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Interviews   

Helloween: the pumpkins claim their rights


Helloween 2015

Over the years, Helloween have shown that they reserve the right to do whatever they want, whether it is the controversial Chameleon (1993), the gloomy The Dark Ride (2000), or the sometimes crazy Unarmed (2009). But that also means they have the right to release a “traditional” album, something that will satisfy the three generations of fans that have followed them through the years and the turmoil that went along with them. Said album is called My God-Given Right, and guitarist Michael Weikath would really like it to replace the obligatory Scorpions best of record in every household in the world. This is the summary of Helloween’s sound, a perfect release to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of their first album, Walls Of Jericho, twenty years with singer Andi Deris, and ten years with the current line-up (a record for the pumpkins).

We met founding member Michael Weikath and Andi Deris to talk about the band’s fifteenth record, their musical choices (which have something to do with producer Charlie Bauerfeind), and the themes of the album – and, from there, to extrapolate on thorny topics, like humor, religion, and freedom. Because the two buddies are the talkative kind, we learned many things about them and the band along the way.

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Interviews   

Justin Hawkins (The Darkness) : “Without rock, we’re fucked”


Justin Hawkins - The Darkness by Scarlet PageLike any self-respecting rock band, The Darkness have had their share of disappointments and difficulties. Just a few weeks ago, a couple of days after this very interview was conducted, they announced Emily Dolan Davies was leaving the band, even though her arrival had only been made official at the end of December 2014. But according to singer Justin Hawkins, setbacks are more than just part of a rock star’s job: they’re actually necessary. “Nobody wants to live life on the tea cups of the funfair, you want to go to the roller coaster! It’s much more interesting”, he says.

The band’s latest album, The Last Of Our Kind, is a vibrant homage to a special brand of rock: the unifying, licentious, slightly exuberant kind. A genre Hawkins talks about with genuine passion, which makes him feel like a super-hero, and which he would like to put back in the spotlight in popular culture, although he remains pragmatic and realistic. In the meantime, The Darkness took the matter into their own hands, and now they’re putting out an album they can be proud of. Hawkins tells us all about it after the cut.

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Interviews   

Dir En Grey delve into their origins


Kaoru - Dir En GreyTo us Westerners, Japanese culture is both fascinating and puzzling. First because we’re less used to it than we are to other, more dominating cultures in the global artistic world. With regards to metal, we’re obviously more accustomed to the American, English, German, or Scandinavian scenes. But what makes things all the more mysterious, if not utterly incomprehensible to us, is that Japanese art mirrors a society, culture and way of life vastly different from our own.

We recently talked to Japanese band Dir En Grey, who offer a crazy musical and emotional roller-coaster. We asked guitarist Kaoru to help us understand what makes Japanese music and art so special. It was also a good opportunity to talk about the band’s new album, Arche, which revolves around pain – a subject more unifying than any other, according to him.

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Interviews   

When the white snake puts on its purple coat


David Coverdale - Whitesnake by Mark Weiss“Non, je ne regrette rien”, as Édith Piaf would put it. Now those lyrics apply to David Coverdale, who went back to his distant past to put together The Purple Album, Whitesnake’s latest record, made up of covers from his era in Deep Purple. It is with unmitigated pleasure that we listen to him talk about the surprising genesis of this project, but also about his memories from the years 1973-1976, his relationship with Ritchie Blackmore and the late Jon Lord, everything the experience has brought him, and his genuine, never-ending gratitude. Now, in the 2010s, Coverdale has the same passion for music and the idea of creating it that he had at the time – even if he’s aware that time does fly, and if it’s obvious he’s wondering what the future will be made of. The Purple Album could be his last rock record, he confesses, without too much confidence.

At any rate, it is the first album since the departure of guitarist Doug Aldrich, who rekindled the fire in Whitesnake’s music in the space of two records. Consequently, it’s also the first with his new guitarist, Joel Hoekstra, whose talent as a classical musical never ceases to amaze him. It might also be a good opportunity to start considering a more acoustic and intimist music. But he’ll tell you that himself, too.

With David Coverdale, questions are almost unnecessary; they’re merely prods for him to keep telling his story, with all the detours and deviations that go with it. An interview with him also implies a healthy dose of honesty, elegance (when he talks about other people), and humor (particularly when he goes all Columbo and talks about his wife, who seems to matter an awful lot to him). And this time, the poet trades Häägen-Dazs for little blue birdsto kick off his tale…

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Interviews   

Hardcore Superstar dig a tunnel to freedom in their past


Hardcore Superstar 2015

Sometimes it can be a good thing to look back, reflect on your debut, your initial motivations, if only to appreciate the road that has led you so far and remember what makes you tick – something the years might have wiped off your mind. But aside from sheer nostalgia, the past can also contain forgotten gems – and it’s precisely in that past that HCSS, Hardcore Superstar’s new album, finds its source. More precisely, it is the result of a demo tape recorded over 20 years ago by the band that wasn’t Hardcore Superstar yet, which was brought to the attention of bassist Martin Sandvik by a crazy collector fan. This tape, full of youth and enthusiasm, was the cauldron in which the Swedish band brewed their most “free” album since their 2005 self-titled record.

Sandvik talks about the genesis of their tenth album in the following interview, which he gave us a couple of hours before the band’s show at the Ski & Rock in Sälen, Sweden. It was a good opportunity to go back to the pre-Hardcore Superstar era (which three of the current members actually witnessed firsthand) and to understand better the origins of this hard rock band that will allow themselves everything in terms of musical expression. On a side note, the bassist is also the band’s main composer alongside drummer Magnus “Adde” Andreasson, which is highly unusual in a genre mostly led by guitarists and singers.

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Interviews   

The integrity of Nightrage


Marios Iliopoulos - NightrageNightrage are holding out. Although the Greek-Swedish band has welcomed many guests throughout the years (almost every artist the Swedish scene has to offer, really), they have never really been able to stabilize their line-up, and the turnover has been just as impressive. Today Nightrage are back as a three-piece (including a new singer, Ronnie Nyman) with a new record, The Puritan. True to themselves, the band elevate integrity as the most important virtue.

But the story of Nightrage is due for the most part to the determination of one man, guitarist Marios Iliopoulos, who literally lives for melodic death metal. In the early 2000s, he left his native Greece without a penny in his pocket and with no idea what the future had in store, to go and live his Swedish dream. Work hard, believe in yourself, don’t give in to what’s trending – all these precepts are still driving Marios in his musical adventure today. Speaking of adventure, his started alongside another Greek guitarist, his friend Gus G, who’s becoming well known today for joining the ranks of the Prince of Darkness himself.

Let’s talk about all this with Marios after the cut.

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Interviews   

Tribulation: creators of the night


Tribulation 2015

Although the Swedish melodic death metal scene has been saturated for almost two decades now, new bands still manage to emerge and, more importantly, to set themselves apart by doing things their own way. This is the case with Tribulation, whose third album, The Children Of The Night, released this year, manages to be refreshing and to offer atmospheres that are at once nocturnal and colorful.

We have talked to Adam Zaars, the band’s guitarist and mastermind, to know more about the record, but also, more generally, about a talented combo that deserves to draw more attention in the years to come. Adam told us how you can make new-sounding music while staying old school (which seems a bit contradictory at first), and delved into a theme close to Tribulation’s heart: religion and spirituality. The man, who calls himself a believer, outlines a vision of spirituality far removed from what we’re used to hearing. Tribulation are most definitely a band that make their own way.

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Interviews   

Frontiers Records: A melodic passion


Frontiers Logo

Most of the time, in the world of music, the word “fan” is associated with people who like an artist. It’s less often associated with a record company, a commercially-minded entity that provides a base for musicians who come and go (almost) as they please. And yet, it is that very word that Mario De Riso, marketing director of Frontiers Records, uses to talk about the people who show an interest in his label as a whole. And it’s precisely to kindle these fans’ passion that the record company has decided to create their own festival, the Frontiers Rock Festival, whose second edition took place at Trezzo’s Live Club, near Milan (Italy), on April 11th and 12th.

There’s nothing surprising there: Frontiers Records are one of those labels that have built an actual trademark, a true individual spirit. Hard rock, classic rock, AOR, so-called melodic rock and metal, even heavy metal with 80s roots and a certain fringe of progressive rock – that’s the DNA of the Frontiers Records stable. Some people have grown attached to this line of conduct, and they trust the label to discover new talents or follow certain big names.

We were lucky to conduct an exclusive interview with Mario De Riso ahead of the festival to talk about the big event, but also about the label, its spirit, and its favorite music, to try and understand better what Frontiers Records stands for.

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Interviews   

The Answer: Pure rock’n’roll pleasure!


The Answer

Is they any genre more instinctual than rock’n’roll? For the Northern Irish musicians of The Answer, who are depicted as savage beasts on the cover of their new album, Raise A Little Hell, there probably isn’t. As singer Cormac Neeson confesses in the following interview, it was precisely their instinct the band chose to follow this time, after putting themselves and their environment in question for New Horizon, a year and a half ago.

The Answer have put introspection behind them, and delocalized the recording of their new record to Madrid, a city famous for its warmth and its sense of partying. But they did more than just take it easy in sunny Spain: after all, making and recording music really is hard work. Cormac tells us the whole story of the band’s fifth album – a story that revolves first and foremost around pleasure.

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Interviews   

Nightwish: a new step in their evolution


Nightwish 2015In his fundamental book On The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin described natural selection as “the principle by which each slight variation of a trait, if useful, is preserved”, and went on to explain that a change could become a strength in any species. The principle fits Nightwish like a custom-made glove – because their ambitious new album, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, is a concept inspired by life and evolution, but also because the band has wonderfully adapted to drummer Jukka Nevalainen’s insomnia problems, and found new strength in the inclusion of versatile singer Floor Jansen and multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley. These two additions to the band have made composer Tuomas Holopainen extremely happy, as he confesses in the following interview, alongside the aforementioned Floor.

A year and a half ago, just a few days after the official announcement, Tuomas explained to us how this new step in Nightwish’s evolution had come about. Eighteen months and a soundtrack to Uncle Scrooge’s adventures later, Nightwish make the news once again with their much-expected eighth album. Every self-respecting fan has been in their starting-blocks for months now, dissecting every piece of music made available, every word that could give them even a hint of the album’s musical direction and of the third singer’s performance.

We talked with Tuomas and Floor about all this, and also about the issue of downloading (following a message that denounced the leak of the first single, “Élan”, a few weeks ago), the “experience of music”, and the role of education in this matter – something they both visibly hold very dear.

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