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Interview with Jeff Scott Soto

Held on 04/27/19

1- Hello, Jeff Scott Soto! It is a pleasure to carry out this interview, welcome to Rock Mania!


- Thank you, the pleasure is mine!


2- You are about to come to Brazil with the “Origami World Tour 2019”. What do you expect from these shows?


- I always expect an enthusiastic, crazy audience, people passionate about  songs and by the artists!


3- Your most recent disc is Origami. Tell us about this album, and also about the current lineup of the band.

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- Origami is our third album, but the first with the new label, “InsideOut Music”, the same as Sons Of Apollo. The album features songs composed by all the band members, as well as some with Brazilian musicians Leo Mancini and Luiz Portinari. It was mixed and mastered in Brazil by Adriano Daga. So you can see that it has a great influence from Brazil, in addition to having two Brazilian members, BJ and Edu Cominato. We have Jorge Salan from Spain and our new bass player is Tony Dickinson. The album is very heavy, modern, sometimes Prog, it has great variations, singing and playing!

4- Do you like to play in Brazil? What do you like most about here?


- I love Brazil! I love the people, the food, the culture… There's a lot to love… Especially the steakhouses and the caipiroska! Brazil is one of the places in the world that I like to play the most.


5- What were the most important moments in your career? You who have worked with Malmsteen, Rudi Pell, Talisman and so many others…


- All these are very important for me to get where I am today. I think now is the most important moment in my career… Between Sons Of Apollo and SOTO, this is the most exciting moment for me. I keep creating and reaping the rewards of the hard work I've already done with all those you mentioned.

6- Your first steps in music were in the 80's. From those times to the present day, how do you see the evolution (or not) of Rock?

- Of course, there is always evolution, because music influences and transcends generations... In the same way when I was young and wanted to make music with my colleagues, I see new bands and musicians doing the same as my generation. Of course, rock music is not as mainstream on radio and television as it used to be, but these media are no longer indispensable to keep it alive. That means we have to use every resource to keep it alive and exciting.


7- How do you keep your voice so beautiful and powerful over the years?


- Wow, thank you very much! Well I guess luck would be the first answer. (laughs) I'm lucky that someone up there is looking out for me. But another thing is that I really take care of my voice and my body, because I want to keep doing that until I can't walk anymore. (laughter)

8- What do you not like about music?


- I try not to think too much about negative things, there are so many good things to keep in mind. Everything in life has its ups and downs, things evolve and come back, but in the end the world keeps turning and life finds a way to go on.


9- If you could be part of any band in history, which would it be and why?


- I used to always have an answer to that question, but if I said something like Queen or Van Halen, those bands wouldn't be what they represent to me, because they would need the singers that make them amazing and successful... one of those bands now i would just be a cover singer... i'm in the bands i want to be in and making my own story. (laughter)

10- After this tour, what will be your next steps?


- We will be promoting the album with interviews and videos, taking the summer off touring, and then resuming Europe in September. In the meantime, I'm finishing up the new Sons Of Apollo album and recording videos, before joining the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the end of October.

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11- What would you like to say to your fans who listen to Rock Mania now? You can invite them to the shows…


- Well, as I always look forward to great shows in Brazil, I want to remind everyone that the presentations will be both SOTO and  Jeff Scott Soto. That means you'll have a great roundup of songs from the first three SOTO albums, as well as some you've come to expect from my past.


12- Jeff Scott Soto, thank you very much for the interview! Rock Mania is always available!


- Thanks! I'm so excited to be back, I wish I could tour Brazil for a whole month!

Interview with Roland Grapow

Held on 12/12/18

1- Hello, Roland Grapow! It's a pleasure to have you back here at Rock Mania, welcome!

- Thank you so much for having me again, it's always good to talk to you!

2- Do you still live in Slovakia?

- Yes, keep going! We have a lot of plans, me, my wife and my dog. Maybe we'll move, but we still don't know exactly what we're going to do. Maybe this year something will happen… But we have a big house here, and we would have to sell it first. Let's see where we go.


3- Masterplan's latest album is “PumpKings”, with re-recordings of songs from his Helloween days. How do you see the impact of this work?

- I think it's pretty cool. Of course, there are a lot of controversial opinions, especially from some Helloween fans who keep asking why we did this, why we recorded Helloween songs, blah blah blah... I just recorded my songs, my own compositions. Even some of them come from the Rampage days, 10 years before I joined Helloween. For me it was more of a feeling, nothing too serious and in-depth, or as a revenge, none of that! Just brought my baby back to daddy. We've played some of those songs a few times, like “The Chance”, about four or five years ago. And since last year we've been playing “The Time Of The Oath” at our shows, which is really cool, really fun!

4- And there are also fans who really liked “PumpKings”...

- Oh, that's cool! Especially when you're not really thinking about it these days. And people say, “I liked it a lot, it's really great songs and the production is really good. I still love your guitar.” I'm still able to play my old solo parts, and quite well, to be honest. Some of the songs I hadn't played in 20 years. So it's nice when you can get to the level of the old days when you were young and played guitar 6-8 hours a day. Something I haven't been doing in many years. It's like driving a car or riding a bicycle, you don't forget how to do it. It's in the brain, you don't have to think too much.


5- Is there a song you like the most on “PumpKings”?

- It's hard to say... I think it's just a different kind of feeling. Some of Helloween's old productions, I don't like very much, because they're not perfect for my taste, compared to the band's taste at that time. Like, for example, in 1993, when we recorded “Music”. I think a band can sound stronger with a different producer, with a different studio. I really like “Music”. It may not be your typical metal song, but I wrote it when I was about 19 years old, for Rampage. So, it remains one of the songs that I like a lot, because it has a lot of Feeling. It's more of a Rock Blues than a Metal song. But nevertheless, I like the opposite too, like “Escalation 666” and “The Dark Ride”. I like this new update, even if there is not such a drastic difference in sound, because “The Dark Ride” album already sounds great.

6- Speaking now about your work as a music producer, what are the biggest difficulties, that you observe, faced by musicians today?

- In the past, when bands were in the studio, they could all play together, as if they were live. I remember when I recorded my first record with Helloween, we played the whole band, with the drums playing along. And nowadays, everyone plays separately in the studio, which gives a totally different feeling. Most musicians don't know their part in the studio, they don't study, they're lazier. Everyone is used to playing on the computer, doing part by part. To be honest, sometimes I do the same as a guitar player. In the end, everything looks great, but the progression was totally different 20 or 30 years ago. Everyone knew exactly what to do, everyone knew their solo part, their vocal part... Nowadays it's like a jigsaw puzzle, and the producer, like me, has to put all the pieces together to end get good. And on the other hand, some bands don't play well, they don't prepare as they should, but the producer will make everything cool (laughs). It's like, "Why don't we sound like Metallica?" “It's because you don't play like Metallica”, maybe that's the difference (laughs). But in general I try to help all bands, no matter what level they are at, that's my job.


7- Do you work with bands of different musical styles?


- Yes Yes! Sometimes progressive, other times like Dimmu Borgir, Behemot, that kind of sound, really dark, brutal. I like this style, because it's more drum, guitar and vocal oriented. But other bands have a lot of keyboards, choirs and overdubs, which, to be honest, are a lot harder to mix. I like that kind of Thrash Metal guitars, that kind of sound, it's easier to mix it. I like brutality. Some bands ask why I make songs sound so brutal, having come from Helloween, and from Helloween's style, which is melodic metal. I love that! I like the sound of extreme guitars, I like the sound of extreme drums. That's my style. Many people who have followed my career know that I am a huge fan of Rammstein. I like the sound of the guitars, and the drums too. It's a really good production!

8- How do you keep up to date in the area of music production?

- I can't stop. I always need to be researching the news on the Internet, the new products. I'm also always catching up on sounds from other bands, especially when musicians who are 20, 24 years old, or even 18, 16 years old, come to my studio and say, “we want to sound like this band”. But I've never heard it, and so I need to research it. But most of the bands I research, I'm not looking for their musicians, but who did the mixing, who is the producer of the band. There are some really famous guys that I really like, like Jens Bogren, or my friend Andy Sneap. These guys are maybe my biggest influences, but also other older guys, like Martin Birch or Randy Staub, who've done great work.  

9- And what is the feeling you have when you finish a song and listen to it?

- I think the basics are: I'm never satisfied, to be honest. I try to do my best during the music mixing process. When the band says “we're happy, we love it”, I keep thinking, “it could be better, I'm not really happy”. But then when I listen to the song after a couple of months of not having contact with her, I think, “Oh my God, this is good!”

10- What do you like to do when you are not playing or working in your studio? Do you have any hobbies?

- This may sound like an old guy thing, but I love to walk my dog every day when I leave the studio. When I have clients, of course I can't do that, because they stay from 10 am until 8 pm. But normally, every day, when there are no bands here, I walk my dog, for about an hour. So it's a simple thing, just to get out of the studio. If you're indoors all the time, you need some fresh air, you need some inspiration. I live in Slovakia, in the countryside, surrounded by mountains and very beautiful nature. To be honest, I really miss the big city. I'm from Hamburg, I love beaches! We don't have that here, but the Slovak countryside is beautiful and nice to walk around.

11- And do you usually visit your country of origin, Germany?

- I was there in November, because Masterplan played two shows in Sweden. I took my car to visit my brother and run some errands in Hamburg. So I flew to Sweden for both performances and then back to Hamburg. I stayed 6 days with my brother, it was really cool! But basically I don't go there much anymore. It was different when my parents were there, but they aren't anymore.  

12- Are you still playing with the band Kreyson?


- No, no! They keep putting out pictures of me on concert posters, but I left the band at Christmas 2017. I was always very busy, but we remained good friends. Mike Terrana remains in the band. But when they played in the North, in the Czech Republic, I had to drive 6 hours in one direction, do the show and the next day again 6 hours by car to get back to


home. All this for a small amount of money. If I stayed at home I would make more money (laughs), and it would be less stressful. To be honest, being on the road for 12 hours is no longer a good thing for me. But with Masterplan it's different, I drive to Vienna, go to the airport and fly somewhere… Two bands at the same time is not possible.

13- Roland, going back in time now, what moments could you say were the most memorable moments in your career?

- I don't know, there are so many important memories I have. I think joining Helloween was an important part, because otherwise I think I wouldn't be in this music business today, and I would have a completely different life. It was a big challenge for me to join the band, and even leaving Helloween was perhaps another important moment. Maybe not for the fans, but for some people in the band (laughs). I'm happy to be in the music business, with the studio and with Masterplan. People keep writing to me about the Helloween years. It's a good feeling, I'm very proud of it!

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14- How have you followed the development of Rock, from the heaviest music, from its beginnings in music to the present day?

- It's a big difference! I remember when I joined Helloween in the late '80s, it was a perfect time, with album sales, with a lot of people coming to shows. And everything changed drastically. The music business really isn't that easy anymore. I think only the big bands do good business, like Metallica, the Helloween reunion, of course, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Scorpions…

They all do great business, but a lot of other bands of a normal level… It's hard to say, but they fight, they fight a lot. I think for new bands it's not easy at all, because everyone is doing downloads and that sort of thing. But you see that many of these bands have a dream that it will work. Some are succeeding, some not so new, like Sabaton and Amon Amarth. These bands do an amazing business, and they manage to survive. They have a lot of people going to shows. Just like Nightwish, another not-so-new band, and they're really great. But you see, a lot of bands do big business, and others not so much, and it's hard for them to survive. I think in the 80's all bands were able to sell well. A lot of people could make a living from record sales, merchandising and touring. But nowadays I could say that only 10% get it. For the rest, it's not so easy.

15- A question to relax a little: If you could be part of any band in the history of music, which would it be and why?

- I do not know! (laughs) Maybe I'm not the biggest fan of the band I'm thinking about right now, but it would be fun to be a part of the Beatles (laughs). For all the success they had in the sixties, the brilliant songwriting and production for that era. And they were also great musicians. I think it would be cool to be a part of that. On the other hand, I've said it many times, which is perhaps the silliest comment I've ever made, but I would love to be a part of Rammstein (laughs). It's totally different from the style of music I'm known for, but I like their energy, I really enjoy their live performances, and I'm a really big fan of theirs. But, I'm sure I can't write songs like that. I'm a melodic guy, and people know my songwriting style on Masterplan, Helloween and my solo records too. So I come from a different style, but I like that kind of music. When I saw the band three times live I thought, “Oh my God, I want to be on stage with them”. I met the guys backstage, and they're really nice people.

16- Roland, you have a lot of fans here in Brazil. What would you like to say to these people listening to us now?

- They must not forget me. I still love Brazil, I've been there so many times. I think Masterplan played there two or three years ago. I think it's time to come back, maybe this year in some way. I have many private friends in Brazil. I miss you, and to be honest, it's time to go back and I hope to see you soon!

17- We are starting 2019. What are your plans for this year?

- We have some shows already announced. We don't tour anymore, because of the risks and the situation is not so easy for some bands, as I already told you, and Masterplan is one of them. So basically we're going to do more festivals and solo shows. But, we are definitely planning a new record, and maybe something is

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coming back again, because we've been a little slow for the last five years. We just released this album “Pumpkings” and a live DVD. To tell you the truth, I really wanted to take a break from this whole songwriting business and thinking about everything. But now I have positive energy again, I really want to play guitar, to compose, to sing more, because I love to sing! I don't care if people think it sucks, I think I'm getting better every year. It's time to show that, maybe on the next Masterplan record, with some vocals from me along with Rick. I'm looking forward to releasing an album, possibly before the fall of this year.

18- In my opinion, your vocals are pretty cool!

- Thank you! I've been training a lot for the last two years, so we'll see. This instrument is not so easy, because if you feel insecure, it sucks. If you feel safe, it's fine. But, it's not so easy to play guitar and sing at the same time, these heavy songs that we do. Anyway, I have this passion, so maybe I'll do some solo parts or something in the future. Maybe not live, but in the studio somehow.

19- Roland, I wouldn't bring it up, but I need to tell you something: This Helloween reunion is incomplete without you.  

- Thank you thank you! (laughs) To be honest, it was really hard for me to see all the success they've had, with all the fans following them so much, it was so cool… But, now I'm really calm, to be honest.  They're still going on, I think they're going to make a new record, they still have some shows. I believe they'll do it again in a year or two. They're not going to stop, they're going to keep going, and I'm really happy for the fans. Why not? Everything is fine! (laughter)    

20- Sorry for bringing up this subject…

- (laughs) No, it's a funny thing! Fans write to me saying what you said, and I'm really happy to tell you the truth. I am very happy to receive these private messages. Musicians come to my studio and say, "I've been a big fan of yours for about 25 years, since I was young." They're still young, but they were 16 or 14 years old, at the time of Master Of The Rings more or less, and I'm really happy about that. And that's what we should learn, and not say, "Oh, I'm frustrated." You should be happy with everything you've done in your life. There is no reason to be negative.

Nobody wants to see this, nobody wants to hear this. In the end it makes you sick, it's not good for anyone. This is just advice for everyone on this planet: Don't be envious, don't be negative. If you read my lyrics, whether it's my solo work, Helloween or Masterplan, you'll see that kind of hope and positive messages.

21- Roland, we're coming to the end, I've already stolen enough of your time...

- (laughs) Don't steal my time! (laughs) Don't steal my time, I'm too old for that. (laughs) I need my time! (laughs) I could write a new song for the new Masterplan album. (laughter)

22- Roland Grapow, thank you very much for this interview and Rock Mania is always available!

- Thank you very much for this pleasant interview, it was a pleasure!


Interview with Michael Amott

Held on 10/11/18

1- Hello, Michael Ammot! It is a pleasure to carry out this interview, welcome to Rock Mania!

- Hey dude! It's good to be talking to you. Thank you!

2- At the end of October the “Latin America Tour” begins, and in November Arch Enemy comes to Brazil. What are your expectations for these shows?

- We're really looking forward to it. We've always had a good time playing in Latin America, and Brazil of course! Great shows in the past… So we hope people haven't forgotten about us, and come enjoy the shows with us.  

3- You have many fans here in Brazil. What do you like most about here?


- We love playing in Brazil! I think the first time we were there was maybe, I don't know, like 10 years ago. But we've always had great experiences there.


  Great performances, great fans and a good atmosphere. The fans are really passionate about Metal and the bands they like. It's a great feeling to be there! It's something we're looking forward to.

4- Your most recent album is “Will To Power”. How do you see its repercussion around the world since it was released in September of last year?

- It was a great success for us. “Will To Power” in Europe is probably the biggest album we've ever released. The band continues to grow and get stronger, and “Will To Power” really contributed to that. There are a lot of hit songs on this record. We got good reviews from magazines, we had good sales and good reactions from fans. So we are very happy!  

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5- Let's go back in time now… You had a band called Carnage, which even had an album released in 1990, “Dark Recollections”. What do you remember from that time?

- That was a long time ago… It was my first experience of recording an album. Before that I had only recorded demo tapes, just two or three songs. So that was a complete record that we recorded at that time. We were very excited, of course! It's like when you do something for the first time. Everything is learning, and I learned a lot from this experience.

6- Then you played at Carcass, where you recorded two albums, “Necroticism - Descanting The Insalubrious”, in 1991, and “Heartwork”, in 1993. How was your experience with Carcass?

- It was a huge lesson for me when I joined Carcass. I was about 20 years old, and I didn't have much experience. The Carcass guys had already recorded two albums, had toured and had more experience. So I learned a lot from them in this great opportunity, which I grabbed with both hands. I was able to go on tour around the world. I toured the US with the band Death. It was a great experience, and I was only 20, 21 years old.

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7- Another band you played with was Candlemass, where you recorded the album “Dactylis Glomerata”, in 1998. What to say about this phase in your life?

- It was kind of weird… I've always been a big fan of Candlemass. They are one of my favorite bands. In fact, one day, many years ago, about 20 years ago, the bassist, founder and songwriter of the band, Leif Edling, called me. Somehow he got my number, and invited me to play on a recording he was making. It was something like a solo record, and of course I said yes! But then when we were recording it he said it would be for a Candlemass record, for various reasons. I didn't really feel like I was recording a Candlemass album. But it was still really cool to work with Leif Edling, he's a true master of Doom.

8- And the band Spiritual Beggars, how is it currently?

- Actually, we're not currently active, but you know, we've already recorded a

lot of albums, there were 9 discs over the years. So we have a lot of songs. I started this band because I wanted to explore more Hard Rock, more primitive Heavy Metal and stuff like Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Black Sabbath. That's a different side of my guitar playing, writing with other guys, great musicians too. So it's something I've enjoyed a lot over the years, but now we're not really active. Everyone's playing in different bands, so it's hard with schedules. Also, Arch Enemy is a very busy band, and it's taking over my life. Arch Enemy's schedule is very difficult.

9- Arch Enemy has had three different vocalists: Johan Liiva, Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz. How do you see each of these phases of the band?

- I really like all the stages. I think they all produced good music, and I have very fond memories of all the eras, so to speak, with these different singers. They're all talented in their own way, and I've had a great time working with all, with all the members that have passed through the band over the years. But I'm super happy to be working with Alissa now, she's awesome! We had a great time making music and traveling the world.


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10- One of the things that catches my attention in Arch Enemy is the quality of its music videos. Do you have a special attention focused on the production of this material?

- This is thanks to our video director Patric Ullaeus, who is a true video phenomenon. He's been making our videos for years now. Its quality is very high. The videos have an incredible number of views, for example the video for “The Eagle Flies Alone” from the new album has over 30 million views. It's amazing how youtube and things like that are so important nowadays, so It's good to have good quality videos.

11- What are the most important moments in your career?

- The most important moments... There were many important moments. Perhaps one of the biggest was the opportunity to join Carcass, and feel the taste of recording, of touring around the world. I was able to go from being just a local musician in Sweden to being known on the international scene, in the Metal. I was able to really make sense of it all, of what this life is like. This three year experience of playing with them was amazing and it changed my life. Another important moment was creating my own band, especially Arch Enemy, which is such an important part of my life. Arch Enemy is actually the band I started. So I can create music the way I want to hear Metal music, with aggressive vocals, fast drums, thrash metal riffs with classic heavy metal harmonies in the solos. What I mean is, it's like my dream band. So I probably choose those two moments.

12- You who travel a lot, how do you see the Metal scene around the world nowadays?

- The Metal scene around the planet is strong! I would say it's stronger than ever in some ways. Especially for bands like Arch Enemy. We play great shows all the time. There are new generations coming in, a lot of people are getting into the metal scene, a lot of people are getting into heavy music right now, so I think it's a good time. really big cities, with a lot of metal fans there too. So there are Metal fans everywhere, in every corner of the world there are Metal fans. It is wonderful!


13- What do you not like about music?

- Give interviews! (laughs) What I don't like about music, I don't know... I really like the process of creating and composing music. I get inspired when I'm writing new stuff, creating songs from scratch. Then inspiration comes, and you take some riffs and turn them into a song, with melodies and lyrics. So you go into the studio, you produce and you add stuff. This is so much fun! This is a process I never tire of. And of course, doing the shows, meeting the fans and playing the songs for them, seeing their reaction and getting that energy from them. It's incredibly satisfying! So, I don't know, I kind of like everything. I know I must say something I don't like, I'm trying to think of something right now. (laughs) Sometimes business can be a little boring, the business part, the budgets and money stuff like that. But that's important too, and I'm interested in the business side, but maybe it's not my favorite area.

14- Now, a relaxed question: if you could be part of any band in the history of music, which would it be and why?

- I think I would like to be Jimi Hendrix's bass player, because I could play with Jimi every night. Would be great!


15- After this tour that will pass through Brazil, what are the next steps for Arch Enemy?

- We'll take a break for a few months after all this. Then we'll have the year-end holidays and all. So next year, in 2019, we're going to start another tour of Europe, America, various places. It will be like a continuation of the “Will To Power” tour basically. And you're composing something here and there, and you're coming up with new ideas for new material. People can follow us on social media, our website and all that kind of stuff. They can see what we're doing if they're curious.

16- What would you like to say to the fans who are now listening to Rock Mania?

- Get your asses up and come to the Kreator and Arch Enemy shows. It will be wonderful Heavy Metal nights. Metallic insanity. Don't miss it!   


17- Michael Amott, thank you very much for the interview and Rock Mania is always available!

- Thank you very much for your support. I appreciate that, thank you very much! See you soon!

Interview with Chris Boltendahl

Held on 09/18/18

1- Hello, Chris Boltendahl! It's a pleasure to be doing this interview, welcome to Rock Mania!

- Hello my friend! Yes, it's a pleasure for me too!

2- Grave Digger has just released the album “The Living Dead”. How do you rate this job?

- It's a very good job! I'm really proud of this record because it sounds a little bit different from the previous ones, and that's really important to me because I can't record the same record every year. So this time we did something different and I think people will notice that.

3- Are you doing shows to promote this album?

- Yes, we started at the beginning of January in Europe with some shows. We did 24 performances in Spain, France, England and other countries. I hope we can go back to South America in April or May. We are planning this tour and hope to be back very soon.

4-  Let's go back in time now... How was Grave Digger born?

- The beginning was in 1980, I was 18 years old. I met some people and we decided to make a band, and then we chose the name Grave Digger. Everyone in the band was very happy. First we started out as a trio, and we had a lot of fun playing some Motörhead songs. So I found a drummer and a guitarist, Peter Masson. Our first record was released in 1984, “Heavy Metal Breakdown”.

5- In 1986, after three albums, the band's name changed to Digger. Why did this happen?

- Because the record company told us that if we wanted to make more money we would need to change the name from Grave Digger to Digger. They told us that this way we would sell a lot of records in the American market. We were young and we took this advice, but it was a tragedy! We ended up splitting up after the album with Digger.

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6- The album you released with Digger is “Stronger Than Ever”?

- Yes, Stronger Than Ever. It's not a bad record, it's just not a good record for Grave Digger.


7- After Digger you came back as Hawaii. How was that phase?

- Most of the time we were drunk and writing some songs. So we had this completely crazy idea of calling the band Hawaii. Most of the songs we wrote and recorded at that time are on “The Reaper” record. This is very interesting!

8- Returning to the album “The Living Dead”. What did you think about passing through your lyrics?

- I think the lyrics are a little darker than last time. What I tried to do with them was put a movement in the images in the listeners' heads, you know? In some parts it's more sober, in others it's more Metal. But it's entertainment, and that's the most important thing.

9- A very emblematic song by the serious Digger, which is a true classic of Heavy Metal is “Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching)”. Tell us a little about this song that is part of the album “Tunes Of War”.

- This song means a lot to me, because it's a traditional Grave Digger classic. She talks about the Highlands, about the Jacobites fighting the English. They made a rebellion back then, but lost the fight. That was a good story to put into this kind of music. I love this song! Much!

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10- The music video for this song is very striking too…

- Yea! It was recorded on a promotional tour, in the midst of interviews we did with journalists in Scotland. We went for a walk there and took the opportunity to record some videos in the authentic Highlands.

11- Chris, you who have been active since the 80s, how do you see the evolution of music until today?

- It's a big evolution, because there are so many bands, so many different styles. For me it's good to see that Heavy Metal is still alive after all these years. I'm also glad that veteran bands are still active, like Kreator, Running Wild and Helloween. We created something really special in Germany, and I think that's good for the Heavy Metal scene, with so many bands in the market.

12- What moments do you consider remarkable in the trajectory of Grave Digger?

- It was definitely when we celebrated our 30th anniversary at Wacken in 2010, when we played the album “Tunes Of War” in its entirety. Also when we recorded in São Paulo, in 2005, it was a wonderful night! We recorded the album “25 To Live” there.

13- What do you not like about music?

- I don't like that nowadays there are so many critics in the music business. Everyone has to say something different about some video, or lyric video. These things I don't like very much... The comments. It seems like a kind of sport, where you complain about all the videos of the bands.

14- What do you do to keep your voice so powerful over the years?

- It's very simple: I don't drink, I don't smoke and I play golf.


- Yes, golf! (laughter)

15- Do you like football?

- Certainly! I coach a children's team here in Germany.

16- Do you like Brazilian football?

- I know some teams from São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but I don't know the Brazilian football teams in depth. So I don't have a team there.

17- And the World Cup held here, in 2014, when Germany beat Brazil 7-1?

- (laughs) That was a tragedy for Brazil, but in the end, it's just a game.

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18- If you could be part of any band in history, which would it be and why?

- I would like to be the lead singer of Black Sabbath, because that's my kind of music.

19- What tip would you give to those who listen to us now and dream of something more within the music?

- Believe in yourself, don't try to copy any band and do your own thing.

20- From now on, what are your next steps?

- Next week we will fly to Greece to play there. I will tour in November with “Bonfire And Friends” with Geoff Tate and Phil Mogg from UFO and other vocalists. It will be three weeks in Germany and in January we will start the Grave Digger tour.

21- Chris Boltendahl, thank you very much for the interview and Rock Mania is always available!

- Okay, my friend, have a good night! I hope we'll be back soon, and then we'll present a really good set to people in Brazil.


Interview with Sascha Gerstner

Held on 08/25/18

1- Hi Sasha,  welcome to Rock Mania, it's a pleasure to carry out this interview!

- It's really nice talking to you!

2- What are you currently doing?

- In addition to the Helloween tours, we have “Pumpkins United” going on, which is a very successful tour so far. We're playing summer festivals, and getting ready for a US tour.

3-  Let's go back in time... How was your beginning in music?

- When I was a kid I started like everyone else, at school, when you have to take music lessons. I started singing a lot in the early years and then I switched to keyboards. I was very interested in all kinds of synthesizers and things that I couldn't have when I was little. I grew up in the 80's so I'm a huge fan of 80s music, and then when I was 13 years old I picked up the guitar. My uncle is a great guitar player, and I got interested in vinyl records and cassette tapes. He would record me tapes with great bands that I didn't know at that age, and feed me all these types of hard rock guitarists. The first one I heard was Michael Schenker, and there were a few others too, and I was really excited to play guitar.

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4- You played at Freedom Call, where you recorded two albums. What do you have to say about your times in this  band?

- That was very special for me, because at that time, when Chris (Bay) and Daniel (Zimmermann) came to ask me to play in the band, they were about to sign a record deal. I was about 18 years old, I think, and that to me was huge: “Oh, it's a band that's signed a record deal, and I'm going to play with them.” I didn't know anything about that kind of music. They gave me those quick songs and told me to learn how to play them and that in a few days we would have to rehearse to see if I could do it. I got it, we got together and we recorded two albums. I have to say they introduced me to Power and Speed Metal, which is crazy because I ended up joining Helloween. I would never have come into contact with this kind of music if it wasn't for Freedom Call.

5- In 2003 you joined Helloween. How did this happen?


- I didn't know there were already some rumors about it, but then I read it in some magazines. There were these rumors and the idea of Charlie Bauerfeind (the band's producer), who I knew before Helloween, he was thinking that I would get along great with Michael Weikath, which in the end it came to fruition. He called me and said, “Hey, I have a job for you, maybe it's just recording an album, we need a studio guitarist, it's Helloween. Michael will call you in a few days.” But at that time I wasn't into that kind of music anymore, I was concentrating on writing pop songs and producing other bands. I thought something like, “Okay! I'm not sure, but we'll see what happens." Then 30 minutes later Michael called me. From that day on we talked a lot, and for four weeks we hung out together.

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So they invited me to spend a weekend with them, but at the time I was about 25 years old, and that was a big thing for me, flying somewhere with new people, with new musicians. And that's what happened. Then we recorded the album “Rabbit Don't Come Easy”. And it wasn't until we did a video shoot and a photo shoot that I realized I was in the band, because I was in the pictures. They never officially invited me to join the band. It was like, “Okay, we hit it off, you can play, you can write songs.” I handed over some song ideas for the first album, they were happy, I was happy, and we've been together since that day.  

6- What does it mean to you to be part of a legendary Heavy Metal band?   

- When I was younger I didn't know what would happen. For me it was like I was in a different scene, with different looks, which I am to this day. I wasn't prepared for certain things. To be honest, the first album we did had a deadline, we had a few songs and we should have known how to play them. I didn't know the band very well, I met Markus and the rest of the guys when we went to rehearse for the album . I was still adapting, I didn't know the greatness of the band, I didn't know what impact it would have. To me it was like, "Okay, this is a heavy metal band." I was playing Heavy Metal again. I wasn't really aware of what was going to happen and the big impact on my life. But at that time I didn't think, “Oh, this legendary band and I want to do this.” I wasn't sure at first, I really wasn't sure.

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I know that's not what the fans want to hear, they want to hear the story of someone who is a fan of the band and is chosen to join them, as if it were a dream come true. In the end that dream came true, I must say, because this is a privileged life, touring, recording albums and playing big shows. I really love it! But when you're 25, it's very difficult to adapt to that lifestyle. It's a big life changer, with many countries to visit. And there's a lot of pressure that I didn't know there would be when I started, being compared to other guitar players, in this whole competitive landscape. I didn't know how to act, how to interact with people. So, it took a while, with some issues, but here we are!

7- Now let's talk about  Palast. How was this band born?

- I created this alter ego called Pace, Sascha Pace, because my bandmates said it would be really cool to come up with a nickname, because I'm multi-tasking and I was coming back with photography after 10 years where I was very successful. I didn't want to interfere with the character of the heavy metal guitarist being the character of the photographer, and when I was doing different types of music I wanted to use a different character, something like an actor. You change the scene, change the look, change the look, change the music. It took a few years, and I've always wanted to do something similar, even before I joined Helloween. At Palast there are three of us. Tommy (Apus), for example, I've known for a long time, and he had already invited me into the studio before I joined Helloween. We were already recording some stuff and he said to me, "Hey, you're a great singer, let's do something together."  When we started writing songs together and recording some stuff I got the call from Helloween, and then my life changed and we lost touch a little bit. So now we're recording bands and producing stuff because we have a recording studio together. When I was more relaxed, I think after the “Hellish Rock Tour I” with Gamma Ray, we had some free time and started writing new songs, with more time for our stuff.  When I don't have anything to do in Heavy Metal, not even with Helloween, I compose my songs. Maybe I should do something with it. So over the years I worked with different musicians, and I found these two guys, Tommy again and Marc (Engel), so in 2015 we formed Palast. We recorded an EP, played fashion events, toured Germany, and released the official album last year. And in this scenario nobody knows that I'm Helloween guitarist, because I created this character.


8- How are you seeing people's receptivity to Palast's album?

- Most of the people who are discovering us are not from the metal scene, they don't know who I am or where we come from. For them we are just a new band from Berlin. When the album came out we got really positive reactions from different scenes. From the underground, from the gothic scene, which is very strong in Germany. We are compared a lot to Depeche Mode, to Hurts, and those kinds of bands. So we got into this goth scene, and we started working with people from the fashion world. For them their work matches the music. As for receptivity in the Metal scene, I don't know. I meet musicians all the time, and they tell me, "Hey, I found your project, which is cool and I couldn't imagine you playing that kind of music." Since I never made an official announcement: “I'm Sascha Pace and I have this band, Palast”. But more and more heavy metal fans are discovering this, and some are very open-minded, and are writing really cool things about it. We'll see where this ends up in a few years, I don't know.  

9- And your work as a music producer, how is this area of your life?

- Nowadays I'm not producing much more. I have a small mixing and recording studio, and sometimes I mix albums for some bands. I mainly do the production part of Palast. Me and Tommy produced all the songs together. Over the years I was collecting old equipment, from the 80's. I'm passionate about old stuff, not using computer technology too much. So all the production techniques I mostly use in my own bands.

10- How is your side towards the art of photography?

- I became very interested in photography, but I don't even know how it happened. When I started it was more or less as a hobby, to pass the days while touring. I bought a camera, and I was photographing people. When I got back from the tour I showed the pictures to some friends, and one of them works in publicity, and he said, “Wow, this is amazing! You took beautiful pictures, let's see if we can work on something together.” A few months later I took the first jobs, producing catalog photos and things like that. It grew and grew and grew, and then I got into the fashion scene, shooting for catalogs and campaigns. Sometimes I photograph bands too. But I can only do these things when I'm not on tour. 

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11- What do you not like about music?

- When I was younger I really liked airports, but these days it's getting really tiring. We have little time to sleep, we need to be running from plane to plane. Traveling can sometimes be very tiring. But on the other hand, it's rewarding, because it's a beautiful life, it's great! Going on stage you get the energy back, it's brilliant! Now that I'm getting older I can even enjoy it more than when I was younger.

12- How is it for you  play in Brazil?

- Brazil has always been a highlight. In fact, the first show I played with Helloween was in Brazil. I had very special moments there, and the last shows we did there were wonderful, so I love it! I love people, their smiles, they are happy most of the time. It is very good!

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13- Now a question to relax: If you  could play in any band in history  of the song, what would it be and why?

- The first name that comes to my mind is Genesis. Genesis is one of my favorite bands. From there come two of my favorite icons: one is Peter Gabriel and the other is Phil Collins. Their music influenced me a lot when I was young. So making a sound with Genesis would be awesome! And there's another band that I really liked when I was young, which is the band Toto. I think they're musically amazing, and they've written brilliant songs. So it would be a great experience to play with these guys.

14- A question I can't help but ask:  THE  Helloween will record an official album with Michael Kiske and Kai  Hansen?

- There will be an album, yes! We had great times on the tour. It seems that the band will be together with the seven members, as if it were a mini-orchestra. Yes, we're going to record an album and we're really excited about it.

15- From now on, what are your next steps?

- First of all, we're going to finish the tour playing in the United States, and then we're going to do another trip to South America, but unfortunately without Brazil. Not yet, I don't know if we will have other dates, but I don't think so. So we're going back to Europe, and then I'm going to record new stuff with Palast. We will be releasing a music video on September 4th which will be out on all our social media channels. And that's it, recording new music.

16- Maybe Palast will play in Brazil one day...

- Would be wonderful! I think we have a long way to go, but you never know!

17- Sascha, thank you very much for the interview! Rock Mania is always available!

- He is well! Peace… Have fun! Thank you!


Interview with Mark Jansen

Held on 03/14/18

1- Hello Mark Jansen! It is a pleasure to carry out this interview, welcome to Rock Mania!


- Thank you!


2- You are in Brazil with “The Ultimate Principle Tour”. How is this tour going?


- It's been a great tour so far, with a lot of people at the shows and a great vibe!


3- In total there will be 8 shows here in Brazil, a great opportunity for fans to be able to go to the Epica show.

- It's the first time we do so many shows like this. Fans have been asking for this for years, and now it's finally happening. We love to play in Brazil, and that's why everyone benefits from this situation.

4- What are your favorite things here in Brazil?


- People's passion, kindness, good food, drinks and the weather.


5- His most recent work is the EP “The Solace System”. Tell us about this record.


- It contains songs that normally wouldn't fit on our albums. But, as we had a lot of them and very good ones too, to use only as bonus tracks, we decided to make an EP with these songs.


6- In the beginning the band was called Sahara Dust, but soon after you changed the name to Epica. Why did you make this change?


- We didn't like the name Sahara Dust anymore. our first  vocalist left the band, so it was time for a fresh start.

7- In your opinion, what were the most important moments of your career?


- Subscribe to Nuclear Blast and play so many big and famous festivals.


8- What do you not like about music?


- The business part, the money.


9- If you could be a part of any band in the history of music, which would it be and why?


- I think it would be fun to play with Frank Zappa and his crazy songs.


10- What would you like to say to the fans who are following this interview?


- Thank you so much for all the dedication over so many years, we love you!

11- After this tour, what will be your next steps?


- Record my vocals for Mayan's new record and tour the UK with Epica, where we'll play Epica's 1000th show in Tilburg, the Netherlands. I will also tour with Mayan along with the band Leaves' Eyes.


12- Mark Jansen, thank you very much for the interview with Rock Mania!


- Thank you very much, Rock Mania!

Interview with Al Atkins

Held on 03/07/18

1- Hello, Al Atkins! It's a pleasure to talk to you and welcome to Rock Mania!

- Thank you very much, Wander!

2- What are you currently doing?


- I'm not doing as much as I'd like, I'm not getting any younger, so you just do what you can. I'm working on another album with guitarist and producer Paul May, which will be the 4th on the "Atkins/May Project", and I'm looking forward to getting back in the studio again.

3- You started singing in the 60's. I heard something from the bands “The Reaction”, “Blue Condition”, “Sugar Stack”... How was your beginning in music?


- The early 60's saw a big change in the music scene with bands like the Beatles, the Stones and the Who, to name a few, that were forming. It was a very exciting time for all teenagers who, like me, also wanted to start a band. I started playing drums and singing during the first few years, and then I took over the duties as a vocalist, starting to write my own songs as well.

4- Let's go back to the times of Judas Priest. What do you remember from the years when you were the lead singer of the band?

- Judas Priest started in 1969. We signed to London's 'Immediate Records' and did a little tour. Everything looked promising to us, but the record company later went bankrupt and we ended up splitting up. I reformed the band in the late 1970's with KK Downing (guitar) and Ian Hill (bass), when we hit the road again, even though we didn't have a record label at the time. We played with several drummers over the next three years, and continued to perform throughout the UK. I was writing more and more songs, and we kept a set list of pretty much our own songs, which is what we wanted. We became known as a Progressive Heavy Rock band...  Some of my songs were released on the first two records after I left and was replaced by Rob Halford. In “Rocka Rolla” there is 'Winter',

the 'Caviar And  Meths' and 'Never Satisfied'. On “Sad Wings Of Destiny” there's 'Dreamer Deceiver' and 'Victim Of Changes'. They were signed to 'Gull Records', which wasn't really what they wanted, but at least they managed to get the albums out and climb a little higher up the ladder.


5- Why did you leave Judas Priest?


- I was the only one married with a child to raise, and money was a little tight. The more we got bigger places to perform, with the help of Tony Iommi and Norman Hood, the more our overheads increased, and what we earned wasn't enough. Then there came a day when I decided to get an 8 hour job to pay the bills.

6- Do you currently have contact with any member of Judas Priest?


- Yes, especially with Ian, who is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet on Earth. He played bass on my last solo record, "Reloaded", and it was great to work with him again after all these years.


7- What does it mean to you to have been part of this true legend of Heavy Metal, Judas Priest?


- I'm very proud to have participated in the beginning of Judas Priest, and also to have been in contact with local legends like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin in their early days. I always say I planted the seed and aim to grow it into a mighty oak.

Al Atkins and Judas Priest

8- After leaving Judas Priest, what have you done over the years?


- I've kept myself busy over the years since I left Judas Priest. My next band was Lion, which was one of my favorites and we were together for about 5 years. I recently lost Pete Boot, who was the drummer in this band and also in Budgie. Rest in peace my old friend... I recorded two solo albums later in Berlin, Germany and since then I have recorded 4 more solo albums, one album with Holy Rage, three with the Atkins/May Project, plus multiple guest appearances. I also wrote a book entitled “Dawn Of The Metal Gods”, which is about my life starting out in Judas Priest.

9- Your work with Holy Rage, tell us a little about it.


- We were a band that worked hard and played anywhere, even when we took a trip from England to Hollywood to play a single show. We've only recorded one self-titled album, and like most bands, we've gone through some member changes. This band lasted about five years.

10-  In your opinion, what was the most important moment of your career?


- I had some good moments, like when I played with Thin Lizzy and talked to Phil Lynott, when Judas Priest opened for them once in the 70's. 10 years with former Iron Maiden guitarist Dennis Stratton. But I think the most important moment was the release of my book 'Dawn Of The Metal Gods', which seems to have taken forever to complete, and eventually was released on a BBC radio show.


11- How do you see the rock scene from the 70s to the present day?


- I loved the 70's rock scene, there were so many different paths for bands to choose from and no one was afraid to turn up the volume and try something new. We had Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Saxon and Judas Priest, to name a few of the UK bands that stood out, and most of them are still in the business. I think nowadays it's more difficult for new bands, many clubs have closed and it seems to be more and more difficult to climb the ladder of success.

Al Atkins and Holy Rage

12- What do you not like about music?


- From the record companies. They are always trying to take our hide. We must always read the small print, or else we will suffer.


13- Have you performed in Brazil? If not, would you like to do this?


- I didn't introduce myself, but I'd like to. Brazil seems to me a fantastic country, with heavy metal quite strong with bands like Sepultura, Angra and Hibria, to name a few.

Al Atkins and Paul May

14- What are your plans for the future?


- Keep me alive.


15- Al Atkins, thank you very much for the interview and Rock Mania is always available!


- Thank you very much, my friend Wander and Rock Mania! Keep It Metal!!!!

Interview with Wolf Hoffmann

Held on 11/03/17

1- Hello Wolf Hoffmann, welcome to Rock Mania!

- Hi, it's great to talk to you!

2- Accept is coming to South America with the tour “The Rise Of Chaos World Tour”. What is the expectation?

- When you go on tour, the best part of being a musician is here. We love being on stage and are totally dependent on the reaction of the fans. If they go crazy we're in heaven, and believe me, that's like oil on fire – we give back with our best. This isn't about expectations, it's about satisfaction, and it ends up going both ways. We are pretty confident, these shows are our life! It will be madness!

3-  There will be six shows in Brazil. Is that a good number of performances for fans?


- We wanted to play every day in every corner of Brazil, we love it! As you can see, we keep coming back… But the year has only 365 days and we need to go to other parts of the world. I think we are in top shape and very excited... So – we assure you – we will be back again!

4- How are you seeing the repercussion of your latest album, “The Rise Of Chaos”?

- I always get nervous before a launch. I'm not the kind of guy who leans back and says, "This is what it is." No! I'm very excited, but also anxious – especially in the first few weeks after launch. In the first few days I got feedback,

because some journalists heard the record first hand and reacted immediately, so you can get a certain idea. To be honest, Accept has been living with fan and media spoilers since 2010 – when we came back after a 15 year hiatus – with Blood Of The Nations, then Stalingrad, then Blind Rage and now The Rise Of Chaos.  


5-  Since you resumed activities with "Blood Of The Nations" you practically don't stop. Either they're on tour, or they're recording. How do you get so much energy?

- Yes, that's right! We keep moving forward, non-stop... And we will continue to do so for a long time to come. Especially since I believe my best music hasn't been written yet.

6- How is it to be part of a band with more than 40 years of history?

- I can't believe that we've been in the band for so long, and I also can't believe what happens to us today... For me it's a miracle! I am very proud of one thing: that I can tell myself that I work while having fun, and that I will never give up. You get what you want to hear when you buy an Accept album, that's how it is and it always will be. Nothing has changed and nothing will change.

7- What will be your steps after this tour?


- We will have a winter tour where we will go through almost 20 countries, then we will have a summer full of festivals... and an autumn tour with another tour. There is no end in sight.


8- Finally, I leave Rock Mania at your disposal for you to invite fans to Accept's concerts in Brazil.

- We can't wait to see you at our shows. Let's tear down the houses – what can't we do without you! See you soon!


9- Wolf Hoffmann, thank you very much for the interview!


- Thank you very much for your attention, Rock Mania!  

Interview with Michael Weikath

Held on 10/17/17

1- Michael Weikath, the "Pumpkins United World Tour" is about to begin. What is the atmosphere among the band members?


- The atmosphere is very good, it's exciting. The 19th is our first show, we are starting our “Pumpkins United Tour” in Mexico and will continue from here. We are all excited, but you can imagine that we are also very tense before we start. We hope that everything goes well, that the fans enjoy it and that we have great shows.

two-  Whose idea was it to do this meeting with Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske?

- Well, Kai Hansen talked about it some time ago, so I met Michael Kiske, we talked and we concluded that we had no more problems and that everything was fine between us. So we talked more and everyone liked the idea of doing the “Pumpkins United Tour”. Entrepreneurs did the rest and here we are: a new journey.

3- How was the division of the songs between the vocalists made?


- Andi and Michael are singing most of the songs, with the same number of parts for each. They also do duets, and you'll still hear Kai on the mic. This is all going to be really cool!

4- Was it difficult to choose the songs for the tour? What criteria were used?


- Very difficult. We have so many songs to choose from. But we know what the fans want to hear, we have to play everything: the old, the new, the classics... I hope we picked the right songs.


5- The new song “Pumpkins United” had a great acceptance among the fans. Do you plan to record more songs together?

- Right now I doubt it will happen, but you never know. We won't have time for that as we will be on tour almost until the end of 2018. Only time will tell... Never say never!


6- In Brazil you will do three presentations, and you have many fans in the country. What are your expectations to play here?


- Brazilians have always been very, very supportive, with crazy fans and excellent audiences. We have sold-out performances, this is awesome! Each of us loves Brazil, the people, and of course the beautiful women and the food. Not forgetting their amazing drinks. We're all looking forward to coming to Brazil and we've even planned a night at a steakhouse.


7- Michael Weikath, thank you very much for the interview with Rock Mania! We are eagerly waiting for you here in Brazil…


- We love Brazil, we love our fans, and we are very, very grateful for your support. You are the biggest fans in the world and we look forward to seeing you soon at our shows. You Brazilian fans are crazy and wonderful. Thanks for your support, we love you! Thank you so much Rock Mania!!

Interview with Tony Moore

Held on 11/04/16

1- Tony Moore, you are a musician, TV and radio presenter, you are involved with music production... How do you manage so many activities? Welcome to Rock Mania!


- Thank you! I think it's because I have a hyperactive mind, and I love new challenges. So if someone suggests something to me or asks me to do something, I always try to say yes.

2- How do you see the Rock scene nowadays, in Europe and also in the world?


- No matter what country you go to, no matter what city you go to, you will always find bands playing Rock, because Rock is the common denominator among so many different people. And what I love about Rock is that it exists even outside of the mainstream media. He doesn't need mainstream radio, he doesn't need mainstream TV, he doesn't need mainstream newspapers. Rock exists because it is a state of mind, it is a passion that we have. And so when people discover a great band, they support it, they go to shows and become fans, no matter what.

3- Have you ever come to Brazil?

- I was in Brazil only once, I think it was in 1995, I went to Foz do Iguaçu, on New Year's Eve, where I spent about a week. It was wonderful, Foz do Iguaçu has incredible natural phenomena, like the waterfalls. For a while I had a girlfriend from Argentina, Marie Claire D'Ubaldo, who is a singer and songwriter. We made songs in South America, but we never played in Brazil. It is a shame! I speak some Spanish, but not Portuguese.

4- And would you like to play in Brazil someday?


- I would love! I think Brazil is a country that embraces music in a way that no other country does. You gave us Bossa Nova, you gave us fantastic Rock. Their passion as a country, they support the music of bands like Queen, Rush and all the great bands. Some of the biggest performances were held in Brazil. My dream is to one day go to Brazil to make music and meet some fantastic people.

5- What do you not like about the music industry?


- Like many other musicians who have been in this for a long time, I'm disappointed that so much attention is given to television competitions like reality shows and singer competition shows. I think it's very easy for the music industry to try to find talent for the future through these types of shows. We ended up with something very superficial, where people look for celebrities, who haven't built their audience. The greatest thing you can do in the world is play live as often as possible, and learn the secret of how to communicate with the audience and how to feel comfortable on stage. television, for many people careers won't last long. I'm disappointed, but this is  the nature of this industry that uses the media to take a song and take advantage of it. We musicians, songwriters and

performers should try to understand that we need to attract as many people as possible in order to build a career, but we should also maintain some integrity and honor in the things we create and the music we play.

6- Tony Moore, you are part of the history of one of the greatest bands of all time: Iron Maiden. Tell us about your involvement with the Maiden.

- You have to understand that I was in Iron Maiden in their early days, in the early years of their career. They weren't famous, nobody knew who the band was. I lived in a small town in west London called Bristol. I saw an ad in a music newspaper where they were looking for a keyboard player. So I went to London and met the lineup of the band, which consisted of Dennis Wilcock, who was the vocalist, Terry Wapram, the guitarist, Thunderstick the drummer, and of course Steve Harris the bassist. I played for about half an hour, they left the room and had a conversation about me, and then they came back and said, "Would you like to join the band?" I said, "Of course, I'd love to join the band." The first thing I did was move to London, and when I arrived, I stayed with Steve Harris and his grandmother in East London. The first few months I spent a lot of time with Steve, talking about music and about performing. We got along well and enjoyed a lot of similar things. 

We loved the music of bands like Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd. And Steve had an instinct, he knew this was the time for British rock to start again after the Punk era. He was determined that Iron Maiden would be well ahead in this new era of Rock and Roll. Basically, he said there were three things he believed in: that Iron Maiden would be the cutting edge of new British rock music; that we would have a show that would be as grandiose as a Genesis show; and that the band would be known all over the world. He was very passionate, very focused, which to me was very attractive, I was inspired by the way he carried his energy. That was the reason I stayed in the band. And for many months we worked really hard, rehearsing. All the material from the first album was practically ready, and we were already rehearsing something from the second album as well. I just remember that we did a show, and it wasn't the best, we didn't do very well. Then it hit me that as a keyboardist, that band wasn't the ideal band for me. It was hard trying to find a fit between what I was used to playing as a keyboardist and the kind of arrangements that Iron Maiden really needed. So, there wasn't a bad mood, I went ahead, and discreetly backstage Steve rearranged the musicians in the band.

7- Time passes and you are always remembered as an ex-Iron Maiden. Do you like it?

- I'm very proud of the things I've done in my life. I am very proud to have been part of a legendary band like Iron Maiden, even though I knew it was very early on. I watch the band sometimes and I have a sense of pride that I was a part of it too. I think for Steve no matter what gets in his way, he's going to keep going, because he has faith, he believes in the music and the principles that Iron Maiden stands for, and I think that's a great quality.

8- Do you have contact with any member or ex-member of Iron Maiden?

- Yes, I got to know Bruce very well through flying, he helped me learn to fly. He would take me flying in his own plane, and we would talk about flying. We have mutual friends who also drive. So for a while I saw a lot of Bruce. At Iron Maiden's last big show at Castle Donington, at Monsters Of Rock, I met Steve and we got to chat for a bit. The other guys in the band I don't know very well because they weren't around when I was in the band. But I'm very close to Iron Maiden's manager Rod (Smallwood). He has a son who is a wonderful musician, and he has a band called the White Room. I've been following and supporting them, and trying to help them with their career. It's a very different sound from Iron Maiden, it's more Rock And Roll.

9- Tony, tell us about your time as a Radio Java band.

- After leaving Iron Maiden I started working with guitarist Brian James, who was guitarist and songwriter for one of the first British punk bands called The Damned. He wrote two songs, one called "NeatNeatNeat", and the other " New Rose", both punk anthems. I played with him for about a year. Then I joined another band called England, which was more progressive rock. I left London with the band for about three years. When I got back to London I didn't have any money, and I had to start over. As I was composing some songs, I decided to start a band to play them, and I named it Radio Java.  We got a record deal with a French label, and they gave us the opportunity to record an album at Abbey Road, which was absolutely thrilling. I got to talk to a lot of people who worked with The Beatles, I got to live a real dream working in such a wonderful studio. When we arrived to release the record, unfortunately our label ran out of money, and it eventually closed. So Radio Java almost had great success, but after the label collapsed we couldn't continue as a band.

10- Another band you played in was Cutting Crew. How was that time?

- I played in Cutting Crew from 1986 to 1988, and it was really exciting to be in a band where we had big hits. " (I Just) Died in Your Arms " went to number one on the music charts  in about 15 countries, including the United States and European countries. I had the opportunity to go on tour with the band, where we opened for Starship, for Huey Lewis And The News , for The Bangles. It was really an exciting time.

11- A remarkable moment in your life was in 2007, when you performed “ The Acoustic Airwaves Tour”. Tell us about that experience.

- I was learning to fly in small, single-engine propeller planes. That was around the time I met Bruce... I was really inspired to fly, but I felt like a beginner: I would take off, fly for about an hour and land again. I wanted to have a greater purpose than why I was flying. I have supported different charities throughout my life, and an important fund I was supporting at the time was the Teenage Cancer Trust. So I came up with the idea of putting a system of PA's, guitar, microphones and a keyboard in the back of a small plane, with which I could fly to other airports and play shows. I planned a tour with 15 airports that I had never been to before. I had taken my leave of absence about three or four weeks before starting the tour.  When I look back I see that it was really crazy, because it was very difficult. There were several moments when I almost died. But I arrived at the airports, taking all the equipment and assembling it. I invited the local press and newspapers to cover it.  So I would introduce myself, collect for charity,

I attended to the press and then put all the equipment behind the plane and flew to the next show. I did everything myself, I didn't have anyone's help, I didn't have roadies, I didn't have a co-pilot, I had to make do. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it generated a lot of publicity for the campaign, and I had the opportunity to take it to other parts of the country, which I was flying through. I got some money so it was a big deal, but I'm not sure I would do it again, it was so hard.

12- Tony Moore, you played in Iron Maiden, you flew from airport to airport doing shows.  Your experiences with music are really memorable...

- It is true! If I could only do one thing in my entire life, it would be to play music. This is special to me. Every day I try to spend a little time playing the piano or guitar, composing and working, even if I don't produce anything commercial. So I'm very passionate about playing wherever that is.  If people invite me to play in

somewhere, if I can schedule it I'd love to go there and play. I try to help in whatever I can, whether it's a music show or a concert, creating music and opportunities.

13- Tony, you who live music every day of your life, what advice would you give those people who want something more within this musical universe?

- There are three things I always say to people: you have to be original, innovate and not deviate. That means you have to be original in what you do. Even if you play rock, and rock has been played for the last 50 years, be original in the way you sound. The next thing you must do is be innovative. With times changing you have to find new ways to present what you do. Whether creating videos for youtube, or doing as I did, a tour of airports...  Find a different and innovative way to show your originality. And finally, most importantly: don't get sidetracked! Once you are passionate about something, you must go ahead and make it happen. Sometimes things will get in your way, sometimes challenges will try to stop you, and you will have to work to get around them. One thing I've learned is that people with authentic talent, and with genuine passion, they just move on. And when the time is right, they'll be ready for it, and they can start living their dreams.

14- What are your plans for the future?

- My priority is to work with the new artist Ilona. I met her about five years ago, and she had never done anything in the music industry, even though she had a wonderful voice. So all this time I've been working very closely with her, writing together, playing shows and guiding her music career. So my priority now is to take Ilona to the next level, for people to get to know her, understand and enjoy her music. And when possible we would love to spend time in Brazil, do shows and meet people.

15- Tony Moore, thank you very much for the interview and welcome to Rock Mania!

- Thank you very much! I thank everyone who listens, supports and is part of Rock Mania.  You guys are doing something great by keeping the rock spirit in everyone's hearts. One day, in the near future, I hope to go to Brazil, and take Ilona with me. People are welcome to find me on twitter, facebook or my website, which is, or else Ilona's website, which is Thanks for talking to me and asking great questions. Bye Bye!

Interview with Al Pitrelli

Held on 01/26/17

1- Hello, Al Pitrelli! Welcome to Rock Mania, it's a pleasure to do this work with you!

- Thank you very much for having me. It's a pleasure to be a part of today's program. Thank you!

2- What are you doing at the beginning of 2017?

- I've been involved with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra for many years now. I would say since 1999, maybe 2000 or 2001, that has turned into my full-time job, not just touring but recording with Paul O'Neill and Jon Oliva all year round.

3- Pitrelli, tell us about how you came to music?  

- I started at “New York Studio”, making different recordings, demos, recording with a lot of people... The first real show I did, I think it was in 1985, with Michael Bolton, when he was a more Rock And Roll, and so it made sense. If you listen to Michael Bolton today it's a little more “contemporary”, but back then he was a real rocker. So it was quite fun. From there I worked with several other artists, like John Lynn Turner, with whom I spent some time. And then, in 1989, I got my first big job as a music director with Alice Cooper.

4- Since you mentioned it, what was it like working with Alice Cooper?

- I worked on the tour for the album “Trash”. We recorded a DVD of the live performance in England. And then I worked with him on the “Hey Stoopid” record. I was their music director for about two years. And that was a lot of fun, I learned a lot from Alice, who is a great guy, a great teacher and obviously a great artist. So that was the first time I traveled the world, being in a really big rock band, playing arenas. It was a dream come true. It was a long time ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

5- And do you have contact with Alice Cooper currently?


- Not a lot. We cross paths from time to time, the world is pretty small these days. I saw him perform a few years ago, in some arena in the North. I played one night, he played the next night, and we were fortunate enough to stay in the same hotel. We had coffee together and talked a little. On facebook we ask ourselves how the families are doing. But we don't keep in touch as much because he's always as busy as I am.


6- Now remembering your time in the band Asia, with which you recorded two albums, Aqua and Aria. How was that period?


- It was amazing, because I got to work with some of my heroes. Working with Steve Howe, Geoff Downes and Carl Palmer. It was wonderful to record at Advision Studios in London, which is a very legendary studio. That was another dream come true. Playing with the guys who were from Yes, from Emerson, Lake & Palmer , from King Crimson, and then

record an album with them... Simon Phillips came in and played drums on some tracks. So I felt, as they say, "like a kid in a candy store." I was very happy.

7- And what was it like to play with Dee Sinder, in the band Widowmaker?

-It was really fun, because Dee only had Twisted Sister, and I was only with Alice Cooper. We lived in the same part of New York, we started writing songs together and became really good friends. So we started the band together. We recorded two albums, toured... We had a good time together. I think I spent 4 or 5 years with Dee, and today we're still in touch. He's a great guy, a great singer-songwriter, and a really good person to be around. He works very seriously and I learned a lot from him.

8- It must be really pleasant to be able to work with rock legends like Alice Cooper, Dee Snider...

- Yeah, and that's the best part, because sometimes I'm on stage and I look around, and I think inside my head, “Oh my God, this is Alice Cooper, this is Dee Snider. I grew up listening to their songs and now I'm playing their songs with them, or a new song I wrote with them.” It's a great achievement, I'm really proud to be able to continue working and playing with these legends. And there were so many that I've been together... The most recent was when I worked with Paul Rodgers, who came to play with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra last month at our last show. Being on stage with him and playing his music, which I played 40 years ago at my mom's house... It was the same thing when I worked with Joe Walsh, playing "Life's Been Good" and "Rocky Mountain Way" with Joe Walsh singing, and not with a cover band, was very emotional.

9- There are so many artists and bands you've played together. Another one is Megadeth. How was it playing with Dave Mustaine and company?


- It was great! Again, being able to work with someone that you admire musically, that you respect. I learned a lot from Dave Mustaine, he is such a talented musician, a great songwriter and a great guitarist. The whole band, terrific. It was the first time I was in a band where we were all the same age, there wasn't 15 or 20 years between us. He works so hard! We were in between touring and recording for almost two years straight. We did “Capitol Punishment”, where I play on a song (Editor's note: this record is a compilation album, and the only new song on it is “Kill The King”). And then “The World Needs A Hero” and “Rude Awakening”. It's a lot of work in two years, and we've toured all over. We went to places I didn't even know existed, but there were huge Megadeth fans all over the world. It was really fun. It made me a better guitar player, it made me appreciate this style of music much more, which is very difficult to

touch. We did the first Trans-Siberian Orchestra tour in 1999, and as soon as it was over I went to play with Megadeth for two years. So it was an interesting point in my life, which was good for me at that time. I got to work with different musicians and explore different styles of music, which I haven't had the opportunity to before. It's all a learning experience, every day I wake up and want to learn something new, and I've learned a lot working with David Ellefson, Dave Mustaine and Jimmy DeGrasso.

10- You had a not easy mission to replace Marty Friedman...

- It was probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do as a guitar player, because he's a great guitar player, with a very unique and different style. I wasn't very familiar with it. I heard him play, but learning his songs, learning his guitar solos, was very challenging. It really made me a lot more disciplined and a lot more focused on my work. And Dave didn't want to hear a version, he wanted to hear the solo exactly the way it was recorded. I grew up playing jazz and blues, where you don't play the same thing twice. Megadeth and Dave Mustaine play the exact same way every night, because that's what people in the audience want from them.

11- And Savatage, tell us how is this band that has many fans around the world...


- I started with them in 1995, and not long after that we released the album “Dead Winter Dead”. So immediately the Trans-Siberian Orchestra was born. So both bands went on for a while, but TSO got so big that it took all of our attention. So Savatage was inactive for a while... We performed at Wacken in 2015 as headliners, and it was great to play with the guys again. They're talking about hitting the road again, or maybe recording a new record, but I'm not sure when.

12- The Savatage that already lived good times in Brazil, isn't it?


- Yes Yes! I remember we played in Monsters Of Rock a few years ago (editor's note: in 1998). It was amazing to play our songs for so many people, it was exciting for the six of us to be on stage together again, and we really loved it. There were a lot of shows, a lot of good friends, and a lot of fun. We should go back to Brazil, we love to play there, you guys are crazy.


13- In the 90s, with you in the band, two albums were recorded: “Dead Winter Dead” and “The Wake Of Magellan”. What do you think of these albums?


- Both had very special moments. “Dead Winter Dead” was the first time I recorded with the band. On “The Wake Of Magellan” I wrote some songs, which I'm very proud of. I think it was great to play on those two albums, they both have great songs, and it was a time when the band was really strong.

14- How is your relationship with Jon Oliva?

- He's one of the nicest and happiest people I know, he's like a brother. We had a lot of fun together, and we also faced some problems together. He's a brilliant musician, songwriter, pianist, singer... He's definitely one in a million.

15- How is your job as a music director?

- As a music director you do a lot of everything. You have to be the boss, you have to be the bad guy sometimes. You need to know the parts of your instrument, and the parts of all other instruments as well. You have to be able to speak the musical language fluently. Sometimes you need to not speak in a musical language, because some people in the band may not understand. You need to be able to communicate not just with one singer, but with multiple singers. You have to make sure that every night, every show is a perfect show. I need to communicate with the team, and lead it. For example, if something goes wrong I have to fix it right there, because people in the audience want a great show, and it doesn't matter if something technically went wrong. My job is to react to circumstances and resolve the situation calmly. It's almost like being the coach of a football team. You have a lot of people around you and they are just guidance and they want to do a good job and my job is to help them learn to do a good job.

16- What do you not like about music?

- I don't know... Sometimes you hear bad things about record companies, sometimes you hear bad things about musicians. I think the most important thing is that you learn to live with both sides. The only thing I really don't like is having to be away from my family for a long time. If you have a good life at home you don't want to waste any time with your wife, your children, your family. And sometimes, being a musician, you need to get away from it all. You have to learn to balance that.

17- You've played in several bands, with different artists, I know there are many experiences in your life. But tell us about a defining moment in your career, one that comes to your mind right now.


- I think the most interesting moment was when I was playing with Alice Cooper. We were doing a show in London, and when I looked down, Jimmy Page was in the audience, watching our performance. Since I was a kid, I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, and that's something that will stay with me forever.

18- What tips would you give to musicians who are listening to us at the moment, and want something more within the music?

- Work really hard, you need to love it more than anything, because to do something for a long time and not make any money, you need to be passionate about it. You have to love it more than the air you breathe, or more than the blood in your veins. You have some of the best fighters in the world in your country, and I love MMA, I train every day to fight. I learned from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that you must love it, because it's painful, it's uncomfortable, it's horrible while you're doing it, but every day you get a little better. You're not doing it for the money, you're doing it because you love this art form that is music. You need to focus, be better than everyone else, and want it more than anything else. Don't worry about money, just worry about being great at something.

19- From now on, what are your next steps?

- I have a little free time now, and so I'm going back to work with Paul O'Neill and Jon Oliva on another Trans-Siberian Orchestra record. We're always making new records, making new music... And it's been 21 years of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra since me, Paul and Jon started it all. And I hope to do that for another 21 years. Also, what I started doing now is teaching. I'm taking students from all over the world, who want to learn something about the guitar, or about the business. I've been speaking at a lot of colleges because I like to give back as much as I can to this art form that has been so good to me for so many years.

20- Al Pitrelli, thank you very much for granting this interview to Rock Mania, and you are always welcome!

- Thank you very much for the interview! And all of you listeners, go to my facebook page: Al Pitrelli. We can keep in touch this way, I always answer all questions and everything you want to know. I'm always available to talk about it.

Interview with Roland Grapow

Held on 01/24/17

1- Hello, Roland Grapow! It is a pleasure to conduct this interview with you, welcome to Rock Mania!

- Thank you very much, I'm very happy to be part of Rock Mania!

2- What are you working on this beginning of the year?

- I'm really always very busy in my studio here in Slovakia. A lot of people know that I've lived here for about 12 or 13 years, and I have a studio. To be honest I'm only working on the Masterplan album, which is a special record. It's not a studio record, it's my old songs from the Helloween days that I wrote for the band and I'm now mixing it. I'm very, very close to finishing this album, maybe by the end of this week. The funny thing is I still have to sing some parts, which is a little weird. But I always leave it to capture it at the end, because Rick [Altzi, lead singer of Masterplan] was singing those parts six months ago, in July, August, something like that. And I was trying to improve my performance for the vocal parts, because I wanted to do some clean vocals, kind of from the Michael Kiske era, from the old songs I wrote for “Pink Bubbles Go Ape” or “Chameleon”, just to get tones. many different. So, we will have two singers on this record.

3- Will we then have a Masterplan album with only Helloween songs?


- Yes, it's a Masterplan record. I think I'll say this for the first time: the name of the album is “Pumpkings”. It's just a word, it's not "Pumpkin", it's "Pumpkings". It's a little joke, because of Masterplan's “Time To Be King”. I wish I had given it another name at first, but the record company didn't like it... I had the idea to call it “Smashing Pumpkins”, and now the album is called “Pumpkings”. We don't have a release date, but I'm sure when I deliver the tape and the mix, in a week or two, maybe after three or four months it will be out.

4- Tell us a little about your work as a music producer...

- It's hard to say, because when I got into the music business... Well, everyone knows that before I joined Helloween I had a normal life as an amateur musician. And in Helloween I had a good life. It was 4 or 5 hours a day recording or studying guitar, practicing and having a lot of free time. But now I'm working a lot. I'm working a lot and having a lot of fun. I am working 7 days a week, most of them from 10 or 11 am to 8 or 9 pm. So it's a lot more than what ordinary people normally work on, and I love that. I mix, I record, I have a lot of work, but I'm very happy, I'm very busy.

5- Roland, let's go back in time, to the time when you played in the band Rampage. Tell us about those times...

- I'll talk briefly about before Rampage... When I started I was 12 years old, and I only played Grand Funk Railroad covers. I wasn't in a band yet, I was learning to play guitar and sing at the same time. So at 16 I had my first kind of band, and it was a lot of weird and crazy names... And so I think I made my name in Hamburg, where all the young people recognized me as one of the best musicians in town. Then they invited me to join the band Rampage. It was really exciting, before long we had a record, I think I was 19 years old.

We worked on the first album in a really professional studio. That might not seem like much to people these days, but in the 70s going into a studio was something very special. Nowadays everyone has their “home studios”, and they can record in their own homes, basically. But at that time it was impossible. So we did two albums with Rampage, and we played a lot in the Hamburg area. We never played around the world or anything like that, or even all over Germany, just Hamburg and beyond. We all had regular jobs. But at that time Michael Weikath saw me playing a Rampage gig, which is why much later I went to Helloween.

6- And your solo albums, “The Four Seasons Of Life” and “Kaleidoscope”, what do they represent for you?

- I think I needed to do that. It's hard to explain now after so many years, because I released my first solo record about 20 years ago. Oh my God, time is running out... I joined Helloween and I was quite well known in Hamburg, as I told you, and as a good guitarist I always had my heroes. I think all musicians do. At first I had Michael Schenker, Uli Roth... But then after I joined Helloween I saw that I needed someone more special, maybe a little more Yngwie Malmsteen. And when I made my first solo record I wanted to take this neoclassical style, not as much as he did, but that style influenced me a lot. On the other hand, I was also trying to sing, and I thought it would be easier, but it wasn't so easy, because I did everything at home, in my really small studio back then, and I was very inexperienced as a recording engineer, producer, and mixer. . So I did everything on my own and I thought it would be easy, but it wasn't. A lot of people loved it, and I was really happy. Two years later I recorded the album “Kaleidoscope”. So I decided to have real drums, a different production and a mixing guy like Michael Wagener. I was still a fan of Yngwie, so I got Mike Terrana, Barry Sparks on bass, and Michael Vescera on vocals (editor's note: they've all played with Malmsteen). I love this disc! I think his songs sound better, but the first record is more like me, more personal. If I had the opportunity to re-record it now I would, but the old methods don't work anymore. My first solo record was a long time ago, I used a lot of old techniques, but that's gone! I'm really proud of it, but I think at that time I spent more time with Helloween...

7- After leaving Helloween you created Masterplan, releasing the album that bears the band's name. How did all this happen?

- I think it was the most special record of my life, don't get me wrong, all the records I've made in the past really express my possibilities, my abilities. I was a huge fan of many genres, and I wanted to show that to people. Sometimes I wasn't happy with a song, sometimes I was ok, but I was never really happy. But when we recorded Helloween's 'The Dark Ride' album with Charlie Bauerfeind and Roy Z... I think Roy Z was one of the guys who changed my musical direction.

We had a lot of problems back then in Helloween, everyone knows what “Dark Ride” means in the band's history, the roller coaster of those circumstances, we had a lot of discussions. The band members told me that they didn't like my guitar playing style anymore, the "Yngwie style". I should go back to being the Roland Grapow of the Rampage days, and play the basics.  So on “The Dark Ride”, when I listen to my solos, they are different, totally different from before, less neoclassical. And then when we left the band, Uli Kusch and I, we started Masterplan and we understood: this is a new beginning, we can't stop there, so we must produce something from this experience with Helloween, with the love of our heroes, like Rainbow, Deep Purple...

I was a big fan of Toto, Styx, Foreigner, Journey... And then we merged the whole experience with Helloween into Masterplan. When you play 12 years in a Power Metal band, which I can say was basically invented by Helloween... That's my point of view. So everything on Masterplan on the first and second records was amazing. We found a singer like Jørn (Lande) who has a totally different style. The guitar and drums were more or less on a level next to what we had done before, and Jørn took that and put it on a higher level. I was very proud when we started Masterplan as a band.

8- Grapow, how was it playing with Ingo Schwichtenberg, who passed away in 1995? You who recorded two albums together, “Pink Bubbles Go Ape” and “Chameleon”.

- It was difficult, not to record, but the beginning... Because he never liked me as a person, and I'm honest with you, when you join a band you are the newbie. Some people have treated me with open arms and hands, like of course Michael Weikath and Michael Kiske. And Markus (Grosskopf), of course! Markus is the nicest guy on the planet, he's a really nice guy. But Ingo has always been a supporter of Kai (Hansen), and he never gave me much of a chance. So I had really hard times for the first two, three years. When I wrote the first songs for "Pink Bubbles" it was after those years, imagine... I joined the band at the end of 1988, at Christmas, and then we went on tour in 1989. In 1990 nothing happened because of the problems we had with Noise Records. And so I wrote the first songs for “Pink Bubbles” and he said, “Wow, that's good!”. He really loved “The Chance”, “Someone's Crying”, “Mankind”. That's when I realized that he finally respected me. But really, anyway, it wasn't easy being in the band, not just because of him. The situation, being the rookie even though I'm the oldest in the band... I've always heard that I was very insecure, inexperienced. And then I thought: “what is going on with these crazy people?”. A lot of people asked why I, being Kai's replacement, wrote the most heavy metal songs, and the rest of the band didn't. You can imagine the situation... Ingo was a kind guy, but he wasn't as easy to deal with as people might think.

9- You lived two remarkable phases in the history of Helloween, one with Michael Kiske and another with Andi Deris. Do you have a preference for any of them?

- It's hard to say because I think they both have really strong parts, they both have different roles. Many fans say “A” is right, “B” is right. I think both are great! It's the same with guitarists, people might prefer Kai or me or Sascha. But Michael Kiske started the band for me. For me it started. Okay, fans would say, "Kai was the lead singer." But not for me.  When I listen to “Walls Of Jericho” I never like the sound. “How Many Tears” is great with Michael Kiske. Michael Kiske was like “Wow!” to me.  When I heard it I said it was really one of the reasons I joined the band. He has a really good voice and I love him singing.  But Andi Deris has different qualities. He's a great songwriter, I love his songs. Some of my favorite Helloween songs he wrote, especially the ballads or “If I Could Fly”, that kind of song I love. So, as I said, it has different characteristics. Maybe it's not the best to play the old songs, but everything he wrote, for me, it's perfect. If Michael Kiske had to sing “If I Could Fly” or other Andi Deris material, it wouldn't work so well. I think every singer, every musician has their strengths, and they should never copy other people. So I think they're both great, and I love them both.

10- Roland, do you have any contact with any member or ex-member of Helloween currently?

- We don't call each other, but I saw Unisonic two years ago with Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske. We just talked. Kai was in my studio last year, visiting me, because he comes to Slovakia a lot. I went to two Helloween shows, one in Slovakia and one in Finland. And I had a few meetings with Michael Weikath, it was small talk, nothing special, nothing about old-time problems. I am not

I want to talk about it more. For me it's over, I don't want those kind of bad feelings. I just want to speak well of the people I've worked with, and not look for bad topics, because there's no reason to.

11- Let's change the subject now. You recorded the album “As Daylight Breaks”, with the band Serious Black. How was that job?


- It was something very spontaneous, because the guys asked me if I wanted to join the band, and I said: “ok, let's try”. Nowadays many people play in various bands. Kai plays in Unisonic and Gamma Ray, and now he plays in Helloween. So I said, "let's try". But I quickly realized after recording... They wanted to go on tour for 6 weeks, and all that time I would be away from Masterplan, because I had a lot of work in the studio, recording and mixing bands from all over the world.

So I said it wasn't possible for me, it was too much. Touring makes sense when you make a lot of money, but when you're backing Hammerfall with Serious Black on a 6-week tour, you come home and find you've made less money than if you'd stayed home. That doesn't make much sense. But it's a great band, and I love their music, especially the first record where I recorded all the guitar bases, and about 60% of the solos. It was a lot of fun, and it turned out good, they're good songs.

12- Another work of yours is with the band Level 10. In 2015 you released the album “Chapter One”. Will we have “Chapter Two” by any chance?

- I don't know, but I would love to do it, because I'm a huge fan and friend of Russell Allen. It was Mat Sinner who invited me. He wrote to me and I was very happy that he had “put me in the picture”. So I answered Russell yes. It was really like teamwork, using the Internet more as a connection. They sent me the files, I played the guitars, but I never saw them. I'd love it if it was like the old school recordings, but... Level 10 is really cool, but I'd love to be able to be closer to the guys, talking about what we could do. I would love to work more closely. But of course I'll be happy if we shoot the second part.

13- Grapow, what do you not like about music?


- Music business is not so easy anymore. Like I said, I basically work a lot more in the studio now, and I don't play the guitar much anymore, to be honest. I'm famous because I played guitar in Helloween and Masterplan, but most of the time I don't play my instrument anymore. When I play I feel like, “Oh, what's going on?”. I feel a little weird after a few months without playing. I live off of music, I love music, music is everything to me!  I started, as I told you, when I was 12 years old. I feel a little frustrated that we have to work a lot harder to achieve the same level of recognition or money as before. We have to live with the

downloads, a problem that started a few years ago. We thought, “Oh, who cares?”. And today everyone is affected, everyone in the world, famous people... To be honest, that's one of the reasons everyone is doing these classic band reunion tours: it's to make some money. But it's not just Helloween that is doing something like this, many other bands too. Perhaps we will do the same. Maybe we'll have a Masterplan meeting, with Jørn, Uli... We don't know. We all remained friends, we all liked each other. But that's the main reason, and I think we get tired of seeing all this. Scorpions announced their last tour 5 years ago and are still playing. They said it was the last tour, and it's still going on. I think it's all about business, about money and surviving. And that's the difference: in the 90s, or 80s, we had perhaps the best moment of Heavy Metal.

14- Roland, as a music producer, what advice would you give to bands who want to look for something more within music?

- I think it's very important for musicians to be focused when they play. If you play really well live, you should also play really well in the studio. I realize that many musicians who come to my studio have never had a band together. They just do projects. For example: a great guitar player who has never played with a drummer, who has only played with electronic drums, he comes and creates something in my studio. In the old days we played together, we felt together, watching each other. It was dynamic. And they don't have that anymore these days, and that ends up making my job difficult. These people don't have the same experience we had, growing up with Hendrix, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Sweet and all these great bands. All of them are still playing, and playing well live, and some of their musicians are already 70 years old... I'm about to turn 60 soon, I'm a little worried that time is running so fast. Well, when people just play to the computer all the time, I think that's not the right way.

15- What do you think about Brazil?

- What could I say? A few years ago I had a girlfriend in Brazil. I have good friends there, like Samir, from São Paulo. I don't know if he's listening to this but that's okay. The musician Renato Tribuzy continues to write to me every Christmas, and on birthdays. Those kind of nice people, and also a lot of fans and old friends I have there. I would love to come back soon. It's like coming home.

16- From now on, what are your next steps?

- We will release this record soon, as I told you at the beginning, of my songs from the Helloween times with Masterplan, called “Pumpkings”. We don't know if we're going to tour, we need to see people's reactions, and what the record company is planning. But I'll also play with some projects, like with a band called Kreyson. This guy is a very good singer, he has classics from the 80's and 90's.  He sings loud, and invited me to

join this band to do some shows together. It's not public yet, but I think I can say that Mike Terrana will be with us. And we're playing some festivals this summer with this “old classic” band, Kreyson. More stuff is coming, we have some Masterplan shows confirmed, and we'll see what happens.


17- Roland Grapow, thank you very much for the interview and Rock Mania is always available!


- Thank you very much for the interview, it was great! Hope to see you soon... Bye, bye!

Interview with Tim Ripper Owens

Held on 10/11/16

1- Hello, Ripper! It is a pleasure to carry out this interview. Welcome to Rock Mania!


- Thank you thank you! It's good to be here!

2- Ripper, how did you see your last tour that also passed through Brazil?


- This tour is a little different, we played a little acoustic, and also with the full band. I just want to do something different. Every time I come to South America I play different setlists, so this is probably more of a rare set. I love coming here, I love Brazil. And this was a different set, a little more fun, something special that I haven't done elsewhere.


3- How do you see the audience's reaction to the acoustic part of the show?


- Usually when I do the acoustic show I have my own guitar player who performs with me in America. But here I have Kiko (Shred), and the two are a little different. I know some people don't like acoustic performances, but it's like switching off and playing a little acoustic. And it's actually harder to sing an acoustic than it is with the band. But then we stopped, and came back with the band. This isn't our normal kind of set, but it's fun, it's fun to do. But I really prefer to play with the whole band.

4- I would now like you to talk about the band Charred Walls Of The Damned.

- We just released a new record, it came out on September 23rd. It's an excellent team, with Richard Christy on drums, who has played in Death and Iced Earth, and is now on “The Howard Stern Show”. And then we have Steve DiGiorgio on bass and Jason Suecof on guitar, he's a producer and music engineer for bands like Trivium and Death Angel. So they're great musicians, great songs... The new album is shorter, we went straight to the point, with catchy choruses. I really think it's the best, it's my favorite Charred Walls Of The Damned record. We have three records, and this is my favorite.

5- With your solo band you recorded the album “Play My Game”, in 2009. Are there plans to record a new work with the band Tim Ripper Owens?

- Yes, I intend to record a new solo album. I have some songs that I wrote with my guitarist John Comprix, who recorded with me on the Beyond Fear record. We're probably not going to record a new Beyond Fear album, but rather use these songs for a new solo record. And I have another band called Project Rock, which has Rudy Sarzo, Keri Kelli and James Kottak. But, the record is pretty much finished and ready to go, and it's going to sound more like straight Hard Rock.

6- Since you mentioned Beyond Fear, how is this project?

- The problem is that it's hard to record a new Beyond Fear album, because it costs money to do it. And touring with the band is not accessible, it's difficult to tour. My dilemma is that I'm still a solo artist, I'm not into music these days to spend on things, and when I go on tour I make money. So doing something with Beyond Fear remains difficult. Record companies don't pay to make music anymore, you have to pay to make music yourself, and I can't pay to go on tour with the band, that's not possible.

7- What do you not like about music?

- I think downloading a song, not the download itself, but stealing a song and getting it for free. I'm also not a huge fan of streaming music, I know you pay a little for it. But illegal downloading is one thing I don't like. I currently download music, I use iTunes and I probably buy 75% more music because of iTunes, because when I'm traveling I buy music all the time. But, me being in the music industry, I wouldn't recommend some young boy to get into it, not these days. I'm lucky to be able to make a living as a musician. But when people try to give me advice, like “Tim, you should just stick with one band”, they don't know the music industry, you don't make money. The music industry has probably done this to itself, the labels and record stores selling everything very expensive... It's still there, people are still consuming music and new bands are coming up, so it means it's there.

8- Ripper, let's now remember a little about the times of Iced Earth. What do you have to tell us?

- It was good, we recorded great records, we did great tours. I was very lucky to go from Judas Priest to Iced Earth. I like “Framing Armageddon” better. But in the end it didn't work out, Jon (Schaffer) just kept thinking about how to get Matt (Barlow) back... And it was better for everyone, and it was definitely better for me after it was all over. But it was great, and I had a good time.

9- And what was it like working with Yngwie J. Malmsteen, one of the greatest guitarists in the world?

- I had a good time with Yngwie, he's a fun guy. Man, he loves to play guitar. I've never met anyone before who loves playing as much as he does. I never announced to the world that I stopped singing with Yngwie, but I'm always very busy with my solo work. He'd ask me to do a show, and I'd say, “look, I'm on tour”… So I kind of quietly left. But I adore him and would sing with him again.

10- Ripper, I couldn't help but ask you about Judas Priest. What was it like being in the band, and recording the Jugulator and Demolition albums?

- I love records. I love them more now than when we recorded them. I didn't hear much of them for a long time, just the songs I would have to sing. But I played the Demolition record and it has so many great songs on it. Judas Priest each time makes different records, they change, and that's why I love Judas Priest. But it was a great time, I love the guys. I had the best time of my life. We're still great friends, and I'm friends with Rob and all of them. We did that when Heavy Metal was in a really bad spot, from 1996 to 2000, Heavy Metal was really bad. So releasing those records at the time was a huge effort. In the end, the right decision, Rob rejoined the band, I left, but I tell you: I love the records, they're fantastic!

11- Do you travel a lot performing, as you do the Metal scene around the world?   

- I think it's all very similar. What's funny about America is people see me doing a world tour and they say, "Man, the scene in America is good." And it really is! I tour America, but I don't do that much. One of the reasons is that everybody tours these days, a lot of bands, a lot of people... But the crowd is amazing everywhere, whether it's a hundred or ten thousand people, the shows are different and it's great! I think the Metal scene is really cool right now.

12- Do you have any kind of care with your voice?

- All singers do different things, I try not to talk too much. During the day I don't talk much. I try to sleep. Not that I sleep all day, I try to get my normal sleep. When I go back to the hotel after shows I usually sleep. I drink a lot of water. I try to take care of my voice. When I'm at home I go to the gym every morning... My voice is really weird because some singers can stay up late and do whatever they want, and they still sing well. But I have to watch my voice and be very careful, and I can't do anything. One thing I try to do is walk on stage and sing the best I can at every show, that's my job. I love trying to sing exactly as I sing on the record, or even better.

13- Tim Ripper Owens, thank you very much for the interview and Rock Mania is always available!

- Thank you very much, and I look forward to the next time we will do this again. Thanks man, I liked it! Thank you!

Interview with Blaze Bayley

Held on 06/21/16

1- Hello Blaze Bayley, you are touring Brazil again, how is it going? Welcome to Rock Mania!

- Hello, thanks! It's going really well, it's the "Infinite Entanglement" tour, which is my new CD. And it's a concept record, it's the first disc of three. This is part 1, and all the songs tell stories. Part 1 is a story a hundred years in the future, about a man who has to leave his home on a one-way mission to find a new world. It shows the questions he asks himself. Then, next year, part 2 will come out, and then part 3. So far all my fans have really liked the concept album idea, and it's been doing really well. The new songs, some of them are on Youtube, and they definitely seem to be really enjoying it. So, it's going very well and I'm very happy to be here in Brazil. Now it's winter, and I usually come in summer. And this is one of the coldest winters in Brazil in many years, and I'm very surprised, it's very cold. But I I love seeing my Brazilian fans, who have been so supportive for so many years. Even when no one believed in Blaz and Bayley, or when people say it's over for Blaze Bayley, the Brazilian fans stand by me, they stand by me, and they make me feel that it's really worth coming to Brazil. And no matter what my life is like, I come to Brazil and I see my fans and I feel really good.

Photo: Julian Gray

2- How is your new album “Infinite Entanglement” doing around the world?

- I'm very, very lucky, because my fans around the world, many of them say this CD is the best I've made since Iron Maiden. So I'm very lucky, I'm very happy to have that reaction. I've toured all over Europe, and the reaction from my fans in Europe is really, really, really good! And it's an amazing feeling to hear them singing the new songs, and everyone knows the lyrics, they sing with me, it's a fantastic feeling. So I'm very happy! The tour continues until the first of October. It's the last date of the "Infinite Entanglement" tour. This is the CD, and this is the main character (Blaze takes the CD and shows him the cover). And all the songs are about this man, who doesn't know if he's human. This is the question he asks himself. “Human”, this is one of the main songs on this album.

3- Is this you? (I ask Blaze pointing out the character on the CD cover)

- Yes, it's a version. It's a little like me, the shape. It's for people to remember me, in the future, when my human body is gone and I have a machine body, that's what I'll look like.

4- Blaze, Heavy Metal fans really like concept albums. You said this record is the first of a trilogy. What do you intend to convey with this work?

- Well, I think I'm very lucky, and this is the right time. I thought it was a dangerous idea to tell people, "I want to tell you a story in three parts, you won't have the whole story now." But everyone said, "yes, I liked that, and now I'm going to wait for the second part." So I'm very lucky, I'm very happy! I already have some songs that I'm working on for part 2 and part 3.

When we started, we had more time to write. In August and September we did some rehearsals, and I'm really excited about it.

5- In this record we have many parts spoken, as if it were a dialogue. I particularly found this very cool! Tell us why these narratives?

- Thanks! I'm lucky to have a friend to whom I said "I need some voice actors but I don't have any money because I'm independent and I have little money to make the album".  Then one of his friends named Rob “Too Good” who is a professional actor came and recorded the album for free. I was very lucky that he helped with his voice, it turned out really good.

6- Blaze Bayley, now going back to the times of Iron Maiden, to the albums “The X Factor” and “Virtual XI”, tell us a little about that time.

- For me, coming to Brazil with “The X Factor” and touring the album was fantastic, we had the support of fans all over the country. We performed at “Monsters Of Rock”, which was one of the biggest shows I've ever played in my life. And really, the most important thing was that people in Brazil welcomed me with their hearts. And that's why for me this is a special place to come and sing. So I have a lot of fond memories of “The X Factor” and “Virtual XI”.

On my current set list I play a song from the album “Best Of The Beast” called Virus, with my own arrangements on that song, and the fans seem to really like it because they've never heard it live with Iron Maiden. I still play Iron Maiden songs at my shows, but I also play a lot of my own songs, because I have eight albums from my solo career. But... Those were really good days for me, and I'm still friends with the Iron Maiden guys. I saw them at the Download Festival, in England, this year... So that was a really good time for me, with memories that I will cherish, for being part of a legend, and for being part of something that defines what is heavy metal. This is a very special thing for me. When I was young I would buy Iron Maiden records, I would listen to them when I was at work. When I was young I saw Iron Maiden three times. So it's very special to me, because every Heavy Metal and Iron Maiden fan knows the names of every former Iron Maiden member. All fans know who I am. Some of them don't like me, fine, and some do. But that was a big time for me, and part of my music history that I'm very proud of.

7- After your departure from Iron Maiden you released the album “Silicon Messiah”. I think this is a very important album in your career... 

- Yea! Because a lot of the ideas from the “Silicon Messiah” record were worked out to be on the next Iron Maiden record, but I left. So Born As A Stranger, Silicon Messiah, Ghost In The Machine, The Launch and Stare At The Sun are songs that I was going to work with Steve Harris and Dave Murray, but I didn't get the chance.

8- Blaze, you said during your show in Pomerode, that now you are living your dream, you are living your own music. What does this mean for you?

- What it means is that there are thousands of musicians who would love to live writing and playing music full time. And I'm very lucky to be writing, recording, playing, going on tour. I make enough money to pay my rent, and that's pretty cool. Many people have to work a job they don't like just for the money. When I was young I dreamed of being a singer and traveling the world, and today I am a singer and traveling the world. So I'm very lucky, I'm living my dream. It took a long time to get to this post. It's been 30 years since I started all this. So, it's a long time, and a long way to get here. But I'm living my dream, and the people who make it possible are all my fans around the world, all my fans who believe in me, and buy concert tickets, buy t-shirts, buy CD's. They make it possible for me to continue being a professional singer, and for that, I feel very honored that people include me in their lives.

9- And the band Wolfsbane, how is it? Are you still together?

- We're still together, but we're all very, very busy. So it's hard to find time. We have some ideas for the next record, and we hope to get time this year to write something, and we hope to have a new record next year.

10- How do you choose the bands that play with you on each continent? Do you rehearse?

- In Western Europe I work with a band called Absolva, which for many years was called Fury UK. I've known them for many years. And I don't want to be in a full-time band again, it's just too stressful for me. I like to sing, I like to perform, but I'm not a businessman, it's a lot of stress to have a band. I've tried many times to do this, but it's too much for me. No, I like working with different bands. The band in Europe is Absolva. They recorded the album with me, and they will record the next two as well. And live, in Brazil, I work with the guys from The Best Maiden Tribute. I've known them for a long time, they like my songs, and we do some rehearsals, everything goes really well. In Russia, the promoter selects the best Heavy Metal musicians, and we have some rehearsals, and it's really good! So this is how I work. Whenever I can I like to be with my European band, but I also really enjoy coming to Brazil, I'm friends with the guys and it's really cool to play with them and see them.

12- At the end of this clip you talk about the song, it reminded me of your album “Soundtracks Of My Life”, where in the booklet you talk about each song. Do you like to do this?


- No, not really. But my fans are interested in that. I think sometimes it's better to talk about the songs so people get the idea, because sometimes people can get the wrong idea, and I don't want that. So I talk about the songs so people understand the feelings, and where the ideas come from.

11- Recently I watched a clip of you with guitarist Thomas Zwijsen, where you sing the song “Blood Brothers”, by Iron Maiden. How did the idea to record this song come about?

- The last time I was on tour in Brazil, last year, Thomas Zwijsen had “Blood Brothers” on his set list. I was just listening, on the side of the stage, I already knew the song from “Brave New World”. And I said to Thomas, "If you want to record this in a studio, we can do it." And we did. I really like her, she reminds me a lot of the song “Sign Of The Cross”, the feelings, emotions and powerful impressions,  and also the “Judgement Of Heaven”. It reminds me of these songs that I really like, and it feels really good to sing it. Steve Harris is a great composer of this style. And I think the feeling is too strong, the world is crazy, crazy, crazy. But really, if we can become brothers and think about our children, and not let politicians control everything, then if we consider ourselves brothers maybe we can eliminate violence, eliminate evil. So, it's a very strong feeling.


Many of my songs are about finding within yourself the strength to carry on even under difficult circumstances. That's something that's part of my job, and I think it's important because sometimes, when English isn't your primary language, you can misunderstand. Even when English is your first language, people still get it wrong. So that's the idea, getting people to understand, it's a positive experience.

13- After this tour, what will be Blaze Bayley's next steps?

- Well, it's three albums, this is part one. I'm writing all the time, trying to get the lyrics, trying to get the melodies. And a lot of the time I'm on tour. I keep working and trying to make an album that is as good as “Infinite Entanglement”. I need to, and it's a big task to do, because I've been very lucky, in many circumstances, crazy things have happened. But even with a lot of problems, a lot of good things happened between mistakes and accidents. It's a big challenge trying to find the words and the songs to make a record as good as this one, it's a big challenge for me.


14- And next year will you come to Brazil again?

- I hope so, I hope to return to Brazil next year.


15- Blaze Bayley, thank you very much for this interview, Rock Mania is always at your disposal!

- Thank you, thank you and all my fans in Brazil for the support! Thank you very much!

Photo: Julian Gray

Interview with Warren Dane

Held on 02/06/16

1- Hello, Warren Dane! It is a pleasure to be conducting this interview with you, how are you? Welcome to Rock Mania!


WD- Hello, it's a pleasure for me too, how are you? I'm currently in South America, in a very, very dark country... No, of course I'm kidding, I'm in Brazil now.


2- Coming back  straight back in time to the 80s, to the Sanctuary albums “Refuge Denied” and “Into The Mirror Black”. Tell us about these two masterpieces in the history of Metal…


WD- Well, “Refuge Denied” was a very special experience, because I had my first meeting with Dave Mustaine, who is actually a very nice person, a very good person, who gets a very bad reputation in the press. And I will always give him my respect, because he gave me the opportunity to start in the music business… “Refuge Denied” is very interesting, because we were practically kids when we recorded that record. And on “Into The Mirror Black” we were much more mature, and I think “Into The Mirror Black” is my favorite.

But maybe the newest record, “The Year The Sun Died”, which we recorded 25 years later, is my favorite too, I'm not sure.


3- I would like you to talk about the video for “Future Tense”, which played a lot here in Brazil, at the time of Fúria Metal, on MTV. This clip marked my adolescence a lot. How was it recorded? Tell us about him...


WD- We shot that video the day Stevie Ray Vaughan died. And at that time we worked in the same company as him. So it was a really, really weird recording. We shot it in the hills, somewhere in Hollywood, where all the trees had been burned. And we were all freaked out, because obviously we were all huge Stevie Ray Vaughan fans, and that was the day he died, right on the day that video was shot.

4- You mentioned “The Year The Sun Died”, tell us more about this record, released 25 years after “Into The Mirror Black”...


WD- The best explanation I can give is that it's like going to bed with your ex-girlfriend, you already know how it's going to be, but you wait for something new to happen. But that's how I see it, I knew what I was getting into and I'm very proud of this record. But, I have to tell you that we already have two new songs, and they are being recorded, and they are wonderful. We're going to continue with the band, and I'm going to continue with my solo career as well, and that's my focus right now. “The Year The Sun Died” is very special to me because, it's really more than just getting back together with your ex-girlfriend, it's like you getting back together with four ex-girlfriends that you've never had sex with. I think this is the best way to compare it.


5- Going back even further, tell us about your work with the band Serpent's Knight, that you recorded the album “Released From The Crypt”...


WD- It was actually a demo tape, which was released without my consent, and I never saw a dime from the sales of that record. And I'm ashamed of that recording, if you really want to know the truth. I was singing like shit, like I was sucking on helium. And we were in pictures as Mötley Crüe, and the guitarist desperately wanted his 15 minutes of fame, and he got the record released because of my name. I couldn't do anything about it, and I'm still pissed, I hate this record and I think it sucks.

6- Tell us now about your solo band, and your album "Praises To The War Machine".


WD - "Praises To  The War Machine" was released a few years ago, and now I'm in Brazil working on my new solo album  with my brazilian band,  with Thiago, Fábio, Jhonny and Marcos. We are working on some cover songs, as well as some original songs. The album will be called "Shadow Work" and should be released this year.   


7- Now speaking of Nevermore, the  what does this band mean in your life?


WD- Nevermore is my baby. I started Nevermore three  days after the Sanctuary ends. We started out as a Power Metal band, and then we turned into a kind of pseudo New Metal band. We started out using 7-inch guitars  strings, which initially didn't make me very happy. The door is not closed. I will just tell you that the door is not closed to the Nevermore. Nevermore didn't break. Two members left the band, Jeff Loomis and Van Williams, and that's all I can say about it.


8- Have you studied vocal techniques? Did you prepare to be a vocalist? And currently, do you take care of your voice?


WD- Yes, I had 5 years of voice training with an opera teacher in Seattle. And I try to take care of my voice as much as I can. When I'm on tour, when I'm away from home, it's not the easiest thing in the world. But I had a great teacher at the Cornish Institute of Arts in Seattle. And sometimes I come back to visit her. She is the best teacher I could ever have.


9- Warrel Dane, you have a degree in Philosophy, Theology and Sociology. Do you use the knowledge acquired from these studies in the lyrics of your songs?


WD- I really have experience in all those fields you mentioned, and of course that all comes to my mind when I'm writing the lyrics. I just want people to know that there's something deeper in the lyrics, more than just a "Fuck, Kill, Die", and crap like that.  I know a lot of people don't care about the lyrics, but I also know that a lot of people care about them, so I take a lot of time when I'm writing. I hope it works, but I don't know.


10- You are also a chef. Do you like cooking? What Brazilian foods do you like the most?


WD- Of course I love feijoada. And yes, I love to cook. I used to go to an Italian restaurant in Seattle, so I have a lot of experience with Italian food. I've been making my special pasta, with creamy gorgonzola sauce, for many of my friends here, and I don't think I've had any negative comments yet. This is one of my favorite dishes. And I love to make gnocchi, I love to make lasagna, and I'm working on a secret plan to make a gorgonzola lasagna, which I've never tried before, but I'm always thinking of new things to try when I'm cooking, and yes, cooking is mine. second passion. I was trained by a guy from Naples, Vincenzo Motla, who taught me all about Italian food. After my father died, he was my mentor and one of my best friends, taught me a lot about cooking, about the restaurant industry. After a while, Nevermore bassist Jim Sheppard and I bought his restaurant because he wanted to get rid of it.

When we came back from a tour, the staff were taking advantage of us because they were like, “Oh, they're rockers, they're Metalheads, they won't even notice”. But we noticed, and we fired them all. I had a lot of fun firing them. I played the song “Walk” by Pantera at high volume on the cd player in the kitchen. They didn't know what was to come. When it came to the part of the song “Walk on home, boy”, I said: “you are fired, get out of here”. I think this is an interesting story, it's kind of sick, but I liked it.

11- What were the most outstanding shows in your career so far?


WD- I think one of the shows, that I can consider the most memorable, was Dynamo Festival, with Nevermore, around 1995, I'm not sure what year it was exactly. But, we were the first band, we started at noon, so we were the lunch band, and we were all very nervous, because there were about 110,000 people at that show. But it turned out to be an amazing show, until we found out that some of the band members had eaten cannabis muffins before the show, but all went well. Only then did the words get a little awkward.


12- How do you see the Metal scene nowadays?


WD- I see the metal scene in Seattle really being revived now. There are a lot of good underground bands there. Death Metal, Thrash Metal, all kinds of Metal, to be honest. And during the grunge boom it was really hard for all these bands, because nobody respected us. They looked at us with contempt, as if we were inferior musicians. And that kind of feeling about metal in Seattle remained. But the scene is changing right now, there are a lot of really good bands. Let's see what the future holds. What I do know is that I get a lot of support from my friends who play in bands there like Silent Ended, Drawn And Quartered and Ghost Ship Octavius, obviously because Matt Wicklund is playing in that band too. So there's really good metal in Seattle. And as for the rest of the world... Screw it! Metal is still big. It's been exciting to be able to tour solo around the world, even without Nevermore, and sometimes attracting more audiences than the Nevermore shows. It's “strange and beautiful”, to quote the name of the Crimson Glory record.


13- What do you not like about music?


WD- Dude, this is a heavy question. I won't say exactly what I don't like, I can tell you my favorite musical styles, which are Heavy Metal and Rock. I'm not a big rap fan, but I like Eminem a little bit. I love Lana Del Rey, and we're working with the current band on a cover of her song, "Dark Paradise." When I look for songs to cover, I always look at the lyrics before the song, obviously because I'm a lyricist. It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Gothic music. I love The Sisters Of Mercy, and I really love Bauhaus.

I covered these two bands, on my solo album I recorded “Lucretia, My Reflection”, and with Nevermore I recorded “Silent Hedges” and “Double Dare”. I love all kinds of music, but you know, basically I'm a Metalhead. But I keep my mind open, and when I like music, I like music, whether it's a Britney Spears song, "Oops!...I Did It Again." It was Max Martin, a brilliant guy from Sweden who wrote this song. That girl can't sing live, but she looks good. There are a lot of girls like her. I have a lot of respect for Lady Gaga, and I love her music, because she writes all her songs, she writes all her lyrics. She might not be super hot and not even a teenager, but you have to have respect for someone who does that in the music industry.

14- From now on, what are your next steps?


WD- My next steps... I'm currently in Brazil working on a new record, and we're covering some of my favorite songs, like The Cure's “Hanging Garden”, which we're turning into a brutal Death song by Thrash, sounding almost like Behemot, which by the way, is one of my favorite bands. And we are also making our own songs, we are working on this record that will be called “Shadow Work”. And that's what we're doing.


15- Warrel Dane, thank you very much for the interview, and Rock Mania is always available. A big hug!


WD- A big hug back to you, and to all Rock Mania listeners and readers! Thank you very much for the interview, thank you very much for your time! And I just want to say to everyone listening: Start your own religion, because the ones we currently have aren't working.

Interview with Kobra Paige

Held on 08/01/15

1- Kobra Paige, it's a pleasure for me to do this interview, welcome to Rock Mania!


- Thank you very much! I am very happy to be here.


2- Kobra, what are you currently doing?


- We've just finished a UK tour, and we're about to start another US tour. And in the autumn we'll be in Europe. So, that's a lot of travel. I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. I'm a great place for you to tell your story and for your visitors to know a little more about you.


3- How was the band formed? Tell us about the beginning of it all...


- Well, I wanted to start a project, so I looked for musicians in the newspaper and found some guys to play with. We started writing our own songs, and in 2009, we released our first album and moved on.


4- Your first album, “Out Of The Pit”, tell us a little about it.


- “Out Of The Pit” is our first album, and it's very different from the others, because it was the first time I tried to express myself, and identify who I was as an artist and singer. So when you listen to it you can see different characteristics, it's a more Glam Metal record actually.


5- What is the origin of the band's name?


- Well, the snake is a very fierce protector of humanity and is behind many symbols, in many mythology stories and many books. And the lotus is a beautiful flower that grows in a very muddy place, which I think is like Metal.


6- What is the connection between Gene Simmons from Kiss and Kobra And The Lotus?


- We met Gene when we were looking for a stamp. He found us through Universal Music Canada when he was looking for new talent and he really liked us. So we showed our new album to Gene and our relationship started. He became part of the project, and was available to give us all the information he has about the music industry. And it was a big deal, because he's been in the music industry for a long time and he's very good at it.


7- Tell us now about your second album, “Kobra And The Lotus”.


- “Kobra And The Lotus” is our self-titled album, and shows the first evolution in the band's sound. My vocals are very clean, the music is more Metal. The sound became a little more complex, with more worked riffs, a more polished sound. It represents well how I wanted our music to be. It's a hard-hitting classic metal album.

8- Here in Brazil this record is well known...


- Oh, that is nice! It's wonderful to hear that! And what's your favorite song on this album?


9- My favorite song on this album is “Forever One”.


- Oh, that's really cool! I love knowing the songs people like. And this song was made for everyone.


10- I also really like this album of the song “Calm Before The Storm”.


- Wow! Man, we haven't played this song in a long time. This is really cool!


11- How does the composition of the band's songs and lyrics work?


- I write lyrics, all the time, when I'm not doing anything I'm writing something. Or a topic comes up that I really want to write about. Sometimes I write excerpts and add them together, sometimes I write everything at once. And in terms of songs, they come along with the lyrics, but sometimes the lyrics come after the song is done, because it


sounds in a specific way to talk about a certain subject. And the songs are written by me, or by some guitar player. I like to compose with many people, precisely to collect several good ideas, and in the end use the strongest one.


12- You have many fans around the world, how is your contact with them, in the most varied countries?


- It's good, but it's very difficult to have contact with each one because the world is so big. Even to tour it's hard to go everywhere. I think we're lucky to have social media. We have a generation that only knows the digital world, so we can have contact with anyone around the world simultaneously, and that's amazing. We have Facebook, we have Twitter… But I think we need to meet physically, it's very important. Strengthening contact with our fans, who support us, and showing that we care and will come back to visit everyone.


13- Recently you were in Brazil in Metal All Stars. How was that experience?


- It was amazing! It was really a wonderful experience, and I really want to go with the band to Brazil. This show was unbelievable! We played “Symphony Of Destruction” with David Ellefson. And we got together 5 minutes before the show started, and that's how I met the guitar player who's with us right now, because he played that song. We didn't know each other, and he asked if I knew the lyrics, I said yes, and he said ok, you're going to sing this song. So I really had a wonderful experience, and I was able to look around a little bit, the city looks amazing, the country looks amazing.



14- Kobra, and your latest album, “High Priestess”?


- It was a really fun album to make. It's more of a classic metal record, except for a few songs that are a little bit more, I don't know how to put it, but they have their own style, like “Soldier” and “Hold On”. There's also a bit of “Viking” in some songs, for example on “Lost In The Shadows”, where there's a bit of northern sound, because we're from the North, and it all ends up making sense. And there's a little bit of “Thrash”, a little bit of other stuff… So, we can't label it as a classic metal album. My vocals are also different, before they were very clean, but on this album there is more texture, whispers, vocal harmonies with the other musicians, it's more dynamic.


15- What was your most important show to date?


- Oh my God! I don't know if I can choose the most important show I've ever done, it was a lot of wonderful experiences. Everything is being amazing. The show in Brazil was amazing for me, an experience I never thought I would have. And now I want to go with my band, because I know they're going to love it. And there are other shows that come to my mind, like when we opened for Judas Priest in 2012, at the legendary Hammersmith Apollo, in London, England. It was really the pinnacle for me, because it was the first great band that we played together, and it was precisely with the band that got me into Metal.


16- How do you see the Metal scene around the world?  


- The Metal scene is very loyal! And that doesn't change. When people love metal, they really love metal for life, they grow up with the bands. They find the bands and come to love the bands, and they stay by their side until the end. This is what sets this musical style apart from others.


17- What are your favorite bands?


- I really love Led Zeppelin, so I listen to their songs all the time. And I really love Iced Earth. There's so much good music… There's a new Swedish band that I started listening to, it's heavier and it's called Deals Death. I'm always trying to find new bands, to get inspired. And there are also great bands in Canada that are starting to appear.


18- Tell us a moment that you consider unforgettable in your life, in your career.


- There is an occasion that I experienced last year. It was the last show of the Metal All Stars tour, and we played in Moscow, Russia. I sang “50 Shades Of Evil” with the band that was there, and when it ended, it was better than the songs on the set, which weren't my own. So that was a moment that made me believe in myself more, that gave me more courage. So I'll never forget that moment: Moscow, Russia, last spring.

19- What do you not like about music?


- There are many people trying to steal or take things that don't belong to them. Everyone is struggling to make money, and because of that, there is a lot of dirty business and you can be easily scammed if you don't know what you're doing or don't have a lawyer.


20- Now let's “travel” a little… If you could be part of any band in history, which would it be and why?


- Iron Maiden! More because Bruce and I have the same vocal range, so it's really easy for me to sing his songs, because my range is the same as his.


21- From now on, what are the next steps for you and the band?


- We really have a lot of plans ahead. We're going to tour Europe in the fall. We will play in France, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Poland…

It's going to be an extensive tour for about a month. And in February we're going into the studio to record a new album, that's what we have ahead of us.


22- Kobra Paige, thank you very much for the interview, and Rock Mania is always available!


- I love Rock Mania! Thank you so much for supporting us and thank you so much for being so kind. I really liked. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Until later!



Interview with Brittney Slayes

Held on 07/16/15




- Thank you very much for the interview! The band started about 7 or 8 years ago, with me, the vocalist, and my boyfriend Scott Buchanan, the drummer. He played in a band with our first guitarist, Brayden. And when that band broke up, we started Unleash The Archers together, the three of us. We originally started in Victoria, a small town on an island off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. So then we moved to big and beautiful Vancouver. Now we have two guitarists, Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley, and Kyle Sheppard on bass. So Scott and I are the only original members of the band, and we're still going strong.




- It's actually great! And it's very simple, we are each other's best friend. Tours with him are very enjoyable. He's a computer programmer, so sometimes he can't leave work, so we use a backup drummer. It's not that I don't like it when he can't be there, but it's different... But we know how to separate things between us and the band, and just by looking we know the direction we want to go. And we have pretty much the same hopes and dreams, so it's very simple.




- Actually we had a big debate to choose the name of the band, which lasted about 3 months, because we all have different tastes within Metal, and also about the name we wanted. So we were five individuals trying to find a name that everyone would like. That was very difficult! We went back and forth, exchanged a lot of emails, took a lot of notes, documents, suggestions... Then finally someone just said, “How about Unleash The Archers?”. I really liked it because I love history, fantasy, the medieval era... So I really liked it, I think it was a good choice. I think this name reflects well what we want to convey with our songs.




- It just came out, at the end of June, it's basically about being a metal band in Canada. The first track, “Frozen Steel”, is about metalheads and our fans here in Canada, who brave the winter storms to come to our shows, and support us, even with crazy blizzards outside. This album also marks the departure of our original guitarist and main songwriter. So it's our first job with the new guitarist and there's definitely a little change in the sound, but we're pretty happy with what we're doing. We played a little bit of Prog, a little bit of Death, a little bit of Power, a little bit of Traditional Heavy Metal. So I think it's really evident on this record that we don't care about the labels that metalheads are used to putting on. There's a lot of good stuff on it, and actually, I think it's the first album that Grant really put his ideas to. He's been with us since the pre-release of “Demons Of The AstroWaste”, but he hadn't written anything, and now he's really made his mark on the new Unleash The Archers record, and that's very exciting.



- Yeah, we started doing shows around British Columbia, and also around our city, and that was really cool. In September we're going to hit the road to the rest of North America, the United States, and also eastern and central Canada, and then next spring we're going to Europe. So we hope to come down to South America next year, that's really something we want to do and we're open to that if the opportunity arises. We love being on the road, and being on tour is one of the coolest things about being in a band. So we're going to be on the road to promote this album for quite a while, I hope.




- Yes, we would love to. There's so much culture out there, and we've heard great things about the metal scene, and for us it would be a huge honor to play for all of you.




- No, never. In fact, my parents had their honeymoon there a long time ago, and I saw the pictures, and they loved Brazil, they always said very good things about it. So maybe one day, but no, I was never there.




- Well, we're going to be on tour with one in September, Hibria are going to hit the road with us, and we're really excited about it, they're amazing, very talented.




- We released it in 2009, a long time ago, and we were very young, it was the first time I went into the studio. We started the band in 2007, and we played a lot of shows, we wrote a lot of songs, and then we decided that we needed to get in the studio right away to have our CD, to show people our work. So we recorded “Behold The Devastation”, which was basically written during a year and a half that we were together. We recorded it with a friend of ours here in British Columbia named Jason at Omega MediaCorp Studios. The studio was basically in a basement, and it was really nice, he had great equipment in there. So it was a really cozy atmosphere, there was a lot of fun, it was a great way for us to record our first record for sure. With this album we toured a few places in Canada, and we gained a lot of fans here. And it sounds more like a Death Metal record rather than Power or Speed Metal like the new material. If you're more of a Death Metal fan this might be a good record for you. At that time we were listening to a lot of As I Lay Dying, All That Remains, As Blood Runs Black, and other deathcore bands and stuff like that. I still like the songs on that album, and some we played, that's part of our past, but we've definitely grown a lot since we released “Behold The Devastation”.



- Demons was written when we all moved to Vancouver in 2010. Basically we lived in a hilarious apartment, which was like an old office, and we turned it into two bedrooms, installed the kitchen, the bathroom... We transformed it. in our little hideaway. We lived together, as a band, we didn't have a living room, we didn't have any furniture, just our equipment. We'd knock on each other's doors and say, "Hey, are we doing a song today?" So we would get together and compose together. It was really a really fun time, and I have great memories of making this record, they were good times.

This album has a lot of songs, it's 12 tracks. And it's actually a concept record, the whole story is about a mercenary in space who gets possessed by the sword he finds, and basically he ruins his life. The whole story you can check on our youtube channel, and follow through the tracks. So, we released this record in 2011. It received a lot of positive reviews, and won many fans around the world. We recorded a video for the song “General Of The Dark Army”, which was very successful on youtube and we were very proud. So this album was our gateway to the rest of the world. With “Behold” we conquered Canada, and with “Demons” we conquered North America and Europe, and we hope that with the next one we conquer the world.




- Last summer we played at the Hell And Heaven Festival in Mexico, opening for Angra, Kiss, Rob Zombie and other fantastic bands. So it was really exciting, and we were honored to be on the poster with all these guys. So this was probably one of our biggest shows. We also opened for The Iron Maidens, a female cover of Iron Maiden. We played with them in Obregon in Mexico, and it was a great show, it was a lot of fun. There was also a show in Victoria a few days ago, and it was amazing, there we were in a little bar with our fans and old friends, who have been with us since we started. It was such a loving atmosphere that I can't even explain it, I wanted to explode with happiness. It was really a wonderful show!




- It's great, but we're all scattered, because our country is very big. At the same time we have many small towns, and as such, we separate into select groups. But you end up meeting bands on the other side of the country, and becoming friends. So we exchange information about what's going on in various parts of Canada, about how everyone is seeing the metal scene here. I love touring Canada, I love my country, and I love playing shows in small towns. We always get a lot of support, and I think it's very underground here. You will never hear Heavy Metal on the radio here, ever! You have to listen to university radio, only the programs air at midnight. Or listen to it on Internet radio, that's what it has for us. Because of that, we ended up bonding a lot, helping each other, and I love it, even though we have to work so hard to see the sunlight. But it's a great place to play if you don't mind taking long trips.

Photo: reproduction



- Definitely Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson is a huge influence on me. Mainly because of his stage presence where he is so active and wild. He is a true showman and he knows how to excite and captivate the audience. So a lot of what I do on stage is inspired by him and his energy. But I also listen to a lot of Lost Horizon. Their lead singer, Daniel Heiman, is another inspiration for me. He has incredible range and control, and he really knows how to use his voice. I also listen to a lot of Soilwork, Iced Earth, Dragonland, Judas Priest... I like to listen to a lot of stuff, but definitely Bruce and Daniel are the biggest for me.




- I try not to be negative about things, and I really think most things are good. But sometimes you, who have to work hard, see bands that don't do that and don't do their part for the scene. Nowadays, the way social media is, anyone can get their stuff out there, it can be heard. Have these bands ever really created anything, can they do it live, can they do an eight-week tour and kick ass at the last show? It's this kind of thing that really bothers me.




- Wow, I don't know... I always wanted to be a guitarist, so maybe I could be Iron Maiden's fourth guitarist, I'd probably love that... (laughs)




- For now we're going to focus on touring and being on the road as much as we can. We are also going to make a video for some of the songs on “Time Stands Still”. Maybe even two videos, one could be a lyric video, which is really popular these days. So we will definitely make a new video. And we're already writing for the next record, we're already writing new stuff. I believe we will enter the studio next year. But the main focus now is being on the road, on tour.




- Thank you! I really appreciate your attention. Thanks!

Interview with Dennis Stratton

Held on 04/18/15



- Hello, this is Dennis Stratton, original guitarist for Iron Maiden, speaking to you from England to Brazil, with Wander Verch.




- I live on a farm, I have a partner, and all my children are grown, as you can imagine. I basically travel around Europe doing Iron Maiden conventions. I've been doing this in Italy for the last 8 or 9 years. I've done a lot of that... And I also play with three bands in England and a duet. I'm busy all the time, as you can tell from my voice. I came from four shows: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday... And singing... And today is Monday morning, so my voice is a little tired.




- It's very nice of you to comment on Iron Maiden's first album! I know I have many friends, "family" and fans in Brazil. They will never forget me and I carry that in my heart, really, really cool... And like I said, being on the first album and working on the second album was a big step for me, it was really good. And I will never forget the Brazilian people, because you are very important to me.

Photo: Maele Finger



- It was really cool at first… They were young and I was a little older,  I had already toured with Status Quo in the early 70's, I already had more touring and recording experience. I didn't leave completely  the band just got smaller for me and Rod Smallwood, we couldn't look at each other anymore. That's because of the songs I listened to. Playing in the band wasn't a problem, everything seemed smooth... But Rod didn't seem to like me listening to Eagles and bands like that. He didn't even like it. On the tour with Kiss, the problems got a little worse... Too bad, because we were just getting started.




- It's nice to be remembered as a guitarist for Iron Maiden, because it was a long time ago. I am glad and pleased that people still remember me. So yeah, it's really cool!




- I don't have any contact with any ex-Iron Maiden members now that Clive is gone... I still talk to Steve Harris all the time. Basically, because we're West Ham fans, and we love West Ham. And we talk on the phone if he's far away. So yes, I still talk to Steve most of the time.



- If I had stayed in Iron Maiden, I don't know... I was a little crazy back then. I'm not sure if I would still be alive. I don't know, I know I would have more money. And I would have had the chance to go to Brazil. But I'm not sure. I think I would have freaked out... I'm not sure.




- Yes, after Maiden, in 1980, 81, Lionheart was a fantastic band! Me, Rocky Newton, Steve Mann... We used to do a lot of  studio work for other bands, as we didn't have a record deal at the time. We did a lot of albums for people from Def Leppard, from Girl... A lot of recording work... But luckily in 1984 we went to Los Angeles and recorded the first Lionheart album. It was a good time, with good friends, good music, good singers, good musicians... It's a shame that the record companies let us down when we came back from the States. They told us we were going to tour with different bands, something that never materialized. So, unfortunately, the band kind of fizzled out.




- So I was asked to go to Japan in 1990 with Praying Mantis. Who would have thought back then, in 1990, that it would last 15 years... We were invited to record an album with the Pony Canyon label, which we did. It was very good, apart from the  vocal. but they wanted  follow with us, and we stay with the record company. For 15 years we've made a lot of albums. We had different vocalists for different albums. Basically, because we were trying to find the right singer, it wasn't working. But for 15 years it was great. Once again, it was the three of us: me, Tino and Chris... Three brothers. And I still see them these days, which is really nice. So yeah, it was a great time, before and after Japan. Good times...



- I never got along with Paul Di'Anno. I never got along with him, and I never will. I had to do that on a live album in 1990, “Live At Last”, because the record company wanted it. But other than that, I will never work with Paul. Never again, never! The Original Iron Men is him and Lea Hart, who I think is the biggest cheater in the world. So I really don't want to talk about Di'Anno, Lea Hart, or The Original Iron Men.




-  I heard about Bruce with the cancer, which has been kept silent since Christmas. Then it was in the news, and he is recovering well. They are working on a new album. I hope that when Bruce is finished with his treatment, he will be back and singing as well as ever... We hope! God bless Bruce, and everything will be fine!  




- I'm not sure about the Rock scene all over the world. I can only say what happens here in Europe. I think it's healthy. In this country there are a lot of good bands coming out. The rock scene is good at the moment. Also, I like the idea of some bands like Queen and Led Zeppelin re-releasing material or remixing it. It keeps them alive. So, I'm very satisfied with the way Rock is in  England and in Europe.



- The most unforgettable moment of my career was around 1976. The RDB, Remus Down Boulevard, was playing in the London area, at the Marquee. When we signed a contract with the  Quarry Management, who worked with Status Quo and Rory Gallagher. And then we started doing bigger shows, like Marquee. Then we were invited to tour Europe and Scandinavia with Status Quo. You were playing to an audience of 400 to 500 people in the audience, and suddenly it became 60 to 80 thousand, along with Status Quo. And the most unforgettable moment was when I walked onstage at the first show in France with Quo, and with RDB, Remus Down Boulevard, and all the lights went out and the guitar roadie took me to the rig with a torch.  And like I said, you were playing to 500 people who suddenly became 60, 80,000, and the noise was deafening.

And he took me to the amplifier.  And there I was with the lead guitar in one hand and the plug in my left hand. And my left hand was shaking so much, the roadie had to take my hand and plug in the guitar, because I was shaking so much I couldn't plug in the guitar. But the minute the guitar was on I closed my eyes and we headed out to our first show with Status Quo. And it was absolutely fantastic. I remember another unforgettable moment, when I was walking on stage at Reading Festival with Maiden, with all that crowd. Lots of good memories...




- My  favorite artists... Well, my favorite vocalists are Paul Rogers, David Coverdale, Dio... All the great vocalists. But as for other musicians, my biggest influence is Steve Lukather, guitarist for Toto. Everyone in the band is just fantastic musicians. But I have admiration for many other bands that are active. My favorite bands are Journey, Foreigner, Toto, Eagles... I love the Foo Fighters, and the excitement of these new bands.  




- I don't like two-faced people. I don't like people who suck up to others. If you speak your mind, you are being honest. If you tell someone how you feel, you mean it. But if you lie to please someone, just because that's what that person wants to hear, then you're being a kiss-ass. And in the music world there are a lot of people like that. So I like honest people.



- I've never been to Brazil, I've been asked this before, so I always answer: “yes, I would love to go to Brazil”. But, we never finalized a deal. I'm not sure if it's the promoters just testing me... But I'd like to go to Brazil. I would love to play in Brazil. All I know about the country is that it's a beautiful place with lovely people. So if there's a promoter out there, yeah, I'd like to come play there... Please, let's go!




- Okay, Rock Mania... I just want to say: Love everyone! Bye Bye!!


Translation: Gabriel Villain

Interview with Thomas Zwijsen

Held on 03/05/15



- Hello, how are you? Thank you very much, I am very well and excited for this interview.




- It was really cool, it was the third time I did a tour in Brazil. The public reception is always very good in Brazil. It really is the best country in the world to perform live. I made a nice video of the tour, and it's on youtube, anyone who wants to have an idea of how the tour went can watch it, I named it “Ride 666”, in reference to Iron Maiden's “Flight 666”. But we unfortunately travel by van and not in a boeing. So, I made a small documentary of this tour, which was really cool, and it served for me to present my new cd to the Brazilian public.

Photo: Maele Finger



- Well, it was a really cool experience, of course! I met Blaze a few months before recording “The King Of Metal”, when I was recording my first album “Nylon Maiden”, and I asked Blaze to be the guest on the album to record The Clansman. So I invited him to come to my studio in Holland, which is where I live. His wife is Belgian, so it's pretty close to my house. So when he was visiting his family he came to my studio, and we got along really well, we recorded Clansman and he really liked it.  A few days later I was celebrating New Years Eve, so of course, I was drinking and partying, so Blaze called me and said, “I really enjoyed being in the studio with you. Can you come to England to work on 'King Of Metal'?” So of course I was very happy and I traveled to England and we wrote the album at his house in Birmingham. So we traveled to Italy and recorded most of the songs, and then we traveled to Holland and recorded some more songs... 


And the coolest thing of all was that at the end of recording the album, we didn't have any more money to finish it. So we called Steve Harris, and he said, "Of course you can use my studio." So we went to Steve Harris' house in England, and we used his studio to finish mixing the album, with Tony Newton, who also works as a sound engineer for Iron Maiden. So we finished the album at Steve Harris' house, which for me was like a place of pilgrimage, and it was really cool to have done it there.




- When I was in college I studied classical guitar. But I was a little bored with the repertoire of the classes, because they have a lot of old songs, which serve to improve the technique, but are not very nice to listen to, in my opinion. I was a huge fan of Iron Maiden, which became my favorite band from the moment I met them. Then one day when I was in a store testing a nylon string guitar. I played the intro to Wasted Years, so I thought I could do some base arrangements and play entire songs with just one guitar. And it worked, I put a video on youtube, and it got a lot of views, and I had never posted anything on youtube before, and the feedback I got from Iron Maiden fans was really cool. And it's a new thing, nobody has done it before. And that ended up bringing young people to concerts, which usually only attract older people. And nowadays I have more than six million views on youtube, so I think it was a good choice.




- I was recently going to São Paulo to play with Bruce Dickinson at LAMEC (Latin America Meeting & Events Conference), I had been invited to open Bruce's show, on the same stage, so I was very excited to come back to Brazil to do that. .. But two days before the event, the organizers called me and said that Bruce was unfortunately in the Hospital, and his performance had been cancelled. And now we know it's because Bruce is battling cancer, and the good news is that he's recovering very well, and I'm sure he's going to be great. But of course, I was very sad, because I could meet my hero, and play for him. But then, I never played with other members of Iron Maiden, just with members of Europe, Dream Theater, Ayreon and other bands more.




- Okay, let me think... I'll talk chronologically to make it easier. The first was Nylon Maiden, an album with only Iron Maiden songs, in which I arranged the classical guitar. I had some guest musicians on this album, like Blaze Bayley and Tony Newton, bassist for Voodoo Six. So this record has great Iron Maiden hits, songs like The Trooper, Aces High and Wasted Years. Then I released a book of tabs, with a bonus EP, called Fear Of The Opera, in which I merged the names of the songs Fear Of The Dark and Phantom Of The Opera for the title. There are only 4 songs. 

Then I released a vinyl with two songs: The Evil That Men Do and Run To The Hills. This is all because I wanted to have a vinyl, because I think it's really cool. And after that I released Nylonized, which not only has songs from Iron Maiden, but also songs from Dream Theater, Rainbow, Deep Purple and Alice Cooper, bands that I really like. So I invited several musicians, like Derek Sherinian, who has played keyboards for Dream Theater, Billy Idol, Alice Cooper and Kiss. He's one of my idols in music, his solo work is really cool, he's a very progressive musician. He played piano on my record.  I also called Kee Marcello, from the legendary band Europe, which many people only know about the song The Final Countdown. He recorded lead guitar at the end of the album. And then there's vocalist Damian Wilson from the progressive metal band Threshold. He also sang in the metal opera project Ayreon, along with Bruce Dickinson. Ayreon is a metal opera project by Arjen Lucassen. He also sings on the album David Readman, lead singer of Pink Cream 69, a German hard rock band. It also featured Ben Woods, a flamenco guitarist from Los Angeles, who I will be touring again this year. 

So this is a record with different musical styles, from different bands and also my own songs. The coolest song is Perfect Storm, a nine-minute flamenco metal opera, with all the guests on this song. And after all that I recently released Nylon Maiden II, again with Iron Maiden songs and some of my own songs. The Iron Maiden songs I chose aren't big hits, but they're the ones I like the most, like Journeyman, Alexander The Great, These Colors Don't Run, Different World, Revelations, which are my favorites. And among all these works I also recorded The King Of Metal with Blaze, and the Russian Holiday acoustic EP, which has an unreleased song, Russian Holiday itself. 

And there's Sign Of The Cross, Stealing Time and other songs already recorded by Blaze. We made arrangements with violin, with the Dutch Anne Bakker, who also toured with us in Brazil, and the Brazilians liked her a lot.




- My parents put me in a music school when I was 9 or 10 years old. And I really didn't like that very much. But when I started high school I played Iron Maiden on the guitar, and I had a nice teacher, who showed me some flamenco, latin and also brazilian songs, like Tom Jobim, Benito Di Paula and Villa Lobos. So I really started to like classical guitar, and I started playing a lot. I also started playing guitar in a heavy metal band. So I started studying a lot when I was about 16 years old. I used to play, but I didn't like it very much. And my dad made classical guitars himself, so I could choose from a lot of guitars in my house, and I've always had good guitars to play with, and that's important in my opinion.




- It's not really a change of country, because it's as if it were just one country, Belgium and Holland. And I live very close to the border. Every day I cross the border. When I go for drinks, I cross the border, when I come home, I cross again. I was born in Belgium and I live in the Netherlands, but I feel like it's just one country.  

Photo: Maele Finger



- I have several, but at the moment, the biggest one is Vicente Amigo, a Spanish guitarist, who plays flamenco music, but not traditional music. He plays flamenco music mixed with jazz, with Latin and Irish music. He uses instruments such as violin and flute in his music. He has a really cool record called Tierra, his latest album. It's so good that I listen to it every day, and I never get tired of it. Also, I like some heavy metal bands, like, of course, Iron Maiden. And I also really like Bruce Dickinson's solo work, from Dream Theater, Helloween, Edguy, Avantasia... And Deep Purple, of course, which is one of my favorite bands. Steve Morse is one of the best guitarists I've ever seen play.




- Around the world I see many differences, like between Europe and Brazil. In Brazil Iron Maiden remains mainstream. You can listen to Iron Maiden on the radio. Or when you go out at night and go to a club, like Manifesto, in São Paulo. In Rio de Janeiro you can go to Teatro Odisseia, in Pomerode there is a really cool club, Wox. They are places that play rock and heavy metal. In Europe clubs play shit songs like Kanye West and Rihanna, that crap. The cool thing about Europe is that we have underground clubs, they're not very famous, and they're smaller venues, but the fans think it's really cool. My favorite places to play in Europe are Germany, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. And of course, since I play classical guitar, I can play in places like theaters or jazz bars, meaning I have more options than just rock clubs.  




- There are some shows, especially in Brazil, that are unforgettable for me. My first tour there was really cool, I've never seen such crazy fans before. In Vitória, where it was one of my first shows in Brazil, fans came to the hotel to bring me gifts, asking for autographs. In Santo Ângelo I played an acoustic show for over a thousand people, which in Europe would probably not be possible. And I had many other unforgettable shows, like my album release in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, which is a very surreal place. And of course, it's unforgettable for me to have played with all these fantastic musicians that I've always been a fan of, like Derek Sherinian, Blaze Bayley, Kee Marcello... This is definitely unforgettable! It was also unforgettable to be invited by Ortega Guitars, a German brand, to go to their factory to test their guitars and choose what I liked best. And they got me as an endorser, so I can use their guitars, and take them around the world, and meet amazing people. All this is unforgettable!

Photo: Maele Finger



- Yes, yes... I think everyone knows that Brazilian girls are very beautiful. And this is also a difference between Europe and Brazil. In Brazil, many beautiful girls go to metal shows. In Europe, not many go, and those that do are not my type, with all due respect. But then, besides that, the food in Brazil is wonderful, I really like fruit. I like everything about Brazil, but except I hate the roads, they are terrible, very dangerous.




- I was in Brazil in November, December and January. Now I'm in Europe, and I think she's coming here very soon. And I'm going back to Brazil at the end of May. And I'm going to do some presentations there again, and also some guitar clinics.




- I don't like the fact that many people think that music and everything has to be free. I don't care if they think that way, but they can't complain when an artist stops releasing records. Because making an album is very expensive, you have to pay for the studio, the sound engineer, the pressing of the record, you have to pay for licenses, you have to pay for digital platforms like iTunes, etc. So some people think I'm a mercenary when I charge for my music, or when I release tablature books of my songs. Some people love it, and they buy the books, and they send me really nice emails thanking me, and they're really really happy.  


But some people comment on my youtube videos: "Hey you're a mercenary trying to make money off this song". Well, in my opinion, you don't go to a supermarket and ask for free food. When people do a job, you usually pay for that job. So I think with music it's the same thing, because you have to work hard. I work day and night on it, practicing, recording, booking my shows, driving to concerts, preparing videos for my youtube channel. It's a very hard job, and some people think it has to be free. I think they are wrong, and because of these people some artists stop recording albums because they don't have the money to do so. Even Blaze Bayley worked in a factory a few years ago because he didn't have any more money because people don't pay for music anymore. It's a shame!

Photo: Maele Finger



- Currently I'm working on my online guitar school, which started about a month ago. It's "King Of The Strings", on And I'm doing a book that teaches how to play in my style, play rock on a guitar. So I teach people how to play the guitar without having to practice those tedious exercises from five hundred years ago. And I'm also working on an album of my own songs, just my own songs. And I'm working on the Master Guitar Tour, a tour that started last year, along with Ben Woods, a flamenco guitarist from Los Angeles. He has the project “Flametal”, which mixes flamenco and metal music, where he plays songs by Ozzy, Megadeth, Yngwie Malmsteen, on flamenco guitar. And of course I play Iron Maiden, Dream Theater and Alice Cooper on flamenco guitar as well. And the two of us playing together is a really crazy acoustic metal show. Well, those are the things I'm currently working on.




- Okay, thank you very much for this interview, for the time given to me and for all Rock Mania listeners. Hope to see you again soon in Brazil, very soon.


Interview with Blaze Bayley

Held on 02/12/15



- Thank you, how are you? I hope all listeners are doing well. I'm very happy to be here for the 1st time, very excited for the show. Thank you so much for participating in your program!




- I have been to more cities in Brazil than any other international artist and more places than some Brazilian artists. I try to find places that no one has been, and I try to bring my heavy metal to those places. So all the fans in Brazil have the chance to hear my music, without having to take a flight or drive for eight hours. So that's what I'm trying to do. I think that for some fans is important, no matter where they're from. And it doesn't matter if you're from São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro or Brasília. If you're a heavy metal fan and you like my music, it doesn't matter to me where you live, it's all the same. I'm very lucky, that I have a lot of support from fans all over Brazil. And I would like to say Thank you very much to all my Brazilian fans!





- Well, that's my job, and I'm very lucky to be able to do it. My passion is singing Heavy Metal! So my job is to do what I like, I'm very lucky. Not many people can do what I do, so I feel very lucky to be able to sing and be on tour. There aren't many professional musicians doing heavy metal, so I'm very lucky.





- I think Brazil, Finland, Sweden and Norway seem to be the places that most like this album. Some people don't like The X-Factor, and say it's the worst Iron Maiden record, while other people think it's the best Iron Maiden record. So, I don't know, but I put my heart, I put my soul into everything I did on this record, I wrote lyrics and songs, with Steve Harris, Janick Gers, Dave Murray and I feel like it was a big, important phase of my life. , from the album The X-Factor. And when I sing these songs these days, my voice is different. I feel like 20 years later, my voice is better. So that's why I like to sing The X-Factor and Virtual-XI songs at my shows, because I feel like I sing them better now than when they first came out. I feel like I can now interpret the stories of the songs in a much better way.




- It has a lot of good songs in it. When we recorded Virtual Eleven, we hadn't done a lot of rehearsals and some songs are very long. But The Clansman is a classic, Futureal is also a classic. I make my own version of 2 Worlds Colide, which the fans say they enjoy. So on every tour I play my own songs, and I do my versions of songs from Virutal XI and X-Factor, and so far people have liked it.




- I keep in touch with Steve Harris from time to time. And on my last record, King Of Metal, I ran out of money and he let me finish my record in his studio.




- I did 5 songs in Silicon Messiah that were ready to be worked on together with steve harris and dave murray, but I was out of Iron Maiden so I did them for myself... Born As A Stranger, The Launch and Stare At The Sun were being worked on for Iron Maiden. But for me it's a great album, which is celebrating 15 years. So I decided to release Silicon Messiah on double vinyl, and also on a special edition cd to celebrate my first album, because I realize that some people only know me through Iron Maiden and don't know Silicon Messiah. So I really want to say, "Look, this is where I started after Iron Maiden!"





- We stayed together, we got back together, we released an album called Wolfsbane Save The World, it's a really good record, and you can find it on the website We'll do a few more shows. It's crazy, it's a lot of fun, it's hard to get together to play shows because everyone is doing different things all the time. But we really enjoy when we can meet. We started from nothing, and that's it. We were just four kids, living on our own, wanting to play our songs, and we had a lot of ambition. Beginner bands are all the same, most are like us when we started Wolfsbane.  




- I like to write, and many fans invite me to sing as a guest on their records. Some of them send me the songs, and they take me to the studio, and they ask me to be a part of the album. I was a special guest of Doro Pesch, singing with an orchestra on the “Classic Diamonds Tour”, singing Fear Of The Dark, and it was really good! So now I do a lot of different things, and my own music, so it's really cool to do a lot of different things.




- Well, they're great lyrics. I did a long King Of Metal tour. And they are really important songs. I went in a different direction, it's not so heavy metal, it's more hard rock, because at that moment I really needed to do something different, and I'm really lucky that the fans supported me and a lot of them really liked it.




- It was a lot of fun, a lot of fun... Just crazy, no stress, no pressure, and being on stage together was really fun. And we should do it again, because it was really cool, with great feedback from the audience. After the show we had a few drinks, we had fun, it was something out of the ordinary.




- Well, I like the cold beer, I like the barbecue. In many places I go to in Brazil, the food is simple, but people really care about quality, so this is really good! I like rice, beans, chicken and birds, codfish balls, chicken drumsticks... All of these are things I like here. I like to come here, but the problem is that Brazil is too big! Sometimes we have to travel and stay for 15 hours in a van to go to the next show. Brazil is very big! So, if Brazil were smaller, it would be formidable!




Well I'm independent, I don't have a record deal. The people who support me are my fans. I have my own record label, along with my wife. She takes care of the business and I take care of singing, writing and recording. And the only reason I can come to Brazil is because my fans here buy concert tickets and buy my CDs. That's it! There are no entrepreneurs. It's just me and the fans! For many years I was part of a record company, and they treated me badly, treated me like a fool, treated me like a fool, and they wanted to tell me what to do. And now I'm completely independent, totally free, and I make the music I want. And now I do more shows, in a lot of smaller venues. So I can meet my fans, take pictures with them. It's so much better for me!




- I'm now writing lyrics for the new album, for 2016. And I have some song ideas, and it should be like Silicon Messiah and Tenth Dimension, but with a new concept. So I'm working on a story, I'm talking to different musicians, and the album should be out in March 2016, with a nice video clip. And so far it's been pretty good. So he follows the Tenth Dimension line. I want to make an interesting concept album, about going into space, discovering new planets and about the psycho-telepathic connection between human beings, which I believe exists. That's what the new album will be about.  And after these shows in Brazil I'll go to the US, and after the US shows I'll take some time to start writing. Then I will have a European tour, and only after that will I be able to dedicate myself full time to the new record. So far I think it's been fine, and I hope my fans like it.




- Many, many thanks to Rock Mania!!


Photos: Maele Finger

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