Woody, the pleasure is all mine, I’m always up for a chance to speak to someone who loves melodic rock as much as I do, and is most likely even more knowledgeable about it in the first place!
Far Cry’s second album “Optimism” has come out to widespread praise amongst the press and media but most importantly the melodic rock fan base seem to love it! Has the album turned out as you originally envisioned it and what have you thought of the feedback you have received so far?
You know, I think so... I really wanted it to have a bit more of a band vibe to it, as well as sounding more organic, while still being easily recognizable as a melodic rock record and not being referred to as “experimental” or something like that...
What are your favourite songs on the album and are there any reasons why?
That’s really a tough question to answer, for one thing it changes almost daily, lol, but on top of that the ones that come to the top of my list are there for very different reasons... I know, who knew I was so complex? ;-) But seriously the tops for me at the moment, are “Best of Me” because quite honestly Steve (Newman) took the music I had written and transformed something I had felt had a bit of a “modern” bent to it and turned it into easily the purest AOR effort on the disc. Secondly I would submit “Better than This” because I love two things in life... a good ballad, and songs written by Jason Pawlak (Chasing Magic), being that this track shares both of those qualities it’s a win-win for me! Lastly, from a purely personal and selfish perspective I’ve really come to like “Nothing You Can Do” because I really felt like a conveyed who I am as a player, warts and all... a little flash, a lot of emotion, and far from perfect... I wouldn’t have it any other way, haha...
You have co-written a few songs on the album with outside writers – most notably Englishman Steve Newman! I’m a big fan of Steve’s song writing and lyric’s, I don’t know if it’s an English thing but I always find it very easy to connect or relate to Steve’s songs. So how did you come to work with Steve? Did you know much of Steve’s music prior to working with him?
I had written and roughed several instrumental demos for “Optimism” and due primarily to logistical challenges was unable to get together with former vocalist Mark (Giovi) to nail down the lyrical portion of the songs. John (Kivel) suggested Steve (Newman) out of the blue and having been a fan of the Newman releases for several years it just felt right. After some correspondence between the two of us and some samples sent back, both John and I knew we had made the right choice.
You’ve co-written a few songs over the course of the two Far Cry albums are there any other musicians out there who you would love to work or collaborate with?
There are a ton of people I’d like to work with, I just like writing and playing with pretty much anyone that digs what I can contribute! One name that often pops into my head though actually is David Reece. Great singer with a lot of feel that I think could work really well with some of the stuff I write, plus he’s a hell of a nice guy and it’d be great to hang out and have a couple beers with him as an added bonus... ;-)
“Optimism” seems a more organic and natural collection of songs, in comparison to the first album “High Gear”. I still really love that album but it does feel like it was written for a specific audience, where as the new album seems a little more progressive in its song writing and not as worried about staying within in certain barriers. Was it a conscious decision to break the confines of your previous song writing and musical performances? Or was it just a natural progression of the band’s music?
It was definitely not a conscious decision on anyone’s part, but more as you said, a natural progression. The first album “High Gear” is something I’ll always be extremely proud of and thankful that I was a part of. But whereas that was more a disparate collection of songs from a variety of sources, and played independently by the musicians on the record, “Optimism” really has a “band” feel to it, as we had been playing the material as a band both in rehearsal and playing selected songs at some of our shows. All of the guys, Ronnie, Tommy, Angelo, and Mark are some of the best and most dedicated musicians I have ever worked with. From a personal standpoint I wrote twice as much material as I did on High Gear, as well as being significantly involved throughout the whole process. Ty (Sims, Producer) really seemed to be able to bring this one together and give us our own sound as opposed to making us sound like someone else, etc. John (Kivel) had a lot of input as well, and his experience shows in the final product. It just felt like everyone brought their “A” game for this one.
Well sure, it can be a bit disappointing as far as not being able to play out to as many people as you’d like. Kind of the price for doing something you love though without making extensive compromises and turning it into something more like a “job”. Saying that, I wouldn’t change a thing about the way I create, and the way that I play. This is who I am, and this is what comes out of my heart, my head, and my hands... for better or worse I get to be me, and I’m not complaining. J
Mark Giovi – Far Cry’s singer has recently left the band, can you tell us who is replacement is and is there anything else you can tell us about him?
Michael Ledesma is FarCry’s new lead vocalist, and we are definitely lucky to have him. He brings with him a wealth of experience, on stage, in the studio, and in the business in general. He’s currently in both Foreigner, and Def Leppard tribute bands. Here’s a little taste of Mike from his first show with us back in May, 2011 courtesy of our good friends at Rockeyez.com who shot the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCf8trzbTxM
Far Cry are coming to England to open Day 2 of the Firefest festival, are you excited or is that a silly question? Have you ever been to or performed in the UK before?
Yes, I believe that could be considered a silly question, we are all BEYOND excited to be a part of THE premier melodic rock event in the world! Seriously, I am counting the days as well as extremely thankful to Kieran Dargan and everyone else involved in putting on the show, as well as Auntie Babs and the “Bring FarCry to Firefest in 2011” camp, really overwhelming and quite humbling really to have that kind of grassroots support.
I don’t think anyone in the band has ever performed in the UK, although I have been there for a variety of non-musical reasons, usually on holiday... I’m a huge fan of good beer and I think English beer is quite possibly the best in the world, so I’m excited to be coming over on a couple different levels, haha!
What can the Firefest crowd expect from Far Cry? Are there any songs you can confirm will definitely be in the set list?
Haha, I don’t want to give away anything, but I will say if you’re familiar with the first album you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear “Love Won’t Wait” and “Fine Line”... other than that... honestly we’re still trying to put together a set list we’re all happy with! If you might know of anyone who can lend me an acoustic 6-string for our set, that might change my answer as well...
Since the release of “High Gear” and the subsequent performance at Melodic Rock Fest 2 in the US the band has built up slowly a very loyal fan base, so what does the future hold for Far Cry?
Well, no major changes (I hope!), I’m really just hoping we can keep the momentum going and keep putting out good music, and getting out there to play it for you! I will say that all of the support we’ve gotten so far is invaluable, be it a kind word when you see us live, or purchasing a CD at farcryband.net, it all helps on some level. We really do want to keep going, doing what you love for people that love to see you do it is pretty much the most rewarding thing in the world as far as I can tell!
What band’s are you currently listening too? And are the any bands within the current melodic rock scene that excites you?
Absolutely, first and foremost I was a fan of the genre, the playing came after... this year my top two by far are Whitesnake’s Forevermore and Warrant’s “Rockaholic”. Other great releases I’m listening to on a regular basis include Reece Kronlund, Black Country Communion, King Kobra, but that’s just scratching the surface, I listen to a LOT of melodic rock, what can I say?
What has been your musical career highlights so far?
Putting out records the last few years that easily eclipse ANYTHING I’ve been involved with over a lifetime of making music (thanks John Kivel!), playing festivals and sharing the stage with the bands I grew up listening to as well as the newer ones I’m a fan of now, backing up Ted Poley on lead guitar and being able to play the songs I listened to over and over when I was younger... hell, it’s a long list Woody... let’s just say every day seems to hold the potential for something amazing to happen!
Of course, everything from someone yelling out “you suck!” at a gig I was playing a long, long time ago, to the usual cut set times, no monitor mix and other fun opening band stories, etc., but really they make the high points that much sweeter. I could not be more thankful for the opportunities I’ve had and hopefully will continue to have!
Thanks for your time Pete, and I know like many American’s coming to the festival you will be looking forward to sampling English beer – I highly recommend you try Bank’s Mild or Bitter (a Black Country beer)! Is there anything else you would like to add or say to Midlands Rocks readers?
You are correct in that assumption regarding the beer, I will be looking forward to the amazing selection as well as the whole English pub experience, both of which I’ve enjoyed immensely on prior visits.
I would also like to thank your readers, those that are going to Firefest, and those that are not for supporting a genre of music I hold extremely dear to my heart. I’m glad I’m not alone in that! So with that, let’s rock, I hope to see everyone in October!
And Woody, thank you so much for the chance to speak with you, as well as your in-depth review of “Optimism”. Not just because of the positive nature of the review (which is great of course!), but because it was written by someone with an in depth understanding of the genre, who clearly gave several listens to our latest effort. I thank you sir!