SINGER GRAHAM BONNET DISCUSSES ALCATRAZZ, RAINBOW AND MICHAEL SCHENKER

grahambonnett Greg Prato of Songfacts spoke with singer Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group) about the many bands and musicians he has played with over the years. Portions of the interview appear below.

Songfacts: How would you compare playing in the current Alcatrazz lineup to the ’80s version of Alcatrazz?

Graham: Well, it’s completely different. We have no keyboard player, so it’s a smaller band of musicians. What we’ve done – a secret – is we’ve prerecorded keyboards. We play to a click track when we go on stage, because a lot of the music I made in the past has been very heavily keyboard oriented. So we’ve had to do that, unfortunately. Our keyboard player actually left – he went to get a real job, like big men do. He decided the music business wasn’t for him anymore. He was our keyboard player and second guitar player. His name’s John Thomas, and he’s a really great guitar player and worked very well with our current guitar player, Howie Simon.

He left, so it’s completely different. I often think about the original band, the first band we put together with Yngwie Malmsteen playing and then the second band with Steve Vai, and it was a completely different world then. It was very exciting, it was all new, and everybody’s going, “Who are these guitar players?” But now there are so many guitar players that have that same kind of style, as well as singers who sing high, it’s becoming done to death.

But I do miss that feeling of the first band. The first lineup we had was great, with Yngwie playing, and the second with Steve. Then the third one was with Danny Johnson who eventually went to play with Steppenwolf. Danny’s a very bluesy player, so he found it hard to fit. He said: “I can’t play all this heavy whittley whittley stuff.” But he did. And he could. But a better job come along, so he went with Steppenwolf for about 13 years after he left Alcatrazz.

But the first lineup was a great lineup with Yngwie, because it was all new and fresh with this new guitar player, this young kid who everybody loved to death. I kind of miss that. It’d be nice to do it again, but I don’t think that will happen. I don’t think there’ll be a reunion.

Songfacts: It’s funny you said that – I don’t know if I’m in the minority, but I actually prefer the Steve Vai lineup. I think the Disturbing the Peace album is an underrated ’80s rock classic.

Graham: I like the second album best, myself. The first one was kind of a tester, because my idea was to put a band together that was kind of like Rainbow, basically. Rainbow Part II: keyboard player, guitar player who played like Ritchie [Blackmore]. Yngwie had been a big fan of Ritchie and people like Uli Roth, so he fit the bill perfectly. And when Steve came along, for me it was more interesting, because it didn’t take the same kind of roads as so-called heavy rock would normally take, because he was from Frank Zappa and he had a different approach to music. He was very, very different, and I found it good fun to write tunes with him, because of the way he directed his arrangements guitar wise. And it gave me more space to write better melodies and think about better lyrics, as well. So I prefer the second album. That’s my favorite album of all.

Songfacts: How did you originally cross paths with Ritchie Blackmore?

Graham: That was through Roger Glover. One of my friends, Mickey Moody, was playing for Whitesnake at that time, and I think Roger was producing their album. This is 1970-something. Mickey told Roger that I was doing some solo stuff, which was successful in places like Australia and New Zealand. Weird places – everywhere but England. Roger wanted to know what I was doing, so they invited me over to this chateau on the border of Switzerland and France, and they gave me a song to learn. I had to learn a song called Mistreated, which I didn’t know anything about. I didn’t know anything about Rainbow at all, to be honest with you. So I had to buy the albums and learn one song as an audition.

Roger phoned me up and said, “Will you come over and do a song with us?” And so I went over there and sang at them and they gave me the job. That was it, really. Then I went home, thought about it, and I said to my manger, “I’m not right for this. I’m not like these other guys, long hair and all the rest of it. I don’t fit.” But I did in the end.

Songfacts: Would you say that played a part in your not staying very long in the band, that you felt like you didn’t really fit with that band?

Graham: Yeah. It came to a somewhat slow end. Because Cozy Powell [drummer] left the band before we started rehearsing for the second album in Copenhagen, and rehearsals were with Bobby Rondinelli, the new drummer who came in. Cozy was a very close friend of me and Don Airey, you know. We’re very close, and when he left, Don was threatening to leave. Ritchie didn’t sometimes turn up to rehearsals, so it would be me and Don and Bobby Rondinelli there, and sometimes not even Roger Glover.

They’d look at each other, “Well, what are we doing?” “We’re rehearsing for the next album.” “Oh, okay.” And we only had one song, just a song that Russ Ballard wrote, called I Surrender. That’s the only song we had. So we’re sitting around looking at each other and Ritchie would come in for like half an hour and plonk on his bass pedals or whatever the hell, and then he would go. It was unproductive. The thrill had gone, so to speak.

Bobby Rondinelli really wanted to fix it and get on with it, but we just didn’t gel and nothing was happening, so I went home. I went back to LA and the management called me and said, “What do you want to do?” I said, “Well, nothing’s happening.” I’d put down some backing vocals to the song I Surrender, that’s all I’d done on this album, because it was not going anywhere. So he said, “Do you want to sing the songs you like and have another singer sing the songs you don’t like?” I said, “Well, there’s no songs there. And two singers – no, that won’t work for me.”

So I left the band. That was it.

Songfacts: I understand. And then how did you cross paths with Michael Schenker and also sing on the MSG album, Assault Attack?

Graham: Cozy was in the band at the time, and he invited me down to I think it was The Country Club in LA. I went down and I saw the band play. I didn’t know what was going to happen that night, but Cozy came up to me and said, “What do you think about the band?” I said, “Oh, it’s great. Fantastic songs.” I’d never met Michael before or any of the guys.

He said, “Oh, you like the band, do you? Do you want to be in it?” I said, “What do you mean do I want to be in it?” I said, “You have a singer.” He said, “Well, yeah, he’s probably going.” So that’s how that started. Gary Barden left the band or whatever happened there, I don’t know the whole story. I don’t know whether he was fired or he just left.

So then I went back home and a few weeks later I got some tapes from Michael signed “Urgent.” There were three tunes on there that he wanted me to write words and melodies to, so that’s what I did. And the next thing I know I was over in London doing rehearsals with the band for an album. I was suddenly in the band. It was out of the blue, really.

Songfacts: How was it writing then, with Michael Schenker?

Graham: Well, he basically gave me the tracks and I went home… well, I wasn’t at home. In fact, Roger Glover’s house, of all places. I was staying there. I wrote most of the words there at Roger’s house, sitting outside and drinking wine to get some inspiration, because I’d never actually written a whole album before.

It was quite a challenge, because Michael doesn’t speak English too well. He couldn’t write lyrics to his songs very well, and he gave me the job. He said, “Can you please write these, Graham, I can’t do this, you know.” So I ended up writing the melodies and everything. For me it was very weird to write words and melodies to songs that had an arrangement all there, and he had to fit in the lyrics and the melody. When I used to make up my own tunes before Rainbow, I’d write on an acoustic guitar and I knew where every part was going to come. But when a guitar player writes a piece, it’s, “OK, where does the melody go? Where do I sing? Do I stop here, do I start here?” So it was a bit of a challenge. But Michael just said, “Do what you think. Come in wherever you want to come in. And then afterwards when we record properly, I will arrange my guitar parts around your vocal.”

So it was a good challenge and Michael gave me a great job. And eventually it led to better things.

Songfacts: With Alcatrazz, how did the songwriting work?

Graham: Well, it was mainly me and Yngwie, the first version of Alcatrazz. I had ideas and I would play them to Yngwie and then he would embellish with his fantastic guitar playing. I’d say, “Okay, you take it from here.” And it was usually me and him and sometimes the keyboard player, Jimmy Waldo. He would have ideas for an intro or a middle part to a tune, and that’s kind of how it went. But it was mainly the two of us, me and Yngwie. I wrote the melodies, but we’d work out the arrangements together.

Songfacts: Would you want to set the record straight once and for all regarding if Yngwie is hard to work with or not?

Graham: He wasn’t at first. [Laughs] But he became… he suddenly was engulfed by people telling him how wonderful he was. And when a kid is 19 years old and everybody’s telling you how marvelous you are and you could be better than this, how you could be the next Jimi Hendrix, it was very tempting for him, and his ego suddenly inflated. He became not a band member anymore – he wanted to go off on his own. And eventually, he did. It just wasn’t working. I could see it happening.

Songfacts: How would you compare songwriting with Yngwie to songwriting with Steve?

Graham: Well, with Steve it was more challenging, because he didn’t do the obvious arrangements. At first I thought, “Oh, God, we’re never going to get anything together.” Then after a couple of weeks, it became easier and he would know what I was thinking and I would know what he was thinking. We suddenly gelled really well.

So at first it was hard, but then it was good. It took a little while, but eventually he knew what I was thinking and I knew where he was going with something. And Steve thinks those tunes we wrote together on that album were some of his favorite tracks ever.

Songfacts: Were there ever plans to record another album with Steve, or did he already hook up with David Lee Roth once the touring was done for that album?

Graham: We didn’t start on anything. We were playing gigs and I didn’t even know he was leaving. The band did, but I didn’t. He said to the rest of the band, “Don’t tell Graham yet,” because we were still on the road, and he knew I’d be pissed off. And of course I was, I was very upset. “Oh, fuck.” This is really going a good way, and then David Lee Roth saw him and he was invited along. And of course money speaks. He would get paid a lot of money, and the ultimate hippie suddenly turned into Mr. Givemethemoney. Steve was very hippie-fied: “The money doesn’t bother me, it’s the art.” But then a better job comes along and, “See ya!”

Songfacts: Would you ever consider writing or recording again with Yngwie or Steve Vai if the opportunity came up?

Graham: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Because no matter who they are now, they’re still great musicians. Abso-fucking-lutely. I don’t know if it will ever happen, because times have changed. People have gone their own way and everybody’s got their own careers going, and now guitar players are even more successful than any singers or drummers or bass players. Guitar players are always going to be gods to people.

Steve and Yngwie have their own careers going, so I don’t see where that’ll ever happen. But I would invite them in if they wanted to knock on the door.

Read more at Songfacts.

source: songfacts.com

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WATCH A VIDEO TEASER FOR ROB ZOMBIE’S GREAT AMERICAN NIGHTMARE

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In just four weeks, Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare–the ultimate Halloween music and horror event–will open its doors at FEARPlex in Pomona, just outside Los Angeles.  Check out an exclusive video for a preview of the most exciting and horrifying attractions from Rob Zombie below.

Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare will be held every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from October 10th-November 2nd. Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare will feature 15 nights of music, culminating with a November 2 headlining performance by Rob Zombie himself. This bone-chilling experience will combine the most advanced haunted house attractions with a not-to-be-missed music festival from top artists in the realms of hard rock/metal, rock alternative, EDM, and Latin music. Each Thursday night will feature rock alternative music, Fridays EDM, most Saturdays will feature hard rock/metal, and most Sundays will be Latin music focused.

In addition to Rob Zombie, Great American Nightmare music performances will include: 3OH!3, 45 Grave, Andrew W.K., Beware Of Darkness, Blaze Ya Dead Homie, Blood On The Dance Floor, Butcher Babies, DirtyLoud, Dirtyphonics, DJ Bl3nd, Doctor P, Duane Peters, Eagles Of Death Metal, Emilie Autumn, Evol Intent, Fei-Fei, Ghost Town, Goldfinger, HeavyGrinder, Kottonmouth Kings, Metalachi, Mod Sun, One More Time (Daft Punk Tribute), Ozomatli, Powerman 5000, Reel Big Fish, TSOL, Terravita, The Dickies, The Used, The Vandals, Twiztid, Vampires Everywhere, Wallpaper, William Control, Winds Of Plague, and Zomboy. One night will also feature pro-wrestling sensations Lucha Libre USA.

Please visit www.GreatAmericanNightmare.com for more details and the full list of music performances by date.

The FEARplex for Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare will include 150,000 square feet of horror and entertainment and is not geared towards young children or the faint of heart. Patrons should be prepared for maximum scares!

At Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare, patrons will sequentially enter three different attractions, each completely different in look, theme and effects:

Lords Of Salem In Total Black Out: This harrowing attraction–based on Zombie’s 2012 The Lords Of Salem independent horror film–is designed to twist the mind. It will accentuate some senses while limiting others. Fear of the dark, claustrophobia, and fear of the unknown will be preyed on as the visitor attempts to traverse this sixty-degree maze.

The Haunted World Of El Superbeasto 3D: Utilizing Chromadepth glasses, this innovative attraction will take the patron right into the middle of the irreverent world of Rob Zombie’s El Superbeasto 2009 animated exploitation musical horror comedy film based on the comic book series of the same name. The attraction’s unique surprise entrance, brilliant colors, sudden chills and startling thrills, and salacious humor will make one scream with fright and laughter.

Haunt Of 1,000 Corpses: This terrifying attraction pays homage to the 10-year anniversary of the exploitation horror film House Of 1,000 Corpses, directed by Rob Zombie. This extreme, traditional haunted house will take visitors on a walking journey through a recreation of the film’s “Museum of Monsters & Madmen” along with an expanded “Murder Ride,” confronting notorious serial killers along the way. This high impact, highly detailed attraction will use state of the art animatronics, video effects, costuming, sound, scents and lights.

Fullerton, California’s The Slidebar has partnered with Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare to host the Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare Battle Of The Bands live local music showcase this September and October. Unsigned talent will have a chance to compete for a chance to play the Monster Energy Main Stage on one night of Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare. To enter the competition, bands should email slidebarvenuebooking@yahoo.com by September 13th, 2013. Each entry should include: Band Name, Genre, Facebook Page, Twitter, Contact Name, and Contact Email. Bands will be chosen from these entries to perform at the weekly battles, each featuring five bands. Also visit the SlideBLOG at  www.SlidebarFullerton.com for more details.

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AUDIENCE FILMED FOOTAGE OF BLACK SABBATH’S ENTIRE IRVINE, CALIFORNIA POSTED ONLINE

blacksabb2013 Fan filmed footage of Black Sabbath’s entire Irvine, California can be viewed below.

The August 28th show’s set list was:

1. War Pigs
2. Into The Void
3. Under The Sun/Every Day Comes And Goes
4. Snowblind
5. Age Of Reason
6. Black Sabbath
7. Behind The Wall Of Sleep
8. N.I.B.
9. End Of The Beginning
10. Fairies Wear Boots
11. Rat Salad
12. Iron Man
13. God Is Dead?
14. Children Of The Grave
Encore:
15. Paranoid

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SLAYER ADDS MORE DATES TO THEIR FALL 2013 NORTH AMERICAN TOUR

slayer2013lineup_lo A week after announcing seventeen U.S. dates for the fall, Slayer announced today (September 9th) the addition of seven Canadian concerts as well as a date in Seattle. These added shows are in bold below, and are part of Slayer’s first North American tour in two years.

Slayer – Tom Araya/bass vocals, guitarist Kerry King, drummer Paul Bostaph, and guitarist Gary Holt, who continues to fill in for the late founding member Jeff Hanneman – will have Gojira and 4ARM support on all dates.

Tickets for these newly-added dates go on sale beginning this Friday, September 13th. Log onto www.slayer.net for a complete on-sale dates and ticketing information.

Slayer’s Fall 2013 North American tour is as follows:

October:

22 Sullivan Sports Arena, Anchorage, AK
25 The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
28 Hollywood Palladium, Hollywood, CA
30 Events Center @ San Jose State, San Jose, CA

November

1 WAMU Center, Seattle, WA
3 Stampede Corrall, Calgary, AB
4 Shaw Center, Edmonton, AB
5 Praireland Park Center, Saskatoon, SK
7 MTS Center, Winnipeg, MB
8 Myth, Minneapolis, MN
10 FunFunFun Fest, Austin, TX
12 Bayou Music Center, Houston, TX
13 South Side Ballroom, Dallas, TX
15 Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL
16 The Fillmore, Detroit, MI
17 LC Pavilion, Columbus, OH
19 The Fillmore, Washington, D.C.
20 Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
21 Ricoh Colibsum, Toronto, ON
23 CEPSUM/University of Montreal, Montreal, QC
24 Pavilion de la Jeunesse, Quebec, QC
26 Oakdale Theatre, Wallingford, CT
27 Theatre @ MSG, New York, NY
29 Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden, NJ
30 Tsongas Arena, Boston, MA

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BLACK SABBATH’S TONY IOMMI ON BILL WARD: “[HE] PULLED THE PLUG BECAUSE HE DIDN’T LIKE THINGS THE WAY IT WAS”

TonyIommibig Glenn BurnSilver of the Phoenix New Times spoke with Black Sabbath and Heaven And Hell guitarist Tony Iommi about Sabbath’s classic sludgy sound, their new album, the future of the band and Bill Ward. Portions of the interview appear below.

PNT: I have to wonder about that development of that original sound. A few early songs have a bluesy and progressive sound–but how did the heavy, sludgy sound materialize? Did you stumble on it by accident?

Iommi: The sound I was after in the first place was to have something powerful. Something to create some tension. We used to work on trying to get the sound as big as we could. I think because of my accident it made me play a different way anyway. I had to work on playing chords a different way and playing as big as I could. That’s really what it was, working on enhancing the sound. And when we all played together, the way Geezer would bend his notes the same as I do, and it makes the sound fuller.

PNT: That made it darker, heavier?

Iommi: I wanted it to be that way. When we first started, we were playing jazzy blues stuff. Once we started getting down to really writing our own stuff, that’s when the sound came about really. I wanted to create the same vibe as a horror film. It’s got tension and these evilly things going on. I wanted to do that with music and I came up with these notes that were evil [laughs].

PNT:Why do you think people took to it? Did it make their hair stand up on their arms, or maybe give them that evil thrill? Or was it just so different?

Iommi: It was unlike anything else around at that time. It was just different and people latched on to it. That’s what we wanted. Not all people–some people hated it–but it was a matter of building up the people who liked it and making more of them. There were a lot of people when we first came out who really did slag us and hated what we did.

PNT: OK, back to the future. How is playing together–recording together–after so many years of tension and not being in the studio? The last album with the original lineup was in 1978… Ozzy was booted out in 1979…

Iommi: Tensions? The tensions over the years have mainly been about business. It’s not been personal at all. We always got on well on a personal level. It’s been going really good.

It’s just a different attitude now. When we got back together to record this album everybody had a different attitude toward what we were doing this time. We wanted to make an album together. We all really appreciated each other and respected each other. That’s really the only way to go into it–a full band commitment–and everybody was ready to put everything into it.

We did try back 12 years ago, and nobody could settle on it then. It wasn’t the right time, there were to many things going on. Ozzy was doing MTV, so it just didn’t work then. We weren’t going to do it until everybody was fully committed, and that was this time. Rubin was interested in doing the album [in 2001]. We played him some tracks but that’s as far as we got with it. We pulled the plug on it. We never got into the studio. We’d just played him some tracks.

PNT: Any of these songs on 13 holdovers from the 2001 sessions?

Iommi: We totally just abandoned those. It was not a good memory, so we just scrapped them.

PNT: Where’s [drummer] Bill [Ward}? I know all of you have worked together on and off since that 1997 reunion, but is Bill even able to perform right now?
Of course–we were hoping Bill was going to do it. When we first got together, Bill was involved.

Iommi: It was Bill who pulled the plug, it wasn’t us. Bill decided on his own he didn’t want to do this, because he didn’t like things the way it was. But we still don’t know exactly what that was, because Bill won’t exactly talk to us about it. He got his lawyers to talk with our lawyers, and it went that way instead of talking to the band personally.

It got to be a silly situation. It would have been nice to have had Bill on the album, but it was getting too complicated. It had been after a year of this stuff, and we just had to get on with it.

PNT: Given how well this is going, and the success of the record, will we see more of this Black Sabbath in the future?

Ioomi: We’re not looking at like that. We’re looking at in the moment. Unfortunately, we have to work around my treatments. I’m still having treatments for the cancer. I have to go back to England every seven or eight weeks, and I have to come off the road while my system adjusts. Then we go back on the road.

It’s all been very new to me. I didn’t know how it was going to work. I haven’t done a tour since I was ill. Maybe a couple of shows, but I haven’t done a day on, day off, day on, day off tour. I have to treat my life quite differently than I did five years ago. So we don’t plan things too far down the road since I don’t know how I’m going to be after this tour.

Read more at the Phoenix New Times.

source: phoenixnewtimes.com

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