Here is another man cave snapshot from the music room/library, this time a recently framed article from English speaking The Japan News (dated April 16 2016). It deals with the massive success in the UK and the sold out gig at Wembley on April 2 that year (that broke all previous records of merchandise sales in the prestigious arena). I found this article on eBay and Babymetal also had part of the front cover, although that went into one of my Babymetal binders. This one cost me about 140 dollars to frame and I think it looks pretty good. It is certainly a classic Babymetal article from the glory days when the band cemented their popularity in the UK. Trainspotters may note the old Nightwish Photo Pass from the Tarja Turunen days of that band to the left. Good memories.

(My shot of said article)


From Falun, Sweden, we have Brothers Of Metal. Currently on the road in Europe to promote their latest album “Emblas Saga”, they are proud promoters of Viking Metal. I have to say that the album cover art by Sallai Péter is right up there with Rainbow “Rising”, Molly Hatchet´s debut and Dio´s “Holy Diver” as far as sheer power and beauty is concerned. And you need to own the Double Vinyl (Red) with the gatefold sleeve. I like that Viking Metal is a thing.


Good news for fans of Steve Vai as the classic “Passion & Warfare” was re-released today. It is a 30th Anniversary Limited Edition (1,500 copies) in Orange Vinyl. Probably his finest moment.


Commando artist Ian Kennedy is revisiting Battler Britton in a new 128 page comic from Rebellion on April 1. Not sure if it is a new take or stuff from the archives. In any case, it is good to see Battler Britton out there.

(My shot of the “Emblas Saga” album)

When I discovered Crystal Viper a couple of years ago I bought the entire back catalogue within weeks and it was obvious to me that they were going to be held in high regard by many people and that vocalist Marta Gabriel was an amazing talent worthy of recognition. Formed in 2003, they now have a string of studio albums under their belts that are all powerful and highly entertaining. To me, Crystal Viper are now on my list of bands that I will support forever, and it is nice to find such talent out there when the old school bands are slowly riding into the sunset. Heavy Metal will never die and Crystal Viper is proud to wave that flag, hopefully for decades to come. This is the first interview since my decision to get back into the game again and I am glad that Marta Gabriel accepted my request. It was the first I sent out to anyone. Special thanks to manager Bart Gabriel for your help. All pictures are by Tim Tronckoe and are used by permission. This interview was made via e-mail.

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I have to say that you ended the last decade with a bang with the ”Tales Of Fire And Ice” album. How has the response been so far?

– “Well thank you. I would say that the response was very, very good, it’s without a doubt the most popular Crystal Viper album. Lots of old fans like it, and we have many, many new ones. We are very proud of this album, as it represents the new chapter for the band”.

The production is better than ever and I think you have a shot at the big leagues in the 2020s. Do you have any favorite tracks on the album?

– “I totally love how this album sounds, and I also agree that it’s the best production we ever had. We worked with the same producer as always, Bart Gabriel (who is my husband), he did an amazing job with this one. My two favorite songs are “Still Alive” and “Under Ice”, but there is also one song on our new album that means a lot to me, because of its lyrics. It’s “Neverending Fire”. The lyrics are based on a Cowichan legend (Cowichan was an Indian Tribe) “Who Was Given The Fire”. It’s a song about being true at heart, being good to the others, about respecting life and nature, about doing good things, not being an egoist, and giving a helping hand without expecting something in return. These are very rare features nowadays, which I value a lot in people”.

”Tears Of Arizona” is about the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941. Have you been in Hawaii and seen the Arizona?

– “No, unfortunately not. It’s one of my biggest dreams to visit Hawaii one day”.

What is the story behind ”Tomorrow Never Comes (Dyatlov Pass)”?

– “It’s a song about the Dyatlov Pass incident that took place in the Ural Mountains in 1959, but the story on our album is told from an unusual perspective – it’s told by the force that killed the hikers, the force that was afraid or was protecting its own territory. The case hasn’t been resolved and as far as I know, the Russian government reopened it at the beginning of last year. I’m very curious about the results of the reopened investigation”.

This is Swedish blog and I understand that you are a fan of Heavy Load, tell us a little about that.

– “Yes, that’s true. A few years ago, just before Heavy Load reunited, I was invited to sing a few songs with a Heavy Load tribute band, named “Heathens From The North”. I performed with them two times in Greece, and I was singing “Take Me Away” and “Heavy Metal Angels”. Good times! And it was a great feeling to hear nice words from the Heavy Load members themselves after the show, as they were present there. After that I’ve seen Heavy Load live two times, one time in Germany and one time in Greece. I love them!”.

How about 220 Volt and Treat, whom played a televised festival in Poland in late 1985?

– “I don’t know those two bands I’m afraid, and it wasn’t possible for me to watch that festival, because I was a newborn back then. I’ll check them out. When it comes to Swedish bands, I’m a big, big fan of Candlemass and of course Bathory”.

Can you recall your first record that you bought and how you were introduced to music?

– “My music journey started when I was six or seven years old. I saw a symphonic orchestra on the TV and I told my parents that I want to be a musician. They sent me to music school, to a piano class. Later, when I was a teenager I discovered rock, punk, and metal, but everything came very naturally, so I don’t remember the very first metal record or band. I remember that some of my first metal and rock bands that I was listening were Virgin Steele, Scorpions, Queen, Iron Maiden, Helloween, Black Sabbath, Blind Guardian, Metallica, Type O Negative…

When did you realize that you had to be in a band and did you sing in any bands before Crystal Viper?

– “I realized that music is one of the most important things in my life right after I started playing piano. I was composing my own music already at the age of 10. Except playing piano, I’ve always loved to sing, and I joined my first band in high school, I remember having rehearsals in our school’s basement. After that I was singing in one more band, and later, with the help of my husband, I decided to create a real heavy metal band that I was dreaming about. That band was Crystal Viper”.

I guess that singers like Ronnie James Dio, Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford are heroes. Can you tell us a little bit about early influences?

– “Yes, all three of them. My vocal heroes were (and still are) Tony Martin, David De Feis, Leather Leone, Jutta Weinhold and Doro… I also like voices of Gigi Hangah from the first Phantom Blue album, and Janet Gardner from Vixen. I also love the voice of Noora Louhimoe, she is an amazing and talented singer”.

What do you think about the old school bands, like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath?

– “I like them, and I’m very much into classic rock. I also like Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, Queen, Status Quo, Thin Lizzy, Electric Light Orchestra, Rush, Jefferson Airplane, UFO, Scorpions, Janis Joplin, KISS, and many more. I also listen to a lot of blues music, especially with piano. My personal favorites are are Memphis Slim, Otis Spann, Pinetop Perkins and Roosevelt Sykes”.

Who would you love to collaborate with if you had a chance?

– “Mike Oldfield! This is my biggest dream as a musician to record something with him one day”.

Do you prefer indoor gigs or festivals?

– “It’s not possible to answer that question, because these are two completely different types of shows, with totally different vibes. When you play a live show in a small venue, it’s mainly your fans there, people who came to see you and people who know your music. When you play at a festival, you play to a lot of new people, who see and hear you for the first time”.

You also play guitar, what is your guitar of choice and why?

– “I started playing guitar to be able to compose music not only on my piano, but on a guitar as well. It was sometimes difficult to show my band mates, especially guitarists, how to play guitar riffs composed on piano. I was checking out and playing many, many different guitars through the years, but I feel the best with the LTD / ESP guitars, and I own a few of their models. I’m also endorsed by them for some time, and I’m very happy about it!”.

Can you mention some guitarists that you appreciate?

– “Yes, the one and only Glenn Tipton. He’s my guitar hero from the very beginning, even from before I started to play guitar myself”.

I think that ”When The Sun Goes Down” from the ”Queen Of The Witches” album has tremendous power and I think legions of Dio fans would love that tune if they heard it. What is the lyrics about?

– ““Queen Of The Witches” is a concept album, and “When The Sun Goes Down” is part of the story. It’s a song about secret knowledge, and about spiritual and mental development”.

Did you ever meet Ronnie James Dio?

– “I saw him live one time, with Heaven And Hell, but I sadly never met him in person”.

As a collector of Vinyls I could really appreciate the Limited Edition ”At The End Of Time” release. Might we see more of them later on as well?

– “Crystal Viper is a hyperactive band from the very beginning, and we have many ideas all the time, so I’m more than sure we will release more stuff like that in the future. We are actually planning something very special right now!”.

Where do you stand on Vinyl versus CDs?

– “Well, it’s nice to have the vinyl album in your hands, with that big cover art, big pictures and so on, and vinyls are usually released in a more exclusive way, so you feel like you really own something unique, something special. But they are sometimes less comfortable than CDs, because it’s not always possible to listen to music from vinyl. Just like it nowadays became easier to listen to streaming services instead of CDs. But vinyls are and always will be special. We sometimes listen to vinyl records together with my husband, it’s like watching a movie – you focus on the music, without thinking too much about anything else”.

I can sense that Classic Rock/Metal has a huge resurgence coming and that the 2020s will be a good decade for your music. Can you sense this in the air as well?

– “Classic heavy metal seems to be an underground genre of metal right now, and I think it will remain like that. Just see how many classic heavy metal bands you can see at the big festivals? They’re usually headlined by younger, more popular bands, and sometimes you have just a few classic bands, playing early in the afternoon or something like that. It is how it is, but to be honest I don’t think much about it, I just keep on doing my thing”.

Can you mention some bands that you want to give a shoutout to as we head into this new era?

– “I really like Idle Hands, and I think the new Ram album is awesome! Check them out!”.

How about Babymetal? I have been a fan of hard rock and Metal since 1971 and I just love them.

– “I remember checking them out because someone sent me a link, but it’s not kind of music I personally enjoy, so I would say it’s not really my cup of tea. But I know they have their fans and people enjoy their music, so it’s cool”.

What do you have in store for us in 2020?

– “We will try to play as many live shows as possible, which isn’t that easy to organize, as members of the band live in four different countries. It’s too early to think about a new album, as “Tales Of Fire And Ice” is still hot (and it’s actually coming out in Japan this month), but I’m thinking about a few other projects”.

If you were granted a secret wish to come true, what would it be?

– “Well, if I would tell you, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore (laugh)”.

Thank you for your time. Anything else that you would like to add to this chat?

– “Thank you for the interview and for your support!”.


(No part of this interview may be used without permission. If you want to quote something in a book or a magazine, let me know)

Mike Eriksson (Trinkelbonker 2020)

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Added the “Warrior Soul” Double Vinyl (Blue) from Doro to the old collection. Great cover art by Geoffrey Gillespie. Really nice gatefold sleeve too. This is why Vinyl still rules. Also worthy of note: great Glenn Hughes feature (with awesome Deep Purple shots) in Planet Rock #18 (Motörhead cover), and Don Airey is interviewed in Sweden Rock Magazine #1 2020 (Iron Maiden cover). I could have lived without the Rainbow piece in Guitar Techniques #304 though. Nice Jimmy Page cover (with Ritchie Blackmore top right), but not much inside.

(My shot of the “Warrior Soul” LP)

For fun I decided to raid the Classic Rock Interviews on this blog for some quotes from the stars for this post. You will find these interviews on the Classic Rock Interviews tag, so there is plenty of good stuff to check out here should you want to (and more is coming, as I said the other day). So here we go…


– “Sacred Heart”, that took almost half a million dollars to put together. And the one before, “The Last In Line” was about $250,000. So we kept spending more money, but we wanted to be special, and you have to spend money to be special. It is one thing to construct, the other thing that costs money is to bring it on the road. And we took the “Sacred Heart” show twice to Europe, twice to Japan and four times in America over two years and it was very, very expensive. We had about nine to ten trucks and seven to eight buses and about seventy-five people on the road but it was wonderful at the end of the day. But all that counts is the reaction from the people, that is all that matters. (Ronnie James Dio 2001)


– “What happened was that after Liverpool I went down to stay with my mother in London, she had this pub and thank God she just left me alone. My nerves were shot to hell. I was completely drained by the whole experience. I just sat there and stared into the fireplace and my mother just gave me sandwiches and she never asked me what was wrong, which would have been her normal reaction. Then I wrote a resignation letter that was seven-eight-nine pages long and handed it over to the management and then I flew to Munich were my wife Julia was living. I just could not go on. I told them that I did not want to drag the good reputation of Deep Purple through the mud and they said “We understand and respect your opinion but can you please keep this quiet until the original members have decided what they want to do?”, so I did. We talked about me doing PAL, or Coverdale, Lord, Ashton, Paice, which would have been CLAP (laughs), so I did spend some time just thinking about the future at that point”. (David Coverdale 2000)


– “Mark Nauseef is a musical snob and he thinks that he is above people that play hard rock, so I knew that he would be disappointed when I wanted to do “Smoke On The Water”. The record company wanted some Purple stuff for the sake of increased sales so we ended up playing “Woman From Tokyo” and “Child In Time” as well. But the guys did not want to perform them like the original versions so we ended up doing them in this horrible way. But I do not want to say anything bad about the Ian Gillan Band, I learnt more in that band than I can ever use. But I was so bored by the time we did “Scarabus” and that is when I decided to end that and start what became Gillan instead”. (Ian Gillan 1983)


– “My function normally is to throw out lots and lots of ideas in different directions. The ones that the band hear that they like they say “Yeah, lets work on that”… So that is… I am not so much a person that chooses direction as much as a person that just throws out a lot of possibilities”. (Steve Morse (1998)


– “Well, the Donato thing was done in haste, it never should have gone that far. We went public before we were sure about it. This is typical, we have made so many mistakes like this in our career. In the old days everybody used to come to me, I used to handle everything. I picked up the lads to get them to the rehearsals and so on. I was a little older and they were always asking me for my opinion. I was like the father in the band and I think we needed that at the time. The period of the first three records were like that, they always came to me and asked for my thoughts on things, but I really did not want it to be like that. I just wanted to be a guy in the band. I wanted everybody to be involved. Once that finally happened, everything turned into chaos. No decisions were being made and it was past the point were I could have the final say because now we were a band. I do not want to repeat old mistakes again and the last band was so false. I want to do it right this time. The guys I am working with now are very eager to prove themselves. A lot of well known people were in touch with me but I wanted hungry guys with me, people with no past. Glenn has a reputation, but he still has the hunger that I am looking for. He has something to prove on his own”. (Tony Iommi 1986)


– “I did not like it, I thought it was false and filthy. Los Angeles really is a bad place. I have been known to call it “the armpit of America”. I live in Miami now and you can hardly compare the two places. But I have lived in America for seven years now and I feel alright about it now. I still hang around Swede´s a lot and my visits to Sweden keeps me from missing the old country too much”. (Yngwie Malmsteen 1990)


– “We have three telephones in the house and they all went off at the same time, even the private line that is only available to a select few, like my manager. They told us about the plane that had crashed into World Trade Center. My manager said “Turn on the tv, you are not going to believe this”, so I turned it on and all the channels showed how one of the towers was burning. I live outside of New York and there is a hill behind our house that has a view to the city so me and my wife rushed over there to see the fire from there. At that point the second plane came into view and as it crashed into the second tower I said to my wife “We are under attack!”. Everybody was afraid and people were running around. I mean, we lived there and what would happen next? It was horrendous. The phone kept ringing because people knew that I was supposed to be on a flight from Newark at that time”. (Joe Lynn Turner 2001)


– “We have never had any problems in Gillan but when I was in Strapps we had it all the time. They used to come up to us and say “You can not continue to view us as sex objects”. And they were right, because the only women that ever complained looked like the door over there…”. (Mick Underwood 1982)


– “Well, to be honest, I have to say that I hate the people at Columbia Records, I think they are a bunch of assholes. They just look at what is on the Top 10 at the moment, and then they tell their artists to copy that. They essentially want you to sound like everybody else and that is one of the major problems in the industry right now. I mean, what the hell happened to originality? Zeppelin did Zeppelin and The Stones did The Stones – it was their own thing. Thank God that The Stones are still around. I love the new album, you can hear right away that it is them. But look at all these Metal bands – they all look and sound the same. Boring!”. (Steve Lukather 1989)


– “The great thing with Black Sabbath at the moment is that this really is a fresh start. We have even realised that we have a brand new audience out there that supports us, and they were not even born most of them when this band started, or even when “Heaven And Hell” came out. We are proud that we have fans that care deeply for the band in spite of all the changes in the lineup, the problems with managers and record companies and all the bad stuff that has been negative for the name. We had fans in England that travelled with us from city to city to catch as many shows as possible. Rock fans are a lot more faithful to their music than disco fans. A rock fan will sell the shirt of his back to catch a show. He will support his band for many years come hell or high water”. (Tony Martin 1989)


– “The thing with me, and you know this, I have got two sets of music. Lets call it the Deep Purple sounding rock, which is easy to play for me. Simple! And I have the things I am growing with all the time which is like Rock and Jazz and Funk and Soul, which to me is Glenn Hughes. It is all me. It is definitely me. At some point I am going to have to say goodbye to one or the other. We gotta be honest with each other. Lets just be really  honest now. I am not in Deep Purple and this is a working unit that does reasonably well. I am a solo performer and I want to compete. I am going to throw a few names that might have you go “WHAT?”. I want to compete with Elton John and George Michael. I want to compete with these people that sell millions of records. I am not gonna be doing it making this kind of music. You know that. For arts sake it would be interesting to do this kind of music or this kind of music, but I want to sell millions of records and I believe my voice is capable of selling those records”. (Glenn Hughes 1996)


– “My family has always had an open door policy to the fans, we have had countless people from around the world come and tour the family home. It is kind of a museum to our family’s musical career”. (Johnnie Bolin 2012)


– “…Since Ritchie is the leader of the band, all the talk that Deep Purple is a democracy is pure bullshit, I have to assume that he was in on the decision. I think that he acted like a coward, letting the manager do it for him. If they felt that they had a problem with me in the studio, why not just say it, point out the problem. Maybe that could have helped. Now I can only assume what they were thinking. Maybe I was just too eager in the studio? I know that they did not like that very much. I presented a couple of songs to them that was written by a guy from Survivor. These songs sounded 100% Deep Purple. The others barely wanted to listen to it. I also believe that Roger Glover got annoyed at me, whether he wants to admit this or not now, for suggesting that the band should work with an outside producer. The band had not done this since the seventies. Bringing in Thom was partially my idea. I think that Roger may have felt that he was now reduced to just playing bass. But you know, to reach the kind of success that Aerosmith have now you need to be able to focus pretty hard on what you are doing. You need to see reality for what it is. Deep Purple did not want to do that. They seem to believe that they can record anything at all and the world will still fall to its knees and worship them. Those days are over. The world has changed and nobody wants to see that. Roger used to say “When we quit we are going to do it with a bang” but I do not believe that they can anymore, I really do not. We had an opportunity to build on the reputation with a strong second record but that did not happen”. (Joe Lynn Turner 1992)


– “Actually, we talked quite extensively about it, and then we recorded 18 tracks for a double album, which we wanted “Turbo” to be at the time. Then we picked nine tracks that we thought were a bit different, sat down and rearranged them and really tried to capture a slightly different feel. We wanted a change, but not too much of a change either, we just wanted to do something different. But, of course, when you do that you have to expect a bit of apprehension from people, which we got. But I guess “Turbo” is eventually turning out to be our most successful album to date, so we can ignore them anyway. Also, in retrospect, everybody has come back to us and said that they had been a bit sceptical at first, but now they realise it is really the way to go. We are proud of the fact that some people look at Judas Priest as frontrunners, really!”. (Glenn Tipton 1986)


– “I think it is vital that there is always something that grabs you in a song. It should be easy to remember and the melodies themselves are of tremendous importance for us. A lot of bands today write their songs without the notion that the vocals has to be right there playing an important part. Many singers just scream on top of the music with no regard to melody. To us, melody is all important”. (Tuomas Holopainen 2002)


– “We were under pressure. The office, the record company, the publishment company. And surely there had to be somebody out there in this big world that could fit us well. We had always been a hard working band, because that was the way that we wanted it to be. When Ritchie left in, eh, 1975, we had been working like that for seven years, which is a long time. We were living in California and David had heard Tommy Bolin play and he said “He is amazing, unbelievable”. So we asked him to come over for a jam and he said “Yeah, I would love to man” and he came over, with colored hair and things in it, and with this amazingly beautiful woman with him… and we all said “He´s in the band!” (laughs). She was so amazing, we all said “Can we borrow her for half an hour?” (laughs). He played with us and it was great”. (Jon Lord 1981)


– “I want to be the guy that you see dance behind Madonna!”. (David Paich 1988)


– “Paul Morris was filming it. I was actually sitting up the stairs working on some lyrics, I had an upstairs room with a desk, and it was looking over big flat hills… all the way to the horizon you could see. It was a clear evening, the sun was going down, the sky was sort of crimson and purple. I was looking out the window, and right in the middle, for no apparent reason, there was this bright glow, it was like a really bright car headlight or something, in the middle of the sky. And I was sitting and watching this, it was not moving, it was just sort of sitting there. I am going “That is very strange”. Paul had just bought his video camera the day before, so if it moved he was filming it! So he thought we could film the sunset. And we were sitting and watching this thing, and I shouted out “Paul, are you getting this?”. He said “Yeah, I have got it”, and he has got it on video camera. Now, this thing did not do anything, and then it moved slightly to my right, and then it went… it just was not there any more! You know? Now, for the whole time it had moved very very slowly, and Paul was like “I am bored with this” after a minute, and he went back to the pond, and when he came back up five seconds later this thing was completely gone”. (Doogie White 1995)


– “Deep Purple was big everywhere! To this day, Deep Purple is the biggest band in the Soviet Union. I am not joking, the Russian embassy in London contacted us and gave us the news a couple of months ago. Feels a bit strange”. (David Coverdale 1981)


– “We may not have been angels but we always avoided the hard stuff. We toured with Deep Purple in the States in 1976 and I worried about Tommy Bolin. He was a beautiful man and a good guitarist but he did not want to listen to people that warned him about that shit. I tried to talk to him and he said “Jimi Hendrix did it and look how good he was”. I said, “But Tommy, Jimi is dead!”. I actually saw Hendrix early on and it was way better than the last time I had a chance to see him. Tommy Bolin was one of these guys that this business just eats up. It was a good tour for us, we did better than Purple really”. Dan McCafferty (1989)


– “It looks bright to me. If you compare us with what you see coming out of, say, America at the moment, we are way better. Poison and Cinderella is all image and they can not play well or write good songs. Scandinavian bands are taking their cues from the old school bands like Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy and UFO, and so the difference is very clear”. (John Norum 1988)

(Top image by me, I gave that signed/framed David Coverdale promotional shot to guitarist Micke Mojo later on)

Ever since the early 1970s, I have had a soft spot for Vampirella. I dare say I have quite a collection. Therefore I simply could not resist “The Art Of Vampirella – 50th Anniversary Poster Book” (Dynamite, 2019). To give you an idea of how big this book is, I took a snapshot (see top image, left shot) with an ordinary (roughly) A4 sized comic. So what you get is 20 posters in high quality paper (not that I would dream of touching this book, I would rather buy two should I want to frame one or two of these works of art). This is the modern era Vampirella with artists like Lucio Parrillo (top image, right shot), Frank Cho, Artgerm and Warren Luow (to name a few). The cover art is by Artgerm, you get the full poster inside.

Now where the hell will I keep this book then? Nice problem to have though, I will figure it out.

(My image of said book)

Birth Of The Dragon

Posted: January 12, 2020 in Cool stuff, TV & Movies

Bought “Birth Of The Dragon” a few weeks ago and finally got around to seeing it tonight. I have to say that it was way more entertaining than I expected and it actually felt like it belongs at the very top of all the Martial Arts movies that has been produced over the years. Released in 2016, it failed at the box office but I think it may have a shot at the DVD market over time. Philip Ng does a good Bruce Lee and the entire cast is pretty good in this one. The legend will certainly only grow stronger as a result of this movie. If you grew up with this stuff, this is for you. You will be entertained.

(My shot of the DVD)