Album Focus: INGLORIOUS – II (2017)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

What a year! What a time to be alive!! I am immensely proud to have the chance to witness such beautiful rock music being released during my time and I just cannot wait to spread my excitement to every rock fan out there, hungry for something refreshing. I met Inglorious in 2016 after the release of their critically-acclaimed debut album Inglorious I. Their coming-out party was praised by rock&roll icons, such as Queen’s Brian May who called Inglorious “a potent young Deep Purple.” Noted producer Kevin Shirley who worked with Journey, Led Zeppelin, Dream Theater, Europe, Mr. Big and many more, referred to them as “the best British band since Led Zeppelin.” That should tell you enough, don’t you think?

ingl 2 coverAs far as I’m concerned, it was their sophomore album – Inglorious II, released via Frontiers Music in May 12, 2017 that 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. The rest is history. I guarantee that listening to this sophomore album from start to finish will open doors to new and exciting rock adventures you’ve never even dreamed of. We have a couple of months left till we wrap up 2017 but I am fully certain that “Inglorious II” will dominate the yearly “top albums” charts and lists of fans and music media outlets. Let’s dive into the album and the songs…

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.

Arguably, the first thing that strikes you when you play this album is the out-of-this-world vocal strength of Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Nathan James. My jaw is dropping every time I hear him sing and I can’t but be amazed by his celestial talent. Not only did he reach higher personal vocal achievements with this album but he also put many current high-ranked celebrity singers in his little back pocket. Of course, a band is much more than a vocalist. The album is the product of a great teamwork, writing each song by themselves with no guest writers this time. They said, “It came together very organically after spending time touring together and felt great. We knew we were making an album this time too! We focused on getting our sounds just right so we could get into the studio and out in the least time poss.”

12 classy rockers came out of “Inglorious II”, each better than the previous. The Whitesnake-inspired opener, “I Don’t Need Your Loving” is basically what pure electricity would sound like.  The fiery riffs, along with Nathan’s high-pitched, intense vocal delivery give you a clear picture of what to expect from this release. From Whitesnake, we go to Bad Company with “Tell Me Why” which has that soulful, slow-paced favour…till it transforms into a dangerous speedy rocket, destroying everything on its way. “Change is Coming” is another song to watch out for – the bluesy, Glenn-Hughes-style track is for all the bass-guitar lovers out there, looking for that “deeper” vibe. “Making me Pay” is another bluesy charmer and the perfect bridge between the first and second part of the album. The heavy metal thunder “Hell or High Water” will please the fans, looking for a speedier, blood-stirring experience. The adventure ends with “High Class Woman” – a pleasantly intriguing catchy rock track that reminds you that you now must play the album all over again because it just can’t be over so soon.

Don’t you just love it when once in a blue moon a newly-formed band comes in and entirely conquers you? I surely do.  “Inglorious II” combines the sounds and styles of classic rock icons but all that is wrapped under divine, modern-day rock power and individuality many rock bands these days lack. Nothing more to say – grab your copy just like I did and play it as loud as possible!

 


“I Don’t Need Your Loving”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Taking The Blame”

 

 

 

 

 

“Making Me Pay”

 

 

 

“Read All About It”

 


References:
“Inglorious II” Album Page: http://www.frontiers.it/album/5377
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Album Recommendations: “Paul Laine – Stick It in Your Ear” (1990)

Is It Love

 

I met Paul Laine through Danger Danger (of course). He jumped in as their frontman for the junior album – “Dawn” (1995) and stood around for a decade of releases, before officially calling it quits. Paul went on to form his own bands, Shugaazer and Darkhorse. In 2016, he once again teamed up with former Danger Danger bandmates Bruno Ravel and Rob Marcello to release a self-titled album – “The Defiants”. Check them all out in case you haven’t.

Paul Laine’s ‘90s solo albums are the reason why we’re here, though. I am actually in love with both Stick It in Your Ear (1990) and Can’t Get Enuff (1996), however wanted to specifically draw your attention to the first album which I personally like a little bit more.

“Stick It in Your Ear” is a pure manifestation of the Canadian vocalist’s immense vocal power and ability to craft melodic rock at its finest. The album is one big ball of rock energy, for sure, mixed well with delightful accessibility and radio-friendly polished production. The album is certainly far away from any of those shiny LA hard rock bands who wrote music with their wallet rather than heart and that’s exactly why I find it so charming.

Late ‘80s, early ‘90s releases have so much more to offer and this album right here is certainly something to consider adding to your AOR collection in case you haven’t.

Some of the highlights include the Top100 singles “Dorianna” and “Is It Love” – both stunning examples of well-crafted melodic rock music.  

“Is It Love” is dangerously obsessive and definitely my favorite one from the release. Every power ballad hungry person out there will be thrilled, believe me. That’s the reason why I opened this publication with it. Check out “Dorianna”:

Dorianna

“We are the Young” is another track to watch out for.

“One Step Over the Line” has a very unique intro, which I think all of you should hear. You know what, why don’t you just play the entire album. Thank you, Paul Laine. It’s definitely never too late to discover a forgotten gem like this one….


References:
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

BOSTON’s “Don’t Look Back” or How to Make a Sophomore Comeback with Style

Fans refer to many commercially successful rock bands who became widely popular in the ’70s and early ’80s as “classic rock bands”. When someone says “classic rock” (though these days the term became a little bit vague), what’s the first band that comes to your mind? To me, that band has always been Boston for certain. Not so much because it falls under the umbrella of a certain “term” or “radio format” but because Boston has the most classic, universally-beloved, timeless, evergreen sound that just doesn’t grow old.

Boston-1We all know the significance of Boston‘s 1976 self-titled debut album; I bet there’s not a single rock soul in the world who has never sang along with radio hit songs like “More Than a Feeling”. I have a whole publication about this album, which you can check here -> Why is BOSTON’s Debut Album One Of The Greatest Albums Of All Time

Boston’s smashing debut album was followed up by a long list of unexpected but widely-welcomed circumstances including becoming the second best-selling debut album of all time (first one being “Appetite for Destruction”, of course), turning into one of America’s most appreciated rock albums and establishing absolute dominance over all radio stations. Topping an era-defining album with such a strong impact is certainly an obstacle many rock bands can’t really overcome. Not Boston, though.

boston dont look back 19782 years after the release of “Boston”, the band came back with “Don’t Look Back”. As it was expected, the sophomore album didn’t really match the commercial strength of the debut one; however to many critics and fans (me included), “Don’t Look Back” still remains one of the most worthy sophomore comebacks of all time. Also, getting certified 7x Platinum is certainly something to consider.

“Don’t Look Back” wasn’t exactly released in the most pleasurable industry environment as the band or should I just say, Mr. Everything – Tom Scholz kicked off a legal battle with their record label.

Still, “Don’t Look Back” turned out to be equally impressive and received a well-deserved place among the ultimate classics of the era. One unfortunate thing about it is of course, its length. “Don’t Look Back” spreads over 8 songs only, 2 of which are under 3 minutes. That’s a little bit short for an album and turned out to be one of the reasons why Tom Scholz went on a war with the record label.

Whether it was rushed or not, the essence of the album, however, is what’s important here. I try to stay informed about the background stories and environments under which rock albums were crafted and released, but ultimately, it’s the sound, the music, the songs are all that’s left 30, 40, 50+ years later.

Three songs were released as singles – “Don’t Look Back”, “A Man I’ll Never Be” and “Feelin’ Satisfied”. Don’t think these songs need an introduction or fancy musical descriptions – they are way above that. Especially, “A Man I’ll Never Be” which has to be in my Top3 Boston songs of all time and certainly one of the most gentle and emotional rock ballads of all time.

“A Man I’ll Never Be”

“Feelin’ Satisfied”

“Don’t Look Back”

The 2-minute instrumental “The Journey” is often forgotten, despite its pivotal role in the album. To some, it may be a bit difficult to absorb but the way I see it, it’s a pretty well-placed musical piece that divides the two harder rocking songs “Don’t Look Back” and “It’s Easy”.

“The Journey”

Ultimately, Boston is…well Boston. I do like the first album a little bit more than this one,  despite critics claiming that “Don’t Look Back” was indeed a solid musical progression. I agree that Boston do sound more confident and the sophomore release does possess a more joyful vibe but I have an emotional attachment to the first one, so don’t listen to me, really.

There’s also this little part of me that cannot (or maybe doesn’t want to) divide those first two albums. I consider them just two parts of one bigger whole – maybe even as just one album. “Don’t Look Back” is like a side2 to “Boston” and I just love playing them one after the other.

Share your memories of “Don’t Look Back” below the publication or on Twitter; I would love to know what you think of this album and which is your favorite song:

 

boston dont look back 1
Me, holding a copy of “Don’t Look Back” which i bought during 2017’s “Record Store Day”

boston dont look back 2


References:
Album artwork, retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Look-Back-Boston/dp/B00Q99V0PA
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

[MIXTAPE] Favorite Ballads by THUNDER

thunder band

Lately I’ve been in a heavy Thunder mood. I think this might be due to the recent CD I purchased with their greatest hits. Thunder is one of those bands who should’ve been up there with the rest of the big names of rock music. Even though they released their debut album – “Backstreet Symphony” in 1990, which was certainly not the best time to release a hard rock album, the British rockers still captured the hearts and souls of die-hard rock fans who just know talent when they see it.

I’ve been a fan of Thunder since the moment I heard “Love Walked In” back in the day. The song just means the world to me. My instant connection with the band’s sound and of course, the brilliant vocals of Danny Bowes, led me to this moment right here…

The majority of rock fans who know or have heard of Thunder are familiar with “Love Walked In” which is arguably their most popular song. However, if you think that this is the only quality rock ballad Thunder made throughout their long and prolific career, you are so terribly wrong.

Since I’m one of those people who live for rock ballads, I decided to make a little “mixtape” with just a few of my favorite ballads by a band I adore so much – Thunder. Some of those might be new to you – which is awesome, please enjoy them; if, however you are familiar with those tracks, sit back, relax and relive the memories…


“A Better Man”

thunder laughing on judgement day


“Low Life In High Places”

thunder laughing on judgement day


“Like A Satellite”

thunder laughing on judgement day


“Once In A Lifetime”

thunder their finest hour


“Castles In The Sand”

thunder behind


“Love Walked In”

thunder-backstreet-symphony


“Right from the Start”

rip-it-up-thunder


References:
Band photo retrieved from: http://www.thunderonline.com/www/band
Album covers retrieved from Wikipedia and Google Images.
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Let’s celebrate the Late ’90s with FAIR WARNING’s “Go!” (1997)

Love this? Well, time to check out the rest of the album and of course, Fair Warning!

You know, the UK isn’t the only place in Europe where quality rock music was and still is made. Tons of outstanding rock bands came from many other parts of Europe. Sweden, Norway and Germany I think might be the most vivid examples of countries with strong rock&roll force field. The band I want to talk about today – Fair Warning, is one of those European rock acts that you most certainly need to check out (in case you haven’t) and this album of theirs I will be presenting to you – “Go!” is not a bad place to start.

fair-warning-1992My Fair Warning journey began with their self-titled debut album which without doubt is one of the most brilliant coming out parties of all time. The German rockers didn’t achieve the success they deserved with that first release but on a positive note, they became pretty popular in Asian countries, particularly in Japan.  I talked about the album on my “16 Reasons Why 1992 Rocked Pretty Hard” article so go ahead and read if you want to know more.

I don’t want to take much of your time with my written words because I really want you to just dive into the music and absorb every bit of talent those amazing artists have. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Fair Warning by someone who adores them very much so now it’s my turn to do it.

fair warning go 1997“Go!” is Fair Warning‘s fourth album, released in the late ’90s. Not the best time for a hard rock band to make a comeback but who the hell cares, right? The album is strictly following Fair Warning‘s beautiful, well-established sophisticated melodic rock sound, since the very first album. The unmatched talent of Tommy Heart – who by the way is one of the greatest vocalists of all time (at least in my book) shines brighter than the sun on this album.

Any song – from the opening “Angels of Heaven” to the closing one “The Love Song” are absolute airplay masterpieces, full of so much character and passion.

The highlight? Definitely “Save Me”. This is one of those songs that captures your heart from the very first second and never lets go!

Adore melodic rock ballads? “All On Your Own” can quench your thirst. Listen to your lyrics….just listen…

“Rivers of Love” …the title says it all!

“Sailing Home” is one of the hardest tracks on “Go!” and certainly a triumphant success for the album.

My copy of “Go!” which I bought while I was living in South Korea. Finding this album is pretty hard, actually so I’m very proud of it!

Now it’s your turn to get it!

fair warning go.jpg


 

References:
Album artwork, retrieved from: https://fanart.tv/artist/9b08ede1-15b0-48da-89ef-a5035bbde33e/fair-warning/
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

10 Things You (Must) Know about Def Leppard’s Hysteria

hysteria coverDef Leppard‘s “Hysteria” is turning 30 years old and we can’t but think about the monumental importance of this release. Not only did this album set new production and song-writing standards but it also demonstrated how important it is to not lose the human aspect when you’re aiming for the sky.

It took Def Leppard about three years to make this album – three long years full of endless hardships and one obstacle after another. The final goal, however, remained unchanged. Def Leppard were ready to go one step further than their previous hit album, “Pyromania”. Well, they did do it, didn’t they….? I can only guess how incredibly tough it was for them to assemble their acts together after every punch. First it was Rick Allen, their drummer, who lost his arm in a car accident (and almost lost his second arm, actually); on top of that they were constantly struggling with finding the right producer, after Mutt Lange took a little break. Nevertheless, it all resulted in a beautiful piece of music we now call “Hysteria” or simply put….the album that defined the ’80s! “Hysteria” saw the light on August 3rd, 1987 and even though it took the album some time to warm up the hearts of audiences, especially in North America, we got to a point where it was certified 12 times Platinum – a recognition that speaks for itself.

In honor of my favorite album of all time, I decided to prepare a little list of facts which I believe should and probably are know by most of the fans out there. Also, I think it’s always great to remind ourselves of some little intriguing music facts that make up an album or a song we love. This written piece might be good for newer fans of Def Leppard who just want to know more about the band. Here we go…

tumblr_n1xxksfmr91rh2d1eo1_1280


 

steve6*) “Hysteria” is the last album to feature the outstanding guitarist Steve Clark, before his death. Some of his songs do appear on their following album – “Adrenalize” (1992) and “Retro Active” (1993), however Hysteria World Tour was the last chance fans got to see him on the stage with his bandmates, unfortunately. Losing their guitarist once again shook the band’s grounds but they rose from the ashes and kept on making great rock music!

*) Def Leppard formed in the late ’70s and can certainly brag about their lengthy and productive career. They have released more than 50 timeless singles. However, up to date, their only #1 hit single remains the beautiful power ballad “Love Bites”, released as their sixth single from “Hysteria”.

*) Def Leppard released “Animal” as their first single in UK, Europe and the rest of the world. In the USA, they went with “Women” which according to some music critics became the reason why the initial response of American audiences wasn’t that good.

*) The last-minute composition – “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, a song that wasn’t even supposed to be on this album, turned out to be one of Def Leppard‘s most instantly-recognizable songs. It was released as their fourth single and it ultimately became the reason why “Hysteria” topped the Billboard Chart.

*) Originally, “Hysteria” was supposed to be called “Animal Instinct”. However, they eventually changed the name as suggested by Rick Allen who thought it suitably described the worldwide coverage and interest in his accident and recovery.

7a*) The album artwork was designed by legendary graphic designer Andie Airfix who also did the album covers of “Pyromania” and “Adrenalize”. The front image of “Hysteria” represents a terrifying man, transforming into an animal – or it can be the other way around. His presence on the artwork is directly related with and represents the lead single of the album – “Animal” as well as the lyrics of the song. The song itself is about humans’ wild, primitive and rather intense and crazy animalistic nature.

*) “Hysteria” was produced by Robert “Mutt” Lange who reconcile with the band after initially leaving them. His obsessive desire to create the perfect and most commercially successful hard rock album of all time, resulted in a painful squeezing of every tiny bit of talent and effort from the music engineers and technicians to the band members themselves. The realization of Mutt Lange‘s visions of this album took longer than expected which caused delays in the release of the album. He wanted to create a rock version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.

*) “Hysteria” was one of the most expensive and lengthy albums at the time of its release. The album stretches for around 63 minutes which was going over the CD limit. The cost of making “Hysteria” was over 5 million USD which for the late ’80s was an insane amount of money.

*) After “Hysteria” was released, Def Leppard published a book, titled “Animal Instinct: The Def Leppard Story”, written by Rolling Stone magazine Senior Editor David Fricke. The book talks about the three-year recording process and struggles Def Leppard had to face before they made “Hysteria” a fact.

animal instinct

*) The follow-up album to “Hysteria”“Adrenalize” was released 5 years later, in 1992. During that time, Def Leppard lost Steve Clark and eventually took legendary guitarist Vivian Campbell to replace him. So many tragic events happened to Def Leppard that many thought they had a curse on them, referring to it as “the Def Leppard Curse”.


References:
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Album Review: MR. BIG – Defying Gravity (2017)

I had a feeling that 2017 was gonna kick some serious ass but I had zero idea that it will be THAT good of a rock&roll year. Just when I thought that 2017 can’t get any better, Mr. Big dropped this awesomeness, titled “Defying Gravity” and once again I’m left speechless. Frontiers Music are on a roll this year – big thank you for keeping great music alive and supporting artists who deserve it.

“Defying Gravity”

Mr. Big - Mr. BigSo many beautiful things are happening in this album and I don’t even know where to start. First of all, remember that groundbreaking 1988 self-titled debut album with the torn shoes and the top hat? If you remember and you love that release, then you will most certainly be thrilled to know that their ninth studio album, “Defying Gravity” features those exact four original members Eric Martin (vocals), Billy Sheehan (bass), Pat Torpey (drums, with the help of Matt Starr due to his unfortunate Parkinson disease) and Paul Gilbert (guitar), along with the same producer, Kevin Elson. So far so good, right? It’s been almost 30 years since the release of that debut album but the guys and their talented producer did manage to recover the classic Mr. Big sound from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s that made them so popular and critically-acclaimed.

 “It was great to get back in the studio with our original producer, Kevin Elson,” says guitarist Paul Gilbert. “Kevin recorded all of our original classic albums from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and we immediately felt that magic chemistry with him on DEFYING GRAVITY. We basically played live in the studio. Over the years, we’ve all had a chance to experiment with every recording technique possible, but it’s still always the best just to play together as a band. Most of my guitar solos were tracked live with the band. I’ve worked hard on my improvisation in the last few years, and it really paid off on this record…both melodically, and on the face-melting stuff.”

(Quote retrieved from http://www.frontiers.it/album/5392)

 

mr big defying gravity new album

Impressively, Mr. Big recorded this album in a matter of six days. Your jaw probably just dropped, just like mine when I first read that so hurry now and pick it up from the floor. Imagine the determination, creativity and talent you gotta possess in order to come up with 11 smashing rock hits in just six days! If that doesn’t grab your attention then I guess it’s time for you to just get the album and listen carefully. The genuine, melodic rock atmosphere of “Defying Gravity” will conquer you right from the very first track. The guys aren’t joking around, though. A lot of thought has been put into this album and you can clearly spot it once you crank it up. Perfect production, wrapped up around quality songwriting skills and don’t you even get me started on those vocals and bass lines.

Let’s talk songs! (my favorite part)

“1992” is the absolute winner and the track that stood out to me the most (no, not because I was born in 1992 and it’s the most awesome year in history). In terms of melody, the track has that inviting, laid-back old-school rock&roll vibe thanks to which you are simply unable to click the “stop” button. When they released it on YouTube, I played just this one song for the entire day. The lyrics are what you should pay attention to. “1992” is kind of a humorous intake on their rise and fall back in the day with hits like “To Be With You”. What a brilliant approach. Its charming honesty can’t but leave a smile on your face. The opening track, “Open Your Eyes” is something to watch out for – the song has killing riffs and bluesy vibes. It has a bit of a Zeppelin feel into it (but just a little). Now is the moment to point out that vocalist Eric Martin brough his A game on this album and this song is only highlighting what I’m saying. He sounds as good as he did back in 1988, if not even better! The title track is undoubtedly the catchiest song among the playlist. It has a fine modern touch which we don’t really get to hear on radios these days. The album offers variety, that’s for sure. The acoustic bliss, “Damn I’m Inlove Again” is as joyful as a chilly fall evening around a beach fire. “Mean to Me” has a very bizarre but unique fast-paced riff which makes this song an unique experience for the listeners. “Forever and Back” is your mesmerizing classic Mr. Big ballad without which “Defying Gravity” would’ve been a little bit emptier, at least to me.

Every other track on “Defying Gravity” is the ultimate earworm and I’m saying that in the most positive way you can imagine. Easy to sing along with, a little bit of fire, a little bit of ice, tons of good mood and excellent lyrical strength. What a solid comeback. Get it now in case you haven’t.


1992

Defying Gravity

Forever & Back

Everybody Needs a Little Trouble


 

References:
Mr. Big – “Defying Gravity” Album Page: http://www.frontiers.it/album/5392
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

An Inspirational Interview with Riverdogs’ Rob Lamothe

riverdogs debutEverything in life happens for a reason. Now I know that I was destined to hear and completely fall for Riverdogs’ debut album because it all led to nothing but a series of very special events, including discovering great soul-soothing music, meeting outstanding artists, witnessing their current adventures and the highlight – actually having a conversation with one of the masterminds behind the band, vocalist Rob Lamothe. I’m not sure which is more satisfying – the fact that I was given the chance to have an unforgettable conversation with an artist I admire so much, or that after an year of building this personal rock music digital brand, I finally got my first official interview with a musician (and not just any musician but someone I truly care about…).

RIVERDOGS CALIFORNIA BIGAs everyone knows, earlier this July, Riverdogs made a triumphant comeback with “California” – an album that quickly conquered hearts, charts and basically everything on its way with its personality and unique style. In case you haven’t heard it yet, go ahead and do it because you are missing something really exciting! “California” and my instant attachment to that album became the reason why I got to actually talk with Rob Lamothe. I’m writing this and smiling from ear to ear because I still can’t believe it actually happened. Thanks to the development of communication technologies and of course, the Internet, a 25-year old Bulgarian girl spent her evening talking to a beloved artist about the past and present of rock music, the new generation of fans, records, social media, pets and of course, the new album “California”. Here’s the interview and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed experiencing it.


 

qsJrLnVm.jpg largeThis is a very emotional and historical moment for me because you are the first musician I will interview for my blog, actually.

Really, I’m so honored. I can’t believe I’m the first. Thank you so much for sharing that with me. That’s amazing. Thank you.

2017 has been a pretty solid year so far when it comes to rock music. Your new album might be one of the reasons why. I was just wondering, before we get to “California”, if these days you have a favorite album or artist?

You know I work with a lot of young artists. I teach private songwriting lessons all over the world through Skype and e-mail. I teach at a songwriting camp, I’ve been doing that for 14 years, I run my own songwriting camp, I don’t know if you know. That is kind of amazing because right now I have two of my songwriting campers – I’m working with them outside of camp, like a private songwriting course. It’s ongoing, I’m like a songwriting mentor, songwriting tutor, I guess you might say. I’m getting to work with these really intelligent, really sharp, really motivated 15-year old songwriters so I’ve got that, and then I’ve also got stuff that I hear from my contemporaries, you know my friends who are in their 50s who are still working, still making great music so I get to hear a lot of music. I am in a studio an awful lot.

A couple of my former campers have a band called Courage my Love. Check them out. I met them actually when they were 15, two twins – Phoenix and Mercedes – just this amazing band. They are just doing what I love to see.

Of stuff that you might now, I love Vintage Trouble, I love the singer. If a band has a killer singer, I’m gonna notice and I’ll probably be interested. There’s another band from Hamilton, a band called Monster Truck.

I love Monster Truck. I saw them two months ago, they were opening for Deep Purple.

Amazing! Real rock&roll, right?

…That’s one of my favorite bands for sure.

So these days these are some of the bands you have been listening to?

Yeah, things like that. There’s another band from Hamilton, called the Arkells – a great rock band, fantastic rock band with a killer singer. I’m always looking for bands that get me excited so I feel like I’m 15 or 25, you know.

When I did the album review of California, a lot of people responded with comments saying how great it is. I also found out that your album is actually conquering charts as we speak – it’s on UK TOP40 Albums, it’s on Billboard. I’m just curious how is this positive reaction making you feel and did you expect this kind of response?

The response has been amazing. I just got an e-mail today about Billboard charts in American and I can’t believe it. It’s unbelievable. But you know we had this fantastic gift that Frontiers, the label gave us and that was they gave us a direction. They said “We really we want it to sound like the first record”. And some bands might go “Don’t tell us what to do man, we are artists!” You know, that was 27 years ago but I immediately thought that’s wonderful, they are giving us a gift, they are telling us what they like to hear and really when we thought about it, we made this record for ourselves and fans that already knew us, that already loved the first record. And to be honest, I was thinking about it today, I never once thought about trying to win over new fans. Never entered my mind that we’d be hoping that a 25-year old from Bulgaria might like what we’re doing. Not one time did I think “How do we record this song or write this song or perform this song in a way that we’ll bring new fans?” It was never ever something that crossed my mind. We had these really loyal people that were with us for 27 years since that first record.

Frontiers gave us a decent budget so that we could actually spent the time writing like a band and recording it like a band and they gave us that direction. What a wonderful gift. So, I’m totally unprepared for all these new people that are coming in. We’ve never thought “Oh, maybe we’ll get on the radio, or maybe we’ll get on some charts.” It never crossed our minds, not for a second. We were just having a good time writing songs as a band and having an amazing time together. It’s a wonderful bonus, like an icing on a cake for Riverdogs’ career.

I’m still trying to process it. I’m not surprised that people like it because I think it’s good. We tried to capture what we do, the four of us and we did that. We only wrote 12 songs and those are the 12 songs that we recorded. We captured a moment in time pretty well.  Everything went so beautifully. We were all on top of our game, so in that way I think we created something that’s high quality.

You mentioned your loyal and new fans. A lot of people were there to witness your beginnings. I know that your debut album was appreciated by critics and fans back in the day. Most of those fans are still fans of Riverdogs right now. However, as you can see, a lot of people my age love the album. I wanted to ask how the audience back then differs from the one you have right now? Your album sounds very modern, fresh and I know you made it sound like the debut one but it’s still quite modern-sounding. A lot of people my age love it.

I think the reason that it maybe sounds fresh is that it’s a bit of a timeless sound, right? It’s drums, a big room, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, a little bit of keyboards, bass and vocals. If you keep the music simple and organic, then hopefully it stands the test of time. I don’t really know our young audience yet. I don’t know your perspective yet. I don’t know the new listeners’ perspective yet, I don’t know them, yet.

This is really fun for me. It really is like a dream. Just getting to play and be friends with those three guys and our manager, Paul, is almost kind of a fifth member of the band. Just to get to work with my musical brothers and then actually get to write and record, it’s such a dream come true. I really am still just. It never crossed my mind, “Oh, I hope we get some new fans with it”. It wasn’t part of what was on my radar. I wasn’t thinking about that. But I think that’s good because we weren’t second-guessing ourselves, we were just making, writing songs and recording music that made us feel amazing.  And then to finish it and then get to make what I think is a great video, I’m very proud of that video.

I have a question about the video as well. I really like the colors, the energy – it’s very dynamic, sexy if I may say. Aesthetically speaking, you look very nice, behind the desert; everyone is wearing these great outfits, it’s very appealing. So, I wanted to know how long did you shoot it, who came up with the idea. Do you have any plans of making another video?

I hope we get to make another video. Right now, we haven’t discussed it. But I have a feeling we’ll get to because it probably makes sense for the label.

I have a suggestion.

What it is?

“You’re Too Rock and Roll”

*he actually wrote that down*

Visually that could be really really interesting.

rob 1So, we had a budget to make a video. We wanted to find a director who could make a video that look like a 250,000$ video for much less than that and we found somebody – director Jamie Brown. He has directed two of the Last in Line videos; they filmed them in like two days. They look fantastic. They look beautiful. I used to make music videos. I worked in LA for a long time. I worked for a production company and we made Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name”, “Livin’ on a Prayer”, “Cowboy”. We made some Poison videos. We made those big budget rock videos. So I know what a big budget looks like and I know what they cost and when I saw what Jamie’s stuff he did with Last in Line, I was like “let’s get this guy”. It just worked.

Funnily enough, the concept was actually mine.  My idea was very much – the woman in the video is very key because she’s from Guadalajara, her people have been in North America for 13,000 years. The whole idea is that she’s this really powerful figure. Her people are indigenous, they’ve been here forever. She owns that ranch. She was the one with all the power. She didn’t need the band, she didn’t need the song, she kicks ass all on her own.

Also, the song, it was a fun song to write. But I’m not a patriotic person, actually. I’m not trying to say this is what people should feel like. I’m just saying, there’s two sides to every story and in this case, there’s a woman from Mexico who owns this ranch and doesn’t need anyone’s help and has the power within herself. She doesn’t need Riverdogs, she doesn’t need the song, she’s just doing her thing, living her life and we’re just out there, you know, rocking out in the desert.

There were flags in the video originally, American flags but I was like “No, let’s not have flags”. I wanted the song to be whatever the listener wants it to be. It could be like “Yeah, I’m gonna kick ass, I just gotta work hard, I’m just gonna keep at it…” but it could also be ironic for other people who can say “Where’s the American dream?”

Every day since I first heard the album, I have a different favorite song. I have finally made my decision and picked my one favorite song and as I told you, it’s “You’re too Rock and Roll” so I would love to know if this song was written about someone? How did you come up with the idea? Who came up with the melody? Who came up with the lyrics?

On this record, I wrote all the words and I wrote all the melodies. “You’re too Rock and Roll” was a bit of a riff that Marc had. That was an idea of his and actually. The story, what it is, is me trying to capture a mood and an experience that happened to me over and over again. So many times I felt like the man in that song. I was always finding myself in those situations. I was very attracted to, you know – what’s the biggest, craziest adventure I can have tonight. That song is very much about a liquor store called “Gil Turner’s Liquor” on “Sunset Boulevard”. I kind of lived down there a bit.

I was just trying to capture a vibe and a mood and an atmosphere and it’s not one story. It’s really kind of elements of a whole lot of stories and whole lot of crazy nights. The music is pretty trippy. It feels like there’s some tension in the music for sure. So I just went with that.

I know that you released these very beautiful acoustic videos on Youtube with the little cute doggy that was running everywhere so I’m just curious if you’re going to do something like that again or was it just a one-time thing?

That was designed to be a one-time thing. We did that because the next day we filmed “American Dream”. We got together the night before we shot the video. We didn’t rehearse the songs, we just sat there and kind of just kind played them, somehow they were in our minds. They are rough and wonderful.

Riverdogs’ California is available on CD, as well as Vinyl and based on what I saw on SNS, people keep on sharing their copies which is amazing. In general I think nowadays more and more people are coming back to buying CDs and Vinyl records. What do you think? How do you listen to music these days? What do you think about this revival of the vinyl record and CD?

It’s interesting because for me, I get so much music. I do song writing lessons through Skype. I do that with people from all over the world like these kind of songwriting workshops that I do, private lessons with people. A lot of the artist I work with, that I’m coaching whether we’re getting ready to make a recording, sometimes I’m doing vocal coaching, sometimes I’m doing performance coaching, sometimes I’m doing what’s called “song doctoring” where I’m getting an artist ready to make a record so the producer hires me to help tweak the songs, fine tune them and all of that happens with mp3s. It’s just such a convenient way to work. So I’ve been doing that for at least 10 years. I’ve gotten away from buying CDs at least in a store. Well, there’s no place to buy them in my small town for one thing. But when I’m at gigs, that’s when I love to buy a CD as one I can buy from the artist and if I like what they do then I’d love to support them by buying a CD.

You know, it’s interesting because for a while there, it seemed like vinyl was gone. No one was making it anymore. That kind of came back. I noticed it when my daughter whose like 16 and she was buying vinyl and I was like “What the heck is going on?” and then she got me a turntable for Christmas and a bunch of records. There’s nothing like that experience. There’s nothing like taking it out and putting it on a turntable. That’s how I grew up and it would be shame if that’d disappeared.

I am really thrilled that 20-year olds are buying CDs.

So many people are sharing their selfies with your CD and Vinyl. That’s so cool.

Yeah that’s amazing. Actually, I thought, I wondered, “Oh, maybe we won’t sell any; maybe it will just be people buying downloads?” I didn’t know. It’s pretty awesome to see that. I don’t know how that started – people sending us pictures of their CD and their vinyl but I love it. It’s super cool. It really is amazing.

For a while there I was very much into your “Above the Wing is Heaven” solo album. It’s a very soul-soothing album for me. I want to ask if you are thinking about releasing a new solo album?

Yeah, actually I’m 95% done with one. I’m just tweaking a couple of mixes. Originally, I announced last year that I was going to release it in June of 2017 and then when the whole Riverdogs thing happened I just thought, “Well, I’m not gonna release it at the same time”. I haven’t decided when I’m gonna release it. I don’t want to complicate things. I want to have the promotion and the marketing for the Riverdogs record be a clean “attack”. I don’t wanna confuse the listener.

I just have to figure out what I think is a reasonable time to release it but it’s really kind of done, I just added another song, a song that my daughter wanted me to add. It’s myself, my two songs and my daughter. We play all the instruments, we wrote all the songs. The record’s gonna be called “And the River Reveals Herself”. I imagine four months, six months; I don’t know what will make sense. I don’t know how long this momentum will go with Riverdogs.

rivers“California” sounds very honest and relatable and I think a lot of people much in that album, including myself. Many albums released this year were focusing on fire, passion, energy, rock&roll. Your album feels a little bit more intimate. Having said that, I think one of the strongest songs on the album is “I Don’t Know Anything”. How did you come up with the lyrics? It’s a very mysterious song.

I learned a long time ago that the more personal, the more intimate I wrote a song, the more people connected to it. I learned that a long time ago. I was in a band before Riverdogs called AirCraft. We were a local, arena-rock band back in San Diego. We wrote arena rock songs, patterned like Aerosmith, Van Halen and we wrote good songs. But when I started writing really personal songs, that’s when people really connected to me in a way that I’ve never experienced before. I was in those bands, we would open up for Cheap Trick, Joe Perry, Ronnie Montrose…every kind of big rock band that would come to our town, we’d be the opening act. We were the local kids. People loved us. Like you said – it was energy, party…but it was so different when I started writing stuff that was real. I saw the connection immediately.  People would come talk to me and tell me what they thought the song was about, what it meant to them and I’d be like “Wow I never thought of that, that’s amazing; it was totally something else in my mind but your version isn’t wrong, your version is beautiful.” So that was a long time ago. That was 30, probably more than 30 years ago and so I just carried on with that.

These songs were so much directed by the music and just the feeling in the room. A lot of it was just how did it feel in the room and right away I would start singing words cause I trust these guys. I trust Marc and Nick and Viv. I could just sing any words and they’ll go with it. They love me. They trust me, I trust them. When you have that freedom you can just let stuff out. I didn’t worry about what I was saying or did it make sense or does this tell a story. I just let the music spark something in my little brain and l let the words come out.

There’s this great saying that I saw somewhere on the Internet probably and I’ve been quoting it for years to my song writing students and it is “create without fear, edit without mercy”. I’ve really been going with that. I’ve really been practicing what I preach.

This is one of those songs actually on this record, there are a couple of them where I’ve talked about California as a State –it’s a State in America. It’s also a state of mind and that’s why I want you to go there. I hope you’ll go. I know you will. I’d love to talk to you after you go because there’s no place like it. It’s like a dreamland.

That song, “I Don’t Know Anything”, it’s very much like a love song to California. If California was a woman, it’s a love song to her.

RIVERDOGS CALIFORNIA BIGHave you thought about naming the album something else or this title immediately came up to your mind?

No, I was thinking of one of the lines that I really like – “All the Gods are Drunk Tonight”. It’s in “Golden Glow”.

By the way, you receive a lot of attention from the European audience.

Yeah, I’ve noticed the same thing. My whole career, the bulk of my music career over the last 30 years had been based in Europe and based on that first Riverdogs album.

I haven’t really done ton in Canada. I’ve kind of focused on Europe because people over there appreciate what I do and what Riverdogs does and I just go with that.

rob1Music industry has changed a lot these past years. Now, social media plays a very important role in music promotion and connecting with fans, posting updates about the latest happenings in your career. That’s how me and you connected actually. How do you feel about that? Do you often use social media?

That’s a great way to end it actually. For me social media has been key in my career in the last 10-15 years. The Internet in general and that ability to connect with people around the world and again because so much of my career has been focused in Europe as far as touring and recording.

I’m on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Now I’ve got a YouTube channel which I took over the last month. I find it’s an incredible tool. When you think, I’m 58 years old and I can connect with people all over the world.

I still don’t believe that but okay.

Yeah I am. But you know, what does it cost me for my Internet access? I can just post a picture of myself rehearsing or heading off to the farm this morning or whatever. It works, it keeps people who are interested in my music, it allows them to be aware of what I’m doing and we can talk.

The Internet is so great, social media is so great for being able to stay connected and to let people know what you’re doing. For my career – I don’t know where I’d be without it, actually.

I’ve chosen to have, like I said, kind of a quiet, simple life. Social media allows me to have this simple little life and make the kind of music that I wanna make with the people that I love and release it myself and book tours and it’s just been so invaluable for me.

It’s really fun for me, it’s great to be 58, and it’s great to have made record when they were just on vinyl. The first record I made, there was just vinyl then.  I was a teenager, I was in a choir and we made two records. When I got the record deal with the Riverdogs there were CDs but we made a vinyl version as well. Everything changed so much and I love it.

You made a cassette too.

Yes, that’s right. I forgot about that. So cassette too. I don’t know if those are gonna come back.

If there hadn’t been an Internet and social media, I don’t know where my career would be. I’m not like a road dog out touring all the time. I wanna be home, drinking my coffee and my purple smoothie that I made when I came home today. The internet lets me do that, social media just lets me make up my own rules and that is incredible.

And I see you young people, I see 20-year olds, 25-year olds that are literally just creating their own industries. I mentioned that band, Courage My Love – they just created their own music business. They don’t need the old music business, the new one. They just make up their own. I love that.   

As you know my brand is followed by a lot of rock fans on social media and so many of them loved the album and love you as well. Is there something you want to tell us as a wrap up of our conversation?

I’m so honored that something that we create from our hearts is relatable to young people, that’s incredible. That gives me hope because it is something that we created from our hearts and a lot of old people *laughs*, a lot of my friends, they’re really sour about young people. They just think “Oh, kids these days, they don’t know good music, and they just have their noses in their phones all day.” I see people saying that and I disagree so much. Part of that is because I work with young people. They are wonderful. I have so much hope for this crazy, chaotic, mixed up world because of young people. Us, older people are not gonna solve the world’s problems. It’s gonna be you – you and your friends and your peers. I know that, not only is the future of music in good hands, the future of the world is in good hands and that makes me sleep a little better at night.

A beautiful response. One of the goals in my life is to guide people towards the ways in which music business should be done and this business should thrive in the future.  I think somewhere along the way there was a mistake made and a lot of people forgot how music should sound like and what it should mean, especially in the business. I think the music industry lacks people who understand and value music and I want to change that. I hope in the future I become something more.

That’s a beautiful dream. Those changes don’t happen unless somebody dreams a crazy dream. It has to start with someone doing something kind of ridiculous and doing something that can’t be done and shouldn’t be able to be done or everyone says “you can’t do that”. I can say that following what you’re passionate about is unbelievably rewarding. You can imagine it when you’re 25 but when you live it – 25, 35, 45, 55 and every day is just a beautiful adventure, it’s incredible. So please do it.

It’s a very touching and emotional moment for me. I don’t even know how to thank you enough for this wonderful talk. It means a lot for a young person to get to hear those words. I will always cherish the fact that you were the first one to give me an interview and I’m really thankful.

I’m honored to be your first interviewee and we’ll talk again!

Thank you.

 


 

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.

Celebrating The 37th Anniversary of AC/DC’s “Back In Black”

It’s been 37 years since this album changed the name of the industry and is still going as strong as ever. There’s not a rock fan in this world who has never heard of AC/DC or haven’t yet experienced that deafening musical strength “Back in Black” carries within. 

ac dcWe all know the facts – AC/DC lost their frontman Bon Scott in the beginning of 1980. The decision on whether to continue as a band or not had to be taken (and it had to be taken quickly). Following up the tragic death of the voice and face of the band, AC/DC were facing numerous difficulties and the thought of quitting wasn’t that far actually. Newly-recruited frontman, Brian Johnson was also dealing with many obstacles as the new vocalist. Things were shaky there for a while BUT thanks to one brilliant producer, famous for his precision and obsession with achieving the perfect sound, AC/DC crafted a sound that ended up bringing “Back in Black” the “second-best selling album of all time” title (the first is, of course, MJ’s “Thriller”.) That’s right, I’m talking about the influential producer Mutt Lange who stepped in with brand new approaches and guided the birth of “Back in Black” – an album that perfectly captured the electrifying energy, astonishing technical and lyrical arrangements and a new and reborn AC/DC, ready to take over the world. The album was released in 1980 and it quickly became their most critically respected album. It spawned 4 huge singles – “You Shook Me All Night Long”, “Hells Bells”, “Back in Black” and “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”, all of which redefined hard rock music and left a mark that can never be erased!

Whatever I say about this album would be totally useless. Why? Well, because if rock&roll was a kingdom, this album would be its prince. Everyone loves it, overplayed or not; everyone sings along with anthems like “Back in Black” or “Have a Drink on Me”. Here’s to 37 more years!

What is your favorite track? Personally, I gotta go with “Have a Drink on Me” or the title song. Hearing those opening riffs is a moment of epiphany for every young rock fan out there…

“Back in Black”

“Hells Bells”

“Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”

“You Shook Me All Night Long”


References:

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Lou Gramm, Al Greenwood and Ian McDonald join FOREIGNER for a REUNION CONCERT

History was made this Thursday (07/20) during a Foreigner concert at Jones Beach, New York. Three former members of the legendary band joined the band on stage for a night, celebrating old friendships and great memories.

For the first time in almost 14 years, Lou Gramm – Foreigner’s original lead vocalist, shared a stage with the rest of the band members as their frontman. It’s been even longer since multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald and keyboardist Al Greenwood last played with Foreigner. Together, they performed “Long, Long Way From Home,” “I Want to Know What Love Is” and “Hot Blooded.”

This is a video, shared by Foreigner on their official Facebook Page. Watch it and let me know what you think. I personally believe that Lou Gramm sounds better than ever – his voice is clearer and he’s obviously doing so well. I got quite emotional when I watched it earlier today and I just had to include it in my blog. What an amazing event!


References:
Watch Foreigner Reunite With Three Members for First Time in 37 Years: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/watch-foreigner-reunite-for-first-time-in-37-years-w493475
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.