SARACEN (Eng.)

-Hello, Rob, Steve and Paul from Saracen, thank you so much for answering our interview. How is the band currently doing?

Steve – OK thanks. Enjoying a bit of a rest! And thank you for this interview opportunity.

-Last 2014 you released your newest album, entitled «Redemption». Tell us a little bit about the concept behind the album and its cover artwork.

Rob – The concept behind the album is…..that there is no concept behind the album! Unlike ‘Vox In Excelso’ and ‘Marilyn’, which were both concept albums, ‘Redemption’ is a collection of unrelated songs. Around Christmas-time 2011 over a pint at my local, Paul and Steve challenged me to write a back-to-our-roots Saracen album. ‘Redemption’ is the result. The fabulous artwork was commissioned by the record company – Escape Music. It doesn’t portray a particular song from the album, but he sure looks like someone hell bent for redemption!

 

-Listening to the album I see the band’s pattern is still the same as always; songs with a lot of epic-ness and melody at the same time.

Thanks.

 

-Are you pleased with the final outcome?

Steve – Delighted. Our best album for sure. The balance of epic symphonic tracks…to heavy rock songs…to ballads is just right this time. And the production – courtesy of studio wizard Tommy Hansen – is wondrous. Upon its release, we had a celebratory lunch together and just listened to the whole album. We just luved it!0

 

-There are also Heavy Metal sounds, even symphonic Rock. How would you define «Redemption»?

Rob – Easy. ‘Heavy symphonic rock’. There’s variety here, plus light-&-shade, but the emphasis is on powerful guitar-oriented rock, laced with rich keyboards and evocative vocals/lyrics.

 

-I have always enjoyed this English style of bands such as DEMON or URIAH HEEP that bring a melodic touch with a lot of class.

Me too.

 

-Are these bands influences for SARACEN? Especially URIAH HEEP, as DEMON are from your same era.

Rob – Uriah Heep are one of my favourite bands (right back from the early 70’s) and have been a strong influence on my own musical composition. I think you can hear Heep in many of the songs, more so than my favourite band, Black Sabbath? I’ve heard very few Demon songs; I must look them up.

 

-How has this latest album worked so far? How has been its reception? Have you played much live?

Steve – There are no ‘live’ plans at this stage. The album’s reception from both fans and the media has been outstanding. This makes it all so worthwhile. Across the full gamut of reviews, the ‘favourite tracks’ cover most of the songs on the album – another good sign. ‘Redemption’ even hit no.1 on the Firebrand Rock Radio chart too! It was also pleasing to not hear ‘Redemption’ categorised as ‘AOR’. There’s nothing wrong with AOR pop-rock, if you like your music safe and formulaic, but the nomenclature is used far too liberally. We escaped this time!

 

-Paul, you haven’t been in the band since the beginning. How did you join SARACEN? Did you already know their career and early albums?

Paul – Steve and I are very good friends, having known him for over 50 years, growing up and attending the same schools. After the band we were in broke up, Steve went on to sing for Saracen and I have followed them ever since. When Saracen was asked to play Bloodstock in 2003 they needed a Keyboard player, Steve introduced me to Rob and the rest is history.

 

-The band took a studio hiatus from 1984 to 2003, a long gap where you didn’t record anything. How did the possibility of coming back arise?

Rob – Richard Lowe (original keyboard master), Steve Bettney and I did some charity gigs in the mid-to-late 90’s. Rock covers. Halfway through rehearsing ‘Wishing Well’ (by Free) Steve just stopped us and said, “We should be doing more Saracen stuff!” That’s how the die was cast for this new era. The ‘Red Sky’ album was subsequently released on 2003.

 

-In line with the previous question, thanks to newer technologies there’s an easier access to classic bands. Did this have something to do with the band getting back together?

Rob – Yes. We can now record in a way that fits with our life-styles. Its how all artistes work in these digital times. For our kind of music, the digital shift has been essential. But by the same token, the digital world has also ruined music for all but the super stars, but there’s nothing we can do about that. C’est la vie.

 

-I had the chance of seeing you at Keep it True some years ago. It was a pleasure for me, as you can only see at these festivals those bands you own their albums and that you always thought you would never see live. How was that experience like?

Paul – It was a great pleasure for us too, the guys at Keep It True were brilliant and they really looked after us. But the most memorable moment was when the audience/fans started singing along to the songs, their kindness and support was very special indeed.

 

-And during these last days, how has the live situation been?

Steve – Nothing yet, but never say never.

 

-On a view to the future, what are your plans? Are you touring? Do you have new material for future recordings?

Rob – There are no plans yet. The wonderful reception for ‘Redemption’ has left us in a state of limbo…..which will wear off soon I’m sure!

 

-That’s all from our side, our best wishes and hope we could see you soon in Spain.

Rob, Steve and Paul – Yeah, we hope so too.

 

-If you want to add any last words?

Big thanks to you, and to all our fans around the globe, who make this musical life so enjoyable.

Rock on! Queens Of Steel.

 

Paco Gómez

paco@queensofsteel.com

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