Ring of Gyges – interview

PROGRESSIVE ICELANDERS

Straight from the land of fire and ice, beyond the night sky, independent power shaping own second creation from infinite puzzle box.

Five true Vikings play metal in the middle of the storm. They don’t have any ring of gyges but they are the one and only Ring of Gyges.

Welcome to the world of thriving Icelandic progressive rock/metal band.

source: Ring of Gyges https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qLgQVBTsgQ

We’ve met with Ring of Gyges in person directly after their show in Dillon at the main Icelandic street Laugavegur (it was off venue part of popular Iceland Airwaves Festival). This concert was OK but such ambitious band needs much more space for performance.

I guess that it’s a matter of time when they will become famous among progressive metal fans although everybody with open mind is able to appreciate and have fun listening to their music.

Indeed, have fun – these artists turn out to be cool, relaxed and friendly, with awesome sense of humor and right understanding that music is an entertainment.

from left to right: Helgi Jónsson (guitars and lead vocals), Guðjón Sveinsson (guitars and vocals), Þorsteinn Ýmir Ásgeirsson (bass), Einar Merlin Cortes (drums), Gísli Þór Ingólfsson (keyboards)

CONCERTS

How are you after your show at Iceland Airwaves? What do you think about this festival?

Ring of Gyges: Very good. We play at unofficial part of Iceland Airwaves so we didn’t have the wristband to watch all of these bands.

I barely was able to hear the lyrics of your songs during your performance here in Dillon. Too small venue for such a progressive music?

Ring of Gyges: Yeah, one of the smallest place to play in Iceland.

Was it your first concert (November, 10th, 2019) this year at all?

Ring of Gyges: No. We made a small Scandinavian trip in January 2019: Sweden, Oslo (Norway) and Copenhagen (Denmark). It was pretty nice.

Ring of Gyges: Today we wanted to play in Iceland because we didn’t perform here for a long time. We had only one rehearsal this morning cause Helgi (vocalist) lives in Norway so it’s hard to meet together. We spent few hours playing two new songs before the show.

Ring of Gyges: During last two years or so we usually meet together couple of times before the show and practice. We don’t have much time for preparation together but of course me make it independently.

Ring of Gyges: We are not at the point yet to make music professionally – it’s not our main source of income, but when we get to this point, we will completely solve it.

What was the most spectacular show which you have ever played and why?

Ring of Gyges: Slottsskogen Festival, Gothenburg, Sweden, 2019. We played pretty well for big audience. Seventh Wonder was the headline of this event – well known Swedish progressive metal band.

PHILOSOPHY

Ring of Gyges is an ancient mythological artefact which makes the owner invisible. How did it become the name of your band?

Helgi: I have a bachelor in philosophy; it was my favorite subject in high school so I wanted to spend few years with something interesting for me.

Helgi: I’ve founded Ring of Gyges when I was on the first year in the University (here in Iceland).

Helgi: Name Ring of Gyges is inspired by an ancient philosophy; there was a guy who gets invisible and he is corrupted by power of this ability. The same concept was depicted by J.R.R. Tolkien. I thought that it’s a cool concept for the name of metal band.

DEVELOPING IDENTITY

Ring of Gyges released two interesting studio albums:

EP “Ramblings of Madmen” (2015)

LP “Beyond the Night Sky” (2017).

What do you like mostly in this music? How would you recommend this albums to somebody who didn’t hear Ring of Gyges yet?

Ring of Gyges: We are still creating our own identity. We explore different styles of music. It’s not completely formed yet and I think we will continue development. We mix different things and I guess that it can be interesting for many people.

Ring of Gyges: We are open minded and create whatever we want. Hopefully other people will enjoy it as well. We are not businessmen to define specific target, so we play for everybody who enjoy that.

Ring of Gyges: Our next album will be different than debut. It’s a mix of more classical and more modern influences; older progressive staff and also newer sounds.

My very first impression about your music when I encountered Rings of Gyges in Internet was that you don’t play progressive metal but progressive rock. Do you consider your band as a metal act?

Þorsteinn: Let’s wait for our next album, it will be more directed towards metal!

Helgi: What was your impression when you heard us live, metal?

Definitely you play metal, and you enjoy headbanging!

Ring of Gyges: (haha) yeah of course.

Ring of Gyges: We started out as a progressive metal group, playing not covers but our own songs from the beginning. Well, we tried to jamming some fragments of songs of other bands but we have never went through all song of another band.

Ring of Gyges: Then we mixed some non-metal elements into it.

Ring of Gyges: Our second full length longplay will sound definitely like progressive metal. Not extreme progressive metal, but more old school progressive heavy, with more beat, more prog, kind of more everything (haha).

Ambitious approach!

source: Ring of Gyges https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgS9cW2TU64

There are many impressive instrumental parts on “Beyond the Night Sky”. I appreciate especially “(Instru)mentality” because it’s a true artistic achievement to create interesting and original instrumental piece. Very good technique and excellent ideas! Could you reveal the secret to achieve that please?

Ring of Gyges: (haha) Well, we work hard to develop whatever we really want. It’s important to don’t be afraid to try different things. But that’s probably not a secret. I don’t know what would be our edge over other bands… We always watch and listen how other bands play and try to learn from them. Well, we make things complicated for ourselves, we challenge ourselves, we also try to maintain good level of songwriting, create memorable melodies. We take care about good balance between catchiness and inventiveness.

Ring of Gyges: If we can give one tip for others bands: let’s copy other bands but in such a way that nobody will notice (haha)

BEYOND THE NIGHT SKY

It makes sense to listen to “Beyond the Night Sky” from the beginning to the end – then it sounds like a concept album.

Helgi: It doesn’t have a story but there is one common theme in each song: ways how people can escape from reality. Our listeners can feel better when they listen to our music, what is also a result of some positive sounds.

Guðjón: It depends of what is your definition of concept album. You don’t have to escape from your problems, but maybe you can feel better when you take them on from another perspective, another point of view, another angle.

I need to ask yet about the idea behind the cover of “Beyond the Night Sky”.

Ring of Gyges: The author was an Indian guy? Not Indian… Anyway, we were searching for an artist who could make it for us. We explained him our ideas but I think that he didn’t completety understand it. Albeit the effect is very good.

Ring of Gyges: There are two sides of the world: light and dark; and the human who take a challenge to escape from real to magical world. By the way, many progressive bands shows a guy on cover, aren’t they? This hero from our cover, he is brave enough to reach out to his dreams.

Ring of Gyges: But it can also depends on how you think about this. It’s open for your interpretation. It can be as well a symbol of different points of view to look at our reality.

Icelandic reality or…?

Ring of Gyges: (haha) I think that during the winter Iceland has darkness all day but during the summer – sunlight all day. That’s why we can see a track on our cover because we can escape to warmer countries to catch some light!

source: Iceland Close-Up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-wCrrsq9Lw

NEW ALBUM

However it can be quite difficult to comprehend entire musical complexity of “Beyond the Night Sky” in era of Spotify and short attention span.

Guðjón: This is not a big deal. Our next longplay will be even longer! Anyway, we hope that people who don’t listen everyday to progressive rock/metal will also like Ring of Giges.

Ring of Gyges: Next week will be more challenging for us – we will record drums for upcoming album.

Einar: I was born in challenge (haha)

Helgi: We needed to record drums for “Beyond the Night Sky” in one night, 17h long session.

Guðjón: Now we have whole week to make just drums. Seven days, probably seventeen hours each day.

Will you start working on the second album from drums?

Ring of Gyges: Yes, typically this is the process. We need to start with drums. Bass will come after that and then we will build everything based on drums and bass. However, drums doesn’t need to stay the same as recorded on the beginning, we will be able to change drums until the end of all recordings. Vocals will be made pretty late. Everything will be evolving constantly during entire recordings, you know it’s like: “o, maybe we need to add this harmony over there; but maybe better not!”. When we suddenly get any new idea, we can come back to the previous part.

Ring of Gyges: Nevertheless, the foundation for all second album is ready. Main structure is pretty much done. We made a lot of demos somewhere in the isolation of Eastern Iceland between the period of debut and May 2019. Actually we met all together in May 2019 here in a house in Eastern Iceland where we are able to make complete focus and finish everything. This session gave us a lot of energy!

We are looking forward for the new album!

I listen, I wait, I scream

No reply

Palms trembling

Into the night

I seek the life I conceived

Ring of Gyges “Dusk”

INSPIRATIONS

What are your biggest music inspirations?

Helgi: Haken. This is the one band which inspire us most. Absolutely phenomenal English band.

Ring of Gyges: Beside that, we are quite diverse.

Ring of Gyges: Some inspirations are obvious: Dream Theater, Pink Floyd, Rush, some old good staff.

Ring of Gyges: Actually all members of Ring of Gyges are exposed to different stuff: prog, metal, hard rock, funk, blues (all the way back to Robert Leroy Johnson), even punk. Our keyboardist is focused more on old school prog. Our drummer listens a lot of the heaviest and darkest metal.

Þorsteinn: I always want to convince others to listen more bluegrass.

Ring of Gyges: You would need to look into our Spotify playlists: very long and there is everything!

Don’t you argue about this? Somebody wants to play this, somebody else prefer something very different?

Guðjón: Yes, we do. All the time. And it’s healty. It’s really good to make a brainstorm and choose the best solution. Usually when we argue about different visions, something interesting comes out of that.

ICELAND AND SCANDINAVIA

Helgi, I’ve read that you live in Sweden, although recently band told me that you live in Norway. How is it? How would you compare living in the land of fire and ice with living in Scandinavia?

Helgi: I’ve had been living in Sweden two years and I just moved to Norway around six months ago. These countries are definitely very welcoming especially that I can speak Swedish fluently and Norwegian is similar to Icelandic. But I didn’t have the opportunity to speak Swedish while I’d been living in Iceland so it took me few months to switch from English to Swedish after moving to Sweden (I needed to gain confidence). I’m learning Norwegian yet. Norwegian is much simpler to learn than Icelandic.

Helgi: Metal scene in Sweden and Norway is a bit different than in Iceland. There are largest “scenes”. I would say that metal in Iceland belongs to mainstreem much more than in Scandinavia.

Þorsteinn: Especially when it comes to black metal. We have a lot of black / death metal bands in Iceland. Icelandic metal festivals are focused on these genres.

FUTURE

What are your plans for the future?

Ring of Gyges: We are making new album, we are arranging new tournee (summer 2020), we want to promote the new album everywhere in Europe. It depends how much time we will be able to spend on this tour. We want to play in Scandinavia, Germany, perhaps in Eastern Europe and in other countries as well.

Thank you very much for the interview 🙂

Ring of Gyges: Thank you, bless bless!

from left to right: Sam O’Black (eyeglasses and pen), Helgi Jónsson (guitars and lead vocals), Guðjón Sveinsson (guitars and vocals), Þorsteinn Ýmir Ásgeirsson (bass), Einar Merlin Cortes (drums), Gísli Þór Ingólfsson (keyboards)

written by: Sam O’Black

talked: Þorsteinn Ýmir Ásgeirsson (bass), Einar Merlin Cortes (drums), Guðjón Sveinsson (guitars and vocals), Helgi Jónsson (guitars and lead vocals), Sam O’Black (Musictivity), Jonathan Romulo Ompad (from Philippines)

photo: Jonathan Romulo Ompad (from Philippines)

Cauldron – interview

Chat with Jason Decay – bassist and vocalist of cool and young (founded in XXI century) heavy metal band from Canada. CHECK IT OUT !!!

source: CauldronVEVO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM2pDrtces4

WHAT’S UP

Your band had more and less fortunate events in its long history but can we start with a positive statement that today Cauldron is a strong and powerful heavy metal group?

We’ve been highly inactive as a band since April as we all live far apart now but otherwise as individuals I think we are all doing good! Ian (guitarist Ian Chains) has been busy with his another band Chainbreaker.

Oops, why Cauldron is inactive?

Basically because I have a kid and moved a few hours north. I contributed a good 20 years to music and now my priority is my job and my family.

Did you sell instruments?

I still have all my guitars, amps and drums!

ALBUMS

Cauldron have released five good and creative full length studio albums:

“Chained To The Nite” (2009),

“Burning Fortune” (2011),

“Tomorrow’s Lost” (2012),

“In Ruin” (2016)

“New Gods” (2018).

Did you imagine in 2006 such big achievements?

Did you start playing music with high ambitions to conquer the metal world?

I figured we’d create and play music for a long time but never really knew where it would take us. We are happy with the outcome though; we’ve been to a lot of cool places and made a lot of friends from our endeavours.

What is your opinion about “Burning Fortune” 8 years after release? This one is my favorite!

I love the songs on that record! I think they are very strong but I wish it had the production of the following 3 records…

I would like to ask you few questions about your newest album “New Gods”. Can you talk about this music with distance or is it still too emotional related to one bad event which happened recently?

What would you like to know?! Those songs were conceived during a low point in my life and also during a recovery period for the band. We had some huge setbacks as a band after the In Ruin record came out, most notable our accident in Texas that put Ian in the hospital for a while. There seemed to be a series of negative events that followed. It was a bit of a struggle and a dark period but I think that made for some very strong music.

NEW GODS

Album “New Gods” is consistent. I couldn’t chose which songs I like most but I can tell you that I enjoy to make focus on whole “New Gods” from the beginning to the end.

Thank you. I suppose we are more of an album band than a “hits” band.

Do you get sometimes requests from fans that they want to hear this or another song from “New Gods”?

Obviously I like when people enjoy our music but more importantly is how we feel about it and I am quite satisfied with New Gods. We usually try to balance what people want to hear with what we want to play.

I’m curious if anybody already noticed the bass line in song “Save the Truth – Syracuse”? When I make focus solely on the bass which appears in the second plan directly before guitar solo (but not only there), it seems to be familiar for me… Little bit resembles Rush… I have an impression that I’ve already heard it!

As for the bass part, I assume you mean the bass rumble that follows Save the Truth… I originally thought the song that follows (Never Be Found) started too abruptly so I wanted to have some ambient bass noise to fade in ahead of the tune. I was thinking more about Black Sabbath but I suppose it could subconsciously be Rush too. Either way, I think we got a little carried away with the length of it.

VALUE

What’s interesting, sometimes you don’t even need to have any original notes to sound outstandingly. Whatever you play, I can recognize immediately that this is Cauldron and nobody else. Fantastic!

Is it a matter of feelings which you put into playing? Your total engagement and love to music?

I think you can tell that because we have very distinct characteristics in our playing. I don’t think anybody really sounds like me when they sing. Maybe Brian from Halloween (haha) but my bass playing is pretty nondescript I think. Nobody really plays guitar like Ian either; he is extremely talented and can probably play anything on guitar but really he has his own twist and filter that he is able to drive any style through.

The most happy event in the history of Cauldron?

We had so many happy events! It would be hard to pinpoint one. Anytime we complete an album it is a great sense of accomplishment, especially with New Gods. It is a very satisfying and uplifting feeling.

Also any time we gain the attention or respect from other bands that we look up to that have inspired us like getting to tour or play with Diamond Head, Satan, Metallica, Mantas etc…

What is cool in Diamond Head which Metallica doesn’t have?

All the Diamond Head songs Metallica didn’t cover. Metallica had it all.

CULTURE ART TRAVELING

What makes your Canadian city captivating for visitors?

Toronto? I live out in the bush now but Toronto is a good place to waste your time in traffic and line ups (haha) but there’re also a thousand things to do there, lots of gigs, all the kinds of food and people and concerts etc… I think that people involved in the metal scene like to visit Toronto because there are a lot of bands which they can get to see at once. We’ve had fans visiting from all over the world who wanted just to hit us up and ask if they could come by our jam space and hang out.

source: Michael V. Nguyen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMrY-Ge3ktw

Are you inspired by Canadian bands?

Yes of course! Triumph, Sacrifice, Platinum Blonde, Gowan, Razor, Reckless, Lee Aaron, Slik Toxik, Witchkiller, Exciter, Killer Dwarfs, Thor, April Wine, Honeymoon Suite, Tchort, Rush, Stream, Fist, Voivod, SNFU.

Could you tell me please as regular international traveler, Which city (anywhere in the world) would you point out as underrated?

Sorry I can’t think of one In my opinion, most of them were rated pretty accordingly. I love experiencing foreign cultures when we travel. I really only travel with the band but I get pretty friggin excited anytime we go to new place; its very surreal for me. I’m pretty much a kid with ADD when we travel.

Yeah, it’s perfectly understandable. What are your specific cultural inspirations (movies, books, paintings, castles)?

The movie Halloween 3 which apparently took place in Santa Mira California; not that it seemed any different than anywhere else in North America but I just really liked the concept.

The Rosemary’s Baby book.

No paintings neither castles.

https://musictivity.org/2019/10/19/enjoy-your-favorite-music-in-unique-places/

FUTURE?

What are Cauldron’s plans for the future?

We have no plans at this time.

Would you like to perform in Iceland?

I would love to play in Iceland someday… you never know.

Have you already started composing fresh songs for the next album?

We have no new material at this time, at least I don’t!

Thank you very much for the interview.

Thanks for reaching out and shedding some light on Cauldron!

written by: Sam O’Black and Jason Decay

Picture – interview

THE BEST HEAVY METAL

The best heavy metal band from the most picturesque country released their best album three months ago – it sounds like a perfect subject for Musictivity!

Created in 1979, Picture plays traditional, energetic and powerful heavy metal.

Current line-up:

– Jan Bechtum (guitars),

– Appie de Gelder (guitars),

– Ronald van Prooijen (vocal),

– Rinus Vreugdenhill (bass),

– Laurens “Bakkie” Bakker (drums).

Honestly, I don’t know any other Dutch band which makes it on such high level, despite 274 other heavy metal kleine boefjes (according to MetalArchives).

We can admit that Picture have played and recorded European power metal before debuts of Helloween, Gamma Ray and Running Wild were released.

Picture draws local TV’s and radio stations’ attention since beginning. Their albums used to be properly published and available all around the world in the golden era of metal (198x-something) but they have never been as popular as some similar German, British or American bands.

This doze of indomitable energy straight from the metal heart deserves to be explored right now. Remember that here real people play real music. This is not a plastic mega production but true metal band which love to spend time with fans. Let’s start with an official video clip:

source: Pure Steel Records https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tso-972bwY

Discography:

– “Picture” (1980),

– “Heavy Metal Ears” (1981),

– “Diamond Dreamer” (1982),

– “Eternal Dark” (1983),

– “Traitor” (1985),

– “Every Story Needs Another Picture” (1986),

– “Marathon” (1987),

– “Old Dogs New Tricks” (2009),

– “Warhorse” (2012),

– “Wings” (2019).

EXTRA TOPICS

Founder, main guitarist and composer Jan Bechtum, shared with Musictivity not only his point of view about “Wings” and own music inspirations, but also gave us his individual insight into the Netherlands. I’ve added two side notes in the interview to let you understand better what Jan actually told me about Nederland. I can appreciate that, because I used to live two years in this stunning country, read more:

https://musictivity.org/2019/07/24/jethrotullinnetherlands/

Jan Bechtum is a huge fan of Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple) so I took the opportunity to ask him about his personal experience with Ritchie. Jan describes (read below) how it was to interview Ritchie Blackmore for radio (Picture’s guitarist as an interviewer) and explain why Steve Morse isn’t a perfect successor of Ritchie 😉 Here is my personal opinion about performance of current Deep Purple’s line-up in the European Capital of Culture 2019 (written by generation 1990 which didn’t grow up with Ritchie Blackmore, sorry but that’s a fact, show must go on)

https://musictivity.org/2019/09/08/deep-purple-sofia-07-12-2019/

INTERVIEW

Sam O’Black: Hello Jan. I’m very happy to make this interview with you because you are a main guitarist and composer in probably the best heavy metal band ever from my beloved Nederland. I will ask you later about your country but first: congratulations for the excellent album “Wings” (2019)! How do you feel about this longplay?

Jan Bechtum: Thank you so much! We are all very excited about “Wings”. I think it is the best typical Picture album and also the best sounding album since “Diamond Dreamer” (1982).

It’s a phenomenon for me that band with 40 years experience still makes such energetic music. Other bands like Saxon, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Deep Purple or Accept are also full of energy but in the case of Picture, it’s totally different level. You sound like young, hungry and wild rock’n’roll metal; it is not a production A.D. 2019 but an old school feast straight for metal heads. How did you achieve that? How did these awesome songs came about?

Again, thanks! For us the main reason is that we are having so much FUN doing it and also crucial is that this is the original line-up from the beginning when we built the foundation of the real Picture sound (which I believe you can categorize as power metal and that says it all).

So when we got together again in this line-up almost 4 years ago, we played like we never stopped. The mutual feeling between us was still there. A lot of energy is important for the band’s sound.

Some songs were already written and performed by the band in the 80ies but never recorded so we had a go at them (i.e. “Little Annie” and “Blown Away”). Other songs are completely new but since I still write the most riffs and structure of the songs, they still sound like Picture should to sound. Old-school!

I like slower fragments of “Wings” as well, i.e. in “Stroke” and in title “Wings”. Gezellig!

By the way I think that this is a funny and quite original idea to show real airports in video clip. I love to watch your authentic shots at gym, on the scene, at airport because it all looks exactly how it is in real. Did the airport in Rotterdam have anything against?

To be honest: we just filmed there and didn’t ask for permission (haha). The video clip tells it like it was. Rinus (bassist) was there with his wife and daughter setting off for holiday when his stroke happened.

The slower parts are really straight from the heart and they work very well.

The second already mentioned song “Wings” is catchy! I’m not sure if it’s my favorite number on “Wings” but perhaps it could be the first song to show friends. How do you think? Well, maybe 30 years ago we would say: an exemplary single!

Yes, I agree. I let my friends who are not that much into metal to hear title song “Wings”. They love it.

Jan, you used to point Ritchie Blackmore as your biggest inspiration. What do you like mostly in his playing style? Have you ever met Ritchie? If yes, how is he as a person?

Yes, Ritchie is my main inspiration because of his rhythmic aggressive picking style and wonderful story-telling solo’s. Especially the Made in Japan album is what learnt me how to play both solo and rhythm. Never met him but did have a phone call with him during a radio session where he answered questions. He blew me off then by not answering seriously… oh well.

I’m interested also what is your opinion about Deep Purple’s present line-up with Steve Morse and Don Airey?

As much as I am impressed with the talent of Steve Morse I don’t really like the sound of his guitar. So for me guitars in Deep Purple should to be created by Blackmore all the way.

Don Airey is doing a great job mimicking Jon Lord and you just can’t tell the difference sometimes.

Is it true that you decided “to quit playing live performances in 1997 because of the growing violence in the Dutch nightlife”? What exactly was the issue?

Yes. There was a shooting incident at a venue (I wasn’t there fortunately) in Gorkum, I think. With wife and little kids at home, I felt, I wasn’t safe anymore and acted like the responsible dad and husband. Maybe I overreacted…

I used to think that although Dutchie are musical sensitive, Nederland is more visual oriented country when it comes to the art. Have you ever had something like “Dutch rock/metal scene”? What was captivating about this scene?

Please refine me if I’m wrong but I’ve read an opinion that Dutch metal is more about symphonic tune with pleasant female vocal?

Most bands in the Dutch metal scene were about combining hard rock and metal. I think that we did that too but with a true metal sound and energy. This is still the case on “Wings”.

The modern metal bands from Nederland are more “gothic” and symphonic and indeed they mostly use(d) (great) female voices (Floor Jansen, Anneke van Giersbergen). So that is correct.

Is Picture based in Hilversum, isn’t it?

No, Hilversum was the base of our record company Phonogram. We are from Rozenburg (near Rotterdam). We only played live in Hilversum once.

Let’s say that a young heavy metal band is going for European tournee, will perform in Nederland but have one full day off before this gig. What would you recommend them to do with this one free day to catch some extra inspiration?

Recommendations? I am not a museum guy but I love nature. You might want to combine de “Hoge Veluwe” national Park with a visit of the Kröller-Müller Museum (that is inside the park). You can pick a (free) bike and have a great time there.

Marta Pan, Duck, Floating, Pond, Art, Water, Nature

https://www.hogeveluwe.nl/en

Side note 1: Park “Hoge Veluwe” is located next to Arnhem; Musictivity about Arnhem:

https://musictivity.org/2019/08/18/doro-in-the-netherlands/

Side note 2: Kröller-Müller Museum displays modern paintings: Van Gogh (second largest collection in the world), Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondriaan; there is also a garden with 160 sculptures by Aristide Maillol, Jean Dubuffet, Marta Pan, Pierre Huyghe.

Are you a fan of vinyls? Do you enjoy to spend hours in old school record shops? I know only Concerto in Amsterdam, are there other similar venues in Nederland?

I like vinyls very much but don’t have a player at the moment. When I am in cities all over the world, I always look for record stores to see if they have something special. In Nederland I go to Plato or Chez Elpee in Groningen (I work there and live nearby).

http://www.chezelpee.nl/

What are your plans regarding future of Picture? Are you planning a bigger tournee?

As long as everybody is healthy, Picture will go on. We will do some tours (like in South America and Mexico) in 2020 but mainly focus on a few great festivals in Europe.

I wish you all the best and thank you very much for the interview 🙂

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 71105386_473077343535915_8988224669047848960_n.jpg

Would you like to add something for Picture’s fans?

Thanks for the interview. Interesting questions!

I wish to thank all the fans who kept supporting us over all those years. Without them we could not have done it! And if you have a chance: come see a show and drink with us after the show. We love you!

written by: Sam O’Black and Jan Bechtum

Access Denied – interview

Sam O’Black: The purpose of this interview is to present the Polish band Access Denied on the global arena. The band was founded in 2003, it has recorded three studio albums, performed many concerts on the Polish stage as well as abroad. Why, in your opinion, the music of Access Denied deserves the interest of listeners from other countries? What’s unique about Access Denied?

Agnieszka Sulich: We find it hard to talk about our ‘uniqueness’, as we’re not unique. It doesn’t, however, change the fact that we love music, we record albums, play concerts, and, though it’s hard to gain the media support, we do what we enjoy. We always do our best, regardless of the fact we play for five or 5 thousand people.

“So many people I want to know

So many places I want to go

Life is too short to stay at home

It’s perfect time to rock’n’roll”

Access Denied “Go Go Go”

Side note: I was an Access Denied fan even before they released debut longplay in 2009. Since then, I am pleased to receive directly from the band their following albums, each much better than previous. They definitely don’t buy their songs on fiverr for 5 USD. On the contrary, Access Denied’s music is a handmade artwork, heavy metal with genuine feelings. Perhaps this is nothing unique in the Universe, well they are keen to action, not keen to sit at home and write poems about own extraordinariness… But Access Denied is Access Denied, excellent band with own remarkable tone, nobody play exactly like them!

Access Denied “Go go go” official video clip:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv8MMAzfq5Q

According to the information inside the box of your latest album “Access Denied”, currently the band consists of: vocalist Agnieszka Sulich, guitarist Jack Kolankiewicz, guitarist Mateusz Krauze, bassist Adrian Jegorow and drummer Dariusz Brzozowski. What role in the music process does each musician play?

All correct, except for Darek 😉 Darek is our dear friend. On a day-to-day basis he plays, among others, in Dimmu Borgir, and on our newest album he’s been a session musician. After our old drummer Michael Lysejko had left and joined Decapitated, we needed someone with a new approach. We rehearsed and arranged the songs. I must admit, we’ve learnt a lot from Darek. He’s an experienced musician and knows the ropes – many years in Dimmu or Vader can prove it.

And so, I’m in charge of vocal, lyrics, etc., while music is down to Mateusz and Jack. And the song arrangements are made mainly by Darek and Mateusz. Some ideas born at the music studio with the producer.

What’s the role of each musician of Access Denied? Who’s the leader? Who’s engaging most with the audience at the concerts? Is Dariusz Brzozowski your regular drummer at the moment? Or are you looking for a new one?

A tough question (mmm)… we don’t have a typical leader in the band. We make all decisions mutually, at rehearsals we’re discussing what’s best for us and then we strike a balance. We always get on well. Darek isn’t our official band member, but he’s always ready to help 🙂 Lukasz Raczkowski has been with us for more than two years and he has to face Daray’s compositions. When it comes to contact with the audience during our concerts, it’s my part.

You’ve recorded three great albums: “The Memorial” (2009), “Touch of Evil” (2011), “Access Denied” (2018). I’ve listened to them many times. I am especially fond of the two features. The first is how you operate the contrasts. Have there been any moments when you had some contrary ideas and music techniques?

Have you ever composed something that you liked, but it didn’t appeal to the other members? How do you deal with such situations?

Yes, generally, we happen to have different point of views, and, as I mentioned earlier, we’re sitting down and discussing it together. We’re playing different variants, listening, and picking up what’s best for us. Let me give you an example: for instance, the song “Lies” from the latest album, we play it at 200bpm and its music climate reminds of Testament – it’s the idea of Mariusz and Michael Lysiejko. Jack wanted to keep it at 165bpm in the atmosphere of Iron Maiden, he found it hard to get used to our vision and didn’t like it at all in the beginning. Now he can’t imagine this song be played differently 🙂 This is how we work, we can easily talk to each other.

The other feature I’d like to mention is your vocal technique development. You keep singing better and better with every next album! Seriously, I can hear the difference between now and then. How did you learn to sing? How do you improve your voice? What’s your ambition as a vocalist?

Thank you very much for the compliment on my singing. I still think there’s a lot of training ahead of me, though. Nevertheless, I try to do my best in what I do, as much as I can. Now I’m more open to more experienced people’s advices. I eagerly listen to comments and I try taking as much as possible from my music idols. It’s not, though, about copying, it’s rather about the way of thinking and creating beautiful melody or lyrics. I think of, among others, Rob Halford from Judas Priest, or Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch. I’ve had the opportunity to meet these two men and they’re not only excellent vocalists but also very kind and great people. Rob even got our album :).

Rob Halford holding the second Access Denied album “Touch of Evil”

You come from Poland, the country of original history and unique values and beliefs. I often hear from Icelanders they’re planning to visit Poland: go to Cracow or to a wonderful (and cheap) dentist (haha) someone else was in Warsaw for a whole month and didn’t have enough. What would you advise the Icelander on holidaying in Poland?

Well, no wonder here, Poland is a beautiful and interesting country. Especially when you earn money abroad and spend it in Poland. I recommend to start from Gdynia. And, of course, come to one of the Access Denied concerts.

Is there much interest in your music among the Poles living abroad? Do you also get foreign fans coming to your concerts? What feedback does Access Denied receive from the media abroad?

Well, frankly speaking, it’s not the Polish people, but the general audience of a certain country where we perform.

What are your memories of the Access Denied concerts abroad so far (e.g. In Finland)?

Very good. We’ve always had fun together. Whether we play in Finland, Sweden or anywhere else. Only journeys are troublesome, you know airports, check-ins, buses etc., but there’s a way for dealing with it 😉

It often happens in heavy metal music that the melody of vocal lines doesn’t correspond with the pessimistic rendering of lyrics. In the case of Access Denied, I mean the song “Fool of Love”. If I didn’t know the English language, I’d think of it as a melodic, nice, even cheerful piece whereas the lyrics concern “the biggest failure in life”. Tell me if my interpretation is wrong.

This is a very good question. As a matter of fact, the songs atmosphere in the album in 99% corresponds with the theme. For instance, “Lies” is a powerful metal song with a substantial dose of anger expressed on instruments and in vocal, and, e.g., “Last Breath” is very nostalgic, telling about the loss of someone important. On the other hand, in “Fool of Love”, I tried a certain literary trick, and the song is more about that we make mistakes and have to make up for them, but the “happy” tune, sort of Volbeat, is supposed to refer to the fact that it’s never too late for a change in our lives. The idea behind this song is to give hope and faith in oneself.

You’ve claimed in various interviews that the latest Access Denied album is not 100% metal and wasn’t intended to be such. I can confirm that it’s obvious. But we can notice that Judas Priest has also recorded many non-metal songs in his best albums (especially in the 70s). What inspired you to create this rich and contrast content of “Access Denied”? Was it a natural result of your broad inspirations (what inspirations?), or did you want to reach a similar effect to your idols (Judas Priest or others?)

You hit the bull’s eye. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m a huge fan of Judas Priest and 5FDP. Two different music schools. The classic European heavy and the modern American metal. Two different planets, so distant from each other, but at the same time both are my inspiration. We can hear it in the song “Lift Me Up” where Rob sang as guest with 5FDP, it was outstanding. And as I’ve already said, I’ve met Rob and Ivan, I’ve also been at Kevin Churko’s studio in Las Vegas, where for many years 5FDP has been recording. I was delighted when Kevin emailed us after he’d got our album to let us know what he thought about the Access Denied melodies and songs. His words of recognition mean a lot to me and motivate to further work. Kevin is a great producer and a very nice man, he recorded with Ozzy, Disturbed, 5FDP, and many other recognised artists.

To be honest, I’d really like to meet and talk to Andy Sneap too. Both Kevin in the U.S. and Andy in Europe are interesting protagonists in the world of music. I love Andy’s works such as the recent Judas Priest, Accept or Arch Enemy. It’s my dream to meet him in person, and possibly record something together. Who knows, dreams tend to come true.

Why so much anger and pain in “Access Denied”?

That’s what life is 😦

On a different note, I’d like to congratulate you on conveying the strong emotions in “Pain”. It’s a moving song, strongly affecting the listener. Is it a universal song or you had something specific on your mind?

Thank you. I can see you’ve listened to the album carefully. I really like such interviews and interesting questions. “Pain” is a very personal piece. Some time ago my father passed away. Everyone realizes such a day will come and we’re going to lose somebody. We seem to know it, but we can’t prepare for it. The song concerns that there’re moments in life we can’t do anything about, we can’t control, and the only certain thing is death 😦

source: Access Denied – Topic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xi3atudMu8k

What do you think about the idea of recording the metal version of Polish carols, as Rob Halford did it in “Celestial” (the premiere on 18.10.19)?

I know this album, but I don’t see myself in such a repertoire. I prefer to listen to Rob 🙂

Many times, you’ve played with the best Polish rock band TSA. I find it sad the way TSA ended. I saw video on YouTube from their performance with the vocalist who wanted to replace Marek Piekarczyk. It shouldn’t have happened. TSA is the legend and the heritage of the Polish rock music. There was a time they played without Piekarczyk but it was a long time ago (and forgotten). Did you witness those events ‘offstage’? What’s your view on this?

Yes, we performed with TSA and we witnessed the events… Nothing nice at all, but I don’t think I should talk about it publicly. People are different and should deal with their issues between each other. For me TSA was, is and will be the legend of the Polish music scene. HEAVY METAL WORLD!!!

source: trzezwyjakswinia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgAF27UjyNk

What are your ambitions and plans in terms of the Access Denied presence globally? Would you like to tour internationally, Europe and USA?

Obviously we’ll play anytime and anywhere with great pleasure. Our ambitions and plans are to meet new more experienced people, learn from them and record interesting songs. For example with the mentioned Andy.

I wish you and Access Denied lots of successes in your further musical career. The internet and social media enable contact with the fans all over the world, so go ahead and conquer the world!

Do you want to say something to your fans abroad?

Thank you very much for your interest in Access Denied and the superb interview. All the best to the people who will read it and see you at our concerts. Maybe we’ll perform in Iceland as well!

written by: Sam O’Black and Agnieszka Sulich

Rx27 interview

I’ve received an interesting e-mail from Manager of Rx27 – art punk rock band from Los Angeles which felt determined to share with me their music ideas. I listen to punk rock really seldom so honestly I don’t feel confident enough to assess this music. Instead, I decided to give Rx27 few questions to understand better their point of view. Check out their newest video clip and read what Thad, Maxine and Joie have to say about Rx27 🙂

Official Rx27 website: http://www.therx27.com/

source: BlankTV https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Soyl2hCL6rw

How did you create Rx27?

Thad: Rx27 has evolved from a need to express our point of view and desire to craft songs that have the ability to penetrate the veil of mediocrity that permeates what is considered popular music.

Maxine: I actually just met Joie and Thad in these last couple months, and had the honor of joining them while we worked on music at Paul Roessler’s Kitten Robot Studio.

Joie: A friend introduced me to Thad and we had a mutual passion for great songs with to die for lyrics. Music that makes you feel something that you’ve never felt before. I found a kindred spirit in Thad. We had the same desire for writing songs. So we just wrote a bunch of songs, got some guys together and really made some beautiful art. Then finding Maxine was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I always heard a female voice in my head that would sing along with me and when she walked into our lives I knew I found that voice! I haven’t had these caliber level musicians in a long time! I’ve been writing songs ever since but now to have a unified band that has the same belief is like heaven on earth, not to be over dramatic.

What are your biggest music inspirations?

Maxine: The artists and bands that never back down from telling it like it is, straight up, direct, in your face. I have also fallen in love with those gifted in using their poetry and spoken word, and inspire me to use that in their music..using powerful imagery to transport me to them instantly.

Thad: Anyone or anything that speaks truth and can somehow manage to make it stick in your head.

Joie: I guess it would be my feeling. They kind of dictate how I see the world and if I’m in a good mood I see the world is a great place if I see the world as a shitty place then I’m having shitty feelings. Feeling lyric is better than thinking about a lyric and if I can get my mind in my heart on the same page then I know I can get a good lyric going. I try not to have musical influences but I do like the sounds of 77 punk rock like the clash the damned the dead boys and the new wave bands or goth bands of the 80s. I really like Stiv Bators. He was pretty iconic but got overshadowed by Joey Ramone and Johnny rotten.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 74289634_412141053031712_5192053060666392576_n.jpg

What are your lyrics about?

Thad: Mostly pain and loss…but also sex.

Maxine: Reality, my truth, the darkness, the light, my experiences (good and bad), people in my life, relationships.

Joie: The world around me. The seen and unseen. The believed and unbelievable. Love sex death and what happens when you truly don’t give a damn what anyone says. Songs with purpose and the greater good. And knowing we live in a world of opinions that come at you like facts. Just be smart and don’t let anyone get you down.

What are your dreams and plans regarding concerts?

Maxine: Performing in huge arenas and stadiums!!! Huge dream! I see it happening, can’t say when, but it will.

Joie: Everywhere anywhere that’s will have us. Europe is fun. Places where I have never been. And to play like it’s the last time ever on stage. And incorporate the audience. Be it a club, theatre or stadium. Reach everyone and make them feel something different.

Thad: We would truly love leave our respective lives behind and be able to share our music with a different audience every night for as long as possible. We are moving everything in that direction.

You have recorded fantastic EP. Really ass kicking. What about full album?

Maxine: That will probably be happening in the future sometime. Right now I think we as a band want to give everyone a taste of Rx27 and give them more gradually… as opposed to dumping everything all at once. People get bored very easily and want to look for the next big thing 24/7.

Thad: To be honest I feel that the attention span of both artists and listeners has shortened to the point where asking someone to actually listen to 12 or more songs is self indulgent.  At least for now we intend to release singles and small collections.  This keeps fresh material emerging all the time. 

Joie: We have a lot of songs written, probably two records full of really great songs. We are always writing . That’s what writers do. but in this day a full record would be useless. people don’t digest them or take time to discover what is really going on underneath the song. It is nice to see people really focusing on the lyrics. We can thank the rap game for that. But still with all the music at our fingertips it’s about playlists. It’s a singles world now so we’re going to release a single every month or two with a video.

How is it to live in Los Angeles?

Joie: It’s across between the 7th layer of hell and paradise. It’s pretty hard. But the challenge is to be your own person. Sick city explains it all. I could leave and give you all the reasons but I still stay. The women and music sometimes are great. Opportunity and the weather is amazing. If you are a loner like me you can disappear for weeks. I have done that. It’s also sad seeing wealth and poverty 2 feet away and people are numb to it. I like the way the eagles and Guns N’ Roses and the dead Kennedy’s talk about California. That what I wanted to do with the lyrics of sick city. I did most of my life in the east village. That was a womderful place but like everything else in this world it dies. LA is to big and wierd to die. It may burn to the ground but it will never die. It will always be a mystical place where dreams live or die.

Thad: It’s brutal. It’s survival by will. Here it feels like everything is designed to destroy you. The only things that keep me from sinking are the connections to a few true souls, music, and the belief that we can create a better reality.

Maxine: Nearly impossible, rough, rushed, congested, dirty, dreamy, pretty, intriguing, classic, historic… mind boggling.

Thank you for this interview. Would you like to add something to your fans?

Thad: I’ll leave that to my esteemed friends.

Maxine: A sincere thank you for supporting what we do and joining the ride.

Joie: Thank you for having us and for your readers. Fans is a strange word. The people who like what we do probably have a lot in common with us as people. There’s no difference there’s no line dividing what is a fan and what is an artist. In my opinion life is a work of art. Treat it as such. But I do wanna say to musicians or artist just who find some interesting riff to play and then put some half assed lyrics down and call it a song. Please stop. Music and Lyrics need to be felt like a an old friend or like a destructive enemy. I’m a slave to the song. It’s a process not an assembly line. Even though people make a living assembling songs. Doesn’t make it right. There are so many bands so many songs so many ways to reach people. Give them your best. Give the song time to mature. If you are a writer find your voice. Don’t copy or mimic. Be a slave to song then be a master.

written by: Sam O’Black, Thad, Maxine, Joie

Andy Sneap interview

photo credit Rachel Lange

It’s an honor for me to chat with Andy Sneap. Despite his huge impact on sound of heavy & thrash metal music, he turned out to be friendly, unpretentious and sincere. Andy smiles from ear to ear with special joy because he loves his job as:

– a renowned music producer (among others: Accept, Blaze, Saxon, Opeth, Megadeth, Nevermore, Testament, Spiritual Beggars, Masterplan, Cathedral, Machine Head)

– a guitarist (Sabbat, Hell, The Scintilla Project, now Judas Priest).

In this period of time, Andy is performing on stage with my favourite band Judas Priest, which I love since I’ve heard “Angel of Retribution” (2005) as a kid.

Their music have changed mine (and many others) entire life, actually it is a first pure heavy metal act ever. Judas Priest stayed active through the decades, released 18 varied and always innovative albums, played countless awesome concerts and inspired not only heavy metal but also other genres.

By the way it’s worth to remember that band Exciter took its name from opening Judas Priest’s song from “Stained Class” album (1978) and then created extreme metal.

My interview with Exciter (sorry, I was allowed to give only this kind of questions which Exciter doesn’t receive from everybody else):

https://musictivity.org/2019/09/20/exciter-interview-tour/

Nowadays, Judas Priest is still powerful. Their newest longplay “Firepower” (2018) is in my opinion the best since “Painkiller” (1990). They are giving spectacular shows and playing live both newest killers, evergreens and also some oldest songs for the first time since many many years.

Sadly, original and beloved Judas Priest’s guitarist Glenn Tipton is not able to play anymore due to Parkinson disease. No surrender, Glenn! We, fans, support you all around the world. We are always ready to make our best to help you whenever and with whatever you need to feel better. Your name is carved in gold of music history and all next generations will remember about your talent and legacy.

Andy Sneap is playing guitar during current Judas Priest concerts. I especially flew to Europe for holidays in August 2017 because I wanted to see Judas Priest in Dortmund, Germany. I live in Iceland so I took a plane first to Copenhagen, made use of this great opportunity to sightseeing the capital of Denmark, after three days moved with bus and ferry to Hamburg, stayed over there next few days and finally commuted with train to Dortmund 😛

My articles about these two cities:

Copenhagen https://musictivity.org/2019/08/30/opeth-the-vintage-caravan-copenhagen-17-11-2019/

Free Hanseatic City of Hamborg https://musictivity.org/2019/08/13/jessy-martens/

I remember full Westfalenhalle, enthusiastic public, out of this world performance. Andy Sneap looked excited, smiled all the time, played perfectly and apparently had a pleasure to observe public from scene while staying next to Rob Halford, Ian Hill, Richie Faulkner and Scott Travis. Honestly, I thought before this concert that Andy Sneap is just a special guest whose role is to support Richie Faulkner on the second guitar 😉 But my personal opinion after the show is that Andy Sneap was a positive and important figure who adds a value to the group. I enjoyed to see him as a part of Judas Priest.

I hope that Judas Priest will make soon very awaited tour in Europe together with the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne. I wish Andy Sneap to enjoy each moment of this tour!

I asked Andy for the interview for Musictivity. I was not allowed to give him questions about current situation in Judas Priest (he is not an official member of the band) but in this case it is an amazing opportunity to get know about many other cool things which happen in his life.

If somebody ever thought what’s up with Andy Sneap while he is playing on scene with Judas Priest then here are his today’s opinions, dreams, memories, inspirations, remarks and hopes.

photo credit Andrew McGovern

Hello. How are you in 2019? What are you doing in 2019?

I’m ok thank you. 2019? This year has been a pretty hectic one, as was last year. [Judas] Priest were meant to be out Feb/March with Ozzy which obviously got postponed so I ended up mixing the new Killswitch Engage record. We then did the 3rd leg of the Firepower tour in the US and I’ve just finished mixing the new Testament record. So I’ve been jumping between mixing and playing quite a lot, which is a bit of a challenge, the studio seems very quiet to come back to after 18 months on the road… Just a different pace, you sit there feeling shellshocked and jet lagged thinking what just happened…

Wow, so Testament is going to release new studio album in January 2020 and you are mixing this longplay. I afraid that whatever Testament will release, it will never beat “The Legacy” \m/ But perhaps thats not their intention?

I don’t think you can really compare an album a band does now to something they did 30 years ago. People change, influences change, line ups change, technology changes etc. We always hold those albums close to our hearts because of where we are at in life too. [Iron] Maiden are a good example. People have different favourite albums depending on when they discovered them and actually its the same with Priest… Any band with a long career and a run of quality albums really.

How would you compare upcoming Testament album with their other longplays?

I think Testament have spent a bit more time writing on this record. It’s always hard to tell an opinion about music at this stage. I’ve heard the songs so many times that I don’t have a fan point of view at the moment. I need to distance myself from a record and revisit it in 6 months time.

Sure, I get it. I’m impressed that you have worked with so many excellent metal bands both as a guitarist, songwriter and as a record producer. What do you love / appreciate mostly in metal music? Which values are the most important for you when you decide to cooperate with musicians?

I have to hear something that appeals to me, whether its melody or the heaviness or the guitar playing… something. It was the energy in rock and metal that won me over as a kid. Once I got into music I never looked back and it’s still the same. Playing and feeling that energy of everything locking together is amazing.

Could I ask you one question about band which is less known? Are you still an active member of The Scintilla Project with Biff Byford (Saxon) on vocal? Or was it only a side fun which finished in moment when album “The Hybrid” was finally released in 2014?

No, not at all. That was an album Biff got me involved in just to mix and I got roped into it a bit more than I expected. I didn’t mind but I wouldn’t take any credit. I was just helping out playing some of the parts that were already written and needed tracking properly.

As far as I know, it was a soundtrack to sci-fi thriller “Scintilla” / “The Hybrid” by Billy O’Brien. Did you watch this film?

I watched the film, thought it was ok, obviously done on a budget. What’s interesting, I was working on this album with Biff where he hadn’t written the vocal patterns so he was out of his comfort zone a little. I thought it pushed him a bit, but he did well.

Did you enjoy working with Byff Byford? What is he like as a person?

He swears a lot, and I mean A LOT. Fooking this and fooking that. You definitely know when Biffs is in the room. I like Biff, I’d call him a good friend these days. He has his stubborn moments but then I guess we all do. He’s very driven, quite brash, but there is a side to him I’ve seen with his kids and people around him that is actually very genuine. He’s a good guy and can still belt out a tune so fair play.

David Halliday was another influential artist in your surrounding. Is it true that he was your first teacher? What good could you tell about him?

Dave was someone I really looked up to growing up. He was a great inspiration as a guitar player and just as a band leader and person. I often wonder what he would be doing now. I met him when I was 12 and he had a very good temperament and patience while teaching me how to play. I was so absorbed in playing guitar and Hell (his band) seemed so professional back then. Certainly the most pro band out of the local scene by a long shot. So he made a big impression on me on how to do things, music, bands and positivity in general.

Who inspire you nowadays? Do you take inspiration from different masterpieces not only related to great music?

I just do my thing. I’m always trying to learn. I think you can learn from every situation you find yourself in. Its always fun talking with other producers, we all talk about gear and little tricks etc, so picking up techniques from other guys in the know is always interesting. It’s surprising after 25 years how much knowledge you have gained but don’t realise that until you talk to a class full of students who are just starting out. Then it becomes apparent.

From which of written by you, songs / compositions / fragments are you most proud of?

I think the success of the first Sabbat album was cool and putting the first Hell album together was an achievement. Obviously I didn’t write any of that. I find it strange that Sabbat album is held in such high regard knowing that we we’re just kids trying to find our way musically but I guess that’s part of the freshness of it at the time. I have good memories of recording that one. I also find it amazing: we were only 15 – 18 when we started writing that stuff.

Congratulations then. Could you tell me please what do you think about the idea to combine music tours with sightseeing opportunities? Even if musicians don’t have much spare time during tour, they still can check out cultural heritage of visited place (at least to google it). It can be inspiring, fun and add unique dimension to entire tour experience.

We try and get out and about when possible, probably not as much as you’d think but if we are in a main city and there’s something to see we will try and organise something. I’ve had a few near death experiences with Ian Hill in hire cars recently, but it’s alway good to get out the hotel room. It’s easy to waste a day looking at four walls with a guitar and cold pizza (haha). It is a luxury being able to travel like we do so it’s best to try and see a few things. Guitar shopping is always high on the list, especially in Japan.

What is your favorite cultural activity during traveling?

We don’t get quite that much spare time, it’s not like a holiday. To be honest we keep ourselves to ourselves a lot of the time when it’s a non show day so it can be quite boring and lonely walking around a town on your own. If we travel after the show, it means we are getting into the hotel at around 2am, so you tend to sleep in a bit after that and before you know it the day off has disappeared.

Thank you for this insight. As far as I know (google told me haha) you come from Derbyshire, UK. It’s a county in the East Midlands, south east of Manchester, with population around 1 million people. Is it a post industrial area with forest (Peak District National Park) or do you have much better opinion about Derbyshire?

Google is wonderful, isn’t it! Derbyshire is nice. I grew up here, moved to Nottingham in my early 20s and then worked in the US a lot and ended up putting the studio on the farm where I am now from the early 2000’s. There’s about 15 acres to the farm and a big electric gate. I’m dug in waiting for the zombie apocalypse. It’s like the UK version of Waco, I’ve got all my backline set up and no ones getting in without an invite (haha).

(haha) What are your plans and desires for 2020?

I’m chatting to a couple of well know bands about producing whether we can make it happen with Priests touring schedule. I am mixing Saxon in March and it looks like Priest is now starting in May but things are still being penciled in at the moment.

I didn’t get a permission to ask you about Judas Priest’s plans so one more question about their older longplay. “Stained Class” is my favourite Judas Priest album. How do you perceive the sound of this particular longplay “Stained Class”?

It’s one of my favourites too. For me this is the classic line up and the band were really finding their feet. It really is such a killer record. I think the production is pretty honest for the time, very analogue and almost session like… not over done. I think it compliments the songs for the time.

Thank you very much for the interview, Andy Sneap. 🙂

authors: Sam O’Black and Andy Sneap

photo credit: Rachel Lange

photo credit: Andrew McGovern

Exciter interview + tour

I decided to prepare something special for Musictivity readers when I noticed that the first band in the world which have ever played speed metal announced European tour in November and December 2019.

British Judas Priest have created heavy metal but Canadian Exciter moved this music on entirely new level 40 years ago. It was raw, aggressive, wild, violent and fierce.

Nowadays Exciter is considered as a pioneer of thrash metal. They showed on the scene how to be extreme before Metallika, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth defined thrash metal. I guess that Canadian bands have usually harder way to the top than US bands so we can appreciate that Exciter still exists in 2019 and is full of energy to give us the best show.

Current Exciter line-up:

  • Allan Johnson, bass, Exciter 1980-1988, from 2014; also: ex-Reverend, ex-Beehler, ex-Jet Black
  • Dan Beehler, drums, vocals, Exciter 1980-1988, 1992-1993, from 2014; also: ex-Thrasher, ex-Beehler, ex-Jet Black, ex-Kiljoy
  • Daniel Dekay, guitars, Exciter from 2018; also: Aggressor, ex-Midnight Malice, Diemonds, ex-Shotgun Cure

source: Metal Archives https://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Exciter/1103

Asomvel is a special guest on Exciter European Tour. They come from England, play heavy metal since 1993 and released 3 studio albums: “Kamikaze” (2009), “Knuckle Duster” (2013) and “World Shaker” (2019). What I find common both for Exciter and Asomvel is that they play straight to the point. They know how to keep listener’s attention on their music because each moment is meaningful and energetic. Especially Motorhead’s fans will love Asomvel!

Below you can remind yourself entire “Heavy Metal Maniac”, watch new official Asomvel videoclip, check tour dates and read the interview with Exciter’s bassist Allan Johnson.

source: The Classic Heavy Metal Vault https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVgHY9v7ubs&t=1573s

source: Asomvel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5Vwv_ce2tY

02.11.2019 Tokyo, Japan

27.11.2019 Zaragoza, Spain

29.11.2019 London, UK

30.11.2019 Hagen, Germany

01.12.2019 Mannheim, Germany

03.12.2019 Rome, Italy

04.12.2019 Paderno Dugnano, Italy

05.12.2019 Winterthur, Switzerland

06.12.2019 Tilburg, Netherlands

07.12.2019 Kuurne, Belgium

08.12.2019 Billstedt, Germany

Hi \m/ Vocalist and drummer Exciter Dan Beehler sent recently a personal message for all European fans: “Maniacs – get ready for some oldschool punishment as we bring the EXCITER machine pounding through Europe – see you at the front, long live the loud!”. This massage pounded my smartphone. It was almost like Rob Halford’s kick. Rob punished a fan in Chicago (Illinois), 25th May 2019, kicking out a private smartphone from his hands because the guy distracted Rob with too strong flash in the camera. Haha! What kind of punishment do you prepare for European fans and for what a crime? Or maybe Exciter’s concert is a sport?

Allan Johnson: Well maybe punishment is the wrong word to use haha. It’s going to be loud and fierce – that’s the only way we know how to deliver. As for the cell phone thing, during one of our last shows I had two guys standing right in front of (me maybe five feet away) and they videotaped the entire time with their cell phones. Too bad that they missed the show by looking through their phones the whole time. At some point I thought they would stop but they didn’t. It kind of spoils the show for me because you know if you make a mistake it’s going to show up on Youtube the next day. I let people do it though. Otherwise if you get mad at them, you end up looking like a jerk and you lose a few fans.

It seems that you will perform pure metal for the first time since 1986 in England, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands. How good contact do you keep with fans from these countries?

Allan Johnson: There are a few fans that like to contact me on Facebook, and that’s cool. I try to reply to everyone that messages me, sometimes it’s difficult to get back to everyone because there are so many messages. There’s also the EXCITER Facebook page which people message us on and it’s me and Dekay that answer over there because Dan is not on Facebook. It’s great to have social media now to be able to communicate with the fans.

What a masterpiece coming from Belgium, Switzerland or Netherlands would you call the most impressive for you (of course it can be music or something not related to music at all)?

Allan Johnson: I don’t know about anything coming from these countries except the beauty of the countries themselves. Whenever we’re in Europe and we travel on land I just really enjoy seeing the countryside and even some of the cities are beautiful too.

Everybody knows that Exciter created speed metal. However I can hear doom metal in “Power And Domination” (“Death Machine”, 2010). There is something about bondage castle in the lyrics on the beginning of this composition. Why bondage castle?

Allan Johnson: We did create speed metal which was then named Thrash metal. We were one of the first bands to do the Death metal vocal style, mainly in the choruses and backing vocals really though, Dan used to overdub some really low vocals but they were mostly lost in the mix and did not become as prominent as we intended. We had nothing to do with the Death Machine album, we didn’t write it or play on it, that were all John’s songs and the lyrics were terrible. Most of the time they don’t even make any sense. Bondage is not something that Dan and I would write about.

Popular proverb states that all roads lead to Rome. So then we have a traffic. And you will play in Traffic Club on 03.12.2019. Two days before in Germany, one day later in another Italiano big city, Milan. Don’t you need more time to immerse yourself in Rome’s atmosphere?

Allan Johnson: We often wish that we could get to see more of the places we travel to but it’s never a standard option. We fly in a day or two before the show, do the show and leave the next day. That’s typical. When we played the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise last year my wife came with me and we booked some extra days to hang out in Florida. It was like a mini vacation for us and it was great. But unfortunately we don’t do it very often. 

I can understand that your wild performance will be so intense that you will actually make the best use of dynamic opportunities available in Rome. That’s amazing because who else is able to experience Rome in one evening? Spartacus could feel jealous!

Allan Johnson: Our performance never changes, we always give it our best. Sometimes you have an off night, or there’s certain things that go wrong, equipment malfunctions or the monitors don’t work right and you can’t hear yourself or what’s going on. You can’t let the audience down though. I’m hoping that this audience takes it all in and enjoys it to the max. But yeah, we only get a bit of time in any place we go to so we have to make the best of it.

Your music is full of aggression but I need to admit that Exciter is likeable. Thank you very much for the interview \m/

Allan Johnson: Thanks, it is aggressive, it’s not metal if it isn’t, and the new music we’re coming out with is the same and better in some ways. We’ve never been comfortable, we’ve always had to fight for everything, nothing ever came easy for us and it still doesn’t in many ways. That comes out in the music, the aggression, the anger, the edge. I think Dan hits the drums even harder than ever, and with the addition of Daniel Dekay who is a wild guitarist on stage we’re better than ever before.

author: Sam O’Black