Terasbetoni (By: Lisa R. Rosner)

I guess really, it all starts with Sonata Arctica. I love those guys and have been a dedicated fan for quite a few years now. It was while looking up something concerning Sonata Arctica, or more specifically, Tony Kakko, that I learned about a band called Northern Kings. This was a band of four highly acclaimed Finnish vocalists getting together and recording covers of various ‘Top 40 Hits’ from the 1980’s.Those four singers included: Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica), Marco Hietala (Nightwish/Tarot), JP Leppaluoto (Charon) and Jarkko Ahola (Terasbetoni). Out of those four, it was only Ahola that I was previously unfamiliar with..but not for long!   After hearing Ahola’s covers, in particular of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” and Lionel Richie’s “Hello,” I knew I had to learn more about this man and his band, Terasbetoni. I am glad I made the effort…it was well worth it!
Terasbetoni is a hard hitting power metal band that fans of Manowar, Virgin Steele and like bands should find in much to appreciate. The only catch is, if you don’t speak Finnish, you’re not going to understand anything of the lyrics. Don’t let that deter you however! I find that does NOT ruin my enjoyment of the music whatsoever and I don’t think it will you either! I can honestly say that although I am a newer fan of Terasbetoni, they are high on my list of bands I would encourarge others to check out and I would also credit Jarkko Ahola as one of my new favorite singers, hands down!
1.) Can you please give a little background history of Teräsbetoni for the people who are not already familiar with you?
Jarkko Ahola – Sure. Teräsbetoni was founded in 2003 by me, Arto Järvinen and Viljo Rantanen. We had this idea, a vision, of a Finnish metal band that would honor the legacy of heavy metal and do it in Finnish. This might not sound like a new idea, but the concept of singing those ‘sword and might’ songs in our mother tongue was something none had ever done before, at least without making a joke of it. (For a reason or another the lyrics of this style sound easily pretty lame, silly or something like that in Finnish.)  Anyway, we wrote three songs: “Teräsbetoni”, “Teräksen Varjo,” and “Maljanne Nostakaa.” Since we didn’t have a drummer, I suggested Jari Kuokkanen who was a friend of mine (and still is!). We recorded those songs and released them through our website. Pretty soon we were enjoying very nice underground success…and I guess, for us at least, the rest is history.
2.) You just released your 4th CD and so far, no line-up change. A lot of bands aren’t that lucky. What do you think makes your line-up so strong? Similar work ethics? Are you all friends and spend time together outside of the band as well?
J – Pretty good question. And a hard one to answer! I think we’ve had hard times, but every time, going out there and playing for the loyal fans is something that makes those problems, what ever they are at the time, seem so vain and stupid. You just realize that THIS is the reason why we are doing this. Singing our songs to the people who are there to scream for you and to support you. We love it. We are friends – there has to be some kind of a friendship there, since you’re together pretty often because of the gigging. But no, we don’t see too much outside the “job”. I’d say that we see eachother often enough, hah.
3.) I see that Teräsbetoni has been doing very well in your homeland of Finland. How good is your promotion beyond Finland and Europe in general? -Do you do many interviews for sources outside of Finland?
J – I think we have no promotion outside Finland at all, since there hasn’t been any releases outside our country, besides our 1st album was released in Germany. I really don’t know what happened with that project since we didn’t hear of it too much afterwards. It’s a shame, because we seem to have some fans abroad as well. When it comes to interviews, every now and then we get requests from guys like you who have heard about us and maybe want to know more.
4.) Did being a part of the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest help boost your success abroad? Are you glad you participated in that or do you have any regrets?
J – We got pretty many personal messages telling us that we were definetly the best act that year etc, but I really don’t know how much it affected our success. Our label didn’t tell us if there were any attemps to get our album released abroad. And yes, the whole trip to Serbia was great and we had a great time there. The ESC is a bedlam and a shallow event in itself…but forgetting that, we had lots of fun. A great experience.
5.) You were invited to be a part of Germany’s Waken Open Air festival in 2005. How did that happen for you and what was the overall response to your performance?
J – We got that invitation through our label and they took it as a promotional act, so to my understanding Warner payed the whole trip. It was of course a great first time experience for us. Our hotel was pretty near the red light district of Reeperbahn. I didn’t visit the area, but I guess some of us went to see it. There’s no such place in Finland for example. I don’t know if it’s a loss, but anyhow… The weather was awful that day. And almost everything was organized pretty broad-minded. We didn’t have a backstage until half an hour before the show that was 25 minutes late anyway. The VIP area was almost empty and we couldn’t grab our selves even one beer. The area was covered in mud and so on. When the show began, we were received well by 2,000 people (it was a large tent) and many guys were singing along even though they didn’t know the lyrics. Sadly after something like five songs, our show was cut off because of the delayed schedule. After all the hardship and accidentally “stolen” guitar (which Vili got back later), we liked the whole trip. And besides, we had a great gig the next day in Finland, in front of 10,000 people, so all the little flaws were soon forgotten.
6.) Your song, “Taivas lyö tulta” was chosen to be the goal song for the Finnish ice hockey National Team A in the Karjala Cup Tournament. That must have been an honor for you. How did that come to be? Did you attend the tournament? Are you a hockey fan?
J – Sure it was, but I got to tell you, that those times our songs were played all around in many occasions. So, when it happened it didn’t feel THAT great even though it should have. We were just everywhere at the time. Somehow especially hockey teams have taken our music to theirselves. Maybe metal and hockey fit together, but no, I’m no hockey fan.
7.) You switched to a new label for this release. How is Sakara Records working for you compared to your previous label?
J – Sakara Records is a much smaller label and that fact has its advantages and disadvantages. We are treated equally compared to them and our opinions are taken very seriously. We can affect almost every detail of the record (and the things around it) that is being made. That wasn’t the case with a bigger label. I guess it’s partly the organization. When it grows bigger, handling of the details gets harder. So, since WMF is bigger, they had more money for the marketing. That is a pretty big disadvantage from our point of view now, but I don’t complain since we got to do our best album yet and people from Sakara listened to our music very carefully and gave a lot of thought to our album.
8.) What is the biggest challenge you face each time you begin work on a new CD?
J – I think it’s hard to say when you’re making it. Every project has had its own difficulties and challenges, but you see them better afterwards. Generally writing a good song is pretty hard…and making more than one is even harder. Choosing the songs to the album is hard stuff, too. Sometimes when recording vocals for example, my voice just doesn’t work. This has happened maybe two times (glady not more often), and those are the days when you just have to say: “let’s try again tomorrow”. I guess losing your voice is the thing that every singer is afraid of.
9.) So far, what has been the overall fan & media response to Maailma Tarvitsee Sankareita?
J – Well, our fans have given only positive feedback which means a lot to us. Media has always had some kind of a problem with us. For some of them we’re a joke or just a group that can’t be taken seriously. On the other hand some reviews I’ve read have been very positive and some of the critics have actually listened to our album. There are obviously many who haven’t. Fools.

10.) Your CD title (Maailma Tarvitsee Sankareita) translates in English to The World Needs Heroes. That is very true considering all the problems in the world today. What is your personal definition of a ‘hero’?
J – Phew. I guess it’s something when a person is ready to sacrifice something valuable for the greater good, to risk his or her own good. Or sometimes it just can be something on a smaller scale. You win yourself. You pull yourself from a bad situation and grow as a human being. The heroism…what ever it means in different cases, shows later. You can’t say to yourself: “By doing this and that, I’m a hero.” Heroism is mostly an unselfish, bold act.
11.) I can’t find English translations for ALL your lyrics, but I know many of them focus on epic battles and the brotherhood of metal, etc. How do you feel your lyric writing has progressed over the years? I heard you mention in one interview that you are touching on more modern themes with Maailma Tarvitsee Sankareita. Can you give more detail on that?
J – I’d say some of our lyrics focus on the things that you mentioned, but I’d also say that we have used those things as an allegory…a special place with special words to tell about universal stuff, like winning yourself, losing someone special, suffering in life, joy in life etc. Our new album has maybe a more modern touch in it. Not too much swords and shields, but words that relate to today. Just like the song “Maailma Tarvitsee Sankareita“. Those lyrics are very straight forward and understandable. Or a song called “Eteenpäin” (translated “Onwards“, but I’d maybe name it “Move Ahead“) that is not in touch of any kind of battle or fantasy imagery.
12.) I understand your reasons for writing songs in your native language of Finnish. It would be strange for you to suddenly change that too, in my opinion. But would you ever consider writing like 2-3 songs in English on future albums (kind of like Korpiklaani does)  in order to reach a broader scope of non-Finnish speaking fans? Or is success beyond your area not that important to you?
J – I am very open minded to new ideas and this is something I’d be  ready  to think about.   Let’s just  say that  we all  have a  little different opinions about this language matter. Of course it would be important to have that promotion abroad as well.

13.) Obviously you are a metal fan. However, Teräsbetoni is reputed to be a kind of “parody” of “true metal” bands. I know some bands take the ‘image’ and ‘lifestyle’ of “true metal” very seriously and encourage their fans to as well. But it seems you basically have fun with it. What are your thoughts on all that?
J – Well, to me heavy metal has always been a style of music and it’s very hard to “glue” it into a specific lifestyle. Why would I want to do that? Every sane adult person knows that we all live our “normal” lives. We have to. I couldn’t live with myself if I’d have to wear leather pants and a vest when I’m going to a grocery store or cutting the grass. I’m sure you know what I mean. All these lifestyles and imageries behind the different styles of music have been created to sell more records. I too, when I was a kid, rode a horse and killed enemies in my mind when I listened to heavy metal. Hah. That is all fantasy and I understand its power, but still, an every day beer drinking muscle man who is playing guitar and fucks a new chick whenever he wants, is a fantasy character. (But a great one!) So, in short: I take heavy metal music very seriously. Music means everything to me. But all the imagery and lifestyle stuff…I don’t see it, but I do realize its meaning. Of course gigging and playing in a rock band is a choice of lifestyle, but it’s nothing glamorous – unhealthy I’d say!
14.) Do you get a lot of song ideas that would not fit well with Teräsbetoni? What do you do with them? – I read that you are eventually working on a solo project. Anything you can tell us about that so far? – How would your solo project differ from Teräsbetoni?
J – Sure. I write all kinds of music. Teräsbetoni kind of heavy metal comes out easily, but I also like to write songs that have more…soul…uh, tone in them. Definetly rock music, but with a broader scale of expression. Kick ass riffs, cool rhythm, interesting harmonies and different solutions, etc.
15.) When you originally became interested in playing music, your first choice was to play drums. But now you play bass guitar and sing. When and how did you discover that you had such a powerful voice and what made you decide to play bass instead of drums?
J – For me, the reason why I chose vocals, was money. I just didn’t have the cash and the space for the drumkit. Our school band was in need of a singer, so I was kind of forced into that position. Imagine that! Someone might call it fate, but I am not too sure if such a thing even exists. I had a guitar, though. I liked to play it often, but I never got too good with it. I’d still love to be a great guitarist, but hell, I am left-handed and I had to learn to play with a right-handed guitar. So, even today my strings are backwards. Anyway, the reason why I got to play bass was also money (what a terrible human being I must be!), since when I handled the bass and vocals, we were able to minimize our group into three. This was when we were starting to play in local bars and the pay sucked. My friend Ville lent his bass to me for something like four years. A big thanks to him!
16.) Do you have custom bass guitars made because it is helpful to you as a left-handed player? Or do you just enjoy their uniqueness?
J – Both. Left-handed instruments are pretty hard to find here and since my strings are backwards, some special adjustments are needed. Oh, and because I love the look of Rickenbacker basses. I first wanted to order one from them, but the delivery time was from two to three years. What?! These guys from Amfisound Guitars hand-craft high quality instruments in a reasonable time and with the specs you want. So, a big thanks for them!
17.) I know many of your earlier influences, such as Manowar, Rainbow and Deep Purple, etc. What newer bands do you enjoy listening to these days?
J – There are many of them…and from different genres. I like Danko Jones, Mustasch, Livin’ End, Shinedown, Ennio Morricone, Vangelis, Richard Hawley…there are so many artists. I even liked White Lies’ album To Lose My Life, but the new one isn’t as good anymore.
18.) What other kinds of music do you enjoy besides metal/hard rock? Are you actually a fan of Big Band music as  your Oulu All Star Big Band project might suggest?
J – I guess I already kind of answered this. When it comes to OASBB, I mostly see it as a big band that can play almost anything. So, to me there’s no music style called big band music. Anyway,  Jazz…I am not too fond of it, but I’ll try to keep my mind open. And those guys for example play so well, that it’s just fun to listen to it.
19.) Is your Metal Warriors (Manowar tribute) band just something you did once for fun, or have you performed with that often?
J – It’s mostly for fun, but we all like Manowar very much. Jussi, the guitar player, knows the older stuff very well and  unlike many musicians, he doesn’t look down on Manowar. They have written many great songs and performed them with an unforgettable style. We’re going to do a few gigs this summer actually.
20.) Do you find that people often compare your voice to other metal singers? Any certain one(s) you are compared to in particular? When I first heard you, I thought of Ronnie James Dio. (A strong compliment, of course!) But the more I listened to you, the more I heard in your voice that was unique as well. (You are one of my favorite singers, in fact!)
J – Thank you very much. I am always happy to hear compliments! There was a time when people compared me to RJD (rest in peace), but I’ve also heard comparisons like Ian Astbury from The Cult or John Lawton from Uriah Heep. Sometimes people hear Eric Adams from Manowar. But no problem, all those guys sound great to me! Hah. But nowadays I don’t hear it too much. Maybe I have created my own style. I don’t know. Hopefully, since that would be the greatest thing of all. To be identifiable.
21.) On the topic of Dio: I saw some videos of you performing some of his songs at a memorial tribute show (and you did an amazing job too!). I did a tribute page in my last issue, where people shared their thoughts and memories on how Dio and his music affected them. Do you have anything special you would like to share?
J – Well, first I have to say that Dio has affected me mostly from the times when he sang in Rainbow and Black Sabbath. I think he wrote better songs with other strong personalities like Blackmore and Iommi. When he founded Dio…something was lost, even though songs like “Stand Up And Shout” and “Invisible” are great. When I first heard “Gates Of Babylon“, I almost went crazy. I think I was angry that I hadn’t heard that song earlier. I think I was 13 or 14 years old when I first heard it. That song was, and still is, something so special and genius that it blows my mind away. Great riffs, great lyrics, great vocals…you know, a perfect song that sounds timeless.

22.) (A few Northern Kings questions here.) What was it like working with Tony (Kakko), Marco (Hietala) and JP (Leppaluoto)? Did you all know each other prior to Northern Kings? Judging by the videos I’ve seen, you all seemed to be having a good time with no clash of egos.
J – Definitely no clash of egos. Just pure admiration towards each other and having a good time. I met Marco and JP the first time during the Raskasta Joulua-tour. For me then, Marco was something distant and star-like. But in no time he showed only signs of normal Finnish shyness and hard drinking habits. Haha. JP is a funny guy who is very easy to get close to. Always talking and laughing. I am not sure when I first met Tony. He might have sang with Raskasta Joulua, but  I am not sure. Anyway, he is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
23.) Did you choose your own songs to cover in Northern Kings? Did you do so individually or as a group?
J – We chose individually mostly. I wanted to do my own arrangements on the first album, and I did the arrangement on “My Way” on the second one, too. I think mostly those arrangements worked great, and of course the musicians on that album are great.
24.) Out of all the Northern Kings songs you sang solo on, which is your personal favorite? Which did you find most difficult?
J – I think “I Just Died In Your Arms” is my favorite. The arrangement brings the song on a new level and everything just fell in place. I am still very happy with the results. I really didn’t have any problems with my solo songs, but when I had to sing harmonies or parts I didn’t know about, it was sometimes like hell. When I know the song, everything goes smoothly, but if I have to start learning the melodies and the subtleties in the studio in a hurry…I go crazy!
25.) Have you heard any feedback from any of the original artists about what they thought of your covers of their songs?
J – No, unfortunately not. I’d love to hear!
26.) I have seen several comments from people that Timo Kotipelto should have been in Northern Kings as well. Do you know if he was ever considered or invited to be?
J – No, I haven’t heard anything like that, but I don’t know what the production level has negotiated. On the other hand, to my knowledge this whole Northern Kings thing rose from the Raskasta Joulua-project which Timo didn’t take part of.
27.) Any talk of a 3rd Northern Kings album?
J – There has been from time to time, but the details are totally open yet. And of course our international stars are quite busy, since Nightwish is doing a new album and Sonata Arctica is touring a lot.

Jarkko Ahola, Tony Kakko, JP Leppaluoto, Marco Hietala (Northern Kings)

28.) What are some of your non-music interests/hobbies? (Do you enjoy any sports, have any pets, etc,?)
J – I like to jog. I always say I should jog more, since the older you get, the less you should eat and the more you should move. I should move! I also like to watch good movies. Movies can just be entertaining, touching, inspiring…you name it. I like cats, but hairy animals make me cough and sneeze. And like almost every musician, music is my hobby as well. I breathe music.
29.) I have seen your video for “Metalliolut.” I find it very enjoyable and entertaining. I have to ask…what is the difference between just beer and Metal Beer? 🙂
J – Of course, beer tastes better when you listen to Heavy Metal! That makes it Metalliolut.
30.) If I were to go by bands such as Sonata Arctica and Korpiklaani, it would seem that vodka is the Finnish drink of choice.  Would that be right? Any particular reason, you suppose?

J – Yup, vodka is the one for me too. I think Russia has influenced our choice of alcohol, since “votka” is their choice especially. Good vodka tastes very soft and the hang-over you’ll get from alcohol every time (for sure!) seems to be slightly easier from vodka than from whiskey for example. And besides whiskey makes many people angry or irritating.
31.) For fans overseas (such as here in the U.S.) who would love to see Teräsbetoni perform some shows in their area one day, what advice/suggestions would you give them to help make it happen?
J – Uh, well. I guess if you guys know any promoters who like to bring new bands in your country, give those people a hint. I know that the U.S. market is hard to reach, but maybe one day. Just keep on spreading the word!
32.) Jarkko, thank you SO MUCH for doing this interview! It really means a lot to me since I am a big fan! I have introduced many of my American metal friends to Teräsbetoni and they have all been impressed. Keep up the great work! -Is there anything you would like to add in closing?
J – Thank you, Lisa. The pleasure was all mine. Even though there were pretty many questions, they were bloody great. No nonsense here! All I can say, is that I wish we could play in the States one day. Take care.

http://www.terasbetoni.comhttp://www.myspace.com/terasbetoni http://www.jahola.com


Soniq Armada (By: Chad Boyd)

  I got a chance to interview both of the founding members, Sean Morrissey and Skraw Tharp of the band Soniq Armada from Winder, GA.
  Morrissey and I have been friends since his last year of highschool. Each project he has been in has been awesome, but I honestly think the 3 tracks they played for me before the interview are by far his best work ever. This was my first time meeting Skraw Tharp, a very cool guy and kick ass gutiar player as well! One track called “FREYJA“ has already been released and able to be viewed on youtube , facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Soniq-Armada/186507291365011) and myspace (http://www.myspace.com/soniqarmada). So go and check it out!

Chad –  What I heard of Soniq Armada, I really like it! It’s awesome. I can’t wait to let the world know to get their hands on this.  I probably could put a name to the band’s musical style, but I will let the band tell me what their style is.
Sean Morrissey –  Well, at the end of the day, no matter what influences we incorporate, it’s a metal band. We do incorporate a lot of influences from black metal, death metal, and we do throw in some of the industrial styles like the synthesizer and what not. But like I said at the end of the day it will always be a metal band. We will always make it very guitar driven as you heard. I do like industrial. Metal is what I feel when I write. That’s what I really enjoy writing. So that’s pretty much it. I would say on the safe side definitely don’t try to find it in the reggae section. (Laughs)
C – Cool. What I like about it is that it had a lot of death metal guitars working with a lot of the old school metal, which is awesome. I think it fits very well and it’s a great mix for all that together. You were talking about your influences. What are your other influences that got you into music in the first place?
Skraw Tharp –  Wow, I don’t remember a point in my life where I did not play guitar. I grew up playing guitar. I always listen to the old thrash metal. I’ve always really been into metal;  the whole wide spectrum of metal. I just grew as a thrash kid, I guess and then I got into the death metal scene. All the bands out of Florida. Chuck Schuldiner rules! Anything really guitar driven. That’s what I am into.
S.M –  I guess for me. I grew up around music my entire life. Everywhere in my house, growing up, there was always something on. From the time I was an infant practically. My father and my older brother exposed me to all kinds of 70’s rock: Pink Floyd, Electric Light Orchestra, bands like that. A lot of British bands. As I got to be older what first exposed me to metal was my older brother. He was into Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Judas Priest, and he was into more of the heavy rock like AC/DC. Bands like that and Progressive bands like Journey. I played piano most of my life and I started guitar when I was about 16. From the time I first heard death metal and thrash metal around the time I was about 14 or 15 and I just ate it up. I was like wow! I didn’t know what I had been missing. I couldn’t believe there was intense music out there. As I got to be older I guess I really related to it. It just kind of went from there.
C –  You were telling me before that you are planning on coming out with a demo. Do you have any set date on the demo?
S.M –  I would say in the next month or so. We are releasing each song sequentially, kind of one at a time. Yeah on the internet.
C – Oh yeah, kind of like what other bands do over the internet?
S.M – Yeah so we are not throwing it all out there at once. So it can give somebody something to sink their teeth into. Kind of get their appetite whet. We are hoping for a pretty good reaction. I think we will get one.
C – I think so too!
S.M – We are pretty confident and we are still working out the bugs. You know working out the finishing touches to put on the songs. But ultimately we are very happy with it. I’m very proud to be a part of this band. I’m very glad that he is a part of it as well (Skraw). We are working towards a full length album. But the 3 song promo CD will definitely come first. We will see where it goes from there.
C –  Are you planning on releasing it on Youtube and/or Facebook or something like that?
S.M –  Probably both and Myspace is still there. We have Myspace set, we just don’t have anything on it yet. Yeah, we will probably use all three.
C – It seems like a lot of bands overseas say media in America is really hard. Because you got all this stuff to try to put out there. But since you are already here, you already have excess to all that.
S.M –  Well yeah, it’s not like it was in the old days. Like when we were growing up and listening to bands. You know the tape trading days. Or the days like 7 inch vinyl records which were really big with the punk rock bands. I think some of the overseas black metal bands are really big into all that.
S.T –  I think it’s still going on over there.
C – I think the black metal bands were purposely made to sound shity. They were supposed to be a rebellion from anything main stream death metal or anything main stream at all for that matter.
S.M – Yeah, it is a rebellious attitude. It’s all about atmosphere. I guess in some degree the ideology is very important to them. As well the atmosphere of the cold sound. Sort of what they call the ‘necro’ sound. Bands like Darkthrone and early Mayhem  and Emperor. They had that very cold kind of lack of production. But that’s what made it unique really, I think. A lot of those bands are under rated. Black metal is a very under rated style of music. From the true aspect of it anyway.
C – Here is a thought that came into my mind. Now I don’t have problem with it myself., but there seem to be a lot of argument about with people saying metal should be by itself and you got the electronic industrial stuff should be by itself, that never should be combined . What do you say to people about that?
S.M. –  Well, I think with any genre of music there are going to be purists who don’t believe in experimentation with different kinds of sounds. My personal feeling on it is ok because of the fact we do use so many elements. This is funny too, because a lot of the black metal artists from the early days, if you asked them what kind of other music they listen to out side of thrash or speed metal or the old new wave of British heavy metal a lot of those guys were very influenced by industrial or electronic music in Europe. I always felt that black metal and a lot of European industrial have a lot of things in common. They’re both very  cold styles of music. They are regimented as far as militant style drum beats and they have a lot of atmosphere. A lot of black metal moves towards the synthesizer/keyboard atmospheres. And industrial of course is very big into that and I think the aggressive vocals as well. I guess I always seen it as why not experiment with sort of incorporating two styles together? Which is something we don’t do all the time, you’re not going to see us do an entire album like a bunch of dancey sounding metal songs. But definitely incorporating the synthesizers and I guess what you would call sort of the body beats; the dance rhythms. But we do it in a way that still is heavy and it’s still metal and there is no mistaking. So if somebody is not going to like a band because of that, it’s like saying you don’t like a band because they use keyboards or they use electronic drums or whatever. That’s  just an absurd reason to not like something. You either like it or you don’t.
C – Yeah, exactly. I agree with you 100% on that. Honestly I used to be one of those people that said this is how this is supposed to be done. And now I guess I’m getting older and more open minded. I’m glad there are other people like you guys doing something different. Sometimes you want something new, something fresh.
S.M. – There are a lot of bands out there that attempted the hybrid of putting industrial style synths or samples. Fear Factory is a good example. There is band from Italy called TECHNOPHOBIA  which kind of did the same thing. They’re almost like if Cradle Of Filth was more industrial, that’s what they’d sound like. But yeah, I don’t see any issues with it. It’s no different than calling yourself a metal band and playing stoner rock.
What was it, like Orange Goblin or some body like that? But it’s all good stuff. I mean metal goes all over the place. It’s the one style of music that really transcends a lot of musical boundaries.
C – Yeah, it seems like to me American metal is either old school thrash or  that crappy (oh sorry) that nu-metal (laughs). Well, I don’t care for it. And now the new thing I notice, and some of it is ok, is the metal core stuff. What I’d like to see is more bands do like you’re doing. It seems almost everyone likes to jump off bridges and be like everybody else.  The overseas metal seems like to me, rules all. I’m glad there are other bands in America trying to do the same thing. It’s slowly happening and yeah, you’re one of them. Now, I understand that you’ve played one live show already.
S.M. –  Yes, we have played one show, right here in our home town. The dark North county of Barrow, we played in Winder at a little bar called Shuffles. It’s a good little place for a metal scene that, believe it or not does exist here. Yeah, it was a good show, a good turn out. The crowd really seemed to dig it. We are definitely going to take it further than just Winder obviously. We want to play around the South East. The thing is, for us, this is starting over. (To Skraw) You ought to tell them about it..
S.T. – Yeah, like I said earlier, I’ve played guitar my whole life. I’ve been in several shitty bands and a  couple of good ones. I’ve been doing it for quite some time. I played in my first bar when I was 17, back in 1994. I’m just trying to keep something together and get out of Georgia. You just got to stick with it, find the right people and make it work. Hopefully that’s what we are about to do. We’ve  known each other for years and I was like we need to get together and do something. Both the bands we were in separately, they were usually a revolving door.
C –  That’s not a good sign for any band.
S.T. –  Right. Hopefully this one will stick. I think it will.
S.M. –  Yeah, its a good vibe; a very good vibe.
C – Yeah, I can tell there is a lot of passion put into the 3 songs I already listened to from you guys. A lot of work was in that.  I think it’s kick ass stuff. I know Sean’s previous band. In my opinion the new stuff is way better.
S.M. –  Oh I appreciate that. That is the idea. I do not take any offense to that at all. Because you are always trying to out do what you already have done. I agree with you. My previous band is all said and done. You know like he was talking about with previous bands, you know there always was the revolving door. Ground:Xero was kind of on and off. Yeah it was a revolving door.
C –  Yeah, that line up changed quite frequently .
S.M. – Yeah, faster than people change their underwear on a daily basis. It was insane. I just could never nail people down.  We tried.  But  don’t get me wrong. There were some highlights in that band. Like putting out an album, to me, was an accomplishment. Now I guess what we are doing differently is we are taking it a little more seriously. We are also putting a little more thought in the writing and a lot more thought into the lyrics. He and I have been working collectively on one of the songs “FREYJA,” which will be the first song to come out. That’s one that we definitely agreed a lot on what we wanted to express in that song.
C – Yeah, that is a great song. The cut you played me was brilliant.
S.M. –Thanks man, I really appreciate that.
C – Before I forget, this is one I was waiting on. I know everybody likes to know what kind of equipment every band uses. So, I guess I will go from there.
S.T. – I’m a Gibson guy. I got a handful of Gibsons. Right now I’m playing through Crate Blue Voodoo head with a 4 12 cabinet. But I’m ready to upgrade. I need to upgrade!

S.M. – Don’t we all! I use a combination of Jackson and Fender. I have a Jackson King V. That is my guitar of choice at the moment. And my amplifier is a Fender State 100 head which is solid state but it’s one of the better solid states you can find on the market. That’s run into a Crate 4 12 cabinet.  We do a good contrast of sound between his set up and my set up. Both amps complement each other very well. His tube and my solid state.  Strings, I can tell you, Ernie Ball. I’m a big fan of Ernie Ball. Since we tune low, I have found that the Ernie Ball strings that are meant for a 7 string guitar actually work best on mine because we tune to B standard. Which is a very European tuning. We have found that is a great tuning. You get a lot of the same aspects out of B as you can get out of E guitar, which is standard. We love the way it sounds. It’s such a warm, comfortable and yet aggressive, brutal sound. So, that’s what we go for very much.
C – I know you record here in your own place. What kind of recording equipment do you use.
S.M. –  At the moment we are using a Boss digital work station. To capture all of our material. As far as microphones, I use AKG  for my vocals.
C – Yeah, I will just point out to everyone that it sounds pretty studio-like to me.
S.M. –  I appreciate that. I think what helps with that too is we do actually have real studio monitors. Those have been a life saver. It really gives you the real raw sound.
C –  We talked about influences earlier. It brings me to my next question about the writing. Is there a particular influence in the lyric writing?
S.M. –  We try to reinforce what the music is already saying. I’d never really written lyrics before I’d written music, because I want to say with the lyrics what the music is already saying and just reinforce it words. As far as topics, we don’t tend to tread on traditional. Like for instance, you have traditional black metal and death metal lyrical topics. In death metal is dealt a lot with gore.  Black metal, you deal with a lot of Satanism and Paganism. Well, I will give you a great example of our first single that we are going to release. “Freyja” is the Norse goddess of sexuality and beauty. In the song, “Freyja” is used as a metaphorical representation and not really so much about the Norse deity. It’s about Freyja being used as a metaphor to describe a beautiful and unattainable woman that you lust over. The song is very much about this almost insane lust over this unattainable beauty. That’s what it’s about. I think almost every guy has been through this experience where he lusted over some unattainable, beautiful woman to the point where it just drives him crazy. It’s about fantasizing over that woman to the point of insane rage.
C –  Yeah, I was just thinking here, back in the day, metal was mostly just about rebellion and stuff. Now you have different genres of metal covering pretty much every type of topic there is. I think that is great! It doesn’t have to be like just one standard meaning to songs. I’m also a firm believer that if the lyrics don’t make sense, but they sound well to music, I’m all for that. A lot of people might not agree with that.
S.M. – Yeah, I don’t care what somebody wants to write about. If it’s personal to them., then I will understand and respect that. But you should not limit yourself. You shouldn’t say like Oh we’re just going to write about this that or the other. And that has been the case with a lot of bands,  I think. I’m sort of speculating on that.
S.T. – Like getting painted into a corner.
S.M. – Yeah, where you get pigeon holed into being called definitely death metal or gore grind or whatever, because they write about gory things that are almost horror movie related stuff. Kind of like the bands Cannibal Corpse or Mortician. That’s their niche, that’s what they do really well. You have bands like some of the black metal groups that would probably write topics that were more satanic/anti-religion.  For us, tackling religious or anti religious topics has been done, so we are kind of doing it a little differently. We’re approaching it more from the  aspect of the real human experience. Relationships definitely are a real like experience for everybody. We like to at least try to tackle topics that the regular person can relate to. As much as I love and respect a lot of those death and black metal bands. I know that we are in the United States and a lot of people in this country may not relate directly to some of those themes like Satanism and Paganism. If you’re not passionate about it, don’t write about it.
C – Exactly. What are you listening to now? As in favorite bands and stuff.

S.T. –  I’m a old school guy. I do not like a lot of new music. I don’t know if it’s that I don’t give them a chance or what. I like what I like. I have been listening to the new Dimmu Borgir. Also the new Cradle of Filth, which actually I was very happy with. I think they are going backwards, but in a good way. They are starting to sound like old Cradle of Filth again. On the last couple of albums, I think they tried to target the American market and maybe candy-coated things a little bit.

S.M. –  I’m into the new Dimmu Borgir, I think it’s brilliant. I have been alternating between that and Deathstars. I have been seeking out some industrial music lately because I do a little bit of DJ-ing on the side for a group called Art League Atlanta. They do art events and what not. I come down and I DJ. I play everything from metal to industrial. So I seek out a lot of industrial just to be able to add to my music collection. I listen to Soilwork, I really like them. I’m still a big fan of Hypocrisy and a big fan of Emperor. Samael, I definitely listen to a lot of their stuff and also Sisters Of Mercy.  I do look for new music but I’ve always been pretty picky what I listen to. It has to make the cut.
C – I guess the last thing I would ask is there anything you like to add for the readers to hear?
S.M. – Just watch out for Soniq Armada. We are coming to your town eventually. That is our goal, we are working on it. Hopefully we are going to make this a house hold name in time.

Labyrinth (By: Lisa R. Rosner)

(Interview with Andrea DePaoli/Published in issue # 16)

Please, never have any doubt that Italian prog-power metal band, Labyrinth is indeed one of my absolute favorites! Why they are not more popular and well known than they are is beyond me. Every member of the band oozes with such talent as to make them untouchable by other bands in their genre. Each time you listen to a Labyrinth CD (Any Labyrinth CD) you will notice something new and special.

It was a great pleasure for me to get to interview Labyrinth’s extraordinary keyboard player, Andrea DePaoli as we talked about their current CD, Freeman and their upcoming release, 6 Days to Nowhere.
If you have never heard Labyrinth..do yourself a favor and check them out! You won’t regret it!

1.) First, I want to discuss the cover art of Freeman. It is very interesting. I read a lot of reviews where people complained that they did not like the cover. I think the mannequin’s nakedness disturbed them for some reason. It seemed like they were unable to look deeper into the potential meaning. Have you read some of those reviews also? What is the band’s interpretation of the album cover?
(My friend (Bob) wrote his view on what the cover picture represented. He wrote: “I think the mannequin represents the facelessness society places upon us and how we shackle ourselves with our own and society’s religious and moral views -thus giving us anguish and self imprisonment. So, we cease to be a ‘freeman.’ -How close is he to what you were all thinking with that?)
Andrea – I read about those reviews. I’m not surprised and I agree with your thoughts. We wanted to give a strong different image of Labyrinth. We were tired to be defined as a power metal band.We’re not and never have been just a power metal band. We used this mannequin to give this sensation and also because he transmits the idea of an unidentified man who wants to get himself free…

2.) After reading about your musical background, it seems as though you have followed in the foot steps of your idol, Chick Corea as far as your training/studying. Was your family also influential to you in your musical background? Do you have any siblings who are also involved in music?
Andrea – I taken a lot from Chick Corea’s style and from other important musicians. I don’t have any musicians in my family but there has always been some art atmosphere at my home. My father and his brothers are all painters. Anyway he let me listen to mainly classical music coming from italian Opera like Gioacchino Rossini or Giuseppe Verdi.
3.) Tell about some of the other musical projects besides Labyrinth that you are working on right now. What is this project you are involved in with Tony Liotta and Alex De Rosso?
Andrea – Ok! I recorded  different albums in 2006 that are going to be released in 2007. The first one is the new Labyrinth, of course. Then I made keyboard arrangements on the new Simone Fiorletta solo album. This is an instrumental rock fusion based album that is going to be released this year under Lionmusic. I collaborate with other artists also. The first one is top secret and is going to be released in 2007 (you’ll be astonished when you start to hear about it) and the last one is ” Expedition deltA” This is a hard/rock prog project that comes from Serbia where I collaborate also with musicians of Shadow Gallery, Ayreon and many others. The Tony Liotta and Alex De Rosso project was a workshop recorded for Akg. Tony Liotta is one of the main Akg endorsers that invited me, Alex De Rosso and Pasko Stevens to be the musicians there. We start a collaboration becoming Akg and Dbx endorsers either for which we do clinics and workshops around Europe.
4.) Are any of the other members of Labyrinth also involved in other musical projects right now?

Andrea – Mattia Stancioiu (drums) has his own studio and works just there. At the moment Andrea Cantarelli (guitar) plays only in Labyrinth.
5.) What is your official record label now and which one deals with the U.S.? What happened with Century Media Records since you only released one album through them?
Andrea – The official labels are Scarlet Records for Europe and U.S., V2/Sony for Italy and King records for Japan. Century Media decided to split the deal because Labyrinth didn’t get good sales in Europe compared to their expectations. There was something that didn’t work in their business machine. It’s difficult to have very big sales without big promotion.

6.) I know that Roberto Tiranti is working on a  solo project and has a song out called “Sinceremente.” Do you have any kind of solo release available?
Andrea – This is a good question. I don’t know about this album (Roberto’s) and never heard about it. That’s why Roberto has a lot of collaborations. I never realized solo albums, but Simone Fiorletta would be an interesting one because he gave me a lot of space there.
7.) I find the song “Malcolm Grey” to be very intriguing. It kind of reminds me of Alice Cooper’s style a little bit. That song inspires my imagination very much. Where did Roberto get the inspiration for the lyrics? Did you help with the concept of a character who has a dark obsession with piano music? Considering you are the keyboardist of the band, I wondered if that song had some sort of personal meaning to you at all? (That is one of my favorites on the album.)

Andrea – This song stems from a story I wrote sometime ago. Everything you hear there is based on this story. I mean the beginning sounds and the lyrics. Roberto followed the acts of this story and we decided to let him sing as in a musical. Don’t know where this man, Malcolm Grey came out. Probably I’ve got the elements from my experiences while reading books and watching movies that influenced me a lot.

8.) If it’s not too personal to ask: what happened with Cristiano Bertocchi that he left Labyrinth to join Vision Divine?
Andrea – It wasn’t a musical taste split but just a business split…he didn’t like some piece in the machine.

9.) Is Roberto the permanent bass player now or is he just doing it until you all find a replacement for Cristiano?
Andrea – He is the permanent bassist. Roberto is a very good bass player.

10.) I know that Kevin Moore of Dream Theater is a progressive metal keyboard player that you appreciate. Are there any other certain keyboard players in metal bands that really impress you?
Andrea – I love Kevin, he is the poet of keyboards. To be honest there are a lot of good keyboard players around…but I’m very impressed not by metal ones. I found these pianists incredible : Michel Camilo, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Michel Petrucciani, Dado Moroni, Bollani and Riccardo Zegna. They are very, very impressive.
11.) What all can you tell us about the new album, 6 Days to Nowhere, so far? What can Labyrinth fans expect (musically, vocally and lyrically) this time around?
Andrea – Labyrinth’s music is evolving as always…I can’t really tell you since everybody will listen with their own hearing.

12.) Was recording the new album at the Abbey Road Studio intentional since you did a Beatles cover song? How long did you spend in England recording the new album?
Andrea – The album was recorded in Milano and Mastered at Abbey Road. We spent three days there just for mastering work. The Beatles cover and Abbey Road are not connected though.

13.) What made you all decide on covering a Beatles song and what made you choose “Come Together?”

Andrea – The idea came from Roberto. He is a big Beatles fan. We tried to play this song in our style and found the result good. So we decided to keep it.
14.) Do you plan to make any more videos?
Andrea – Yes, we are going to make a new one. Maybe for the song “Lost”
15.) Is the song “Piece of Time” on the new album a remake of the original?
Andrea – Yes it is!
16.) What is the biggest challenge you face each time you begin the process of creating a new album?
Andrea – To make something better; to evolve our sound and make the production better.

17.) Has Labyrinth ever performed in the U.S.? (If so, I never knew of it!) Do you think you might ever get to tour over here in the near future? (I hope so!)

Andrea – We have never performed there. I don’t know about gigs there yet, but I hope so too.
18.) I noticed that you mentioned “extreme sports” as one of your other interests. What kind of “extreme sports” do you enjoy? What other things do  you like to do in your free time (besides music)? Are you and the other members of Labyrinth good friends outside of the band as well?
Andrea – I like to practice extreme martial arts, body building, swimming and running. In my free time I like to read books, watch movies and do nothing! Yes, we’re good friends even if we’ve few times to have a drink together. We live in different cities.
19.)  Is there anything else you would like to add? (Thank you so much, Andrea. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. I look forward to hearing the new Labyrinth album once it’s out.)
Andrea – I would like to add that this is one of the most smart interviews I’ve ever got. Very good questions. I can say it in Italian “brava”!!!! Thank you to you too.


L.A. Guns (By: Kim Rosner)

(Interview with Phil Lewis/Published in issue # 15)

I have been a fan of L.A. Guns since I was in high school.  I never would have imagined that one day I would get to speak with him over the phone and that we would be discussing all kinds of numerous topics…including children and of course, their latest CD Tales from the Strip. I didn’t have the  new CD at the time of this interview, however I did get it very soon thereafter. I have to say, I was very impressed. L.A. Guns hasn’t lost a step, in fact they are better than ever. So if you have ever been even sort of a fan of L.A. Guns, you should definitely check out Tales from the Strip. It was a pleasure getting to speak with Mr. Lewis after being a fan for so long. Here is the conversation we had…
Kim – How are you?
Phil – I’m fine, thanks.
K – How’s the weather there?
P – It’s lovely. Where are you calling from?
K – Ohio.
P – Oh you poor thing.
K – Yeah, it’s 19 degrees. It’s cold.
P – I just got back from Arizona and it was freezing there. It’s hard to imagine Arizona being cold but it was like, only 2 degrees.
K – Oh really? I’ve never been there, but I always imagined it being hot.
P – Yeah, I know, that’s the thing. It’s really hot in the summer and freezing in the winter.
K – Hmmm, I didn’t know that. Well, I want to tell you how excited I am to be interviewing you…
P – Oh thank you.
K – I’ve been quite a fan of yours.
P – Great.
K – I do have a confession though.
P – What’s that?
K – I don’t have your new CD yet.
P – Oh well, you’re going to love it. Have you heard about it though?
K – Yes, I’ve been reading some reviews.
P – The reviews have been fantastic.
K – I plan to get it as soon as I can.
P – Well, I want to hear back from you once you get it, to let me know what you think.
K – Okay, I’ll make sure you do. Since I haven’t heard it, I thought maybe you could just let loose and tell me all about it in your own words. Did it meet your expectations, etc?
P – Yeah. We pretty much have this dream team operation where we use the same studio where we recorded the last records and the same studio where we recorded Waking the Dead and the cover record we put out a year ago; we did a record of old covers. We wanted to put something out, but we weren’t really ready to do an original record because we were so happy with the way Waking the Dead turned out. We didn’t want to rush it. We wanted to take our time. We wanted to write songs over the period of the year and then pick the best stuff. Once we had enough songs…even before we had a deal, we were writing, and it’s so easy. Even the computer has a state-of-the-art recording studio and we recorded it and it just sounded great. Then when the album was done, we went into a proper studio and recorded it and it turned out great. Andy Johns is our producer. Andy’s been around, he’s actually old-school like Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones and Rod Stweart’s producer and he always makes it sound great. And he’s great fun in the studio. When you read the title (of the new CD), it’s sort of an anagram of the band’s history. It’s a fun album, it’s a neat album. It was great fun making it.
K – That’s good. I know the songs are based on life on the Sunset Strip (thus the title Tales from the Strip). What inspired you to write about that particularly?
P – We decided we were going to do a record about a subject that we really know well. Instead of having a lyrically vague record, I wanted to go for a completely different thing. It’s kind of like a concept, but not quite. It just has a central theme throughout.
K – I did get to read the lyrics. it looked like it was about a bunch of different stories, taking place in the same location.
P – Yeah, that’s right.
K – Who writes the lyrics? Is it a group thing or just one person?
P – Just one person. I write them. But I mean, I get them (the band mates)  to help me. I bring the lyrics in and I ask them what they think and if they want to make any adjustments here and there. Sometimes they do, but generally, it’s pretty much my job.
K – Was the song “Can’t Give you Anything Better than Love” written for anyone in particular?

P – Umm…maybe. (Laughs.) So, you have the lyrics, but you haven’t heard the record?
K – I made sure I had the lyrics before I spoke with you. I looked on your website.
P – Oh okay, that makes sense. On http://www.laguns.net. Cool. There’s also a really good Myspace page on L.A. Guns as well. Have you checked that out?

K – Yes, I did. And I’m trying not to ask you all the same questions that others have covered, but I probably will anyway. (Laughs)
P – That’s okay. But for the website, I check it out daily, to see what people are saying about it. Right now the whole thing is lit up like a Christmas tree about Traci (Guns) joining Quiet Riot, which I think is hysterical.
K – Oh, Quiet Riot. I didn’t even know they were doing anything anymore.
P – Those guys have been touring non-stop. They’re great. They put on a good show every night. But I think it’s really rotten that Traci is gone from his own band though. I think that’s terrible, I really do.
K – Yes, it is. I have another song question if you don’t mind. In “Don’t Mean Nothing,” is the character of Jimmy/Jenny based on a real person?
P – (Laughs) Not really, but it could be. There are hundreds like…that. (laughs)
K – But no one in particular that you know?
P – No. (Laughs) No lack of imagination here.
K – And one more…I want to know what makes your motorcycle crazy? (There is a song titled “Crazy Motorcycle.” on the new album.)
P – You know, you have to hear it…
K – (Laughing) I just like that title.
P – You like that title? Cool. That song is based on a true event. I don’t know how to explain it here though.

K – I’ll just wait until I get the album. I know you recently finished touring with W.A.S.P and Metal Church. How did that go?
P – Yeah, it was great. They were all great guys. Metal Church was excellent and it was good to see W.A.S.P every night as well. They put on such a great show. It was great playing this record; going out and having the opportunity to play to the metal people who haven’t seen us before. So that was a really good aspect of that tour. The downside of the tour was: there were days that when the tour was taking a day off, we would do a club gig and do our own show. Without realizing it, we did 38 shows in 40 days, and I kind of felt like I was going to have a break down by the end of it. It was the only time ever that we had to cancel a couple of shows.
K – Well, that was a lot, that would wear you out.
P – Yeah, I was completely worn out. But we took a few days off at the last leg of the tour, but overall we had a great time. I just got back from a great weekend with my new band.
K – Oh, what’s your new band?
P – It’s called the Angels and Outlaws. It consists of myself, Terry Kelly, Bobby Blotzer and Robby Crane. It’s a cover band at the moment. We played a couple shows in Arizona over the weekend and it was really, really great. I’m looking forward to more shows. It was kind of challenging though because we only had a 3 hour practice the day before we left to do these shows. I wasn’t quite sure why I was doing it at the time, but I got to learn a lot of new songs that I had never done before. There’s a lot of difference between hearing a song a thousand times and thinking you know it and then actually getting up and performing it. It’s not karaoke! (Laughs) It’s different. There’s a lot of work involved, but we had a great time.
K – That sounds cool. Next time you tour again, I’ll try to catch you, so I hope you come to Cleveland.

P – Oh, we always come to Cleveland, we always do. We’ve been to Peabody’s a bunch of times. It’s good and loud in there.
K – Yes it is. I have been there. Most recently was to see Manowar. I’m afraid I don’t get to go to shows as often as I used to, but I try to when I can. I have kids, so it’s harder now.
P – Well, next time we’re there, hopefully you can come.
K – I hope so too. Now I would like to ask a couple questions about you, if that’s all right. When you weren’t with L.A. Guns for awhile, what were you busy doing?
P – Being a dad.
K – Oh, how many children do you have?
P – Two. I have two girls. I never had any kind of  family life while growing up. So, they have really changed my life a lot.
K – I heard somewhere that, for awhile, you went to kids’ birthday parties to entertain as ‘Batman.’ Is that true?
P – No…well…I have a friend who is a performance artist and he has a company and he has clowns and characters and all. I asked him if I could have Batman for my daughter’s birthday. It was her 3rd birthday (she’s now 13). So, he let me borrow the suit.
K – Oh, that would have been cool.

P – Yeah, her dad was Batman. (Laughs)
K – Not many people can say that.
P – (Laughs) Yeah, I know.

K – So, what else do you do to occupy your time outside of the music business?
P – I’m a photographer actually. There’s a new thing on Yahoo with photo sharing. It’s a part of Yahoo. There’s hundreds of great photos. You can go to each photographer and great images come up.
K – Do you mess with the pictures on the computer, to alter them at all?
P – Not much. I’ll crop them a little bit, but that’s all. I love it though. I love Photo Shop. I’ve always loved Graphic Arts.
K – Now, I saw that you were in a band for awhile called the Spice Boys. (Phil starts laughing.) So, what was your Spice name?
P – I was…I think it was ‘Spice and Chips.’
K – That’s a good name. (Laughs) Okay, my kids who are ages 8 and 9 had a couple questions they wanted me to ask you. Is that okay?
P – Yeah, sure.
K – My daughter wondered if you have any pets.
P – I do. I have a kitty cat that I rescued from outside. It was a stray cat that had been outside. It was really friendly, really sweet. I went on tour for about 3 weeks and when I came back, the cat was still being nice, but homeless. I couldn’t stand it. So,  I let it come in and stay in my home.
K – That’s very good of you. We have three cats and a rabbit ourselves. My daughter’s other question was: what is your favorite color?
P – Well, I suppose black doesn’t count, does it? Yeah, it really doesn’t.  (Laughs) My favorite color at the moment is crimson red. There are so many different reds and that is kind of like a pomegranate red. That’s my favorite at the moment. I’m a big fan of green as well. So, I love it around Christmas. I love all the red and green.
K – My son wanted to know if you’ve ever been roller-skating and if you have ever seen the Pyramids. (We laugh.)
P – No, I’ve never seen the Pyramids. I’d love to. I haven’t been to Egypt. I’ve been to Africa (North Africa.) Morocco is as close as I’ve got. As for roller skating, yes actually. When I was a kid , I had those skates that you put on over your shoes, you know the ones I mean? They go over your toes and they buckle up around your ankle. I had those and I loved them. I used to skate around the neighborhood and all over the place. Then when I came over here (to America from Britain) I got into roller blading and I loved it. But I haven’t done that in awhile.
K – My kids really like to roller skate and that’s why they wanted to know.
P – Do they go to a rink?
K – Yes they do, almost every week.
P – Do they have to not use roller blades…in line skating?
K – They can. They usually do just regular roller skates but they can have roller blades at the rink too. They also like to go ice skating a lot. Now, my son also wanted to know what kind of music you listen to. I kind of laughed at that at first, but then I realized, you can listen to other music than what you play, so…
P – Yeah. To be honest, back in the day I didn’t listen to my own music recreationally.   I enjoyed doing it and I got into it and everything but I never, when I got home, just put it in because I wanted to listen to it.  But  that’s all changed with the last 3 records that we’ve done. I listen to them recreationally. I really like them. Every few days or so, I will listen to them. At first when we recorded the new album, I listened to it non-stop and…well, you’ll just have to find out won’t you? (Laughs) My favorite band at the moment is Rammstein. They are very bombastic and operatic sort of and all of their songs are in German. So, I can’t understand a word of it, but it sounds great and I love it. I also love Fiona Apple, her latest CD is fantastic. If Christina Aguilera could write songs like Fiona Apple, she wouldn’t have to spend so much time in the gym. (Laughs)
K – Do you have any closing comments then?
P – Just it was very nice talking to you, they were good questions. And I enjoyed the kids’ questions a lot. Thank you very much and hopefully see you on our next tour.

Dreams of Damnation (By: Lisa R. Rosner)

(Published in issue # 16)

Loana dP Valencia, is more than a  PR at Nuclear Blast Records (and formerly for Century Media).  She is also the vocalist for Dreams of Damnation with a voice to rival that of Arch Enemy’s Angela Gossow. Fans of the 80’s thrash metal era as well as the more melodic death metal of today will find much to appreciate here.

Dreams of Damnation was scheduled to play at the BW&BK 6-Pack weekend fest a couple years ago, but some inner turmoil with the band caused them to turn around and return home at the last minute. I was very disappointed as I had not only wanted to hear the band’s music, but also to meet my long time favorite PR. (I don’t want to sound like a brownie, but the truth is nonetheless, I owe much to Valencia for the existence of Witch Wolf ‘zine.) I was able to meet some of the other members of DOD at the time however and they seemed really cool.
I am relieved to learn that the difficulties that took place at the BW&BK event have since been resolved. The new album, Epic Tales of Vengeance is proof of the famous quote of Friedrich Nietzsche “That which does not kill you, makes you stronger.”

(After we discuss how much we both like to sleep in late…)
Lisa – So, how exactly did you get to be the vocalist for Dreams of Damnation? I understand you met Jim Durkin at a show and asked him to sign your Dark Angel album.
Loana – Yeah, it was really weird. It was like, the first show that he had done since leaving Dark Angel back in 1988. So, it was just strange. I had left L.A. in, probably 1985, so I had been living away the whole time. I had been living in the Bay Area, in a place between San Francisco and L.A. So, it was about 4 hours away from L.A. I was driving down to see metal shows and I just finally decided ‘let me move back to L.A.’ I hadn’t lived there since I was 15.  So, I just jumped right back into the scene and I caught wind that Jim Durkin was going to be playing at a festival with a band called Dreams of Damnation and so I pulled out my Dark Angel vinyl. They were a three-piece at the time and they were playing their set and I was clutching my vinyl. After they finished their set, he came off the stage and I was so nervous! (Laughs) I went up to him and I’m like “Oh my God, I’m a huge fan. Could you please sign my vinyl?” He looked at me and he said “This is the first Dark Angel vinyl I’d be signing in like, 13 years.” And it was his first show since Dark Angel, so I’m really grateful to whoever it was who organized it. Well actually, I know who it was; his name is Chief. He organizes shows in L.A. That was the first time I met him. It made me remember when I had bought Darkness Descends, when I went to college, and the anger really spoke to me. So, meeting him was kind of nerve-wracking because there I was, meeting somebody who really articulated my anger for me. So, we met and, this was before I was working for Century Media, I had tried to contact him for some promotional items that I was hoping he’d be able to hook me up with.  So we started talking and he invited me over to a practice. They started just jamming tunes and they played Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.” Nobody was singing and I just grabbed the mic and that  very day he was like “I’d like to do a side project with you.” He gave me a song to write lyrics for and I came back with the lyrics and he was like “That’s it, I want you to be in the band.”
Li – That is really cool.
Lo – Yeah. In a way, it’s like my own little fairy tale. (Laughs) It was exciting.
Li – So, you must have done a good impression of Lemmy then.
Lo – I don’t know, but I think it just kind of shocked them. I’m around these guys and I’m not very tall and I guess it’s like…the voice doesn’t match what I look like…and my morning breath is even worse! (Laughs) So yeah, it’s a little heavy metal fairy tale.
Li – I admire your nerve for doing that.
Lo – I think I was just excited, you know? I think I was just like “WOW!” I remember at the time, trying to calm myself down, thinking “Oh my God, I’m going to Jim Durkin’s house, oh my God.” (Laughs) I remember just being like “Whoa, this is bizarre,”
Li – That kind of sounds like how I felt before visiting Jon Schaffer’s shop in Indiana.
Lo – Okay yes, that’s exactly it! Someone you have a lot of respect for and you’ve been a fan of their career and so you get a little bit nervous and you think “Oh I hope I don’t act like an idiot.”
Li – Yes, I worry about that quite often.
Lo – Oh you shouldn’t. But for me it was like “I don’t want to say anything wrong.” But that is the thing to me, the way music can unify people from so many different parts of the world. That is what shows the magic that is capable through this medium. We live completely different lives, all of us. At the time, Dreams of Damnation was a three-piece. The drummer had a different life, the bass player had a different life, Jim had a different life, and I just kind of came back out of nowhere, you know? And that they could all start playing a song and then all of us be on the same page…here that can happen, in Japan it can happen, in Australia it can happen. Music brings so many different people together and be able to establish some sort of camaraderie, some sort of common ground like the first time you meet them. It was Jim I asked for the autograph from back when I first met him. But meeting the drummer and the bass player, again, we were all on the same page, we were all on common ground. That’s the magic that happens around music. Like, say someone who is into classic literature for instance. It might be difficult for them to quote something from Charles Dickens. They wouldn’t be able to recite the 2nd paragraph in the 5th chapter. I mean, maybe there are a few people who can do that. But I think music is a lot easier to remember then, line by line, a quote out of a book…although I’m sure there are people who can do that.

Li – Yes, music is definitely a universal language. Just about everyone everywhere likes some kind of music.
Lo – Right. Exactly.
Li – Dreams of Damnation is your first band, right?
Lo – Yes it is. I had jammed with some friends of mine prior to that, but I didn’t know what I was doing. They were just a guitarist, a drummer and an occasional bassist. We weren’t anything solid. But I kept losing my voice because I was screaming from my throat. It wasn’t until later that I found my diaphragm and that changed everything. This is the first time ever that I’ve been in a band that goes out and gigs and all that. Although I have to say that, for as many shows that I have gone to, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t daydream about it. You’re in the audience, you’re screaming along. You just daydream ‘Oh, it would be so cool to do that!.’ You know? So I think, for one time in my life, I happened to be at the right place at the right time. It’s not typical of my life, so I’m grateful.
Li – I’ve daydreamed about it too, but I know it’s not for me. I’m too shy, unfortunately.
Lo – Well, you never know. I don’t think I would have come into Jim’s practice space and said “Hey, you need a singer.” I don’t think I would ever have done that. I mean, it was more in the spirit of goofing around and everybody was just kind of acting goofy. It was just the stuff of daydreams, you know? It was never like “Hey, I’m going to put an ad in the paper. I’m going to pursue this.” It was never something I thought I could pursue myself, and in that sense, I owe Jim for that. He saw something in me that I didn’t, so I’m really grateful for that.
Li – I always thought you had a really nice speaking voice. What made you decide you wanted to do vocals like this? Just for the aggression of it?
Lo – First I’ve got to tell you that I can’t sing. I can not. I listen to Black Sabbath’s Mob Rules and I hear Ronnie James Dio’s voice and it just gives me chills. I love the song “Voodoo.” I love that song, but I can’t sing it. So, I didn’t necessarily know what I was capable of. I didn’t know that I could sing that way, but I knew that I couldn’t sing. To me, Ronnie James Dio sings, Steve Perry sings, and ‘Ripper’ Owens, man he rips! But I don’t, no way. I can’t do that. When I first started, I didn’t know. I think it was just through trial and error, you know? I was trying to find range because I remember being very monotone. I didn’t necessarily look to any guides, like “Okay, let me listen to this Kreator album, okay, let me listen to that.” I didn’t do any of that because I didn’t want to influence myself. I really wanted to find my own voice and that meant just doing it on my own. So through trial and error, I found a range. I can go low and I could hit certain highs. I can’t go way high like ‘Ripper’ Owens. But I have to tell you, I really didn’t know I could do this, I really didn’t. So, it’s been kind of surprising to myself as well. When it came time to record the vocals for the album, I was really lucky in the sense of who we were working with. His name is Chris Trent. We opened up for Exodus at a show in Hollywood and he came out because he wanted to meet us. He didn’t expect a band on the bill that he might be interested in, so he came out to meet us and we’ve been friends ever since. He’s a professional and does sound for movies and stuff like that. He’s a great guy and he has the patience of stone. So when it came time to record, he really listened to what I had to say about me being able to record the vocal range I had. We had an aborted attempt to record an EP before, but the gentleman who was engineering it didn’t listen to me about it. Because I can’t sing in front of a fixed microphone. If it’s set up like that and right in front of my face, I can’t hit my range. It’s kind of a psychological thing. I talked to Peter Dolvinn of The Haunted about it and I talked to the guys  of  Darkane  about  it and  asked this and that like, “What did you guys do and did it work for you?” I knew it wasn’t working for me. So that first attempt, he (the engineer) wasn’t listening to me about it when I said “I know I can sound better but I can’t do it with this microphone. What can we do?” He basically said “Can’t do anything. That’s the way it’s set up, That’s it.” I was like “Well that’s rotten.” So then I just sounded very flat. But with Chris Trent, what he did was give me a hand held Beta 58 and he put a muff on it. So, I could hold it and he said “Go ahead.”  And that resulted on what you hear on the album. And that is more what I do live. I knew that I wanted the live setting and what I do in a live setting over me being in the studio trying to stand in front of a fixed microphone where I couldn’t move around.  So, that’s more what you get live and I’m happy about it.

Li – I guess it would be hard to reach that sincere aggression standing still. Something would definitely be held back then.
Lo – Yeah. The interesting thing is that Peter Dolvinn said “You’ve got to get over the psychology of that.” Because to me, his aggression on his first album, I was blown away by it. I mean, he and Phil Anselmo, what they can get, what they can capture, wow. I knew, again, the first attempt (with DOD) wasn’t how it was supposed to sound. But even after Peter said to get over the psychology of it, I was like “No, because you use your body.” There’s a potential energy that you use when you’re gearing up to do something. You use your torso. It doesn’t just come out of my diaphragm, it comes out of the whole movement of it. I’ll tell you, there were times that I was on the floor! (Laughs) I was on the floor going “AAAHHH!,” you know? But that’s what I do live. So I’m really glad that we were able to find a way to do it because I knew there had to be another way. So, I found my way and I found it early and I’m happy about that.
Li – Do you do anything special to take care of your voice then, to keep from wearing it out?
Lo – Actually, I have a harder time like, if I’m at a club, not band related at all, but just going to a gig where they’re playing loud music over the P.A. and I’m trying to talk to somebody over that. That’s a lot harder on my voice than just doing the gig. So in terms of recording, it really made a difference whether I was well rested or not. Like when I was really fatigued, I had tried to go over after working a full day to Chris’ house. As soon as we tried it and I started to sing, my voice just cracked. I was like “Wow, we’re really not going to be able to do anything tonight.” He was like “Nope.” (Laughs) So that next Saturday, I slept in until like 2:30 in the afternoon, showed up at his place around 3:00 and we were knocking out songs left and right. So, it’s fatigue that really prevents you from giving your best. I know my band mates follow that as well. They always want to make sure that they’re well rested the night before and not out partying and all that in order to make sure they have the energy to go out on stage.

Li – Well, I hope I get to see you guys live sometime.
Lo – Oh I know, we’d love to. This time we’ve got to play in Wooster so that you don’t have to travel anywhere. (We laugh)
Li – Yes, that would be very cool.
Lo – I know what it’s like to have to travel to go to shows. I think it’s a sign of how much you love the music that you love. (Laughs) Unfortunately there’s not always a venue that would take artists from a particular type of music in, because they don’t understand it. They’re afraid “Oh God, heavy metal,” or whatever. Some venues will request a CD and some won’t do metal at all. But if we find one out there…
Li – There at least used to be a place called The Gemini that  had metal bands. I never went there actually, but I always heard it was a real dump. There is a club here called Infinity that sometimes has local metal bands play. It’s not very amazing either though.
Lo – Infinity? Okay, that’s cool. I’m writing it down.
Li – I was really into thrash metal when I was in high school too…
Lo – Really? Which bands did you listen to?
Li – There were a few, but the absolute main ones for me were Death Angel, Slayer and Testament.
Lo – Oh my God, yes, yes! Actually, we just watched Testament’s Live in London yesterday, what incredible staying power!
Li – Yeah, and I’ve met most of those guys at one time or another and they were all really cool. I just saw Death Angel again after all this time at the BW&BK show last year. It was pretty exciting for me.
Lo – They are so tight. They have like, telepathic communication on stage. They are so tight and they play so well together because they’ve been doing it for so long.
Li – Before that, I had seen them during their Act lll tour. They still definitely have it. So, what was the first metal concert you ever saw?
Lo – It was a festival back in 1983, it had Van Halen, the Scorpions, Motley Crue, Triumph and Quiet Riot. Van Halen was headlining. I found out later that Jim Durkin was there too. Again, it’s like our paths had been crossing and then finally we were in the same room together. Anyway, I’m a huge Van Halen fan. Eddie Van Halen has brought so much to the table with his guitar work and his unorthodox way of doing things. I definitely think that Jim has that element too.  He does things in a very unorthodox way. He has a really great relationship with all those guys in Witchery and The Haunted. So when they come through town, like Patrik Jensen would sit him down and ask him “How do you play that riff in “The Promise of Agony” off of Leave Scars? He couldn’t figure it out. So he played it and it’s a very unorthodox way that he uses his fingers on the fretboard. So he definitely has an element of that in there and again, it’s just weird that the first gig that I went to, we were both there. But we didn’t know each other and Darkness Descends hadn’t even come out yet. Actually, We Have Arrived hadn’t even come out yet and that was their first album. So yeah, that was my first concert though. Van Halen, they ruled. And Motley Crue, oh my God! (Laughs)
Li – Yeah, I used to really like Motley Crue too, during the era of their first two albums especially.
Lo – Yeah. After Shout at the Devil I wasn’t really much into them anymore.
Li – Same here.
Lo – The first album (Too Fast for Love) was awesome and Shout at the Devil was cool. But then, nah. They went down a road that I didn’t want to follow.
Li – If you don’t mind my asking, what happened with Dreams of Damnation at the BW&BK fest?
Lo – Just band stuff. I think that because you have so many different personalities in a band, there are times when not everyone sees eye to eye. Unfortunately what happened was an argument that maybe many other bands have in their practice space. But we had it there and the issues came up prior to our performance. The good thing is, to get something positive out of something that could have been very lethal was that it made us stronger. We pledged to have better communication  and we really kind of rebuilt ourselves from the ground up. And I can look back on that and say “That needed to happen.” That honestly needed to happen for us to be where we’re at now. It’s a space that we never want to be back in again.
Li – That’s good that it all turned out for the better then. I was still really disappointed at the time.
Lo – I know, we all were. But again, it’s just one of those things that had to happen. You don’t see its purpose right away, you’re kind of just like “Why is this happening now?” You kind of lament that, but then later you look at it  like “oh that had to happen so that this could happen.” So you learn from this very important mistake. So, it had to happen and Epic Tales of Vengeance is the result of it and we’re very happy.
Li – Hopefully I’ll get another chance to see you sometime.
Lo – You will. It will happen, yeah. We do want to tour.
Li – I still have the Dreams of Damnation button that one of the guys gave me at BW&BK.
Lo – You do? Oh my God! You know, we’re always amazed at where those things will end up. (Laughs) Wow, that’s pretty awesome, one is in Wooster, that’s cool. (We laugh)
Li – So if Dreams of Damnation starts becoming very successful, how do you think it will affect your career as a PR?

Lo – I’ve worried about that too. (Laughs) I think that it would probably push me to the point where I really need to catch up with technology. I mean, I don’t even have cable! There’s a lot of stuff I don’t have  that would probably help me. Like, I’d probably have to invest in a wireless laptop computer so that I would still be able to work while on the road. I know there are a lot of people who have done stuff like this. I would just need to catch up on technology so that I’d be able to do something. At this point, it’s really all about using vacation days. Like, okay, we’re going to go out of town and so I’m going to use vacation days and then wind up back at work on Monday or whatever. But if this ever takes off, I know that I would want to keep doing the work that I do. Again, I would essentially just present a plan, like “I’m going to do this, this is how I’m going to do it,” you know? I’m hoping the company (Nuclear Blast) will be flexible.
Li – I hope so too because I like working with you.
Lo – Believe me, it’s always a joy to hear from you. To get to talk to you this way, it’s somewhat a little strange. (Laughs) But I really appreciate your support. It really means a lot to us, so I want to thank you for being supportive and for listening to the album.

Immortal Forsaken (By: Lisa R. Rosner)

(Published in issue # 16)

Immortal Forsaken is an interesting band that is mostly influenced by Industrial and metal, yet incorpoarting a unique, almost soundtrack feel to their sound. Here is the interview I recently conducted with band member, Chad Boyd…

1. Give a quick run down on the band’s history. When and how did it form? Band members past and present.
CHAD – The band started in 1995 in Duluth GA. In the beginning it was me (Chad) on guitar and vocals, and Eric Peebles on Bass. Us trying to be somewhat of a metal band at first without drums. We were also under the name Forsaken then. We did add another member as more like a joke ‘The Guy in the chair.’ In fact he really didn’t do anything but was lead vocals for one of our songs. At the time it felt right to have him as member of the band. Another very close friend of ours Sean Morrissey of the band Ground: Xero was a guest guitar player from time to time. The band has yet to play live. It’s more of a studio band. Well the first album called Live In The Band Room. The name says it all. It was me on guitar and vocals and Eric on bass. We hit record with a mixer and a stereo that recorded tapes. Later the band started to use our home computers to record with. The lyrics on the first album were written by Eric and myself. Not long after that I moved to North Carolina. I now live in Alabama, and Eric still lives in Athens, GA  but that did not stop us from making music. We started to use the internet and e-mail to send files of songs back and forth. And this is way before mp3s were even heard of. So we had to chop up evey track into 12 parts and send them by e-mail or programs that let you send files over the internet one at a time, And then put them together once you had all the parts. We worked on them that way. Yeah it was a pain in the ass to do it but worth it. The 2nd album called Insanity, was written and put together mostly by myself. Eric got the Internet later than I did. The 2nd album I guess you can say was metal trying to go to more of the industrial sounds, with out drums still. The 3rd album, Crushed, the music sound changed into more actual industrial metal (what we could do at the time.) Very little drums. Eric was mixing everything, programing and on synthesizers as well. With me still on vocals and guitar and some effects and samples. The 4th album is really an EP with one new song and remixes of old songs. The 5th album, called Manifest Destiny, was our first album that had programed drums on every song. It was the last album to be under the name Forsaken. Eric came up with the name Forsaken in the beginning. It was from our favorite book series, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. Later we found out there was a signed band called Forsaken and also other unsigned bands out there using the same name. So we changed the named to Immortal Forsaken and it still fits where the name came from. That was 1999. There are a lot of different tracks we did under the name Immortal Forsaken and we are still working on the album.
2. What is available if anything? How can people who are interested in hearing your music check you out?
CHAD –The only album under the name Forsaken that we would still make is the last album Manifest Destiny. In the beginning, with the first albums, we gave them away for free. Eric and I always just wanted to be heard. We are not looking for profit in our music. Don’t  get me wrong it would be nice if we did, but the music is always first before money. It is fun for us to make music. We enjoyed people taking the time to listen to our music and if they liked it, that’s what paid off for us. But it started to get pricey to just give our albums away, so we only charge now for what it takes to make a CD and shipping. That is it. You can still get our stuff through me. I take checks (or cash if it’s in person). We do have a Myspace page too where you can hear some stuff from Manifest Destiny and a lot of new tracks as well. I could also send some mp3s out maybe by e-mail. You can e-mail us at immortalforsaken@hotmail.com.
3. How would you personally describe the style of your music?
CHAD – Our sound is like Industrial, Ambient, and Metal.
4. Who were some of your favorite bands and influences when you started Immortal Forsaken?
CHAD – I think mainly Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, KMFDM, Nine Inch Nails, VNV Nation, Velvet Acid Christ, Judas Priest, Rob Halford, (old) Metallica, Fear Factory, Faith No More and Tool. On our Myspace page, it’s funny because we typed up everything we used to listen to and everything we listen to now as our influences. It’s a long list. I think we need to add a ton of new stuff we got into since we wrote that too!
5. Who are some of your favorite bands and influences today?

CHAD – I have to say Skinny Puppy, Judas Priest, Rob Halford (anything by Halford), Epica, Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy, 3 Inches Of Blood, After Forever, Austrian Death Machine, The Birthday Massacre, Bjork, Blood Stain Child, Blind Guardian, Candlemass, Carcass, Carnivore, Children Of Bodom, Collide, Dark Tranquility, Deathstars, Delerium, Devin Townsend, Dimmu Borgir, Dream Evil, Emperor, Evergrey, Faith No More, Fear Factory, Fight, Front Line Assembly, Hypocrisy, Iced Earth,Iron Maiden, KMFDM, Lacuna Coil, Leather Strip, Leaves’ Eyes, Mind.In.Box., Ministry, Moonspell, Mortiis, Motorhead, The Nephilim, Nightwish, Nine Inch Nails, Ohgr, Old Man’s Child, Opeth, Pain, Pantera, A Perfect Circle, Pigface, Primal Fear, Rammstein, Razed In Black, Rob Zombie, Samael, Slayer, Soilwork, Sonic Syndicate,  Static X, Strapping Young Lad,  Tenacious D, Tool, Tristania, Type O Negative, Velvet Acid Christ, VNV Nation…That’s to name a few that I have been listening to lately and some I just got into. So many to name so many to remember. I love all these bands. I’m very grateful for them all!

6. What are your hopeful future plans for the band?
CHAD – My future plans for the band would be to finish this album we have been working on forever! I’d like to play live one day. I’d also like to try different things with my voice, like with harmony, spoken word, screams and effects. That kind of stuff.
7. Do you feel your newer influences will have an effect on any future music you write with the band?
CHAD – I would very much like to hope so. I would love to put more heavy stuff in our music. Like if you put Skinny Puppy, Epica, Dimmu Borgir, VNV Nation, Judas Priest, Halford, in a bowl and stir it up and see what comes out. Well really put the whole list of bands I said here and do the same thing. I would like Immortal Forsaken maybe to have an Industrial meets Symphonic meets, Melodic meets Black and Death metal kind of sound. Which might be asking too much but I’ll settle for anything close to any of that. I really want more metal put in at the very least.
8. What are some of your hobbies and interests besides the band and music?
CHAD – I love to read books, mostly Fantasy, Horror and Sci Fi novels. I love to write stories as well as poetry, play video games on the Xbox 360, I  love to watch movies and a lot of TV shows, collecting comic books, and spending every chance I can get with my girlfriend.
9. Any particular reason behind the name Immortal Forsaken?
CHAD – Yes, I said that earlier but the names Forsaken and Immortal Forsaken came from the same book series. Eric and I love the Robert Jordan Wheel Of Time books.
10. How can interested people best reach you for more information?

CHAD – Either our Myspace page http://www.myspace.com/immortalforsaken or email forsakenman2000@yahoo.com or the bands’s e-mail immortalforsaken@hotmail.com
11. Anything you would like to add?
CHAD – Yes, that Immortal Forsaken is still working on new stuff and we will get the new album out when it’s done. I can’t say when though, so please be patient on it. Also, anyone out there that ever wants to make music: never give up. Everyone has a right to be heard. Don’t give up when someone thinks you’re no good because that’s a  part of it. If you love what you are doing then do it. Don’t stop, because someone out there is going to like what you make and come with. I don’t plan to stop either. Just doing the best I can, like we all should. Stay metal. Hails!

Real Steel (By: Missy Swinderman)

(Interview with Bobby Stocker/published in issue # 16)

Well, like it or not, it seems that the 80’s are back. Maybe not the 10-inches tall, pink Aqua Net sprayed hair or the leopard print spandex pants (complete with sock bulge). And maybe not even the  plastic Barbie-like cookie-cutter chicks in micro mini-skirts, rubber bracelets and stiletto heeled boots.  For those of you lucky enough to miss all of that, thank your lucky stars! That part wasn’t so pretty! BUT…the music was another matter!
The metal music of the 1980’s was trendsetting, new and exciting! It was loud, obnoxious and in-your-face! Bands like Ratt, Cinderella, Dokken, Twisted Sister, Poison, Guns N’ Roses, LA Guns, Warrant, Extreme, Motley Crue, Kix, Lita Ford, Kingdom Come, Triumph, Tesla and many, many more threw their hats in the ring and hit it big in the 80’s! -REALLY BIG!      Then, as fast as it began, it was over. In steps Kurt Cobain and it was bye-bye hair metal and hello alternative/grunge/pseudo punk!  Who knows what would have happened if Cobain hadn’t died, but he did, and those of us in my generation turned back to our first true music love: Hair/glam metal! Then, a great thing happened. Kids from all over the place were re-discovering 80’s metal and soon it was nearly as popular as it had been back then.

One great example of this was the ROCKLAHOMA concert, held in Pryor, Oklahoma. The line-up of 80’s metal bands was phenomenal. 30,000 + fans showed up from all  over the US and as far away as Germany and France.  Despite the pesky storm which turned the crowd into mud people, the show went on..
One of the secondary acts that was there to support  the main acts was a special band called Real Steel, from the Cleveland/New Philadelphia Ohio area.
Recently, I had the opportunity to quickly speak with Bobby Stocker, drummer for Real Steel, about what the band has been up to and where they are headed..
Missy- Hey Bobby, how are you doing?
Bobby – Great, great.
M – Real Steel has been back together for awhile now. How is it working with you and Scott here in Ohio and then Dave and Paul in Florida?
B – Really, it’s not too bad. We’ve been playing these songs together for so long, it’s just second nature to us basically.
M – Are you working on any new material or just re-releasing  the old stuff?
B – Both, actually. But working on new material long distance is a little harder than  just stepping up and playing stuff you’ve played for years.

M – Per WMMS radio station and SCENE Magazine, Real Steel were the metal gods of the 1990’s. You had a #1 hit on Cleveland radio, knocking Extreme out of that spot for  a few weeks. But you were also local heroes..not as well known outside of Ohio. How did the Rocklahoma crowd respond to music they had probably never heard before?
B – The crowd was great!  We fed off their energy and they fed off ours. The whole set came off without a hitch.
M – So, any plans for another Rocklahoma?
B – That’s pretty much up to our record company and PR people, but yes, we would love to do it again. It was a lot of fun and we got to meet a lot of the headlining acts that are heroes to us.
M – What do you think of this 80’s metal music resurgence? (More like pandemic!)
B – I think it’s great. Because people who weren’t here to enjoy it the first time are now getting to hear it..and they like it!
M – You guys are all keeping busy with side projects as well, is that correct?
B – Oh yeah. I’m in the bands Truth and Shapes. Scott Smalley (vocals and bass) has Electric Mud. Paul Anthony (dual rhythm & lead guitar) has the Paul Anthony Band in St. Petersburg, Florida. David (lead guitars) tours  with the Jimmy Van Zandt Band.,
M – Well, Bobby, maybe one day Real Steel will be the headliner at Rocklahoma and another local band will be there to support you!
Thank you for taking the time to give me an interview. Keep Rocking!