keyboard presence, and there is some unforgettable keyboard moments and riffs that really get stuck in your head. To me Keyboards will always be a crucial part of AOR, who are your keyboard influences and heroes?

Once again, thank you for the compliment but believe me, Im the keyboardist you would never want to play live with you, Davide played keyboards as well on the cd and some keyboard riffs are sounding great because of his skills, the part after the solo in Shock me, for example, my playing was a lot less lively. My best feature is that Im very patient when I work on arrangements for song and I pay a lot of attention to details, so when i have to write keyboards parts i spend hours to choose the right sound or try a lot of different breaks and styles. I agree, they are crucial in AOR because they allow you to fill the song with so many different sounds and details, no other instrument allows you to do that. Actually, nowadays with a keyboard and some good samples you could write a complete demo even for a rock song, i use  my keyboards to write guitar riffs, bass line, a bit of everything, its good to have a feeling of a finished song, before it is played by real musicians with real instruments. Anyway, since im not a technically skilled keyboardist (I wish!) my influences are more related to sounds and details that keyboardists are able to deliver. I really have a fetish for sounds. If i have to say a few names i will say David Bryan, Jon Oliva who certainly doesnt play AOR, but I love the feeling in his piano parts and Jean Michel Jarre , Again not AOR.

You sing on the closing track Only Goodnight which is followed by a hidden track which you also sing on? I really love the hidden track can you tell us what its called? Its one of my most played tracks so far!

Yes i also sing on that one. The track is called Something in the wind and when youll hold the booklet in your hands, if you know where to look,  you will also be able to find out which musicians were involved, the lyrics and so on. A little curiosity from the start a different song had been chosen to be the ghost track. Something in the wind was written with a different purpose and was a last minute choice. Im happy to hear you like it, it means it wasnt a bad choice.

I really enjoy both these final tracks on the album and in particular your emotive vocals which gives the words a more meaningful impact. Do you have any plans to write and record and album with yourself on lead vocals?

Well if Pierpaolo and Davide will accept to produce a whole album with me on vocals, why not? Id be very happy to, because I love singing my own songs. Singing is actually what i love the most. But, should I ever do something like that, Id have to choose the songs wisely, my vocal range is not very wide and my kind of voice is not made for all the styles of rock. Unfortunately David is the one that can sing everything, not me. But yeah  i would really love to record an album with myself on lead vocals. Lets see what people will think of Room Experience, first.

We tend to associate David Readman with heavier styles of melodic rock, but its great to hear him sing on straight ahead AOR songs, especially as he sounds amazing on them and really adds to the strength of the songs. Are you happy with Davids versions of your songs and did you have to make many tweaks or alterations during the song writing to suit Davids style?

David usually sings heavier stuff, its true, but Ive always loved the warmer side of his voice and that was one of the main reasons why he was on our possible singers list.

You know many singers out there nowadays use the songs to show how good they are, so the song serves them and not the opposite. David, instead, was great in everything, he used his talent to serve the songs and has been very respectful of the melodies, but at the same time did everything in his own style. You can understand why hes so great, when you notice things like this. We havent even made many alterations to the song, beside transposing a few from my key to his, all we did was completing the arrangement after he did the singing in his style,  to get the best possible response from music to vocals.

Are there any plans for Room Experience to perform live? Especially here in the UK?

Hopes, more than plans. As now, nothing is set. But the band is there, if there will be chances to play, everyone of us will be more than happy to go live and share a stage!

Is there anything else youd like to add or say to Midlands Rocks readers?

Yes,  if youre still reading, youre my next hero! Thank you! And of course, keep listening to the music you love and help your less fortunate friends who listen to junk and make them quit while theyre still on time. Theres too much good music out there to waste time with bad ones.

Jani Liimatainen of Cain's Offering

posted 6 Jul 2015, 09:48 by Paul Woodward

Finnish melodic metallers Cain’s Offering release their second album Stormcrow via Frontiers Records on May 18th, six years after their debut. MR’s Woody caught up with founder member and ex-Sonata Arctica guitarist Jani Liimatainen to discuss their new opus.

The new album Stormcrow is about to be released. Has it turned out as you hoped when you originally started writing the album?

Yes, it’s actually pretty damn close to the vision I had when I first started writing the material. Usually it’s pretty hard to get everything to sound just right, the way you envision things in your head when writing, but this time it’s really close to what I had in mind. Of course when you look back there’s always something that could’ve been improved or done differently, but that’s normal and happens to everyone, every time.

Your sound has a power metal edge, but do you fear the power metal fan base may not take to Stormcrow given that it is less aggressive and has a stronger keyboard presence?

I don’t really worry about that. I think the term “Power Metal” might be a bit too narrow to describe this album anyway. Certainly there are some power metal elements and songs, but overall the main focus is on the vocal lines and melodies, so maybe “Melodic Metal” would be more appropriate term to use. I think that a lot of the power metal fans can find a lot of things they’ll enjoy on this album, and people who generally are not that into power metal can find things they’ll like as well.

Obviously the highly melodic sheen means it will appeal more to AOR and melodic rock audiences. Was it your intention to write a more genre crossing album or just a natural progression of the song writing?

It’s really all about the songs, I don’t set any boundaries when writing. I just start writing and see what comes out. I certainly was not intending to try and be more cross over, but melodic songs can lead to that direction, so I guess it’s just a natural progression and evolution as a writer.

Can you talk to us about a few of the songs? Are there any meanings or stories behind them that may be of interest to readers?

I usually try and leave it to the listeners to make up their own interpretation of the songs, since the lyrics can resonate a lot stronger in someone who reflects on the lyrics using his or her own life and experience. A song can get “ruined” if someone thinks the song is for instance about love and then the author comes out saying “No, you got that totally wrong, it’s about aliens”.

As for songs, the closing track of the album “On The Shore” was an idea that Timo had had for a long time. I think he played me the first version of the chorus already 3-4 years ago. He was kind stuck with the song and even when I came along we couldn’t really get it anywhere. Now, for reasons unknown to this date we went back to that song and reworked it completely. I think only on this latest time we dug it up it went through about 5 different forms before we landed on the one that is now on the album, and listening to it I can safely say that the amount of time and effort we put into that song was not in vain. Sometimes it takes some sweat and “elbow grease” to make a song work, but then when it works, it REALLY works!

Is there any plan for Cain’s Offering to play live in the UK?

As you might know, Cain’s Offering has never played live as yet to this date, but we are currently discussing the possibility to do some live shows in the beginning of 2016. Should that happen  I would be more than happy to bring this bunch of merry men to UK soil as well.

Who are your song writing influences?

I can’t really say I have any big influences when it comes to song writing. There are a lot of phenomenal writers in the metal world, in the pop world, in the sound track world and of course in the classical world. I don’t really listen to that much music anymore, since I’m always too busy working on some project and when you are swamped with music anyway you really don’t want to put anything on when you are not working. For my song writing, I just try and do what sounds good to my ears. Sometimes it’s a simple ballad, sometimes it’s something more epic, like “I Am Legion”. I love writing music as it is pretty boundless and there are really no limits to what you can do with a song.

With Cain’s Offering featuring prominent members of Sonata Arctica and Stratovarious was it important to retain a similar sound or did you use this album to be a little bit more experimental? Obviously I’d say Cain’s Offering is less ‘heavy’ than those two bands.

I don’t really see it like that. First of all, in the current CO lineup there is only one guy who ever even was in Sonata Arctica, and that’s me, and it’s been almost 10 years since I was in the band. As for Stratovarius guys, they are now here because they are the best at what they do and also they are good friends of mine. I didn’t deliberately try and write something that would sound like Sonata or Strato, but of course I grew up with that kind of music and I still love some elements from that genre so I guess it’s only natural that the sound of Cain’s Offering would be in the same ballpark, so to speak. I wouldn’t say I necessarily tried to be more experimental or “less heavy”, but I guess it’s just my style of writing. That said I think there are some pretty damn heavy moments on the album as well.

So what’s next for Cain’s Offering following the release of ‘Stormcrow’?

Well, for me now it’s the promotion duties, naturally, and we are also slowly working out our individual schedules so we can finally take Cain’s Offering on the road. Can’t really wait as I think it will be a total blast to perform this material live. I think it is also safe to say that it won’t take another 6 years to make the 3rd Cain’s Offering album.

Is there anything else you would like to add or say to Midlands Rocks readers?

Thank you all for your interest and support guys and gals, we hope to see you on tour as soon as possible. Let’s drink many beers!

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