Nestor is a new [old] band from Sweden, who’s 3 videos from their debut album have amassed over a million views. Well….actually, they are old band, but have returned decades later with their first album. The band music is a return to the ’80s in sound and image, and their album (see my review elsewhere on this site) is full of great ’80s hard-rock. If you were a fan of aor/HR in the ’80s and Kids In A Ghost Town had come out in the mid ’80s – you’d likely already own it! Here is an interview with Tobias Gustavsson of the band detailing their return in 2021, and their exciting debut album. *Check out the links below.
Can you give me a bit of background on the band — you guys existed briefly and released a few singles!? What do you recall of those songs, and why/when did the band split back then?
Yeah, Nestor was founded back in 1989, we all grew up in a small town together in Sweden, found each other through music and started playing together. We released a couple of EPs up til ‘95. The first EP was all over the place genre wise. We mixed all kinds of influences, everything from U2 to Europe for example, but it’s hard to hear because it really sounds like crap. The second EP was a bit more unified, with influences like Queensrüche and Dream Theater, I’ll have a listen to that second EP from time to time and I’m quite proud of it still. We never really split up; we just went on a looong pause… haha!
Is there a bit more you guys can mention about your past in music, be it recordings you’ve been a part of (as musicians or producers)? Tobias, can you mention a bit about your success as a producer [assuming this is your site – http://www.25media.net/tobiasgustavsson/ ?]
Yep, that’s me. All of us kind of worked with music in one way or another, played in different constellations and bands, but I (Tobias) went on to become a songwriter and producer and had a couple of projects, among them a duo called Itchycoo, and later a band called Straight Frank (that our guitar player Jonny was a part of too). I also wrote for other artists and made some pretty successful songs here and there through the years. I’ve kept on working with music in some form or another through all the years.
Sweden (as well as Norway) has a lot of great musicians & bands in the hard-rock, AOR, metal genre. Why do you think that is? And any favorite (or recommended) artists or albums from your country?
That’s a tricky question, right off the bat I think that the long winter has an impact when it comes to great musicians and bands (there is nothing else to do other than being in band or in a sports team). Also, success breeds more success probably, so thanks to ABBA and Roxette and all the other greats the tradition sort of goes on and inspires new Swedes to succeed maybe.
Some favorite bands from Sweden right now – Niki and the Dove (80’s pop with contemporary influences) and Ludwig Hart (sound like a mix of Tom Petty and Springsteen with a touch of Aha which is a great band as well by the way). Another band in our own genre worth mentioning are H.E.A.T that we’re joining in February on their Scandinavian tour! That’s gonna be fun!
It was the time during the pandemic that brought you guys back to record a full album, correct? Or was it merely one song that led to another and so on?
I would love to say that we had this master plan from the start, but the truth is a bit of both – one song led to the other and then the vision became clear; “to make the album now that we didn’t have the skills or possibility to make back in ’89.”
What did you do to get in that head space of writing so many great 80s type rock songs during the making of this album — did you guys go back and listen to a lot of stuff from that era?
Yes, we did, we listened to a lot of music from that era but also read magazines and watched a lot of movies etc to get the vibe to get back to that feeling from that time in our lives.
The videos have been well planned, very detailed, and humorous. What sort of inspired those type of clips, seeing as MTV went out decades ago, and not many bands put in such effort these days?
The inspiration was plain and simple 80s metal videos – they always had a story back then. Personally, I always liked the fact that music is entertainment and that kind of got lost somewhere in the mid 90s. We have a saying in Nestor that our mission is “to protect the legacy and re-invent the iconography of rock”.
Can you touch briefly on some of the songs, as far as musical or lyrical inspirations? On The Run, Perfect 10, Firesign, Kids In A Ghost Town…. etc. Are many of the songs written from personal experience?
All of them are personal, the songs are about being a kid with big ambitions in a small town! The song Perfect 10 is a description of my boy room mixed with my first real crush, Johanna. “Darryl Hannah wouldn’t stand a chance – next to her she’s just a cheap romance” hahaha!
Can you tell me a bit about the song “Tomorrow”, and how you ended up getting Samantha Fox to guest on it?
When I wrote the song, I immediately felt that it was written as a duet. Thinking about the perfect duet partners (once again, going through the posters on my wall back in ‘87) Sam popped up and I can’t think of any other singer/artist that sets the tone of the 80s and represents that era better than her.
I contacted her management and asked if she would be interested in participating on the song. She heard the song and loved it, and the rest is history in the making! We also got her to appear in the music video which turned out really great.
Will there be any more video singles from the album? Any you’d like to do?
We’d like to make videos for all the songs on the album but unfortunately, they aren’t cheap… Hopefully there will be more. Stay tuned!
You also co-wrote a number of songs with Andreas Carlsson, who has had credits on some pretty big albums. How did you guys wind up working with him, and what did he contribute to? [songs]
I knew Andreas from before as we’ve worked on some projects together. We wrote the lyrics together for Perfect 10 (Eyes like Demi Moore) and These Days. Andreas wrote the lyrics to Stone Cold Eyes on his own.
Can you guys (each) give me a few lists (5-10) of favorite albums and bands from the ’80s or that you grew up with (the 70s??)
Tobias: Kiss – Animalize, Asylum, Crazy Nights / Van Halen – 5150 / Europe – Out of This World, Prisoners in Paradise/ Bon Jovi – New Jersey / Queensrÿche – Operation: Mindcrime / Giant – Last of The Runaways / Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry / Bryan Adams – Waking Up the Neighbours / Def Leppard – Hysteria / Motley Crüe – Theatre of Pain
Martin: Helloween – Keeper of The Seven Keys Part 1 / Giant – Last of The Runaways / Kiss – Crazy Nights / Magnum – On A Storyteller’s Night / Queensrÿche – Operation: Mindcrime
Marcus: Queensryche – Operation: Mindcrime / Kings X – Out of The Silent Planet / Toto – IV / Judas Priest – Defenders of The Faith / Accept – Metal Heart
Mattias: Rush – All The World’s A Stage / Queensryche – Operation: Mindcrime / Deep Purple – Machine Head / U2 – War / Van Halen – Van Halen
Jonny: Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance / Gary Moore – Wild Frontier / Ozzy Osbourne – The Ultimate Sin / Kiss – Animalize / Yngwie Malmsteen – Odyssey
I’ve always been a mid-range fan of Yes – love the early stuff, but for me (except for 90125) their post-80s reunion stuff has been hit and miss. The band’s latest single “Future Memories” really got me interested again. A great song, and the previous 2 singles from the new album The Quest are pretty decent too! Anyway, this got me wanting to pull out previous albums I hadn’t listened to in a long time. I have listened to The Ladder, because I always liked that album, but before and after – meh… So I pulled out Fly From Here, and took it in the car. It’s an album I got when it came out, and never gave much of a chance. As I’ve said before, I’ve wondered over the years if I’m buying Yes albums more so for the stunning Roger Dean artwork! Anyway, Fly From Here was released in 2011, the band’s first after Magnification, and the first to feature new singer (Canadian) Benoit David. It was based on on a song penned by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes prior to their joining Yes, and a 2nd part after leaving Yes. Here the song Fly From Here part of a 6 part 24+ minute piece that is superb. Most of it is credited to Horn & Downes, aside from the instrumental “Bumpy Ride”, from Howe. Horn had been brought in to produce the album and Downes was brought back, replacing Oliver Wakeman (though Wakerman is credited on a few parts).
Beyond the title tracks, there is some really good stuff, such as a Howe’s (co-penned with Johnson & Sessler) “The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be”; love the vocals from the late Chris Squire here, a classic Yes type tune. I always like the Horn/Downes “Life On A Film Set” and Howe’s “Hour Of Need”. Overall a very good album. I liked Benoit David’s vocals on this, was never a huge fan of John Anderson’s, though he was the voice of Yes. Benoit David would soon contract an illness after the album’s release and was replaced by Jon Davison (who’s the singer still). In 2018 the band would re-release Fly From Here – Round Trip, which would be remixed, with added guitar & keyboards, and more so Trevor Horn re-doing the lead vocals — making it the 2nd album with the 1980’s Drama line-up. This I’ve still to get. But the original version of Fly From Here with Benoit David sounds very good to me, better than Magnification and a few other post 90215 albums.
I’ve picked up almost every Yes album over the years, and since the ’80s I often wondered if I was picking up Yes albums more so for the Roger Dean artwork than the music, which (for me) didn’t always grab me from album to album. The first 2 singles from The Quest I enjoyed, and the new video/single for the ballad “Future Memories” is the most likeable and memorable Yes song in decades. Jon Davison, who joined the band in 2012, penned the song and delivers a fantastic vocal, with such a great melody. The video itself appears to be a tribute to the band’s collaboration with Roger Dean over the past 50 years, as it features images of the album covers he’s done for the band, flowing along with band member pics, colors, and ongoing paint strokes.
15th October 2021: YES, who are Steve Howe, Alan White, Geoff Downes, Jon Davison and Billy Sherwood, recently released their new studio album The Quest on InsideOutMusic/Sony Music The album was produced by Steve Howe. “Much of the music was written in late 2019 with the rest in 2020. We commissioned several orchestrations to augment and enhance the overall sound of these fresh new recordings, hoping that our emphasis on melody, coupled with some expansive instrumental solo breaks, keeps up the momentum for our listeners,” said Steve.
Today the band are please to reveal a video for the track ‘Future Memories’, watch it now here:
‘The Quest’ also sees its physical release in North America, as of today. Pick up your copy here: https://yes-band.lnk.to/TheQuest The album has also been hitting charts worldwide, find a selection of them below: #7 German Album Charts, #20 UK Album Charts, #1 UK Rock Album Charts, #5 Swiss Album Charts, #8 Japanese International Weekly Charts, #23 French Physical Album Charts, #37 Belgian National Album Charts, #54 Dutch Album Charts, #60 Italian Album Charts.
Previous video singles from The Quest include “Dare To Know” and “The Ice Bridge”
The Quest was recorded across the globe, The sessions took place in the UK with Steve Howe, Geoff Downes & Jon Davison, while Alan White & Billy Sherwood got together in the studio in the US. “Billy Sherwood and myself did all the rhythm sections, bass and drum, in America,” says Alan White, “down in Los Angeles at Uncle Studios, where he works a lot. It helps when you’ve got a good place to work,” Alan laughs, “and Billy’s really good on the recording desk, so we got things down relatively quickly. I spent quite a while studying the music before I went down to LA so I was prepared.”
The Quest is also now available for pre-order on various formats, including a Limited Deluxe Box-Set that features a Gatefold 180g 2LP on exclusive colored vinyl, 2CD+Blu-ray Digipak (featuring 5.1 mix & backing tracks), 36-page perfect bound booklet, enamel pin badge, 60x90cm poster, slipmat & hand-numbered certificate of authenticity, all housed in a rigid lift-off box.
Containing 11 songs, 8 on the main CD with 3 extra tracks on a bonus CD, The Quest will also be available as Limited 2CD+Blu-ray Artbook, 2CD Digipak, Gatefold 2LP+2CD & as Digital Album. Order now here: https://yes-band.lnk.to/TheQuest
CD1: 01. The Ice Bridge 7.01, 02. Dare To Know 6.00, 03. Minus The Man 5.35, 04. Leave Well Alone 8.06, 05. The Western Edge 4.26, 06. Future Memories 5.08, 07. Music To My Ears 4.41, 08. A Living Island 6.52 CD2: 01. Sister Sleeping Soul 4.51, 02. Mystery Tour 3.33, 03. Damaged World 5.20
Formats are: Limited Edition Deluxe 2LP & 2CD plus Blu-ray Box-set, Limited Edition 2CD & Blu-ray Artbook, Gatefold 2LP & 2CD plus LP-booklet, 2CD DigipakDigital Album.
The current line-up of YES was completed in 2015 when Billy Sherwood replaced founder member Chris Squire, at Squire’s insistence, as he bravely fought a losing battle with leukemia. Since then, YES have concentrated on touring with their Album Series tours, each featuring a classic YES album in its entirety. During this period YES have released three live albums Topographic Drama – Live Across America (2017), Yes Live 50 (2019) and The Royal Affair Tour: Live in Las Vegas (2020)
John Sloman is firmly established as one of the ‘voices of rock’. Famed for his octave straddling voice, John has performed with Gary Moore, Uriah Heep, Lone Star and UFO, among many others, and he is to release a new album titled ‘Two Rivers’. Two Rivers will be preceded by a 2 track digital single on Red Steel on October 29th 2021.
Lifted from his magnificently strange and exquisite album Two Rivers the single is called “This River Is A Time Machine”. This digital-only 2 track single is backed with an alternate take “This River – The Instrumental”, as the ‘B-side which is not included on the forthcoming album.
The album is described as – “having traces of a major stage production with elements of acoustic Zeppelin evident along with several other references. Even Zapperesque at times.”
John is also working on a retrospective collection with tracks drawn from his deep well of solo albums titled ‘Conspectus’. Furthermore, there is a full series of back catalogue remasters for release in 2022 as well as more new material to follow…
The album’s cover-art is based on a photo by Jeff Moh then painted by Callum Fernandes-Clarke, all put together with Callum and John.
With the release of 2 ASIA box sets in 2021, I’d thought I’d tidy up and re-share these interviews I did years ago – one with John Wetton  and one with Geoff Downes . Earlier this year BMG released The Reunion Albums slipbox [5CDs], and next month will release The Official Live Bootlegs : Volume 1. Next March marks the 40th Anniversary of the band’s debut album, let’s hope there’s something special being planned for release. RIP John.
ASIA Rises Again With Phoenix
This interview was done via email in 2008, following the release of Asia’s first comeback album Phoenix. For whatever reason, it did not all appear as I’d written it, so here is the complete thing. I’d originally sent questions for John Wetton and Geoff Downes, but only ever heard back from John.
What was the catalyst and, I guess – major reason or criteria for the original line-up of Asia to reunite? And was it with the understanding that it would have to be a long term commitment [w/ new recordings] – as opposed to just a one-off tour?
It really started with ‘Rock of faith’, a solo album from 2002,where Geoff and I wrote a song “I’ve come to take you home”, for the first time in many years. From that came the Icon project, and so on to Asia.
Over the years the reunion rumor had come up several times. How much had you guys kept in touch or had you sort of kept ‘tabs’ on each other over the years? AND, How well did the initial reunion shows go? Did they meet or exceed expectations? What have been some of the highlight concerts in the past 2 years?
Extremely well, and by the time we were halfway thru out 17-date US tour, we had an offer for Japan, and the UK.
On Phoenix John & Geoff resume as the band’s main songwriters. How easy was it to pick up your songwriting partnership after so many years?
As I explained in the first question, the ice had been broken, and we were used to working again with each other. The spark was still there.
With John & Geoff doing most of the writing, how is an Asia song [well, on Phoenix and the next album] generally put together? And what sort of input do Carl and Steve have?
Carl is not really a writer, and Steve tends to write on his own, but Geoff and myself enjoy the process of writing as a partnership.
How was the atmosphere and feeling – being together as the original Asia band again in the studio and on stage?
Much better than the first time around! We enjoyed ourselves, and banished some ghosts from the proceedings.
Phoenix is a great album, but it was more of a ‘grower’ from me because “Never Again” is such a powerful lead off rock track, but then the album really varies and includes more acoustic and softer songs. Did you guys have any idea what you wanted the album to sound like – or be a heavier or lighter album?
We just wanted it to be a representation of us 25 years on from our first outing. there are nods to our past, but the music is exactly what you get when you put those 4 musicians back on stage or in a studio. My one regret is that we didn’t have Mike Stone around to complete the circle, but that was not possible, as Mike is sadly no longer with us.
Never Again is a very uplifting and memorable song. Can you tell me what inspired that one musically and lyrically?
It’s virtually the Ten commandments. About never wanting to be judgmental, murderous or have evil intent. It’s musically quite hard-hitting. With the guitar intro, and powerful chorus, it is reminiscent of ‘Heat of the Moment’, but it was not intentionally so, and I think that is ok. ‘Parallel Worlds / Vortex / Deya’ is quite a melodic – progressive centerpiece to the album. Was this originally written as one song or separate pieces? Can you tell me how this song developed in to such an epic?
Yes,they all come from different periods. Deya was written in 1976,in Deya, Mallorca, Spain. Parallel Worlds was written in the Seneca Hotel, Niagara Falls, and was originally titled, ‘Sitting on top of the World’. Geoff wrote ‘Vortex’ quite recently.
How have the new songs been received live? Does there seem to be any fan favorites or faves that you guys enjoy performing?
Yes,’Never Again’, and ‘An Extraordinary Life’ go down very well in the live set.
Geoff and John are currently working on a new Icon album. How is that going? And is there any separation between Icon and Asia songs when writing? [I mean, any difference in what you’re writing or intending the songs for?]
We’re quite a long way into the record now, on overdubs – vocals, keyboards, etc. Should be finished by December sometime.
You’re also going on tour as Icon. How are these shows? Any different approaches to an Icon performance?
Yes, it’s very different from Asia. We have a cello (Hugh McDowell), and will have a female vocalist (Icon has duets).
When might we see another Asia studio album? Do you guys have any definite or tentative plans?
No plans as yet, but why not? We waited over 20 years for Phoenix, we don’t need to put out 2 records in 12 months.
As the original Asia was a fairly short-lived, straight to the top band in the early 80s. Do you guys feel you have something to prove to critics since reuniting?
Only to ourselves, and on a personal level, not musical.
Any solo albums in the future?
Yes, 2009 should see another solo record.
You were friends with David Byron for years; have you had a chance to check out the new Byron Band release from Damage Control Music [Robin George]?? Any contact with Ken Hensley or other Heep alumni since your own comeback?
I still have contact with Kenny, and Mick from the band. I was unaware of the Byron action.
You and Carl both had serious health issues in the past 2 years. How has that affected your drive and desire to create new stuff? And are you guys in to some new routines brought about by these health issues?
Only as far as exercise and diet, we still have the desire to play, and to create.
KJ, July 2012
ASIA – new album XXX
XXX had received rave reviews, many hailing it as the best since that first album. Geoff Downes is the band’s keyboard player and major songwriter – having contributed to such classic Asia songs as “Heat of The Moment”, “Only Time Will Tell”, “Don’t Cry” and numerous others [along with John Wetton]. Prior to Asia, Geoff had been part of “The Buggles”, before joining Yes for the Drama LP in 1980, a band he rejoined in 2011. In this interview Geoff discusses Asia’s ‘new’ reunion era, as well as the album XXX, as well as reflects on the band’s historic debut album.
What are the challenges and rewards this time around with the line-up of Asia? [What makes things easier and more rewarding, and what has changed that you need to work harder or differently at?].
Whenever we make a new album, it’s always a challenge. Not only to write the material, but also make sure we can do it justice in the live setting. The reward is knowing we have new music to play to people, not just relying on the early ‘classic’ material. Simply, nothing has really changed since we began the band. The main suspects are all still there – alive and well, thankfully!
First, just wanted to ask you – what have been some of the highlights since the band returned in 2006?
It’s been interesting to say the least. We all went into it not really with any great expectations or plans for the future. It seemed a nice path to take for all of us at the time and since then it’s been hugely enjoyable. That’s one of the main reasons that it’s still a going concern today.
Can you tell me a bit about some of tracks from ‘Phoenix” and “Omega”, such as “Never Again”, “An Extraordinary Life”, “I Believe” and “Finger On The Trigger”? [these being my favorites. Curious if you’d have any particular faves?] “Finger On The Trigger” was first recorded with John Wetton, but re-worked for “Omega”. Curious if there’s other tracks from “XXX” that may have been around for a while?
We wrote most of the material for these albums in dedicated writing periods before the start of the albums. Actually, with the exception of FOTT which had already recorded on the ICON CD Rubicon by John and myself. I think the record label saw it as being appropriate as an ASIA song. NA & AEL all written specifically with ASIA in mind. No actual full songs remain from these albums, but there are some interesting unused snippets of ideas.
You stuck with Mike Paxman as producer again, as opposed to producing yourselves. How was Mike to work with?
Mike did a great job with Omega, and provided us with a comfortable and relaxed environment in the studio. We felt he kept a very good balance between all the band members not only musically but also personally. We got to know him as a friend too, and so we had no hesitation in asking him back to help us make the XXX album.
The songs on XXX are mainly written by yourself and John Wetton. How did that work out, as [going back to the first album] – there was more band credits? [Might we hear more from Steve and Carl in the future?]
Certainly, historically a fair percentage of the band compositions have emanated from John and me. That’s not to say that that diminishes Steve’s contributions. Actually, Steve has 3 co-writes on this XXX, which is the same as he contributed on ASIA. But yeah, a full group composition might be interesting for the next album!
What is the ‘process’ of yourself and John writing together? Do either of you tend to come up with more of the words, or more of the melodies, etc… ?
The music is usually jointly collated. It’s quite rare that any of our songs end up as being the whole of one our individual ideas. I think that’s the beauty of it and why it works so well, is, that weave together two of our ideas and come up with – well, something different. John does most of the lyrics, but I’ll throw in the odd title or line here and there. I think it’s important for John that HE believes in what he’s singing about.
Can you give me a few lines on your Asia bandmates? [Having worked them 30 years ago, and currently, and what’s changed in the way you all get along and work together]
The thing with this band is that we are all very different personalities. In the early days, this could at times cause conflict, or conversely work in a very positive fashion. Since we got back together we have focused collectively on the latter. There’s a very strong level of respect between the four of us, and the chemistry is still there. That’s what’s important.
The new album seems [IMO] a bit more upbeat/rockier. I love “tomorrow The World” [and that intro], “Face On The Bridge”, Bury Me In Willow”, “Judas” … Can you give me a few lines about some of the songs – as to what inspired them or how they came about, lyrics, etc…?
We wanted to give the fans something a bit more upbeat this time. That’s not to say our previous albums have any less substance. It’s sometimes just how they turn out in terms of balance, but it’s not possible to second-guess this when you embark on a new album such as XXX. The songs are based on hope and inspiration. They are more spiritual without being religious. But bottom line is, it’s better to listen to music than talk about it to be honest.
I enjoyed “Phoenix” and “Omega”, but think this album is stronger all around. How happy are you guys with its outcome and how it stands up with previous Asia albums?
Honestly, we think it ranks up there with some of our best historical work. Having said that, some people will get more out of one album than another, so it’s all a matter of choice and personal taste really. I think we’re more proud of the fact that, we’re still here making fresh and inspiring new music 30 years on. That’s more than quite a lot of bands could say these days!
You’ve also done 2 videos for this album [Face On the Bridge and Faithful]. Might there be any further videos to promote any other tracks?
No, that’s it. Two’s enough!
You guys obviously have a lot of material to choose from for a live set. Curious how much of the new album will be featured, and what ‘staples’ are there from the previous 2 albums?
The set will be made up of all the ASIA albums that have featured the four original members. Of course there will be some of the signature songs from the first two 80’s albums, but we will also be incorporating material from the last three.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the debut album. Reflecting back, what are your fondest memories of that period and what can fans expect [aside from the CD re-issue] to commemorate its release? Any chance there’ll be a live performance of that complete album?
There are many great memories to savour when that 1st album really took off, too many to mention. We had worked long and hard on that for a year prior to its release, so our efforts were thoroughly rewarded. It was an exciting time for us. So it might be appropriate to turn the clock back and play the whole of that album again, like we did on the first tour. But there again, a show is all about balance, and it’s important for us to feature the newer music as well.
Beyond Asia, what else are you working on these days? Any Yes projects, solo outings, … ?
Well yeah, aside from recording the new ASIA CD, I’ve been involved with a number of projects over the last year or two. Specifically, my return to YES which has been a real privilege, and great fun to be back involved with those guys again. But also, I’ve been working with singer/songwriter Chris Braide on an album, as well as a whole host of other projects, so it’s very busy times for me right now!
Loud ‘n’ Proud is the title of Martin Popoff’s brand new book. It’s a visual history of the band, much like some of his previous ones in this series – Uriah Heep, Thin Lizzy, BOC…. below is the press info / details from Martin.
Nazareth: A Visual Biography is my weighty 1.65 kg, 8 ½” x 12” hardback coffee table book on Scottish hard rockers Nazareth. Easy PayPal buttons right here: http://www.martinpopoff.com/html/nazareth-a-visual-biography.html The chief mission is to celebrate the entire 50 years of the band’s hard-working career, utilizing my time-honored detailed timeline and quotes format. But that’s just the start. Besides the fully 52,000 words of academic timeline framing and commentary from the band in their own words, the book features fully 615 pictures, placed reverently upon sumptuous 100 lb. gloss paper. “Now you’re messin’…” Dunfermline, Scotland’s finest may not sound like much of a boast, but Nazareth made sure the world heard them howl, staking their claim first down in London but then conquering in sequence Canada, Germany, Russia and Brazil, all territories that remain huge Naz-lovers to this day.
Happy bassist Pete Agnew has been a constant throughout—running the ship in fact—but perhaps most notorious through the lineups that have flown this proud banner through the years has been vocalist Dan McCafferty, forced to the sidelines recently due to respiratory issues, much to the sorrow of millions of fans around the globe. But as Pete has said, “You don’t retire from this business—you do it until you die,” and so the band carries on, now with Carl Sentance singing up a storm, in front of a lineup of consummate songwriters and musicians that has been stable for an astonishing run of beloved recent albums. But it is of course the material from the glory years that keeps packing the venues.
Scotland wouldn’t be on the rock ‘n’ roll map without the likes of Razamanaz, Loud ‘n’ Proud, Hair of the Dog, Expect No Mercy and No Mean City going gold and platinum across more territories than most bands can find on a map, let alone having been there. And inside of those records… well, classic rock radio would be a sadder place without “Broken Down Angel,” “Bad Bad Boy,” “Woke Up This Morning,” “This Flight Tonight,” “Hair of the Dog,” “Miss Misery,” Love Hurts,” “Telegram,” “Hearts Grown Cold” and “Dream On” at the level of constant rotation they still enjoy today. So come join the celebration, as Martin Popoff takes us through 50 years of Naz, utilizing his trusty timeline technique, with illuminating quotes along the way. But that’s just the academic side: Loud ‘n’ Proud – 50 Years of Nazareth is all about the pictorial, from live shots to posters, 45 sleeves, magazine ads, backstage passes, ticket stubs and promo items. That’s all here, decade by decade, creating a sumptuous historical document that is a feast for the eyes, hopefully consumed with a jar or two at the ready .
Again, the link to order is: http://www.martinpopoff.com/html/nazareth-a-visual-biography.html Books will be signed by me to you unless you wave your arms wildly and tell me otherwise within like half an hour of ordering. Price including shipping (yes, it’s higher than usual, but this is now ordered in very low quantities): US orders, $75.00 US funds; Int’l orders (air mail), $99.00 US funds; Canadian orders, $88.00, Cdn. Funds. If you would like a PayPal invoice, please indicate what country you are in and give me the email address you use at PayPal. Or just do yer usual and direct funds to firstname.lastname@example.org . *Or mail payment (personal check in US funds, cash, or INTERNATIONAL money order), to: Martin Popoff, P.O. Box 65208, 358 Danforth Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4K 2Z2. Email email@example.com with any questions. Sweet postage savings to be had for multiple orders (or two of pretty much anything—long story, ask me!) for US orders.
The Official Live BootlegsVolume 1 Out on 26th November 12th October 2021: Multi-platinum selling English supergroup ASIA are to release a 10CD boxset The Official Live Bootlegs Volume 1 through BMG Records on 26th November 2021. There will also be a digital album featuring a selection of 24 tracks taken from the full boxset, out on the same day.
When ASIA came out on the scene in 1982, they were a huge global success with their debut single “Heat Of The Moment” and debut album – which was #1 on the US Billboard charts for 9 weeks! The band was instantly dubbed a ‘supergroup’ based on the success and achievements of it’s band members – ASIA: Geoff Downes (The Buggles, YES, keyboards), Steve Howe (YES, solo, guitars), Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, drums) and John Wetton (King Crimson, UK, Uriah Heep, bass/vocals).
The original foursome recorded just 2 albums, the self-titled debut, which also included the hits (“Only Time Will Tell” and “Sole Survivor”), followed by 1983’s Alpha (which featured the big hit “Don’t Cry”). Soon after John Wetton left the band, then returned, followed by Steve Howe’s departure (Howe went on to the successful GTR project, before resuming a solo career). The band carried on, making one further album with Mandy Meyer, and a few singles beyond that, before splitting up. Geoff Downes later formed a new version of the band (w/ John Payne), and Wetton went on to record a number of solo albums). The original line-up reunited in 2006, releasing Fantasia : Live In Tokyo (2007), and would release 3 further studio albums – Phoenix (2008), Omega (2010), and XXX (2012), before Howe left again (to focus on YES), and the band recorded just 1 further album in 2014 (Gravitas, with Sam Coulson), before the passing of John Wetton in 2017.
ASIA didn’t release an official Live album in their original line-up until the reunion happened, although there were radio shows and audience recordings out there from the ’80s, as well as now hard to find series From The Asia Archives in the early 2000s (which I might think included some of these shows came from?). So, this Volume 1 of the bands “official Bootleg” recordings will be easier to obtain and a nice addition to their catalogue for fans. The 5 shows in this slipcase box set include > 1982 (Buffalo, NY, USA), 1983 (Worcester, MA, USA), 2007 (São Paulo, Brazil), 2008 (Tokyo, Japan) and 2010 (London, UK), with all shows taking up 2 CDs each. *BMG also recently released a 5CD slip box of the ‘reunion’ albums. As one who has very little live Asia, I am looking forward to this.
“This historical collection represents some of our finest and most defining live moments,” says Geoff Downes, “from the very first ASIA tour in 1982 and the Alpha tour the following year through three of our many ‘Reunion’ shows. It was such a privilege to take ASIA’s music to these different continents and feel the warmth and support from fans all over the world. We hope this brings back great memories and inspires others to appreciate the music of ASIA”.
This the first time these recordings have been made officially available by ASIA and they are presented together in a superb collector’s edition boxset with original artwork by Roger Dean, who created all of ASIA’s album artwork.
NESTOR are five childhood friends who formed a band over three decades ago in their hometown of Falköping, Sweden. Now the rockstar dreams of their youth have been revitalized and once again the band embraces influences from the ’80s with tongues-in-cheek and a lot of heart.
Sweden band NESTOR debuted their first track via youtube back in March. The song “On The Run” is a classic ’80s type energetic aor-rocker, with a great riff, catchy chorus’, reflective lyrics, and a hilarious video featuring the band’s singer travelling back in his Volvo picking up his old bandmates to resurrect the band. It reminds me of Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” video from ’85 as well as those Twisted Sister clips from the era. They followed that up with “1989”, a song about their fondness for that year — it was the year the band actually existed, as I listened to an interview with frontman Tobias Gustavsson where he talked about the band’s beginnings. “1989” is a punchy ’80s styed rocker, and again with another awesome video. The band’s third track released was the power-ballad “Tomorrow”, which is a duet with ’80s pop star Samantha Fox. Another outstanding track and accompanying video clip, featuring Fox, who looks and sounds better than I remember her from the ’80s. The track rivalling any of the great power ballads from 35 years ago. Now the whole album is ready to be released to the world on October 22. It features 10 tracks, and if the first 3 songs released got you excited for this album (with those 3 songs having been seen/heard over a million times on youtube), then Kids In A Ghost Town will be worth the wait! Every track would be a potential single if this was 1984. Kids In A Ghost Town might get you thinking back to those bands that were huge over decades ago like Journey, Van Halen [w/ Hagar], Kiss, Europe, Y & T… you’ll find plenty here to like, Great hooks, riffs, keyboards, all produced and presented like a lost ’80s album. Lots of fun, retro AOR rock tunes, lyrics reflecting and referencing the past relationships, stories and ’80s women – such as on “Perfect 10 (Eyes Like Demi Moore)”, other favorites being the heavier “Firesign”, “These Days”, as well as closing ballad “It Ain’t Me.” Included in the credits is Swedish songwriter Andreas Carlsson who has writing credits with TONS of 80s and 90s acts, including Bon Jovi (see Bounce), Paul Stanley (see Live To Win), Europe (see Back To Eden), Def Leppard (see X), as well as pop acts like Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Celine Dion…. (seriously – look this guy up). Kids In A Ghost Town celebrates the spirit of the ’80s rock era in music and image. Can’t wait to get this CD for the car… may even want to dig out a jean jacket!
The album is produced by Tobias Gustavsson, mixed by Sebastian Forslund (The Night Flight Orchestra), and mastered by Thomas “Plec” Johansson at The Panic Room.
TRACK LIST: A Fanfare For The Reliable Rebel (Intro) / On The Run / Kids In A Ghost Town / Stone Cold Eyes / Perfect 10 (Eyes Like Demi Moore) / These Days / Tomorrow (Feat. Samantha Fox) / We Are Not OK / Firesign / 1989 / It Ain’t Me
NESTOR ARE: Jonny Wemmenstedt (guitar), Mattias Carlsson (drums), Tobias Gustavsson (vocals), Marcus Åblad (bass), Martin Frejinger (keyboards)
Firehouse came out at the end of the ’80s with their hugely successful, high energy debut album, which featured the hits “All She Wrote” and “Don’t Treat Me Bad”, as well as favorites “Shake & Tumble”, “Love Of A Lifetime”, and “Rock On The Radio”. There’s a new reissue of that album out [Bad Reputation Records], which adds 2 acoustic tracks, and a 2nd CD of live tracks. In December of 1999 I interviewed guitarist / songwriter Bill Leverty for the band’s latest album at the time – Category 5. The following year bass player Perry Richardson left the band, and has since joined Stryper in recent years. Firehouse is currently playing live shows, but their last studio release was 2011’s Full Circle. Since 2007 Bill Leverty has released 5 solo albums, including last year’s Divided We Fall. *You can check out Bill Leverty’s solo albums and stories at http://www.leverty.com
“FIREHOUSE’s latest album is called Category 5. The band, for a decade has included vocalist [and keyboardist] CJ Snare, bass player Perry Richardson, drummer Michael Foster, and guitar player Bill Leverty. I recently had a nice conversation with Bill about the band, the new album, and almost everything else pertaining to FIREHOUSE. The new album [on Mystic Records] is recommended to those in to the melodic rock, featuring a number of great pop-rockers and powerful ballads. For more on Firehouse check out www.firehousemusic.com , or check out Bill Leverty’s own site http://members.aol.com/leverty”
How’s the response been to the new album?
Overwhelming! The people who have heard it, a lot of people are saying it’s our best album ever.
I must confess that I’m not overly familiar with the band apart from what I’ve heard on the radio in the past, so I don’t know what I expected, but thinking from seeing you in the Metal Edge pages and that that probably accidentally lumping you in with a few other bands would be a big mistake. This album’s got a real good pop-rock feel to it.
I think we have elements of the metal-edge thing in our music too, and elements of other stuff, and it’s just kind of mish-mashed in to our style, and we’ve always been liking all kinds of music so much that we really didn’t know what to put on our records. The way we do it is everybody writes and we take the best songs, and put them on there every year. And these were the best songs we had this year. It’s kind of interesting because we didn’t have any pre-conceived notions about what we wanted this album to sound like, we just wanted the best songs that we could come up with on there. There’s a little bit of diversity on there, I think.
There’s quite a bit. For instance like “I’d Do Anything” – which has kind of a country feel to it.
There’s a Southern feel on a couple of songs. We’ve all kind lived in the South for so long that it’s hard not to have that as an influence, and we really love the soul-ful vibe of Southern music, whether it comes from Country or Southern rock, or even old blues and stuff like that.
Where abouts are you guys based out of?
I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, but I live near Tampa, Florida now. We kind of live from Tampa to South Carolina, to Virginia — scattered about the South-East there.
Now you guys have been together for about 9 years now!?
It’d be 10 years now. We got together in ’89, actually really late ’88, but we’ve always said ’89. So it’ll be 11 years coming up.
When you guys started out did you have any plans of long-term goals that you sort of achieved or are still looking for?
We just wanted to make a living playing music, and trying to get our music out to as many people as possible, and have fun doing it. We had no idea that we’d get any real success, although we believed in ourselves and we had our dreams. Our goals were really to get a record deal, and we were really luck we got a record deal, and that record company pushed the buttons for us back there in ’91 and we had a lot of things happen for us, so it overwhelmed us all. Back then we were just happy to be playing music, especially music that we wrote because before that we were playing a combination of other people’s music and ours. I still like playing other people’s music, it’s just that it’s that much more gratifying when you’re a songwriter and you get your songs played on to an audience that knows them.
What did you guys grow up on?
Everybody in the band has very diverse influences, which is kind of neat. My earliest influences were Stevie Wonder and Led Zeppelin, and then I got in to Eddie Van Halen, Ted Nugent, Michael Schenker, and then Randy Rhoads. Perry grew up , and when he was very young played in a gospel quartet, and his dad played bass, and he learned the bass from that. Michael started playing drums when he was 3, ridiculously young, he’s been playing them forever. I didn’t start until I was 15. But his parents were really in to Elvis, so he had Elvis on all the time in the house, so he was rocking and rolling at a very early age. And CJ was classically trained in the beginning as a pianist, and then he got to sing, and he was in a choir. He was in the Pennsylvania State Choir, and he was first chair tenor. in the Pennsylvania State Choir by the time he was a teenager, so he was studying real hard with that. But then he started listening to Alice Cooper and Kiss, then Judas Priest and things changed. So, we all come from a very diverse background, but our common love is Hard-Rock…..and Soft-Rock, but you know – Rock n Roll.
You guys do a lot of harmonies, probably some of the best harmonies out there that a lot of hard-rock bands try to do, and it seems so natural for you guys. Have the harmonies always been there, what influenced that?
Oh thank you. I think that was a big influence on us all from the very early days. We’ve always tried on all our albums to have a lot of background vocals because it just adds to so much to so many songs where you could really emphasize words, and add layers of sounds to make the band sound bigger. We’ve all come from bands where we had that many people singing in the band, and when we put this band together we wanted to make sure that everybody could sing, even sing lead because we wanted our background vocals to be strong. And that’s one thing that we really concentrate a lot on when we rehearse is the vocals. A lot of times we’ll rehearse without our instruments, which is good, and just sing. We put a lot of emphasis on that.
When I listen to you guys I hear a little bit of Cheap Trick, a little bit of Bob Jovi [on the lighter stuff], and a little bit of Uriah Heep [on the harmonies]. Is there any bands out there that you guys kind of look upon that maybe this is where you want to go – direction wise, or who you want to compare yourself to?
Not really. I would love to be a band like say The Eagles – they’ve been around forever, and they have so many songs that people know and some of them are really hard-rockin’, and some of them are slow and soft, and some of them are kind of twisted. But I also like bands like The Scorpions too. I love the Scorpions, I love The Beatles, I thought Zeppelin was awesome, Aerosmith is a great mentor-type band for Firehouse, and Kiss; certainly Aerosmith because they still have their 5 guys together, which we do too which is so neat to see a band like that that has been together for that long, like the Stones. And they can keep putting out good music – I mean the last Kiss album was great, the last Aerosmith album was great, and I like the last Stones record too. It gets tougher and tougher for rock music as time goes on, but I really think that longevity is the key, and that we’ve got what it takes to be around for a long time, because we all love to write music, and we’re obsessed by it.
You guys all write, how do you come together with the songs?
When we’re touring it’s very difficult to write, I have a hard time anyway. I used to try to do it, but there’s so many distractions. What i do is I go home, and I’m off for a day and then I’m going nuts for something to do, so I just go in my studio and stay in there for weeks at a time, and don’t shave, and some times I don’t even shower. And I just go through all these ideas that I’ve been storing in my mind; like we’ve been on the road for 18 months on this last tour straight, so I came home with a lot of ideas in my head that I just wanted to document, and then I just keep developing them, and at some time we’ll get together and collaborate as a team, and we’ll come up with some more songs. Usually CJ and I put our stuff together, and we complete each other’s songs, and we co-write on a lot of other new ideas, and then we’ll get everybody together again and have another writing session, and then we’ll have pre-production for the album, and put all our songs together that we got – the demos, and listen to them, and then we decide which songs we’re going to put on the album.
How many songs do you usually come up with before you actually lay down the album?
Generally I say between 30 and 40.
You guys do a number of ballads here, and what I like about the ballads is you guys don’t do the ‘A typical’ rock ballad, like a lot of bands that have the formulated rock ballad down. Take a song like “Dream” – which is a very different to what’s out there, and it’s a great song.
Well, we’ve never done a song like Dream before. We heard the demo, and we really liked it. Perry had written it with 2 of his friends in Myrtle Beach. It’s a song about a child dying in their parent’s arms. Before we heard the song Perry told us what it was about, and then he played us the song, and we were like all in tears by the end of the song; and then we were like “yeah – that’s gotta be on there!” That song is really a beautiful song. We’ve been playing it live, and it’s a lot of fun to play live.
You guys also do a lot of pop-rock stuff like on “The Nights Were Young” and “Have Mercy”, i love the keyboard intro on that. (BL: “Thank you!), and “Can’t Stop The Pain”, obviously.
That’s the first single that Mystic Records has chosen, and that’s a song about the loss of my father. I wrote the skeleton of the song with Perry and Michael, and shortly after Perry’s father died, and he wrote a really good part to add to the song, and we recorded it. I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails from people who’ve said it’s helped them with the loss of a loved one, and they can relate to what the song’s about.
Do you incorporate a lot of life experiences in to the songs?
Absolutely. If it’s not our life experiences, it’s somebody else’s that we know.
Well, that’s an obvious choice for a single. It’s a great catchy song, and lyrically has something to say. What stands out for you on the album – songs that you like to play live, or you’d like to see as a single?
We’ve been playing Can’t Stop The Pain live, and that’s a great song to play live, for me because there’s a lot of guitar and soloing; it’s rocks too and people get it right away, people have been enjoying that song a lot. We’ve also been playing Dream, and we’ve been playing Have Mercy [which you also mentioned]. It’s so difficult because when I hear the album I like every song for something different because it reminds me of something different. I like the mandolin part in I’d Do Anything. I like the song “If It Changes”, and the sitar part that i played; it was fun to play, it has sort of an Eastern vibe.
You guys get a lot of different sounds in there with the sitar, the keyboard, and the mandolin; it’s not just your basic 4-man set up of guitar, bass and drums.
We try to stretch as much as we can without getting to be too strange; we don’t want to sound too weird. We want a sound that’s solid and that people can relate to. We’re not all that twisted as people, so we don’t really write to come up with something twisted or hard-core.
Is there anything as far as attitudes and your everyday life that influence the music as far as keeping it positive?
Yeah, we definitely try to accent the positive in our lyrics and in our everyday lives, on and off the stage. We’re guys that we’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we try to do the right thing in our personal lives as well. We try to write about things that you can give to your neighbor and he can play it for his kids as well, because I don’t have any kids yet, but I have nephews and nieces and I want them to be able to hear my music. And as soon as you put language like in the locker room then you limit your audience and you also offend people, and we’re not into being an offensive band, I think.
Do you have a problems with bands that are?
No, not at all. It’s great to be America where you can say whatever you want, but I have chosen to do it this way.
Where are you guys now – on the road?
Well, we’re writing songs for a new album right now, and we a ‘live’ album coming out real soon also. We recorded one night in Japan. That’ll be out right around Christmas, and available on our web-site which is > http://www.firehousemusic.com < . In the meantime we’re going to be writing and then recording. We might go out and do a string of dates in February, we’re working on that now. But the plan is if it doesn’t look good for that then we’ll wait for the spring, and finish the album – then go out and tour the summer. We’ve been out on tour for 18 months in support of this album. We just got off the road actually. I know it sounds different where you normally put out a record and then go tour, but we didn’t have a deal when we first put out this record, and we went out on the road and played every club in every town, and by doing so i think it helped get us a deal and get some people realizing that we’re still together and we hadn’t fallen off the face of the planet. VH 1 came out and did a “Where Are They Now?” special on us, which was real cool. And that wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t on the road at the time, so it all happened for a reason. And we’ve played every place about 2 or 3 times, so we kind of need to come back, write another album, and get out on the road in the spring, and we plan to go out with a package, which we’re working on, until the summer.
Any other bands you’re teaming up with?
Yeah, we have a manager named Perry Cooper, he works with Atlantic Records for 18 years as a vice-president in the Artist Development department, and he was introduced to me through a friend named Brian Johnson – who you might have heard of!?
Yeah, and actually Brian’s helping us with a song. He’s writing a song with us for the next album.
What have been the highpoints for you guys over the years?
To me the most memorable high was when we won the American Music Award for Best New Hard-Rock / Heavy Metal Band. It was at a time where so many things were going on that were really good, but that is the one thing that I can look at every day and say “I remember those days – that was great!” It was also gratifying because we were voted on by the people, and not by the industry, not that the industry’s bad, but because it’s good to know that the listeners are out there; the real people that buy the music picked us and not some people in a boardroom that made a political decision.
Since the award, how about your favorite things such as live draws? Or bands you’ve toured with that stood out memory wise?
We’ve had so many great tours, we’ve been real lucky. In the beginning we went out with Warrant, and that was a tour that was hugely successful, selling out every shed and venue that we went to. And then we went straight in to the studio and recorded our 2nd album – “Hold Your Fire”, and before we even finished mixing the record we were out on the road with Tesla on a tour that was supposed to last 6 weeks and that lasted for 9 months, and that tour sold out every where it went, and it also went around twice to a lot of the same places because it was so successful for so long. And then we actually went out with Poison right after that for a little while, and then Damn Yankees, and that was a really good tour as well. It was also a great honor to be open for like Ted Nugent, Tommy Shaw, Jack Blades, and Michael Cartellone – a great band. It was cool to open for Poison too, they’re a great band, they got a great show, and we learned a lot about what to do in the music business and what not to do also. That was interesting, and that was always one of the bands that i wanted to open up for because they had this huge following, and they had a type of music that was good-time rock n roll – and that’s the kind of rock n roll we’re after. Bon Jovi would be a great band if we could open up for them too, but we’ve never been able to.
I think the last Bon Jovi album was their best.
Yeah, I think Richie’s such a great guitar player, and a great artist. His solo album was awesome.
What are your thoughts on the current scene? There’s a lot of crap in the business with a lot of good basic rock bands being left out due to trends and stuff. Where do you see the industry at the moment, as far as being good for you guys and some of the other bands you mentioned?
I think it’s good for us right now, it’s not great, but it’s good, and getting better, a lot better than it was a couple of years ago. The industry – radio programmers, video channel programmers, record store managers and so forth have come to realize that that whole decade of music that we had from ’82 to ’92 was very successful, and a lot of people that listened to that really liked it. And all of sudden there’s a couple of bands that came out that were very different, maybe some sounds were over-saturated, and everything changed, and everybody said “we’re not playing that kind of music anymore.” Well it’s just until recently that people are going – “Well — those people didn’t just fall off the face of the planet either! There’s people that like that kind of music, STILL like that kind of music, and missed it.” And they’re finding out that, you know – you put out these ‘Ballad’ albums or these ‘Rock n Roll’ albums and they all sell over a million copies that this type of music is still hot, and that they made a mistake by shutting the door to it. They should’ve played every type of new music, but not alienated the last decade that they had supported in the past 10 years or so.
It’s good to see a resurgence in melodic rock, because a lot of it got shoved to the side in the early ’90s, which kind of sucked.
I see a huge resurgence, and I also see a huge resurgence on the road. When we go to a town and let’s say we went to a town back in ’96 or ’97 we couldn’t get any radio station to do anything – and now they’re calling us, and saying “Hey before you come here can we arrange for you guys to come in and sing a song for us on our ‘5 o’clock Drive Home’?” Which makes us go “Hmm.” Maybe they’re saturated with all the stuff that sounds alike. And that’s happening everywhere. Even these ‘Perfect Hair Shows’ on a lot of these stations, for lack of a better name, they should call them ‘Melodic Rock Shows’ because they’re the most popular shows on the stations is what a lot of these guys are telling me. They’ve got one in Tampa. It started out as “Perfect Hair”, and they started off as once a week, and then it went to every day for half an hour, and then they increased it for an hour because everybody calls, and it’s such a huge hour for them.
Even the stations around here, a couple of stations brought back the ’80s Weekend’ or a ‘Hair Fix At 5’ where they play some Poison or Bon Jovi or whatever. And a lot of that stuff really got shut off the radio for a few years.
It did. It was not cool at all to be a part of that. And they’re finding out that “Gosh – it actually was cool, and some of this other stuff we’re listening to is so primitive.”
Do any of you guys do anything outside the band such as guest appearances or solo things?
We really haven’t at this point. We’ve just focused all our time on Firehouse, and that’s what we really have to do right now. That’s what pays the bills. As soon as we get Firehouse at a level where people know who we are, …I think our songs are more famous than the band. People know songs like “Love Of A Lifetime” and “Don’t Treat Me Bad”, I don’t think everyone knows the name of the band, and also we have to change the perception of the band because everybody thinks that what we are – Don’t Treat Me Bad and Love Of A Lifetime because that’s all they’ve ever heard, and there’s a lot more to us than that. Until that happens I don’t know if we’ll have time for other projects unless something comes along that we can’t refuse then we’ll have to make time for it. But right now, Firehouse takes up my time 365 days of the year.
Any hobbies outside of music?
Recording…..just music. [ha ha]. Actually, I’m an ice hockey freak. The Red Wings are my favorite team, and I also like the Leafs a lot. Cujo is a great goaltender, and I got a Leafs’ jersey that a friend of mine in Toronto gave me, it has my name on the back of it. My favorite player on the team is Steve Thomas, he’s wicked, got a great shot, he’s a great player.
I was over in Buffalo a few months ago, saw Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Did you really?? We opened up for Lynyrd Skynyrd and that was like a dream come true! They were the biggest influence on me as a kid, a musical influence as far as writing, and learning how to play a whole song all the way through. When I first started I learned all these Lynyrd Skynyrd songs, and played them in my band. And we got to open up for them and meet them; it was just awesome! We played 3 shows with them on the Poison tour.
I love their new album, and seeing them live was just unbelievable!
Yeah, I’ve met Rickey Medlocke a couple of times, and he’s great, and it’s cool that he’s back in the band after all those years.
Are you familiar with Uriah Heep?
Oh yeah! That was one of Perry’s [our bass player] biggest influences. He brings a lot of that to the table when it comes time to lay down the fifth harmony, the real high, ya know!? [sings the words ‘Easy Livin’]. He was really in to that. And I love Uriah Heep! Great band! I just love the sound of the organ too, “Sunrise” and all that stuff.
What are you listening to currently?
I’ve got Jeff Beck’s new album – “Who Else?”. I love Jeff Beck, he’s one of my favorite guitarists of all time. It’s a really cool album, and he’s just from another planet, ya know! I like everything he’s ever done, and I got to meet him too – which was another dream come true. I have to say that’s the best. On the radio and on the video I’ve seen the new Foo Fighters, and I think that’s a good song. I’ve always like the Foo Fighters ever since they came out, Dave Grohl’s really talented, and he deserves every bit of what he’s got. He writes very melodic songs that are ‘hip’ and ‘today’. What a great writer, and a great singer. I think the guy’s got a great voice. I really have a lot o respect for him. He also comes from my home state of Virginia.
What is this “Compassion In Action” that is mentioned on the CD?
It’s a charity that Perry turned us on to where it goes to help pay for Hospice care for people who are about to pass away. They have shelters out in San Francisco, and they’re trying to get more shelters. This guy named Damion Brinkley, who is the head of it, and he’s been on Oprah Winfrey like 7 times, and he’s physically died several times from being by lightning and other accidents, and he’s come back with a lot more spiritual and wisdom and knowledge than he ever had before, and he’s turned his whole life in to doing things that are good for people.
Familiar with the Canadian scene?
A little bit.
Any bands in particular?
Yeah, Harem Scarem. We met those guys in Japan just this past year, great people. I liked their music too – they sent me a record which was really good.
My friend and major STATUS QUO Fan Alex Gitlin looks at the career and highlights of the band’s founding bass player.
RIP Alan Lancaster, the original bass player of Status Quo, the British blues-boogie institution, and the irreplaceable 1/4 of the Frantic Four
He passed away from multiple sclerosis on 26th September 2021 in Sydney, Australia, aged 72.
During their incredible run between the first album in 1968, Picturesque Matchstickable – Messages from the Status Quo, and his somewhat acrimonious split from the band in the mid-80s (he’d relocated to Australia in 1977), he performed on 12 top 10 UK albums and 17 top 10 UK singles.
Alan’s last gig with Quo, prior to the reunion in the 21st century, was opening the Live Aid at the Wembley Stadium in London.
In 2013-14, the original Frantic Four reunited for one last fling, touring the UK, Germany, Holland, Belgium and France. Each gig was greeted emotionally by fans who’d been waiting for this reunion since 1981, the year drummer John Coghlan departed.
Although by now there were signs of his debilitating disease beginning to show (at one point there were rumours of the pick being taped to his hand), he soldiered on with the “no time like the present” attitude, giving the fans exactly what they’d come for. His bass, alongside Coghlan’s drumming, was the locomotive engine that was the classic Quo rhythm section.
It was around 1970 when Quo had disposed of psychedelic frills and kaftans, replacing them with denim and growing their hair long. For the band’s third album, Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon, which tentatively pre-defined their to-be trademark sound, he wrote Daughter and Is it Really Me/Gotta Go Home.
The following year’s Dog of Two Head, the wheels were fully in motion, and here Alan contributed Umleitung (a co-write with keyboardist Roy Lynes), Something’s Going on in My Head, and Someone’s Learning. This was also their last album for Pye, in 1972 Status Quo were signed to Vertigo.
On their breakthru 1972 Piledriver album, Alan co-wrote A Year with Bernie Frost and All The Reasons with Rick Parfitt. He also sang lead on the cover of the Doors’ Roadhouse Blues, which became a live staple for the band.
On the 1973 stone-cold classic, Hello, the entire band wrote Roll Over Lay Down, UK No. 9 and top 10 in many countries in Europe; on Blue Eyed Lady, co-written by Alan and Rick Parfitt, the vocals were shared by Alan and Francis Rossi. And also he had a hand in writing Softer Ride (sung by Rossi).
On 1974’s Quo, he handled the lead vocals on four tracks, Backwater, Just Take Me, Drifting Away, and Don’t Think It Matters, and co-wrote six.
As the band was in the middle of a purple patch of hit singles and albums, 1975’s On The Level, considered by many as the finest in the band’s entire catalogue, he wrote Broken Man (also singing lead) and Over And Done. And he handled the lead vocals on another cover, Chuck Berry’s Bye Bye Johnny, also a great live favorite.
1976’s Blue For You has Alan on lead vocals and writing contributions on the opener, Is There a Better Way, the seminal and bluesy title track, Rolling Home and Ease Your Mind.
By 1977, the tide was turning, Quo were a mainstay on the European rock circuit, selling out arenas in Germany, but their sound became a bit softer, although the writing quality remained steadfastly top-notch. Here on Rockin’ All Over The World Alan contributed Let’s Ride, You Don’t Own Me, co-written with Mick Green [of The Pirates], and Too Far Gone.
They continued to pursue the same direction of commercial British pop-rock with a boogie edge in 1978, with If You Can’t Stand the Heat…, here Alan’s contributions are Gonna Teach You To Love Me and Stones. By this time, Alan had moved residencies to Oz, while the relationship between the dynamic duo Rossi-Parfitt had soured due to the out-of-control use of drugs.
In 1979, Whatever You Want (the album) reached No. 4 in the UK, and here Alan contributed Who Asked You and High Flyer. And the following year, on Just Supposin‘ – Over the Edge (a co-write with Keith Lamb), The Wild Ones and Name of the Game (co-written with Rossi and the band’s keyboardist Andy Bown).
1981’s Never Too Late also had two of Alan’s songs, Mountain Lady and Don’t Stop Me Now (once again a Bown co-write). And the following year’s cleverly titled 1+9+8+2 (equals 20, commemorating the twenty years since the band’s inception in 1962) had Alan’s I Love Rock and Roll, I Want The World To Know (another one co-written with Lamb) and Big Man (once again co-written with Mick Green).
Back To Back in 1983 became the final album for Alan Lancaster, who contributed Ol’ Rag Blues (co-written with Lamb) and Your Kind of Love, while he was reportedly distraught over Rossi’s Marguerita Time betraying the band’s classic heads-down no-nonsense boogie sound. When they appeared on BBC’s Top of the Pops to mime to the single, his place was taken by Jim Lea of Slade. Elsewhere on other television appearances, he was replaced with a cardboard cutout.
R.I.P. to the diamond geezer and the seminal part of classic Quo. Whether it’s his singing, bass playing or songwriting, he didn’t do things by halves, putting his heart and soul into what’s now regarded worldwide as the British rock legend.