On March 6th, 2013, Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society will playing a one-off set at L.A.’s Club Nokia, delivering stripped-down versions of a selection of songs. Accompanied by a four-piece string section, a pedal steel player and the promise of “special guests,” the entire performance will be filmed for an upcoming CD/DVD release called Unblackened.
In between rehearsals, Metal Hammer caught up with Wylde for an exclusive chat about Unblackened.
Metalhammer: So, how did the idea for Unblackened originate?
Wylde: “Well, the guys were asking about doing another DVD and we’d already done The Song Remains Not the Same, Boozed, Broozed and Broken Boned, and Doom Troopin’ Live, so I just said, ‘Instead of doing another heavy one, why don’t we just do the mellow thing? Like do one where there’s a string section so it’s different from the heavy ones.”
Metalhammer: How difficult was it to cobble a setlist together?
Wylde: “Put it this way, we don’t have the same problem that the Stones have yet,” Zakk explains. “You know what I mean? (laughs) Like six trillion songs to choose from… Between (all of the) albums, I think I put strings on thirty tunes and we’re probably going to end up doing maybe twenty songs.”
Metalhammer: Will the music still be heavy enough to make us want to break kitchen tables?
Wylde: “Well you know, when I mean ‘heavy,’ I mean that it’s got weight and integrity to it. I’m saying that if you listen to Desperado by the Eagles, it’s got some depth to it, you know? It’s got weight. It doesn’t seem like a cheesy, corny power ballad. Or Heart of Gold or Old Man, by Neil Young. These are not power ballads. They’re just good songs, but they’re slow. It’s just more of a mellow tune, as opposed to something heavy. When Sabbath did Changes, I didn’t consider that a power ballad. It’s a great, dark song. It’s got weight to it. Bridge Over Troubled Water— that’s got weight and depth. I mean, I’ll listen to Sarah McLachlan; there’s a lot of weight and a lot of depth there. It’s not cheesy, fluff, corny pop stuff, you know what I mean? Obviously there’s a certain time and place for everything…”
Band signs with Century Media Records, becoming de facto labelmates with former singer Geoff Tate
Billboard has exclusively learned that rock band Queensryche has signed with metal label Century Media Records for a worldwide record deal. The group will release its next album — its first with singer Todd La Torre — on June 11.
Drummer Scott Rockenfield says, “Century Media has been extremely enthusiastic ever since they came into the equation with us, and for what it’s worth it’s hard to find enthusiasm like that. After 35 years I guess I’m gracious and honored that we have people that are that enthusiastic about the band, so we’re really happy about moving forward with them.”
Century Media president of North American Don Robertson wrote in an email to Billboard about the label’s interest in the band, “Many of us at the label have been longtime fans of Queensryche as a band. When we heard they were recording a new record, we were all definitely interested.”
The deal resulted from Queensryche’s team putting out feelers for interest in the album. Conversations directly with the group began when the band met Robertson at the Anaheim, Calif., NAMM convention in January. Rockenfield and Robertson declined to reveal details about the deal, other than Robertson stating in his email, “We have the option to be in business with Queensryche for a long time.”
Queensryche announced last summer that it was recording that album with La Torre, after former singer Geoff Tate was fired from the band in June. But the group’s new contract is newsworthy on several counts. Since June, Queensryche has been in engaged in a lawsuit with Tate and his wife, former Queensryche manager Susan Tate, regarding the legality of his firing, his severance package and which party owns the rights to the name. The paperwork Tate submitted with his lawsuit included a declaration from Century Media A&R/product manager/InsideOut Music label manager Paul Gargano. Gargano’s declaration supported a preliminary injunction request (sought by the Tates) that would have prevented Queensryche and Tate from working under that moniker until the matter is settled in Seattle’s King County Superior Court. (Superior Court Judge Carol A. Schapira denied that request in July.)
Further, in the wake of his firing, Tate released his second solo album, Kings & Thieves, on InsideOut in November as part of a worldwide multi-album deal. InsideOut, which features progressive and theatrical metal, is a Century Media-associated label. That makes Tate and his former bandmates—Rockenfield, guitarists Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren, and bassist Eddie Jackson—semi-distant labelmates.
Topping all that off: Tate announced on Jan. 25 that he signed a contract with Cleopatra Records, known for goth albums and catalog reissues, to release an album with his own version of Queensryche later this year. For now, Tate and the original Queensryche are legally permitted to enter business agreements under that name. This resulted from a failed attempt by Queensryche to stop Tate from using the name until the suit was settled; Schapira ruled in October that both parties could continue working as Queensryche.
Billboard sent a request for comment to Tate about Queensryche signing with Century Media, but did not receive one by press time.
Gargano had summarized his declaration with, “In my opinion, based on my experience in the industry, the best course of action to take at this point would be to stop any tours or recordings by anyone in the name of Queensryche until the litigation is resolved.” One reason he listed was because he had seen how bands’ brand value were eroded “after those bands attempt[ed] to replace their lead singer, [especially] when they do so in an acrimonious manner.” In July, Gargano further commented on his position in an email to Billboard, writing in part that “the intention of the injunction was to protect the future value of Queensryche by eliminating the possibility of there being multiple versions of Queensryche. Not only did the judge deny the injunction—she also urged and encouraged that there should be two Queensryche bands moving forward. Which is precisely what the injunction intended to avoid.”
When asked if there was any concern about the potential for conflict with Tate or Queensryche in relationship to Gargano, Robertson wrote, “Our employees’ personal opinions in no way reflect the opinions of Century Media as a company. We expect there to be no conflict with any of our artists.”
Rockenfield says he isn’t concerned either. “To be honest, we don’t really care. The label wouldn’t be signing us if they weren’t interested in what we’re doing as Queensryche,” he says. “They know exactly what’s going on in the lawsuit. They’ve read everything, they did their own research because they’re not going to throw money and time and support into something if they didn’t know what they were doing. Don and Steve[Joh, head of Century Media A&R] are hugely supportive of what we’re doing, and that’s all we need.”
Robertson also stated that Joh, not Gargano, will oversee Queenryche’s A&R/product manager responsibilities.
In September Tate rolled out his own Queensryche lineup, followed by a November announcement that the 25th anniversary of the band’s 1988 breakthrough album “Operation: Mindcrime” would be celebrated with a tour. Two of those members (guitarist Glen Drover and drummer Bobby Blotzer) have since left the band. The lineup now features brothers Rudy and Robert Sarzo on bass and drums, respectively; drummer Simon Wright; guitarist Kelly Gray; and keyboardist Randy Gane. Multiple guest musicians are also performing on Tate’s upcoming Queensryche record, such as Brad Gillis, K.K. Downing and Ty Tabor.
As far as the original Queensryche is concerned, it’s focusing on its Return to History tour, which begins March 5, and completing the album. “Recording is finished. It’s that final stage where we mix and we master . . . It’s been quite crazy so we’re winding down so we can focus on the final section of the record, which is the artwork and the name and everything else,” Rockenfield says. The band has reteamed with producer James “Jimbo” Barton, who also guided Queensryche in the studio for its albums Operation: Mindcrime, Empire and Promised Land, for its latest project.
What will happen when the album hits shelves — and the lawsuit is settled — remains to be seen. The trial date is set for Nov. 18. Asked how it would affect the terms of their deal if its version of Queensryche loses the lawsuit, Robertson wrote, “I guess we will cross that bridge when we come to it.”
David Von Bader of the Broward Palm Beach New Times spoke with Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain. A portion of the interview appear below.
BPBNT:Would you like to weigh-in on the situations going on with Dave Lombardo and Bill Ward?
McBrain: I don’t so much about the Dave story… I was actually with Dave a couple of weeks ago in LA and he didn’t say anything. I don’t know much about the story, I take it there’s trouble in the Slayer camp?
BPBNT: Apparently he came to Kerry King regarding some financial discrepancies and they fired him.
McBrain: Oh, that’s not good! Yeah, you know, most of the issues that pro musicians have sooner or later in time boils down to the royalty check or performance royalties.
I’m sad to hear that that has happened, but, you know, when you find out and look at something and say “could you explain this to me, why we’re not getting what we should according to these numbers” and if somebody turns around and says “Fucking shut your face or you’re fired,” that therefore it tells you there’s an alarm bell going off. Without knowing all of the ins and outs of it, you can’t pre-judge it.
But yeah, the Bill Ward story, I understood that Sharon Osbourne got her fangs into that one. It’s beyond me — I mean, Bill Ward was the original freaking band member, you know? It just doesn’t make sense to me. If I was entitled to more, I don’t really want to know; I’m happy!
You have to ask yourself this: How did Dave Lombardo get the information that led to this problem, is what I’d like to know. Who gave him the financials, if he wasn’t on top of it with an accountant already?
I’m sad because Dave is so much a part of that band; he’s so identifiable. There’s great drummers out there, but Dave Lombardo is a master with it, and Dave is… to me, he is Slayer with Kerry and the guys! I think Kerry really may have overreacted and might be regretting it. I hope that that’s the case and they can sit down and sort it out.
Dio’s Finding The Sacred Heart – Live In Philly 1986 DVD will be released on May 28th through Eagle Vision.
Finding The Sacred Heart – Live In Philly 1986 was filmed at The Spectrum in Philadelphia on June 17th, 1986 during the second half of the Sacred Heart tour, which featured new guitarist Craig Goldy. The show was issued in an edited form first on VHS and then DVD. Now for the first time the full concert is being released in the original running order, restored from the original 16mm film and with remastered sound. It’s an extraordinary live show with a giant animatronic dragon towering over the stage and spectacular lasers and pyrotechnics. Ronnie James Dio is in fine voice as ever and the band deliver a blistering live performance featuring tracks from their first three albums alongside Black Sabbath and Rainbow classics.
Finding The Sacred Heart – Live In Philly 1986 will also be released on Blu-ray, CD and vinyl.
Finding The Sacred Heart – Live In Philly 1986 track listing:
1. Draco Ignis
2. King Of Rock And Roll
3. Like The Beat Of A Heart
4. Don’t Talk To Strangers
5. Hungry For Heaven
6. Medley: The Last In Line / Children Of The Sea / Holy Diver / The Last In Line (reprise)
7. Drum Solo
8. Heaven And Hell
9. Keyboard Solo
10. Guitar Solo
11. Sacred Heart
12. Medley: Rock N’ Roll Children / Long Live Rock ‘N Roll / Man On The Silver Mountain / Rock N’ Roll Children (reprise)
13. Time To Burn
14. Stand Up And Shout
15. Rainbow In The Dark
16. We Rock
Bonus features include:
* Sacred Heart Tour Featurette
* Interview ’86
* Interview with Ronnie & Craig
* “Rock N’ Roll Children” music video
* Behind The Scenes
Dio’s lineup on the DVD:
Ronnie James Dio – Vocals
Jimmy Bain – Bass
Vinny Appice – Drums
Craig Goldy – Guitar
Claude Schnell – Keyboards
Slayer guitarist Kerry King says that frontman Tom Araya has had doubts over drummer Dave Lombardo for a while, but King wanted to keep him.
It was only when “trouble in paradise” flared hours ahead of their Australian tour that King made the decision to have the drummer replaced. Jon Dette is currently the percussionist for Slayer’s Australia’s tour, and the band is not sure about Lombardo returning to the position.
Asked whether he saw the dispute coming, King told Soundwave TV, “Tom did. Tom’s been on the fence about Dave for a while and I was pretty much the one that said, ‘Nah, I’m not comfortable moving on.’ Then it got thrust in our face, and I took action immediately. It’s unfortunate that Dave couldn’t be with us. I planned on him being here up until the Monday before I left – then I saw trouble in paradise. Since I’m the mastermind on making decisions like this, I was like, ‘Alright, I’ve got a backup plan.’ I did what I thought was best and we pulled it off.”
Dette, who’s also standing in for Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante during the Australian festival tour, was a member of Slayer between 1996 and 1997.
King continued, “I’m like, ‘How are we going to get a visa for whoever goes with us?’ I went, ‘Jon’s with Anthrax, Jon knows our stuff. If he couldn’t do it I don’t think I could have taught it to anybody in time. We rehearsed three times and the first show was Brisbane. He’s doing really good. He was completely out of playing for a while, he told me. To just be at the level of playing he is, it’s really awesome.”
King has put together 11 tracks for Slayer’s next album – but he doesn’t know how or when they’ll start work in the studio. Additionally, he doesn’t know if fellow guitarist Jeff Hanneman will return from his near-fatal spider bite in 2011. He’s been temporarily been replaced by Exodus’ Gary Holt.
“I would like to do it between Australia and Europe in June,” says King. “It could get mixed while I’m out on tour and be out in September or October. I’ve been working on the new material a lot – I worked on it a lot with Dave. So I haven’t decided.”
Former Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready have formed a new supergroup with former Screaming Trees’ drummer Barrett Martin. The new group is currently unnamed, and the band is looking for multiple vocalists to help flesh out ideas new and old.
“Duff and Barrett and I got together. We wrote some new stuff and we took some of those old Mad Season demos from that [unreleased] second Disinformation record, so we are trying to find something to do with those,” McCready told Billboard. “We’re talking to Jaz [Coleman] from Killing Joke and I’ve been trying to find some singers to work on some of that stuff.”
The new band hasn’t decided on any release dates for their music, but according to Martin, that depends on the vocalists. “As the different singers finish their songs and turn them in, that will determine when they get put out,” he said.