Archive for the ‘Cool stuff’ Category

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)

BROTHERS OF METAL

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.

STEVE VAI

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.

BATTLER BRITTON

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.

* * * * *

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)

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)

The following article was in print in Swedish newspaper FOLKET on March 11 1988 and I have decided to translate it exactly as it was written back in the day. Enjoy!

* * * * *

 -“I do not care if I make money or not on this tour. I just want to play to people and give them a good experience. If things get tight I will rather give up my own cut rather than compromise with the show”.

These words comes from John Norum, a 24 year old guitarist with a great past and a very interesting future. The former member of Europe is currently on the road (in Sweden) for the first time in over a year with a fresh new band. And things are going well with 70,000 copies sold of his first solo album “Total Control” in these parts alone. The enthusiastic crowds are probably ensuring that the financial end will take care of itself. It hits me as I see this show that John has got quite a lot of integrity. His past is not used much and he is not touching “The Final Countdown”, the super hit, at all. He is also an honest and down to earth character when you interview him, a pleasant man. But the future is not carved in stone. Draw your own conclusions as you read this interview.

Are you alright with having your home base here in Sweden and not, say, London or Los Angeles?

– “Yes, it works fine as it is. I might buy a house abroad though, maybe in Zurich? I get royalties from Europe in March or April and then I will do the things I have always dreamt about, like getting a house etc”.

What do you think of the pospects of the Scandinavian Hard Rock scene in the future?

– “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”.

Your solo career then, how important is it for you to go out in your own name? What happens if, say, David Coverdale gives you a call and asks you to join Whitesnake tomorrow?

– “Then I will be a member of Whitesnake tomorrow! David is one of my favourite singers and Whitesnake is one of the few bands that I would feel at home with musically. I would also have appreciated to work with Thin Lizzy, but that can not happen now after the tragedy with Phil Lynott. I heard a rumour that Ronnie James Dio was interested in me before Craig Goldie got the job, but I can not see myself in Dio”.

There is talk about a possible future collaboration with Glenn Hughes, can you talk about that?

– “We have talked and he wants me to play on his next solo album. He basically wants to call it Hughes Norum, like he did with that album with Pat Thrall that went out as Hughes Thrall five years ago. We will meet in London and have a chat when we play with Ace Frehley at the Hammersmith (on March 19), so we shall see. Glenn is one of my heroes, I basically own everything that he has made from Trapeze to Deep Purple and all the rest of it. He has had a string of bad luck in recent times and he is sitting there in Atlanta fishing and wants to get going again”.

What happens with your solo career if this happens?

– “I am contracted for two solo albums to CBS so I have one more to deliver. That I shall whatever happens. Sammy Hagar could do it when he joined Van Halen. If he could then so can I, it is just a matter of time”.

You have had two hit singles here at home so far from the album, are you contemplating to put out a third?

– “Yes, well the American label has decided to put out “Back On The Streets” as their first single now as they are set to release the album over there, so we will follow up that here as well a bit later on I think. Their version will be slightly different from ours and the rest of the worlds. They have decided to replace the last song on the record, the instrumental, to the Thin Lizzy cover we did with “Wild One”. I am fine with that”.

What are the plans to promote this album outside of Scandinavia at the moment?

– “Well there is no point in talking about that until the paperwork is done. Of course I would love to back this album up as much as humanly possible, so if things turn out alright then we will go. We may do some gigs with the Scorpions, we will see”.

Why have you not made a video to push this album, that seems to be pretty important these days with MTV and all that?

– “I actually do not know the answer to that question. The only thing out there on film is from that TV show (in Sweden), Listan. Maybe they could recut “Love Is Meant To Be Forever” so that it could work as a video? To be honest with you, I have not thought too much about it”.

Where do you sell most of your records outside of Scandinavia? Any more Gold albums on the horizon?

– Well the numbers for, say, Germany is so high but we are doing well there and Holland and Japan is good too. I was in Germany to promote the album recently and the people at the record company were surprised that I was not anti Europe in any way, and that I was OK with stickers on the album that says who I am and where I am coming from. I do want to reach out to as many people as possible and I am proud of the past”.

Do you think that your current band is giving you the security that you need when you are on that stage?

– “Yes, they are very professional and most of them have previous touring experience going back so everything is very tight. I do appreciate performing live again”.

Obviously, the question remains how long this band is going to exist. If a collaboration with Glenn Hughes comes up, changes will undoubtedly occour. I am just happy to have seen this band on stage in this version and considering that I really saw one of the very first shows I have to say that they show a lot of promise. No matter what happens next, I can make two points here. John Norum is a bonafide guitar hero for the future, and when anybody is mentioning his name I think of one thing. Integrity”.

Michael Eriksson (1988)

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“Total Control” was produced by Thomas Witt, whom had recorded three 220 Volt albums at that time for CBS. 220 Volt drummer Peter Hermansson played on the album, and so did Volt bassist Mikael Larsson on one track. John did join 220 Volt on stage and jammed on their song “Firefall” not long after him having left Europe. Singer Göran Edman (ex-Madison) sang on a few tunes and he later went on to join Yngwie Malmsteen. Bass player Marcel Jacob had been with Yngwie in the very early days. The touring band of 1988 was Norum, Edman, Jacob, Mats Olausson (keyboards) and Hempo Hildén (drums). John had a false start on a project with Glenn Hughes in 1988 that was quickly aborted (I did one of the few interviews that they ever made, you can find it on this blog if you go back to September 2013), but they eventually did collaborate a few years later on Johns solo album “Face The Truth” in 1992. John worked with Dokken and reunited with Europe in 2004. To date he has released seven solo albums (plus some live albums).

No part of this interview may be quoted without permission. I often see this sort of thing in books etc. Just let me know that you are interested.

(Top image shows FOLKET, March 11 1988)