Sue Willetts and Tim Manford (Dante Fox)

posted 9 Jan 2018, 08:21 by Paul Woodward

British Melodic Rockers Dante Fox return with a new album hot on the heels of their acclaimed ‘Breathless’ album. ‘Six String Revolver’ sees them revisiting their early albums and presenting updated versions of much loved classic Fox songs. Fireworks spoke to Sue Willetts and Tim Manford about revisiting the past.

Interview By Woody

The new Dante Fox album ‘Six String Revolver’ is made up of re-recorded versions of songs from the band’s first two albums. What was the inspiration or reasoning behind revisiting the band’s early songs?

Tim – Well those First Two albums are very close to our hearts and songs such as Firing My Heart, Under The City Lights, Lost And Lonely Heart still feature in our live set because they are great songs and work in a live environment.

Sue – I thought it would be a really good idea to re-record some of our original on the back of Breathless, Tim agreed and also felt that the original versions are not a good representation of who we are now in terms of our capabilities as artists and performers.

Tim - The first album was really made up of demos that Now and Then Records wanted to release. Back then if we had our way, we would have re-recorded the whole album and spent time on the performance and production quality. We wanted them to be reborn into the modern Dante Fox sound and style of Breathless and Lost Man’s Ground albums.

How do you personally feel about how this album has turned out?

Tim – I think it’s the strongest album of songs we have released so far and I absolutely love it and I think our fans will too. It feels like an album of brand new songs and I feel totally refreshed and satisfied with our work.

Sue - We feel that we have approached this in the right way keeping with the original essence of the song. We feel that with Al and Eric we have made improvements to the parts and arrangements where needed.

Tim - It’s all about the songs and that’s all that matters, I have tried to stay faithful to the originals but played better (I’m a much better player now I hope) creating a better tone and adding an extra bit of sizzle. I have to say that I think the lead vocals on this album are absolutely stunning and to this point it is a view that is running through every review I’ve seen so far.

When you approached this album did you worry how established fans may react to you recreating some beloved classic’s?

Sue – I did have some concerns and this was around whether we could make enough of a difference to justify the release, I absolutely think that we have.

Tim –No not at all because these songs are our creations and our DNA is all through them. Once we thought about choosing the songs we knew what they would need. I think the fans will relish hearing the songs getting our full professional treatment, as I touched on earlier we are so much better at what we do now and with Al and Eric this was a no brainer really.

When you were choosing which tracks to feature on this new album did you find it hard, given the quality throughout of both albums? And did the track list ever fluctuate once you started working on them?

Tim – It was quite easy really. The ten songs we have recorded are what we believe are the best songs but there are songs that HAD to be included such as  “Firing My Heart , Remember My Name, “Under The City Lights, Lost and Lonely Heart ” etc..

Sue - We originally included “Here I Stand” and “Don’t Call Me” but time was a factor too because our producer Sheena Sear was going to be a mom so mother nature decided on timescales and Sheena also had to finish the new Magnum album. So to make it happen we had to agree and keep to all rehearsals and recording sessions in order to finish it on time.

Tim -  I think “Don’t Call Me” would have been cool with Eric Ragno’s keyboard work and that chorus could have been explosive. Maybe we’ll revisit that and release it as a single sometime.

The first thing that struck me was just how dramatically updated these songs all are in many aspects, including new instrumentation and altered guitar parts. Are there any songs in particular you think have benefitted the most from you revisiting them?

Tim- Firing My Heart is even more of a stadium rocker now. I love Eric’s Keys in the intro that reminds me of Hagar era Van Halen. Under The City Lights is the single that never was, it has nice tight harmonies and Sue’s commanding lead vocal is even more emotive and crisp. A Matter Of Time has benefitted from Eric’s awesome Keys and they set the scene with solemnity and then you just listen to that lead vocal WOW. Sue hadn’t sung this song for Fifteen years and it just came out like she had sung it every day. I also love Lonely with its Country guitar bends in the intro and this has a genuine 80’s Heart vibe in the style but with an ultra- modern production.

With all these old songs been given a modern Fox touch, does this mean we can expect even more old songs in future Fox live shows?

Tim – I would love to play Lonely, Still Remember Love live again so when we book more head line shows we’ll look at including these songs too. We rehearsed A Matter Of Time recently and it sounded amazing so that would be a favourite too.

Sue - Compiling set lists is tough because we have such a back catalogue now. Yes I think that it is important to try and mix things up especially if we play more live shows.  

Tim – At the moment The Breathless album has to be the main feature in our next few live shows but we also love playing songs from Under The Seven Skies and Lost Man’s Ground.

Following that up do you have any live shows planned you can tell us about?

Tim – Yes, we will be playing our First ever show in Germany on 2nd December at the HEAT Festival that has a great line-up of bands such as Hardline, Tyketto, FM, Dare etc.

Sue - We are playing HRH AOR March 2018 on the opening night before Eclipse and Joe Lynn Turner so that should be a great night of melodic rock.

Tim - The live set is sounding really tight and exciting with our new drummer Scott Higham (Ex – Pendragon), with Scott on board this is the best sounding line-up we have ever had. Wait until you hear Young Hearts and All Eyes On You live.

The Fox are notorious for having long gaps between albums, so when ‘Six String Revolver’ was announced I was a little shocked! Why did you follow up ‘Breathless’ so quickly?

Sue – It was always my intention to follow Breathless with another album in 2017. Breathless created such a lot of exposure but due to unforeseen circumstances we have not been able to gig as we wanted this year.

Tim – We spoke to Georg at our label AOR Heaven just after breathless was released, he thought it was a great idea and was on board supporting us which was all we needed to make it happen.

Sue - In terms of being notorious for long gaps between albums we are also notorious for delivering quality albums. There was a two year 4 month wait in between our first two albums, which is acceptable given that we were playing lots of live shows too. After the Second album The Fire Within we ended up taking a very unplanned break due to some band decisions that left us very low. Our original drummer wanted a break, our Bass player moved on and they both started families so it wasn’t a break it just all stopped.

Tim – Yes this is one thing that Sue and I regret, we should have fought through this lull recruited new members and returned with a new album. Anyway in between 2001 and 2004 we did nothing apart from write songs and try and get the hunger back. We returned in 2005 to support Vixen and play Firefest with a new line-up. Our Third album Under The Seven Skies was released by Frontiers in 2007 but again even though the line-up was great in the live arena, the chemistry wasn’t there to write a new album and again we went through a difficult period. This took us from 2009 to 2010 with nothing happening other than me learning how to use Pro Tools recording package and writing material for Lost Man’s Ground.

Sue -  Lost Man’s Ground was delayed whilst we waited for the super busy, super talented Alessandro Del Vecchio to do backing vocals (he was doing this as a huge favour) so hopefully you can see that over time we have had our fair share of tough luck.

Tim- What you have to remember is we have always been reliant on other people within our various line-ups and to be honest if the band isn’t their priority we ultimately suffer because of it.

Sue – Band members don’t earn a living from the band in fact it costs a lot to be in bands at our level and people have other conflicting priorities too. People, who really know how difficult it is to be in a band, will understand how much sheer determination we have, and our love and passion for creating music that has driven us for so many years.

Does this mean we should expect a longer gap before the next Fox album too?

Sue - Six String Revolver has been created through sheer determination and there will be another album of new material recorded in 2018. This has been the plan since releasing Breathless.

Tim- We will be working on delivering a new album for late 2018 /early 2019 for AOR Heaven and capitalising on our new killer line-up. We want to keep it melodic and anthemic but also inject some individual performances and energy into the arrangements.

 Is There anything else you would like to add or say about the new album?

Tim –  We love what we have created with Six String Revolver and you won’t be disappointed either so BUY IT AND SUPPORT OUR CAUSE

Jane Gould (Iconic Eye)

posted 25 Nov 2017, 08:21 by Paul Woodward

West Midlands melodic hard rockers Iconic Eye have just unleashed their second album ‘Into The Light’ and first to feature new vocalist Jane Gould. I spoke to Jane about joining the band, the new album and the band’s evolution over a very busy year and eventful year.

Interview by Woody

What was the inspiration behind applying to join Iconic Eye? did the band originally having male vocals deter you at all? and what’s the story of how you joined the band?

I was looking to form a melodic rock band. My last band was a Prog band, and as much as I loved aspects of it, I wanted to move towards melodic rock for my next venture. I had some fantastic musicians in mind, but something was just telling me not to, to hold fire. I was doing my usual thing of scrolling through FB to see if there were any bands wanting a singer or if any new music took my fancy, and on a friend’s news feed Iconic Eye came up.  They needed a guitarist.  So, I thought, just have a look and listen.  LOVED what I heard.  Loved Tim’s vocals on recordings, loved the songs. I thought that I could really work with what I had heard, and if I could write with them, it really would be what I was looking for. Alas, they had a singer. Fast forward a few months, I saw the advert for a vocalist needed.  I jumped straight on it! Sent through my details and links and took it from there.  Iconic Eye having a male vocalist previously didn’t deter me at all.  I knew if I got the job, I would have to change some of the original low melodies to fit, which was easy enough done, then once we would start to write, my range would be catered for.

The new album Into The Light features some re-recorded songs, was it daunting re-recording established songs? Did they turn out as you hoped?

I saw it as a chance to put in what I felt should be there from the original, but with my spin.  I loved doing this.  There is nothing like singing lyrics that you have written/co written, but this was a great start.  I am absolutely thrilled with how it has turned out.   Very happy indeed.

Are you pleased with how Into The Light has turned out altogether?

Yes.  100% it was what I was aiming for.   I totally respect and trust our producer lady at Madhat, Coven, Sheena.  So, I knew from previous experiences having worked with her, we were in safe hands.  Likewise, with my band mates.  I trust their musical abilities, we communicate clearly so we know exactly what we are doing, no faffing, we hit the ground running.

Of the older songs which are you favourites and why?

Ok, my favourites are “You make it” and “let it rain down”.  “you make it” has such an 80’s vibe going.  Really pacey song.  To me it has everything.   “let it rain down” Love the lyrics to this one.  Very much enjoy the bluesy start to this. A really great song to sing.

And of the new era songs which are your favourites and why?

Totally biased with this one.  It has to be “Black Country Lady”.  It was written about my late Nan, her struggle with dementia, how it affected my family, and seeing how it changed her.  When she was initially diagnosed I was about 20.  My wonderful Grandad was losing his fight to cancer, Nan was really beginning to change.  It was a horrendous time in so many ways.  She would go from not knowing who you were, to remembering that he wasn’t here anymore.  Those were the hardest times.  It never bothered me that she didn’t know who I was, however, it was terribly hard on my mother and her sister.  It was so slow burning best part of a decade.  Words and images even scents were burnt into my mind from the time.  Finally, I managed to find the right words, and we created the song. 

It’s been a very eventful year in the Iconic Eye camp, mainly positive, but the sad passing of bass player Gary Slater must have been quite traumatic. Reflecting back how has it been for you since joining the band?

It has been a crazy year.  What happened to Gary was just beyond terrible.  My thoughts are always with his family.  On a happier note, for the last 8 years or so I live with the attitude, if the bad stuff can happen, so can the good, it may take time, but it will happen.  So, I decided to pursue the good.  I now have what I was wishing for.   Put huge amounts of time into positive thoughts, and what I wanted to achieve and it is happening.  The support of folks who like the band is just incredible.  I have had such a warm reception.  I am quite reclusive in many respects, so it has forced me out of my hermit like shell, Again a positive.  Really grateful for all of the love and support.   

The band has evolved a lot to me, not just in its songs but also its visual live performances, does it feel like that to you?

Yes, it has.  You can only genuinely bring what you have as an individual.  On stage I do not play a part.  I don’t have a routine.  You get what you get and it is what I have.  It feels natural, very positive and good.  If you love and believe in what you do, it will translate to the audience, they will feel it and see it too. 

Listening to the lyrics to ‘These Tears Won’t Last’ I couldn’t help but wonder if it the song is about Gary Slater?

In short no, it isn’t, I can see why some may think that though.    Robin came to me with an idea, a typed essay about a clown, who was a comedian.  His life was fantastic then a tragedy destroyed everything.  He lost all that he loved.  He found love then it was taken away again.  I say it was an essay IT was a bloody essay! so I translated it into a song and wrote workable lyrics. Greg came up with the chorus and the name “Those tears won’t last”.  Really great track.  It seems fitting for so many situations life can throw at you.

I know ‘Black Country Lady’ is a very personal song to you and it has a very potent emotional charge to it, is it a song that may be difficult to perform live or will the emotion behind it drive your performances?

As always, I sing from the heart.  It is all I can do.  We have done an acoustic version which works very well, but we will be doing the balls to the wall full on epic ballad performance, that you hear on the album.  Just have to make sure I don’t cry!

I love the strings and orchestration of ‘Black Heart’ whose idea was this and was it always intended or did it evolve during the recording process?

Greg Greg and Greg.  Greg is our string man.  We left it to him to put down what he heard.  It works well. If I remember rightly it was always intended. 

Do you enjoy performing live? And what are your current favourites to sing live?

I live for performing live.  It is what it is all about for me.  I absolutely love all of the new material, cannot wait to showcase it at The Station in Cannock 23 Feb!!

Do you have any upcoming Iconic Eye live shows you can tell us about?

Sure do.  They all kick off next year.  23rd Feb The Station in Cannock.  8th March Hard Rock Hell AOR, Wales.  16 March we go on tour for 4 dates with Magnum, starting 16th March in Stockholm, 17th March Oslo, 18th March Gothenburg, 19th March Malmo.  Then April 8th at the Annual Mayors 2018 festival at The Gifford, Wolverhampton.  Dementia Aware fest, location to be sorted, May 27th.  June the 3rd Supporting Black Mamba at The Diamond.  June 6th Supporting Black Mamba, Trillian’s Newcastle.  July 13th at the Robin Bilston, Supporting Hardline.  There are more dates coming up so stay tuned folks!

Are there any specific live dates you are particularly excited about?

All of them, but HRH for me will be just amazing, Magnum dates and Hardline!

The band play a cover of Jefferson Starship’s ‘Jane’ in your live sets, whose idea or influence was this? The band have played a few covers but I feel this one suits the band best!

We all loved it.  I have always wanted to sing it.  One night, with the band members that were present when I joined, we were on about a cover.  The guys knew it well, so we tried it and it is such a great fit.  It was meant to be!

Which bands or musicians have been the most influential on you over the years?

I am never too sure about an influence as such, because I have never styled myself on anyone.  More so a voice that I love.  Danny Vaughn has always been a huge favourite of mine.  I was in Rockwells in Tamworth, I was about15 or 16 and the DJ put on “Forever young”.  A light went on, loved his voice since.  I love Mark/Marcie Free’s voice.  There are so many.  Always loved Janet Gardner’s voice.   Also, earlier on in the year we supported Lee Aaron.  My God that lady can sing!  She was, as were her band, superb!

I know you’ve sang with bands in different rock genre’s in the past, most notably Our Dystopia, are you working on any other projects at the moment or are you focused on Iconic Eye?

Nope, just with IE at the moment.  Opportunities present themselves as and when.  I can always talk freely about such things with the band.  You never know what tomorrow will bring.

Is There anything else you would like to add or say about the band and the new album?

Just a HUGE thank you.  We have put together this album under immensely tough circumstances.  We have poured our heart and soul into these recordings.  Hope to see you all at a live show soonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!

Anna Murphy (Cellar Darling)

posted 30 Oct 2017, 08:00 by Paul Woodward

Hi Anna, following the success of your previous band Eluveitie did you find it daunting starting from scratch with Cellar Darling?

Anna: It was chaotic for sure. But the chaos resulted in an immense creative drive that enabled us to write an entire album in just one year. For a moment it seemed like we were left with nothing (which maybe sounds a tad too dramatic), but things just fell into place naturally.

Do you feel expectations or pressure to emulate the success of Eluveitie with Cellar Darling from fans and critics?

Anna: Not really. We’re impulsive people, driven by our gut feeling. Emulating Eluveitie would have been unnatural and in my opinion also unnecessary. Everything in our band developed organically and worrying about what people think would have hindered creativity.

I find the name ‘Cellar Darling’ intriguing is there a reason or story behind the band’s name?

Anna: On one hand it symbolises what our music sounds like. We want to tell stories and paint pictures with our music and the combination of the two words is like a portal into our world, „cellar“ being the darkness and „darling“ being the light. On the other hand it’s metaphorical for the creativity and the ideas that were kept hidden away during the past few years because we had no space and time to realise them. The music that is now free to see the light is our „cellar darling“.

You play one of the most unusual and unique instruments – the Hurdy Gurdy – Did you find it hard incorporating this instrument into your song writing?

Anna: Not at all! It’s mostly connected to folk and medieval music, but the amazing thing about the hurdy-gurdy is that you can do just about anything with it and it can blend extremely well into different soundscapes.

The Hurdy Gurdy is a very unusual instrument, How and why did you pick it up and choose to learn to play it? As a multi-instrumentalist are there any other unique instruments you also play?

Anna: I saw it live for the first time when I was sixteen at a medieval concert (the band that played is called „Faun“) and I immediately fell in love with it. I convinced my parents that I absolutely have to learn this and so I rented an instrument at a college for old music. Three months later Eluveitie looked for a new hurdy-gurdy player and that’s how it became my main instrument, basically :)

Another instrument I play fairly well is the traverse flute, although that’s a bit less unique I would say. Apart from that I’m rather mediocre at the piano and bass, I use those mainly for songwriting.

Lyrically you pride yourself on being storytellers, can you tell us about a couple of intriguing stories behind some of the songs on ‘This Is The Sound’?

Anna: The stories, like our music, are very eclectic. They are created by impulses that I get while hearing or writing the music. When I heard the guitars for „Hullaballoo“ I thought of rain and this first impulse created a story of the day when it never stopped raining and everything that was once stone turned into sand. Metaphorical for a stoic crumbling beneath emotions. It kind of works like a mind map.

„Six Days“ is about the last man left on earth, holding on even though the universe has swallowed everything he once loved. He holds on for six days during which various entities like the sun, the moon, the devil and the gods punish him because they want him to be gone.

A bit of a more „upbeat“ story is told by „Starcrusher“ which is about a fat, hairy fairy that is pissed off at the world and wants everything to be eternally dark by destroying all the stars. It’s going to take quite a while because she can’t fly very well due to being overweight.


‘This Is The Sound’ is the first album from Cellar Darling, from the formation of the band to the song writing to recording has the album turned out as you originally envisioned?

Anna: That’s a good question! Honestly this past year has been so intense and filled with creativity that I didn’t really have time to envision anything. We just dove straight in and we like how it turned out. We’ll continue just living in the moment and see where it takes us :)

Have you been pleased with the reactions to the album since its release?

Anna: Yes, very pleased. I especially love that a lot of people react with very elaborate messages. Our fans really seem to understand the music and it means a lot to them. For me that is already all I could wish for.

On the surface, many may say your brand of Celtic/folk blended metal may be an acquired taste, but if found the album as a whole easily accessible and surprisingly catchy and commercial. It will definitely appeal to a wider range of music fans, was making the songs more accessible to a wide range of fans intentional during the song writing process?

Anna: Not really, the songwriting process was impulsive and organic. We basically just write the music that is playing in our heads, it’s not calculated in any way. And it’s interesting to see how people react differently to the music as well. Some songs may very well be more commercial compared to what we did before, but some are also more „artistic“ and complex, not following the typical structures that we worked with before.

Do you have any plans to play live in the UK? Is playing live important to yourself and your fellow band mates?

Anna: Yes, we’re playing in London on the 1st of November and can’t wait! Playing live is the most important thing for us apart from writing music, basically we want to rotate between studios and stages. Which is good and hopefully will happen because currently we don’t even have apartments. So we’re ready world if you will have us.

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

Anna: Thanks for the interest and your support, you rock!

James Thorley (Atlas)

posted 29 Aug 2017, 11:37 by Paul Woodward

New young English AOR act Atlas are set to make waves in the scene with their debut EP ‘World In Motion’. I chatted to band leader and Keyboardist James Thorley about the EP, the birth of the band and AOR!

Interview by Woody

Can you tell us about the birth of Atlas and also the origin/ meaning behind the name?

The initial idea for the band started last year. I had been working on some ideas on and off throughout 2016, just rough piano chord progressions and melodies really. I found some time last summer to really put it all together and the result was 5 rough demos. After that I brought on board 4 other musicians (at first Howie and Chris and later Craig and John) to polish the demos and turn them into a full band effort, the result being the 4 tracks heard on the ‘World In Motion’ EP. In regards to the name, I wanted something that was short and easily memorable. I’ve always liked shorter 2 syllable names; Toto, Asia, Kansas, names that roll off the tongue easily. ‘Atlas Project’ was the working title for the demo sessions and so ‘Atlas’ sort of stuck around after that.

Atlas’s musical direction, was it a conscious decision to write songs in the AOR genre or just a natural song writing process? Given the ages of the band members this style is surprising, I’m sure none of you were even born when this genre was at its height – especially the ones I feel you sound akin to!

It’s true we’re not of that generation, and our social groups are often surprised by our taste in music! I would say it was sort of an intentional decision. The plan when the band came together was to make the songs very melodic, with guitar/keyboard solo spots while still crafting and giving focus to strong songs. We’ve always loved AOR music though, we’ve all played in different bands that cover lots of genres but we’ve all still had a mutual fondness for the AOR genre, so that seemed to be a reference point for us.

Who are your musical influences, I’d be particularly interested in hearing about your Keyboard heroes?

I especially love Kevin Moore and Tony Banks. I’m also quite fond of the piano/keyboard work Peter Gabriel uses on his solo work.

Take us through the songs on the EP, are there any meanings or stories behind the songs you can tell us?

Change of Heart is the opener and is a twist on the ‘love song/story’. The lyrics describe a relationship where both parties are only carrying on for the sake of habit/fear of being alone. ‘Alexandria’ is the second track and is a nod to Toto with the title choice. While ‘Alexandria’ may sound like a love song it’s actually about reaching out to someone who suffers from depression, while I’ve been fortunate enough to not suffer myself I have seen it first hand and communication and understanding the situation can be difficult both ways. ‘Cross the Line’ is another Toto inspired track name. It’s a basic premise about dealing with difficult relationships. It’s also the first track we recorded with Craig and I really think his vocals sound fantastic here. ‘Lost in the Moment’ is the closer and has some great guitar work by Howie and John. The lyrics deal with how people can sometimes form life-changing decisions based on the hysteria they read online and in the papers.

Do you plan to perform live and if you do, is there anything you can tell us about now?

We certainly do! Not sure about the rest of this year, it all depends on the feedback from the EP. We’re looking at some events that specialise in this genre for next year, so look out for that.

World In Motion is your first dip into the music world with Atlas, what is next for the band?

There’s a lot of material to put together that I have and I know the rest of the guys are eager to write, there’s even a song left off the EP that we couldn’t really finish in time. I think an album would be the next recording decision, with much better production and budget.

Given your obvious knowledge of AOR and its current outcast status in mainstream music plus the young age of the band, will the bands future see a more diverse or ‘current’ direction in future song writing in order to stay relevant?

It’s possible, but if we cared about being relevant we wouldn’t have started a keyboard/guitar driven band! What I can say and know for sure is that we’ll always write the music that best represents us at any given time, and our influences (which are always changing and evolving) will always be a key factor. We listen to so many different genres so nothing is really off limits; it’s sort of a big melting pot full of band influences when we get together.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Our EP ‘World In Motion’ is available now from our store (Cd’s and digital download!) and also be sure to join us on facebook to get involved in the Atlas discussion.

Joe Matera

posted 28 Aug 2017, 11:33 by Paul Woodward

Interview by Woody

Tell us about your new EP ‘Heart Of Stone’, how the songs were written, what they are about and the creation of the EP?

All the songs on the new EP were written on acoustic guitar, as I do with most of my songs. Then in the studio, I transfer everything into an electric setting. When it comes to the music, I usually just noodle away on the guitar until something grabs my ear, it may be a riff, a melody or a chord progression. Once I have something that sounds interesting, I will work on it until it’s a complete piece of music or a song. I have loads of musical ideas lying around, as I usually record any ideas that come to me, onto my phone and then at a later date, will revisit them and see if there is something worth pursuing or not.

Lyrics are a lot harder and can take months to come together. On a rare magical occasion you may get something like “Fallen Angel” where both the music and lyrics came together quickly; it was like a gift from the Gods. That song took about 15 minutes to write!

With the title track “Heart Of Stone”, it was a co-write between myself and a good friend of mine, Swedish musician and bass player Peter Ljungberg, - Peter plays bass on the track too. I first sent Peter some musical ideas. Later, he sent over some lyrics. Then from there, it was a matter of improving and editing until the song both musically and lyrically was right for us. It was important that any changes or revisions we made during the songwriting process, both of us had to be 100% happy with it. And we achieved that with the end result.

The two versions of the title track on the EP were both mixed by legendary Swedish producer-engineer Tomas Skogsberg, who many may know from his pioneering work with Swedish metal bands such as Entombed and also with Swedish guitar rock bands such as Backyard Babies and The Hellacopters. Tomas also co-produced the tracks with me. It was great working with Tomas, he knew instinctively what I wanted in regards to my vision and the music, so I left him to his own devices to weave his magic. He brought some great ideas to the table and worked them into what I was after musically and sonically, and the results were absolutely fantastic. It was such an honour and pleasure to work with him.

You are signed to a European label but based in Australia, do you find this poses challenges to you pushing your music to a European audience whilst living on the other side of the world?

The music industry today is a challenge in itself! With today’s technology, distance is never an issue. The internet has made the world a smaller place. You don’t need to be in the same room let alone, same country to record music with other musicians. Having a European label – in my case, RVPrecords in Netherlands – behind you certainly helps immensely with pushing the music in Europe. Though one can do it themselves quite easily these days, having the support of a label is very important in being able to get the music out there, into distribution and promoted in the best possible way. Plus, it frees the artist up from all the business side of things, to concentrate more on the music.

Is Europe your primary target for you or is Australia just as important to you?

Both are equally very important. The only difference is, Europe was the first market that I found success in before Australia. That tends to be a rite of passage with many Australian artists though. They tend to find success overseas first before finally achieving success in their own country. I have been touring Europe on a yearly basis since 2012.

Who are your musical influences and does this affect your song writing?

I have a lot of musical influences as I have always listened to a diverse range of music. Of course, everything you listen to or experience will somehow permeate its way into your songwriting, whether it’s conscious or not. My primary influences are in the rock and pop field. When it comes to my instrumental guitar stuff, it’s the classic guitar players such as Hank Marvin, Brian May and Rick Brewster – from legendary Australian band The Angels - whose solos are always melodic and tell a story. Most of their solos and guitar playing, you can hum it. It has melody. Speaking of Rick, he actually plays guitar on one of the tracks on the new release called “Live To Rock”. It’s a high-energy instrumental track that features Rick playing a blistering guitar slide solo and some very cool riffing. Rick has also played on two of my previous tracks as well, “No Way!” from my 2012 album ‘Creature Of Habit’ and “Face Off” from my solo debut EP ‘Slave To The Fingers’ which came out in 2011.

As to songwriting influences, they range from Gerry Rafferty to Bryan Adams to Chapman and Chinn, the classic songwriting duo from the 1970s who wrote numerous hits for bands such as The Sweet, Smokie, Racey, Suzi Quatro and many others. I always am a sucker for a good catchy tune, and I spend a lot of time making sure my songs have a strong melody, a good rhythm, substance and most importantly, a good hook.

I really enjoyed the live acoustic tracks on the ‘Heart Of Stone’ EP, where were they recorded and do you enjoy performing live acoustically?

Thank you, glad you enjoyed them. They were recorded live in front an audience at Abbey Tavern in Camden, London during my ‘Terra Firma European Tour’ in May of 2014. Those tracks were actually released earlier this year on cassette! I did a special limited edition, hand numbered small cassette run for this year’s Record Store Day back in April, as something special for my diehard fans, and sold out of the pressing very quickly. Many fans who bought the cassette, told me they would love for these tracks to be available on CD and in a general format, so others could enjoy them too, so I decided to do just that by adding them to this EP release.

I enjoy performing solo and acoustically when it comes to the live environment. I prefer this more so than performing with a backing band behind me. What influenced my decision to go all acoustic live happened in 2012. I played guitar for English singer-songwriter Steve Harley (of Cockney Rebel fame) on his Australian promo tour. We did a bunch of acoustic live sessions together for media and the like, and I really enjoyed the striped down acoustic format. The songs breathed, spoke more intimately with the audience and had a great energy that was totally different to a band setting. And since I wrote all my songs on the acoustic guitar, it was a no brainer! I had done the live band thing for many, many years, and was getting tired of it all, especially with the inherent inner band politics and dramas, so a change was in the air. So now, it is nice to just go out alone, singing and playing your heart out and connecting with the audience with nothing but your voice, acoustic guitar and songs.

Would you write and record an album purely in an acoustic format?

Absolutely, in fact that is what I plan to do for the next album. I already have many of the songs written and I have been performing them live. It is also a good way to road test them in front of an audience and gauge their responses before recording them.

You have recorded and released a few EP’s in recent times, what next for you, a full album?

I released an EP in 2011 and then followed this by releasing three studio albums – ‘Creature Of Habit’ (2012), ‘Terra Firma’ (2014) and ‘Louder Than Words’ (2016) respectively – and now this new EP, so a full album is next on the agenda for sure. I need to mention, ‘Heart Of Stone’ has an album’s worth of material, but because it has a mixture of different stuff, from live material, new studio stuff and some previously released material, I didn’t want it released as an album, thus why it is an EP.

Are there any musicians you’d love to work with in the future?

That is a hard question, as there are so many great musicians and artists out there, to pick any specific one would not be fair. Because ‘Heart Of Stone’ was such an enjoyable experience collaborating with Peter and working with Tomas, I am definitely looking at doing further collaborations in future. I am open to working with any musician in whatever form, whether that is as co-songwriter or as a guitar player. In fact, any artist or musician, reading this interview, they are welcome to contact me with any expressions of interest.

Do you have any upcoming live shows planned in Europe especially here in the UK?

I will be embarking on a Swedish tour in late October in support of my new EP. It will be my first time in Sweden. Because I’ve toured regularly in recent years in such countries as Germany, Netherlands and Austria, I am giving those places a miss this time round on this tour to focus on some new territories such as Sweden. I will be in the UK though before the start of the tour, but not for any shows, only for some promo activities. I last toured the UK in 2012 and did a bunch of shows there, had a great time, so it has been awhile. I am hoping to get back there with some actual shows on the next tour.

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

Just to thank you for the interview and a big heartfelt thank you to all my fans and supporters across the globe. And for those that want to check out my music further, please visit my official website: I am also very active on social media such as Facebook, so any new fans, feel free to connect with me via Facebook. See you on the road!

Photo Credit - Top right - Sofia Rewert-Strasser

Photo Credit - Bottom left - Ros O'Gorman

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.

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