In a time that you find less and less melody in music, comes Leah and her ethereal music to bring everything upside down. Leah lies there, where metal and chill out music meet. Please welcome the "metal Enya" and listen to her Celtic fantasy metal songs! Her latest album, "The Quest", is a masterpiece and Myth of Rock is here to spread the news. We spoke with her and you can read all her sayings right below. The "Leah" chapter is a very interesting, an exciting part of the book of contemporary heavy metal. Enjoy!
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos - Sylvia Crystal
How did you decide to begin your career as a solo artist?
It's a bit of a backwards story as I didn't record my first album until after I was married and settled down with kids. Not very typical of me! I've been a songwriter since I was about 13-14 years old, though.
Your music is described as “Celtic Fantasy Metal”. Do you agree with this definition?
Yes, I think that describes it generally. Sometimes it's less metal, but even hardcore metal fans tell me they still want to listen to it when they're in more of a chill mood.
Why people should listen to your music?
If someone is looking to feel like they're in an otherworldly place, transported to another era full of magic, ethereal beings, and beautiful landscapes, I think they'll like this music.
How do you react, when people say that you are “the metal Enya” and your music is “chill out music for metalheads”?
I think it's cool! I usually embrace the terms fans come up with - it gives me insight into the music I didn't objectively have.
What does inspire you to compose your songs? Which artists/bands are your “music heroes”?
Inspiration often comes from places I've been, photos, and fantasy films and TV shows. I tend to bank it all up and then it comes out one day while I'm doing something mundane like doing the dishes. I have many music heroes, spanning across different genres, from The Doors, to The Tea Party, Sarah McLauchlan, Loreena McKennitt, to Symphony X, Dream Theater, Within Temptation, and many more.
Your unique voice is so warm and ethereal but also with a rock color at the same time. What do you feel every time you sing?
Thank you. I'm usually focused on the emotion of the song and lyric. I try to stop thinking about technique when I record and let it flow.
Give us all the details about “The Quest” album: when did you compose the songs, where did you record them, who did the production, who did the mixing and the mastering?
I composed the songs over 2 years, basically writing and recording them one by one, and adding all the final vocals at the very end. I composed and did all the pre-production from my home studio, and Oliver Philipps was the producer. He also did all the orchestration and we collaborated on the arrangements. Jacob Hansen did the mixing and mastering.
You have an impressive amount of great musicians contributing in your new album – Troy Donockley, Barend Courbois, Timo Somers, Sander Zoer and Chen Balbus. How did it come and you collaborated with them?
I asked! :) Most of all these introductions came by way of mutual friends or acquaintances.
Where would you trace the differences between “The Quest” and your previous recordings?
"The Quest" became its own animal and I decided to not try and fit into any mold. That meant accepting that it may not be as heavy as my previous album and just be ok with that. The recording process was really different in that Oliver and I worked very closely and he's much more picky than I am, which is a good thing in many ways, but it made for a much longer process.
Which is your favorite song from your new album and why?
It changes depending on my mood, but I do love "The Quest"! Also "Ghost Upon a Throne" has nostalgic ties for me.
I believe that “The Quest” is such a good album that you will surely have a big success. Do you agree with me?
I hope so! We will see.
Why are you not a touring artist? Are you planning to tour one day or do you prefer to be a studio musician?
Mainly because I have a big family and the logistics never made sense for me. For now I'm a recording artist, but definitely, have the itch to tour one day. I'm also doing things backwards in that many artists tour when they're first getting started as a way to promote and get their name out there. Instead, I'm building my following online around the world first, so there will hopefully be demand for a tour.
How are you in your personal life? Are you the romantic fairy or the badass rock woman?
I'm more like a romantic fairy badass businesswoman.
You are the composer of your songs. How do you feel when you are composing your songs and which are your feelings, when you listen to them, after the mixing/mastering is done?
It's always magical when I get mixes back - it sounds so different! Always better. Mastering takes it to a whole new level once again. It's like waxing a sports car. It's good without it, but it doesn't really shine until after the treatment.
What about the lyrics? Do you write the words of your songs? Where do they refer to?
Yes, I write all the lyrics. Sometimes I have no idea what they are about, as some of my songs "write themselves" - so maybe they come from my subconscious. Other times, I do research in Wikipedia on a topic, like in the song Heir - I was researching Scotland's national animal in Wikipedia, which happens to be a unicorn. So that's where that song got its inspiration.
Are you a person who is always inspired or do you sometimes need a boost to get inspiration?
Inspiration is something you have to tap into. It's there but is easily ignored. I find when I am open all kinds of ideas are already there, lying dormant. So I keep my phone nearby and sing into my voice memo app as soon as something comes to me.
Which are your hobbies? I am sure that you read fantasy books and watch fantasy movies!
I don't have a lot of time for novels these days, but I do love fantasy TV series and movies like Outlander, The Hobbit, and so forth. I'm often working on my music, so I consider that my hobby, and when I have time, I do like crafty things like chainmaille and sewing.
You had collaborated with Eric Peterson in the past. Describe to us how this collaboration was. Is there any chance of collaborating with Eric in the future?
Yes, that song was quite spontaneous and we often talk of doing more. I recently sang on his new Dragonlord record, you'll find my voice on several tracks including choirs and solo parts, such as in the song "Love of The Damned".
You are in Inner Wound Records. Are you satisfied with your record label?
Yes, we've been working together for the past several years. It's a different kind of partnership than most, in that I retain my independent status, which I love. It's great to have people on your side that truly care about you in this business.
Which are your plans for the future?
Definitely more music! I'd like to do a non-metal fantasy album, and then another heavier album again. Let's see what happens!
A historic band from France, Seyminhol is one of melodic metal's most enjoyable sensations. But the band's music isn't only melodic, since you can find several elements in its songs, for example progressive metal and symphonic music elements. Without a doubt, Seyminhol's latest album, "Ophelian Fields" (2018), was an impressive piece of art, which shows that the French guys are in perfect shape. Some months after the record release, Myth of Rock came in contact with the band and Nico (guitars,keyboards) answered our questions. Below you can read this interesting chat, but don't miss listening to Seyminhol music, in any case - they really deserve it!
Give us a short biography of Seyminhol.
Well, a short biography isn’t really possible because the band is very old! At the beginning, at the end of the darkened days of the eighties, Chris and Eric (our fist guitarist) decides to make a group. And, three years later, I became the new singer of the crew. During three years again we played music, band cover and we worked on our instruments. At the end of 1995, we decided to make our first MCD. It was “Thunder in the dark”. Two short albums have been created in the nineties. And our first album was born in 2002. After that, a second opus arrived and our style was a mixture of power, epic, progressive and symphonic metal. It was the time of “Viking theme”. I think the change of atmosphere on “Ov Asylum” has been the arrival of another conception of our music. At the end of this offering – it was really a kind of musical sacrifice – we decided to stop the machine. It was important for us, for the creation, the evolution and the future of the band. Five years later, our new album “The wayward son” gave the sense of our new vision. It was a good example of traditions, bombastic inspiration and progressive views we had of the band. Now “Ophelian Fields” is a mix of all our influences. A sane and profitable reflexion about the road that we wanted to use. And, of course, it isn’t the end of our evolution. It’s just a step, a new level in our particular career.
What does “Seyminhol” mean and why did you decide to have this band name?
It’s not a fictive name. The base of this choice was our interest for the culture, arts and traditions of the Indians. The true orthography is “SEMINOLE”, the name of tribe from Florida in the south of America. You can find the link with this name on our MCD « Indian spirit ». We will propose a special song about that in few months. It will be the roots of our band, a return to the genuine seed. We will sing in French and we’ll use traditional instruments and strange noises.
I didn’t know Seyminhol, until I listened to the song “Behind the Mask”. Do you believe that with “Ophelian Fields” and your next albums you will manage to get more known outside France?
I don’t’ know. It’s not my aim! It’s very important to have the opportunity to offer his music all around the world but we aren’t professional musicians. We work, we have family and we aren’t enough young to realize the conquest of new territories. Maybe in another life or after death when our albums will become famous!
How do you see now your latest album, “Ophelian Fields”, some months after its official release?
I’m always plenty satisfied with this album. It’s a new face of the band. But I hope it wasn’t too complicated for the fans. We like to have a different approach of the music and sometimes this manner to proceed isn’t evident.
Although your sound is progressive and complex, I liked your songs pretty soon, after the first listen. How difficult is it for you to have a complex but catchy sound at the same time?
We don’t create the music with an established idea. We just search the emotion and a kind of color. After that, two or three listen are the norm to understand our universe. The progressive rock must be listenable if the inner sense is pure. When the creation is guided by a true meaning. It’s just a question of sensitive perception.
Can you give us the details behind the concept of “Ophelian Fields”?
"Ophelian Fields" is the rest of the “Wayward son” album. It is based on Hamlet of Shakespeare but he is more different because we speak about the character of Ophelia. It’s the lover of Hamlet, a kind of lunar figure that appears as a sensitive person. I wanted to work about it and to propose a new vision of the tragedy. I think that the music and the entire atmosphere will be perceived like an evolution. Ophelia is a Mother Nature, a sort of good sorceress, the girl of the river. She can explain the own folly of Hamlet. She is a tutelary figure, maybe the true hero of this dramatic story. This new album describes all the state of this young person: the drama that she incarnates, the tensions that she creates.
How would you describe the music style of Seyminhol?
We don’t play always the same style. Our influences are very large. It’s a specter that is defined by our own story, our personal way and choices. Of course, the base of the music is the power metal and the progressive rock but the black metal, the gothic rock, the hard rock are important too in the process of creation. Actually, we play a strange progressive rock with a touch of anger and distress.
Who is responsible for Seyminhol music and lyrics?
The lyrics are my job ; the music, the vision of Nico. Although, we work together on the atmosphere, the upper theme of the concept and the sounds.
Did you play live shows for the promotion of “Ophelian Fields”? What do you remember from these live shows?
Of course but I want to be honest with you. I dislike the shows. It’s a question of time, of preparation. We cannot be on the top because we make music inside a strange movement. This movement is split between our professional work and our work of musician. Often, we discover some band during these shows and often the members are very special. It’s a business attitude or maybe just the attitude of the human race.
Have you started composing for your next album? If yes, how does this material sound, until now? Do you know if this is going to be a concept album again?
Yes, we are working on the new material. It will be a concept, a very ambitious concept based on the history of the second part of the twentieth century. The point of this story takes her source during the Second World War in Germany. We will follow the step of an adopted child called Tessmann. We will lulled by the amazing adventures of this guy.
Have you decided, at which studio you will record the new album, who will be the producer and who will do the mixing and the mastering?
We work on our home studio. The production is our matter. No big name, no big project because money is the key. And, of course, we don’t have money.
Where do you get inspiration from? Which are your music influences?
The history and the literary are the two legs of our corps. And our heads can eat all the music of the world. It’s just a question of taste and of beauty. The rock music and its by-products are not the Holy Grail! We adore the movies music, the tribal music, the classical tender and the soul music.
Which is your favorite concept album of all times and why?
It’s a difficult question. As for me I think the theme of the Carmina Burana is the most sober, dark and reflective creation of the twentieth century. It’s really grand and grandiloquent. An excellent vision of the human being, of the seasons of the life, of the time that goes by and of the idea of disappearance. I like the bones because the bones are all the same: there are no kings, there are no beggars. Just a pile of skulls, of ulna and of humeruses! And if I can speak about a modern concept, without hesitation I will say “Metropolis part II”, Dream Theater or, maybe, “666” by the Aphrodite’s Child. “The Four Horsemen” Is an incredible song.
Who is your favorite author and why?
Shakespeare, for all the ideas that I developed higher in this interview and E. Cioran for his skepticism, his capacity to speak about the ephemeral characters of the life and the poignant of the existence. It’s an amazing mind, very biting and with the hard-hitting humor.
How are things for heavy metal in France?
Nothing. An awful pile of disillusion and shit.
Seyminhol is signed to Lion Music Records. Are you satisfied with Lion Music’s work until now?
Yes, the head manager of this label is a true realistic person. The results are positive for the band and for the fans.
Send your message to our readers!
Be trusting! Listen to the good vibrations of the hope. THANX.
It is been quite a time since Virgin Steele has released a very successful full-length album, commercially speaking, but the legendary American band is always here with us, alive, releasing new music and playing live! Virgin Steele belongs to the classic metal groups and its every move is great news for all of us. David DeFeis and company are in the spotlight again, as they are re-issuing their first two studio albums, "Virgin Steele I" (1982) and "Virgin Steele 2/Guardians of the Flame" (1983), and are releasing a 35th-Anniversary box set ("Seven Devils Moonshine", which will contain three new albums!) on November 23, 2018. Myth of Rock immediately thought it was a great opportunity to speak with the band's singer and mastermind, David DeFeis, who accepted our invitation and answered all our questions - we talked about the past, the present, the future, and everything related to Virgin Steele.So, ladies and gentlemen, hats off to David DeFeis and Virgin Steele!
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
The first two albums of Virgin Steele are being reissued by No Remorse Records. Why did you decide to re-release these albums? How did you come in contact with No Remorse Records?
In truth I actually had no intention of re-issuing those two albums at this time. It was not at all on my mind because I have been so involved and still am involved in lots of new music. I was approached by No Remorse Records who inquired if it might be possible to re-issue them…I was at first not that interested because as I stated I already had so much on my plate, but we started to speak and had several very nice conversations and fairly quickly came to an agreement and now…here we are…all is ready to go and they have done a beautiful job!
Are you the one who decided about the remixes and the bonus tracks of these two re-releases?
Yes, I handled all of that as I always do.
What do you recall from the first days of Virgin Steele?
Everything! My memory is intact. I recall how we all met, the first rehearsals, the recording sessions…the first concerts…all of it. It was quite an amazing time. We were very inspired and we exploded and we went for it and quickly became very well known in our immediate area and then in what seemed like no time at all we had serious interest from people all around the world. We pressed up the first album and I sold it from the trunk of my car and before that first pressing was sold out we had two record deals, one with Mongol Horde in the States and one in England with Music For Nations. In fact we were MFN 1 the very first release on this new label that soon acquired W.A.S.P., Mercyful Fate, Ratt, Manowar and tons of other wonderful metal bands.
Please describe us how you became the singer of Virgin Steele.
A long curly haired drummer named Joey Ayvazian, and a guitarist named Jack Starr were rehearsing together and trying to get something serious going, while at the same time I was playing in various groups with a bass player named Joe O’Reilly, when one day I saw an advertisement in a local music paper stating that some metal musicians were searching for a singer and there was some kind of tour planned. Excited and intrigued … I answered the ad … met with Joey and we arranged to meet up for a jam at a nearby rehearsal studio the next day. I arrived on time ready to rip, but there was nothing scheduled for us as Jack had forgotten to book the time. I was still very gung-ho, so I suggested that he and Jack come back to my house where I had all my gear set up, to afford them the opportunity to hear my singing and keyboard playing. I played three songs for them, “No Quarter', by Led Zeppelin, “Child In Time”, by Deep Purple and “Catch the Rainbow”, by Rainbow. They liked what they heard and asked me to join the band then and there. While I was flattered and interested, remember … I had not yet had the opportunity to hear them play. So … I suggested that we actually all jam together first to see if we could spark, and Jack did set up a jam … but when I arrived at the studio for this second attempt … Joey the drummer I had met and kind of bonded with, wasn’t on the kit! I thought … hmmm … ”strange” … Some other guy was there on drums and there was also another guitar player present who sang … We played and it was sort of nice … but I wasn’t really into the drummer or the bass player, or having another singer around, plus I wanted to hear Joey play because we had clicked and I liked him very much as a person … I said to Jack, “hey I like what you’re doing but I want to hear the drummer I met and I have a great bass player who would be perfect for this” … he said, “OK great, let’s arrange for another jam”, and finally Jack, Joey, Joe “O”, and I all did jam together a day or so later. And so the two factions finally assembled and we clicked musically right away. We rehearsed for about three weeks and entered the studio to record what became “Virgin Steele I”. The album was recorded mostly live in the studio, and the entire production cost about $ 1,000 dollars and took maybe about a week to record and mix.
How was your cooperation with guitarist Jack Starr?
Back in those days it was fine. We all got along pretty well most of the time. Now and then we had the usual occasional disagreements but nothing major.
How do you see now the first two Virgin Steele albums? Do you like them? How much have you progressed since then, as a band and as a musician?
I see them as essays in the craft before it was fully sown…wild, passionate raw performances with some very cool songs. I love them…I love all the albums for different reasons. The group has progressed enormously since those days in so many areas, and I as a musician, composer, etc. have added many more strings to my bow. Especially as a writer/composer that is where my main strengths are.
How would you define the music of “Virgin Steele I” and “Virgin Steele II”?
At the time we called it metal, power metal, crazy metal … it was also called progressive metal … some of it was bluesy metal or hard rock … some of it was on the epic side … some had early “symphonic” touches.
Which is your favorite track of “Virgin Steele I” and your favorite track of “Virgin Steele II”?
On “Virgin Steele I” I think I enjoy “Danger Zone”, “Living in Sin”, “Children of the Storm” and the song “Virgin Steele”. On “Virgin Steele II” … I enjoy “Don’t Say Goodbye”, “A Cry in the Night”, and perhaps also “Guardians of the Flame” the most. I remember listening to the playback of the final mixes in the studio and being completely amazed at the sound and the fact that we had captured this grandiose epic quality and distilled all of our various personalities into these tracks.
If you could turn back time, what would you do differently as far as these first two albums are concerned?
I might want to spend more time recording and mixing because I always want that!
How much different were things for heavy metal music back in the beginning of the 80s? Are you satisfied with the current condition of Virgin Steele?
It was a more wide-open time…the scene was actively more engaging and alive. There actually was a music business, a photography business and all the peripheral things that go along with making music, making records … etc. If you are asking me “am I satisfied with where Virgin Steele is at creatively and musically speaking”, then the answer is a most resounding “yes I am”. I think the songs have gotten stronger and stronger over the years and the core chemistry is more intuitive than ever before, and we have managed to capture more and more of the passion, the raw emotion of our lives in sound … The albums we make reflect the sound of our living world if you will…
Three years have passed since the release of your latest studio album (“Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation”). Have you written any new material? If yes, how does it sound? When should we expect your new full-length studio album?
Always … I continually have numerous albums in the works and in various stages of completion. I am always writing and we are always recording. We will be releasing a box set in November that in addition to containing the last two re-issues, will feature three discs of new material in various styles from aggressive barbaric-romantic metal to epic gothic bluesy metal to stripped down orchestral type recordings … all sorts of stuff, because it is a box set and for such an item I think one should go deep and occasionally provide some left hand path type material. Our last album contained twenty nine songs, and every re-issue we have unleashed has contained new music, therefore we weren’t in too great a rush to release something immediately following that last album. We wanted people to get to know the material we had already put out first, before releasing more new material.
Give us the details about the two videos you recently released for the songs “When Dusk Fell” and “Black Light On Black”.
What do you wish to know? They are both from the re-mixed version of our “Visions of Eden” album and they were both filmed on Long Island where we live. A lot of footage was done in the cold, cold winter and some of it was filmed in a nearby cemetery. We tried to infuse the clips with the emotions of the songs and show something of our beliefs, our personalities, and what our life is like here.
If you had to choose between being a romantic and being a barbarian, what would you prefer to be, and why?
Some days some nights … some moments I feel more barbaric than romantic and at other times quite the opposite … it all depends on how I am motivated by the stimuli around me. In my day-to-day life in dealing with people, places and things that I would prefer to not have to deal with, I tend to push the barbaric side of my nature to the fore … but among friends and people I care about deeply I try to more … “romantic”…
If you could travel in time, which period of history would you choose?
I do have a special affinity for 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, but I don’t think I would want to remain there too long as I would probably be condemned as a witch … Perhaps the earliest recorded days of the human race would be interesting … Ancient Babylon … Sumeria … or certainly Ancient Greece … when the Gods & Goddesses were all quite young or not yet born … when the Titans still reigned …
What do you think of modern metal? Do you like any modern metal bands?
There are some wonderful musicians out there doing metal these days, but to be honest I don’t really follow too much of it. Occasionally certain bands get brought to my attention and I always listen and I usually enjoy it … there is always so much to discover or re-discover as the case may be.
If Jack Starr asked you to come back to the band, which would be your reaction?
I have a very strong special chemistry with Edward Pursino that is still inspiring and we barely have enough time to do all the things we want to do together. That’s not to say that I have any issues with Jack. I wish him well in all that he is doing and who knows, as far as maybe a track or something like that happening down the road I suppose that is always possible, but nothing like that is on my mind at this time. We are already working on the next two new “concept type” albums and have been tracking guitars for days now … and there is still much to do in order to complete them for release sometime next year.
Which are your plans for the future? What about a tour?
The immediate future will bring forth the five disc box set in November and then work on these two new full-length “concept” type albums that we have already begun and of which I started speaking about above, and yes … live shows.
A message to your Greek fans!
Certainly!!! CHEERS FRIENDS!!! BY THE GODS & GODDESSES to you ALL!!! We have missed you! We do hope to visit the Home Of The Gods & Goddesses once again very soon. You will always hold a hugely special place in our Hearts…ETHARISTO POLI to YOU ALL!
Thank you very much, Mr. DeFeis.
Hail and all the very best to you and to your readers always.
As a result of the financial crisis in Greece, many young people are seeking something better in foreign lands. This may also happen in the world of music - there are Greek bands which are moving abroad, in order to have a better luck and more chances in their career. One of these bands is 7he 7ouch, who moved to London, England, to pursue their dreams. I incidentally came across the band's music video for the song "Solution" and I was really blown away! So, it was a matter of time to conduct an interview with 7he 7ouch, who announced these days the official release of their debut EP, "SEVENTYSEVEN". The band answered gladly all Myth of Rock's questions and I am sure you will find the following chat very interesting. Let's go!
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
When and how were 7he 7ouch formed?
Everything first started back in 2012 when two different childhood friendships; [Constantine (vocals), Stelios (guitar) and John (guitar), Toni (bass), Apostolis (drums)] got together for a jam in the studio as John and Constantine were working on some new ideas and needed to jam on then in the studio. We really enjoyed ourselves being together and this is how 7he 7ouch were formed. It was the need to escape from our daily routines and the lust to create new music/sounds. Later the same year and due to the financial crisis in our country, Apostolis decided to take another direction in his life and moved to Canada in 2013. After several years of seeking for the right fit to fill for Apostolis shoes, we met Dave and we officially reformed 7he 7ouch.
Why did you decide to move to London?
It was back in the fall of 2014. Greece wasn’t at the best place back in the day and music in Greece as well. We decided that we wanted to take a leap and start a career in London and then we did it.
How much difficult was it for you to leave Greece and settle down in England?
Every new beginning has its difficulties and obstacles to overcome. The first days were tough but we learned from it. The most important thing was that we had each other.
How are things for rock bands in England nowadays? Which are the differences between the situation in England and the situation in Greece?
Rock is the SOUND in England. Let’s not forget that UK is the mainland of rock music, see The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Motörhead and you know the list goes on and on. There is a lot of activity here, everybody is a music enthusiast and rock music is a big part of the English culture. The competition (always talking about a friendly competition) is very high and this can only make you be better every day. We think Greece has some great bands and musicians, even though the music industry is focused on different genres there are some great bands starting coming to prominence and tour globally. It is very much harder for a band based in Greece to succeed and have an international career in comparison to many English based bands, as the industry here is very much developed and focuses and invests on the artists.
If a young Greek musician asked you if he/she should leave Greece and move to England in order to become a professional musician, what would you suggest to him?
We would suggest them to follow their heart and do what they love. Focus on your goals and never let it slide away.
Which are your releases until now? Give us all the details about your upcoming EP release.
We have just announced the release of our debut EP for October 29th. It will be called “SEVENTYSEVEN”. “Solution” is the first single we released on the 9th of July. All we can say is that we are very proud of it. It sounds BIG, it is melodic and heavy at the same time. We can’t wait to share it with you.
How would you describe your music? Can we define it as alternative hard rock?
We are not big fans of putting titles to our music. It can be alternative and it can be hard-hitting rock ‘n roll at times but 7he 7ouch is something more than this. You can definitely say that we are a rock band but at the same time, there are a lot more elements that can be put into the mix. We all have different influences and this sometimes can work great and bring something refreshing to the sound.
You have played a lot of live shows until now. How much and in which way have these live gigs helped the band?
You can only improve and get better by playing live. We‘ve had a lot of shows over the years and this made each of us better at their instrument and of course, it made the band sound tighter. The more a band can play live the better. At the end of the day, this is what it is all about. Playing live music.
Who are the main composers in 7he 7ouch? Which are your music influences?
Mainly most of our ideas are usually coming from Constantine and John and then we are all gathering and working on the development of them. Regarding our influences, we all differ in taste and preferences but we definitely complete each other. Everyone in the band is, of course, listening any piece of music and artist that is sounding right but we all have our favorite eras like most of the people. John and Toni are more excited about the beginning of rock n’ roll and how the sound of it gradually became harder and harder. John is a 60's and 70's rock, blues and heavy metal admirer. Toni is absolutely an 80's freak. Constantine and Stelios are definitely kids of the 90's and 2000's with many nu-metal influences and still exploring the newest genres for new sounds. Dave is the only one that actually studied music so he has a greater opinion of the music genre spectrum and also loves hip-hop and rap music.
Which elements are the most significant for you: melody, energy, passion, feeling?
It all comes together. You can’t have a melody without the energy to deliver it. You can’t have energy if you are not feeling passionate about something. And to be able to do all the above that requires from your inner self be able to have feelings.
Who is the lyrics writer? Where do the lyrics refer to?
Constantine and John are the main lyricists and the theme can vary. We are considering ourselves as very concerned and sensitive humans about the world and the people surrounding us. It can be political, it can be love, it can be everything. Everything that we see and go through our everyday life it all reflects to us.
Do you prefer to produce your own songs or to cooperate with a person outside the band?
We love working with other people outside the band. You get to learn things from them and always helps having a second opinion from someone you know that truly cares for you and is outside the band.
Do you have a record deal with a record label yet? If not, are you in negotiations with any record labels?
At the moment we are moving on independently.
Why did you decide to name the band “7he 7ouch”?
It just happened when we were trying to figure out a name for our band and then Toni came up with “Touch” we thought it sounded cool and added the “the“ to it. We realized that there’s another band with the same name in America, so we came up with the idea of adding the 7’s instead of T’s.
Which are your dreams/ambitions for 7he 7ouch?
We would like to be seen as the type of artists that want to contribute to the shaping of rock music in the future, while respecting and acknowledging all the phases rock n' roll went through in the past and in that way our desire is to be at the front line of the new era of rock n' roll.
Which are your future plans, apart from releasing your EP?
Play as many live shows as we can, potential tour in the fall and record some new music.
Monument are one the best and most promising traditional heavy metal bands of our times. Their albums are full of powerful, storming songs with great melodies and soaring vocals, and their live shows meet the highest expectations. Greek fans had the chance to enjoy Monument in Rockwave Festival 2018, where the British band really rocked big time. After Monument’s performance, Myth of Rock talked with the frontman of the band, Peter Ellis, who gladly answered our questions and said very interesting things. Read the following lines and keep in mind that Monument are here to stay!
by Sylvia Crystal
You played live in Rockwave Festival, Greece, the day that Iron Maiden were the headliners. How do you recall this live gig?
Really warm, haha! It was the most challenging gig of the summer so far due to the hot temperatures but at the same time the crowd was the loudest of all the festivals we have played so far. Of course for me, on a personal level, it is always special when we play Greece as I was born and raised in Athens.
This concert wasn’t the first Monument live gig in Greece, since you had played with Iced Earth in 2016. How much has the band progressed since 2016?
Things are a lot busier now and the band is now one of the rising forces in European metal across the continent, which is really cool. Our management team and us have put a lot of time and effort into this, so it is great to see the band getting bigger and bigger.
In your opinion, which was the best moment and which was the worst moment in your tour until now?
Rockwave was actually both, the best and worst moment for us, haha! It was the worst because of the extreme heat on stage, but also the best due to the amazing Greek audience that sent us so much energy and positive vibes during our set.
How do you feel, when you enter the stage? Do you have any stress? Do you think of something certain?
I never get stressed before going on stage, regardless of whether we are playing for 200 people or 20.000. I was born into a show business family, so live performance is in my blood.
Your latest album, “Hellhound”, was praised by both journalists and fans. How do you see that album now, some months after its official release? Are you satisfied with it, artistically and commercially?
I could not be happier with the album and how good it’s doing. We knew we had a really strong album going in, so it is nice to see that our good feeling was right.
Could you please describe the relationship between Monument and the fans? Are you satisfied with this relationship or it can get even better?
I think we have a very special bond with our fans, we always take the time to interact with them either at shows or online and we feel we have a responsibility to keep making our fans proud by delivering the best new music we can in every album and putting 100% into every live performance.
Could you please select three adjectives to describe what “Hellhound” album is and three adjectives to describe what “Hellhound” album is not?
Hellhound is: British, Heavy, Metal. Hellhound is NOT: Fake, Boring, Pretentious.
If you had to pick three songs off “Hellhound” album as your favorite songs, which ones would you pick and why?
“The Chalice”, because I feel it has added a whole new dimension to our sound, “Death Avenue”, because I just really like the vibe of that song and “Attila”, because of how full of power it is as a song.
Is there a specific track from Monument’s discography that you aren’t proud of? Why?
There’s a couple of songs on the first two albums where I was trying too hard to please everyone and were included just for that reason. But that doesn’t mean they are bad songs, they just don’t really represent what this band is.
What kind of music do you listen to, when you are at home? Is it only heavy metal music or do you like also other music genres? Which music genre don’t you like at all?
I listen to heavy metal a lot, obviously, but I also listen to 80’s pop as well as more obscure stuff. I absolutely can not listen to black metal, with the exception of Rotting Christ, who are one of my favourite bands, or hip hop/rap.
Is there a musician, with whom you would like to co-operate in studio or on stage? And why?
I always enjoy working with Bob Katsionis, as we have done a few times in the past. We have also worked with Richie Faulkner from Judas Priest, who is an old friend of mine and played a guest solo in the title track of the first Monument EP and he is another person that I would love to work with again. As far as people I have never worked with, it would probably be someone like Matt Barlow (Ashes of Ares, Sentinels, ex – Iced Earth, Pyramaze), I think doing a duet with Matt would be pretty cool.
When and how did you decide to become a singer?
At the age of 18, when I could not find a singer that could actually sing, haha! I was a guitar player at the time.
Monument are described as a New Wave of British Heavy Metal band. Very few bands play in that style nowadays. First of all, do you accept this definition? And if yes, why did you decide to play in that style? Why didn’t you select a different, more popular music style?
If you are real to yourself, you don’t select the style you want to play, it selects you. We never sat down and said “ok lads, let’s pretend to be NWOBHM”, we ARE a British heavy metal band with two lead guitars, lead bass, drums and vocals, I think the surprising thing would be to sound like Pantera or something, haha! We just play what comes natural to us and the results are what you hear on our albums. We don’t care if it is popular or not, we will keep being true to ourselves and try our hardest to make sure that true British metal survives, no matter what.
Many fans believe that Monument is a continuation of the classic 80s heavy metal bands (Iron Maiden, Saxon, Running Wild etc.). Do you believe that you are continuing this legacy?
100%, that is partly why the band is called Monument in the first place. We feel that, since no one else is doing it, we must assure that this, distinctively British, style of music doesn’t fade away once the great bands that came before us stop doing it.
Is Monument a band which likes to follow a certain music “path” or do you like to experiment with your sound?
I always try to expand our sound and I am certainly not afraid to experiment, but I think at the end of the day what I write will always sound NWOBHM in its core as this is what comes naturally to me.
Some doubters accuse you of copying the music style of these classic metal bands. Which is your answer to them? And generally speaking, how do you react to negative criticism?
I never pay attention to critics, the majority of critics are failed musicians, that is just a fact, they are not there to enjoy themselves with some great music, they are there to spread vitriol in order to help their self esteem and feel better about being a failure. I only care about the opinions of people who are real fans of heavy metal and are looking for a band they can be proud of and will be there for them to offer them what they need (great music and live shows) on a consistent basis. Those are the people I listen to. Now regarding us copying a certain musical style, like I mentioned earlier, Monument is the real deal, we don’t try to sound like a British metal band, we ARE a British metal band and what you hear when you play a Monument album is what a bunch of guys from the UK who grew up listening to Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest sounds like, when they are put in a room together.
Can you give us some info about the mascot of the band, Jack? How did you decide to have this mascot? Does Jack symbolize something for you and the band?
Not many people know this but Jack is the product of some advice I got directly from Bruce Dickinson on the subject of mascots. In my opinion, Jack is the best heavy metal mascot since Eddie, I truly believe that. Most bands when they decide to create a mascot they just end up copying Eddie or just use a generic skull etc. With Jack, he is a brand new character and tell you absolutely everything you need to know about the band the moment you see him, and that is what a great mascot does.
Which are your future plans?
We are currently adding more dates to our touring schedule for winter so we will be busy touring and promoting the album for the next year or so and then we are heading in to the studio to record the next studio album.
Thank you very much for your time and answers, Peter!
Thanks a lot for having me, I appreciate your support!
Open Burn is a new prog/power metal band from the United States, which features three members of the legendary US metal band, Lethal [Dell Hull (guitars), Glen Cook (bass) and Jerry Hartman (drums)]. All US metal maniacs have warmly welcomed the band and its first full-length album, “Divine Intermission”, a disc that should be appreciated for its genuine feeling of power and progress. Myth of Rock magazine couldn’t resist the possibility of an Open Burn interview and the band’s guitarist, Dell Hull, answered our questions. Read the following lines and let the metal flow!
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
How was Open Burn formed?
Jerry and I first got together with Eric in the late summer of 2015 to play cover songs for a friend’s benefit. Things seemed to gel so we started working on original material soon afterwards. Glen joined us in 2016 after we got back from Greece with Lethal.
Why did you pick the name Open Burn for the band?
We were looking for a name for a while and couldn’t find anything that fit. One day on my way to the studio I saw a painted sign in a field that said “open burn”. I sort of jokingly mentioned it to the guys as a band name. Glen said he liked it so it stuck.
Open Burn features three members of Lethal. Would you say that Open Burn is the reincarnation of Lethal?
Definitely not. Open Burn is a completely different thing. Like I said, Glen joined us later so that was just a coincidence and had nothing to do with Lethal. Of course, since we have played together since the early 80’s he was a perfect fit.
How would you define the music of Open Burn?
That’s a tough one. We’re just playing what we like, not what we think people want to hear so I see it from a different perspective. I’ve heard people say it is like “traditional” heavy metal so I guess that seems to sum it up pretty well? Traditional heavy metal with a modern sound I guess?
One of the strong elements of your music is the voice of Eric Johns. Do you agree with me?
Of course. Eric is a great vocalist. He doesn’t sound like any other single vocalist but has many influences so as a result, he sounds like himself. In my opinion, he still has a lot of untapped potential. Actually, I think we all do. Hopefully, our new music will help unlock some of that potential.
Listening to the songs of “Divine Intermission”, I get a nostalgic feeling. Would you say that your sound is nostalgic?
I guess you could say that but it doesn’t really feel that way to me. The songs and parts are coming from old influences that each of us in the band has so I guess the songs do reflect those old influences. I guess that gives it that “nostalgic” sound?
Describe the composing process of “Divine Intermission”.
The songs we have written so far have mostly started from either nearly complete songs or musical ideas that I’ve come up with. Eric adds melodic lines and lyrics really quickly so we shape the songs around that as a starting point. As everyone adds their parts that also shapes it further and can even give it a totally different feel. It’s very much a collaborative effort.
Where was the album recorded? Who did the production?
We recorded the songs mainly through two different sessions, except for the acoustic version of “Statues”. Both sessions were done at The Den Recording Company near us here in Kentucky. It was engineered, mixed and co-produced with Dave Swart and ourselves. Dave is also an excellent bass player and has also played with Eric in Simple Aggression among several other bands. They’ve known each other for years. We actually recorded the acoustic version of “Statues”, before Glen joined us, at Justin Newton Audio in Cincinnati. Glen added his parts later.
Where do your lyrics refer to?
You’ll have to ask Eric that one. He keeps it a secret. Lol. Lyrics can mean different things to different people so each person might hear them in a different way? Each song has its own meaning.
What do you recall from the Lethal days?
Long hours of rehearsing in the Cook’s basement. Haha. It was lots of fun of course! We just loved playing. Recording and playing live was fun too but we really didn’t play live much.
“Programmed” is a distinguished US prog/power metal album. How do you see this album now?
It’s hard for me to see it that way because we were just playing what we liked. Even though we recorded the album in one month of straight sessions some things still felt rushed to me. I still remember some of the studio sessions and thinking at the time, we can do this better. Lol. Some of the songs, including Immune, were even written in preproduction. That album came out a few years before the internet and/or social media so we had no idea of any kind of impact it may have been having. I think we’ve just been realizing that in recent years with social media becoming so prominent. The same goes for our ep/demo The Arrival.
How are things now in the States for classic heavy/power metal?
Not great. Large bands like Maiden, Priest, Metallica, etc. are still selling out shows but on a local level, the scene is a lot different. We just play what we like so hopefully our past fans will enjoy what we do now and maybe we will pick up a lot of new fans in the process?
“Divine Intermission” is released by a Greek label, No Remorse Records. How did you come in contact with No Remorse?
We came in contact with No Remorse through our friend and promoter from the Up The Hammers festival Manolis Karazeris. He liked our ep and played it for Chris.
Are you planning to make a tour? If yes, when and where?
We would love to tour but don’t have any immediate plans yet. Like I said the heavy/power metal scene in the U.S. is not great right now so I think Europe, Japan and South America would be the best places for us to take our music. It’s just a matter of us finding the right connections to be able to do it.
Your message to the Greek fans!
The Greek metal fans are great and very enthusiastic! So far we have been getting great response to Divine Intermission so we hope more Greek fans will get a chance to hear it. It is a beautiful country so hopefully, we can bring our new music there to a live venue soon!
You can't include Crystal Viper in the mainstream metal bands, you can't even say that this Polish band is well known in the true metal circles, but that doesn't mean a thing. Crystal Viper's heavy metal music is well-crafted, inspired and imaginative, no one can doubt the band's musical quality and amazing musicianship. “Queen of the Witches” was a fantastic metal album and should not be missed by any classic metal fan! Marta Gabriel, vocalist and frontwoman of the band, and the rest of the guys visited again Athens, Greece, since they would participate in the Up The Hammers Festival 2018. A day after their live performance, Myth of Rock was honored to meet Marta and have a talk with her. What was discussed was very interesting – after all, any interview with Crystal Viper, a band which was formed in 2003 and has released six great traditional metal albums, until now, is an overwhelming experience. So let's cut to the chase and see what Marta answered to Dimitris Zacharopoulos questions!
Crystal Viper began as a project. How did you decide to make it a full band, Marta?
Yes, it all started in 2003 and I can say that Crystal Viper turned to a full band in 2007, when the band was complete, when I met the right people, the people I became friends with, the people with the same passion for heavy metal, for music. Finally, we were able to prepare our first album, to record it and so on. I think that the real beginning of the band was in 2007, after we did the first album together. Before that Crystal Viper was a project, since I just recorded some cover songs with different people, so in the first four years I tried to find the right people with whom I would be able to create the heavy metal band of my dreams.
Would you say that the current line-up of Crystal Viper is the best line-up until now?
Well, the current line-up of the band changed two years ago … Crystal Viper was on a break, we didn’ t rehearse, we didn’ t play or record anything for four years, because I had some health issues and I couldn’t do all that. After the break, our recording bass player told us that he wouldn’t play music any longer, that he would end up everything. We asked him if he maybe knew someone that he could recommend, someone who could take his place. He said that his best friend, Błażej (Grygiel), plays the bass. We met with Błażej and he is right now with us in the band. We also have a new, second guitarist in the band, because I am not playing the guitar in Crystal Viper any longer. Yesterday it was my last live show with a guitar in my hands – I want to have more freedom on stage, to run, to jump ... So we have a new member in the band, Erik (Juris), and I think that the line-up is perfect right now! The important thing is that we aren’ t just a bunch of musicians who play together, we are also very good friends. You can always ask for help from someone from the band, if you need it. We spend a lot of time together, not only while touring. I confirm that this is the best line-up!
How would you define Crystal Viper’s music? Is it true metal, is it traditional metal, is it just metal?
People usually say it is classic heavy metal. It is surely classic heavy metal … I personally listen to different genres, not only metal genres, but all genres of music in general. When I create music, I get inspired by many, many things. But in general, yes, I can say it is heavy metal.
You are from Poland. Is it difficult for a Polish musician to have a heavy metal career?
It is very difficult in Poland. Here we have a very strong death and black metal scene, we have Vader and Behemoth, I am sure you know them, they are great bands! So when I created Crystal Viper, it was a bit weird for people in Poland to see a classic heavy metal band on stage, a metal band being so melodic. But we were lucky enough, because we had the opportunity to play our music behind the border, to have our albums released by a record company from Germany, we have a very very good manager who helps us arrange everything. We still don’t play a lot in Poland, we play mostly in countries like Germany, Spain, Greece etc. This year we have scheduled two live shows in Poland, we are looking forward to it.
In 2017 you released your sixth album, “Queen of the Witches”. How do you see now this album?
To be honest with you, I love it. This album has a lot of positive energy, coming from all of the members of the band. As I mentioned before, we had a three-year break, so for us this album was like a comeback album. We began working the album in the studio, we were so enthusiastic, we were so happy that we were able to play music again, to spend time together, to tour together and so on. Musically to me, “Queen of the Witches” it isn’t so much different from the previous albums, it is still Crystal Viper, it is the music I listen to, the music I would like to listen to. However, as far as the feelings are concerned, this latest album is a little bit different. It is the most important album for us.
During this break, was there any moment that you thought that Crystal Viper is over and won’t play again?
Well, I had some thoughts, because I didn’t know if I would be able to sing again, you know, I was thinking that I could focus on the guitar and try to find another vocalist, but people were saying that my voice is so much recognizable and that they couldn’t imagine how Crystal Viper would sound with another singer. Yes, I was thinking of ending Crystal Viper, but not stop playing music, since I play the piano, the guitar, the bass guitar. There are many things I could do musically, not only singing and so on. Thankfully I am able to sing and play again!
You are going to release a new EP the following days in June.
In the beginning, we were planning to release it as a seven inch single, which would include only two songs, the title song, “At the Edge of Time” and the polish version (“Zwiastun Burzy”), as the b side. We found out though, that we had more music material to put on this release, so we switched to the ten inch. In this EP you can find, apart from the two versions of the title track, another new song, called “When Are You”. These new songs are inspired lyrically by Michael Moorcock’s works, “Stormbringer” and “Eternal Warrior” – the cover artist (the one and only Andreas Marschall) is also inspired by Moorcock.
We see you holding the Black Sword in the EP’s cover!
Yes, yes! … You can also find a new version of our song, “When the Sun Goes Does”, we call it the Giallo version, because of the keyboards I recorded for this song, they are in the style of old horror movies …
….Italian horror movies!
Yes, I recorded only a few keyboard parts, but the song sounds now completely different!! It is a cool version, that’s why we decided to put it in this release. Finally, we recorded a Quartz cover for this EP, “Tell Me Why”.
How do you select the songs you are going to cover?
Trust me, it is never easy to choose the cover song! I mean, which one?! The list is very, very long! When we are picking a song to cover, it is a cool thing, because we are fans of music, we are fans of metal, and we are also musicians, so we are able to play our favorite songs, not only listen to them! There are so many great songs that we would like to play live, not only to record them, it is a lot of fun for us, you know, not to sing them only under the shower! It is also a way of showing to our fans which our roots are, musically, to show our fans which is the connection of Crystal Viper music with other bands. It is a tribute to musicians that we respect, that we love. We will keep on doing that in the future – the only problem will be which song we will choose as our next cover (laughs)!
One of the things I admire in Crystal Viper is your way of singing. Which are your vocal influences?
There are many, many great vocalists I am influenced by. I love Tony Martin, David DeFeis from Virgin Steele, Rob Halford, Doro, Leather Leone …
What’s your opinion about the female fronted symphonic/gothic metal bands? Have you ever thought of introducing some symphonic/gothic metal elements to Crystal Viper?
Maybe not in Crystal Viper, because I would like to keep Crystal Viper as a classic metal band. But personally, I listen to several genres of music and from the genre you just mentioned I like Delain, Within Temptation … There are some things I like in this genre and not only in this genre, in gothic rock/metal. I also listen to death metal, black metal, I also like some pop music, there are so many things, classical music, thrash metal …
Any possibility to add some pop elements to your sound? For example like Battle Beast, who are very popular nowadays?
No, no in Crystal Viper, I don’t think so (laughs) … Crystal Viper is inspired by classic metal bands. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying something bad, Battle Beast is a great band, I am a huge fan of Noora’s vocals, her voice is amazing, their music is very powerful and they kick ass on stage, however, Crystal Viper is Crystal Viper. If we bring pop elements to our music, we wouldn’t be as heavy as we want to be. It isn’t something we would like to do. Also, our fans would be kind of disappointed. I wouldn’t have a problem to do some of this stuff with another band in the future, a band which would play something completely different from Crystal Viper.
As we said before, you used to sing and play the guitar in Crystal Viper. How is it to combine singing with playing the guitar?
In the very beginning, it was kind of challenging … we had a problem some years ago, in finding another one guitarist for Crystal Viper. And you know, heavy metal with only one guitar, hmmm … I was already learning to play the guitar, since I was composing the music … One day at the studio I brought my guitar and tried to play, to see how it sounds. The guys in the band saw me playing the guitar for the first time and said to me: “OK, we already have a second guitarist, we don’t have to look for another guy!”. For me, in the beginning, it was challenging, because I was only singing or only playing the guitar during the composing process. So, I had to learn to do both things the same time, but I rehearsed a lot, I learned it and by now it comes out naturally, I go on stage, I sing and play, I don’t think about it, I just focus on what I have to do.
Marta, are you the main composer of Crystal Viper?
And lyrics writer?
Your lyrics have fantasy and horror themes. Why is that?
Well, life sometimes is gray and sad, you know, politics, war, religion, all this kind of bullshit is around us, it surrounds us, I want to get away with music from all that stuff. Writing music and concept albums based on fantasy themes is like making a movie, like writing a book, you do something that can take you away from all these things that aren’t so much pleasant. You can get away with music to a totally different place.
In your latest album, “Queen of the Witches” you have some famous guests: Ross The Boss, Mantas and Saracen’s Steve Bettney. How did it come and you collaborated with these well-known musicians?
For us, inviting a special guest to our albums is like … it is the same situation with cover songs: we want to pay a tribute to our favorite artists and to show people where we are musically, where our musical roots come from, what kind of music we like and so on. And of course, for us it is something totally fantastic, to be able to work with all these fantastic musicians! Steve Bettney is one of my favorite vocalists, Ross The Boss … well, I don’t have to mention anything!!! … And Mantas! …Well, they are great! It is a huge honor for us that they agreed to take their part in our songs.
At the production helm, you have Bart Gabriel. How much important is it to have Bart with you?
Actually, it is the best thing that happened to Crystal Viper, because in personal life, Bart is my husband. So, we know each other very, very well, we like the same kind of music. He knows me, not only as a person, but also as an artist, he knows the band very, very well, he knows our music. Working with such a person in the studio, with a person who is also your life partner, is a perfect combination. There is a fantastic understanding in the studio. Apart from that, he is a great producer who doesn’t want to change the sound of the band, he doesn’t say “You have to sound like this …”. He only wants us to sound like Crystal Viper.
Let’s talk about decision-making in Crystal Viper. Are you the one who makes the decision or do you discuss things with the other guys?
When you play in a band, it is not like that you are the only person who decides about everything. You have to co-operate with different people. You have to co-operate with the guys from the record label, when you play live, you have to co-operate with the sound engineers. There isn’t only one person who says to the others what to do. There is a huge team of persons who co-operate and want the best thing for the band.
Your record label is the German AFM Records. Are you satisfied with the guys?
Yes, of course! And I hope that we will co-operate for many more years in the future!
Yesterday you played in front of the Greek audience. How was it?
It was fantastic as usual! A few years ago we played in the Up The Hammers Festival and played some other shows here in Greece. It is always, always great to be back to Greece, because you guys are so enthusiastic. It is fantastic to share your energy with all these metal maniacs in front of the stage. Greek fans are so supportive of heavy metal, it is beautiful.
Any similarities or differences between Polish and Greek fans?
There are more heavy metal fans in Greece in Poland … but in general, in all places, heavy metal fans try to enjoy the live show as much as they can. Yesterday it was amazing, I felt all this energy coming from the people!
Future plans? Apart from the upcoming EP!
Very soon, in the summer we will release a new video clip. And I will also be recording the album of my other band, Moonchamber, it is the band I created with Rob Bendelow from Saracen. We have some plans to play some more live shows with Crystal Viper, to promote our new EP and to start working on our next album.
Finally, your message to the Greek fans!
Stay as great as you are! Go to live shows, support your favorite bands, buy CDs and stay metal!
The new The Quill album, “Born From Fire”, amazed us! We are so excited that the Sweds returned with such a good album, where you can listen to Magnus Ekwall’s vocals again. Myth of Rock was obliged to get in contact with the band for a nice chat, so Antonis Mantzavinos spoke with Roger Nilsson (The Quill’s bassist). Continue reading, you will find everything very interesting!
Hello Roger, we would like to welcome you to our online music magazine, Myth of Rock! We are very pleased with the new The Quill record and we believe it is a really good album which will hopefully be appreciated by hard rock fans. Based on the new release, we would kindly like to ask you a few questions, so that our online readers could get more easily informed about you, the band, and of course the new record. First of all, we would like to ask a few things about the conception of this new record, the recordings, where/when was it recorded etc.
The album was recorded in two different sessions about six months apart. We recorded it in the same studio as the last time, a place called 491 Studios. It’s located just where we live so it’s really convenient and cost-effective. It’s also really nice to be able to go home and sleep in your own bed after a full day in the studio. In the earlier days we usually recorded far from home and stayed in the studio for weeks. Recording away from home is good in that it keeps you focused on the recording but you tend to lose some healthy distance from it all.
Give us some hints about the album title and the awesome cover.
Album titles are always tricky. Usually we start looking at the song-titles trying to find something there. This time we didn’t find anything that felt really good. So the next step was looking at the lyrics. There’s a line in Electrical Son – “Born from the fire – I am the Electrical son”. Somehow Born from fire made sense to us, sort of Phoenix rising from the ashes. So that’s how it all came about. The cover-art more or less was born the same way. I’ve been a fan of Sebastian Jerke who did the artwork and I really loved his cover for Rise about the meadow by Greenleaf – so he was really our first choice. He was up for doing it and we sent him some songs and all the lyrics. He then had the idea to incorporate different parts of the lyrics into the painting. So the music, lyrics and artwork are all connected.
What do you think about the comeback of Magnus Ekwall (vocals) to the band and how did that happen?
I think is a real blessing to be able to still work together 22 years after our first album. Not many bands last for so many years. We were more or less kids when we stared out so we’ve grown up together going thru various stages of life. And it all came together very naturally. A mutual friend of ours where having a private party and wanted a band to play some Kiss-covers. He asked the four of us to do it but unfortunately Jolle was booked elsewhere. But we decided to do the gig anyway with Magnus’ son playing the drums just for the fun of it. Once we did that show it was a natural step to just meet up and see if there might be some spark left between us. Me, Christian and Jolle had been more or less drifting along doing nothing for a year or so it seemed like a good idea to just start jamming together. And from there on it all came together very quick. In fact it felt like the 12 years apart never happened.
What was your contribution on writing this record?
Some small bits and pieces here and there, but Jolle and Christian are the two main writers when it comes to the music. They usually bring in an idea and then we all work on it together adding a part here and there ‘til we’re all satisfied. Magnus writes most of the melodies and all of the lyrics. But it’s really a group-effort. Everything is arranged in the rehearsal-room as a real band sweating it out.
I would musically place the album, in regards to its sound and feeling, in between “Voodoo Caravan” and “Hooray! It's a Death Trip” Do you think this record is a step back or a new effort, with new elements, new approach and the beginning of a new ear for the band?
We just wrote whatever came to us, so there really wasn’t any conscious effort to sound like in the old days. But with that being said Silver Haze was the album we talked about as the bar. Maybe not so much for its sound or songwriting but more for the energy and the state we were in when we recorded it back in '98.
Will the band tour for the promotion of the record? Any shows already planned?
We’ll certainly try to play as much as possible, we just have to plan it really well since we’re all involved in other bands, have family and daytime jobs. Performing songs on stage is really were they come alive and take on a second life.
And a few personal questions! We know that you Roger have played and toured also with Spiritual Beggars, Arch Enemy, Firebird. What other musical projects/bands are you involved with?
During my years away from The Quill I played a lot as a guns-for-hire type of guy doing just about everything with everyone. I played covers, doing sessions and also where involved with a few bands playing original material. I did two albums in Swedish with a band called Henrik Björkman & Paj Malaj. The idea when I left The Quill in 2005 was to play a little bit less than the previous years but in the end I played even more…:D Me and a drummer I played a lot with during these years counted that we performed 140 unique songs on stage together in one month. Crazy!
How you could describe a regular day or week in Roger Nilsson’s day, apart from touring, recording and album and being active with a band?
Just regular everyday-Joe things. I work as assistant principal living in a small town in Sweden so my days are full. I have a wife and two daughters 12 and 16 years old. I live in a nice old house which needs a lot of care. I also try to work out 3 times a week either running or mountain-biking. Not so rock n’ roll at all :D
Who are the artists that have shaped you musically and been your primary inspirational figures as a musician?
It all started with ABBA, when I was really young. You couldn’t really avoid them growing up in Sweden in the 70’s. Then when I was about 8 or 9 a friend introduced me to Kiss and that was the big game-changer for me. It’s a band I still follow and listen to a lot. Next big thing was discovering the big three - Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. My father had lots and lots of tapes and from time to time I would sit down and discover new music thru these tapes. Remember finding "Gallows Pole" and "Black Night" on one tape and immediately there was something about the sound that I loved.
Please name your top 5 bands and records!
Kiss, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Crowes. Narrowing it down to 5 records is almost impossible, so I’ll add a few extra ones! Kiss – "Dressed to Kill" and "Alive", Captain Beyond – "Captain Beyond", Deep Purple – "Made in Japan" and "Come Taste the Band", Joe Cocker – "Mad Dogs & Englishmen", Grand Funk Railroad – "Caught In The Act", Led Zeppelin – "I", "II", "III" and 'IV", Black Sabbath – "Black Sabbath", "Sabotage" and "Mob Rules", Black Crowes – "Amorica" and "Before The Frost ... Until the Freeze", John Coltrane – "Olé", Bob Dylan – "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blonde on Blonde", Bruce Springsteen – "The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle", Pink Floyd - "Wish You Were Here", Mountain – "Climbing!", UFO – "Strangers In The Night", Mastodon – "Crack the Skye", Miles Davis – "On The Corner" and "In A Silent Way", The Beatles – "Revolver" and "Abbey Road", The Rolling Stones – "Sticky Fingers" and "Exile On Main Street". To name but a few…:D
If you were not a bass player, which other instrument you would like to play in a band?
I think everyone have a dream being a drummer – except when it comes to carrying all the equipment ... !
Name the most pleasant but also unpleasant experience you have ever had while on tour with a band.
Most pleasant experience is always getting somewhere far away from home and meeting people who are into the band, there’s nothing better with being in a band than that. Hearing that the music you’ve created matters to people. Worst experience was definitely being food-poisoned on tour with Arch Enemy. Me and Daniel decided one day to spend our buy-out dinner money at a fancier restaurant than the usual McDonalds. So we found this place where I had some really nice Catfish a couple of hours before the show. As we were heading back to the venue my stomach started to act up. And by the time we got back I became really sick. Cancelling the show wasn’t an option so I had to do it with a bucket behind the stage. How I got thru that show I’ll never know ...
What kind of music do you listen during your free time? Do you buy any new records? And if yes, which were your recent purchases?
I’ve been a record collector for all my life, so I’m always listening to music, buying records online, at record fairs and record stores. A few weeks ago I went record hunting in Gothenburg and bought among others Jo Jo Gunne – "Where’s the show?" Mastodon – "Leviathan", Luther Dickinson – "Rock N’ Roll Blues", Strawbs – "Burning for you", Billy Squier – 'The Tale of the Tape", Israel Nash – 'Barn Doors and Concrete Floors".
Thank you very much for your time and we hope to meet you soon!