– First of all thanks for the interview and well, tell us a bit how is currently the band doing.
We’re recovering from the year-long recording process and getting ready for some US shows in January. Everybody’s doing well and we’re really happy with the reception Immortal Soul is receiving. It was an amazing journey.
– Tell us a bit how have the recording sessions for «Immortal Soul» been and how has been this reunion in a studio after so many years.
The album was a unique collaboration – everything we’ve been thinking about for 20 years all let loose at once. Personally, I had no idea what to expect and the writing process was extremely difficult. I was just trying to find stories that stood up to the music. We recorded the tracks in 5 studios & four different cities, so it was a huge challenge for Bruno, our producer, to put it all together. I don’t know how he did it.
– Listening to the album I notice you have wanted to do it, more or less, just where you left the last time, being quite updated as well though, but without leaving the old essence. Was that the idea or did it just come out like this?
It was completely natural. I don’t know how thee guys come up with such hellacious riffs, and we went back to the same formula we used for Privilege Of Power, except that we took advantage of all the technology that’s come about in the last 20 years. They wrote the music and sent me mp3s of the tracks, then I went crazy for a year writing every song 3 or 4 times ‘til we had stuff we could actually listen to.
– What is RIOT talking about in 2011? Tell us a bit the lyrical content as well as the album’s name and the cover artwork, how did all these arise.
The lyrics are all very personal, covering a lot of what I’ve gone through & what I’m thinking about for the last couple of decades. Some of it is deep and painful to discuss, some if it, Like ‘Riot’ is some angry commentary about the state of the USA these days, and some of it is fiction, like Immortal Soul, which is a vampire story. I love vampire stories. Using that one as the album title was Don’s idea, and he also suggested the illustration for the cover, which I did. I’m a graphic artist during the day, so I designed the whole package. It was fun.
– Is there any song that was ready some time ago or is the new album full of new ideas?
Well, Wings are For Angels and a few others were ready to go in 2009, which is why we performed it at Sweden Rock, Metalway and in Japan, but I didn’t finish the lyrics and vocal arrangements until literally a week before we had to deliver it. I change everything constantly, even in the studio. I’m re-writing stuff in between takes all the time. It’s amazing how I’ll go into the studio with one idea and the song will end up something else entirely. It’s like that when I work with Mike & Bruno – they hear stuff totally differently and know better than I do what sounds best for my voice.
– Talking about RIOT is talking about one of the most legendary bands from the US; a band everybody has in mind but that never got the proper recognition. Considering the albums where you sung, you were from 1988 to 1990; why do you think RIOT never got the success they deserved?
Honestly, the band was handled very badly by everyone involved, from our producer & manager to our label at the time. And to be fair, we made some unfortunate decisions ourselves, when it came to who we chose to work with. Considering how adventurous the music was, we should have had considerably more success. We’ve definitely learned from our mistakes and got a great and supportive team together with our new management and label SPV/Steamhammer.
– Before you joined RIOT the band already had some releases out; did you follow the band? Were you a fan?
I had never heard of them before a friend of mine at Greene Street Recording gave me a cassette with Thundersteel on it and told me I was auditioning for the singing job. I was scared to death, thought I was awful at the audition, but Mark like it so I started growing my hair. That’s how it happened.
– Let me ask you something; I’m a huge fan of Rhett Forrester and you were his successor; what was your opinion on him as singer and what are your thoughts on the legacy he left in the band?
I love singing Rhett’s stuff, even though our voices are completely different. He did a much better job with those tunes, of course, sonic they were written for his voice, but I have a lot of fun doing them live. When we got together for Thundersteel, though, the direction changed pretty dramatically. He left some classic stuff behind.
– Talking about your first period in the band; how did you hook up with RIOT and how were like for you those mid 80’s?
Well, I mentioned earlier how we met, and it was a revelation to me because I wasn’t a Metal guy at the time. It was a whole new world, and I really got a huge thrill from standing in front of those incredible musicians and feeling the energy from thousands of screaming fans. These days it scares me to death – I have paralyzing stage fright, but once I get out on stage and the lights go up, I’m OK. There’s nothing like it.
– Both «Thundersteel» as «Privilege of Power» are, without any doubt, two universal Metal classics; what are your memories from those recordings and what were your feelings in those albums?
It was such a new experience for me, finally being a true recording artist for the first time in my life. It wasn’t quite the kind of stuff I ever expected to do, but we had such energy and creative freedom, plus I got to work with some of my Jazz and Funk idols, the Tower of Power horns and the Brecker Brothers. It was a dream come true, and the results were astonishing.
– You were aside from the band for many years; what happened with Tony Moore during all those years? There were so many rumors we even could hear you would have died (luckily it wasn’t true).
As Mark Twain once wrote «The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated». I never heard that I was dead, but Riot singers seem to have that problem. I just went back to being a working bass player in New York.
– And coming back to the present; how was the band’s comeback and how did you brew it to make it happen?
I think it was in 2005 that Mark called me about rejoining the band, and I said ‘yes’ right away, but the label didn’t want to change singers since they were having some success and recording some really good material, so it didn’t happen right away. The good thing is that it got me & Mike back in touch and we ended up doing the Faith And Fire ‘Accelerator’ album. That was really fun – working with Mike, John Miceli and Danny Miranda was amazing. The greatest guys in the world.
– Is this reunion something definitive or just temporary? People were crying out a reunion since long ago.
I know it’s been a long time coming. I don’t know how many more years of this I have in me, but we’re taking it one day at a time and right now we’re just enjoying the response to Immortal Soul. We had no idea what to expect and we’re really happy with it.
– How do you see the current scene? With all the technology is easier to get into any band; do you now feel more valued and renowned? Have you noticed any change?
The technology has certainly changed in the musician’s favor since we’re not dependent on big studios and big recording budgets, but the talent still has to be there, from the musicians to the engineers and producers. It’s like any other art form in that regard.
– Tell us what are your near-future plans. Will you tour to support the album? Will you play festivals?
We’re getting ready for some US dates in January, the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise, mostlt likely Japan and certainly all the big festivals who will have us, though the market is tough due to the global economic situation. Budgets are smaller, and there are so many bands touring right now that it’s difficult to put a tour together and actually don’t lose money, but we’re working on it.
– That’s all from our side, our best wishes and hope you’ll come to Barcelona. And as curiosity, I would like to know what is your favourite RIOT’s album without your voice.
My faves are Fire Down Under and Rock City.
I want to thank everybody who’s believed in the band for over 20 years. We would not exist without you. And apologies for all our fans who were hoping to see us on tour with Hammerfall. We will make it up to you in 2012! Check our website www.riotrockcity.com and our Facebook www.facebook.com/riotrockcity for the latest updates. See you on the road!