All posts by KJ

Ken Hensley – My Book Of Answers : Q & A with Steve Weltman.

Ken Hensley's Book 'My Book Of Answers' Set To Be Coming Out In 2021 •  TotalRock

With the recent release of My Book Of Answers, and Ken no longer with us, I wondered who’d be out there promoting it. But, checking out youtube I see that Ken’s manager and friend Steve Weltman was doing a fine job in a few interviews I watched, so I sent Steve some questions in hopes that he [or someone] could drop me some responses, which he kindly obliged. *Check out my review posted a few days ago My Book Of Answers, and at the end of I’ve included links to other interviews from youtube with Steve Weltman – all very informative and interesting listening on his time with Ken, as well as some of earlier career in the music business – which included his start making tea for The Beatles, working [and running] Charisma Records, as well as being at RCA in the late ’70s and working on a number of David Bowie albums – Low, Heroes, Scary Monsters and and Stage.

KEN HENSLEY| Have you seen the brand-new music video for Ken Hensley's  'Lost (My Guardian)'? Watch and stream the track here! - Cherry Red Records
*image from "Lost (My Guardian)" video.

Can you tell me about the main band that played throughout this album – Tommy Lopez, Izzy Cueto, and Moises Caruzo?  And how they ended up working with Ken on this project?

 Ken knew these players purely through his time in Spain and that Tommy knew them. [*Note: Tommy Lopez also played on Ken’s The Last Dance and Cold Autumn Sunday]

What were the first [few] tracks put together for My Book Of Answers? And at what point did Ken decide he was going to make a full album of Vladimir’s poems? 

The first poems Ken worked on were “Stand” and “Silent Scream”. Soon after the first home demo of Stand and then the recording of the same it became clear it would form the core of a new album.

(2) The Silent Scream – YouTube

How fast were these songs put together, once things got going? [Any time frame of the whole recording?]  

Ken started work on ideas late 2019 and the recording period was on and off up to June 2020. After this mastering and artwork were planned.

With everyone’s parts being recorded separately, how were songs presented and discussed – whether they’d be upbeat, rockers, ballads… ? 

Once Ken had formed the song and it’s direction then he discussed with all involved in each song what he was looking for.

What is the vocal effect used on Ken’s vocals on “Lost”? and who or why was this done? 

Ken wanted his voice to appear “Lost”. The effect is just a plug in.

“Right Here Right Now” musically is really Uriah Heep’s “The Hanging Tree” (1977).  I am curious how this 1 was brought up?

Ken was working on the poem from Vladimir for this song and felt it would work really well, as it did. Highly regarded in various reviews of the album.

I really like the added heavy guitar at the end of “Right Here, Right Now”, as well as the guitar sound in “The Cold Sacrifice”.   Was there a good bit of input from the players and back & forth on what would work in each song? 

Ken had definite ideas for these parts but of course gave Izzy room to interpret.

(2) Right Here, Right Now – YouTube

The backing ‘choir’ on “Stand” really adds to the song. Was this Ken’s idea and how was it arranged? 

Ken wanted backing vocals but given the virus was not sure how to go about this. I suggested the three girls who I had worked with on other projects and two of them with Ken. Ken wanted to use Roberto also who of course is from Live Fire.

They all recorded their parts at home and filmed themselves on their phones for us to use in the video.

David Gonzalez plays piano on a couple of tracks – particularly the intro to “The Darkest Hour” stands out. Who was he and how did he become involved, as opposed to Ken playing any piano himself? [There was another piano player as well] 

When it came to recording Ken was always happier when someone else played the piano. Again as with other players he was aware of him locally.

Tommy is credited with strings on a few tracks [and keyboards] – curious how the strings came about and if they’re real or done through a keyboard program?  

Strings on the album were programmed by Tommy, but for the concert we used real players. Strings were absolutely Ken’s idea.

(2) The Darkest Hour – YouTube

Was there any tracks leftover from the making of My Book Of Answers

There was not.

Can anyone offer any insight in to the cover art [and/or the person who created it]? And the packaging concept by Hugh Gilmour?  Was Ken a part of the packaging/art choices? 

The Russian artist is known to Vladimir and Ken. The insight was just an interpretation of the title. We have worked with Hugh before and the package was his idea but of course discussed and approved by Ken.

There was a live performance of the album!? When was this and was it filmed or recorded for possible future viewing or release? [Was the entire album performed?]  

There was a show performed in October 2021 of the entire album with all the musicians (including strings) but not backing vocals (on Stand). It was recorded and filmed. We will start looking at it during the year ahead.

*Another interview with Steve, recently posted – Vintage Rock Pod –

*for more on My Book Of Answers [or to order]:

KJJ, 03/21


Stefan Berggren – These Are The Times : Interview

After years of recording with bands such as Snakes In Paradise and Razorback, as well as playing alongside Whitesnake alumni in The Company Of Snakes & M3, as well as The Don Airey Band, Swedish singer/songwriter/guitarist and producer Stefan Berggren has just released his 2nd solo album in 5 years. These Are The Times is a solid collection of blues rock songs, including the first track released “Wild Flowers” [featuring Don Airey of Deep Purple], “Superman”, the heavier “Burning Burning”, as well as lighter moments “Lost At Sea” and the country-sounding “New York” [complete with fiddle]. Love the title track as well, which is closer to old Whitesnake or Purple. Well worth checking out.

Below is my recent exchange with Stefan, discussing his new album, his other more recent projects, his time in New York and the late Lee Kerslake, *Also check out the links below!

First, how have you been doing during CoVid lockdowns? Keeping busy with new projects or non-music stuff?

I been working hard  on my solo album; I am so happy that I made it. There is always a sense of achievement when it’s finished. I decided already in 2019 that I was going to work on new original material the whole 2020. So the pandemic has been good for that.  But there’s absolutely nothing to do, no gigs. I believe I had the last gig on earth. My band played the last gig November 23, 2020.

(2) Stefan Berggren – Stranger In A Strangeland (Official Lyric Video) – YouTube [from 2016’s Stranger In A Strangeland]

Last time we connected was upon release of the album you did with Lee Kerslake. These Are The Times is your 2nd solo album since then, and you also did another Snakes In Paradise album[?] in 2018 [first one in 16 years]. Can you talk briefly about these 2 albums?

My first solo album Stranger in a Strangeland was ready before BKB. I put that [solo album] on hold when I met Lee, because we wrote some good songs together and we knew Lee’s time was limited. I am very proud of the BKB album. Afterwards, Lee became more and more ill so I decided to focus on my solo album. I had Bernie Marsden over to Stockholm a couple of times; he laid down guitars on 2 tracks – “Coming Home” and “Long Gone Down The Road.” All of the guests on the album are friends, musos I met along the road and enjoyed playing with — Neil Murray from Company Of Snakes and M3 played bass on one song. Snakes In Paradise did one gig at Rock Weekend in Stockholm, as the Promotor gave us an offer we couldn’t refuse 🙂 After the show I sent a song to Serafino at Frontiers; he liked what he heard and offered a deal immediately. It was a difficult and complicated recording as we all live very far apart. We might do one last album with Snakes In Paradise and do some farewell gigs for our fans. Our old songs have taken a life of their own.

May be an image of Stefan Berggren, standing, musical instrument and outerwear
rom Stefan Berggren Music Page, [fb]

When was the new album written & recorded? 

I started to record These Are The Times in 2018, so it was written and recorded  between autumn 2018-2020. The reason it has taken time is I played  gigs all over, all the time – to pay the bills 🙂

Grand Jam is your own studio / recording company !? Have you worked [produced ] many other acts?

Yes, I had my own studio since the ’90s. But now I mostly produce my own stuff; there is no time for anything else, really.

(2) STEFAN BERGGREN – Wild Flowers Feat Don Airey (Official Music Video) – YouTube

You’ve worked with Don Airey in the past. He adds a lot of sound to the lead off track “Wild Flowers“.  Can you tell me how that particular track came together, with Don?

I was thinking of having the Don guesting on my album as we played many shows together. He always plays like a beast, so “Wild Flowers” was a perfect fit for him. It turned out so well. I almost did just a keyboard and vocal mix, without bass and drums.. We’ll see 🙂 

One track that stands out is “New York“, as it’s such a different sounding track here – very almost blue-grass or country sounding. Can you tell me a bit about how that song came about and the ideas or influences that went in to it? 

I did a rock opera with Corky Laing (Mountain) in New York, ”Playing God” was it’s name. We played it at Kaye Playhouse, on Park Avenue. I stayed for 3 weeks in New York both in Green Port, Long Island &  at the hotel – The New Yorker. The lyrics are about my experiences and observations I had, for example – sitting on a bench in Central Park watching people on their way – walking or jogging, (while having a drinky). New York is special, everyone wants to be a star. Stephen Bentley-Klein plays fantastic fiddle on it, to get the Pogues & Bob Dylan vibes. Believe me I played plenty of Irish bars to be able to do it authentic 🙂

There is a lot of good blues based rock on These Are The Times.  Can you talk a bit about your own sound / direction as a solo artist, where as many years ago you’d started with ‘metal’ acts like Razorback and One Cent, and have covered a lot of musical ground over the years with various recordings and live bands.

I always try to capture the sound that is going on around me. But sometimes I just had to pay the bills. I never sing a song that  I don’t like – that’s a rule I have. Nowadays I just play my own Root Rock. And what’s relevant for me.
As for my sound – I use analog hardware gear such as my Rupert Neve5060 a analog 24/2 mixer as mothership. Plus Neve 1073dpx Neve 8801 and universal audio 6176 plus neve master buss processor, Polar stereo VCA compressor. Real drums, Fender, Martin & Gibson guitars and Neuman mics m149, a vintage 1969 u87 plus more .😎 cool stuff gives a warm, fat sound.

Any antidotes or inspirations on some of the riffs, recordings, or lyrics? 

Little Angel – I see myself driving a old Cadillac through America.
Superman – Just good blues > Pomma bass & Johannes Nordell kills it  on the drums. Very groovy. I play a Les Paul.  
These Are The Times – was written before the pandemic; 2019 was a great year for me, I was in a good flow. Now with the vaccine I’m hoping for better days. So it’s starting to be a high time with the release of the album.  Joakim Svalberg (Opeth) plays fantastic  keys!
Happy – I was in a good mood, on a sunny day 😎

(2) SNAKES IN PARADISE “Pretending Hearts” – YouTube

This album also has a vinyl edition. Curious if you’re much of a collector and what you prefer to listen to at home? 

I got my old vinyl collection and Stig Carlsson (genius) vintage speakers – it sounds great! These days I put on an old vinyl album when I’m cooking or having  a glass of wine. Right now I’m listening to Queen Innuendo, then maybe Rick Rubin’s albums with Johnny Cash – Fantastic sounds!

Regarding The Sun Has Gone Hazy album you did with Lee Kerslake – I thought it was a really good album, but deserved more attention than it got.  I am curious what might be leftover from those recordings [songs, edits, video]  And if you might consider getting it reissued with anything extra, possibly even on vinyl?  

Thanks! I think it would be great on vinyl, but it is really expensive to print vinyl. I have some leftover takes and ideas, picture films. If I can sell pre-orders to cover the cost, it could be a good idea. The sound on The Sun Has Gone Hazy is big, fat and warm, just the way I like it. Both Lee and I were very happy with it.


Did you have much contact with Lee in later years or hear any of his solo project?

Yeah ,a couple of months before he died, Lee had heard I was really ill with Covid 19 (double sided pneumonia), So he phoned me up and was worried. We had long nice chat. so it was a good closure. It hit me hard when he died. We spent a couple a years playing and writing together. I am proud to call him my buddy. He had to do his solo album, I liked it a lot! “Port And A Brandy” and “You’ve Got A Friend” are my favorites.

Also, I gotta ask – you performed 2 shows fronting Uriah Heep a few years back. How did your name come up for that and how did you like that show? Any favorite Heep tracks you particularly enjoyed doing? 

Heep played on the same bill I did with Don Airey at Bilzen Rock in Belguim. They watched the gig from the side and liked the voice. The opportunity came up when Bernie had to have an operation. They snooped around and asked if I was a cool dude; they all said I was a keeper. I did 2 shows with them. Rosenheim, Germany, and one in  Sibiu, Transylvania. Great Band and chaps! My favorite songs are “Bird Of Prey”, “July Morning”, “Easy Livin'” and “Sunrise.”

Stefan Berggren Music Page updated their website address.
from Stefan Berggren Music Page [fb]

What other projects do you have in the works? Any band or solo things being written or recorded in the near future? With Covid restricting live shows, would you consider doing a live webcast [?] performance of some of the new album to promote it? 

I was hoping doing shows this summer with these songs; we’ll see. In the worst case scenario I may go live on Facebook 😉 There will be gigs, it’s just a matter of time. My focus right now is with my solo band; I’ve got some heavy boys playing – watch out! If the right offer comes along I am willing to jump on the train. I will put in time to promote the album, slow but steady.

Stefan Berggren – Official webpage


(3) Stefan Berggren Music Page | Facebook

(3) Stefan Berggren Is My Guest, Vocalist, Guitarist, Whitesnake Affiliated, Snakes In Paradise and Solo – YouTube

Stefan Berggren Interview ( [my 2014 interview with Stefan upon release of The Sun Has Gone Hazy album.

KJJ, 03/21

Alice Cooper – Love It To Death & I’m Eighteen 50 Years On

Buy Love It to Death Online at Low Prices in India | Amazon Music Store -

Alice Cooper released their first album for Warner Brothers in March of 1971! Alice Cooper – the band, consisted of Michael Bruce [guitar], Dennis Dunaway [bass], Glen Buxton [guitar], Neal Smith [drums], and Vincent Furnier -aka Alice [vocals]. Love It To Death was the band’s 3rd album, after their first 2 albums had only been issued on Frank Zappa’s Straight / Bizarre label. Those albums were commercial flops, yielded no hit singles or songs that would last in the set-list beyond 1971. But, that’s not to say that neither Pretties For You or Easy Action don’t have their fans – there are a few memorable songs to longtime fans on each, with “Reflected” & “Living” [both issued as the single A&B], and tracks like “Shoe Salesman”, “Mr And Misdemeanor”, and “Beautiful Flyaway” from Easy Action. Heck, the 2nd album is a fairly underrated gem in the AC catalogue. Anyway…. Seeing the success that Canadian band The Guess Who was having with singles, the band’s management eventually persuaded Jack Richardson of Nimbus 9 Productions to produce the band, along with Bob Ezrin, who worked under Richardson. Ezrin would refine the band’s sound, with the band doing a great job at penning those catchy & memorable 2 and a half to 3 minute rockers, which made for a few good potential singles, IMO. The results of working under Ezrin were immediate with the hit single “I’m Eighteen”, released late in 1970, and which became a hit in the spring of 1971- reaching #21 in the US, and #7 in Canada! It was the anthem for those turning that age and crossing in to adulthood. And in the summer of 1971 both Ontario and the state of Michigan lowered their drinking ages to 18!

(2) I’m Eighteen – YouTube

And although that would be the album’s only major hit single, it put the band in the album charts where it made the Top 40 in Canada, the USA, and the UK. As well Alice Cooper were on their way to become one of the biggest Hard-rock acts of the 70s, along with tales of their stage theatrics – they’d become huge, featuring in the major music magazines, and newspapers wherever they played. The album’s first track “Caught In A Dream” [penned by Michael Bruce] was issued as the next single, but just broke the Top 100 in the US. This is my favorite song on the album, and some of Alice’s best lyrics – “You know I need a houseboat and I need a plane / I need a butler and a trip to Spain / I need everything The world owes me / I tell that to myself And I agree” . The B-side to “I’m Eighteen” was “Is It My Body”, another fan favorite, and [like “18”] was also co-written by the entire band.

Love It To Death would include cool rock t in “Long Way To Go” [Bruce] and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” [Smith], and there was “Second Coming” [by Alice] featured Ezrin on piano and a heavy marching drum with Alice singing some biblical words – Time is getting closer / I read it on a poster / fanatical exposers on corners prophecy / It would be nice to walk upon the water / to talk again to angels at my side / I just come back to show you all my words are golden / so have no gods before me – I’m the light. – I often wonder what inspired Alice to write this one, baring in mind, he generally avoided any serious lyrics about religion [until later in his solo career]. “Second Coming” would segue in to the band’s tribute to American actor Dwight Frye in “The Ballad Of Dwight Fry”. Frye often portrayed villains and characters with mental issues; he died at the age of 44. “Black JuJu” [penned by Dennis Dunaway] was a lengthy track where Alice would quietly repeat the lines “the body needs rest”, as if to hypnotize the listener, before screaming at them to “wake up”. The album ended with a rock arrangement of the 1962 hit “Sun Arise”, by Australian Rolf Harris; this song was used as the band’s show opener back when they went out on tour for this album.

(2) Long Way to Go – YouTube

Love It To Death featured a black & white jacket with a photo of the band on the cover with Alice wearing a robe. Originally, Alice’s thumb stuck out in the robe, so fearing it could be seen as something else subsequent prints of the album airbrushed the thumb out. “Eighteen” would go on to become one of Alice Cooper’s most loved classics, and would remain in the band’s live set, as well as Alice’s solo show permanently. “The Ballad Of Dwight Fry” & “Is It My Body” would return to the live show many times over the years, and in 2000 Alice brought back “Caught In A Dream” to the live show.

Caught in a Dream – YouTube

This album was the beginning of the band’s reign in the early ’70s, with a string of hit singles, and 5 big selling albums [3 of them Top 10], which they peaked with Billion Dollar Babies in ’73. Love It To Death remains a favorite for many early Alice Cooper fans.

(2) Ballad of Dwight Fry – YouTube

Alice Produced By Richardson
TORONTO -Canadian producer
Jack Richardson recently completed his first sessions with Warner's Alice Cooper. Richardson, who also cuts the Guess Who, was aided in this assignment by Bob Ezrin of Nimbus 9. An album. "Love It-to Death,"
is to be released in mid- February, and a single, "18," is already picking up strong airplay in both the U.S. and Canada. Alice Cooper will be headlining Toronto's new Fillmore Market on Jan. 26. Richardson was hired directly by Warner Bros. in the U.S., making it one of the first occasions where a U.S. label has assigned a Canadian producer to an album project.

Also check out:

Bob Ezrin Radio Interview – 2013 – YouTube

(2) Review of Alice Cooper’s “Love It To Death” album (1971) – YouTube

(2) Squat Cobbler 9: Alice Cooper – Love It To Death (album review) – YouTube

The 10 best Alice Cooper songs | Louder (

Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! — Dennis Dunaway

ALICE COOPER, LOVE IT TO DEATH (Straight, WS 1883). – The Vinyl Press

KJJ, 03/21

Ken Hensley – My Book Of Answers

The late Ken Hensley had completed work on his new album My Book Of Answers shortly before his untimely death on 4th November 2020. My Book Of Answers was released on 5th March 2021 as a CD/DVD and Vinyl Album with Lyric Book package through Cherry Red Records.
For half a century Ken Hensley was a major influence in the rock world. An original member of Uriah Heep, Hensley was keyboard player, guitarist, vocalist and principal song writer with Uriah Heep for ten years. His subsequent solo career saw Hensley work with leading artists across the globe and he became known as an inspiration for encouraging other talented artists.

Ken Hensley’s recently released My Book Of Answers comes with an amazing back story, and it’s something that Ken poured his heart in to during the pandemic, when many musicians / bands weren’t recording. Quite the project really, as this project came to him under very different circumstances.

(8) Ken Hensley – Lost (My Guardian) – [Official Video] – YouTube

The album is the intriguing result of a collaboration with one of Hensley’s fans, following a chance meeting at an airport, as he turns dreams into a reality.
This unique project came about following Hensley’s chance meeting with Emelin at Alicante airport in early 2018, as he explained. “Vladimir has a home up on the Costa Blanca and he’s here as often as visas will permit. I was flying to Moscow, he was on his way home and he saw me at the airport. I guess I’m his idol and he’s been a fan since he was a kid. Well, he asked me for an autograph and a picture, which I was happy to give him, and for an email address.”

At a meeting in Alicante, later in the year, Emelin asked if Hensley could turn a couple of his poems into songs. “I tried a couple of songs, although I didn’t know if I could do it because I’ve never done it before. He loved it and he wanted me to do more and more until we finally ended up with an album’s worth of songs.
“I made most of the album under lockdown, Coronavirus restrictions, which was easy because it was just file-sharing over the internet with the musicians, the singers and my engineer and it was relatively easy. What we had to do was make sure we didn’t compromise any quality. I popped it over to my manager Steve Weltman and typically, before I know it, he’s got the guys at Cherry Red interested in it! The whole thing takes on another dimension.”

My Book Of Answers might be the usual sorta mix of rock, pop, and ballads usually found on Ken Hensley’s solo albums, but there are some of the best tracks Hensley has written and produced in his post 2000 era. And though Hensley is singing someone else’s words, they are very fitting, and not out of the the style the man might’ve penned himself. Personally, and maybe because it is still new, I find this to be his most consistent album in years, and despite the latter half of it being mainly ballads, they are all very different, and with enough changes, without being just soft. Fans should easily recognize the music to the song “Right Here, Right Now” right from the start – it is Heep’s “The Hanging Tree”, from Firefly, but totally different words and meaning, and I really love this recording, great production, and fresh sounding, and it features some awesome heavy guitar added in after the final verse & chorus. For me the stand out tracks are the 2nd and 3rd videos released “Stand” and “The Cold Sacrifice”. The former is a ballad, but an anthem, dealing with fears; it features backing harmonies as a choir, and a vocal from Ken delivering words of encouragement. It is a song for these times, and one I think will sit comfortably alongside classic Heep songs he’s penned such as “Lady In Black” and “Tales”. “The Cold Sacrifice” is a rocker, probably the heaviest song here with a guitar intro that immediately made me think of Iron Maiden, before Ken’s vocal comes in and settles down a bit. There are many tales within the words, and I look forward to hearing more about Vladimir Emelin’s poems and what inspired the ones used that were translated to make this album. Musically, I think fans will really enjoy this album, it has pretty much everything the man was known for with his Hammond organ and slide guitar, as well as a pretty good vocal. It maybe could’ve used another hard-rocker, but oh well … tracks like “Lost” and “The Silent Scream”, both upbeat pop / rock songs, and as with many here there something different to his usual stuff, perhaps it the production or the bit of [almost] theatrical presentation on songs like “Light My Fire”, “Suddenly” and “The Darkest Hour” [!?] Either way, I am quite happy to hear this – not just for it being Ken Hensley’s last recorded album, but that I think it’s one of his best solo records, so I look forward to spending a lot more time with. The whole project may have started with a chance encounter, but he made the most of it, and his passion til the end shows.

(8) Ken Hensley – Stand (Chase The Beast Away) – [Official Video] – YouTube

“I’m really happy with it and I have a huge yardstick to measure it by! It seems as though it was meant to happen.” – KH

At the encouragement of Vladimir Emelin, a video was made for every track, as well there was opportunity during 2020 to put on a live concert [with social distancing ] , near Hensley’s home in Spain. This was filmed as well. So, despite his sad & unexpected passing that shook fans, Ken Hensley left us not only this unexpected fine album [and another to come], but he also had other things on the go for fans to look forward to.

(8) Ken Hensley – The Cold Sacrifice [Official Music Video] – YouTube

“I’ve never done anything like this before and, to the best of my knowledge, I don’t recall anybody else who has,” Hensley added. “I’m also developing a lyric book which will be a beautiful piece. Each song feature’s the original Russian lyric, the translation by Vladimir’s friend in Siberia and my notated stuff where I changed the words of the poem into a song and created verses, bridges and choruses. The fans can see all the changes I made, and understand why I made them, and then there’s the final lyric that appears on the album. Alisia Vaselieva, a wonderful illustrator and friend of Vladimir’s, has done an illustration for each song, so five pages for each song and it will be a deluxe hard-back package – a collectors’ item.

RIP Ken. Thanks for this.

Added links:

Ken Hensley: My Book Of Answers, CD Edition – Cherry Red Records

Ken Hensley – My Book Of Answers – Music

This is a recent in-depth interview with Steve Weltman – Ken’s manager & good friend. Part 1 of this interview is more so about Steve’s illustrious career, working with many big names in the music business since the ’60s. – (8) The Andrew Eborn Show GLOBAL LAUNCH Ken Hensley’s My Book of Answers with Steve Weltman – Part 2 – YouTube

This is another recent interview with Steve Weltman, who talks in-depth about his time with Ken, and how The Book Of Answers came to be. – (8) Interview with Steve Weltman – YouTube

Ken Hensley, My Book Of Answers, A Rock Legend’s Final Interview » Northern Life (

(8) Ken Hensley Retratos en Tiempos de Pandemia – YouTube

*[Paragraphs in italic – taken from press release].

KJJ. 03/21

An Interview with – BLIND GOLEM

Apocalypse Later Music Reviews: Blind Golem - A Dream of Fantasy (2021)

One of the nicer surprises of this year has been the discovery of Italian band Blind Golem. The band, which began as the Uriah Heep tribute band – Forever Heep. The band even supported Ken live on stage! The band decided to write their own album of originals, and were fortunate to have Ken guest on the track “The Day Is Gone”. Sadly, with Ken’s passing last November he did not get to see the release of this album, but I think many Heep fans will enjoy it – not just for the lone track Ken plays slide guitar & Hammond on, but for the other 13 tracks of classic ’70s influenced hard rock, featuring plenty of heavy guitar, slide guitar, and Hammond organ. Opener “Devil In A Dream” begins with a rumbling Hammond [you’d think they were going to break in to “Easy Livin” for a few seconds!] and features those early Heep influenced harmonies. Plenty of cool rock tunes here such as favorites “Sunbreaker”, “Screaming To The Stars”, “Pegasus” [this one remind me of Asia]. and “Bright Light” [reminiscent of Heep’s “Shout It Out”]. There are also a few more progressive and softer tracks, such as “The Gathering”, which is reminiscent of Ken Hensley [the guitar sound] and ELP [for the moog synths], and epic “Living And Dying”, which starts out quiet, and goes through plenty of changes with lots of Hammond organ and some great heavy guitar as the song nears it’s end. The album comes to a close with the acoustic track “A Spell And A Charm”, which suits this journey perfectly. I think not just Heep fans, but fans of the likes of Atomic Rooster, Deep Purple, and Magnum.

Blind Golem consists of – Andrea Vilardo [lead vocals], Silvano Zago [guitars], Simone Bistaffa [keyboards], Francesco Dalla Riva [bass, guitar, vocals], and Walter Mantovanelli [drums]. *Zago & Dalla Riva also recorded a number of albums in the 2000s as part of Italian band Bullfrog [not to be confused with the ’70s Bavarian band], while Bistaffa was previously a member of Forever Deep, who recorded a 2010 live album of Deep Purple songs, w/ Iain Paice as a guest, as well as a 2013 [self-titled] CD of originals with both Paice and Don Airey as guests.

Below is my interview with Francesco Dalla Riva of Blind Golem, who also writes most of the songs [some along with Silvano Zago], liner notes, and besides bass, also adds acoustic guitars and lead vocals on a few tracks. *Check out the links below for more info, review links, etc…

Can you briefly talk about the band and the decision to jump from being a Heep tribute band to making an album of originals that really has that old Heep sound on many tracks? 

Well, me and all the guys in Blind Golem come from other bands and have released albums of original material in the past. A few years ago, chatting after a gig, we got the idea to start Forever Heep for fun, as we all love Heep and it seemed a fun idea. After a few enjoyable shows, the next logical step, it seemed to me, was to start imagining original material in that same vein, as that’s where the main satisfaction comes, for me. Most of the other guys were into this idea as well, so that’s how it started.

Why the name Blind Golem? And when was this album recorded? [month / year — timeframe] 

The name for the band came fairy late in the game, when the album was almost finished. We only knew we were not about to call it Forever Heep, as we felt it would have limited somehow the musical personality of the album. We toyed with several options: Blind Golem sounded cool because it’s a two words name, like so many great rock bands of the seventies and it has a certain charm, like those obscure bands name, Iron Butterfly, Lucifer’s Friend, Gentle Giant, etc.

The album was recorded in about a year, we started in October 2019 and we ended mixing and mastering in 2020. Recording sessions went quietly without any pressure. We all have daytime jobs, so we were working in the evenings and sometimes during weekends. Then, of course, Covid19 arrived and in March we stopped everything for sometime. It was quite frustrating but we managed to continue working slowly when we had the opportunity.

Before I get into the music — the album cover is awesome! A fantastic [and obvious] Rodney Matthews piece. How [and when] did you get Rodney involved? How did that arrangement work out — did he have something or did you guys swap ideas? 

The idea to ask Rodney came to Silvano, our guitar player, in August 2020. We were wondering about the cover art, saying how it would have to be something appropriate and in line with the music, and he jokingly said, “we could ask Rodney Matthews or Roger Dean!”, as they are so closely associated with so many bands and albums we love. After a few days, I decided to write to Rodney, just to see if it was something completely out of our budget. He and his team were very enthusiastic and cooperative: They asked about our musical references and some song titles and then they proposed to us 4 images that were already made and that suited our music. Needless to say they were all amazing paintings and we had long discussions in the band about which one to choose. In the end, we opted for the one that you see, a painting called “The Masters Arrive”.

(8) BLIND GOLEM “Sunbreaker” – YouTube

Any favorite Rodney Matthews Magnum covers? 🙂   And Magnum albums? 

Oh, countless ones! I’m a big big Magnum fan so, from “On A Storyteller’s Night” to the recent “The Serpent Rings”, He did so many amazing cover images for them. But I also love Diamond Head’s “Borrowed time”, or Eloy’s “Metromania” or Stormwatch’s “Caught In The Act”. He’s just amazing, and a true rock fan, we discovered!

Was there a deliberate attempt [or just natural influences] to have “A Dream Of Fantasy” sound like early Uriah Heep – musically and even lyrically, in places?  And was there elements of that ‘Heep’ sound that were important to capture on the album? 

I wouldn’t say that it was a deliberate attempt but surely we knew that we wanted to explore that specific musical format: The big Hammond/guitar wall of sound, the harmonized vocals. Apart from that, it all came quite naturally to us, as we all grew up with that kind of sound as one of our main influences. I also wanted the album to cover several different aspects of this sound: not just the fast loud rockers but also the more reflective moments, the proggy bits. When you think about it, “hard rock” is a very wide spectrum of musical solutions and Uriah Heep themselves could have a folk ballad, a blues number, a prog suite and a headbanging metal song on the same album, “Salisbury”, for instance.

Ken Hensley’s guest appearance on the album is a highlight, definitely – but the album sounds great, regardless.  Can you talk a bit about Ken’s involvement as far as how it was decided what track he’d be on and what he’d add [organ & slide guitar]? And how enthusiastic or supportive was he? [Was there any thought to him being on more than 1 song?  That outro to “The Ghost Of Eveline” has that KH sound.] 

Thank you. I agree, Ken’s appearing on the album is the icing on the cake for us! I’ve been a fan of his music for most of my life and I remember, back in the 80’s, when he wasn’t in Heep anymore, looking for his name in other bands albums, like Blackfoot or Wasp, to find out what he was up to. With Forever Heep we got the privilege to be his backing band on several occasions for some of his shows in Italy and Austria. So when the idea arose to write an album, to me it sounded obvious to inform him about it. In July 2019, I asked him if he would have liked to contribute in any form to the album, a Hammond part, a slide guitar, a lyric, whatever. He said “Sure, send me the tracks when you’re ready and I’ll see if I came up with something”. So that’s what we did in summertime ’20. We sent him 5 songs and he replied “They all sound amazing to me and I can’t see what I could add to them”, so we said “Look, Ken, you don’t get it: we want your unique touch, your own twist on the music!” So it was decided that he could work on the song “The Day Is Gone”. He was very fast; he changed the arrangement of the song a bit and he came up with that haunting slide part in the beginning that is so unmistakably 100% Ken. We all loved what he did and are so proud of having him guesting on our album! Of course, he could have played on many other tracks, as the whole album is a tribute to a kind of music that he vastly invented in the first place. And, yes the outro of “Eveline” that you mention is heavily inspired by songs like “Echoes in the dark”.

Was Ken’s parts recorded at his own studio or were any of you guys all together? [I realize this is irrelevant if the album was completed during CoVid lockdowns] 

No, he recorded all of his Hammond and guitar parts in Spain, in a studio close to where he was living.

(8) Blind Golem “The Day is Gone” – YouTube

What sort of inspired the lyrical direction of the songs? Were ideas drawn from personal situations, books, fantasy…. ? 

We treated lyrics as another instrument, on the same level of importance as guitars or keyboards, so the first thing was that they had to sound right for the song, rhythmically. In the original demos, some words or phrases were already beginning to emerge as appropriate for certain passages. Then I wrote all the lyrics, getting inspiration from all kinds of sources, often with a specific thought in mind – a memory, an image, a situation, a conversation. Looking at the album now, I find it almost works as just one imaginary journey, from beginning to end, kind of a dream, a subconscious apparition.

One thing I really like about the album is the overall production, with thought given to intros, solos, different instrumentation and variety from songs.  Can you give me a bit of detail on how some of the songs developed from demos to full blown finished tracks here? 

The arrangements were already clearly defined from the start as I think this is one of the most important aspects in songwriting. I had a fairly clear idea of where to put what. But this being said, before Covid, we had the opportunity to rehearse the material together and this was very important to feel what was really working and what not. The arrangements got tighter and more refined and, once in the studio, we also had help and suggestions from Fabio Serra, who co-produced the album with us. For example, the piano solo at the end of “Carousel” was his idea.

Can you give me a few antidotes in to a few tracks that stand out for you guys on the album?  

All the songs on the album are dear to my heart and there’s a story behind each of them. For example, I remember having the idea for “The Gathering” in a supermarket car parking lot: I couldn’t get it out of my head, I had to sing it in my cell phone to make sure I’d remember it and then I went in, looking at people shopping and clearly hearing this slightly dissonant melody in my head! “Living And Dying” was developed in my little daughter’s bedroom, as she has a little keyboard there and one night, after dinner, I was toying with it as she was falling asleep, and I remember playing it and developing the idea trying not to be too loud to wake her! A few other melodies came to me walking, as I like to walk alone, on the hills close to where I live. I find this very good to clear my mind from everyday thoughts and sometimes I find myself singing something, not sure if it’s something that already exists or not. Most of the times it is, but sometimes, when I couldn’t find out exactly what song it is, I decided that it could be my melody! This happened for “Ghost Of Eveline”: for days I went asking friends and the guys in the band “what melody is this? Can you name this song?” They couldn’t so I thought “well, then it had to be mine!”

Is there a plan to get and play this album live, when Co-Vid lockdowns or cautions ease? 

Sure! We already had a few gigs planned for January 2021 to celebrate the album release. Of course they didn’t happen but hopefully we will be able to play them in the future. Right now it’s all so uncertain but I know that, after the release of the album, we had a few rehearsals and the songs sound very good, I really think that they will sound great on stage, as this kind of melodic hard rock works perfectly live.

As a Uriah Heep tribute band, what era[s] do you focus on, and how is the reaction / support over there for such a band, as well the hard rock / progressive band as Blind Golem? 

Personally, I love all eras of the band but in Forever Heep we mainly concentrated on the Byron era. As that’s the most classic one. We used to play almost the whole of the 1973 live album, the classics, plus some deeper cuts like “Time To Live”, “Bird Of Prey”, “Circus” and others. I would have loved to prepare and rehearse different setlists in the future, like a “John Lawton only” set list or a “long epics” set (Salisbury, Paradise, Firefly) and rotate them but of course this would be just a vanity project as I’m not sure how many people would be interested in such situations, other than me and the guys in the band! Of course, even before this Covid thing, live playing is not what it used to be and apparently there’s room for 10 Pink Floyd tribute acts in every city but very little for a Uriah Heep one. Even less for original music, like Blind Golem do. But we’ll see, I’m not pessimistic or delusional: I know this won’t change our lives or careers but it’s something we want to do because we love it, it’s a matter of personal ambition, not just about the people’s response.

(8) Star of the Darknest Night – YouTube

Can you guys give me a short list [5-10, each] of favorite albums from your younger years? Albums that had the most impact on you? 

For my formative years, I’d say all the usual suspects in hard rock but, just to pick the first five coming to mind: Blue Oyster Cult Secret Treaties, Atomic Rooster Death Walks Behind You, Whitesnake Love Hunter, Magnum Chase The Dragon, UFO Lights Out.

For Silvano: Deep Purple In Rock, Led Zeppelin IV, Uriah Heep Salisbury, Rush Hemispheres, Blue Oyster Cult Fire Of Unknown Origin.

For Andrea: Blue Oyster Cult Secret Treaties, Uriah Heep Salisbury, Deep Purple Burn, Led Zeppelin I, Whitesnake Came And Get It.

For Walter: Hawkwind Warriors On The Edge Of Time, Megadeth Rust In Peace, Metallica Kill’Em All, Ozric Tentacles Pungent Effulgent, Tangerine Dream Logos.

Was there a vinyl option to A Dream Of Fantasy ? And are there any plans [begun writing] for a follow up album?

Yes, there will likely be a vinyl edition of the album in 2021. In the beginning we were unsure, but we had so many requests and offers for it that we decided to give it a go. Regarding new material, also the answer is Yes: we have a few ideas that were left off the album but that are equally strong, I think, and in the meantime I wrote enough material at least for another one. I know Silvano wrote some more, interesting stuff. There’s no shortage of ideas but we’d like to be able to test the songs live, on a stage, first. We’ll see how the situation develops, but we’re all willing to approach a follow up to “A Dream Of Fantasy”.

To Order the CD:

A Dream of Fantasy | Blind Golem | MaRaCash Records (


Blind Golem | Facebook

BLIND GOLEM – their album “A Dream of Fantasy” (Hard Prog Rock featuring the late great Ken Hensley) out now via Andromeda Relix #blindgolem – KICK ASS Forever

Apocalypse Later Music Reviews: Blind Golem – A Dream of Fantasy (2021)

ALBUM REVIEW: Blind Golem – A Dream Of Fantasy | Ghost Cult MagazineGhost Cult Magazine

FOREVER HEEP – The Italian Uriah Heep Tribute | Facebook

Blind Golem biography |

(8) Gianni Della Cioppa – YouTube

(8) Blind Golem makes A Dream of Fantasy – Interview – YouTube

KJJ. 03/21

ANDY CURRAN – Coney Hatch Live Interview

Photo: Jaden @tinkerboxmedia

After releasing 3 albums in the ’80s Canada’s Coney Hatch went through a few years of changes, break ups before occasional reunions began. In 2013 the band consisting of the same 4 players from the first two albums – Andy Curran [bass/vocals], Dave Ketchum [drums] , Steve Shelski [guitar], and Carl Dixon [guitar/vocals] recorded “Four“, for Frontiers Records. Since then the band has done a number of shows, even a few overseas, and after Sean Kelly took over for Shelski on lead guitar – the band are set to release their first lvie album. The new album was recorded at a show played on October 3 last year at the restored and re-opened legendary El Mocambo, in Toronto. Andy Curran recorded a number of post-Coney Hatch albums before taking leave as a performer in the early 2000s to join Anthem Records as their A & R guy, working with a number of bands, most notably Rush. More recently Curran has gotten back to wanting to make music and re-release stuff from his past. Here’s a conversation with Andy about the upcoming Coney Hatch Live album, what’s in the vaults, as well as a few other projects and reissues such as Caramel, that Andy is working on.

*Check out the links below for more information

Let’s start with the live album, that is the main thing coming out soon, correct!?.

Really, the whole idea behind the live thing was actually, Coney played a show in Germany and (I’m trying to think of when that was, it’s a bit of a blur], maybe a year and a half ago, and Carl didn’t tell anybody in the band that he had arranged for somebody to come and record the show, and sometimes that works good because nobody gets the ‘red light fever’ and they aren’t intimidated by knowing that we’re going to record the show. So anyway, we finished the show and Carl says to us ‘oh by the way, I had somebody record us there with a pro-tools rig’ and stuff like that. So we came home from Germany and we listened to that show, and there was a few little rough bits in there, and we thought ‘ok, maybe we can go in and tidy it up’ and get our friend Vic Florencia, who’s a longtime friend of the band and was involved in Coney Hatch 4 to mix the record. It was always our plan – because Coney Hatch had never released a live record, to put that Live in Germany show out. and, ya know – the way that we designed our setlist, it was kind of like a really good coverage of all the records, you know – 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and even Coney Hatch 4, so we thought Ok, for any Coney Hatch fans out there this is the nicest way to sort of do a mini ‘best of’ , you’re going to get everything in our set list, right. And when were back and Carl was listening to it, he said ‘oh man we forgot to play ‘Hey Operator’, and I said ‘well that’s a bit of an oversight’, that’s one of our biggest songs, and we were joking around about it, and while we were just getting ready to mix that Michael Wekerle – who is the new owner of the El Mocambo, and a very big Coney Hatch fan, he used to come to the Gas Works and see us, he said ‘Hey I’d like to do a live-stream show with you guys and we’ve got a recording studio in there, and I’d like to film and record it’. So we thought ‘ok, well here’s our chance to get ‘Hey Operator’, but it was also a chance to get some video out of Coney playing live because in Germany we didn’t have that luxury. so all of a sudden we get invited to play the El Mocambo and we thought ‘what the heck we’ll record that one too!’, So we went from 0 live records to having 2 live records. and Michael Wekerle, said ‘maybe we can bundle some tickets’, so if somebody wants to buy a ticket to the show or if they’re going to buy a live-stream, and we can send them a vinyl record of the show. and so we sort of thought ‘hey that’s pretty cool, we’ll take some pre-orders, and just do some limited edition Coney Hatch Live records.’ So that’s what we did, and we just finished pressing that now, and I just approved the vinyl test pressings of it, and the artwork’s being done. The cool thing about that is for the people that were pre-ordered on that – everyone is going to sign and number those copies and there’ll be some available on the Coney Hatch merchandising website as well – the merch-store. we’re just trying to figure out Kev, what we’re going to do with the Germany show, but we fast-tracked the El Mocambo and we finished it off. so that hopefully, we were just talking about how Co-Vid put a dent in everybody’s life, we’re a little bit on back order in terms of when the actual vinyl will be ready, but I am hearing probably by the end of this month we’ll have all of the vinyl printed and we’re doing it like old-school bootleg style. Once those records are pressed we’re going to get together with our merch company and we’re basically going to sign all the copies and number them and they’ll go out in to the mail and everybody who pre-ordered them will get ‘live Coney Hatch – live at the El Mocambo. And we’re really happy with the mix, Vic Florencia did a fantastic job, and Doug Mc Clement who was originally down at the El Mocambo back in the day, ya know when The Cars played there, and George Thorogood, and Stevie Ray Vaughn – Doug McClement was behind the mixing consul then, and Doug was in charge of recording that show down at the El Mocambo, and Vic Florencia mixed it, So it’s cool to have Doug McClement involved in it too, because it’s it’s almost like it’s come full-circle for him.

How’s the packaging look?

So, I was speaking about bootleg… one of my favorite bootlegs that I personally own is The Cars : Live at The El Mocombo. So we kinda took this old approach back ..and Kev, maybe you remember this…when I was a teenager and wanting to be in bands and stuff I had Circus magazines and Cream, and stuff, and sometimes you could go in those back pages and order ‘Led Zeppelin : Live at Madison Square Garden‘, and when you got the packaging it was very sparse, there’d be a picture of the band, maybe sometimes a rubber stamp on it, or just a black and white photo and when you’d open it up there’d be an insert with the song titles and where it was recorded. And we really took a page out of the old bootlegs and we looked at The Cars : Live at the El Mocombo, and we’ve kind of done a Coney Hatch spin on that. So it is still feeling very much like an exclusive bootleg, it’s a limited edition. but everything’s very black and white and bootleg feeling, we wanted to keep it authentic.

I liked the poster that went up for the El Mocombo show, the 4 shots of you guys, I thought that looked like it would make a perfect cover.

It’s very similar to that, but if you could sort of picture a black and white version, and I think in keeping with the fact that we’ve done it so limited, that this thing – there’s not going to be a lot of copies of this floating around out there, so we wanted to try to keep it feeling like a little bit bootlegged, ya know,

There’s a couple of new songs on the live album, correct!?

Oh, I’m glad you brought that up. When we were recording Coney Hatch 4, there was a couple of days when Dave Ketchum and myself were in the studio waiting for Shelski and Dixon to show up and so not wanting to waste any time I said to Dave ‘hey if I sort of teach you the bones of this song, why don’t we record bass and drums on it’. So when we finished Coney Hatch 4 there was 2 bed tracks that we had completed that just had bass and drums on them. So during Co-Vid we had a discussion with Sean Kelly, myself, and Carl ‘why don’t we try and finish these 2 tracks off?’, so we did. So part of our thinking is that there will be 2 new Coney Hatch songs that will be part of it – like we’re talking about maybe bundling Coney Hatch Live in Germany, with Live at the El Mocombo, and we’ll be adding those 2 new tracks. But they’re finished now and we’re just mixing them.

Regarding the older stuff – there’s lots of radio shows out there , things like that. Would you guys ever be able to get access to issuing that sort of stuff?

It’s funny that you mention that because it was mostly our guy, Greg Campbell at Merch in Motion and Rock Paper Merchandising, that said to me ‘do you and Carl have old demos? do you have old live recordings?’, Maybe we should go in the studio and master those things and sparkle them up and everything. and I know for a fact that I’ve got a copy of Coney Hatch Live at the Cleveland Agora, it was one of our very first shows that we ever did in the US. We drove down to Cleveland and we played a show at 11 in the morning, at the Agora. So we were talking about releasing that. And we did a couple of reunion shows, there was some at Rock n Roll Heaven, so there is some discussion about doing maybe a Coney Hatch ‘deluxe’ version that has some demos and old live recordings, like live at the Cleveland Agora, or something like that.

I’ve got the Cleveland one, and there’s a few other’s out there..

Those are moments in time; they’re definitely cool recordings. But I’ll tell you, you know the quality of what we were able to get in Germany and at the El Mocambo – they’re light years above those recordings that you’re talking about, but those are very authentic and very much a snapshot in time like that Cleveland Agora, that was just when “Devil’s Deck” was being played on MTV and we were just starting our rocket ride. So it was a nice snapshot in time.

Now when you mention old demos, do you guys have anything – like I think on that Cleveland show you did “Car Stairs”, which I don’t think is on anything else.

Well, believe it or not – Carl and I are a bit of pack-rats, and we have all kinds of songs that Coney Hatch demoed which never made any albums, and we jokingly. … like, Carl sent me a version of a song called “Your Kind Of Love” and that was a song that was supposed to be for the Outa Hand record, and Carl said to me ‘hey I think it sounds great – what do you think Andy?’ , and I said ‘well now I know why we didn’t put it on our album, it’s not the greatest song in the world’ – but for the sake of a collector we’re thinking we might put some of those old songs on there.

Did you guys do anything in the studio before Carl was in the band ?

You know, there is like 1 demo that’s sort of floating around between the band with our original guitarist/vocalist Paul Van Remortel, before Carl joined, we did a 4 song demo, and I’m pretty sure Kev, that we would probably never release that because the songwriting was not great. So there was one set of demos just before Carl joined the band.

“Car Stairs” never made it to any demos or anything!?

No, …well actually, we might’ve demoed it with Kim Mitchell. We did a demo session with Kim that I remember lasted… we literally went in there and Kim said “I want you guys to record every single song that you’ve ever written”. So it was one of those things where we started at like 4 o’clock in the afternoon and we were still in there at like 3 or 4 in the morning, and some of those songs sounded pretty rough, but I wouldn’t be surprised if “Car Stairs” is in there somewhere.

I know you guys did demos with James LaBrie when you had him in singing briefly, as well.

It’s funny, there are some demos. At that point Steve and I were the only original members of the band, and Paul Marangoni was the drummer, and we had John McGoldrick …, his nickname was ‘La-foot’ – the keyboard player. And those demos…I don’t know if James LaBrie – or Kevin – as his name was back then, would be too happy with us if we put those demos out. Those were his first recordings.

That’s exactly why you should put them out. I interviewed him years ago and asked him about that.

You know, it’s tough, but I guess if there were fans out there that wanted to have everything, again as a moment in time, and that last line up, and I want to be respectful to everybody in that last line up, because after Kevin left we had Phil Naro come in to the band for a little while too. And the songwriting had just strayed so far from the original Coney Hatch record, and that was one of the reasons that prompted me to start my own band, and put together what I call the ‘No Tattoos‘ band, because it was just like ‘oh my God’ – Coney Hatch was just not where I wanted it to be. So that was when Steve joined Larry Gowan and we kinda packed it in at that point. Ya know, we were trying to find a suitable replacement for Carl Dixon and we had Kevin LaBrie, and Phil Naro was great, but we just never really jelled.

You didn’t do anything with Phil in the studio, eh?

We did. yeah, we did about 3 or 4 songs with Phil in the studio, and those ones I haven’t been able to locate, but yeah I think we did about 3 or 4 songs with Phil.

Well, might be something to just put everything out there in a limited edition, and if anybody’s keen enough to buy it..

Just give them everything – the whole kitchen sink!? ….There was a British guitar player – Steve Hillage, and he put out a trilogy box set, and there was like 23 CDs in it or something, everything that he ever did. So, I guess if there was the definitive, we like to call them ‘Coneheads’, who wanted everything, I guess that’d be a good collector’s item for them.

Can you touch briefly on how Steve dropped out a few years ago and you got Sean in, and that change sort of affected everything?

It was one of those things, where, when we did Coney Hatch 4 – that was a really tough record to make only because it was like herding cats because all 4 of us – everybody has their own lives now – Dave lives up in Thunder Bay, and Steve was doing a lot of music for television, and Carl had his solo thing going, and I was working full-time at Anthem, so it was a very difficult record to make, and to be honest with you we never really planned to do a lot of touring after that, so when we finished recording Coney Hatch 4 we tried to do some dates, with Steve and his workload, it just became really obvious that it was very tough for Steve to manage his schedule and his career around doing the Coney Hatch shows too. So that’s when Carl suggested maybe we get Sean Kelly in because he had played some shows with Carl’s solo band and at that time Sean was like a full-time touring gun-for-hire musician, so his availability was never an issue and scheduling him in there. And, you know he’s much younger than the rest of us, and if you talk to Sean he will tell you he was a very big Coney Hatch fan, and he grew up listening to Coney and when he was learning the material for the shows he said ‘I want to do Steve right – I want to learn a lot of these solos note for note’. And a lot of times he’d say to us ‘yeah, that’s a crappy set list, your fans are going to want to hear this, and I know because I am one of the fans’. So, it was an interesting perspective to have A – somebody in the band who was younger than us, and B – someone who was a very big fan of the band, as well. It worked out well.

(6) Marseille – YouTube

As a fan, I like that the set list is never the same, and when you go out and do those rare shows it’s not the same dozen songs.

We have been trying to change it up a little bit too, and I think I’m a big proponent in that, because I’ve said to the boys in the band many times, ya know ‘I don’t think we should be playing the same set list as we did the last time we played in Toronto’, so we do our best to try to change things up a little bit.

You guys have done some covers over the years, like you usually throw in an AC/DC song . Is there any of that stuff around?

You know, other than “Marseille”, the Angel City song that we play, and that made it on to Coney Hatch 4, I don’t recall us ever going in to the studio to record like “Sin City” or anything, and the last time around we played a Tom Petty song I think it was “You Wreck Me”, because I’m a big Tom Petty fan, but I don’t think we were ever ended up recording those.

Now, after Coney you did the solo album, and the Caramel album – which is being reissued right now!?

To segue in to some of the stuff I’m doing that’s non Coney Hatch, after I left Coney there was the No Tattoos album on Alert; then I did Soho 69, then after that is when I put together the Caramel project, and Caramel was probably the most high profile record deal that I’d ever signed in my career, and that with Geffen – worldwide. And so the record came out, I’m going to say 1997, and there was a little mini-bidding war, and we had lots of radio play in the US, and the honeymoon was over really quickly because Geffen ended up getting sort of dismantled and bought by Universal Records and the guys who signed us – they ended up all losing their jobs, so after this sort of high profile signing we ended up being homeless and without a label. But it was the A & R guy who was kind enough to call me and say ‘Hey Andy I’m going to give you your master tapes back.’ So, believe it or not I’ve had the Caramel masters in my possession for quite some time. and a lot of my friends and co-workers and people who know that band say ‘hey Andy, how come I can’t get it on Spotify or Apple or Amazon?’ So I finally got off my ass during Co-Vid and I really went in to my archives and I found all of the Caramel stuff and then the record after that – which started out being called Drug Plan, but ended up changing the name to Leisureworld, I kinda had almost 2 records there. So basically, my wife and my daughters and my friends were encouraging me to get that stuff up on Spotify and Apple and Amazon – so that’s what I’ve done. So last month on February 9th, which happened to be my dad’s birthday – in honor of my dad, I worked with a company out of Nashville called Symphonic , and we put the Caramel record out, so it’s available on all digital formats and we also put the video for “Lucy” up on the official Youtube page, and next week the Leisure World / Drug Plan record will go up. And that one, I have to tell you, man – out of everything that I’ve ever worked on in my life I’m the most proud of that record, the Leisureworld / Drug Plan. It is one of my favorite ones I’ve ever recorded. And you were talking about cover tunes and demos, stuff like that – when I was assembling it I realized that there was basically 19 songs that I could put up, And next week there’ll actually be 2 cover songs, a cover of “Hello Dolly” – the old Broadway classic. And we ended up recording that for Bride of Chuckie, and it was supposed to be in the movie, and at the 11th hour it ended up on the cutting room floor, so I thought ‘it’s not going to do any good sitting in my home studio, so I thought put that up with it’, and also we did a version of “Yummy Yummy Yummy,” – which was one of the first songs I ever had a 45 record of. So, there’s a couple of cover tunes in there and a couple of songs that never made it to the actual CD when it was released at the time. You know, I’m very very proud of that. I’m talking to Alert Records right now with maybe following that up with the Andy Curran solo record, with “License To Love” and “No Tattoos”, with some of the live tracks and the demos too. I’m just really purging all of the music that I’ve written, and trying, and at least have the satisfaction of getting it up on these platforms, for people who heard it back in the day and for people who’ve maybe never heard it are like ‘What the Hell? where was all this stuff? why did you sit on it, Andy?’ So I am kind of proud that it will start eventually to see the light of day.

(6) Andy Curran – Lucy (Official Video) ft. Caramel – YouTube

I’ve had the solo album for years, but for some reason I never got it on vinyl, and looking on Discogs I see it’s not easy to find or overly cheap.

Tom Barry, who’s the president of Alert Records he and I were talking that last year was the 30th anniversary for that record and we sort of missed the boat. So we’re talking about doing a 40th anniversary of that, the Andy Curran record, and just adding some extra songs and maybe remastering it and adding some demos to it; kinda like what you and I were talking abut with the Coney Hatch stuff. let’s just put a bunch of really cool things out that there that were recorded during that time period. I hope that happens, that probably won’t be til April or May, but on the 11th of March I’m pretty excited because that’s when the Leisureworld / Drug Plan record will be available.

(7) Icantquityou.mp4 – YouTube

Do you have any desire to get back in and do a follow up solo album?

It’s interesting you said that dude because there was a stage in my career that I would say around the early 2000s, where my head-space was ‘ok Andy you’ve got 2 young daughters, you’re not really touring, you’re still writing all the time, why don’t you just continue to write and maybe put a band together with a younger lead singer and mentor him and stuff’. So I put together this project called ‘Daredevils Incorporated’, and I worked with an engineer named Alf Annibalini, and Alf was a good friend of mine. We recorded 11 songs, and this was like very heavy heavy stuff – it was like if you could picture Coney Hatch was much more rough and rugged around the edges. Anyway, we found a young singer, from Kitchener – Jessie Germain, and Jessie ended up singing on the record. Ironically when we finished the record he said ‘hey man I’m just getting married, and I just got offered a job at Hydro, so I think I’m going to take it, thanks anyway, but I don’t want to be in a band anymore’, So Alf said – ‘dude – there’s your next record, you just go in and finish it off’. So to answer your question – Yes I do have that as part of my plan. and the material that I had recorded for the Daredevils Incorporated. My plans are to finish that off and just do all the vocals myself. And work with Simon Brierley, he played all the guitars on it and Randy Cooke played drums. So it’s my plan for my next solo record, to finish that off.

(6) Andy Curran – No Tattoos (1990) – YouTube

That’d be long overdue. You know Carl did album every so many years and you kind of disappeared for a while.

I know, I kind of got busy with the day job. You know – be careful what you wish for, and I flipped to the other side of the desk and ended up getting a job at Anthem Records, as their A & R guy, and just like a real ‘pinch-me’ moment working with Rush for 15 years, as part of their management and A & R, and when I did that I put down the pen on a lot of my writing and it went to the back-burner. it wasn’t like it stopped Kevin, I kept writing, I just didn’t know what I was writing for, but it’s part of my genetic make-up, part of my DNA. If I’m not mucking around in the studio, it doesn’t feel right. But there’s no shortage of material. But you’re absolutely right – I disappeared for a while, and that was intentional, I wanted to focus on my career. I was part of the management team with Big Wreck, The Tea Party, and Steve Page, and The Reason, and also Molly Johnson – there was a lot of stuff going on and there was just not enough time in the day to have a recording / touring career. So I put it on the back burner, but a lot of that stuff is going to see the light of day.

One thing I like to ask about is album artwork. [I think i talked to the guy who did the first Coney album]. So I just wanted to get a quick thought on the album covers and what kind of input you guys had?

Well, the gentleman you’re referring to, I still keep in touch with is Martin Springett, and Martin did the album artwork for the first Coney Hatch record with the face and he walls and everything. My parents, both of them grew up in England and they’re parents were Irish, and I always have sort of a kinship with Brits, so I hit if off with with him, he’s from England. He was introduced to us when we were recording the first record. He had done some of the graphic arts for that adult fantasy magazine called done Heavy Metal, and you’d remember that there was a Heavy Metal movie, right!? So, we hit it off, and ended up doing the artwork. He knew what Colney Hatch was, it was a psychiatric hospital in London, England, and he kinda drew this face as the walls of this psychiatric hospital. So, I’ve kept in touch with him and I’ve been asking him to see if he’d be interested in working with us again. and the concept that I gave him was that if you were to walk through the mouth of the first Coney Hatch record – what would it look like on the other side of those walls, right? So I have ideas of sort of him maybe being involved in our next project. Martin’s a really good guy and you can find his artwork, he’s got a Facebook page – Martin Springett. And he’s a musician as well, and he’s done a lot of covers for books and artwork for his own records.
The Art and Music of Martin Springett | artist, musician, writer

The 2nd album Outta Hand was inspired by some young ladies that we were partying with and got to hang with us backstage and we had a bunch of beers going, and we said ‘would you like to drink with us tonight? – there’s a backstage party’, and they said ‘Yeah’, and we basically didn’t have any openers to open these beers to give these girls, and one of them said ‘i don’t need one’ and opened it with her teeth’. so we always remembered that and thought ‘this is rough and tumble, she doesn’t even want an opener’, right.
And the 3rd album cover was actually done by my brother Mike Curran. We originally had a photo shoot that we did with Dimo Safari, and he hired a young female model who was sliding down the banister of this long stair case, and it was supposed to be a cheeky play on the word ‘friction’, and the label was very concerned that it was maybe similar to Spinal Tap, you know – having a girl on all fours. So it wasn’t the most appropriate cover to have for a record, so we ended up booking a room and my brother Mike took a grinder out started grinding, and putting it off of heavy metal belts and stuff like that. And that was the artwork for the Friction record.
There’s a guy who has a really great company called Laundry Design, and he’s a Hamilton guy and he designed the cover for Coney Hatch 4. And the premise behind that was he spent some time in Las Vegas, driving around, and he actually found an old scrapyard that was filled with these letters from neon signs and he photographed all of them and basically made a font out of these letters from this graveyard filled with all these neon signs. I love that kind of stuff, I love working with these graphic artists and things. And I would be thrilled if Martin Springett would work with us again, because that would bring back the original artist on the first Coney Hatch record, ya know.

That Friction cover you mentioned – with the girl on it, that came out in Australia.

Yes, it’s just that the Canadian record company and the US record company were not excited about that one at all. They did not like the idea. And I think we ended up putting it on the inside sleeve or something.

The only thing I didn’t like about ‘4’ was that there was no vinyl option. Was that a Frontiers decision?

That was a Frontiers decision; they did not want to do vinyl. We’re thinking about … I do believe Kevin, that we kept the rights to do that record on vinyl, if we choose to do so. So that may happen still.

(6) Monkey Bars – YouTube

Next year will be the 40th anniversary of the first album. Are you guys planning on doing anything with that?

I guess we’re going to have to obviously talk to Anthem Records about that. There’s no plan at the moment, to be honest with you.

Is there talk of doing another Coney album?

Not at the moment… not for lack of, well if Sean Kelly was on this interview he’d be like ‘oh yeah – we’re doing it!’ He’s so enthusiastic about it. But I think for the short term Kevin we’ll just stick with the 2 new studio tracks.

Links & Further reading:

Music | Coney Hatch

Andy Curran – Have Bass, Will Travel (

CARAMEL Featuring CONEY HATCH’s Andy Curran, Former FM Guitarist Simon Brierley Release Rare “Lucy” Video – BraveWords

Rush is a Band Blog: Coney Hatch front-man and former Anthem AR rep Andy Curran talks Rush in new interview

INTERVIEW / Coney Hatch on getting ‘Pied’ by Maiden and how time heals all wounds | MetalTalk

Universal Wheels – Andy Curran ( [My interview with Andy from 2000]

KJJ, 03/21

Osibisa – Celebrating 50th Anniversary with Sunshine Day

In the ’70s Osibisa were [for a while] on the same label as Uriah Heep, they even guested on the band’s 1971 title track to Look At Yourself. The band was known for their blend of rock, jazz, funk, and African music, featuring a wide set of instruments including congas, bongos, sax, flute, trumpet, as well as some excellent organ and guitar. They also had a few cool album covers courtesy of Roger Dean, early in his career. The band had a strong following throughout Europe, Canada, the UK, and Australia, and have carried on since their beginnings in 1969.

The Boyhood Sessions were recorded between 1988 and ’99, and remixed later on. The original intent for use in the 2014 film Boyhood [starring Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke]. Osibisa does appear on the soundtrack to the movie with a re-worked version of their classic “Sunshine Day”, a great chorus and very likeable tune, as is the single “Feel Good”. And there are 3 takes of “Sunshine Day” here – 2 remixes and a live version. There’s also a few live cuts here, such as “Superfly Man” (originally from the band’s 1973 album Super Fly T.N.T. – Motion Picture Soundtrack), “Woyaya” (the title track to the band’s 2nd album from ’71) , and “Ayiko Bia” (from the band’s 1970 debut). There is 1 new song, an instrumental – kinda jazz & funk track titled “Abele”, cool guitar in the mix, with the sax, and percussion instruments; I’m liking this one for it’s ’70s vibe.

This was issued in time for the band’s 50th Anniversary. Also can’t help but notice the resemblance of the album cover to the old Bronze Records logo!? The band recently completed a new album titled New Dawn, scheduled for release in April.

Further Reading:

Osibisa will released ‘The Boyhood Sessions’ on 2 October 2020 on Red Steel Music.  Collected together for the first time, all of these carefully curated tracks were originally considered for the soundtrack to the universally acclaimed Oscar-winning Richard Linklater film: ‘Boyhood’. The album features the single ‘Feel Good’.

It was the relentless search for music that would translate and enhance the movie’s storyline, which led Linklater’s production team to contact the band and their producer.

This proved to be an astute decision as, known for their criss-cross rhythms that explode with happiness, Osibisa’s oeuvre overflows with the joyful sunshine and innocence of childhood thus resonating perfectly with this movie’s bold and engaging narrative.

Famously included in the movie soundtrack, big hitter ‘Sunshine Day’ is now joined by rare recordings, remixes and live tracks, some of which have never been released before – including a new work in progress – and all drawn from Osibisa’s deep well of Afro-Rock recordings.  They can now finally be heard on ‘The Boyhood Sessions’ in all of their collected glory.
From very humble beginnings to playing some of the world’s most prestigious venues, Osibisa remains the remarkable soundtrack to the lives of the global army of fans who cherish their distinctive sound and immersive music.

With new songs currently being recorded, a legacy of live recordings and, as the band approaches its 50th anniversary, an in-depth career retrospective boxed set in progress, ‘The Boyhood Sessions’ heralds a new dawn in the ever-growing musical life of this unique, groundbreaking and highly influential West African, London and Caribbean band of brothers.



The Official OSIBISA Website –

Osibisa – Home (

OSIBISA discography and reviews (

Osibisa – Sunshine Day: The Boyhood Seessions (50th Anniversary Edition) – Music

Walter Egan – Fascination

Walter Egan’s new album features a solid set of different styles, and plenty of great guitar playing. Often remembered for his 1978 top 10 hit “Magnet & Steel”, Fascination is a good reminder that the guy was no one-hit wonder. The set opens with the country-rock kinda ballad “I’m With The Girl” (nice twist on Pamela Des Barres’ book title). The first single is the upbeat pop-rock track “Miss Pamela”; it’s got a catchy chorus, a bit of an old rock feel to it, but comes off great. Although, that may be the album’s most upbeat track, there’s still a good bit of rock here with tracks like “Lovers” , “Gestures”, and the Beatle-esque “Yesterday Forever & Today”. Eleswhere, there’s the country-rock of “Fading Love”, and the Elvis sounding “Treat Me Nice”, as well as 2 fine acoustic ballads in “Waking Up To You Finally” and “Hell I Know (It’s Over). A pretty cool collection of songs, so well played, smooth!

(3) Miss Pamela – Walter Egan – YouTube

West Coast, Country and Americana music crossover legend Walter Egan releases his new album ‘Fascination’.  It comprises of thirteen West Coast Rock and Americana influenced tracks all inspired by Walter Egan’s shared history with legendary Super-Groupie Pamela Des Barres.

The album is released on Red Steel Music on 5 February 2021. 

With a mostly undocumented illustrious back story in the music business, Walter Egan wrote ‘Hearts On Fire’ for his good friends Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. Developing a solid relationship with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, they produced and performed on his first two albums ‘Fundamental Roll’ and ‘Not Shy’, including his million-seller hit single ‘Magnet And Steel’ on which Stevie Nicks sang background vocals.

Walter had further hit singles with ‘Full Moon Fire’, ‘Only The Lucky’ and ‘Hot Summer Nights’ which Eminem sampled on his ‘We Made You’ release.

Given his impeccable musical pedigree, Walter naturally fell in with the LA Country-Rock scene  playing with Don Henley, Glen Frey, Linda Ronstadt, Chris Darrow, David Lindley, Jules Shear, and Jackson Browne and within two years, through a hot night at the Troubadour, he secured a record deal from United Artists records in England.  This soon manifested into a six-album deal with Columbia Records US & Worldwide.

Egan and his band have toured extensively sharing the bill with many legendary bands including AC/DC, Fleetwood Mac, Procol Harum, The Beach Boys, Foreigner, Heart, Kansas, Dave Mason, and Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers.

Walter has also played and recorded with Sageworth, Jackson Browne, Kelsea Ballerini, Randy California’s Spirit, Wanda Jackson, Chris Darrow, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Brooklyn Cowboys, and The Malibooz.
Also, now available are the first four expanded back catalogue redux album releases, including unreleased material, titles are: Mad Dog, The Meaning Of Live, Walternative and Apocalypso Now.

Each redux album is accompanied by a two-track single with a previously unreleased B Side

There’s also a further release of two new EPs of ‘Hot Summer Nights’ and ‘Magnet And Steel’ with both containing extra tracks.

(15) Walter Egan | Facebook

Vicente Fernandez – Fascination – Music

KJJ, 03/21

Thunder – All The Right Noises



(3) Thunder – Last One Out Turn Off The Lights (Official Video) – YouTube


British band Thunder’s latest album will reaffirm to many just how good and how underrated this band is. The band’s first few albums all boasted multiple singles in the UK and charted high in their homeland, but that success seemed to elude them in some places, particularly North America. The band’s classic rock mix of pop, blues rock, acoustics, all lead by the guitar & songwriting talents of Luke Morley and the distinctive vocals of Danny Bowes should’ve made Thunder a household name, picking up the torch from fellow British legends like Zeppelin, Bad Company, and Whitesnake, all of which come across in the band’s latest album that features 11 tracks. Admittedly, I don’t know all of the band’s catalogue, but I’d say it’s a safe bet to put this album alongside the band’s first 3. It boasts rockers like “Going To Sin City” and the lead off track “Last One Out Turn Off The Lights”, both full of energy, and easy to get in to. Lots to dig in to here with the heavier blues rock of “Young Man”, and upbeat rock cuts “You’re Gonna Be My Girl” and “She’s A Millionairess”. Favorites also have to include “Force Of Nature”, and the ballad “I’ll Be The One”, both full of tasteful guitar, with the latter being largely piano based but leaves room for a tasteful guitar solo, before coming back down.

What a great album, and one that [if you’re not familiar with Thunder] will leave you wanting to pursue more of the band’s catalogue. [I will be]

(3) Thunder – Going To Sin City (Official Lyrics Video) – YouTube

From the press release:

British hard-rock heroes, Thunder, have announced the release of their 13th studio album ‘All The Right Noises’ on 12th March 2021.

The album is a return to the full-throttle sound of Thunder that has seen them create a hugely successful 30+ year career at the forefront of British rock, all built around the lifelong friendship of vocalist extraordinaire Danny Bowes and songwriting genius and guitarist Luke Morley.

‘All The Right Noises’ is an intense confection of illicit charms that reasserts their authority as the number one band in the land. Recorded in the months leading up to the first Covid-19 lockdown, it was originally due for release in September 2020. Strange to reflect then on how much of the new material appears to address the challenging new world we now inhabit.

On the album, Luke says “ All the songs were written and recorded pre-Covid. But it is interesting how if you look at some of the tracks through the prism of Covid they still make a lot of sense.”

‘All The Right Noise’ will be available in 1CD, 2CD, 2LP, and 4LP formats, with the 2CD and 4LP releases containing bonus tracks.

The LP versions feature a stunning pop-out of the ‘Singing Ringing Tree’ which appears of the album’s glorious artwork. The photo cover art was shot by the band’s long term collaborator Jason Joyce. The sculpture, which also appears in the video for ‘Last One Out Turn Off The Lights’, is set in Burnley, Lancashire, and resembles a tree which harnesses the energy of the wind to create a choral, discordant sound.

It is another chapter in the band’s incredibly successful history that has seen them create a succession of some of the most highly-regarded rock albums of the past 30 years.

With their most recent success, Thunder have proven themselves as vital now as when they emerged with their debut album in 1990 ‘Backstreet Symphony’, and their hit follow-up in 1992 ‘Laughing On Judgement Day’, which was only kept off the top spot by Kylie Minogue.

KJ, 03/21

Joel Hoekstra : Running Games Interview

American guitarist / songwriter Joel Hoekstra, best known as the guitarist in Whitesnake these days, as well as having been in Night Ranger, Trans Siberian Orchestra, and more recently has toured with Cher, recently released his the follow up to his 2015 hard rock album – Dying To Live under the name Joel Hoekstra’s 13. The album is Running Games, which features Hoekstra as guitarist / songwriter / producer, and he’s supported by a great band, notably Vinny Appice on drums. The album is full of cool hard-rock / metal, as well as more melodic rock tracks. Here Joel answered questions to his new album, the Joel Hoekstra 13 project, and a few others regarding his music and bands he’s been involved in….. Enjoy the read and check out Running Games.

First, how have you been surviving through the whole CoVid thing?  Keeping healthy? And has this pandemic given you more time to work on things [musically & home] that you might not normally be doing?

I’m doing fine all things considered.  Healthy and making a living.  I try to exercise every day.  Well, I’m very busy but a totally different kind of busy.  Lots of teaching, Cameos, sessions, writing, quarantine videos, etc.

This is your 2nd album under the Joel Hoekstra’s 13 name. Now, your previous solo albums were instrumental[?]  Can you explain how the change to a full ‘band’ type project came about, along with the players [most of which are the same on both albums], and the ’13’ meaning?

After I released the instrumental albums I became more well known for hard rock through being a part of Night Ranger, Rock of Ages, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Whitesnake.  I wanted to release something that sounded like a band, but also something where I write everything.  So a project name made the most sense and ’13’ kept it short.  It’s a lucky number.

(17) “Whispers Of The Soul” by VHF (Vinciguerra Hoekstra Franklin) – YouTube

How did you wind up with the players you have on the 13 albums? Quite a cool line up with Russell Allen & Jeff Scott Soto, as well as Tony Franklin, Vinny Appice.. 

Tony Franklin and I played on the VHF project together and I asked him first.  He recommended Vinny and at the same time Russell Allen joined TSO and I heard everything he could do.  From there, having top pros/friends Derek Sherinian and Jeff Scott Soto are easy decisions.  In short – these guys are all great players and friends of mine.

Curious how songs come about for you – musically and lyrically?

I usually start by writing riffs on the guitar while singing.  I’ll typically write a chorus first and a melody for the rest of the riffs.  Once that’s in place, I’ll write the lyrics for the verse, bridge, etc.  This is not for every song, but is the usual method.

(17) Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Until I Left You (feat. Jeff Scott Soto) (Official / Studio Album / 2015) – YouTube

On Dying To Live  I really liked “Say Goodbye To The Sun” and “Scream”, but “Until I Left You” was the standout song for me. Can you give me a bit about those songs being created [lyrically / musically], and perhaps anything else from that album that really stood out for you?

Some of the ideas on Dying to Live had been around a while.  ‘Until I left You’ and ‘Say Goodbye to the Sun’ were both in that category.  ’Scream’ was one of the final ideas that I wrote.  ‘Until I Left You’ was written singer/songwriter style on acoustic, the rocked-up for the record. 

When did you find time to put together Running Games [between other projects & tours]? 

Once I mentally committed to doing the album it seemed pretty easy.  I had many ideas that fit into the sound of the project.  So as to “when” that’s a bit complicated.  Some of the riffs are older than others.  I enjoy writing on days off on the road. 

 Running Games is really a solid album –  a great listen with plenty of favorite tracks.  Was it easier / harder to write and record compared to Dying To Live?

I don’t think either was harder than the other, but I felt like I had defined and focused the sound of the project better this time around.   

“Finish Line” is an awesome opener!  For me, it really has a Dio feel to it – musically & lyrically.  Curious if you hear that and if there’s any Dio influence or perhaps deliberate nod there?

Well, that’s the center of the sound for the project.  I always say it’s melodic hard rock that’s Dio’ish at it’s heaviest and Foreigner’ish at it’s lightest. 

(17) Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – “Finish Line” – Official Music Video – YouTube

Can you talk a bit about the video for “Finish Line”?  It’s quite unique. How much creative input did you have in that?  

I gave the artist Wayne Joyner a rough idea of what the video could be about and he really did a great job.  I always wanted to have an animated video.  That’s really the benefit of working with Frontiers because they had established that relationship.

The song “Running Games” really stands out and really is a great closing track, despite being the only really light & acoustic number on such a heavy album.  Can you tell me a bit about this track – where it came from and the idea to produce it as an acoustic number, with harmonies… ? [Was this written at the beginning or end of the project?]

I had named the album Running Games and sequenced the song order and realized it was ending with about 4 mid tempo rockers in a row.  I felt like it needed something to tie it all together and give it a more interesting ending.  So I wrote the song at the last minute basically.  I’m really glad I did too.  For me, it made a world of difference.

Can you give me any antidotes to some favorite tracks –  Heart Attack, Lonely Days,  Hard To Say Goodbye, Fantasy [?]…  Anything that you’re particularly happiest with?  

I’m happy with all of it.  It’s nice to see people chiming in with their favorite songs and to see every song title included from someone.  I think that’s a good sign. No duds.  Haha!  The riffs for ‘Heart Attack’ were written in Reno at the the Whitesnake studio, ‘Lonely Days’ in Germany on a day off, ‘Hard to Say Goodbye’ in Tokyo on a day off and ‘Fantasy’ is the oldest riff.  I wrote that in Omaha, for Inglorious as a potential song idea for their first album.

(17) Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – “How Do You” – Official Audio – YouTube

Conditions willing, do you foresee taking this project and players out to perform live / tour ? 

I’d love to. We did one show in support of Dying to Live on the Monster’s of Rock Cruise, so its happened. You never know.  Let’s get the world open and I’ll take it from there. 

You’ve been playing and recording with Whitesnake for the past number of years. Curious how that gig came about and can you talk a bit about the whole experience or performing, writing, and recording with a guy who’s legendary in 2 historical hard rock bands?  

Foreigner’s manager Phil Carson got me an audition and it went really well.  It was a definitely a case of the early bird get’s the worm.  It sounded like a great opportunity and I went after it.  Working with DC is great.  He’s a great boss/bandmate and friend.  I’m very grateful to be a small part of the band’s amazing history!

Any favorite Deep Purple And Whitesnake songs and/or albums [that you weren’t on]?  Any stories of perhaps having these albums or being a fan as a teenager? 

I love all of it.  The Whitesnake catalog is amazing and having the opportunity to revisit the old Purple classics was really fun. 

(17) Whitesnake – Hey You (You Make Me Rock) – Flesh & Blood World Tour – A Video Gift For You – YouTube

Of the stuff you recorded with Whitesnake [including Flesh & Blood] –  do you have any favorite tracks or performances?  Songs you are happiest with. 

Not really.  I’m honored to be a part of the process.  I’m especially honored that DC would include me in the writing and thrilled to have 8 co-writes with him from that period. 

You’ve also played with Night Ranger, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Rock Of Ages on Broadway, and more recently Cher. Any highlights from a few of these tours or shows ?  

All of it.  When I set out to be a professional guitarist, I never really thought I’d be able to do all of these great gigs, so it’s a blessing. All the way…

What else do you currently have on the go recording-wise…or in near future? 

I recently gave the guitar riffs to our project with Nathan James, so I think people can look forward to hearing that later this year, although I’m not sure of the release date, etc.  Outside of that I just want to stay productive on a daily basis and do the best I can at every turn.  It’s hard to predict where that will take me.  That’s part of the fun.

What does Joel Hoeskstra listen to? Can you give me a list of favorite albums or bands from your younger years and what you might be listening to these days?

Not much these days.  By the time I’ve taught lesson for 6 hours and possibly done a session, I’m pretty much done with music for the day.  As a kid I started out listening to hard rock/heavy metal…AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Dio, Iron Maiden Scorpions, Dokken, Queensryche.  As I got older more melodic bands like Journey, Foreigner, Boston.  Rush and Yes were big influences.  Classic rock bands like Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Jim Hendrix, The Doors are favorites and then all of the guitar albums like Yngwie, Vai, Satriani, Steve Morse.  All f that stuff had a big impact on who I am today.



Frontiers Music Srl | Record Label

Joel Hoekstra (

(17) Whitesnake guitarist Joel Hoekstra talks new album Running Games – YouTube

KJJ, 02/21