PRE-ORDER HERE(https://eon.lnk.to/EnvyOfNone) Alex Lifeson is no stranger to the concept of evolution. As a founding member of Rush, he’s been able to explore more musical ground than just about any other guitar player out there – taking rock to new progressive heights throughout the decades and always in the most wildly inventive of ways. His influence can be heard on countless bands around the world, from indie shoegaze and math rock to heavy metal and beyond. Over the last few years Lifeson has been focusing on a new project that, no matter how well-acquainted you are with his discography, will undoubtedly shatter all seeds of expectation and blow the mind. That project is Envy Of None.
The new band, also featuring Coney Hatch founder/bassist Andy Curran, accomplished producer and engineer Alfio Annibalini and singer-songwriter Maiah Wynne, will be releasing their self-titled debut album on April 8 via Kscope. Its 11 tracks – which ricochet between various shades of alternative, experimental and synth rock – throw surprises at every turn, twisting dark melodies against contemporary pop hooks. Lifeson himself is proudly aware of how little of it crosses over with the band that made him famous.
However, it was only when singer Maiah Wynne became involved that this truly started to feel like a band destined to go somewhere. Her haunting melodies and soul-baring intensity is – by the admission of her own bandmates – what truly brought this music to life. All things considered; she is a star in the making… “I sent over an early version of the song Shadow,” explains Andy Curran. “When I played what she’d done back to the others they were like, ‘Who is this crazy talented person?!’”
The album’s first single, Liar, is out now. Its industrial beats, driving fuzz bass and atmospheric guitars concoct a seductive swirl indeed – thrilling in ways closer to the darker art rock of Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and A Perfect Circle than anything these musicians have been known for prior.
“Maiah became my muse,” continues Alex Lifeson. “She was able to bring this whole new ethereal thing through her sense of melody on tracks like Liar and Look Inside. After hearing her vocals on Never Said I Love You, I felt so excited. I’ve never had that kind of inspiration working with another musician. When we say she’s special, it’s because she’s really fucking special!”
“One of my favourite things about these songs is the intimacy of them,” reveals Maiah Wynne. “It makes them feel different and more honest. There are some heavier songs too, like Enemy, and then tracks like Kabul Blues, that sound completely different to anything else.”
The album closer, Western Sunset, which was penned by Alex Lifeson in tribute to his dear friend Neil Peart. It’s a highly emotive piece of music to honour a man deeply missed by the rock community at large, and even more so by those who were lucky enough to know him. “I visited Neil when he was ill,” says Alex Lifeson. “I was on his balcony watching the sunset and found inspiration. There’s a finality about a sunset that kinda stayed with me throughout the whole process. It had meaning. It was the perfect mood to decompress after all these different textures… a nice way to close the book.”
It’s a book you’ll almost certainly want to be reading. Envy Of None’s self-titled album is due for release on April 8 via Kscope.
Envy Of None track listing 1. Never Said I Love You [04:06] 2. Shadow [03:21] 3. Look Inside [04:44] 4. Liar [03:13] 5. Spy House [02:23] 6. Dog`s Life [04:36] 7. Kabul Blues [03:12] 8. Old Strings [05:15] 9. Dumb [04:19] 10. Enemy[04:16] 11. Western Sunset [02:25]
Ltd Edition deluxe version – presented in a gatefold sleeve with a blue coloured vinyl LP, 2 CDs including a 5 track bonus disc, 28 page Booklet with exclusive content CD – includes a 16 page poster booklet LP – on black vinyl / baby blue coloured vinyl (North America exclusive) / white coloured vinyl Digital
Envy Of None are: Alf Annibalini – Guitar, Keyboards, Programming Andy Curran – Bass Guitar, Synthesized Bass, Programming, Guitar, Background Vocals, Stylophone Alex Lifeson- Guitar, Mandola, Banjo, Programming Maiah Wynne – Lead Vocals, Background Vocals, Keyboards
Well, something very different….hard rockin’, but plenty of ’70s influences, some prog, some pop, and a lot of imagination – musically and lyrically. Check out tracks like “Children Of The Stars”, “Vultures Of Nevermore”, “To The Unknown”, “A Night Upon My Shoulders’, and epic piece ” Sweet Promethean”. Great songs and productions, plenty of acoustic guitars, vocal harmonies, cool guitar breaks, and synths. The bio compares these guys to one of my favorite bands – Blue Oyster Cult, which is what caught my attention. Like BOC, very crafted songs, and not really ‘heavy’ in the metal sense at all. Very good cover of “California Dreamin”, with great harmonies. Awesome cover album cover art to boot!
SIX SILVER SUNS is a recent addition to the Finnish rock field, but the band’s members are all well known musicians. Janne Mannonen on the drums is known from Finnish legendary band, YUP. Vocalist Markku Kuikka has been heard on many of heavy and hard rock albums. Guitarists Toni Bite and Harri Petjakko, bass player Teo Lehto and keyboardist Sammy Tabermann have released dozens of records with several bands. Helena Haaparanta is heard as a background singer.
Six Silver Suns has emerged from the desire to wander back to the golden years of rock and pop music: the 70s and the 80s. The band’s inspiration comes from progressive rock, goes towards Blue Öyster Cult, and combines all with the catchy tunes and melodies from AOR and Hard Rock scene.
Their first release is entitled “As Archons Fall”. The album includes ten versatile songs which have beautiful harmonies and melodies all the way. “As Archons Fall” is a fantastic journey to the Six Silver Suns Universe, where any song can lead a listener into different kind of cosmic soundscapes. You cannot underline just one song only because “As Archons Fall” is an entire experience for the listener. There is also pleasant cover song, The Mamas and the Papas – “California Dreamin`”. The album’s opening song – “Lord of the Southern Tower” lead you into distant worlds and tune you in to following songs. Until you have reached the song “A Night upon My Shoulders”, you will understand the whole. Of course there is some pieces to pick up as a enjoyable moments as you like.
“Six Silver Suns has two main composers, and both have a strong vision. On my other band YUP, I felt I did not have much to offer as a composer, while now I feel like I’m more on my own field, musically. When Toni and I started to write music for Six Silver Sun, we soon realized we work really well together, even though our tastes in music are quite different”, explains Janne Mannonen.
“Six Silver Suns has given me a chance to sing in a completely new musical environment. Our goal has been to take influence from the 70s and it was surprisingly easy to find that natural groove. We all have been playing in quite different type of bands, but all that experience came together nicely in Six Silver Suns, and – at least to my ears – we sound good! ” Vocalist Markku Kuikka says.
“This record is an awesome and casual journey into the world of rock music where there are no rules. Imagination and the freedom to compose without frames was a key element of this record for myself. I think this record will be a joy for many people for a long time to come”, explains Toni Bite
Line up: Markku Kuikka-vocals, Toni Bite-guitar, Janne Mannonen-drums, Harri Petjakko-guitar, Teo Lehto-bass, Sammy Taberman-keyboards.
Track list: 01 Lord of the Southern Tower, 02 To the Unknown, 03 Children of the Stars, 04 Fading by Light, 05 Sweet Promethean, 06 Cosmic Bitter Blues, 07 The Stranger, 08 Vultures of Nevermore, 09 Edge of Forever, 10 A Night upon My Shoulders, 11 California dreamin` (The Mamas and the Papas cover)
As expected with the associations guitarist Jo Henning Kaasin has [see bio below], this has a definite Deep Purple / Rainbow influence. The lead off track “We Are One” is pretty close to Rainbow’s “Spotlight Kid”, with that opening riff, and fast tempo; good song, very familiar. Elsewhere it’s a good set of guitar rockers, and strong vocals from Jan Thore Grefstad [who’s recorded albums with Highland Glory and Saint Daemon]. He suits this Purple/Rainbow direction quite well. Love the variety of tunes here, from the heavy epic “Revelation” [pretty cool organ in there too], to more ’80s type rockers like “Chain Of Love” and “Carry On”, to the album’s lone acoustic ballad “Shades Of Yesterday”, possibly the best cut here [great guitar break and vocal].
Debut album from hardrock band KAASIN. KAASIN was founded by guitarist, Jo Henning Kaasin, who, in the past has collaborated with with Joe Lynn Turner (Deep Purple/Rainbow), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple/Black Sabbath), Doogie White (Rainbow/Michael Schenker), and Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake), Kaasin was a founding member, guitarist and songwriter with Come Taste The Band, who began as a Deep Purple tribute band, and released their lone album of original material in 2019, which featured guest appearances from JL Turner and Doogie White. CTTB was put on ice in January 2020 and JH Kaasin, then went on to form his own band, simply called KAASIN. He recruited his cousin, Staale Kaasin from Spider and 2020 Vision, to handle bass. The band also features the Norwegian singer, Jan Thore Grefstad, known for his incredible vocal duties with SAINT Deamon, Highland Glory and TNT. KAASIN also includes Benjamin Dehli on Hammond organ/analog synth and Chris Brush on drums.
KAASIN released two singles “Runaway Train” and “Revelation” on Streampeak Music in 2020. Both have been a great success, streaming in thousands on Spotify, Youtube, iTunes, and other download/streaming services. “Runaway Train” also went Top 10 on rock radio stations in France, the UK, Sweden and Norway. KAASIN released a third single, “Hidden” on Pride & Joy Music in July 2021, (i.e.the first single from the upcoming album, Fired Up).
The CD version of this release contains last year’s two digital singles, “Runaway Train” and “Revelation” as bonus tracks. KAASIN – Melodic hardrock in the tradition of the great bands from the seventies and early eighties.
Track list: 1. We Are One, 2. Hidden, 3. The Smoking Gun, 4. Carry On, 5. Shades Of Yesterday, 6. Walking Downwards, 7. Chain Of Love, 8. Wrong, 9. Inside Out, 10. Revelation (CD bonus track), 11. Runaway Train (CD bonus track)
Recorded and engineered in JUKE JOINT STUDIO, Notodden – Norway and at DEHLI MUSIKK, Bø in Telemark. Produced by Benjamin Dehli, Halvor Halvorsen & KAASIN
Much like Ken Ingwersen’s latest album The Future Looks Bright, Barnabas Sky is a project put together by a guitarist / songwriter, and assembled with an outstanding cast of great singers for each track, from bands Markus Pfeffer admired [hence the title]. A solid collection of heavy rockers and a few lighter melodic numbers. Great hefty sounding guitars, and lots of good songs. Really liking the opener “Legends Rise” and “Say Goodbye To Darker Days” [both featuring Danny Vaughn of Tyketto], as well as the heavy riff rockers “Yesterday’s Gone” [featuring Bob Rock of Impellitteri], and “Youngblood” [w/ Jesse Damon of Silent Rage]. Love the sound and production of this album; nice big guitar sound, well placed keyboards where needed. And pretty cool songs, which I’m looking forward to hearing more of.
The new all-star hard & heavy project BARNABAS SKY comes from the mind of guitarist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Markus Pfeffer (Lazarus Dream, Winterland, ex-Scarlett) from Kaiserslautern/Germany. The debut album full of catchy hooklines, edgy-groovy rocking guitar riffs and filigree guitar solos is titled “Inspirations” for a certain reason: Pfeffer was able to hire singers from internationally known bands for it, which had influenced him significantly during his musical beginnings: Jesse Damon (SILENT RAGE), Steve Grimmett (GRIM REAPER/LIONSHEART), Danny Martinez Jr. (GUILD OF AGES), Rob Rock (IMPELLITTERI/AXEL RUDI PELL), Zak Stevens (SAVATAGE) and Danny Vaughn (TYKETTO) do the lead vocals on the album.
TYKETTO’s “Don’t Come Easy” was one of the first CDs Markus Pfeffer listened to on an endless loop as a schoolboy in 1991. Three decades later, he composes two songs together with TYKETTO’s golden throat Danny Vaughn, the appropriately titled epic opener “Legends Rise” and “Say Farewell To Darker Days” with elaborate vocal arrangements and poignant lyrics.
SAVATAGE singer Zak Stevens contributed lyrics about the psychological effects of the pandemic for the heavy stomping track “What Lies Beneath”, which is underpinned with down-tuned guitar riffs and subtle orchestral arrangements, and he sings about a legendary figure of Russian folklore in the form of a bird with a woman’s head on “The Alkonost”.
GUILD OF AGES frontman Danny Martinez Jr. from Denver/Colorado dominates the melodic hard rock songs “Breathe Again” and “In My Mind” with his very own timbre and velvety voice. The latter is the album’s first video track with a more than hooky guitar riff and lyrics about the increasingly important attention to mental health.
SILENT RAGE’s smoky-throated frontman Jesse Damon carries the epic ballad “Till The End Of Time” and the rocker “Youngblood”, with AOR legend PAUL SABU contributing backing vocals for both tracks. Nostalgia fact on the side: Interestingly, the Hollywood classic movie “The Thief of Bagdad” starring Sabus’s father was Markus Pfeffer’s favourite film during his childhood. Damon recorded his vocals in North Hollywood at the studio of Bill Metoyer (FATES WARNING, ARMORED SAINT etc.).
Melodic metal siren Rob Rock (AXEL RUDI PELL, IMPELLITTERI, M.A.R.S. etc.) takes over the mic on the riff monster “Yesterday’s Gone” and GRIM REAPER’s Steve Grimmett’s unmistakable voice convinces on the straight rocker “Never Enough”.
As a tribute, Pfeffer has adapted the title tune of the seventies TV series “Timm Thaler” in a “GARY MOORE way” and provided it with deliberate sonic and stylistic reminiscences of Moore’s classic “The Loner”.
Musical guests on the album are keyboardist Thomas Nitschke and pianist Michael Weickenmeyer, drummer/percussionist Thomas Rieder and bassist Bernd Schreiber. The album’s artwork was designed by well-known French artist Stan W. Decker (RAGE, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, MASTERPLAN) and mastering was done at Rolf Munkes’ (CREMATORY) Empire studios in Bensheim, Hessia.
The names of the contributors speak for themselves – there can hardly be more arguments to lend BARNABAS SKY’s debut album an attentive ear.
Tracklist: 1. Legends Rise, 2. What Lies Beneath, 3. In My Mind, 4. Yesterday’s Gone, 5. Till The End Of Time, 6. Say Farewell To Darker Days, 7. Breathe Again, 8. The Alkonost, 9. Timm’s Theme, 10. Youngblood, 11. Never Enough, 12. Till The End Of Time (Piano Version)
I’ve picked up almost every Yes album over the years, and since the ’80s I often wondered if I was picking up Yes albums more so for the Roger Dean artwork than the music, which (for me) didn’t always grab me from album to album. The first 2 singles from The Quest I enjoyed, and the new video/single for the ballad “Future Memories” is the most likeable and memorable Yes song in decades. Jon Davison, who joined the band in 2012, penned the song and delivers a fantastic vocal, with such a great melody. The video itself appears to be a tribute to the band’s collaboration with Roger Dean over the past 50 years, as it features images of the album covers he’s done for the band, flowing along with band member pics, colors, and ongoing paint strokes.
15th October 2021: YES, who are Steve Howe, Alan White, Geoff Downes, Jon Davison and Billy Sherwood, recently released their new studio album The Quest on InsideOutMusic/Sony Music The album was produced by Steve Howe. “Much of the music was written in late 2019 with the rest in 2020. We commissioned several orchestrations to augment and enhance the overall sound of these fresh new recordings, hoping that our emphasis on melody, coupled with some expansive instrumental solo breaks, keeps up the momentum for our listeners,” said Steve.
Today the band are please to reveal a video for the track ‘Future Memories’, watch it now here:
‘The Quest’ also sees its physical release in North America, as of today. Pick up your copy here: https://yes-band.lnk.to/TheQuest The album has also been hitting charts worldwide, find a selection of them below: #7 German Album Charts, #20 UK Album Charts, #1 UK Rock Album Charts, #5 Swiss Album Charts, #8 Japanese International Weekly Charts, #23 French Physical Album Charts, #37 Belgian National Album Charts, #54 Dutch Album Charts, #60 Italian Album Charts.
Previous video singles from The Quest include “Dare To Know” and “The Ice Bridge”
The Quest was recorded across the globe, The sessions took place in the UK with Steve Howe, Geoff Downes & Jon Davison, while Alan White & Billy Sherwood got together in the studio in the US. “Billy Sherwood and myself did all the rhythm sections, bass and drum, in America,” says Alan White, “down in Los Angeles at Uncle Studios, where he works a lot. It helps when you’ve got a good place to work,” Alan laughs, “and Billy’s really good on the recording desk, so we got things down relatively quickly. I spent quite a while studying the music before I went down to LA so I was prepared.”
The Quest is also now available for pre-order on various formats, including a Limited Deluxe Box-Set that features a Gatefold 180g 2LP on exclusive colored vinyl, 2CD+Blu-ray Digipak (featuring 5.1 mix & backing tracks), 36-page perfect bound booklet, enamel pin badge, 60x90cm poster, slipmat & hand-numbered certificate of authenticity, all housed in a rigid lift-off box.
Containing 11 songs, 8 on the main CD with 3 extra tracks on a bonus CD, The Quest will also be available as Limited 2CD+Blu-ray Artbook, 2CD Digipak, Gatefold 2LP+2CD & as Digital Album. Order now here: https://yes-band.lnk.to/TheQuest
CD1: 01. The Ice Bridge 7.01, 02. Dare To Know 6.00, 03. Minus The Man 5.35, 04. Leave Well Alone 8.06, 05. The Western Edge 4.26, 06. Future Memories 5.08, 07. Music To My Ears 4.41, 08. A Living Island 6.52 CD2: 01. Sister Sleeping Soul 4.51, 02. Mystery Tour 3.33, 03. Damaged World 5.20
Formats are: Limited Edition Deluxe 2LP & 2CD plus Blu-ray Box-set, Limited Edition 2CD & Blu-ray Artbook, Gatefold 2LP & 2CD plus LP-booklet, 2CD DigipakDigital Album.
The current line-up of YES was completed in 2015 when Billy Sherwood replaced founder member Chris Squire, at Squire’s insistence, as he bravely fought a losing battle with leukemia. Since then, YES have concentrated on touring with their Album Series tours, each featuring a classic YES album in its entirety. During this period YES have released three live albums Topographic Drama – Live Across America (2017), Yes Live 50 (2019) and The Royal Affair Tour: Live in Las Vegas (2020)
NESTOR are five childhood friends who formed a band over three decades ago in their hometown of Falköping, Sweden. Now the rockstar dreams of their youth have been revitalized and once again the band embraces influences from the ’80s with tongues-in-cheek and a lot of heart.
Sweden band NESTOR debuted their first track via youtube back in March. The song “On The Run” is a classic ’80s type energetic aor-rocker, with a great riff, catchy chorus’, reflective lyrics, and a hilarious video featuring the band’s singer travelling back in his Volvo picking up his old bandmates to resurrect the band. It reminds me of Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” video from ’85 as well as those Twisted Sister clips from the era. They followed that up with “1989”, a song about their fondness for that year — it was the year the band actually existed, as I listened to an interview with frontman Tobias Gustavsson where he talked about the band’s beginnings. “1989” is a punchy ’80s styed rocker, and again with another awesome video. The band’s third track released was the power-ballad “Tomorrow”, which is a duet with ’80s pop star Samantha Fox. Another outstanding track and accompanying video clip, featuring Fox, who looks and sounds better than I remember her from the ’80s. The track rivalling any of the great power ballads from 35 years ago. Now the whole album is ready to be released to the world on October 22. It features 10 tracks, and if the first 3 songs released got you excited for this album (with those 3 songs having been seen/heard over a million times on youtube), then Kids In A Ghost Town will be worth the wait! Every track would be a potential single if this was 1984. Kids In A Ghost Town might get you thinking back to those bands that were huge over decades ago like Journey, Van Halen [w/ Hagar], Kiss, Europe, Y & T… you’ll find plenty here to like, Great hooks, riffs, keyboards, all produced and presented like a lost ’80s album. Lots of fun, retro AOR rock tunes, lyrics reflecting and referencing the past relationships, stories and ’80s women – such as on “Perfect 10 (Eyes Like Demi Moore)”, other favorites being the heavier “Firesign”, “These Days”, as well as closing ballad “It Ain’t Me.” Included in the credits is Swedish songwriter Andreas Carlsson who has writing credits with TONS of 80s and 90s acts, including Bon Jovi (see Bounce), Paul Stanley (see Live To Win), Europe (see Back To Eden), Def Leppard (see X), as well as pop acts like Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Celine Dion…. (seriously – look this guy up). Kids In A Ghost Town celebrates the spirit of the ’80s rock era in music and image. Can’t wait to get this CD for the car… may even want to dig out a jean jacket!
The album is produced by Tobias Gustavsson, mixed by Sebastian Forslund (The Night Flight Orchestra), and mastered by Thomas “Plec” Johansson at The Panic Room.
TRACK LIST: A Fanfare For The Reliable Rebel (Intro) / On The Run / Kids In A Ghost Town / Stone Cold Eyes / Perfect 10 (Eyes Like Demi Moore) / These Days / Tomorrow (Feat. Samantha Fox) / We Are Not OK / Firesign / 1989 / It Ain’t Me
NESTOR ARE: Jonny Wemmenstedt (guitar), Mattias Carlsson (drums), Tobias Gustavsson (vocals), Marcus Åblad (bass), Martin Frejinger (keyboards)
Icon Of Sin is based around the vocals of Brazilian metal singer Raphael Mendes, who has made a name for himself for his remarkable vocal similarities to Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickenson. In fact listening to this album, it may be easy to forget the title for a moment and think you’re listening to something new from Maiden. If you’re waiting patiently for a new Maiden album and need something to fill the time, this would be well worth checking out. Musically, it even sounds like Maiden in places, as well as influences of WASP [post ’90s], Sabbath [w/ Dio], Rainbow….. Check out tracks like tracks like “Road Rage”, “Shadow Dance”, and “Clouds Over Gotham” to see what I mean. But, really – great playing, a solid metal album – even if much of it sounds familiar, plenty of really good songs. Favorite tracks being “Arcade Generation” and “Night Breed”. Will be interesting to hear more from Raphael Mendes.
Frontiers Music Srl is excited to announce the signing of ICON OF SIN, a new project centered around the vocal talents of the popular Brazilian YouTube sensation Raphael Mendes. He is joined in the band by two other stellar Brazilian musicians, Sergio Mazul (SEMBLANT) and Marcelo Gelbcke (LANDFALL).
Raphael Mendes has become a very popular figure in the Youtube world due to his jaw dropping vocal covers. His recognition as one of the hottest new talents in metal started in 2016 when he was invited by guitarist Fabio Lima to record a YouTube video that wound up going viral. Encouraged by the reaction, Mendes launched his own YouTube channel to create more videos for fans to enjoy. As more and more fans around the world started to discover him, he was invited to join other musical projects, including Marius Danielsen’s “Legend Of Valley Doom Part 2”, which also featured Michael Kiske, Vinny Appice, Mark Boals, Michele Luppi, and Diego Valdez, among others.
One of the things that made Mendes’ reputation grow considerably happened earlier in 2020, when a video series called “What if Bruce Dickinson sang in other bands” was launched. With Mendes Dickinson-esque singing style being used to cover songs by Megadeth and more, these versions impressed fans worldwide and word quickly spread in the metal community. Collaborative versions are now being made with some emerging rock artists and also musicians from the global metal scene, such as drummer Aquiles Priester (ex-Angra, Primal Fear, W.A.S.P.).
Raphael’s videos ended up reaching the eyes and ears of Frontiers, a label known for signing and nurturing the most promising new names of the next generation of rock and metal. Frontiers has recently started to work more and more with South American based talent and had the thought to pair Raphael with two outstanding musicians of the Curitiba metal scene, both of whom have already unveiled their musical talents through the label: Sergio Mazul, singer of Semblant and Marcelo Gelbcke, guitarist of Landfall. While the music of their respective bands are quite dissimilar, both have a passion for traditional heavy metal and knew they could craft amazing music for Mendes to put his vocals to. They have already set to work with Raphael in the creation of a no-nonsense, straight ahead classic pure heavy metal album.
“Music is my passion, a way of life!” says Raphael Mendes. “It’s really been and continues to be a fantastic experience, working on the Icon Of Sin album. The songs are so powerful and it has awakened something in me that I haven’t felt for a long time from a heavy metal album!”
Tracklist: Icon Of Sin Road Rage Shadow Dancer Unholy Battleground Nightbreed Virtual Empire Pandemic Euphoria Clouds Over Gotham Arcade Generation Hagakure (Intro) The Last Samurai The Howling Survival Instinct
Guitarist Ken Ingwersen, from Norway has been writing, playing, producing, and even doing his own album art for years. He has a long and excellent list of credits including albums by the late Ken Hensley [as part of Live Fire], Wonderworld [Live Fire on their own], Street Legal, and a number of other Norwegian hard-rock acts. The Future Looks Bright is a great follow up to his first Ken’s Dojo project – Reincarnation, from 2010. In this interview Ken details the new album – which includes an awesome list of guest singers. As well he updates us on his other projects and forthcoming albums he’s involved in.
*Check out all the links at the end for info on ordering The Future Looks Bright , as well as various pages.
Can you talk a bit about when & what got this project going – when you started putting songs together [were these all new for this project, or any ideas you had laying around]?
I started working on some of these tracks right after I released Reincarnation. The idea back then, was to keep ‘em comin’ every 2nd year or so. But in 2013, Roberto Tiranti joined Ken Hensley & Live Fire and during the first day in the studio recording Trouble, the energy between Rob, Tom and myself was great. We had an instant chemistry, so I suggested we form a power trio. We released the first album in 2014 already, and it’s now been 3 albums, with one more in the works. So I decided to put Kens Dojo on hold for a while and focus on Wonderworld. But yeah, a few ideas are from back then, but for the most part I wrote it all in 2020.
The album art you did [again]. What can you tell me about it – as far as any inspiration or story behind it?
Well, I was spending a day thinking what the album artwork could be like. I came up with a few not so great ideas. So I turned it around and decided to find an album title instead. During the pandemic I met a lot of pessimistic musicians, but also positive. So I came up with the title The Future Looks Bright without having a song for it yet. After having the title, I soon came up with the idea of this girl coming out of a war zone, looking into her VR glasses and just seeing sunshine and happiness. From there I decided to also write a song to the title and ended up with the title track.
How was the album made – was it all through file sharing, zoom chats, email… or was there any times where you were able to get together with any of the singers or drummers in the studio?
Yeah, most of it was through chats and file sharing. Many of the singers were living in another country than me, and on top of this we had the pandemic, that made meeting people in general quite hard. But most of the songs were quite thoroughly demoed, meaning my drum programming and guide vocals were pretty close to the end product. There were a few exceptions though. Like the drum recordings I did with Lauvdal I engineered, ’cause we were able to meet up. Also the song I did with Chesney Hawkes was written a few years back, so I already had his vocal files when I produced the song.
You enlisted an impressive list of singers for this album. How did you go about choosing who you wanted and then coordinating them with the song? Did you have contact or know most of these guys already?
I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by great singers that I know very well. So I could easily have used totally different singers on the songs. But I felt like searching a bit more outside my “circle of friends” this time around. Also some of the singers that I originally wanted to work with, couldn’t make it for various reasons. So, obviously I know Truls, Åge and Chesney well from years back, but the other guys I chose out of skills and what I was looking for in each song. Some of these songs are quite hard to sing, demanding a big range and powerful vocals. So I made contact with the singers as the song writing process went on and it became more clear to me what I wanted. I have to say, it’s been an absolute breeze to work with all of them. Highly professional and at the same time giving it all artistically. So I’m pretty sure I’ll contact many of them for my next album too. Although I do like to mix it up and move forward and try new voices and people.
Reincarnation was a good album, but I think this one is better. Was there anything you learned from making the first album that you liked or disliked and made sure to repeat or not this time around?
Thank you. I guess!😆 Well, it’s been 11 years since my first album. So obviously I am a slightly different person now. More mature one could wish. (Hehe). But I faced the same potential dilemma this time as the last time, and that is the fact that I have such an eclectic taste in music, so there is a lot of different stuff I wanna do. I decided to follow the path from the first album and keep it within the frame sort of, but still do a variety of songs – meaning a John Mayer inspired song or a brutal metal song wouldn’t fit in. So I guess that was somewhat of a learning lesson. Not to go completely off the tracks, even though it’s been 11 years and taste, skills, age and what not, have changed quite a bit. This time around I also ended up writing a lot more of the songs by myself, whereas Reincarnation is very much a collaboration on the songwriting side, not necessarily something I wanted to do, but the pandemic forced me to work more alone, and also now I had the time to dig more into the words and melodies. I ended up enjoying that process more than I expected it too.
The first track “I Wait For Nothing” is the one you’re not credited with. Where did this song come from?
That’s a song written by two friends of mine from a few years back. It was a pure pop song with female vocals on the demo. And very different from my version. But I always found the song really great, so that’s one of the first songs I recorded. I felt I found a cool riff to it and added a signature melody to it and made it my own. It was a good way to start the process, having an already written song in the box, so to say. Like, okay one down 9 to go. Easier to move on from there.
Can you touch on lyrical ideas for a few songs? The title track was obviously inspired by what’s going on in the world lately. Did current worldly events inspire much else or are many ideas take from personal experiences?
I’ve never seen myself as a lyricist, I’ve always been a part of the creative side of it, bouncing ideas with other songwriters etc. But I don’t feel it’s my strong side. I feel more drawn to melodies and chords. So when I write lyrics I tend to follow some intuition and write down the first things that come to mind, then I tweak it from there. I like it to be fairly abstract and not so personal.
There are 2 songs that you co-wrote with the singers, and both stand out – “Gone” with Chesney Hawkes and “Never Forget” with Andrew Freeman. Can you tell me about their involvement in these songs – be it lyrical ideas, etc..?
Chesney wrote all the lyrics on “Gone” by himself, so that was a good old top-liner working on a track kinda thing. “Never Forget” was a different story. I did some blabber’ish guide vocals for Andrew to show him the melody I had in mind. The idea was for Andrew to write completely new words to it, and he sort of did, but he kept a lot of the words from my silly guide ’cause he felt it suited the song very well. I think he did a good job at making nonsense into something that made sense. It’s a quirky song with some quirky lyrics and it all makes sense some how. Andrew basically had the same approach to it, as I do when I write lyrics. Tweak the first ideas into something more proper.
Can you give me a few antidotes on songs you are particularly happy with, songs that came together easily, favorite riffs or solos?
That’s a tough task. I find it hard to pin point some of the songs. I think it’s too early. When I’ve lived with the album for some years, it’s easier for me to point out the stuff I’m happy with and what I think I should’ve improved. I do think “Longhaired Blues” came out very well, as I had already recorded a lead solo on it some years back, but re-did it all, and felt that I did a much better job at it this time around.
There are 2 instrumentals here. I really love “Longhaired Blues”. Can you tell me a bit abut your guitar influences and inspirations for such pieces? [I am reminded of how Gary Moore and David Gilmour can get so much feeling in their playing]
Those are 2 of my favourite guitar players, so I’m glad you mention them. The songs have a different story behind them. “Longhaired Blues” was written years ago, and I “released” it as a track on MySpace, back when that was the shit. It was a song I dedicated to an old friend who sadly committed suicide. There was no Spotify or anything back then, so it was my way of paying respect to him and put out a song. When I started working on this album, I had some files lying around that I started to look into. And this one I still had the recordings in the system. At first I figured I’d release it exactly like the first version, but then I started listening to it more closely, there were parts I wanted improve. Then I startet to re-record some parts, but the guitar sound was quite different…different guitar, different amp, different year and so on. So I did it all from scratch and it turned out way better. I’ve always been drawn to the more melodic guitar player like Moore, Gilmour, Beck, Knopfler and those guys, when it comes to instrumentals. There is a big world of Guthrie Govans and Joe Petruccis out there, and they can do some amazing stuff, but it’s not for me. I like songs and melodies….also when it comes to instrumentals. “Cuarenta Dias” on the other hand, was the first song I finished and sort of kicked off the idea of completing this album. It was the beginning of the pandemic, I had time on my hands. I was calm and wanted to record an instrumental that was in the vein of Gary Moore, but still me. The title comes from the origin of the word quarantine, which was the 40 days the ships had to wait in the harbour before they were allowed to enter land. I programmed the drums as usual on these instrumentals, but those two songs are the only ones I decided to keep the programmed drums and not replace them with a drummer, I felt it worked fine.
Would you ever foresee yourself doing a full album of such instrumental tracks?
Not really. I just find it very boring to listen to albums like that as a listener, so why would I give the world another album I wouldn’t even listen to myself? 🙂 I like proper songs and I like great singers, so that will probably be what I’ll do in the future as well. But I do like to throw in a few instrumentals, if I have any good ideas lying around.
Any plans to make any videos for promotion?
Honestly I haven’t had the time to sort it out. It would make sense to do it, but due to the fact that most of the singers are at the other end of the world, creates a practical problem. We could of course send each other video files. It is something I consider for sure, but no solid plans at the moment.
When the pandemic settles down do you would you maybe put a band together to play songs from your solo albums or have a few shows with a few of the singers?
It would be fun(!), but it’s not very likely to happen. I do consider this project to be a studio project and because of all the various singers I think it would be hard to put a band together that could reflect the album(s) in a proper way. But never say never. It really depends on demand. Booking (paid) gigs is a tough job. I do play live with a couple of other bands, where the booking situation is a bit more streamlined. But with this project it would be starting from scratch. But of course, if someone wants me play anywhere, I’ll put together a band for sure!
Can you explain a bit about how this album is being put out, it’s not through a label [Frontiers, AOR Heaven , etc..] . So I’m curious how it’s being marketed as opposed to taking it to one of the labels [mentioned, or other]?
Well, honestly I didn’t bother playing it to any labels this time around. It’s such a tedious process. Few labels to choose from. If any of them show any interest, then you get a shitty offer. Then if you sign, you get a release date next year. It’s just too slow for me. Having a label that actually does some work for you is great. Doing it myselfobviously doesn’t create any big buzz, but I do like to be in control and own my own master recordings. So it’s just a bonus to me, if anyone listens to it and buys. To me, the most important thing is being creative and leaving some sort of legacy.
There is so much great rock music – Metal, AOR, etc.. coming from Norway and Sweden, and you’ve been part of that scene for so long. What is it over there that this type of music and all these great newer bands thrive there? It’s like that region has become the center for great new metal & AOR.
I don’t know for sure. There’s probably a complex answer to it. I think it’s a mix of good economy, meaning that we are forefront when it comes to technology and making use of it to create music. We can also actually finish something without external help, whereas a great band from let’s say, Brazil will have a harder time executing it. We also have a long tradition of solid melodies. I think our love for good melodies is the key musically. Most people here also speak and write fluent English, which is a bonus. We also embraced MTV and Sky channel in the ’80’s and got very inspired by great pop music. This can be some of the reasons I believe.
What is the current status with Wonderworld – is their plans for a 4th album?
Indeed! As a matter of fact, we are pretty close to finishing it already! It will be a very different album than the previous three. We have decided to pay our respect to Ken Hensley on this album, so we have recorded 10 songs chosen from the live set we used to play with him. Obviously we need some help in the organ department, but it will be more guitar oriented and in the veins of our previous work. I’m super happy with the recordings and the plan is to release the album this year. I can’t say more, but we should have some more news soon 🙂
You are also part of an upcoming project on Frontiers called ‘Zelbo’. Can you tell me any details [aside from what’s in the press release at Frontiers] on your involvement, what to expect, and/or when ?
True! Dag Selboskar (Da Vinci) is an old friend of mine. He had a lot of songs that he wanted me to listen to. I really liked it, so I suggested a drummer and a singer. I play guitar and bass on the album, and I’ve also produced and mixed it. It was great fun to do, because it’s very different from anything I’ve done before. This is more AOR…sort of. But also a bit of West Coast. But all in all very positive, upbeat songs. We finished the album a year ago, but I think Frontiers wants to release it at the end of this year.
You worked with Ken Hensley [RIP] for a number of years, and played on a few studio and live albums. Can you talk a bit about that period – anything you learned from Ken as a performer and/or songwriter? And any highlights on record or on the road?
Yes, I ended up playing with Ken for the last 15 years of his life. It was a big shock to me and the other guys in the band when it happened. When you play with someone for that many years, you become more than bandmates. He was a band leader, but even more so, a band member. That was very important to Ken – to be one of the guys in the band. I learned so many things from him, I don’t know where to start. What comes to mind now is his way of treating people with respect, not taking yourself too seriously, stay playful and add a bunch of humor!
Can you explain the whole Live In Russia release – as it lobbed off all but 1 post Heep era song. Who’s idea was that? And can you recall the show and what else was played? This album seemed to come and go pretty quick.
To be honest, I didn’t know it was being recorded. I just thought the cameras were there for the big screens. Also, I had no idea that we were gonna play 40 000 people! I figured it was a regular 3 000’ish gig, so I didn’t even bother to bring a backup guitar. I don’t remember the set list exactly, but we definitely played a lot more songs, non-Heep songs that is. But they decided to release the most obvious songs I guess. The album was to be released in Russia only and I guess that is true. I still haven’t listened to it…I’m not so good at listening to my own performances…(hehe), but I think it turned out pretty good from what I understand. The mix and everything was done really fast and I had no part of it. But a great memory now in retrospect.
Any other projects on the go? and how are you keeping sane / busy during the pandemic?
I’ve been keeping sane through this pandemic by being busy in the studio! I basically recorded 3 full albums during this year with Ken’s Dojo, Wonderworld and Zelbo. So when I’m done mixing Wonderworld I will try to enjoy a couple of books this summer and work on that studio tan. Haha. Now, finally things seem to be slowly going back to ‘normal’, so I guess there will be some gigs later this year. Then I will slowly start working on new songs for Dojo and also Wonderworld… as soon as we can meet again:-)