– First of all thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview, is a pleasure for us having the chance of interviewing you.
Fred Gorhau – The pleasure is all mine Paco. Thank you so much for your support of Exxplorer, and for Metal Music in general.
– You have released your new album; how has been its songwriting and what are your feelings on the final output?
Fred Gorhau – The songwriting was easy honestly, and it was a lot of fun. We just got together as friends, with no pressure from the outside. We decided we would write songs that Exxplorer would want to hear. We didn’t want to try to write any particular way, just what we liked. Looking back, it is the best way for us. Me or Kevin would come up with a riff, or a song idea, and bring it to the band. Mike and Jay would add their touch to it, Jay would have a new part that fit with the song, maybe we would change the arrangement around, and try some different things. Then Lennie would come in and tear up the vocals. There was a lot of input from everyone. …… I am very happy with the final output. I like the songs a lot. It’s very special to do a new album. You get to watch something grow from the very beginning to a final finished product. We’re all very proud of this new album.
– The new album is entitled «Vengeance Rides an Angry Horse»; does it have any special meaning?
Fred Gorhau – Yes it does actually. The title is a line from “Phantasmagoria” a song off of the 1st album. The line was actually written by our drummer “Mike” when the band was searching for one final line to finish the song. “Distorted like my life, Vengeance Rides An Angry Horse to the doorsteps of your mind”. It was kind of our way of letting everyone know that this album will be classic Exxplorer. We did not want to try to write Symphonies of Steel II, that would be foolish. That album holds a special place for many people. But we wanted everyone to know, that our hearts and our minds were still in the same place. Pure old school metal.
– I have had the chance of listening these last days to the whole effort and I think it is a good album that blends everything EXXPLORER started doing with that «Symphonies of Steel», 1985; quality, epicness and that dramatic nuance when singing. Is this what you were looking for this new era?
Fred Gorhau – Yes, it really is. As I said, we didn’t want to TRY to write a certain way, only what pleased us. Since we are all old school metal fans, it makes sense that we would write this way, and that the new songs would be in the same vein as SOS. I think we all learned that if you TRY to write a certain way, it is fake, and it comes across as that way. If you stay true to what you like, then that honesty will come through in the music.
– Has been hard to release it or, otherwise, did you already have solid contacts for its distribution?
Fred Gorhau – It was not hard to find someone to release it. We had already met the guys from our label “Pure Steel” when we played KIT 12 a couple of years ago. We had discussed the idea of writing another album, because we were being asked by many fans to do it. They told us if we were to do another album, they would want to put it out. After HOA, and even more requests, we decided to start writing new songs, and that’s when we decided that we must do another album. It was so much fun, and the songs sounded really good. So I contacted Pure Steel, and we decided to release it with them. I’m happy we did. They are a great label, and they really work hard for us. Exxplorer is PROUD to finally be on a label that wants to support us. They want to promote us, they want us to tour……..this is something we never really had before. Hail Pure Steel.
– EXXPLORER is a cult band for the underground Metal. You, Fred, have been in the band since 1996 if I’m not mistaken, how were your first steps in the band? Did you already known them when they released back in 1985 that amazing «Symphonies of Steel»?
Fred Gorhau – Yes, I did know them. It’s funny, I actually bought the 1st album (The purple one) from Kevin Kennedy, and our drummers cousin
“Curt Breeze” for $5.00 US. I think I got a good deal, because it sells for more than that now, hahaha…… I had gone in the studio to record some other songs with Kevin Kennedy and Mike Sakowski, which was great, a lot of fun, and Mike (our drummer) and I were also in another band with Mike Pinella from Symphony X and Jimmy G, Exxplorer‘s original bassist, so I definitely knew the band……….I got in the band during the final writing for the 3rd album, which was actually around 94, early 95. Kevin had left, because he didn’t agree with the change in direction, and they needed another guitar player. I was teaching guitar and Mike asked me if I wanted to be in Exxplorer, I said HELL YEAH. He gave me a tape of SOS, and said “your audition is tonight, learn this”. I had 8 students, and each of them learned an Exxplorer song that day, hahaha. I did the audition, and got the gig.
– What has happened during these years, from 1996 until today? Why did the band stop?
Fred Gorhau – In the 90’s, music had changed, and the 3rd album seemed to be an attempt to change direction. In retrospect, it probably should not have been called an “Exxplorer” album. Many of our old school fans were not happy with the change, and there was a different singer. The songs were darker, more industrial or grunge. I didn’t write too much on it, but I am proud of my playing on it. Some of my solos, I really like a lot.
– And how was the comeback? How and when did you decide to return as a band?
Fred Gorhau – I think after the response we got at Keep it True, we all decided that we would return as a band. We never really split up. After that, and HOA 2 months later, we felt very honored that our fans never forgot us. It made sense, and we all love doing this.
– I had the luck of seeing you guys at Keep it True some years ago, for me it was like a dream come true, as I have albums as «Symphonies…» on a pedestal. What are your memories from that experience and how do you deal with the fact og being a cult act for many people?
Fred Gorhau – It was a dream come true for us as well. We had been told many times before that we would be able to come to Europe and play, but something always happened. It was almost not believable when the plane took off. Then when we arrived at the venue, and people knew who we were, I was blown away. We were told we had to do an autograph signing, and I was worried that no one would care, or know who we were. When I saw the line of people, that’s when it became real. Everyone treated us so well. Exxplorer fans are truly our friends. They have loyalty like no
other. They waited 25 years for us. It’s just amazing to me. We are a very lucky band.
– Have you noticed since those shows at KIT until nowadays, and of course thanks to the Interent, a bigger peak in the band?
Fred Gorhau – Yes, both KIT and the internet have given the band more attention. Releasing a new album has increased that even more.
– And already thinking in your future; what are the plans for the band? What’s next for you in the near-future?
Fred Gorhau – We are already in talks about what possibilities we have for touring to support this album. Pure Steel our label has many contacts in Europe, and we really hope to return for more festivals, and possibly a tour with one or two other bands as well. We also have more songs, 3-4 more already partially written for the next album. Exxplorer has more to say, and we will continue as long as people still want to listen.
– Is there any chance of doing a tour with other bands or otherwise will you be more at festivals?
Fred Gorhau – Yes to both. We are starting to make plans for next year already. There has been a lot more interest generated since announcing the new album, and it is being released this month. We love Europe, and are very excited to come back again. We do hope to be able to do some more festivals, and a tour with other bands would be amazing. Request us, we will come……..
– And that’s all from our side, Fred, has been a pleasure asking you these questions and hope to see you. My best wishes and hopefully you will someday come to Spain.
Fred Gorhau – Thank you so much for this interview, Spain is definitely on our list of countries we really want to play next year. Thank you to all
our fans/friends who have waited so long for us. The new album is for all of you. We hope to see and play for you very soon \m/\m/