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Interviews   

HOLY HELL, MANOWAR’s PROTEGES



Radio Metal : First of all, how did you find your concert at Hellfest in France?

Francisco Palomo (keyboard) : : Well it was a wonderful experience for us. It was great to play for the first time in France in front of a crowd that is totally new to our music. So far we’ve played more in Germany so it was very important to play in France. We loved it and we are very thankful to the promoters who helped.

How did you find the French audience?

I think it’s a wonderful audience! As I said, it was a totally new experience for us and we were a bit early on the bill so most people were coming to see the headliners. But it was still great being able to see how much the people enjoyed Holy Hell. We received lots of fan mail after that and there were lots of people from France asking us to come back! So I think we did a good show there. It was our second show on that tour so it was quite important for us to make a good impression. I think it went well.

During the show Maria was often absent from the stage. I would like to know what happened.

We had a couple of technical problems. It’s something that happens sometimes and you have to deal with it. It happens especially in festival environments when there are lots of bands. I think we managed to solve these problems as quick as we could.

Now let’s talk about your album Holy Hell. The album review on your official myspace page is very enthusiastic. Is this enthusiasm shared by the others? What kind of feedback have you had about your album?

Well first of all we’ve waited a long time for this album to come out. Fortunately, all of the reviews have been great. We were at number 16 on the charts in Germany, Switzerland and Austria when we first released the album. Then we went up to number 7 or 8. But then by pure coincidence, the death of Michael Jackson meant that he monopolised the whole of the charts. I still think that starting at 16 and then making our way up to number 7 is a very good start for our debut album! There have been some very good reviews of the album and everybody is happy with the response. Although it took a lot of time to get the album done, I think it was it was worth it.

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What is the running theme of your album? I read that it is a concept album. Is this true?

A lot of people are saying that it’s a concept album because of the graphics and the lyrics. Actually, the idea was not to make a concept album. Every song has its own life, message and content but Holy Hell is the concept. Musically and lyrically it all fits together, so some people think that it’s a concept album. That was not the exact idea. If you listen to the album closely, you can see what Holy Hell is all about. We didn’t make it so that every song would link to another song but they are all related because of the content on the fight of good versus evil which is present in both the musical and lyrical part. So it was not intended on being a concept album.


« Of course Manowar has to be taken seriously. I think that they believe in their lyrics. If it was a joke then they probably wouldn’t have been doing it for so long. »

The biography on your official website mentions a unique style and sound. However, you are in a musical range and scene where everything has been done before, and where it is hard to renew yourself. According to you, what is it that makes you stand out from the rest and what is this unique sound?

As you say, in the metal scene pretty much a lot of things have been done over the years. But I think that what Holy Hell brings to the table is first of all having a front woman singer, as well as, some very highly skilled musicianship. Guys such as Joe Stump (guitar) and Rhino (drums) have had very long careers as technical players, like Jay (bass) also. Hopefully Maria and I will too. On the other side, we don’t want to be another classical operatic band because there are tones. Our band is more interested in the rock n roll side. We like to write our songs more in the rock n roll style rather than the operatic or orchestral style. Although there are still those elements but the heart of our songs is that they are power metal songs. We make songs that you can relate to remember the melodies to despite the fact that there are lots of technical elements. This is what makes Holy Hell different from the other bands in my opinion. We do not want another opera singer or too many keyboards and guitars like many other bands in this genre do. We try to portray the balance between our rock n roll and the orchestral part. Also a very clear and more rock n roll voice than the other bands.

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Do you think that when people listen to your album, they can recognise Holy Hell’s style?

Yes I think they will because every element on this album is very distinctive. Rhino, our drummer, has had a very long career and so everyone knows how he plays and blasts. Then there are Joe’s crazy guitar solos which many fans can also recognise. Finally, there is Maria’s melodic voice which is very different than other voices in the same genre. I think that they can recognise the sound of Holy Hell and that there is a very specific balance in what we do. I hope that people will recognise and like the style of the band.

Could you come back on the privileged relationship that Holy Hell shares with Manowar? How did you get into contact? When you first approached Joey De Maio, did you think that he would agree to help you? Did you really believe it?

The relationship with Joe started a long time ago. It started when he had begun coaching and supporting Maria as an artist and there was of course the link with Rhino having been a part of Manowar. I had also been playing with them for two years. So I think that we have a very genuine relationship. We are part of the same record label and family, so we have been helping each other. Of course, they gave us the great opportunity to be their guests on the last tours. Joey de Maio, as a producer, has a very clear view of what he wants. When he takes on an artist, he takes them to the limit as a musician as well as composer and song writer. This is something that we really appreciate and I think that there is a mutual respect. There is great admiration from our side for Joey as a producer and as a bass player, at which he is a legend, in one of the greatest bands in history. We are very grateful that he believes in us.

What was your reaction when you saw how enthusiastic he was to help you?

I think for all of us it was wonderful. Talking for each band member of Holy Hell, I can say that we each have a huge amount of respect for him. When you see that such a perfectionist working with you and giving you time out of his really busy schedule, it is something that you must really appreciate and be grateful. We were thrilled of course when the whole project started to be crafted. Throughout the recording, mixing and mastering process we felt completely satisfied that he was part of our career. It’s something that doesn’t happen too often. He produces other bands and each time he gives them one thousand per cent. It is rare in this music scene to see someone give everything they have to the project they decide to go for.

Did this collaboration open doors that were closed before?

Of course. As I said we are very grateful to be on the road as a guest band for Manowar. It has really opened doors to many opportunities. The most important thing though is that it gave us the opportunity to learn from them. This has allowed us to now go ahead and maybe do our own thing using the knowledge that we gained from this experience.

In the future, would you like to collaborate with Joe De Maio once again, or on the contrary, would you rather distance yourself from being called « Manowar’s protégés »?

We have one more tour this winter as guests with Manowar and three more bands. Holy Hell’s next step after that will be start going on their own. We are working with our management to see what our possibilities are to do tours with other bands. The other option is to do a tour only with Holy Hell around Europe. But basically we have one last tour with Manowar and then we will go our separate way to create our own history.

THE INTERVIEW’S STUPID QUESTION: In your opinion, are Manowar to be taken seriously?

I think so when you see the respect that they have for their fans. They are probably taken seriously by their fans because of the big career they have had. All of us in Holy Hell respect and take them very seriously. I think that they believe in their lyrics and that if it was a joke then they probably wouldn’t have been doing it for so long.

Phone Interview conducted in October 2009

Transcription conducted by Isere

Myspace HOLY HELL : www.myspace.com/holyhellofficial




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