DAVID REECE Talks About Performing in Bulgaria, Sainted Sinners and His Upcoming Solo Album

20180329_203030Meeting David Reece for the second time in Bulgaria was an absolute delight and I sure as hell wasn’t going to skip the opportunity to talk to one of the most memorable and strong voices of rock music. David Reece, who is well known by his works in bands such as Accept, Bonfire and more recently, Sainted Sinners is a huge fan of Bulgaria and the rock community over here adores him so his visit was no surprise. He is coming back pretty soon again and I, along with his fans will be waiting with anticipation.

I met David last year when he came to Bulgaria with Sainted Sinners and Ian Paice for one of the best rock shows of 2017. Seeing him perform the songs on which rock laid its foundations on (from Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake, etc.), as well as fresh new additions to the world of rock&roll was a mind-blowing experience and now I can proudly state that I was part of it all yet again and not just as a fan or a concert attendee. I had the golden chance of speaking to him about many things, including his upcoming activities as a solo artist and with Sainted Sinners, the music industry, how things have changed in the past years and so much more. He gave me such valuable insights on many things rock-music related and I am glad I can now share it with all of you – my precious readers and lovers of rock music. I do hope you enjoy the following interview and photos from his recent visit in Bulgaria.

P.S.

I would like to express my gratitude to Bulgarian rock singer Sheky and his band for backing up David Reece during this memorable night! Those guys did a wonderful job and I’m certainly proud of them! International collaborations are so beautiful!


 

How do you feel tonight and how does it feel to be back in Bulgaria? It’s not your first time being here so I’m curious to know what do you think of the Bulgarian rock community?

I realized when I came here the first time, the passion from the people was intense. I’ve been told so many times here – “You know, I really wanna see this band, they never come to our country.” I’m coming! And every time I come here, more people come to see me. I’ve built a fanbase here and I feel like people respect what I do and I respect that. I’m welcomed here and it’s a good market because many bands pass by – they only look at keeping the same, say Germany’s fees and Sweden’s fees, they wanna keep that balance. I don’t believe that. I think that you have to work with the dynamic of the market.

Is there a song you’re mostly looking forward to singing tonight?

Yeah, I’m actually a huge fan of the album from Whitesnake “Forevermore”. That song. I wanted to do it last time I was here, but the guys didn’t learn it. I think I really sing it good. I do it my way but I keep some of the Coverdale sound in it. I’m excited. Last time I was here, we ran out of time and the owner wanted more songs. So I sang an acapella. Everybody stood up and started cheering. That’s what I mean about Bulgaria! They know the songs, everybody loves music.

Are you performing any of your solo material or any Sainted Sinners music tonight?

No, I’m gonna do one Accept song – “Generation Clash”. I do that, everybody knows this song so I usually play that live.

You have recently released a new album with Sainted Sinners and it’s getting some really nice reviews. I also thought that it was a big step forward in comparison with the debut album in terms of production, songwriting, passion and energy. I’m curious if there’s a particular theme or topic you followed while making the album? How did you pick and write the songs?

The vision was – we all come from the old Deep Purple thing and that was kind of our ‘70s sound with the Hammond keyboards. Ferdy is a great keyboard player. Frank said, “How do you feel about a more guitar-oriented album?” I said okay but you can’t go from heavy guitar and keyboards and jump right into guitar – the fans who liked the first album are gonna go “What happened?” So we put little colors and keyboards on the new album. There’s a lot more guitar. Frank really gets to show his talent there.

As far as the songwriting goes, Frank and I have this weird telepathy. We don’t really speak. We play really well together, we have this really good writing relationship. When he sends me an idea, I hear the words immediately. I’m not a lyricist who wants to write “woah woah, baby baby, I love you” lyrics. I hate it. I would rather write about what I’m watching on television or what people are talking about in a club or person-to-person conversations. I hear words in my head and then I write the lyrics.

So now that the album is out, is there a next step for Sainted Sinners? Do you plan on touring together?

It’s really hard for the fans. Frank is in Bonfire. Sainted Sinners is our kind of a side project. So, I have to live in the shadow of that in a sense and I don’t like it. I would rather have more focus on Sainted Sinners but it’s not possible. One of the reasons it that Bonfire tour more. We did five shows this year on the release and it’s not enough for me.

But what I’ve done is, I’m playing my solo stuff. In July, there’s a giant festival that I’m part of. I’m headlining on the Friday night. I said, “What do you think about Sainted Sinners on Saturday before the major headliner?” So I think we’re gonna do that but Frank’s schedule is… it’s really hard.

I wanna play more but I’m not gonna sit around and wait for an opportunity. I’m gonna grab it while it’s still there for me.

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Perhaps you can maybe focus on recording new albums rather than touring?

I’m open to that with Frank. No reason why not to, we have a great writing relationship, there’s no animosity, but I really believe that if you’re a band and you’re making records, you should be touring behind those albums. I can make 50 albums a year with all the great guitar players who are home for the weekend. I don’t like that. I wanna tour what I do. You really don’t get the song until you tour it.

Tell me about your solo album. I know that it’s coming out this year.

I signed with “Mighty Music”. The story really quickly is I know a guy – Alessandro Lifonti who is very good friends with Mike Tramp.  Mike Tramp and I did shows together in the USA. I wrote Ali one day and said “I wanna make a solo album. What does Mike Tramp say about his label – Target and Mighty Music?” He said he really likes it. I said I’ll write Mike Tramp so I wrote Mike and he said “Yeah, they’d be interested.” Within minutes I had a record deal. I signed a multi-album deal. The music is very modern, heavy, melodic. If you like Accept’s “Eat the Heat”, that’s what it is vocally but it’s more modern rather than the cliché AOR.

Where did you draw your influences from?

I don’t know. I like bands like Nickelback. I enjoy them and some of those sounds they have, I think they’re great. People criticize them but they still go see their concerts.

It’s not Nickelback music (his new album) but it’s more modern than what I’m used to doing. I’m really excited cause it’s heavy. My voice is in great shape on it. Mario Percudani at Tanzan Music is recording my vocals. The band is from Denmark – the two guitar players.

So we are expecting something modern?

Modern and heavy and very melodic. Very heavy but not dark. Really good, I think it’s my best album in many years and I mean that from my heart. I’m really shocked.

So maybe by doing a more modern record, you’re getting the attention of many younger fans? Is that something you’ve thought about?

No. I kind of got bored, writing the same style. I wanted to reach out and expand my horizons. I’ve had these ideas in my head for a few years. In 2017, April – around that time, I wrote the first song, called “Karma”. That was the template of the album.

When does the album come out?

November 2018.

Maybe when you release it you can come back and have a show here to present it?

Yeah, I hope.

Is there anything you wanna say to the younger generations of rock fans, like myself?

If you believe in what you’re doing and you’re talented, then nobody can tell you that it’s not gonna work. One thing you have to learn in this business is how to say “no”. If you don’t like something and you feel it in your heart that it’s not right for you, don’t do it. I did that for years with the big record companies. They always had this great plan and in my heart that didn’t sound right and it usually failed. Follow your dream, believe in it. You’re gonna get kicked down. Rise like a phoenix – like the song in the Sainted Sinners album. Stand up! My mother used to say – “You get kicked in the teeth all the time, but you always rise like a phoenix and come back!” It’s disappointing, but there is joy and if you believe in it and it’s really you, then it’s real.

Thank you, Dave for the awesome talk! I wish you all the success and hope to see you in my country again, soon!

david reece autographed cd

What a valuable collection piece – ACCEPT’s “Eat the Heat”, signed by David Reece!

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Photos, retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/pg/rocknrollasofia/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10155827891389843

Some of the photos, including the featured image were taken from the official Facebook page of the venue. Huge thanks to the photographer. For more, check out the following link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/rocknrollasofia/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10155827891389843
P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

Album Review: FM – ATOMIC GENERATION (2018)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

I’m immensely excited and so eager to talk about FM’s highly anticipated new album – “Atomic Generation”. What a time to be alive and to be a rock music fan! One of the most brilliant, most talented (though underrated in my opinion) bands is BACK and that’s not even the best thing. FM are back with what might be one of the most sophisticated and valuable releases of 2018. I knew they would bring their A game but what they brought turned out to be way more than that – “Atomic Generation” is a superb manifestation of talent, thought and thrill!

FM are widely known by their late ‘80s/early ‘90s albums, such as “Tough it Out” and “Takin It’ to The Street”. However, the past 10 years the guys have spawned some equally deserving masterpieces, including “Heroes and Villains” (2015) and INDISCREET 30” – a new recording of their classic 1986 album. Now, it’s 2018 and it was time to dive into a new adventure – an eleventh one to be precise. “Atomic Generation” further solidifies their position as one of the undefeated champions of melodic rock and is another proof that the AOR era is everything but gone.

Let’s talk music! (I love this phrase so much)

11 stunning melodic rock pieces are shaping the eleventh studio album of FM. Don’t know if they did that on purpose but it’s pretty cool, isn’t it? Two things easily come to mind when you listen to this album for the very first time – firstly, once you hear Steve Overland sing, literally nothing else in life matters at that particular moment; the guy has a voice made of gold and he deserves all the praises for being in such great vocal shape; secondly, there’s an obvious, highly pleasant consistency trapped inside “Atomic Generation” that clearly shows why FM are one of the most cherished British melodic rock acts ever since the late ‘80s.

The opening track, “Black Magic”, is like a fresh breeze, gently playing with your senses. The intro is one of its strongest points, along with those “whoa-oh” sing-along moments. Love how FM put so many different unique touches on it – grooves, hooks, nostalgic melodic rock vibes, modern-day funky sounds and so much more. It never gets boring and I must have played it over a hundred times already. “Too Much of a Good Thing” is what I expect to hear on the radio during a sunny spring ride around town. The song has so much soul and color and you gotta be made of ice if it doesn’t touch your heart even a little bit. The Santana-reminiscent “Playing Tricks on Me” is an absolute winner and one of the greatest moments on the record. The second it starts playing, don’t hesitate – grab the person next to you and dance your night away! After that passionate fiesta is over, we are moving ahead with more traditional FM sound in the face of “Make the Best of What You Got”. “Stronger” is my favorite song from the album and it was love at first listen for me. The keyboard intro knocked me down and the progression of the song finished me. I am completely inlove with the lyrics and the powerful, encouraging, mood-lifting personality of the song – it was the thing I needed but didn’t know I do. The album wraps things up with “Love is the Law” – a soft, acoustic country ballad that cools off the spirits, with the help of Steve’s magical voice.

“Atomic Generation” can easily compete with all the FM’s classic albums in terms of influence and musicianship. I am praising them for all the effort they put in presenting such musical variety and still remain as classy as ever. It’s one of the albums of the year, you can trust me on that.


“Black Magic”

“Playing Tricks on Me”

 

TRACKLIST:

1. Black Magic 

2. Too Much Of A Good Thing

3. Killed By Love

4. In It For The Money

5. Golden Days

6. Playing Tricks On Me

7. Make The Best Of What You Got

8. Follow Your Heart

9. Do You Love Me Enough

10. Stronger

11. Love Is The Law

 

Links: 

http://www.fmofficial.com/fmofficial/index.html
https://www.facebook.com/FMofficial
https://twitter.com/FMofficial
https://www.youtube.com/user/FMofficialTV


References:
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Concert Experience: Johnny Gioeli (HARDLINE, AXEL RUDI PELL) @ Joy Station, Sofia, Bulgaria (24/03/2018)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

johny event

This past Sunday (24.03) I had the opportunity to witness for the very first time a beloved musician in live action! You all know how much I love Hardline so you can only imagine how excited I was to see Johnny Gioeli perform in the same city I live in – Sofia, Bulgaria.

The anticipation was big and nothing or no one could’ve prevented me from attending this concert. I had some idea of how things would go – I’ve watched plenty of videos and concerts of Hardline and Johnny, so I knew that this wasn’t going to be your ordinary concert where a performer just goes out, does their thing real quick and calls it a night by the time you had the chance to even warm up. Johnny is certainly way more than that and it’s thrilling that Bulgarian fans could see him doing his own thing right in front of their eyes.

This wasn’t and I certainly hope won’t be the last time those artists get together on the Bulgarian stage. Based on what I saw, they share deep respect for each other and most importantly the same love for rock music. That’s exactly the reason why it felt so right to see them as one whole, rather than a singer and a few musicians that accompany him.

The place was Joy Station, the city was Sofia…The club was just stunning! I’ve never been there so kudos for all the great work and resources put to make it recreate that old-schook rocknroll vibe! At around 10pm the show began. Bulgarian rock band Eridan joined him on the stage and were responsible for the heavy riffs and awesome playing that accompanied Johnny’s one-of-a-kind voice! I think it was indeed a great match and I’m more than happy that such great international music collaborations have been well-established and working out so perfectly!

The energy that was coming out from that stage was beyond anything I’ve seen before. From the audience interaction, to the funny jokes; from the passionate delivery to the song selection – Johnny was a hurricane of emotions, talent, dedication, tons of character and personality and most importantly – love for the fans and the people who came to show their adoration and respect. My smile was on my face throughout the entire evening – it was one great moment, after another; whether it was a song or something he said to make us laugh, Johnny just knew how to create a special place in the minds of the audience and stay there for a long long time…

In terms of songs, I was pleasantly surprised to hear classic Hardline tunes, such as “Hot Cherie”, “Dr.Love”. You all know how much “Double Eclipse” mean to me as an album and inspiration, so the excitement of FINALLY witnessing how this album materializes in front of me, was indeed indescribable. Johnny performed what is arguably Hardline’s most successful and instantly-recognizable hit, “Hot Cherie” more than 900 times throughout his career (according to his sarcastic, yet funny comment before the song began) but he still sings it with the same amount of passion and energy with which he did for the very first time many years ago!

I was hoping that “Rhythm from a Red Car” was gonna be included in the setlits, since it’s my favorite Double Eclipse song but it didn’t work out for me. Hopefully next time!!  

Newer Hardline hits, such as “Fever Dream” were also part of the evening. The way he delivered this song to us became one of the highlights for the night, at least to me. Axel Rudi Pell’s popular track “The Masquerade Ball” was of course on the playlist as well and of course, another moment to remember.

Moreover, classic rock tunes such as “Temple of the King” were welcomed with not just applauses but burning flames inside the eyes of the fans. Johnny did great justice to this song and DIO would’ve been immensely proud, for sure. “Mistreated” by Deep Purple was another cover Johnny and Eridan did. I love this song – it’s probably in my Top3 favorite DP songs, so for me, this was a very special moment. Johnny killed it (but no surprises there)!

These are some of the photos and videos I took from the concert. I was right in front of the stage so I managed to capture some really nice shots. Johnny was running like a wild tornado from one corner of the stage to the other so capturing him for a still photo was almost impossible. I did my best though!

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Huge thanks to everyone who made this concert possible – Johhny, Eridan, the organization, the club and the fans! I will remember it and cherish this memory forever!


P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

[Album Review] SAINTED SINNERS are “Back With a Vengeance” (2018)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

sainted sinners

Follow SAINTED SINNERS on Facebook:

 

Intro:

I got the chance to meet the supergroup Sainted Sinners in late 2017, when together with the legendary Ian Paice of Deep Purple, they gave one of the concerts of the year in my home country of Bulgaria. (You can read all about my experience here: Concert Experience: SAINTED SINNERS & IAN PAICE @ Diana Hall, Yambol, Bulgaria (28/10/2017) Who knew that the concert would introduce me to one of the most interesting rock acts of the year…

Needless to say, when you put together a supergroup, consisting of the former ACCEPT singer David Reece, Bonfire guitarist Frank Pané, bassist Malte Frederik Burkert, drummer Berci Hirleman (former PURPENDICULAR members) and keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg (AXEL RUDI PELL), you can’t but expect phenomenon results. The band’s signature raw rock&roll/back-to-basics style, attitude, fashion even… all that is what drove my attention to Sainted Sinners and their music. Seeing them live on that stage, creating pure hard rock magic, cemented my opinion of the band and kept me awake till the next time new music would be introduced by them.

Fans and rock music enthusiasts didn’t have to wait that long. A follow-up to their self-titled debut album was released this February 16, suitably titled “Back with a Vengeance” – a powerful statement right from the title till the very last song! I cannot wait to talk a little bit about it and share my excitement with my readers who are looking for something refreshing, yet old-school to keep them warm during the cold days.

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The Album:

As previously mentioned, “Back with a Vengeance” is the sophomore release of Sainted Sinners, coming out a year after the debut. The album manages to capture the signature sound of the band and present a worthier, if not even much improved, more confident version of the supergroup.

“Rise Like a Phoenix” kicks things off. It’s a solid opener with a relatively long guitar intro that transforms into a classic rocker, boosted by David‘s superb vocals that basically dominate over the entire album. I’ve always been a fan of the “resurrection” theme, presented in so many songs; it’s indeed quite empowering – so Sainted Sinners have big thumbs up from me because of the lyrics and the message they send. “Burnin the Candle” has to be one of the highlights of the album and certainly the most uplifting sing-along track from them all. The riffs remind me a little bit of Van Halen and that’s certainly a huge compliment to the guitarist Frank Pané. The title track is quite groovy and ear-pleasing, smoothly transitioning from neat riffs to astonishing screams. “Tell Me I Was Wrong” is a personal favorite but no surprises here – you know I’m a hopeless romantic with adoration for the emotional mid-tempo/ballad type of songs. David is giving me all the feels on this one. “When the Hammer Falls” is yet another moment you gotta check out – very classy, Deep Purple/Rainbow reminiscent song with great hooks and captivating vibes.

“Back with a Vengeance” is definitely something you need to check out in case you haven’t done it yet. The guys are having fun, doing what they do best, bringing the old ways of rock music making into 2018 with tons of class and dedication. The influences of well-established acts like Whitesnake, Rainbow, Deep Purple, etc. can definitely be heard here and there, however the individual souls of the band members are at present, each bringing something unique to the table.

Cheers to them!

“Burnin The Candle”

“Back with a Vengeance”


References:
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Johnny Gioeli (HARDLINE, AXEL RUDI PELL) to Perform in Sofia, Bulgaria, alongside ERIDAN

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

Discovering Hardline years ago was expected, given the fact that hard rock is exactly my kind of thing. However, falling in love with their unique sound and charismatic appeal that differentiated them among the endless river of hard rock bands that came out in the late ’80s/early ’90s, was also inevitable; I mean, don’t get me wrong but who wouldn’t?

me tixFor a long time, classics like Double Eclipse” and more recent releases like “Danger Zone” and “Human Nature” have been an inseparable part of my life. You know me – once a fan, always a fan. My unconditional support for the band can largely be contributed to the talented frontman – Mr. Johnny Gioeli who mesmerized me, ever since I heard him sing for the very first time on that timeless debut album. Imagine how my little fan heart felt the moment I found out that he was going to perform in my home country of Bulgaria at the end of March, 2018. The excitement is overwhelming and I just cannot wait to see how he makes magic on that stage. I’m dying to sing along with him on hard rock anthems like “Takin’ Me Down”, “Hot Cherie”, “Rhythm from a Red Car” or “Danger Zone” and “Where Will We Go From Here”. It’s going to be one of the highlights of the season and definitely a concert I will remember forever. (Concert review will come immediately after the event, so stay tuned)

I think dedicated fans from Bulgaria are expected to come and I am certain they will. What I truly hope to see is young rock enthusiasts like myself, eager to discover for the very first time the unbelievable talent of Johnny and his music! I sincerely hope to see many new faces and spread the word, because believe me, it’s totally worth it!

(… a song I truly hope to experience live; If he decides to sing it, I will just go on that stage and dance my ass off, I don’t care!)

It’s not just HARDLINE where Johnny flourished as a notable vocalist and won the hearts of many. Alongside guitarist Axel Rudi Pell, Johnny has been conquering the stages since the late ’90s. Those two are a match made in heaven and a duo worth appreciating. I cannot wait to enjoy their music as well, presented by him on the Bulgarian stage.


One more exciting addition to the event would be the participation of Bulgarian rock band ERIDAN. I gotta say, I am not that familiar with them, however I can’t but be thrilled about the collaboration and the opportunity presented here. Since I was living abroad for so long, diving into the local rock scene and unearthing beautiful rock bands like ERIDAN can’t but be something to look forward to.

For my many international readers, I think it would be quite interesting to discover a new foreign rock band that is equally deserving. 

eridan
ERIDAN (credits: https://www.facebook.com/pg/eridanband)

Here are a few videos, where you can get a glimpse of how magic is being made…

…and of course this incredible performance.

I am just as thrilled to hear him sing the evergreen hits of Rainbow and Deep Purple. That’s going to entirely shatter the ground beneath my feet because I’m a huge fan and seeing someone so vocally power doing justice to these classics will be a life-changing moment for me and the fans.

(Photos from  JOHNNY GIOELI and ERIDAN’s last concert in Bulgaria in 2017; Credits: Tonina Manfredi and Dimitar Lukanov)

For more information about the concert, please visit the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1801415513492413/

 


References:
I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

[Album Review] AMMUNITION – AMMUNITION (2018)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

ammunition album cover

2018 is starting quite promising if I may say. January brought to us a number of outstanding releases, absolutely backing my statement that there will be plenty to anticipate, enjoy and love this year when it comes to rock music. Frontiers Music are yet again getting all the spotlight by being the main player on the growing melodic rock scene. The first month of the year was colored by the label and their releases, including Lione / Conti’s self-titled album, Labyrinth’s “Return to Live”, Delta Deep’s “East Coast Live” and of course, the album I am here to talk about today – Ammunition’s eponymous album, which also happens to be my album of the month. I gotta say, this was the first time I got the chance to meet the band and I cannot wait to share my thoughts and hopefully, transfer my enthusiasm for this album to other listeners. You just gotta trust me on this one – this is a band and a release that cannot and should not escape your radar. Here’s a little bit more about the band and the release.

Who are Ammunition?

ammunition band

The band was founded in 2014 by the songwriting duo Age Sten Nilsen (former WIG WAM singer) and the multi-talented Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse, W.E.T., Nordic Union). Their debut release, titled “Shanghaied” was out in 2015 and it quickly laid solid foundations for the band and its future. The guys teamed up with former TNT and Jack In The Box bassist Victor Cito Borge, keysman Lasse Finbråten (Circus Maximus, ex-Wig Wam), skinsman Magnus Ulfstedt (Eclipse), and the guitar player Jon Pettersen so you can only imagine the kind of strength that team brought up on that live stage. That’s one of the things they became highly praised for – delivering a live performance to remember.

Fans were able to get their first taste of the follow-up to their highly praised debut release earlier in 2017 with the Eurovision finalist “Wrecking Crew” (written by Nilsen and Mårtensson). The full length, original version of the song is included on the new album so no worries – we can enjoy it whenever we want!

In terms of sound, AMMUNITION can definitely impress with massive hooks, splendid melodies and just the right amount of roughness needed to complete a perfect, modern-day rock band. Let’s dive into the album. 

The Self-Titled Album

Tons of tons of spirit and body/mind-moving energy is coming out of this album. You start playing it and you don’t even realize when the surroundings have turned into a huge arena and you are in the middle of a mind-blowing concert, your hands are up in the air and you’re dancing your ass off! I’ve always appreciated albums which have the ability to transfer you to another, much more desirable reality. “Ammunition” is most certainly an album that can do that, right from the very beginning. It’s not just the massive hooks and the presence of sing-along rock anthems and guitars that synchronize with your entire existence – it’s the striking, highly uplifting personality of the members who obviously knew how to put their excitement into notes and craft this album.

Let’s talk about songs!

“Freedom Fighter” is an absolute favorite of mine and the reason why this album turned into a January highlight for me. Looking for a song to play as loud as possible after a tiring day at work? Look no more, this is the song for you. With those riffs, laid-back vibe and casual yet captivating vocals, you just can’t have it any other way. “Eye for an Eye” starts quite promising and progresses into a gorgeous battle anthem, fueled with emotions, courtesy of vocalist Age Sten Nilsen. “Miss Summertime” is another immensely subjective climax on “Ammunition” but I can justify my claim by saying that it’s not just a song – it’s a beach bonfire that can warm you up on a cold January night. The following song, “Bad Bones” brings you back to reality with a strong hard rock slap. To me, it’s one of the most dynamic and heavy-pounding songs of the album; the placement is quite on point too. The album wraps things up the same way it opens them. “Klondike” is a signature Ammunition song, keeping that comfortable and exceptionally charismatic vibe of the band that turned them into quite the sensation in Norway.

Final verdict: “Ammunition” is full of life, character and captivating energy! It has it all – ballads, mid-tempo rockers and hard-rocking tracks that totally deserve to be played and enjoyed at a live concert. The album opens a bright new chapter in the book of melodic rock, where new important future characters are introduced. Yes, those are the guys from Ammunition so pay close attention to them!

Enjoy the tracks now~

“Freedom Finder”

“Gung Ho (I Told You So)”


TRACKLIST:

 
1. Time
2. Freedom Finder
3. Virtual Reality Boy
4. Guns Ho (I Told You So)
5. Eye for an Eye
6. Tear Your City Down
7. Caveman
8. Wrecking Crew
9. Miss Summertime
10. Bad Bones
11. Klondike
 
BAND MEMBERS: 
 
Erik Martensson – guitars, bass, programming, keys, backing vocals
Victor Cito Borge – bass
Jon Pettersen – guitars
Lasse Finbrathen – keyboards
Age Sten Nilsen – lead and backing vocals
Magnus Ulfstedt – drums
 
Follow AMMUNITION on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/ammunitionofficial/

References:
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Why is B.B. King and Eric Clapton’s “Riding with the King” One of My Favorite Blues Albums?

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

It’s no secret that I’m just as big of a blues fan as am I a glam rock one. In fact, my journey on the rock&roll appreciation lane started with the blues, naturally, and in particular with the musical love of my life – Mr. Eric Clapton. I can easily divide my musical adventures into two parts – before and after Clapton and before Clapton there was just so little. Now is the time to thank my parents who’ve been playing his songs at home since I was a little kid and lighted that blues candle inside my heart which eventually transformed into a big wild fire! I can talk about Clapton and his blues for ages because you can’t just have it any other way with him. A career that started in the early 60s, dozens of accomplishments, awards, albums, collaborations, pop culture influences and so on. Not just that but he’s still here, making music, concerts and giving his all, despite numerous health issues he’s facing due to his age. Clapton is pure class – a dying breed of musicians who just know how to sustain their genuineness and status by backing it up with quality and constant desire to make history!

I love early Clapton and everything he did with The Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith, etc. but late Clapton (1980s – ) has to be my favorite time of his career. “August”, “Money and Cigarettes”, “Journeyman”, “Pilgrim”, etc. – they all fall under the “my favorite works by Mr. Slowhand category”. Today, however, I want to specifically talk about one of the most respected collaborations in the recent history of blues music – Eric Clapton and B.B. King; a friendship that resulted in one of the best modern-day blues records – “Riding with the King”; a strong musical bond that gave birth to an album, without which I cannot imagine my life. Many aspects of “Riding with the King” have turned this album into one of the Top 5 albums I always recommend to people who just want to get a taste of the blues. I will briefly mention where my adoration is coming from and will let you decide whether I’m right or wrong (even though we all know I am totally right). Let’s get on that ride now!!!

The Legends

Eric Clapton, B.B. King – do I have to say more? When your name is as heavy as the Earth itself, you don’t need justification or any other form of additional explanation to why exactly your music must be heard and appreciated. Both Clapton and B.B. King are pure synonyms of the blues and have certainly been through a lot to establish themselves as such. I don’t think you need me to tell you the environment under which artists like B.B. King had to grow up and what they had to fight and overcome to secure the future of blues music and eventually rock&roll. It’s because of the sweat and tears of those great African-American bluesmen that the world managed to experience not just musical but cultural revolution and learn how to celebrate people of every color and music of every genre, basically. “The king of Blues” is certainly known for many things, but he will always be remembered for living life on the stage. It’s that immense dedication to the public that drove him to perform till his very last breath and forever be refered to as one of the kings of the blues guitar.

Eric Clapton rose to stardom after his early days in the Yardbirds. He quickly proved that he wasn’t just your regular white English boy, trying to play the blues. He had the talent, the vision, the heart… It’s been an ongoing, never-stopping career full of ups and downs, personal struggles, self-discovery and tons of other life challenges, all of which Clapton faced with a guitar hanging on his neck. You don’t need me to tell you why he’s a legend and why he’s everyone’s favorite guitar hero. “Clapton is God” many say, and you have a 50-year-old career to investigate if you don’t agree.

Clapton met B.B. King in the late ‘60s and ever since, it’s been a dream of him to record with one of his all-time idols. It wasn’t until the late ‘90s when the two of them finally made some serious musical magic together for B.B. King’s duets album, “Deuces Wild”. After the foundations of the friendship were strengthened it was a matter of time before those two make something precious out of it. After all, you rarely have so much potential in one place.
3 years later, “Riding with the King” finally materialized and everyone was more than happy with the results. Clapton put everything into his album – from picking the song to co-producing the album, “Riding with the King” turned into a very important turning point for the career of then 55-year-old Clapton. The best thing is that he perfectly knew who’s he recording with and didn’t even for a second try to outstage him or become the center of it all. You can quickly notice that B.B. King is leading on the majority of songs as Clapton is taking the backseat. That my friend is called respect and is one of my favorite aspects of this album.

The Songs & the Sound

(Vintage meets Modern)

eric clapton bb king riding with the king album cover12 gorgeous manifestations of blues music have been put together for “Riding with the King”. Among them we can find classic B.B. King songs from the 50s and the 60s, as well as other vintage blues covers and interpretations. The title song, which easily could be referred to as the highlight of the album, is written by John Hiatt for his sixth album (1983) and surprise – it’s about the king of Rock&Roll, Elvis Presley! For BB and Clapton’s album, Hiatt had to redo the lyrics a little bit to fit the new production and style and of course – for the King of Blues. The result was phenomenal. The cover is certainly a refreshing twist on the song and definitely the better version (at least in my own humble opinion). Who says blues is boring? “Riding with the King” has to be one of the most empowering, uplifting and day-improving tunes of the genre. I can always count on this song to help me go through the day and kick me with that much needed thrill.

Another extremely refreshing moment is “Marry You”, which is not often mentioned by fans and critics when it comes to this album, yet I strongly support its relevance and immense contribution to turning this project into the perfect modern-day blues record. “Three O’Clock Blues” is one of BB’s specialties and a kind reminder of why this whole collaboration was indeed a great idea put together at a great time. Same goes for “Ten Long Years” which every self-respected blues fan gotta know. The new production and Clapton’s involvement (though supportive, rather than equal) is bringing so much color to those blues staples that at one point I just forgot those songs existed before this album. “I Wanna Be” is a splendid introduction song to a youngster, transitioning from melodic rock to the blues.

“Riding with the King” was released in 2000 and I think the time period was very crucial to the sound and thus the influence of the album. I think they couldn’t have picked a better day to make such statement. The “father/son” collaboration mixed together all the ingredients needed to please the old-school bluesmen and the newer generation of fans who at that time, given the bands which dominated the charts, probably thought they would never listen to blues music. The most attractive part of “Riding with the King” and the reason why it’s one of my favorite blues records of all time is not just the fact that it’s full of atmospheric, well-balanced compositions and not just because it’s a collaborative effort of legends like Eric Clapton and B.B. King. It’s one of my most beloved and respected works because it’s a contemporary blues record, keeping that old spirit alive and the ideal “generation-doesn’t-matter” album. I was 8 years old when the album came out and it’s been with me ever since. I’m glad I had the chance to witness its release and blossoming into what is known by fans today. Thank you B.B. King (RIP) and Clapton for keeping the blues alive.

“Riding with the King”

“Marry You”

“Three O’Clock Blues”

 


References:
Album artwork, retrieved from: https://earofnewt.com/2015/02/01/b-b-king-says-that-eric-clapton-was-like-his-girlfriend-on-riding-with-the-king/
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

TOP 10 ROCK ALBUMS OF 2017 [by Velina of MyRockMixtapes]

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

It’s been such a long time since we had a rock & roll year that prolific and exciting as 2017! I am almost sad that it’s gone, because each month was like a brand-new musical adventure, full of endless opportunities and surprises and I just wish it never had to stop. If you have to give it a name, I’d say 2017 was “the year of long-overdue comebacks” or “the year of the supergroups”. So many bands decided to get back together and recreate the magic that once ruled our radio stations. They did and in some cases the results were fantastic. Riverdogs, for example, released “California” –their first album in many years and so unexpectedly shook the melodic rock community with what many refer to as one of the albums of the year. Not just Riverdogs, but Europe, Lynch Mob, L.A. Guns, Warrant, Steelheart, Bonfire, Night Ranger, Harem Scarem, Thunder, Styx, Deep Purple and many other big names made their grandiose comeback this year, which is absolutely delightful, needless to say. Supergroups were formed and names were justified in many cases with bands such as Revolution Saints, Sweet & Lynch, ALL41, Kee of Hearts, Sons of Apollo and others. The solo acts didn’t fall back. Artists such as Jeff Scott Soto, Jack Russell (with his Great White), Stephen Pearcy (Ratt), Mark Slaughter (Slaughter), Alice Cooper, Roger Waters, Robert Plant and even Ringo Starr made triumphant and rather surprising comebacks but all were met with excitement and adoration. New bands that caught my eye this year were plenty. The ones that stood out the most to me were the Finnish guys from One Desire with their self-titled debut album and Inglorious with their sophomore release. The new albums of H.E.A.T and Pink 69 re-introduced me to those bands which I somehow forgot in time.

There’s plenty more to be said but I think it’s time we get to my Top10 albums of 2017 list. Please keep in mind that this is a personal selection, based on nothing but my own preferences and ideas of what a great album should sound like and what emotions should it bring to the listeners. I would LOVE to know your picks and what did you think of some of those albums so don’t hesitate to post your comment below. Here we goo….

Be careful, we’re going with the speed of sound!


10. Jeff Scott Soto – Retribution

jeff scott soto

It has been a busy year for one of my most beloved musicians of all time – Jeff Scott Soto. In October we were totally mesmerized by Sons Of Apollo’s Psychotic Symphony and a month later, he once again penetrated our fragile rock harts with a solo release, titled “Retribution”. Nothing but praises and fascination for this album and I’m not just saying it because it’s Jeff freakin Scott Soto; I’m saying it because obviously tons of work, heart and passion have been put in the making of this album. He sounds as confident as ever and his music is as good as ever. I was prepared for something like this from the veteran rockstar and it’s all here – heavy melodic rock, epic vocal culminations, striking lyrics and excellent fiery solos. “Feels Like Forever” is my instant stand-out though it’s not necessarily the highlight of “Retribution”. “Bullet for My Baby” is another personal favorite and a pretty solid reason why this album made it into my top10! Though “Retribution” came out in November, it became one of my albums of the year – this should tell you enough!


9. H.E.A.T – Into the Great Unknown

heat into the great unknown

“Into the Great Unknown” re-introduced me to a band I have completely forgotten about. There’s just something about Swedish rock, you know that, right? This proves it! The album is just so much different from what they used to do and so distinctive among the huge pile of hard rock records that came out this year. One listen would tell you why – the guys focused on crafting a modern-day sound with the help of cutting-edge production possibilities. The album is challenging, that’s for sure. You either love it or hate it. Thankfully, the majority of fans and also critics (not surprisingly) are loving it.

“Redefined” is arguably the highlight and one of the catchiest songs that came out in 2017. “Eye of the Storm” gives another 100 points to “Into the Great Unknown”. The amount of energy coming out of that song is immeasurable.


8. L.A Guns – The Missing Peace

la guns

I didn’t have the chance to grow up in the ’80s and experience that magical, flamboyant, so attractive to me hard rock scene that forever changed the music industry but with albums like “The Missing Peace”, young fans like myself can get a pretty good taste of those old-school vibes, presented in a modern-day environment. I am still mindblown by the authenticity of L.A. Guns‘ new album and the tasteful manner in which such energetic, a bit forceful and instantly-consuming Sunset Strip-staple hard rock music was delivered to the audience of 2017. It took me just one listen from start to finish to realize that what we have right here might be one of the best representations of how to sustain your original sound that made you famous back in the day and still stay musically-current even 30 years later. 

“Speed”, “The Devil Made me Do It”, and that beautiful ballad “Christine” proved that something was indeed truly missing in today’s rock&roll scene; I’ve been waiting for an album with that extra danger, extra roughness and that beloved ’80s attitude for so long and now when it’s finally here, I just can’t get enough of it.


7. Pride of Lions – Fearless

prideoflionsalbum9

My adoration for Survivor and Jim Peterik was transferred to his Pride of Lions, naturally. It’s been indeed a while since they released a new record but thankfully this was their year! I can’t think of another melodic rock album that has so much class, sensitivity and musical richness. “Fearless” is everything I was hoping to get from Jim Peterik and vocalist Toby Hitchcock. This album also proved that Pride of Lions is not just a side project – it’s a serious band that makes great music. This was the first album I bought back in January and I knew it would signal the arrival of a strong year. “The Tell” and “Silent Music” are my two favorite tracks; I can’t express the strength of the melodies and all that, combined with the A-level vocal performances of both artists showcase that the challenge was accepted and passed with grace!


6. Inglorious – II

ingl 2 cover

I met Inglorious last year but their follow-up album, simply titled “II” cemented my position as their devoted fan. The moment this album came out this past May,  it took my work by storm and earned my utter admiration and respect. It all starts with one single life-changing song…The moment I heard “I Don’t Need Your Loving”, I just knew that it has the potential of becoming one of the top rock tracks of 2017 and not just in my book.

Inglorious make straightforward, mind-blowing and 100% authentic hard rock, respectfully following the ways of ‘70s rock bands, such as Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. With that in mind, vocalist Nathan James, lead guitarist Andreas Eriksson, guitarist Wil Taylor, bass guitarist Colin Parkinson and drummer Phil Beaver recorded a heavenly-organic, modern-day / classic rock album that brings nothing but satisfaction to every little rock&roll heart out there. The magic of “Inglorious II” wasn’t taken out of the hat of a legendary producer. The right words and production tricks were all done by the members themselves, which makes it even more exceptional.


5. Kee of Hearts – Kee of Hearts

kee of hearts

You all know how much I love Fair Warning and their lead singer Tommy Heart. I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed by what might be one of the strongest voices of melodic rock and yes – I sure as hell wasn’t.

“Kee of Hearts” is a melodic rock bliss from start to finish. This album represents just the kind of class and nobility we so desperately need on the rock music scene these days. Tommy Heart and Kee Marcello crafted a fine release that rocks, entertains and keeps our spirits lifted from start to finish. It’s a must-have for every AOR fan out there who knows what is true and what is not…I pray those two come up with a follow-up! My favorite track would be the opening song, “The Storm”; the title pretty much sums it up all! A powerful blazing melodic rock impact right from the very beginning, signalling the arrival of something truly valuable.


4. Sons of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony 

sons of apollo

Don’t you just love albums that take you out of your comfort zone and challenge your listening habits? This album right here did this for me and it did it in the most pleasurable way you can think of. I know that by default everything that Jeff Scott Soto does is superb and I will love it, but this album right here goes one step further from my perceptions of how incredibly versatile and mindful he is when it comes to music.

Stand-out songs include “God of the Sun” – which is one of my favorite openers this year; the 11-minute tornado of a song is a clear highlight and how can it not be with that speed, intensity and lyrics. “Sings of the Times” is my ultimate number 1 song from this release – that intro knocked my socks off. Don’t even get me started on the instrumental “Opus Maximus” which arguably might be the best progressive instrumental that came out this year!


3. Riverdogs – California

RIVERDOGS CALIFORNIA BIG

Ah… “California” – where do I even begin? The moment this album came into my life, I just knew that this will change and that’s exactly what it happened. I distinctively remember how excited I was when it was finally available on Spotify and how fulfilled I felt when I played it from start to finish. I just couldn’t get enough of the blissful feelings, warmness and comfort this beautiful album brought to my world. “California” is a stunning set of sing-alongs, rock anthems, bluesy soul-touching tracks, all brilliantly decorated with thoughtful lyrics and memorable melodies.

Reasons why I love this album that much? Number one –“You’re Too Rock and Roll” which became one of the most important songs of my life just within weeks after the release of the album. Number two – Rob Lamothe who enriched my life with what might be the best interview I ever had with a musician… the other reasons you gotta look inside the album!


2. Bonfire – Byte the Bullet

bonfire1

German rockers BONFIRE came back this year with what can easily be referred to as one of the most electrifying, mind-blowing and hair-raising rock releases so far. Guitarist, original founder and basically Mr. Everything, Hans Zilller is back with his strong team of musicians, including bass player Ronnie Parkes, guitarist Frank Pane, drummer Tim Breideband and a brand-new vocalist Alexx Stahl. I still can’t get over how amazingly well-done this album is. Most importantly, if you are one of the people (like me) who is always seeking their self-empowerment in music, you would also pick this album as one of your favorite releases of 2017. “Lonely Nights” is probably the biggest reasons behind placing this album at #2. As the ultimate rock ballad enthusiast, you can trust me on this – it’s a phenomenal heart-breaking song, full of emotions and character. “Stand Up 4 Rock” is a superb rock anthem, with one of the best intros this year. The cover of Jethro Tull’s classic “Locomotive Breath” is another highlight that deserves a standing ovation.


& my number one is…

One Desire – One Desire

one desire - one desire 2017

You know, I thought a lot about which album to place at the number one spot and it took me a few days to finally make my decision but ultimately, I let my heart do the thinking. I picked One Desire’s self-titled album to be my number 1 album for 2017 because I can’t think of another album I got so obsessed with or another album which I’ve played as much as I did this one. I literally know the lyrics to all the song and you know why – because every track on it is that strong, impressive and memorable. Not a second on this album is wasted on trivial and well-known moments. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been that hooked to an entire album. It’s not just the singles, “Hurt” or “Apologize” – it’s every second of it. The sound is everything I looked for in an album, coming out in 2017 – modern vibes, strong vocals, old-school rock influence, unimaginable hooks and the ability to captivate the listener right from the very beginning. Discovering this album months after its release was indeed one of the most precious musical moments I had this year.

Cheers to One Desire and their debut album which won again many established names and their newest releases this year. I’m a proud fan and seeing how new bands conquer worlds is immensely satisfying. Now, go and listen…

 


Final thoughts:

Obviously, many of the albums share a significant characteristic and that is a certain label, under which they were released. Yes, I’m talking about Frontiers Records which redefined the hard / melodic rock scene of 2017 and entirely blew the competition away by not only giving chances to new rock bands, hungry for the stage but by also welcoming long overdue reunions of old-school hard rock bands. I praise and bow to the hard work of the team of Frontiers Records for being responsible for the comebacks of bands such as L.A Guns, Riverdogs or Warrant, for example and for taking under their capable wings, new and exciting artists, such as One Desire. I cannot wait to see what they have in mind for the following year!

DReP5JSX4AAs2V3


 

Honorable Mentions:

You know, I had to draw the line somewhere because we cannot go on like this for ages, unfortunately. You just saw my top10 favorite albums of 2017 but I couldn’t just end the publication like this because there are so many more rock releases that caught my attention and conquered my playlists. Yes, the following albums were not included in my Top10 2017 releases, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have the musical qualities and strengths needed in an album to be in a such list. I deeply encourage my readers to pay attention to the following titles and in case some of them went off your radar, there’s always a chance to come back and check them out.

Remember…when it comes to good music, years are irrelevant. Whether it’s 1982 or 1997 or 2017,


 

Europe – Walk the Earth

europe

Lynch Mob – The Brotherhood

lynch mob

Revolution Saints – Light in the Dark

Revolution Saints Cover - Frontiers

Warrant – Louder, Harder and Faster

Warrant - Louder Harder Faster (2017)

Thunder – Rip it Up

rip-it-up-thunder

Pink Cream 69 – Headstrong

pink cream 69

Bigfoot – Bigfoot

bigfoot bigfoot album

Steelheart – Through Worlds of Stardust

steelheart cover - frontiers

Pretty Boy Floyd – Public Enemies

pretty boy floyd public enemies

Sweet & Lynch – Unified

sweet and lynch

Tokyo Motor First – Tokyo Motor First

tokyo motor first

Lionville – A World of Fools

lionville a world of fools


The publication expresses my personal opinion on what some of the best rock releases of 2017 are, according to personal preferences and ideas. I am in noway is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment. Rock On!

Memories, Becoming Friends and Learning more About the Music Industry in an Interview With Producer and Songwriter Alessandro Del Vecchio

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

Revolution Saints Cover - FrontiersAs we all know, the month of October brought us Revolution Saints’ sophomore album “Light in the Dark” which according to many fans, including myself, is indeed one of the highlights of this year’s melodic rock scene. I already expressed my honest feelings in my review publication which you can go ahead and check over here: Album Review: Revolution Saints – Light in the Dark (2017). The album is the brainchild of a group of exceptional musical geniuses who were brought together by the same end goal – to craft a meaningful record that symbolizes and stands for something; a record that will bring strength and courage to people and will turn into their saving grace in times of need. The best thing is that they did all that and way more and you don’t need to be an expert in music to feel it – the vibe, the emotions, the message…it’s all there for you to take it.

alessandro 2
Alessandro Del Vecchio

The dream team behind “Light in the Dark” is Deen Castronovo (Lead vocals, drums), Jack Blades (Bass, vocals), Doug Aldrich (Guitar) and the cherry on top – producer/songwriter Alessandro Del Vecchio who’s the main star of today’s show. Not only did he oversee the production of this album but he also contributed with his appraised songwriting skills and of course, his favorite keyboards that put that extra color to the album. Yes, the reason why I got to meet and talk to him in the first place was because of his immense contribution to this album but you should be well aware of the fact that he is one of the most prominent, versatile and networked musicians in contemporary rock music scene. He produced, wrote for and worked with so many of the big names out there, including Deen Castronovo, Neal Schon and Arnel Pineda from Journey,  Fergie Frederiksen, Bobby Kimball, Joseph Williams and Steve Lukather from Toto,  Ian Paice, Glenn Hughes and Roger Glover from Deep Purple, James LaBrie and Jordan Rudess from Dream Theater, Jack Blades from Night Ranger and Damn Yankees, Doug Aldrich and Bernie Marsden from Whitesnake, Joe Lynn Tuner, Craig Goldy, Carmine and Vinny Appice, Russell Allen from Symphony X, Tony Franklin, Michael Kiske of Helloween , Bruce Gaitsch and Bill Champlin from Chicago and many more. He’s also working with his bands Edge Of Forever, Hardline and Voodoo Circle as keyboardist and singer. That’s not all! Alessandro is the in-house producer for one of the most prolific and hardworking rock&roll labels out there – Frontiers Records; that should tell you enough! He participated in the making of countless exceptional melodic rock gems and not just those that are under the Frontiers tagline. To sum it up, Alessandro is most certainly an artist worth knowing and appreciating for everything he did and keeps on doing for this industry.

The circumstances under which I got the chance to talk to him couldn’t have aligned better. He was touring with the new supergroup Sainted Sinners and fortunately, the guys were just about to have a little tour in Bulgaria, including gigs in Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo and Yambol where Sainted Sinners partnered up with the legend himself – Mr. Ian Paice from Deep Purple. I got invited to the concert which was believe me, most certainly a life-changing event. I wrote all about my experiences on one of my previous publications so you can go ahead and check it out here: Concert Experience: SAINTED SINNERS & IAN PAICE @ Diana Hall, Yambol, Bulgaria (28/10/2017)

 

The concert brought me and Alessandro together for a quick chat about so many things related with music and his long long list of activities and projects that keep coming out as we speak. I had the honor of interviewing him and finding out more about Revolution Saints, the new album, what it takes to fulfill your dreams and the past and current state of the industry. He’s certainly an artist you can learn so much from. I do hope you enjoy the following interview:


Q: I’m very interested in your work and how in the first place you got into the entertainment industry? Tell me your story from the very beginning?

A: The very beginning was that in my house there was always music. My father was a teenager during the ‘70s and the ‘60s so what we normally used to listen to in the house was Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles and Jethro Tull and Uriah Heep so what happened every day is that you know, back then you used to have Stereo Hi-Fis in the house and my father was blasting music the whole day. My first memory is listening to the Greatest Hits from the Beatles so I think that shaped up my taste and I think around 6 or 7 my father gave me as a present a Walkman which back then was a cassette player and he gave me some cassettes and my favorite one was “Selling England by the Pound” by Genesis. I was a little kid listening to adult, mature music and that shaped up my taste so I ended up…I think I was 12 that I found out a cassette by the Queen and I heard “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the first time and I was struck by lightning! I was like, “I  wanna do that” and I remember my father came for dinner after work and I said “Pa, I wanna be a musician, I wanna be like Freddie Mercury, I wanna play the piano and I wanna sing!” I still remember his face. He was totally amazed and happy about it and that’s how I started. I wanted to be like Freddie Mercury and then I heard for the first time Malmsteen and I wanted to play that kind of music and then Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake…and it all fell into that thing.

Q: Right now, you do mostly production work or you are working on your solo career?

A:  I’m not a solo guy. I’m more like a band guy and I have my own band which is called Edge of Forever. We’re about to do our fourth record next year. Works for the others even if obviously bands like Hardline, you know I can say it’s my band cause I write and produce and been part of the band longer than any other member, apart from Johnny. I would say that Edge of Forever and Hardline are my main acts. I’ve always thought that if I had to do something as a solo artist, it has to be different than what I do with Edge of Forever, Hardline or Revolution Saints. It would make sense. I would love to do a blues record, actually cause I’m a blues guy more than anything else.

Q: The reason why we connect and we are here right now is Revolution Saints’ new album – “Light in the Dark”. I wanted to interview you because I know that you indeed have a huge contribution to this album. Can you please tell us more what exactly did you do for this album and how did it feel to work with Deen Castronovo? I would also like to know if you have a favorite song or a favorite moment from the process of making the album?

A: It’s kind of different than the first record because the firs record was more like, “Ok, let’s put songs together and let’s get a band for Deen; let’s make a band that’s made of friends!” – that’s how we ended up with the line-up. For the second record, I wanted to write with the whole band as much as I could. Even if I look like a control freak, I’m not. I’m a band guy so as soon as everything was put on paper for the deals and the schedule and everything, I said “Okay guys, everyone just throw ideas and we see what happens.” Basically, the record is I would say mostly me and Doug as the songwriting and Deen contributed to some of the vocals to “Freedom”, entirely for lyrics. I wrote most of the lyrics and Jack wrote the lyrics for “Light in the Dark”.

I think this record is special because we ended up working all together in the same environment for 3-4 weeks. We were in the studio, we recorded together, and we arranged parts together. It was a great feeling to have – three of my favorite musicians and idols in my studio and to do music together. This record I think it’s different because of that – it’s got more personality, it’s got more of everybody! It’s very deep because we tried to tell Deen’s story not in a romantic kind of way – kind of raw and real; it’s a record about resurrection and getting out of the dark.  It’s also a record about finding the way to express yourself out of the darkest moments. It was a vehicle for mostly all of us to prove that the first record wasn’t just a one record off; we wanted to make a stamp as a band. It’s tougher; it’s more rock & roll, rawer. 90% of the record was done together in the studio and I think you can hear the difference because of that.

Q: I’m generally a ballad person. I would die for a great rock ballad. I think that one of the greatest ballads that came out this year was “I Wouldn’t Change a Thing” from “Light in the Dark”. People are also responding to it quite well. I would like to know who wrote the song and what was the inspiration for writing it? Was it you?

A: No, it was Richard Page from Mr. Mister.  He wrote the lyrics and the music. Richard wrote the song years and years ago. Nobody picked it. It was just available as a demo on an Indie record that he did. Serafino from Frontiers sent me this acoustic track with just an acoustic guitar and vocals and said “Can you turn this into an epic ballad?” I pushed play on the song and I was totally struck because the lyrics kind of resonated and I think they resonate with everyone because everyone can come out of a relationship, out of friendship, out of everything with a person and know that even if whatever happens, still what you experience – it’s still worth living it so…

If you hear the original, it’s a little bit different. It took me days to get to that version. I had to change the melody in order to fit Deen’s voice and range. We wanted to make it as Journey as we could. I think it’s probably my best production and arrangement ever because everytime I’m very critical with my work but if I play that song it feels like I almost didn’t do it. It’s like I’m listening from the outside and it’s kind of cool. It’s the first time that it happened to me that I’m listening to a song and I’m listening as a listener, like a regular rock lover, not as an insider.

Q: Do you have a favorite song you wrote on the record that really means a lot to you?

A: Probably “Falling Apart”. That is the real resurrection song. Everybody can fall apart. Everybody can make mistakes and see everything destroyed as a reaction to what you do and then raise from the dust and get over it, learn and live. Everybody lives and learns from mistakes and experiences. “Falling Apart” is my special song on the record. Also I really like “Ride On” because it’s a double kick and it’s kind of different. I’m a meaningful, slow songs guy, so “Falling Apart” is my favorite from the record.

Q: It has a beautiful message. This whole album is one beautiful striking message.

A: It’s kind of strange because I’m Italian and I never wrote songs in Italian. I always wrote in English since I’m a teenager; it’s kind of ironic that I’m writing for American people and the songs are perceived the way I wanted them to be perceived. The fact that I can write about life and not just the love, sex, whatever, rock & roll kind of thing; I really care about the lyrics even if I don’t feel like I’m the greatest lyricist but if I can tell a story and the story and the story is clear and I think the combination of having Deen through something and having a voice that knew what was happening made the songs even more real. It’s not just singing my lyrics; it’s got the experience to express something that’s so deep. We were calling each other during rehab and all the stuff that he was going through and I said “Well, Deen, if we do a record, it’s going to be a record about you; you are the singer and I don’t want you to sing something that’s not personal.” That’s how I started to write all about resurrection, getting up and making it right.

Q: You mentioned that you are from Italy. You are also the in-house producer of Frontiers records that are based in Italy. But you also mentioned that you write for American bands. How the American audience does differ from the European audience, especially in terms of experience music?

A: The big difference between America and Europe is that America had great American bands and we had Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep and all the bands that came out of the British Rock Invasion; We had the Beatles, Free, Bad Company. I think that European bands weren’t driven by a dream; they were just expressing themselves because that’s what we have done for centuries. I think that Americans, their cultural expression was driven differently. When they were doing things, they were doing them 200%. If you think of the success of bands like Chicago or Journey or Van Halen, the soundtrack of American rock, the energy is different. I think it’s because the starting point of the creative process is different. Basically, that’s the big difference. Nowadays, the reality is that in America there’s no rock scene anymore. There’s no rock ground. It’s still about the classics; it’s still about the soundtracks of the 70s and the 80s for rock. American musicians think that in Europe we get that and we think that Americans are getting that so. To me it’s just the cultural environment that’s different.

Some bands didn’t even tour in Europe. We never saw Journey in the ‘80s or the ‘90s. American audiences are a little bit spoiled because they saw everyone and we didn’t. The first Rush show in Italy 10 years ago, and they’ve been touring forever in the USA and Canada; I think that’s the big difference probably, we’re still starstruck because we’re not used to seeing those bands.

Q: You live in Italy. Most of your work is in Italy. I know that you are doing vocal couching, etc. I’m very interested to know about the rock music scene in Italy and how does it differ from other European countries?

A: The environment is totally against rock. A general average people going to a rock show is about 200 in Italy, if we talk about underground bands like Hardline or you know the Dead Daisies. Obviously if it’s Deep Purple or Toto, things are different. There’s no middle ground. You go from 200 to 2000. Right now it’s tough because we don’t have the venues anymore. We have 300 people capacities and 2,000 people capacities and the big arenas. A lot of the tours don’t even come to Italy because it’s not worth for the crowd; it’s not worth for the laws and illegal merchandise outside of the shows. It’s all against the rock touring thing. There are a lot of bands; there are a lot of okay bands, there are very few great bands but you know we’re Italians, we go against ourselves. For example, Lacuna Coil has been mocked and discouraged by everyone. Still today, Lacuna Coil is the most well-known band from Italy. We’re not a rock country. We never had it. We are still struggling.

Q: I want to know more about your production work because this is very interesting to me. You are putting your magic touch into so many records that are coming out these days. I would like to know which record you crafted this year meant the most to you and what comes next for you in terms of production?

A: Apart from Revolution Saints, for the records that are already out, I really loved working with Kryptonite – a Swedish band. I loved working with Jakob. To me, he is one of the best lyricists in Europe and if you read through the lyrics of the record, it’s just stunning the way he puts down the stories. I also really enjoyed working with Kee of Hearts.

As far as the next records, I’m working on Johnny Gioeli’s  solo record which is going to be very challenging because it’s not an AOR record, it’s more of a modern new breed kind of record; very melodic but very modern, I would say an AOR version of Foo Fighters. I like to challenge myself with grounds that are not what I normally do. That record I think is gonna be really something.

Q: What gives you the most pleasure when you produce a record?

A: Probably when I’m mixing because it’s already done. It’s like giving birth to a baby – it becomes evident. When I write a song or when I arrange a song, I already picture in my head how it’s gonna sound and how it’s gonna be at the end. So, it’s not a surprise emotion; it’s more like a good relief and a sense of accomplishment. I feel like “Ah, you made it again!”. It’s a good sensation.

Q: Do you always get that feeling of satisfaction when you hear a band in the studio and then you hear them live? Have you ever been disappointed to hear a band that sounds different in the studio than the way they sound live?

A: It’s a tough question. For the experience that I have, I can feel when a record is fake and it’s not representing the band. I’m not very surprised when a band is not exactly on the record when they play shows. You can feel when a record has been done more by the production than the band itself.

For example, if you listen to the new Europe record, you know listening to the record that the band is gonna sound like that live. To me, it’s more because new bands are spoiled in the studio. They know that they can fix it. Back then, you couldn’t. You had to be extremely good. You know, what I miss of those days is that a lot of bands don’t rehearse the records anymore. They just go into the studio and they create the records in the studio. So what happens? You don’t know how it feels to play that thing. You just add spices all over the songs and maybe you cannot play them live. They rely more than the technology than the music itself. That’s why bands like Rival Sons are special. Even if they didn’t re-write the history of rock & roll or didn’t break any new ground, they are real, compared to all the other bands that are cheese and stuff in the studio and trying to sound so good that’s unrealistic.

It’s not good and it’s not bad, it’s just a different way of crafting entertainment. It’s not right or wrong, it’s the way you do things.

A: You’ve created a perfect bridge for my last question. We are now here, talking to each other because of the Internet and the new technologies.  You have been in the industry and worked with so many people for a long time. What do you think has been the biggest change in the music industry and how did it change? Is it the Internet, social media, etc? Did it affect it positively or negatively?

Q: I’m very realistic. I don’t wanna see the negative sides of things. It’s poisoning, especially if you are an artist. I think that the Internet is one of the biggest things that happened to the music world because it glued the whole world in one place. When I was a young musician and trying to get work and get known, I literally sent CDs to every address that I found. Nowadays, if you wanna get in touch with someone, you just write an e-mail and maybe you get an answer. Everything became very easy with the Internet. Finally, the bands are more real. It’s not like in the past – you didn’t even know the way an artist was. But nowadays, you can picture the person behind the artist because of the Internet.

I have a strange, divided opinion on social media but I’m every day on Facebook. It’s more like a promotional tool but it’s also a way to stay close to my friends and people who are supporting my art. I take it as it is. I take the good sides and elevate them. It’s fun to me that a person from Australia can write to me and say “I loved your record, thank you very much for doing it”; it’s amazing.

Obviously, the downside is the trolls and the negative people. They are everywhere; it’s not just the Internet. If you go to a bar, you hear the same opinions. The Internet opened the cages so everyone can shout their opinion. Years ago, you could say it; nowadays you can shout it and hide behind the screens. You just don’t care about them and go on.

Q: Is there an artist you haven’t worked with yet, but really want to someday? Whether we are talking about producing or songwriting?

A: It’s tough because I honestly work with so many of my idols. I think Malmsteen and Coverdale are left out of my dream list. I would really like to work with Steve Perry – that would be a dream. One thing I would like to do is to get to work with Chicago – one of these real groups, big bands. It’s a tough question because I didn’t even dream of doing everything that I’ve done. I always tell the story of when I saw “California Jam” from Deep Purple for the first time. Then I dreamed of being playing with Ian. I ended up playing with Ian for years.

Q: How does it feel? To play with him on stage?

A: I’m a professional. I’m used to that. I’m not starstruck. Honestly, every time that I sing Glenn’s part from “Burn” with Ian, it always feels like “Oh, man – I cannot believe that!”

When I was a kid and somebody came to me and told me – “One day you are going to be singing that part a hundred times with Ian and members of Deep Purple” I would’ve laughed my ass off. That’s the fulfillment of my dream and living my dream.

I’m not the best musician around. I’m not the best singer, I’m not the best songwriter. I just try to be competent and put my soul every time. I always try to give my best and I always try to be as good as I can. I still think that the attitude and the way you work with the people, makes a difference. Ringo wasn’t the best drummer but he was making the songs special and he never gave up.  

Still, when I play a Deep Purple record or a Black Sabbath record or a Journey record, I’m still like “Oh  man, I played with him!” A lot of friends of mine are making fun of me because if they name a band, somehow I worked with them. It’s a great feeling. I enjoy it. Every morning I wake up and I’m so grateful. I don’t know what I could’ve been. I only know how to make music. I put everything there. I’m grateful, I work hard and I take all the joys from doing it.

Thank you, Alessandro so much for the amazing interview and I wish you all the luck and success!

me and alessandro


This interview was conducted by Velina (me), founder and owner of “My Rock Mixtapes”. If you would like to use quotations or reference it on your website and/or blog, please make sure you first contact me at velina.rockmixtapes@gmail.com

Cheers.

 

Album Recommendations: DEXTRESS’ Self-Titled 2017 Debut Album

I’ve always been fascinated by the fateful circumstances under which music finds its way into people’s lives. As a rock music blogger, reviewer and most importantly enthusiast you can imagine how many albums I get to listen and experience on a daily basis. Every once in a while, one way or another, I come across a band that create an instantaneous “Wow, who the hell are those guys?” effect and when this happens, I just can’t let it pass through me without showing the much deserved respect and appreciation.

This is exactly the reason why we are here. Some time ago I was, thankfully, introduced to a Canadian hard rock band named Dextress. The four guys immediately grabbed my attention with their appearance, rawness and intriguing musical goals. I don’t really have a habit of listening to newer bands who are somehow trying to recreate or follow the original ’80s sound but what I heard from Dextress definitely changed my mind and made me rethink the whole “young bands don’t know how to rock” situation. Dextress are obviously armed with enthusiasm and hungry for the stage. I say you give them the chance they deserve and see what I’m talking about.

20171130_055034We are here to also talk about their self-titled debut album – “Dextress” which is certainly an album worth discovering. The release presents a well-thought of playlist that basically consist of one solid punch after another. The moment you start absorbing the album, you are bound to fall for vocalist Jackson Taylor’s distinctive vocal delivery which just can’t but sharpen your ears. At first listen, I got that Mark Slaughter vibe here and there which further boosted my interest in the album. Guitarist Mark Janz is completing the picture in a stylish manner with stunning guitar solos, making him perfectly capable of standing on his own two feet against some of the bigger names who debuted at his age back in the day. I still cannot believe that so much thought and passion hides inside such young minds. 

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Me, holding Dextress’ debut album! I’m so happy to add it to my precious collection!

Let’s talk songs! It’s all just one big bowl of beautiful mess, mixed with attitude, roughness and of course – tons and tons of good mood. The song I would most definitely recommend to a first-time listener is “Sex, Drugs, Rock N’ Roll” which to someone who is not so familiar with the genre, might sound as if it was released 30 years ago. YES! That’s exactly the beauty of it. The pace, the hard-hitting power chords, the screams – it’s all there for you to experience! “Wild is the Night” is probably their most signature song, standing out with its mighty intro that grabs you by the throat from the very first second. Speaking of mighty intros, “Distance” is the one song on the album that would take the award for the most compelling intro. Don’t even get me started on those enchanting riffs!

Final verdict: Looking for a new band to invest your time in? Look no further. I know Canadians can rock so no surprises there; but the way those youngsters play with your sense of time and entirely take you out of your comfort zone is almost unreal. I highly recommend you guys have a listen and definitely make sure you remember their name – big things will be happening, I just know it!

Check out some of my favorite songs:

“Sex, Drugs, Rock N’ Roll”

“Wild is the Night”

“Distance”

“Red Eye Remedy”

 

Follow Dextress on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dextressband/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DextressBand
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dextressband/

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References:
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~